HET: Matt Baggott says suspension 'not ruled out'

Chief Constable Matt Baggott was speaking at a meeting of the Policing Board

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Chief Constable Matt Baggott has said he has not ruled out suspending the work of the Historical Enquiries Team following criticism by the leading oversight body for UK police.

He told the Northern Ireland Policing Board "all options are open".

The HET was set up to re-examine deaths during the Troubles.

Mr Baggott said there was a possibility that multi-party talks to be chaired by US envoy Richard Haass could come up with new ways of dealing with the past.

The chief constable also revealed that a new leadership team is to be put in place.

The disclosures were made after what has been described as a heated row between the chief constable and members of the policing board.

Normally board members and the police come in together but that did not happen on Thursday.

Members took their seats and were then made to wait for more than 10 minutes before Mr Baggott and his team arrived, as campaigners who want the HET to be abolished staged a protest outside.

Start Quote

The chairwoman of the board described the private discussions about the HET as "frank and robust". Many of those who took part said that was a major understatement. They said there were heated exchanges as the chief constable said he should make decisions about the future of the HET while members of the board insisted that they should take the lead.”

End Quote Vincent Kearney Home Affairs correspondent

Earlier this year, a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary said the HET treated killings carried out by the army differently to other cases.

It said the HET was illegally investigating deaths involving soldiers with less rigour than cases with no state involvement.

Following the publication of the report, the Policing Board said it viewed all HET military case reviews as suspended.

Mr Baggott had agreed to a board request to commission the HMIC review after criticism of HET in a report by University of Ulster academic Professor Patricia Lundy.

Further talks are expected to continue behind closed doors before the next public board meeting next month.

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