EXCLUSIVE: The senior PONI officer that made the criminal complaint into Loughinisland documents theft

In November 2018 nationalist activists and solicitors acting for Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey whipped up a media storm. They claimed that the Police Ombudsman had not made any statement of complaint in relation to the theft of the confidential documents used as the basis for the discredited ‘No Stone Unturned’ documentary- this was a lie.

By Jamie BrysonEditor@UnionistVoice.com


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It can now be revealed that the complaint was made by the Police Ombudsman’s senior investigating officer Paul Holmes who has held the position of Director of Investigations (Historical) since 2010.

It must be stressed that there is no allegation of any impropriety on the part of Mr Holmes who did not issue any public denials as to the existence of the statement of complaint, nor played any role in the public statement issued by the Ombudsman which sought to mislead the public as to their criminal complaint into the theft of confidential documents.

Indeed it was the Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire himself, who was investigated by the Department of Justice for his role in the No Stone Unturned documentary, that came out to back up the assertions that no complaint had been made.

A PONI source has claimed that the Ombudsman sought to “throw Paul Holmes under the bus to maintain his close (the Ombudsman’s) relationship with certain legal professionals involved in a range of legacy cases targeting the state.”

Unionist Voice robustly challenged this assertion by the Ombudsman at the time. This site was in possession of a detailed chronology of events provided to the Department for Justice by PONI themselves. This document listed the referral of the matter to the PSNI.

Today Durham police Chief Mike Barton, who had been tasked with investigating the theft, publicly challenged the Police Ombudsman to explain the contradiction between his public statement and the documented criminal complaint that had been made on behalf of his office. What was not revealed by Mr Barton was that the complaint was made by none other than the Ombudsman’s own Director of Investigations, Paul Holmes.

The Durham police force, called in by Chief Constable George Hamilton to investigate the theft of the Loughinisland file, are to continue investigating the theft.

It is understood that the stolen documents were not ‘posted’ to Barry McCaffrey as alleged by the journalist but rather had been leaked to a nationalist solicitor who later took a keen interest in the case. This solicitor was keen to ensure the carriage of the material had the protection of journalistic privilege, therefore the story that the document had been posted was contrived in order to cover up his involvement in passing along the stolen documents.

In a recent unrelated case KRW Law were severely criticised in a High Court judgement in the case of Morley after they sought to use stolen confidential documents from the Police Ombudsman’s office, later claiming they obtained them from a ‘client’. Under pressure as to the source of the confidential documents, KRW Law fell back on legal privilege to avoid having to identify the ‘client’.

It is of course simply a huge coincidence that KRW Law act for one of the two journalists arrested in connection with the stolen Police Ombudsman documents allegedly posted to them. It would be entirely improper to point out any similarities in the Morley case and the Loughinisland case lest anyone misinterpret such similarities.

It is more appropriate to quote from Master Bell’s judgement, which you can read in full HERE.

[56] One of the most unusual factors in this application is that the applicant relies upon information from stolen documents to ground the application. It is important to emphasise, however, that the applicant avers that neither she nor her solicitor have themselves committed any unlawful act and that the Ombudsman has not made any assertion to the contrary. Nevertheless the fact remains that the application relies upon information which was originally obtained from the Ombudsman’s office unlawfully and in breach of a duty of confidence. Even if the information came into the possession of KRW Law lawfully through a third party client, the individual who provided the documentation to the third party client did so unlawfully and in breach of his or her duty of confidentiality to the Ombudsman.

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