The office of the North's Police Ombudsman has confirmed that a file is to be sent to the Northern Ireland director of public prosecutions to determine if two former police officers should be charged for a number of crimes including conspiracy to murder.
The Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire is to write to the DPP Barra McGrory, QC, in relation to how two former police Special Branch agent handlers dealt with loyalist "supergrass" Gary Haggarty.
“The Police Ombudsman’s Office can confirm that it intends to send a file to the Public Prosecution Service in the coming weeks as part of the investigation of one of its most sensitive and complex cases,” a spokesman for the ombudsman confirmed on Tuesday.
“The investigation is looking at allegations of serious criminality covering a period from the early nineties,” he added.
Haggarty, a former Ulster Volunteer Force commander in north Belfast and east Antrim, is charged with 212 offences, including five murders. Five years ago he agreed to give evidence against his former UVF colleagues and against his former police handlers.
Before he can give such evidence Haggarty must first be tried for all these alleged offences for which, if convicted, he would be expected to serve a much reduced sentence, possibly around three years.
Haggarty is known as an “assisting offender”, the official term for police informants or so-called supergrasses. If he is found to be a credible witness his evidence could result in convictions of several key UVF figures.
Victims of Haggarty and the UVF have queried why it is taking so long for the case to proceed, with some complaining it is being held up because of PSNI concerns about what he might say about his former police agent handlers.
The senior investigating PSNI officer, Detective Chief Inspector Richard Campbell has told BBC Spotlight that the length of time the case is taking is entirely reasonable due to the complexity of the case.
“It is one of the largest investigations that the PSNI has ever undertaken,” he told the programme which was being broadcast on Tuesday night. “It covers very serious criminality, and it covers a large number of people, so it is a massive case.”
“I spent the last five years determined to make sure that we do get prosecutions as a result of what Gary Haggarty says, so I completely reject any allegation that there’s any effort or attempt to deliberately undermine the process - it’s just not the case,” he added.