Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson has found “no evidence” that the PSNI leaked information about the whereabouts of Denis Donaldson before his murder.
However, more should have been done to protect the senior Sinn Féin official turned police informant, a report has found.
Mr Donaldson, aged 55, was shot dead at a remote cottage in Glenties, Donegal in April 2006, in a killing claimed by the Real IRA. Months beforehand, Donaldson had fled the North after being outed as an MI5 and police special branch agent. Then-president of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams publically dismissed him from the party.
A newly-published watchdog report into Donaldson’s murder found no evidence police had leaked information on his whereabouts. However, it found that police failed to properly evaluate the threat Donaldson was under.
Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson found that the PSNI should have carried out a risk assessment of any potential threats to Mr Donaldson’s life following the publication of a media article which included photographs of him outside the cottage just over two weeks before he was murdered.
Shortly after the story appeared, the PSNI received information indicating Mr Donaldson’s life “may be at increased risk”. This information was shared with An Garda Síochána but but Mrs Anderson found no evidence of a PSNI risk assessment having been carried out.
“It is likely that this important measure to assess the threat to Mr Donaldson’s life was not undertaken,” her report stated.
“I am of the view the family’s concerns about the steps taken by PSNI in management of this threat are legitimate and justified,” Mrs Anderson said.
In response to the report, Mr Donaldson’s family said: “For reasons that remain unexplained and unaccounted for, the PSNI abandoned its routine practice of risk assessments.
“This course of action was taken at precisely the moment when the risk to Denis’s life was at its greatest.
“The key question has always been: ‘Did the PSNI do enough to protect Denis’s life?’ The ombudsman’s answer today was no, they did not.”