NI police chief to meet head of HET after report criticises team’s work

NI police chief to meet head of HET after report criticises team’s work
Defence Management
08 July 2013

Northern Ireland Chief Constable Matt Baggott is to meet with the head of the police Historical Enquiries Team (HET) to discuss a highly critical review of its work.

The move follows a recent HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report which suggested the HET treated killings carried out by the army differently to other cases.

The HET was set up to re-examine 3,260 killings which occurred during the Troubles and has been run by Commander David Cox, formerly of the London Metropolitan Police, since it was formed eight years ago.

The HMIC report said the HET was investigating deaths involving army soldiers with less rigour than cases with no state involvement. It described the HET approach as “illegal and untenable”.

The report claimed the HET gave former soldiers preferential treatment and did not properly investigate deaths caused by the military. The HET rejected the claims.

The report added that the HET treated cases involving military differently as a matter of policy – a situation that appeared to be based on a “misinterpretation of the law”.

It also found that the HET did not always seek verification where a potential interviewee in a state involvement case claimed to be unfit for interview due to illness.

The HET has rejected the report’s findings.

In the wake of the report, the Policing Board of Northern Ireland said it had no confidence in the leadership of the HET and regarded all HET military case reviews as suspended.

It also announced that recommendations made by HMIC would be implemented by a working group made up of political representatives and independent figures.

The same group will also review police “failures to respond promptly to issues raised in relation to the work of the HET”.


Baggott to meet with head of HET
Published Monday, 08 July 2013
UTV News

The head of the Historical Enquiries Team is to meet Chief Constable Matt Baggott for the first time since the policing board said it has no confidence in the group.

Last week a scathing report revealed investigations into army killings during the Troubles in Northern Ireland have been less rigorous.

Mr Baggott has been asked to examine the role of Dave Cox and if the HET should continue.

It follows calls from Sinn Féin for Mr Cox to step down.

According to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the UK’s top policing watchdog, the HET has serious shortcomings and risks losing the confidence of victims’ families.

It said the PSNI unit set up to probe more than 3,000 deaths in Northern Ireland had been treating military cases differently to other cases as a matter of policy.

Members of the Policing Board met last Thursday to discuss the findings.

In a statement the board said it has “no confidence in the leadership” of the HET and has asked the Chief Constable to review the organisation’s management.

The board added: “The HET should continue the process of conducting all other reviews but it should not finalise any cases until all the necessary reforms are completed.

“The board has established a dedicated working group to take forward and oversee the implementation of all of the recommendations in the HMIC Report.

“This group, comprising political and independent membership, will also review PSNI failures to respond promptly to issues raised in relation to the work of the HET.”

Matt Baggott has apologised and said all military cases will be re-examined.

He said: “Let me say at the outset that I am sorry that HET put in place a policy that was wrong.

“HET is unique and so is the task they fulfil. There was no easy or established template to be followed. Notwithstanding this, a differential approach to military cases is wrong. I give you my assurance that this has ended.”


Matt Baggott to meet Historical Enquiries Team head
BBC News
8 July 2013

Chief Constable Matt Baggott is to meet with the head of the police’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) to discuss a highly critical report about the team’s work.

Last week the leading oversight body for UK police said the HET treated killings carried out by the army differently to other cases.

HET has been headed up by Dave Cox, since it was formed eight years ago.

Sinn Féin has called for Mr Cox to go.

The organisation was set up to re-examine deaths during the Troubles.

It was criticised in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

It said the HET was illegally investigating deaths involving army soldiers with less rigour than cases with no state involvement.

Following the publication of the report on Wednesday, the Policing Board has said it had no confidence in the leadership of the HET.

The board said it viewed all HET military case reviews as suspended.

Mr Baggott offered a personal apology to Prof Patricia Lundy, the University of Ulster academic whose research initially raised concerns over the HET and led to the HMIC review.

The chief constable outlined a series of measures he planned to take in response to HMIC’s criticisms.

The Policing Board also announced that the recommendations made by the HMIC would be implemented by a working group made up of political representatives and independent figures.

The group will also review police “failures to respond promptly to issues raised in relation to the work of the HET”.

The group will begin its work this week and a report on progress is expected later in the year.

HMIC described the HET’s approach as “illegal and untenable”.

Mr Baggott agreed to a board request to commission the review after criticism of HET in Professor Lundy’s University of Ulster report.

The report had claimed the HET gave former soldiers preferential treatment and did not properly investigate deaths caused by the military. The HET rejected the claims.

HMIC’s report found the HET treats cases involving military differently as a matter of policy and this appeared to be based on a “misinterpretation of the law”.

It also found that the HET did not always seek verification where a potential interviewee in a state involvement case claimed to be unfit for interview due to illness.

The HET was set up in 2005 to re-examine 3,260 murders.