Pollock appointed new policing board chief

New policing board Chief Executive Sam Pollock

New policing board Chief Executive Sam Pollock

Former Police Ombudsman chief executive Sam Pollock will be appointed as the new head of the Policing Board within days, sources confirmed on Tuesday.

Mr Pollock dramatically resigned as chief executive of OPONI last April claiming the independence of the ombudsman’s office has been undermined by interference from senior civil servants within the Department of Justice.

As a result of Mr Pollock’s claims two inquiries were subsequently launched to investigate his allegations.

The first report, carried out by Community Relations Council (CRC) chairman Tony McCusker, exposed deep divisions inside the ombudsman’s office and questioned the leadership given by Al Hutchinson to staff.

Mr McCusker confirmed that he had found evidence of interference by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

His review was critical of the role of the Northern Ireland Office, but claimed it had found no "systematic interference’’ from civil servants.

However a second report carried out by Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) Dr Michael Maguire, which was first reported by The Detail in August 2011, was even more damaging to Mr Hutchinson.

The CJI report recommended that OPONI suspend work on all Troubles related cases due to ``the flawed nature of the investigation process’’.

Crucially it confirmed Mr Pollock’s claims of a "lowering of independence’’ inside the ombudsman’s office with senior OPONI officials asking to be disassociated from investigation reports because they could not agree with the findings.

Nationalists demanded Mr Hutchinson’s immediate resignation.

He subsequently announced that he would step down early and left in January.

Dr Michael Maguire was subsequently appointed as the new Police Ombudsman.

He will take up the post in July.

The Policing Board was also left without a full time chief executive last March after the resignation of Adrian Donaldson.

Mr Donaldson had been absent from the chief executive’s post on health grounds since December 2011.

He had been subject to an external review of his work amid claims he was under-performing in the role.