Officer ‘failed to take proper care’ of sensitive email
An officer has been cleared of deliberately passing information about people connected to a Republican band to a suspected Loyalist.
An investigation was launched after an email containing the names and addresses of six people and several police officers was found on a street in Ballymoney in March 2016.
The message had been in the possession of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers who had visited a Loyalist’s house the previous day – and was handed in after being found by another officer who lived nearby.
The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI) has now found no evidence that the letter was handed to the Loyalist man.
The hard copy email had been printed out by an officer who was due to deliver a determination on a Republican band parade scheduled for March 27, 2016.
After the determination had been given to one of the people on the list, the officer and two colleagues travelled to Ballymoney where they met the Loyalist on unrelated official business.
The officer left the vehicle but insisted the email had been in the car at the time and could not account for how it went missing.
None of the officers involved or the man they visited could remember seeing any paperwork outside the vehicle, and the officer’s testimony was backed by his colleague.
He added that he had not seen the officer drop anything or any documents blow away.
The officer who had the email denied failing to properly secure it and described its loss as “unfortunate” and “accidental”.
The PONI submitted a file of evidence to the Public Prosecution Service, which directed that the officer should not be prosecuted.
The officer has since received disciplinary action.
Police ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said: “The circumstances of the loss of this information gave rise to understandable concerns among those named and in the community, and impacted on public confidence in the police.
“It is unclear exactly how the document came to be missing, but my investigation found no evidence that it was a result of a deliberate act by police.
“What is clear, however, is that the officer responsible failed to take proper care of sensitive personal information.”