You may recall that in my posts on 21st and 28th May and 4th and 11th June, I dealt with the incompetent or corrupt Report prepared by Damien Coll the Forensic Officer employed by Forensic Science of Northern Ireland (FSNI). I had made a formal complaint to the Secretary of State David Hanson and asked for an investigation into the Report only to have the complaint sent back to FSNI to carry out the investigation themselves. The outcome was that Coll was praised for his work.
When I complained to the Coroner at the last hearing when Coll was protected from giving all the evidence or from being cross-examined by me at the behest of Coroner Leckey, the allegations I made there was given a second internal examinationby FSNI staff and Coll was again exonerated. These events were covered in the posts during the month of October.
Much later, I was prompted by the Office of the Minister of Justice to make a formal complaint to the Northern Ireland Ombudsman about my concerns with the Report by the FSNI. This is an office not connected in any way to the Police Ombudsman and is essentially meant to oversee and monitor the behaviour of Governmental bodies and to deal with complaints. It also has responsibility to investigate complaints about the FSNI after the complainant has been unsuccessful in getting satisfaction by first complaining to the FSNI directly.
Apparently it is such an almighty organisation in status that a lowly citizen is unable to approach it in person but can only submit a case through his or her MP and only if the MP considers it a worthy complaint. I thought it akin to having to plead to God through the intercession of the Saints.
My local MP was Doctor Alasdair McDonnell, ably assisted by Nicola his member of staff.
I would make my plea through them.
It is fair to say at this point that they were probably the two most helpful people I came across during my search for justice and without doubt the best two saints I could have found in a Justice System with few saints.
This is my letter to the Ombudsman on 19th January 2013 endorsed and sponsored by my MP. I included the book Junk Justice as sworn statement by me.
This was his reply.
The main thrust of my letter was not about the allegation of forgery made in the Coroner’s Court. I knew that was a criminal offence if true and would be dealt with by the police. I was hoping that the ombudsman would concentrate his investigation into the incompetence and lack of integrity and professionalism of Coll. I was also concerned about the absence of any real or purposeful investigation of my complaints to the FSNI.
I wrote back.
On the 18th April 2013, as a result of this second letter from me, the Deputy NI Ombudsman Marie Anderson invited Dr McDonnell and myself to a meeting to discuss the complaint further.
We met at SDLP Headquarters in Ormeau Road Belfast on 10th May 2013. Dr McDonnell, as facilitator rightly played little or no part in the exchanges.
Most of the points in the letters were covered and her conclusion was that no investigation would be carried out by them until the Coroner’s new Court Hearing was completed. We are still waiting.
I expressed the view that I found it remarkable that serious allegations made by me about a professional witness could be ignored at the whim of the Coroner’s Court and meanwhile he could continue to ply his trade without any possible censure. She went on to say that any evidence of FSNI maladministration would not be investigated until all Court cases had been completed.
She explained that her Department was constrained in its action by the 1996 Order.
The meeting ended after about a wasted hour.
A month later, when neither Dr McDonnell nor myself had received any followup letter from the Ombudsman, I wrote to her and stated that I had decided not to pursue my concerns with her office further.
The penultimate post in this current series of posts will detail my claim for compensation submitted to the PSNI.