Northern Ireland’s police chief relinquished position on Monday with morale among his officers at its lowest ever ebb after a huge data breach led to almost 10,000 of their names falling into the hands of dissident republicans.
Chief Constable Simon Byrne resisted calls to quit in the weeks after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) workforce data was accidentally leaked in response to a freedom of information request.
The pressure on him increased after more revelations of security breaches before reaching a fever pitch last week after a High Court judge ruled he had unlawfully disciplined two junior police officers who were at a Troubles memorial event.
High Court judge Mr Justice Scoffield said the officers had been disciplined to allay a threat that Sinn Fein could withdraw its support for policing.
Sinn Fein has insisted that it never made such a threat but the Democratic Unionist Party brought forward a motion of no confidence in Mr Byrne to Northern Ireland’s Policing Board.
“Morale has never been lower in the Service,” said Police Federation of Northern Ireland chair Liam Kelly after Mr Bryne finally resigned at a fourth emergency Policing Board in just under a month.
“Mr Byrne has now done the right thing,” he added.
The Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland said the resignation ended a period of “worrying uncertainty and great disquiet within the Service.”