Letters link 95 OTRs to 295 murders

Letters link 95 OTRs to 295 murders

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has heard that 95 of the 228 Republicans, who received letters under the controversial on-the-run scheme, are linked to nearly 300 unsolved murders.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris gave evidence about the government letters scheme at Westminster on Wednesday.ACC Harris said: "When you look at the full 228 names, there are people in that who are notorious without a doubt, 95 of these individuals are linked in some way or another to 200 murder investigations. That link linkage can or may only be intelligence but that is now being assessed."In a statement, police later clarified: "A review is currently underway of the 228 names involved in Operation Rapid. 95 of these are linked to 200 incidents involving 295 murders."The link can take a number of forms including intelligence."Mr Baggott said a thorough investigation is now underway into every OTR letter issued but told the committee that, on this matter, police had "failed".The 'on-the-run' letters scheme came to the fore in February following the collapse of the trial of Co Donegal man John Downey, 62, who denied charges linking him to the 1982 Hyde Park bombing.He had been mistakenly sent a government letter saying he was not wanted for questioning by police.It then emerged that 'on-the-run' letters were sent to over 200 republican paramilitaries telling them they were no longer wanted.Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a judge-led inquiry into the OTR scheme.

© UTV

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