Police chief to lead fresh probe into disputed 1972 shooting of Belfast woman

An independent probe will be launched into the fatal shooting of a young Belfast woman in 1972.

Jean Smyth-Campbell, 24, was shot dead while sitting in a car on the Glen Road in west Belfast on June 8 that year.

The IRA was initially blamed for her death but there is now speculation that the secretive army unit the Military Reaction Force was involved.

The fresh investigation will be led by outgoing Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

It comes after Court of Appeal judges ruled in March that PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton is under an obligation to further investigate the death of Ms Smyth-Campbell in a way which meets human rights requirements.

Mr Hamilton made the announcement of the new investigation on Wednesday, shortly before he is due to leave his job.

He said: “I recognise the frustration of Jean’s family and representatives at the lack of progress in this case, and I am deeply sorry there were previous investigative failures into the circumstances surrounding her death.

“Without prejudice to my intention to seek leave to appeal elements of the McQuillan judgment, I have now directed that an effective and practically independent investigation, with the capacity to be Article 2 ECHR compliant, begins into the death of Mrs Jean Smyth.

“This will be led by the outgoing Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Jon Boutcher.

“The incoming PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne will retain responsibility for and accountability to the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) with Chief Constable Jon Boutcher as the officer in overall charge of the investigation, attending meetings of the NIPB alongside the chief constable of PSNI when required.”

Mr Boutcher is currently leading Operation Kenova, the investigation into Stakeknife, a high-ranking mole who reputedly ran the IRA “nutting squad”, which interrogated and murdered suspected informers.

The new investigation into Ms Smyth-Campbell’s death is separate to Operate Kenova.

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