Press

Press Notice 22

Interim report
12th March 2010

The Robert Hamill Inquiry has published [at 10.30am today, 12th March] a brief interim report recommending that the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland should reconsider urgently the decision, taken by the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in March 2004, to discontinue the prosecution of former Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Reserve Constable Robert Atkinson for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Atkinson was one of four police officers who were in a RUC Land Rover close to the scene of an attack on Robert Hamill in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland in the early hours of 27th April 1997. Mr Hamill suffered severe head injuries in the assault and died 11 days later without regaining consciousness.

The Inquiry’s interim report, which was delivered to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 29th January 2010, makes its recommendation on the basis solely of the Inquiry’s concerns about the need to take into account all matters available which are relevant to making a decision whether or not to prosecute. 

The report does not comment on the merits of the original prosecution nor on what conclusion might be reached after any reconsideration.

The Inquiry operates under the terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 which contains a provision for public inquiries to deliver an interim report

A spokeswoman for the Inquiry said:

The Inquiry Panel is conscious of the desire for public inquiries to produce their reports with due expediency. The Panel was therefore anxious that this important recommendation should be delivered to the Secretary of State at the earliest opportunity.

The Inquiry has published its interim report at the invitation of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Although it is impossible at this stage for the Inquiry to provide any firm date for the delivery of its final report, it hopes to complete it within the next 12 months.  

 

Editors’ notes:

1. A copy of the interim report  is available on the Inquiry’s website: www.roberthamillinquiry.org

2. The Inquiry is the first of those operating under the Inquiries Act 2005 to deliver an interim report to the government.  

3. 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.

4. 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).

5. 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.

6. 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 the following numbers: +44 (0) 28 9020 0811 or +44 (0) 771 943 5662. Liz can also be contacted by E-mail on liz@lizfawcettconsulting.com

 

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