Northern Ireland

Police Ombudsman: Marie Anderson on ‘extended absence’ due to illness

Ombudsman linked to West Midlands Police investigation

Police ombudsman for Northern Ireland Marie Anderson at her office in Belfast
Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson has taken an 'extended absence' from her post due to illness (Liam McBurney/PA)

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson has taken an “extended absence” from her post due to illness, her office has confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the ombudsman said on Friday “her functions have been delegated to the senior director of investigations” Paul Holmes.

Last year, West Midlands Police was asked to investigate a domestic incident linked to Ms Anderson, who took up her role in 2019.

The PSNI referred the alleged domestic incident to the English police force last October.

At the time, the PSNI said officers “received a report of a domestic incident” and attended an address in Co Down”.

“Police were unable to gain access to the address and following contact, a man aged 63 was arrested for common assault and interviewed,” a spokeswoman said.

The man was later released, and it emerged on Friday a file has been forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “A file has been submitted to the Public Prosecution Service in respect of one individual arising out of a report of domestic incident in the Holywood area in September 2023.”

The PPS also confirmed it has “received a file”.

“This matter is under consideration,” a spokeswoman added.

The PSNI also asked “West Midlands Police to lead an investigation and assess whether there are any further criminal offences following an alleged incident in Co Down”.

Sources previously suggested Ms Anderson held discussions with a senior PSNI officer after the alleged incident.

It is understood staff members at the ombudsman’s office were told of her absence on Friday.

A spokeswoman confirmed that the ombudsman “is currently on an extended absence due to illness”.

Functions have been delegated to the senior director of investigations “pending the arrival of the new chief executive Hugh Hume”.

Mr Hume is a former head of intelligence with the PSNI’s C3 unit, formerly known as ‘Special Branch’.

Sources say he had an oversight role with the now defunct Source Handling Unit, which was attached to the PSNIs Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).

The ACU has been linked to the surveillance of journalists, lawyers and former police officers.

It is understood Mr Hume will take up his new role in August.