An open letter to George Hamilton

Dear George,

I’ve just got around to reading the full text of your speech of 15thMay.

Straightaway, you mention transparency. That doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it’s because since I started communicating with the PSNI in 2002, your force has been opaque.

But let’s leave that for now.

I’m glad that you agree with me that something untoward was happening in policing during the Troubles and that it was not restricted to a few bad apples.

But then I’m puzzled. You say “In the absence of any regulatory framework for managing ‘agents’ police officers were left to set their own standards.”

Then  you say that “there was no law”  a few lines  later you say “ there are [sic] a range of charges that can be brought”

You see, George, the persons who murdered my parents, whose names you can find on my blog, most of them had a handler and some of those handlers were police officers and you know who they were. Those officers knew, if not before , then certainly afterwards, the identities of the perpetrators. They , the police officers, committed most of  the range of offences you enumerated above.

Records: lets dwell on that for a second. Prof Lundy and other academics have commented on those records which you say the Police Ombudsman has “unfettered access to”. No he doesn’t. Are you telling the public that the Ombudsman’s representatives roam the stores at Sprucefield and Seapark at will? What about your gatekeepers? The old SB guys. What about your chief spook, Drew Harris? Don’t they keep tabs on the files? What about the ‘difficult’ files which the Security Service has removed from you and now stores at Loughside?

Although you admit that you know of no legal definition of collusion, you say that it “signals malevolent intent”. What’s your authority for that proposition , George?  I know why you say it. The secret is in the next bit. You want us to think about all the brave officers. It’s not about bravery , George.

You can give me no lessons on what a brave officer looks like.

It’s not long before you return to your old unapologetic self. You say that the police were operating in a vacuum. The police had no “framework, guidance or legislation”

I’ve news for you , George. The Human Rights Act of 1998 simply put on the  British statute book  the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which had long been recognised by British courts and a good read of it by senior officers might have given a hint about how to police. Anyway, allowing an agent to kill doesn’t take  much of a look at a moral compass to know that it is wrong .

Frankly, I got weary of the same old words at this point, George. Why? Because for almost twenty eight years your force and its predecessor and every chief constable has lied to me.

So, on close inspection, I’m as unimpressed by this speech as I have been by all the rest.

Take your own advice, get out of your own comfort zone, be selfless and open the files on James and Ellen Sefton.

Yours sincerely

Peter Sefton

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Screwing over the Ulster working class

“Alastair?- it’s Danny.

Hello Danny…Danny who?

DeBurgh! Templepatrick- Can you  speak?

Sure, there’s  patients waiting but I’ve always time for an Official Unionist.

Good man. Has all that unpleasantness gone away? That stuff with Hart and the PSNI?

Oh yes, complainants under the bridge!

Well the thing is that the jolly old stately home is a bit of a bind, bit of a thingy round the neck, if you know what I mean….what’s the word…raven?

Albatross, Danny

Oh yes and I was wondering if we might join forces to create a lobby firm.

Jesus, Danny, if the Prods of south Antrim hear about that you’ll never be re-elected!

Yes, well OK but I’m not getting any younger and the MP thing was a bit of a surprise to me as well as everyone else.

Well, kiss goodbye Danny, when Paul gets wind of this , you’re toast!

Yes, well back to the business in hand…you up for it?

Of course I am, you know me-and you have a third player, is that right?

Yes, decent chap, media wallah..

Lets go for it- just one thing, you have a lot of people in your constituency who lost loved ones during the Troubles, isn’t that right?

Yup

Sefton , pain in the ass, former barrister, campaigns about his dead parents and Libya?

Yup

What will he think- are you going to lobby for him?

Don’t be daft Alistair- this is business, as my Jewish friends say..

So what if he rings up, looking for help?

We’ll tell him that this is a high profile firm “able to engage at the highest levels on behalf of clients”

Like the Blues and Royals?

Precisely -No working class unionist muck here  old boy.

But wasn’t one of your friends killed?

Yes, of course but we superior chaps have learned to live with that. Fortunes of war and all that. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Sefton  says that his ancestors fought for the Crown since 1605.

Maybe but canon fodder old chap, Like your MLAs . Stupid campaign re Libya. Doesn’t he know that there are fortunes to be made in oil? My old man made a fortune in lemonade- imagine what you could make in oil.

OK count me in- I miss London and the grub.

Splendid, lets meet in the Guards Club, they let Ulster  Nationalists in now.

 

My life in a banana republic-Latin edition

Jambo!

Or as the Romans said “salvete”.

My father and uncle were keen that I should get a good education in my home country, so they handed me over to the nuns when I was four. Then I was educated by the Jesuits at my country’s leading grammar school. Dingle asked me if they were violent. I said no , but the nuns could punch their weight.

So the Jesuits taught me Latin. This has stood me in good stead. I recognise many Latin words in English. The lawyers are particularly fond of it. John Larkin never lets a paragraph go by with out a ‘bon mot’ or should I say a ‘verbum bonum’.

Why all this pretentiousness?

I had difficult questions for Dingle, my friend, part academic, part soldier, part philosopher.

Me: Dingle, the police exist to investigate crime?

D: Yes

Me: So all crime is investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland?

D: Not necessarily.

Me: What crimes would the PSNI not investigate?

D: If a police officer was alleged to have committed a crime.

Me: Who investigates that?

D: The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Me: Is he a policeman?

D: No , but he employs former policemen-and women.

Me: So they investigate the police who are alleged to have committed crimes?

D: Yes

Me: And if they think they have, what then? Does one of these police persons make a report?

D: No the Police Ombudsman makes a report.

Me: But he is not a policeman?

D: Quite so. They can recommend that the policeman is prosecuted.

Me: Who does that?

D: The Director of Public Prosecutions

Me: So he prosecutes policemen?

D: If need be

Me: So what happens if the Police Ombudsman thinks that the policeman should simply be reprimanded?

D: He reports to the Chief Constable, who decides on a punishment.

Me: What if the Chief Constable is reported as having done something wrong?

D: The Police Ombudsman investigates that

Me: So do these three people ever speak?

D: Yes , when the Police Ombudsman produced a very critical report on Loughinisland, the Chief Constable thought it was very good. Although when Mr Justice McCloskey said it was very bad, George said that he tended to agree with him.

Me: Is that it?

D: Oh no. The Police Ombudsman is investigating the Chief Constable as we speak.

Me: That must be embarrassing ?

D: Perhaps. You see, the Police Ombudsman investigated the man called Stake Knife but because there were lots of Brit Spooks involved [which he is not allowed to investigate] he gave the files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Me: And he investigated it!

D: No he can’t he gave it back to the Chief Constable.

Me: And he investigated it!

D: No he can’t because the courts said that his force is biased in favour of the Brit Spooks, so he gave it to a man called Jon Boucher, the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Constabulary.

Me: And his force investigated it!

D: noooo, he is acting with all the powers of the PSNI and his officers come from all arts and parts and he is being judicially reviewed because he works for PSNI.

Me: But apart from that one, there are no complications are there?

D: Weeelll….

Me: Tell me!

D: Some of the Chief Constable’s former senior officers say that the Police Ombudsman’s report into Loughinisland was unfair towards them.

Me: Why?

D: Audi alteram partem.

Me: Ah! so what did they do?

D: They judicially reviewed the report.

Me: How did the Police Ombudsman react to that?

D: Well, after he had removed the makeup, having appeared in a film about Loughinisland, he objected.

Me: And who won?

D: It’s not over yet.

Me: Why not?

D: The Police Ombudsman has employed the just resigned Director of Public Prosecutions to represent him in front of Mr Justice McCloskey, who many years ago , when he was a barrister, represented some  police in a  case similar to the one he is trying.  Mr McCloskey’s father used to be deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. The just resigned Director of Public Prosecutions and his father before him  used to represent SF/IRA people who wanted to kill policemen. The Chief Constable has said that the inquiry by the Police Ombudsman into his conduct will exonerate him. A man called Bryson has complained to the Department of Justice about the Police Ombudsman appearing in the  film.

Me: Is that a crime?

D: No but it will have to be investigated.

Me: By whom?

D: By the Justice Minister.

Me: But there isn’t one.

D: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

At least I learned Latin in MY banana republic…..

Valete!

 

 

 

George and Drew

If you can only see one movie in 2018 make it this one!

George, played by Jim Broadbent is a small town  sheriff, in Brooklyn , Wyoming ; Drew, his wily deputy is played by Mark Rylance. Idling their time away, George eating pancake stacks and Drew shooting the breeze with the FBI, their imminent path to a cushy retirement is blocked by the sudden arrival of Inspector Collusion, “I suspect everyone and I prosecute no-one”. Reprising his role from No Stone Unturned , Collusion wants to talk to them about why their wives drive the same model of car as is supplied to the police.

Mike Maguire’s Inspector tries to curry favour with the Mayor [ William Shatner] but  he and the townsfolk see through him, helped by cameo roles from Stephen Nolan and ‘Creepy’ Crawley as the owners of the local rag; “let me have men about me that are fat, thon Andrew has a lean and hungry look”.

Without giving too much away, safe to say that Collusion is no longer in town at the end.

This is a feel good movie par excellence. 

Spoiler alert! Both George and Drew have additional romantic involvements.

Irish News: “You’ll be drying your eyes at the end.”

Belfast News Letter: “ way up there with the Foreigner

Irish Times: “amusing, sentimental tosh”

At cinemas near you soon, excluding West Belfast.

Loughinisland, behind the hype

The Police Ombudsman produced a 157 page report. It wasn’t until page 85 that he got around to the police investigation.

After a detailed discussion, his conclusions were that there were “fundamental failings” in the investigation. He believes that persons A,M,K,I and B , whose names  were given to the investigating team  as suspects by Special Branch the day following the murders, should have been immediately arrested, because there was “strong circumstantial evidence”. That would have made for interesting interviewing. “Well, suspect K, we think you were responsible for the murders, because Special Branch  say so”. One can imagine K’s response , the attitude of his solicitor and the view of the custody sergeant. Dr Maguire’s case is that there was a “compelling intelligence picture”, which demanded their arrests. This is , of course, the stuff of fantasy. No SIO would have authorised arrests in those circumstances.

He next states that when the suspects were ‘belatedly arrested’ , there was a failure to properly examine one person’s alibi , K , an inconsistent approach to the collection of forensic samples and an inadequate investigation into the ownership of the Triumph Acclaim , which he asserts was “used by those responsible for the murders”.

Lets consider the evidence in the case. Neither person who entered the bar could be identified because they were masked. There was nothing found in the bar to connect any person to the shooting, despite rigorous forensic examination of the scene.

The getaway car has been described as a red Triumph Acclaim or Honda Accord. No VRM was reported. A red Triumph Acclaim was found the following morning at Listooder Road. Nothing in the car provided any evidential opportunities and there was nothing to connect it to the murder scene. There is criticism that the surrounding area should have been examined for foot prints and that the foot wear of suspects might have matched soil samples from the scene. Those two points are well made, except that , again, who would have been arrested  and what would the basis for the arrest have been?

The investigation into the possession of the suspect car at the material time was badly handled. Its movements were never adequately traced.

A blanket found on a road has not been fully examined.

So, in the immediate aftermath of the murders, the SIO had no evidence to arrest any person for the murders. Even if person O,P,Q, R or S had been suspected of possession of the car, where would that have led, given the usual negative response in interview?

A subsequent find, in August 1994  of a bag containing clothing provided strong supporting evidence that the boiler suits had been in contact with the front passenger seat and the rear seat of the Acclaim. K’s hair sample was a microscopic match with a hair recovered from the holdall. It is not clear what happened to that evidence, although hair matching has been recently questioned as a forensic tool. K’s alibi was not properly tested.

The VZ 58 rifle was not found until August 1994 , separately from the bag. It can be demonstrated that it was the murder weapon.  The rifle cannot be connected to any suspect. It could be connected to the Acclaim.

Let us now assume that K was the best suspect and that he was arrested. In interview police would have asked him about his movements and challenged his alibi. They would have pointed to the hair match. It is not clear whether or not any DNA was available. Let’s assume it was. The police case, working backwards would be that his hair  and DNA was found in a bag, along with overalls, which could be linked to the seats of the Acclaim which might have been the getaway car. The murder weapon was found close by and can be connected to the Acclaim. K remains silent, as is his right. That’s the height of the case.

Would that provide a reasonable prospect of success for a prosecution for murder?

Finally, Dr Maguire accepts that the investigation “categorised in excess of one hundred people as suspects”. Make of that what you will, Dear Reader.