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Review highlights scandal of O'Hagan murder probe

25 September 2013

The NUJ has given a guarded welcome to the announcement that the police handling of the murder of Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan is to be reviewed by the police ombudsman in Northern Ireland.

The union says the circumstances, which have led to the review, are "deeply disturbing" and highlight major defects in the original investigation and are cause for public concern.

Martin O'Hagan, a leading NUJ activist, was murdered in 2OO1. No one has been convicted of the murder.

The public prosecution service announced that it is not in a position to review the prison sentence handed down to so-called supergrass Neil Hyde, who had received a lenient prison sentence in return for co-operation with the police investigation into the murder of the former secretary of the NUJ Belfast and District branch.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said:

"The announcement that the director of public prosecutions has referred the investigation to the police ombudsman is a depressing reminder of the failure of the police to investigate properly and impartially the murder of Martin O'Hagan.
"A deal was done with Neil Hyde and he received a three year prison sentence in February 2012 for a range of offences. The judge made it clear that he would have received an 18 year sentence if he had not agreed to identify those involved.
"It subsequently emerged that his uncorroborated evidence was not sufficient to secure the conviction of suspects. The PPS now says there is no basis to refer Hyde's sentence back to the court. The 75 per cent reduction in his sentence for his co-operation under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005) will not be reversed and we are still waiting for justice. 
"The director of the PPS is referring the investigation under section 55 of the Police (NI) Act 1998. We would give this development a guarded welcome but do not believe the ombudsman is capable of delivering the justice which Martin, his family, his co-workers and his union colleagues have been demanding since his brutal murder."

Tags: , safety, ireland, martin o'hagan, murder, newspapers, sunday world, journalists killed, belfast and district branch