NEWS: Union Flag protestors should have their convictions quashed as officer faces criminal courts for misconduct

The news broke at the weekend that the Investigating Officer in the PSNI case brought against me in relation to peaceful union flag protests is to be prosecuted for misconduct in public office in relation to actions taken as part of that specific case- however a conviction, and potential further charges against senior officers, could have ramifications for all those dubiously prosecuted by the Operation Dulcet team.

By Jamie Bryson- Editor@UnionistVoice.com

@JamieBrysonCPNI

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It was heart-warming to see the PPS statement carried in the Irish News in which they issued a warning relating to reporting or commentary which could prejudice the officer’s trial. I agree with this sentiment, I just wonder why it wasn’t similarly expressed in relation to loyalists charged with criminal offences, many of whom who have had their right to the presumption of innocence systematically violated by prejudicial media reports.

This police officer is entitled to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial before a jury of her peers, however given the PPS have issued non-jury certificates for issues stemming from what they claim is political hostility- and given this relates to the union flag protest- I wonder will such a certificate be issued in this case?

I do not want to in anyway prejudice the officer’s trial; therefore I am going to steer clear of any commentary on the specifics of the particular charge.

However, this is the second police officer to face disciplinary and/or criminal charges relating to their actions in the PSNI case brought against me. Two years ago another officer, following my substantive Police Ombudsman complaint, was disciplined for misleading the court in my original bail hearing- the result of which was that I was remanded in custody on the basis of his false assertions. The Ombudsman did not feel this reached the level of perjury, however I disagree and I will again be writing to the PPS to ask them to consider charging this officer.

The two officers are both constables, my real interest is in the senior officers who I am confident in claiming unlawfully orchestrated a fabricated case in order to have me remanded in custody. I believe that it will come out in upcoming criminal cases that then Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr provided a false witness statement in relation to a meeting he held with me and other Ulster People’s Forum representatives. This statement was later removed from the prosecution file and destroyed. It was never disclosed to me or my defence team, and ACC Kerr provided sworn evidence at my trial which contradicted his original fabricated statement. It is believed there will be a footprint of the original statement, later removed, on the PSNI’s internal system.

The Public Prosecution Service prosecutor was aware that disclosure was being withheld from me and- to his credit- removed himself from the case; however his overriding duty should have been to have advised the court that the PSNI were unlawfully suppressing material entitled to be disclosed.

The PSNI did disclose a document and attendance list from the impugned meeting; however they removed all reference to the administrative officer who was present taking minutes. These minutes were later destroyed and PSNI told the court they did not exist.

The PSNI also told the court that there was no transcript or audio of the Irish News interview given by ACC Kerr in which he stated there was “no such thing as an illegal procession”. This audio did exist but was doctored and PSNI claimed the tape had malfunctioned and thus the key part of the interview was missing. This later appeared, partially, before the Court of Appeal in a Judicial Review but had never been disclosed to the defence during my trial.

It is clear that Operation Dulcet, under the control at the time of Sean Wright, was a witch hunt against loyalist flag protestors and despite the fact it has taken 6 years, I am pleased that it appears my assertions of serious and illegal foul play on the part of the PSNI are going to be tested by the criminal courts.

There is no doubt that many union flag protestors convicted by the Operation Dulcet team will be watching the upcoming court cases closely and, if appropriate, seeking to have their convictions quashed. It is significant that a police officer will find themselves in the dock relating to actions in the Operation Dulcet prosecution, however what such a trial may reveal about more senior officers is likely to be all the more astonishing.


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