It’s not just the Republic who has problems with ‘who guards the guards’. There are two worrying stories on the same day concerning the activities of the Police Ombudsman’s office.
One concerns a criminal case which the Judge is reported to have said:
…failings in the investigation “resulted in it being impossible for the defendants to receive a fair trial”.
He said weaknesses in the investigative process meant it “would offend the court’s sense of justice and propriety to be asked to try the accused in the particular circumstances of the case.”
In particular, he expressed serious concern about a “deliberate error” by an investigator who made an inaccurate claim to one of the officers and their solicitor about the availability of mobile phone footage of the alleged incident.
“The court is left with considerable concern regarding the motivation for the investigator’s response and cannot exclude the possibility that it was designed to elicit a particular response,” he said.
“The Police Ombudsman (PONI) is charged with investigating the police and enjoys similar powers and responsibilities to the police.
“However, there is no corresponding organisation to monitor the work of the Ombudsman and its acts, errors and omissions instead fall to be scrutinised by the courts in applications such as the one under consideration.
“As the guard of the guards the actions of the Ombudsman must, in my judgement, be entirely above reproach.
“Its relationship with those under its scrutiny must be one of utmost good faith if it is to retain the confidence of our community.”
And another judge has suggested there has been mishandling of the Loughinisland case:
Mr Justice McCloskey said the authors of the Loughinisland report were “careless, thoughtless and inattentive in the language and structuring of the document”.
He also said the police officers deemed to have colluded with the gunmen were “in effect tried and convicted without notice in their absence”.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty