“reasonable, proportionate and necessary in the circumstances”

Several media outlets pick up the outcome of a Police Ombudsman investigation which stated “A police officer was justified in shooting a man who planted a bomb in Belfast city centre” in November 2002. The investigation would in line with Regulation 20, although it doesn’t seem to be online yet. But there are a few details worth highlighting.There’s the question of why it’s taken over 4 years for the report to be made public. The man who was shot is named in this UTV report

The use of live fire by police had been “reasonable, proportionate and necessary in the circumstances”, said Mrs O`Loan, following a lengthy investigation.
The officer who opened fire had no alternative but to do so, she added.

Paul Donnelly was critically injured when undercover police intercepted him and an accomplice as they sped away after planting a bomb in a car outside the motor tax office in Upper Queen Street in November 2002.

and it’s worth noting that having been given a sentence of only 5 years – for possessing explosives with intent to endanger life – he’s probably already been released. His accomplice, unnamed, received a sentence of 12 years.

The UTV report also notes

Mrs O`Loan described as inadequate the fact that the police log for the operation consisted of two pages of A4 and did not provide a full account of the options considered, decisions taken and rationale for the operation, nor of the briefings given to officers.

The PSNI has since implemented a series of recommendations made by the Ombudsman following the investigation, she said.

A file was supplied by the Ombudsman to the Public Prosecution Service in March 2004 and in May 2006 the PPS directed that no officer should be prosecuted.

And according to the BBC report

Her report said police mounted an operation in advance of an anticipated attack in Belfast.

They saw two vehicles travelling in convoy, one of which was left outside the DVLA offices. The driver then got into a second car which drove into Howard Street.

Just how was the attack anticipated and what type of operation was mounted? – “undercover police” are referred to here.

Did the anticipation, for example, arise from the use of an informant? Given previous criticism of police handling of informants it would seem to be a point worth making if it was the case.

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