Five ‘On The Runs’ under investigation for Troubles killings
Some 95 ‘fairly notorious’ republicans linked to 200 murders, MPs told
Northern Ireland’s chief constable Matt Baggott gives evidence inside the House of Commons in central London, to the ongoing Northern Ireland Affairs Committee inquiry into theon-the-run (OTR) administrative process.
Five suspected IRA members who were previously told that they were not wanted for crimes in Northern Ireland are now being investigated for serious terrorist offences, PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott has said.
Meanwhile, some 95 “fairly notorious” republicans on the list of 228 so-called “On The Runs” who got the letters from the Northern Ireland Office are linked to 200 murders during the Troubles, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee was told.
The MPs are investigating the decision to offer assurances to Republicans, following a London court’s decision John Downey could not be tried for the Hyde Park 1982 bombing because he had, wrongly, been told he was not wanted.
Facing questions, Mr Baggott said Downey’s case was “fairly unique”, adding that no evidence has yet come to light to suggest that anyone else was wrongly told that they were not wanted.
Police will send a file to the NI Director of Public Prosecutions on the investigations into the five suspects if “it can be taken above the evidential threshold”, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris told MPs, adding that investigations will never be stymied for political reasons.
Prosecutions could be taken against those with OTR letters, he believed – though a senior Attorney General’s Office official last week told MPs that new evidence would be needed – not just new readings of material that was known when the letters were written.
“Given the seriousness of the offences I would be surprised if we could not find a process whereby we could avoid abuse of process allegations being made against us,” Mr Harris told Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley.
Mr Harris’s declaration that 95 of the people given letters are “linked in some way, or other” to 200 murders drew gasps from some members of the committee.
“This breaks my heart, to hear this,” Mr Paisley said.
Mr Baggott repeatedly, if indirectly, criticised former PSNI Det Chief Supt Norman Baxter for failing to tell the Northern Ireland Office that Downey was wanted by the Metropolitan Police for Hyde Park.