CONCERNS over vetting by ex-Special Branch Officers
The so-called new PSNI/RUC still at their dirty tricks
Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris told the coroner’s court this week that three former Special Branch officers are security-vetting boxes of classified files before they are released to legal teams (by the so-called new PSNI/RUC) and familes in ‘shot-to-kill’ cases. When police consider details are sensitive, inquest material is often redacted – meaning it is blacked out. Mr Harris, who has been in charge of the new PSNI’s C3 Intelligence Unit – formerly known as British Special Branch – and fully supported and endorsed by Provisional Shame Fein – but will take over the new role of deputy chief constable next month, was summoned to the coroner’s court in Belfast to explain a seven-year delay in providing files. The hearing formed part of an inquest into the deaths of nine people, including several PIRA members and RUC officers, killed in north Armagh during the hunger strikes in the 1980s. The case has heard allegations of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy in some of the deaths. Policing Board member Dolores Kelly last night voiced reservations about the involvement of ex-Special Branch members in legacy cases. “It is something we have long been concerned about,” she said. “It’s much cleaner if there is no past history and that only serves the police well in terms of promoting confidence across the community.” During the hearing on Monday Mr Harris (the new PSNI/RUC Deputy Chief Constable in waiting) confirmed the officers were recruited to the PSNI/RUC’s legacy support unit to carry out the vetting process. It was claimed they hold the neccessary expertise for trawling through historical files. Mr Harris rejected claims that there could be a conflict of interest, saying the staff were “gatekeepers” rather than decision-makers and insisting rigorous checks and balances were in place. During the hearing it emerged that the senior coroner John Leckey only became aware of the involvement of former special branch officers/members at a later stage. Mr Harris, who is himself an ex-RUC officer, rejected claims that the PSNI/RUC has deliberately hushed the matter up. There was controversy last week when Mr Harris was selected as the new deputy chief constable of the PSNI/RUC, after Shame Fein pulled out of the recruitment process.
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the origional story.