08/02/2007

Chief Constable 'appointed on merit'

During a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board yesterday, members discussed the advertisement published by the SDLP in the Irish News on January 26 2007, regarding the appointment of the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, in 2002.

Policing Board Chairman, Professor Sir Desmond Rea said: "Members fully discussed the advertisement by the SDLP, and in particular the statement that 'Against the wishes of Tony Blair and John Reid, we ensured that the Policing Board appointed Hugh Orde – and not a policeman from the old RUC order.'"

Policing Board members discussed the potential implications of the advertisement as it relates to both past and present senior officer recruitment competitions; and the perceptions of applicants for the then Chief Constable post and subsequent senior officer appointments.

Sir Desmond said: "Board Members were entirely satisfied that the Northern Ireland Policing Board undertook a thorough, professional and legislatively compliant appointment process which was based on appointing a new Chief Constable solely on merit, and included independent assessments. The Appointment Procedures were externally considered and approved by a range of organisations; including those representing the interests of senior and chief officers prior to commencement of the recruitment process.

“The Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Policing Board reported to the Board today that he had initiated a review of the scores by each member of the recruitment panel and no evidence of manipulation of the scores was found.

“The Board remains fully satisfied that its recruitment processes were and are of the highest professional standard and that it seeks to appoint on merit."

He continued: "The Board rejects the part of the statement that the SDLP 'ensured the appointment of Sir Hugh Orde - and not a policeman of the old RUC order'. The Board regrets the hurt caused by the statement to the Chief Constable and the other candidates who were not successful.

"The Board agreed to accept the invitation from the leader of the SDLP to meet the Chairman and Vice Chairman; and would seek clarification on that part of the statement 'Against the wishes of Tony Blair and John Reid...'

The Board reiterated its "complete confidence in the

Chief Constable, Hugh Orde who has been a Chief Constable of distinction; and all the senior officers appointed subsequently."

(EF)

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