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Thursday, September 2, 1999 Published at 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Patten denies RUC leaks

Patten says reports are ill-informed

The former governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, has described media leaks of his report into the police force in Northern Ireland as total fabrications.

Mr Patten is due to publish recommendations for reforming the RUC next week.

BBC NI's Brian Rowan: Patten condemns report speculation
Speaking in Brussels the head of the Independent Commission on policing said some of the assertions were a "total fabrication" and were designed to create a very difficult political atmosphere.

Referring to speculation that the RUC would be split into a number of regional forces, he said: "There has been a whole debate about whether we are going to Balkanise the police service. That is a straight forward fabrication.

Chris Patten: "I cannot deal with every smear"
"And why is it happening? I think there is an effort to distract attention from the real substance of our report next week and to muddy the water before we report.

"I can't deal with every fabrication and every smear, or every piece of educated guesswork, because I would get involved in a political striptease, showing you a week ahead what's in the report or what isn't."

The Search for Peace
Mr Patten also said reports of filling the police force with paramilitaries were also a "complete and total fabrication".

Mr Patten has recommended that his report, which contains over 200 proposals, should not be cherry-picked.

[ image: RUC faces possible name change]
RUC faces possible name change
It will include a recommendation, vehemently opposed by unionists, that the RUC will be called the Northern Ireland Police Service.

But Mr Patten said that the RUC will not be broken up into a number of regional forces.

His comments came after a former chief constable of the RUC spoke out about some of the changes suggested in media reports.

Deep concern

Sir John Hermon, who was chief constable of the force between 1980 and 1989, said: "I did support the Patten committee and did, and still do, the assembly, because I think they're both essential.

"What concerns me about the Patten commission at the moment is the unprecedented number of leaks of what the Patten commission report is going to concern.

''This has caused a lot of deep concern not only within the Royal Ulster Constabulary but I would also say the considerable majority of this community."

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