02 June 2006

Tensions over PUP woman's presence on board

Belfast Telegraph

By Jonathan McCambridge
02 June 2006

The presence of the PUP chairperson on the Policing Board has ignited fresh controversy with the UVF the main suspects in the attempted murder of Mark Haddock.

A political representative has said she felt constrained from raising the shooting with the Chief Constable because the PUP's Dawn Purvis sits on the board.

Haddock remains in hospital after he was shot six times in the body at an ambush in Newtownabbey on Tuesday afternoon.

The Chief Constable briefed the Policing Board in private yesterday about progress in the investigation into the shooting of the former leader of the UVF in Mount Vernon and alleged Special Branch informer.

However, during the public session of the board, Arlene Foster said: "In the private session I asked you if you felt constrained because of the presence of a certain member.

"I certainly felt constrained probing you on it because of the presence of a member of the PUP with links to the UVF. I did not want to probe you further."

But the Chief Constable responded: "I am not constrained at all and I said what was appropriate. The more representative the board is the better it is likely to be."

Speaking afterwards, Dawn Purvis dismissed Mrs Foster's criticism. She said: "If people want to play silly games that is up to them.

"The Chief Constable has said there is absolutely no indication as to who carried out this attack. I am absolutely committed to the rule of law."

The DUP now plan to take their protest to Ulster Secretary Peter Hain, who appointed Ms Purvis as an independent member of the Policing Board.

It said it was seeking an urgent meeting with Security Minister Paul Goggins.

Although Sir Hugh Orde would not publicly say who he believed shot Mr Haddock, he was encouraged by board members not to shirk making an attribution when he receives adequate intelligence.

Sir Hugh said: "I am not into second guessing my senior investigating officer.

"When it is appropriate to say things publicly, we will do so.

"It is only 48 hours after the event, it is early in the investigation - let's see where it takes us."

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