Press

Press Notice 18

Witness screening
28th April 2009

For immediate use

The Robert Hamill Inquiry has ruled that 19 witnesses who are serving or retired police officers may give their evidence from behind a screen, but will not be granted full anonymity. This ruling has been made in response to applications for anonymity and screening on behalf of a number of serving and retired police officers due to give evidence. Those applications were based upon the continuing activity of dissident republican terrorists, including the recent murders of a PSNI officer and two soldiers.

A spokesperson for the Inquiry said:

"After giving careful consideration to all relevant evidence and legal argument, the Inquiry Panel has today ruled that 19 witnesses who are serving or retired police officers may give their evidence from behind a screen.

"While their names will be made public, screening will mean that the witnesses in question cannot be visually identified which will offer them some additional protection.

"The public will still have access to the hearing chamber.

"The Panel's detailed ruling makes extensive reference to the materials which it has seen and the evidence which it has heard. With regret, the panel has concluded that its full ruling ought not to be published, by reason of section 19(4)(b) of the Inquiries Act 2005. That is because of the nature of those materials and that evidence.

"The Panel would further ask that the media refrain from taking any photographs and from filming any serving or former police officers who give evidence to this Inquiry in the light of the current security situation."

 

Editors' notes

1. Journalists should note that all screened witnesses will appear in the Rosemary Nelson hearing chamber.

2. The Inquiry's terms of reference are as follows:

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.

3. 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).

4. 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.

5. 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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