Northern Ireland’s outgoing Chief Constable Matt Baggott faces criminal action over claims that he obstructed police ombudsman investigations into 60 murders during the height of the Troubles.
Michael Maguire, the police ombudsman, is attempting to force the Chief Constable to hand over sensitive intelligence material relating to deaths, a move that he insists is “enshrined in law and accepted across the community”.
Mr Maguire said he had no option but to mount legal action as he had received more than 100 refusals for information and that Mr Baggott was making it impossible to investigate allegations of serious criminal activity and misconduct. “The many thousands of people who make complaints to us every year do so on the basis that we have access to all the police information we need to investigate independently their complaint,” he said.
It is understood the files relate to killings including the UVF’s murder of six Catholics in the County Down village of Loughinisland in 1994. The Police Service Northern Ireland’s reluctance to release the material is thought to be related to fears of exposing agents inside republican and loyalist groups.
The PSNI said it believed it had responded appropriately to each request on a case-by-case basis. A spokesman added the organisation has a legal responsibility for the care and management of all information it holds.