PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne faces vote of no confidence in his leadership after DUP pulls support

Pressure mounts on beleaguered Byrne ahead of third emergency board meeting in a month

Last week Mr Byrne was told he retained the confidence of the 19-member oversight body despite a series of major blunders, including a huge data breach.

While the board commissioned an independent review of how the PSNI failed to spot a document containing the names and ranks of almost 10,000 officers and civilian staff before it was published online, it was happy for him to continue as the head of the force.

At no stage did Sinn Fein threaten to withdraw support for policing – John Finucane MP

However, following a damning High Court ruling this week, the DUP is no longer backing the Chief Constable.

Ulster Unionist board member Mike Nesbitt is also expected to withdraw support.

A number of policing failures are due to be raised at today’s emergency meeting, and other senior officers may also now find themselves subject to a no confidence motion.

On Tuesday the High Court ruled the decision to discipline two junior officers over an arrest made at a commemoration for five Catholics murdered in the Sean Graham’s bookies massacre on the Ormeau Road in 1992 was unlawful.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Scoffield said the disciplinary action followed a threat that Sinn Fein could withdraw its support for policing.

The party has insisted there was no threat.

The UFF terrorist atrocity also left nine people injured, among them Mark Skyes, who was shot a number of times.

Mr Sykes was arrested at the 29th anniversary event and filmed being led away in handcuffs.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said the party raised “valid concerns with the Chief Constable” following the incident, but was adamant there was no suggestion republicans would pull their backing for the police.

“At no stage during any calls to, or meetings with, senior PSNI officers did I suggest or insinuate that Sinn Fein would withdraw support for the rule of law or policing, or remove our members from the Policing Board,” he added.

The DUP and Sinn Fein both have three seats on the Policing Board. While the latter is expected to maintain the stance taken at last week’s meeting and continue to support the Chief Constable, unionists are now calling for him to go.

DUP board member Trevor Clarke said the High Court ruling had “changed everything”.

He added his party’s U-turn since last week “is based on the judgment”.

“I would have thought that the Chief Constable would have the sense to read the room,” he said.

“Our party position is that he was given chances to prove himself, but unfortunately the court judgment has left him in a position I don’t think is retrievable.”

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