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PPS to reconsider Hamill decision

12 March 10 17:49 GMT

The Public Prosecution Service is to review a decision not to prosecute a retired RUC officer after being urged to by the Robert Hamill inquiry.

RUC officers have been accused of standing by as Mr Hamill was assaulted by a loyalist mob in Portadown in 1997.

Mr Hamill suffered severe injuries in the assault and died 11 days later.

In 2004 the PPS decided not to prosecute ex-RUC Reserve officer Robert Atkinson for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The opening session of the inquiry was told that, within two weeks of the murder, police had names for those involved in the assault, and were aware of claims that Mr Atkinson warned one of the killers to dispose of clothes worn in the attack and updated him on the investigation.

Mr Atkinson was one of four armed RUC officers in a police Land Rover parked at the scene of the assault.

He denied the allegations made against him and the charges were dropped.

The recommendation to review the decision was made in an interim report by the inquiry into Mr Hamill's murder.

It hopes to complete the final report within the next 12 months.

The PPS said it would review the decision as to prosecution made in respect of Mr Atkinson, as recommended by the inquiry.

It said it had enquired, through the office of the Attorney General, whether there is further information which the inquiry can provide to help inform that review.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly has welcomed the recommendation in the inquiry's report.

Mr Hamill's sister Diane said the family had complete faith in the inquiry.

"We were devastated back in 2004 when (the prosecution) was dropped over what seemed to be flimsy reasons, but now the inquiry has said it should be looked at again, it's a positive step for us," she said.

"We just want the truth and if mistakes were made, we want them acknowledged. If there were failings, they must be acknowledged as well."

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