THE most senior detective in the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigating the Enniskillen bombing was taken off the case several months ago, The Impartial Reporter can reveal.

It is understood the man overseeing the investigation into the IRA attack which killed 11 people and injured 63 in 1987 left the HET, a special unit of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, after strong disagreements with the leadership.

The investigator is said to have found himself “in conflict” with those in charge of the HET.

Fermanagh-south Tyrone MLA Tom Elliott has described this as “a huge development” and criticised the HET for “refusing to divulge” any information about the investigator’s surprise departure.

“I had been dealing with the man leading the HET for over three years and then suddenly I was informed that he had been removed from the case. I found out later that he was gone from the HET altogether, but they are refusing to tell us anything else.” “This is a huge development when the leading investigator of some time has been taken off the case and the officers from the HET are refusing to divulge why that is,” he said.

Mr Elliott has suggested that there is “certainly a possibility” that the investigator’s departure may have contributed to the delay in the publication of the HET report into the Enniskillen bombing.

“This really frustrates me and I am finding it very difficult to get answers from the Historical Enquiries Team. Even back in July when I and others met with them they did not fulfil a commitment they gave us that they would have information for us within three weeks. Here we are several months later continuing to wait for the information.” Mr Elliott believes the investigator “may have been trying to investigate too deeply.” “I do know he was quite a thorough investigator. My hunch is that maybe he was hoping to make enquiries that others didn’t agree with, or maybe he wanted to speak to people that he suspected of being involved in the Enniskillen bombing or could have provided them with information but others didn’t want him to speak with them.” “Maybe it wasn’t appropriate to ask certain people certain questions,” added Mr Elliott.

“I am surprised as to why the Historical Enquiries Team haven’t been more upfront about it and I don’t know if they have even explained all that to the families,” he said.

Mr Elliott is now seeking answers from PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott about the issue.

“It is clear the HET is finding huge problems in developing this case and this review. I think there is a frustration among people that they see some cases getting more in-depth investigation and having significant amounts of money spent on them whereas the Enniskillen review has been going for years without a conclusion. I will approach the Chief Constable soon about this,” he said.

This latest development comes just months after the HET senior management came under fire following the publication of an inspection report which criticised the organisation’s leadership. The highly critical report revealed that the way in which the HET investigated deaths caused by the army was illegal resulting in the suspension of investigations of military killings and the policing board declaring that it had no confidence in the senior leadership of the team.

We contacted the Police Service of Northern Ireland yesterday (Wednesday) to seek an update on the progress of the investigation into the Enniskillen bombing. A spokesperson said: “This forms part of the ongoing review of HET and, as such, it would be inappropriate to comment.”