Published Friday, 08 August 2014
Sir Hugh Orde has claimed that the team was set up to fail.
The HET was created to meet the demands of victims of republican, loyalist and state killings for more information about their loved ones' deaths.
But, the unit was severely criticised by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in the past.
Sir Hugh said: "I set up the HET - I take full responsibility for it. It was absolutely set up to do a very difficult job. It was a unique approach.
"It was around trying to give the families as much as we possibly could.
"My reference to being set up to fail was to in relation to what we aimed to do - it was when it was inspected the questions asked of the inspection were clearly going to be answered in the negative."
He added that it was his view that the issues of the past could never be solved through the HET.
"I felt there was an obligation on the PSNI, which I had the privilege of commanding, of doing something, of contributing to that debate and to do something that was meaningful to some families."
The former head of the HET, Dave Cox, has said at one stage it was more like a publishing house, such was the pressure to publish a large volume of reports dating back to the earliest days of Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict.
Sir Hugh continued: "We were never going to satisfy all families. I was expecting someone else to do a far bigger piece of work - that's called Eames - Bradley and that still sits on the shelf.
"It was set up to succeed - it was set up as a very genuine and personal effort to deliver some resolution to as many families as we could - but we were realistic.
"The Police Service of Northern Ireland could not deliver the peace process single handed.
"What failed to happen was a more holistic approach that Eames- Bradley advocated - of which the HET could have been a part.
"It was never going to be the totality of the solution."
The senior officer is now the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
© UTV News