Police Federation vindicated as PSNI Chief Constable accepts High Court ruling on officers being unlawfully disciplined

Police Federation of Northern Ireland Chair Liam Kelly
Police Federation of Northern Ireland Chair Liam Kelly

“The events of February 5, 2021 were difficult for everyone,” Mr Byrne said in a statement.

“Those paying their respects at a memorial event, the young officers who attended on behalf of the Police Service and for the public who observed the footage of an incident which happened shortly afterwards which circulated across media platforms.

“As Chief Constable, I accept the findings of the court. In particular that there was a legal error in the way in which the public interest test was applied in deciding to suspend one officer and reposition another, rendering the action unlawful.

“It is important however to clarify that neither officer has been disciplined to date. This judgment relates to the decision to suspend one officer and reposition another whilst the Police Ombudsman conducted an investigation following a public complaint.

“We will of course take time to carefully consider the full judgment to ensure any lessons are learnt to prevent any future recurrence.”

Meanwhile the Police Federation said serious questions have to be asked of the decision-making of the PSNI’s Senior Executive Team after it won its Judicial Review into actions taken against the probationer officers.

Federation chair Liam Kelly said: “This is clear vindication of the position we adopted. It was our clear view that the initial actions taken by PSNI against both officers were high-handed, unwarranted and excessive.

“There was a headlong rush by the Chief Constable to apologise for what took place when the officers, in fact, were simply doing their duty by enforcing Covid regulations.

"They’d received the all-clear to intervene in the gathering, but yet they were the only two singled out for disciplinary measures.

He said the two officers will be delighted by the High Court outcome, adding: “These officers were sacrificed on the altar of political expediency in a disgraceful attempt to pander to political pressure.”