DPP should appear in front of NI Assembly Justice Committee - Nesbitt

Mike Nesbitt MLA, Ulster Unionist member of the Policing Board, wrote to the Chair of the NI Assembly`s Justice Committee on Monday 17 May asking that the Justice Committee invites the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr Stephen Herron, to discuss recent actions and decisions regarding the Storey funeral.

Mr Nesbitt wrote as follows:

Dear Chair,

As you may be aware, on 2nd April 2021, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr Stephen Herron, wrote to the Chief Constable (CC) of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Mr Simon Byrne, regarding matters relating to the funeral of Mr Bobby Story on the 30th of June 2020.

This letter was copied to the Policing Board of Northern Ireland (PBNI) and has been in the public domain for a number of weeks, characterised as a significant difference of approach / opinion between the DPP and the PSNI.

You may also be aware that the DPP has apologised that the letter entered the public square, citing its forwarding to PBNI as "an administrative error". It was intended for the Chief Constable only, apparently.

The central assertion of the DPP's letter is that it is a well-established practice in this jurisdiction, and also in England and Wales, that the police do not make public a recommendation for prosecution.The DPP pointed out the PSNI breached that custom and practice.

What you may not be aware of, is that at today's meeting of the PBNI, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) disagreed with the DPP's assertion that police recommendations regarding prosecutions should remain confidential. Superintendent Alison Jackson, representing HMICFRS, disagreed with the DPP. Then the Chair of PBNI, Mr Doug Garrett, volunteered the information that Mr Herron had told him in a telephone conversation, that he (Mr Herron) was aware his assertion was incorrect.

Given the DPP's rationale for writing that letter to the Chief Constable was primarily to remind Mr Byrne that neither should do anything to damage the integrity of either's organisation, it strikes me that your Committee might wish to examine and discuss whether the DPP has done exactly what he was warning the Chief Constable against.

I invite and encourage you to invite Mr Herron to appear before your Committee as a matter of urgency to discuss this and other recent actions and decisions of the PPS.

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