Unfinished Glenanne Gang report ‘breaching victims’ human rights’

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) breached human rights law by shelving a report into potential collusion with a violent paramilitary group, Belfast High Court has ruled.

Jul 31, 2017

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) breached human rights law by shelving a report into potential collusion with a violent paramilitary group, Belfast High Court has ruled. Mr Justice Treacy found the force should not have halted an investigation by the now-defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET) into the Glenanne Gang following a judicial review brought by victims’ families. The Glenanne Gang, a wing of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) active in the 1970s and 1980s, has been linked to around 120 murders and had serving police officers in its ranks. The HET was examining the gang’s activities but had not completed a thematic review of collusion allegations when the PSNI stopped it in 2014. It was later replaced with the PSNI’s Legacy Investigations Branch. Giving a ruling on Friday (July 28), Mr Justice Treacy said “dismantling” the HET undermined obligations under Article 2 of EU human rights law to ensure independent and effective legacy investigations. He said: “The chief constable, in halting that process which had been openly promised and which was acknowledged to be essential to the HET’s purpose, has turned his back on a potentially rich source of evidential opportunities. “This decision frustrates any possibility of an effective investigation which would fulfil the Article 2 duty which now arises, and has foreclosed any possibility that the Article 2 duty will be fulfilled.” The judicial review was taken by the family of Patrick Barnard, who was 13 when he was killed in a bomb attack in 1976. The court heard that Patrick’s family were treated unfairly as they had a legitimate expectation the review of the Glenanne Gang’s activity would be finished. The PSNI and the families will now have to reach a resolution. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, head of the PSNI’s Legacy and Justice Branch, said: “The PSNI notes the comments made in court today by Mr Justice Treacy in relation to the Judicial Review taken by the family of Mr Patrick Barnard. “We understand that Mr Justice Treacy has not publicly released his judgement but will do so within the next few weeks. “Once we receive the judgment we will consider it carefully.”

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