28/02/2011

Hamill Report 'Can Be Published In Full'

The long-awaited report into the controversial mob killing of an innocent Catholic man in Portadown - allegedly as members of the RUC looked on - has moved a step nearer to being made public.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, (pictured) has now made clear that contents of the Robert Hamill Inquiry will not put the lives or safety of individuals at risk, or put national security at risk.

Originally he feared that publishing the report would be a breach of the defendants' rights and said today that the checking process which is required to meet obligations in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights and in relation to national security have been concluded.

"I can confirm that this checking process has now been completed and I have received advice from the checking team which confirms that there is nothing in the report which - if published - could breach Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights by putting the lives or safety of individuals at risk, or put national security at risk.

"I am therefore satisfied that once legal proceedings have concluded, the report can be published in full. I have advised Sir Edwin Jowitt, the Chairman of the Inquiry, of this," the senior Westminster politician said.

"I have also asked Sir Edwin to retain formal custody of the report in a secure location until the legal proceedings have concluded and it can be submitted to me and be published.
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"The report has not been shown to me or to any other member of the Government, or to any officials except the two members of the team which carried out the checking process.

"I have not been briefed on the contents of the report, nor have any officials other than those in the checking team," he confirmed.

Speaking in the House of Commons in London, he continued: "I reassure the House that once the legal proceedings have concluded, I intend to publish the report in full and as soon as practicable.

"Once a timetable for publication becomes clear, I will update the House accordingly," he said.

In January he had informed the House that following an announcement by the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland that they planned to prosecute three individuals in connection with the death of Robert Hamill, he would not publish the report of the Robert Hamill Inquiry until these legal proceedings had concluded.

The probe into the death of Robert Hamill was to determine 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.

The Inquiry was established in November 2004 when the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Paul Murphy, announced the terms of reference following an incident in Portadown, Co Armagh on 27 April 1997.

See: Prosecutions See Hamill Inquiry 'Parked'

(BMcC/GK)

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