Press

Press Notice 015

Screening and anonymity for police officers
10th March 2009

For immediate use

Note to editors: please note the aspects of Sir Edwin’s ruling which apply to the media outlined at the end of this press notice.

An urgent application to the Robert Hamill Inquiry Panel for screening and anonymity for police officers due to give evidence at the Inquiry was made by Charles Adair QC this morning on behalf of a number of serving and retired police officers. The application was supported by Richard Ferguson QC, Leading Counsel for the PSNI.

In order to determine the application the Panel indicated that it would be necessary to carry out further enquiries and obtain up to date information on the matters raised including security material.

In the interim, to allow the Inquiry to continue with its work without undue delay, the Chairman has ruled that the following measures will be taken on a temporary basis until further notice:

  • The serving and former police officers in question will not be named during oral evidence presented at the Inquiry
  • To avoid publication of the names of police officers on documents shown on the public and press monitors, those monitors will be taken out of use on a temporary basis whilst interim redactions [i.e. the removal of the names of relevant police officers] are made to the documents.

Sir Edwin said his ruling was made in the light of the murder last night of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon, and the increased security threat to police officers in Northern Ireland.

At the commencement of today’s Inquiry proceedings, Sir Edwin offered his condolences to the family of Constable Carroll.

“On behalf of the Inquiry Panel, I would like to express our great distress and sorrow with regard to yesterday’s murder,” said Sir Edwin. “We offer his family our condolences and our prayers.”

Sir Edwin also made a restriction order under section 19(1) (b) of the Inquiries Act 2005 in relation to the redaction measures ordered today to last for as long as the temporary measures are in place.  The media should note that this prevents the publication in the media of any name or the identification of any person who is the subject of Sir Edwin’s ruling which is taken from the record of the evidence of the Robert Hamill Inquiry on the website or obtained from any other source. That order is made conditional upon the media being free to make an application to argue against the continuation of the order, any such application being heard at 10.30 am tomorrow [Wednesday, 11th March 2009].

Sir Edwin made it clear that the restriction order applies not only to the media but to all and extends to any inadvertent disclosure during the proceedings.

Editors’ notes

1.      The Inquiry’s terms of reference are:

To inquire into the death of Robert Hamill with a view to determining whether any wrongful act or omission by or within the Royal Ulster Constabulary facilitated his death or obstructed the investigation of it, or whether attempts were made to do so; whether any such act or omission was intentional or negligent; whether the investigation of his death was carried out with due diligence; and to make recommendations.

  1. The Chairman of the Inquiry is Sir Edwin Jowitt, a retired Justice for the High Court, Queen’s Bench Division. The other members of the Inquiry Panel are Sir John Evans (former President of the Association of Chief Police Officers and retired Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary) and Reverend Baroness Richardson of Calow (Moderator of he Churches’ Commission for Inter Faith Relations).
  2. The Inquiry was established on 16 November 2004 when the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Paul Murphy, announced the terms of reference for the inquiry into the death of Robert Hamill following an incident in Portadown, County Armagh on 27 April 1997.
  3. Further information regarding the Inquiry can be obtained from the Inquiry’s website: www.roberthamillinquiry.org or from the Press Officer to the Inquiry, Liz Fawcett, who can be contacted on +44 (0) 28 9020 0811 or +44 (0) 771 943 5662 or at the Inquiry’s Belfast office on  +44 (0) 9054 4978. She can also be contacted by E-mail on liz@lizfawcettconsulting.com

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