Northern Ireland

Policing Board to discuss report on Historical Enquiries Team

Historical Enquiries Team logo
Image caption The HET is reviewing more than 150 killings by soldiers

A critical report into the way the Historical Enquiries Team investigated Army killings during the Troubles is to be discussed by the Policing Board.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) described the HET's approach as "illegal and untenable".

NI chief constable Matt Baggott agreed to a board request to commission the review after criticism of HET in a University of Ulster report.

The HMIC said the HET investigated some cases with "less vigour than others".

The University of Ulster report, by Dr Patricia Lundy, had claimed the HET gave former soldiers preferential treatment and did not properly investigate deaths caused by the military. The HET rejected the claims in her report.

HMIC's report found the HET treats cases involving military differently as a matter of policy and this appeared to be based on a "misinterpretation of the law".

It also found that the HET did not always seek verification where a potential interviewee in a state involvement case claimed to be unfit for interview due to illness.

The Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford said on Thursday that the HET needed "major reform".

"I can only go on my early reading of the report, and it's certainly not a report that anybody should be taking decisions on on the basis of only reading through once," he said.

"It is very easy to say a body should be scrapped, we need to find some way of getting the proper methods done and its clear from HMIC that a reformed HET is the way forward."

Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre said it would be "disengaging from the HET on those cases involving British Army killings".

"We are advising families that we don't have confidence in the processes that exist in this point in time," he said.

"There is something terribly broken here, I don't know if it can be fixed.

"We are absolutely disengaging on those cases involving British Army killings, on the other cases that is going to be a case by case decision, but the families need to be involved in that."

Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson said they were reviewing their position on engagement with the HET.

"Our board are going to make the decision on reflecting on the report to also disengage, but more than likely completely," he added.

The HET was set up in 2005 to re-examine 3,260 murders.

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