New PSNI deputy chief selected despite appointments controversy

Former acting deputy chief taking ‘legal advice’ over non selection for interview

The North's Policing Board has defended its recruitment processes after the former acting deputy chief constable Stephen Martin said he is taking legal advice over why he was not shortlisted for interview for the permanent deputy post.

The board on Thursday evening reached a unanimous decision on who should be the next deputy chief constable. It will be for the North's Minister of Justice, Alliance MLA Naomi Long, to ratify the appointment on Friday.

The four shortlisted candidates are two PSNI assistant chief constables, Barbara Gray and Mark Hamilton and two candidates who hold senior policing positions in Britain and who previously were in senior jobs in the PSNI, Michelle Larmour and Chris Noble. The successful candidate will not be named until the ratification has taken place.

An interview panel of three of independent board members and a board member from the DUP, Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance met on Thursday to decide who should be appointed to the £168,000-a-year post.

The selection process became immersed in some controversy this week when Ulster Unionist Party board member Alan Chambers withdrew from the interview panel, expressing concerns about how it was conducted. This related, it is understood, to the failure of Mr Martin to be chosen for interview. He had served as acting deputy chief constable and previously was interviewed for the chief constable post when the current chief Simon Byrne was appointed, Mr Martin subsequently announcement his retirement from the PSNI.

He told the BBC on Thursday that he is now taking “legal advice” over his non-selection for interview. Mr Martin said he was shocked he was not on the shortlist.

“These processes need to be rigorously fair, they need to be lawful,” he said. “If that were not the case I would certainly be shocked and grossly disappointed and would feel considerably let down,” added Mr Martin.

“When you apply for a position, you weigh these things up carefully, you put a lot of personal investment into it, preparation, and when it doesn’t work out I think naturally anyone in my position would be disappointed,” he said.

While there was surprise that Mr Martin was not selected for interview, particularly as he also was selected for interview for the chief constable position, Policing Board sources said the selection process was “fair, rigorous and robust” and that independent assessors were involved in deciding on the shortlist.

In an official comment, the board defended the selection process. “The recruitment process for the deputy chief constable position is based on the principles of merit, fairness and openness. It incorporates independent scrutiny at all stages to provide additional probity and transparency,” said a spokeswoman.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times