New police ombudsman was critic of predecessor


THE MAN who issued a damning report about the office of the police ombudsman Al Hutchinson has been appointed by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as the new Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman.

Dr Michael Maguire, who has been chief inspector of criminal justice since 2008, takes over the £128,000 (€154,800) per annum post from Mr Hutchinson, who retired early after coming under heavy criticism from a number of quarters.

Last September Dr Maguire carried out a report into long-running problems at the ombudsman’s office, which has responsibility for scrutinising how the PSNI conducts its investigations. He complained about a lowering of independence and a “dysfunctional administration” operating at the office.

He was satisfied with how the office was handling current cases but identified “significant concerns” around “how sensitive, complex and high-profile historical cases are currently investigated and handled”.

“The inspectorate believes that the ways in which the police ombudsman’s office has dealt with these cases has served to undermine rather than enhance its decision-making capacity,” Dr Maguire said.

“As a consequence of these contributory factors, its operational independence has been lowered.”