Reports withheld until HET reformed

Reports withheld until HET reformed

The family of a man killed by loyalists in 1997 have been told that reports by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) on unsolved murders will be withheld until its future is decided.

An inquest heard that a policing watchdog criticised the team for acting unlawfully and so an embargo has been placed on releasing any further reviews.The family of Sean Brown, who was murdered as he locked the gates at Wolfe Tones GAA Club in Bellaghy in 1997, were told they would not be receiving the report into his killing until a new investigator had reviewed previous work.Last year the Inspectorate of Constabulary found that the HET investigated cases with state involvement "with less rigour" than others.The head of the group has since stepped down and options for reform are being considered by PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and the Policing Board, HET lawyer Ken Boyd explained.He stated that a draft report into Mr Brown's murder was prepared by an officer who has left the HET and a new officer who has taken over is reviewing the work."The draft report cannot be handed to the families at this stage because it has to be quality assured. The new officer has to be sure that he is happy with the report before it goes out," Mr Boyd told the Belfast hearing."Once the decision has been made as to how the new HET will be formulated, then the work will commence again."An inquest into the 61-year-old's murder has been repeatedly delayed, and Senior coroner John Leckey said he expected preparatory work on legal documents to be complete by May or June.He said: "I have always felt that this was one of the most horrific murders in the course of the Troubles and I would be keen to give some priority to it."Victims' group Relatives For Justice Called on the Chief Constable and the Policing Board to hand over reports completed before HMIC findings published last July.The group has met with the Policing Board several times since last year calling for the HET to be replaced by an investigative mechanism independent of the PSNI.RFJ Director Mark Thompson said: "Families bereaved by conflict have the right to know the circumstances of the killings of their loved ones. This right particularly extends to all documentation relating to the killing."We believe there are as many as 40 completed reports up until the July 2013 period not yet handed over to families. There are also supplementary reports in response to further issues raised by families following the initial reports they received. We believe that these too are completed."From the families' perspective they understand fully that the HET process was flawed but that doesn't lessen the fact that they simply want these reports irrelevant of them being good, bad or otherwise."


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