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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 21:14 GMT
Police critical of Omagh draft report
Omagh bombing scene
Police officers at the scene of devastation in Omagh
The police have criticised the leaked draft report on the handling of warnings about a possible attack before the Omagh bomb.

The report suggests that the police had information about a planned attack in Omagh 11 days before the 1998 bombing which left 29 dead, but this was not passed to police officers on the ground.

It says that had the information been passed on and security checkpoints been put in place, the bombers may have been deterred.

Reacting to the draft report, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said it felt it "contains so many significant factual inaccuracies, unwarranted assumptions, misunderstandings and material omissions that a request has been made to the Ombudsman's Office for a reasonable period of time to respond in detail with what we see as the serious deficiencies in this report".


We asolutely reject that either information provided by an agent, codenamed Fulton, or an anonymous call on August 4 1998, could have led to the prevention of the atrocity

PSNI

The police statement added that the service had always made it clear that "primary in our considerations are the feelings of the bereaved families, the injured, their families and other victims of the Omagh atrocity".

The service said it had been provided with a draft copy of the report in confidence and had been asked to comment on any factual inaccuracies.

While the service said it felt it would be inappropriate to comment on the report at this stage, it stated that it "absolutely rejected that either information provided by an agent, codenamed Fulton, or an anonymous call on August 4 1998, could have led to the prevention of the atrocity".

The service added that "as always promised, no stone will be left unturned in this investigation which continues to be very much alive".


The allegations which the ombudsman makes were not put to the officers concerned, in flagrant breach of their human rights

Police Federation

Meanwhile, representatives of rank-and-file police officers in Northern Ireland also criticised the leaking of the draft report.

The Police Federation of Northern Ireland said Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan she should "consider her position".

A spokesman added: "Her report is not based on anything which could properly be called evidence. The allegations which she makes were not put to the officers concerned, in flagrant breach of their human rights."

Her knowledge of the handling of intelligence and the realities of policing in Northern Ireland was "simplistic in the extreme", the federation said.

It said she appeared to have forgotten that police officers also suffered in the Omagh tragedy.

The federation also said it felt the report would add to the sense of hurt felt by the people of Omagh and give comfort to those who sought to blame the police.

"Her handling of this case, and a number of other cases, are rapidly driving the members we represent to a position of erosion of confidence in the Office of the Ombudsman and her ability to carry out her investigation in a proportionate and professional manner," the spokesman added.

See also:

06 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
RUC 'knew about' Omagh attack plan
17 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Police chief rejects Omagh claim
06 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Omagh families' shock at revelations
16 Aug 99 | UK
The day the clocks stopped
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