Does this sort of behaviour comply with the EUROPEAN CONVENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS?
The people carrying out the investigation must be independent of those implicated in the event
A former RUC officer led the HET‟s enquiry into a state involvement case, in breach of
a) the HET‟s policy;
b) undertakings given to NGOs and solicitors and
c) an express wish of the family in question.
The officer actually knew the SIO in charge of the original investigation.
The HET‟s intelligence unit is staffed largely by former employees of either the RUC or the PSNI. Staff in the PSNI intelligence branch, some of whom are former RUC special branch officers, are the gatekeepers for intelligence being passed to the HET.
Recommendation 20. The Chief Constable should make sure that the HET introduces a policy about the deployment of staff to state involvement cases. This should include the vetting of staff regarding previous involvement in cases, in order to safeguard the independence of investigations.
Stephen Otter, head of the HMIC review said he was shocked at the systemic nature of the failures. He added: “It is just not defensible. I think it is really sad that we have had to be brought in to do this when much of it was pointed out in 2009”
What exactly happened?
11 year old Frank Rowntree: Fatally injured by security forces during rioting near Divis Flats in west Belfast in 1972 he died days later in hospital. The HET found he was a completely innocent bystander, and was taking no part in riots. The HET said it traced the soldier responsible and found that he was in poor health, suffering from dementia, and could not clearly recollect what happened.The soldier wasn’t tracked down. The HET told the family in a letter it was all too plain to see an attempt to interview him under caution would have been ludicrous.In reality they never saw him at all.
Frank’s brother Jim said the HET investigation was supposed to bring his family closure – but instead they are reliving the schoolboy’s death.
21 year old student Michael Donnelly: While returning to the family home on the Lower Falls in 1981 he was killed by a plastic bullet fired by the Army. His sister said the HET should be disbanded. HET wouldn’t interview one of the soldiers involved as he was living abroad and another as he had a heart condition.
“A number of my family have heart conditions,” she said.
“I feel let down firstly by the HET, by the chief constable, but by the state in general and by our politicians too.”
See what other people are saying
One summer evening in July, the citizens of Northern Ireland were treated to a display of 20 strange recommendations in the skies over the HET, the PSNI, former members of the RUC, victims in the cities and towns, villages and townlands of NI, and in the countryside too.
Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) had scrambled to investigate the strange behaviour of the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team (HET), finding plenty that was puzzling as well as evidence of significant shortcomings in the way the HET operates
The HET realised a large cluster of recommendations was approaching. As they closed in on the team, they moved to form a ring around it and travelled along with it for about fifteen seconds before moving away.
The recommendations took up a calculated position based on the understanding that it’s better for the HET, an arm of the state, to be accused of incompetence and bad practices rather than the state being found complicit in the murder of its own citizens.
A week later, the recommendations disappeared.
It was the 12th fortnight, height of the Orange Marching Season, and events moved too fast to think about them.