31 January 2006

IMC independence challenged in court


(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

The IMC's independence is being challenged in the courts with a claim that a company connected to one of its members receives payments from the PSNI.

The Independent Monitoring Commission is expected to report this week on whether the IRA remains involved in paramilitary or criminal activity.

However, High Court proceedings in London, issued on behalf of Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy, argue that it cannot be seen as independent because of former Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve's position as director of the John Grieve Centre for Policing the Community Safety.

Legal submissions obtained by The Irish News state: "The John Grieve Centre has confirmed that it receives payments from the PSNI for PSNI delegates who attend Commissioner Grieve's centre.

"The John Grieve Centre also confirm that PSNI officers deliver lectures to seminars and conferences organised by, and for the benefit of [the centre]."

Mr Murphy's lawyers argue that any direct or indirect financial relationship between Mr Grieve and the PSNI renders the IMC incapable of delivering "independent or fair" reports.

There is no suggestion that Mr Grieve has acted illegally or improperly.

An IMC spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing court case, but reiterated the commissioners' public statement on their independence in March 2004.

"We wish to make clear now, for the avoidance of any doubt, that we are an independent commission," the four-member body stated.

"None of us would have accepted appointment as a commissioner or would continue in office if that were not the case. Nor would we continue if we felt that the governments were denying us access to the information we need.

"All the views we express will be ours and ours alone, reached after careful consideration of the material we have received."

January 31, 2006

This article appeared first in the January 30, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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