Under-investigation chief constable says he has `passion to keep doing this job`
Northern Ireland`s most senior officer has spoken of his firm conviction that “critical incident” allegations surrounding an unprecedented criminal and misconduct in public office investigation will prove unfounded.
Northern Ireland`s most senior officer has spoken of his firm conviction that “critical incident” allegations surrounding an unprecedented criminal and misconduct in public office investigation will prove unfounded. Chief Constable George Hamilton says he is “absolutely confident that there will not be misconduct established” in the most serious inquiry ever undertaken by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI). And he insisted he has no intention of stepping aside while the inquiry is carried out. Mr Hamilton, Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton and a range of other officers are the subject of claims about how the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) handled an inquiry into the awarding of a contract to supply vehicles to the force. Speaking to reporters at an Anti-Slavery Day event in Belfast on Thursday (October 19), he said: “I`m confident in my ability and I have the passion to keep doing this job. “I`ve got every confidence that the Ombudsman will be able to get on with his job and to investigate the complaints that have been made.” Retired West Yorkshire Chief Constable Mark Gilmore, a former PSNI officer, and ex-PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland were among nine people interviewed by detectives in the 2014 investigation into bribery and misconduct in public office. In a statement on Thursday (October 19), the PSNI said it completely refutes the allegations. Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire has received complaints from a number of those investigated in the vehicle contracts inquiry in 2014, including Mr McCausland and Mr Gilmore. Dr Maguire has established a dedicated team of six investigators to examine the allegations about the PSNI investigation. They include allegations of criminality and misconduct in how this investigation was undertaken, he said. No recommendations for suspension have been made to the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB), which told Police Professional today it was fully aware of the investigation. We are not involved in any disciplinary matters at this stage as this is an ongoing investigation by the Office of PONI and as such we will be making no further comment, said a NIPB spokesperson. It is understood the alleged criminality being investigated includes claims that entries in police notebooks and journals were altered. There are also claims that the PSNI didn`t follow proper procedures to obtain warrants. But Mr Hamilton added: “I`m absolutely confident that there will not be misconduct established. “People who made these complaints are entitled to make them and I`d encourage them to have the confidence that I have in the Police Ombudsman and allow him to get on with his job.” He added: “We`ll allow the Ombudsman to do his job and we`ll co-operate fully with that and let`s see where the evidence takes the Ombudsman because I`m confident that the outcome for us, the senior officers which have had these complaints made against them, will be a positive one.” The PSNI issued a lengthy statement denying any wrongdoing. Explaining its unusual decision to give a more detailed response, the statement said media coverage of the investigation has the potential to negatively impact on public confidence in policing. It went on: PSNI can confirm that a number of senior officers, including the chief constable and deputy chief constable, have been informed of complaints made against them by former senior PSNI officers. The complaints relate to allegations of misconduct by senior police during a criminal investigation by the PSNI into the two complainants, former senior colleagues, during 2014. PSNI acknowledges and supports the need for the office of the police ombudsman to investigate these allegations and all officers are co-operating fully with the investigation. The chief constable, deputy chief constable and other officers completely refute the allegations made against them and are strongly of the view that these complex investigations int