Officers fear for lives over inquiry appearance

A defence lawyer representing 20 former police officers due to testify at the inquiry into the murder of County Armagh man Robert Hamill, has said that they fear that their lives could be in danger if they are identified.

The officers challenged the inquiry after it was ruled that they would not be able to give evidence anonymously.

Officers have asked to be screened and known only by an initial while giving their evidence, which their barrister has said that to deny the men this would be a breach of their human rights.

Robert Hamill, a 25-year-old Catholic man, died in hospital after a sectarian attack in Portadown in 1997.

Eye witnesses have claimed that during the attack, four RUC officers saw what was happening and failed to intervene.

The inquiry into Mr Hamill's death was recommended by retired judge Peter Cory, to determine if police committed any wrongful act or omission.

The inquiry was originally scheduled to begin in Belfast on September 5, however since the High Court challenge, the inquiry has been postponed indefinitely.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

29 April 2009
Hamill Inquiry Witnesses To Be Screened
The Robert Hamill Inquiry has ruled that witnesses who are serving or retired police officers may give their evidence from behind a screen. However, they will not be granted full anonymity. This ruling has been made in response to applications for such screening on behalf of a number of former or still serving police officers due to give evidence.
11 March 2009
Police To Be Anonymous At Hamill Inquiry
To allow the ongoing Robert Hamill Inquiry to continue with its work "without undue delay", anonymity for police officers giving evidence has been granted. The Inquiry Chairman Sir Edwin Jowitt, has ruled that - on a temporary basis until further notice - no police officers giving evidence will be identified.
31 July 2007
House Of Lords Rule On Hamill Inquiry
The House of Lords have ruled that a Belfast court must decide if ex-RUC officers are to receive anonymity when giving evidence at an inquiry into a Portadown man’s death. Robert Hamill, a 25-year-old Catholic, died in hospital following an attack by a loyalist mob in Portadown in 1997.
12 March 2009
Perjury Report Follows Hamill Inquiry Sitting
A continuing official probe into the violent death of a Co Armagh man over a decade ago and the actions taken by police officers at the time has taken a dramatic turn.
25 August 2009
Witness For Hamill Inquiry Welcomed
The Robert Hamill Inquiry has welcomed news that a key witness has agreed to give evidence. An attack by a loyalist mob in Portadown town centre in 1997 remains at the heart of the continuing legal probe into the deadly circumstances.