11/03/2009

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.

Charles Adair QC, who represents a number of individual officers, made an urgent application to prevent disclosure of the names or identities of PSNI personnel who are expected to start four weeks of evidence next Tuesday.

Special consideration is also being given to the possibility of screening certain police witnesses to conceal them when from public view.

The application, which would normally be made in chambers, was put to the three-person panel in open session at the Belfast Interpoint Centre.
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Yesterday, following the murder of a police officer in Craigavon on Monday night and the weekend murders of two soldiers in Antrim, it was agreed that the names of police officers would be temporarily redacted from all inquiry documents.

No officers would now be named in open session either, in the interim.

In making his ruling, Sir Edwin said it recognised the increased security threat to police officers in Northern Ireland.

At the commencement of today's Inquiry proceedings, Sir Edwin also offered his condolences to the family of Constable Carroll.

"On behalf of the Inquiry Panel, I would like to express our great distress and sorrow with regard to yesterday’s murder,” said Sir Edwin. "We offer his family our condolences and our prayers."

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

See: Robert Hamill Inquiry Opens Public Sessions

(BMcC/JM)

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