Northern Ireland police chief cleared of misconduct

Chief Constable George Hamilton says he has been 'completely exonerated'

Northern Ireland police chief cleared of misconduct

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton. Image: 09-04-2018. Image: Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA Wire/PA Images

The chief of police in Northern Ireland has said an investigation into alleged criminal activity and misconduct in public office at the PSNI has “completely exonerated” him of any wrongdoing.

Some of the North’s highest ranking officers have been facing a police ombudsman’s investigation.

The Watchdog has been examining how senior officers handled a bribery inquiry into the awarding of a contract to supply vehicles to the force.

The PSNI conducted an investigation into alleged bribery and corruption regarding the contract in 2014.

After a file on the matter was presented to Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service, it directed that no criminal charges should be brought forward.

The police ombudsman’s inquiry has been ongoing since October 2017.

"Full exoneration"

In a statement this morning, Chief Constable George Hamilton said he and a number of other senior officers have now been told that no action will be taken against them.

“Today, I and the other senior officers involved welcome the full exoneration provided by the Police Ombudsman,” he said.

“The Ombudsman has reported that he is entirely satisfied that the original investigation was necessary, intelligence and evidence-led, lawful and proportionate.

“He has found that our actions were taken entirely in the public interest and not to have done so would have seriously impacted on public confidence in policing.

“He has recommended no misconduct proceedings against myself or any other police officers, nor at any stage during his investigation did he interview any officer for criminal conduct.”

Investigation

He insisted the originally police inquiry into allegations of bribery corruption was conducted with integrity and to the high professional standards that the public rightly expect from their police service.”

In a statement ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said he had found no evidence the PSNI chief constable, members of his senior management team and other named police officers, were involved in criminality or misconduct."

He said the original investigation was justified and warned that if they had ignored information that “gave them sufficient suspicion criminal offences may have been committed” they would have “failed in their duty.”