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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 06:27 GMT 07:27 UK
Fresh conflict over Omagh bomb report
Sir Ronnie and Mrs O'Loan engaged in a public row
Sir Ronnie and Mrs O'Loan engaged in a public row
Two of Northern Ireland's most senior police officers have provided signed statements which may be used by the police ombudsman's office to defend part of its controversial report on the Omagh bomb investigation.

That report is currently being challenged in the courts by the Police Association, which represents all ranks, up to and including chief constable.

The issue of who had command of the Omagh investigation is thought to be the main area of dispute.

The signed affidavits have been made by Assistant Chief Constables Alan McQuillan and Sam Kincaid.

Their statements are said to contradict part of a third affidavit made by the former head of Special Branch and CID Raymond White, who recently retired.

ACC Alan McQuillan
Alan McQuillan has submitted affidavit
They also challenge the accuracy of a paragraph included in the formal police response to the ombudsman's report.

Securing affidavits from Mr Kincaid and Mr McQuillan will be a major boost for Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan's office.

A spokesman for the police service said the affidavits had been made in a personal capacity.

Alan McQuillan, who will be interviewed for the post of Northern Ireland chief constable next week, took command of the police region covering Omagh a short time after the bombing.

That post is now filled by Sam Kincaid.

Scathing

The ombudsman published a scathing report on the investigation of the 1998 Omagh bombing, in which a Real IRA car bomb killed 29 people.

It concluded that the judgement and leadership of the then Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan and the assistant chief constable of the crime division was "seriously flawed".

The PSNI criticised the report as containing "factual errors".

The papers lodged by the Police Association's solicitors included affidavits sworn by Sir Ronnie and association chairman Jimmy Spratt.

The association contends Nuala O'Loan's report and associated decisions were unlawful because the chief constable and other senior officers were denied a fair and reasonable opportunity to make a considered and informed response.

The papers stated the ombudsman "subjected the chief constable to a withering condemnation of his professional skills, abilities and judgement" without giving him a chance to respond.

Accusing the ombudsman of being "unreasonable and disproportionate", the papers concluded: "The ombudsman's report and associated decisions constitute a misuse of her statutory powers, responsibilities and functions."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's chief security correspondent Brian Rowan:
"The issue of who had command of the Omagh investigation is thought to be the main area of dispute"
Click here for the full special report

Ombudsman report

Bomb trial verdict

Archive - the blast:

PANORAMA

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Omagh report
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12 Dec 01 | N Ireland
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