Claire Sugden appoints Independent Assessor of PSNI Recruitment Vetting

Date published: 19 October 2016

Minister, Sugden has appointed the Right Honourable Sir Patrick Coghlin as the Independent Assessor of PSNI Recruitment Vetting. Sir Patrick is a retired Lord Justice of Appeal.

Announcing the appointment, Minister Sugden said: “I am delighted that Sir Patrick has agreed to take up the role as Independent Assessor of PSNI Recruitment Vetting, which pays a key part in the police recruitment process.

"The founding legislation requires an individual with a judicial background for the appointment of the Independent Assessor and I am confident that Sir Patrick brings a wealth of skills and experience to this important role.

"In accordance with my statutory duty, I have consulted the Northern Ireland Policing Board and I am pleased that they share my view that Sir Patrick should be appointed to this office."

The Independent Assessor is responsible for reviewing a decision taken by the vetting panel that a candidate is unsuitable for appointment to the PSNI if the candidate appeals the decision.

The appointment for a term of four years, will take effect from 1 November 2016.   Sir Patrick replaces Sir Anthony Campbell who will be stepping down from the position after his second term as Independent Assessor expires on 31 October 2016.

Paying tribute to the outgoing Independent Assessor, the Minister said: "Sir Anthony has made a tremendous contribution to the procedure for candidates to appeal the decision of the Chief Constable’s vetting panel.  I would like to thank him for his service and wish him well for the future.”

This appointment has been made in accordance with the CPA NI Code of Practice.

Notes to editors: 

1. The Independent Assessor is an independent statutory office holder appointed in accordance with the Police (Recruitment)(Northern Ireland) Regulations 2001, as amended. 

2. The Regulations require that the person appointed as Independent Assessor shall have held judicial office within any part of the United Kingdom.

3. Before making the appointment the Minister of Justice consulted the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

4.  The Independent Assessor’s role is to review decisions of the PSNI vetting panel on the suitability of any candidate for appointment as a police trainee or member of PSNI support staff and to make a report to the Chief Constable stating whether he agrees or disagrees with the decision of the panel and may make recommendations as he considers appropriate.

5. The Right Honourable Sir Patrick Coghlin is a retired Lord Justice of Appeal in Northern Ireland.  He was educated at Queen’s University, Belfast and Cambridge University.    He was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1970, to the Bar of England and Wales (Gray’s Inn) in 1975 and to the Bar of Ireland in 1993. 

6. He served as a Deputy County Court Judge from 1983 and was appointed to the High Court in 1997.  He became Lord Justice of Appeal in 2008 and served in this position until his retirement in August 2015.  He has also held positions as Deputy Chair of the Northern Ireland Boundary Commission and as a member of the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission.

7. He was appointed as Privy Counsellor in 2009.  He holds no other public appointments.

8. The appointment will be effective from 1 November 2016.  Annual gross remuneration for the Independent Assessor is £8,250 payable monthly.  A per diem fee is also payable in line with the rate of fees for judicial office holders in Northern Ireland.

9. The appointment has been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland’s Code of Practice. 

10. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.  However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published.  Sir Patrick has declared no political activity. 

11. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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