Has Chief Constable Matt Baggott put the authorities in the dock over the killing of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson?

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One of the national papers prioritising the ‘stories’ of the week came down on the side of ‘Ryan Giggs and Superinjunctions.’ Evidently news hadn’t reached that writer that a report into the Loyalist killing of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson had concluded:
‘Some members of the RUC made abusive and/or threatening remarks about Rosemary Nelson to her clients. This became publicly known and would have had the subsequent effect of legitimising her as a target in the eyes of Loyalist terrorists.

‘We believe that there was some leakage of intelligence which we believe found its way outside the RUC. Whether the intelligence was correct or not , the leakage increased the danger to Rosemary Nelson’s life.

‘There was a corporate failure by the RUC to warn Rosemary Nelson of her vulnerability and offer her security advice.

‘The combined effect of these omissions by the RUC and NIO was that the state failed to take reasonable and proportionate steps to safeguard the life of Rosemary Nelson.’

Where did the right to life fit into all of this? Will anyone be held accountable for this panoply of negligence?

Secretary of State Owen Paterson will clearly feel pleased at a pliant media buying at face value, his statement extracted from the Michael Morland’s Report which reads ‘ There is no evidence of any act by or within any of the state agencies we have examined ( the RUC, the NIO, the Army or the Security Service) which directly facilitated Rosemary Nelson’s murder.’

And so it seemed the government had got away in the smoke until the Chief Constable spoke. So little attention was afforded his unequivocal response when asked to comment on the report into the killing of the County Armagh solicitor. He went on ” I am very willing and very open to apologise- I say that again on behalf of the PSNI to Rosemary Nelson’s family and friends for any inadequacies and failing that have been identified and I say sorry.”

Does Matt Baggott’s next utterance put the authorities in the dock for alleged negligence regarding the killing of Rosemary Nelson?

I specifically asked Mr Baggott “Do you have any responsibilities to an individual if you receive letters and warnings that that person’s life is in danger?”

He replied without hesitation “We have very clear obligations under the Human Rights Act that we do everything possible to protect people.” The Morland Report speaks for itself.

How much more is there to say regardless of what Owen Paterson said in the House of Commons? I listened to Professor Brice Dixon and my interpretation of what he is saying leads one to believe that the Nelson family have legitimate questions to put even though the Morland report has already cost £46m.


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I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.

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