Politicians on Northern Ireland's policing board will be involved in the appointment of the next Chief Constable, despite a warning that the move could create a risk of legal action.

Lawyers were asked about the possible implications of a remark by Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald last month that she did not believe any current senior PSNI officer could do the job.

Chief Constable George Hamilton is to retire in June and his successor will be appointed by the board.

The normal procedure is for a member of each political party on the board, including Sinn Féin, to sit on the interview panel for the recruitment of all senior officers.

However, the lawyers told the board there could be a legal "vulnerability " if political members were to sit on the panel.

They advised there could be a risk of legal action by an unsuccessful internal PSNI candidate, who could potentially claim the process was not impartial.

The suggestion was that the best solution might be to proceed without politicians.

Board members met with their lawyers in private session today to seek clarification and to discuss their options, including ways to mitigate the legal risk.

In a statement afterwards, it said a selection panel has been nominated to recruit the next Chief Constable.

That panel will include members of the 5 main political parties.

The statement from the board's chair Anne Connolly said it is "fully confident that the process can move ahead with integrity and on the basis of equality for all."

It added: "The Board, and the panel now appointed, is responsible for progressing a recruitment process that is based on the key principles of merit, fairness, openness and transparency."

Ms Connolly said that in a move aimed at providing further assurance and confidence, the board has agreed to "incorporate additional independent scrutiny thoughout the process to bring an extra level of scrutiny, probity and transparency."

The decision is not a surprise.

Policing and political sources told RTÉ News yesterday that it was highly unlikely the process would exclude politicians because doing so would undermine the credibility of the new Chief Constable as well as public confidence in the PSNI.

One source said a Chief Constable appointed without the input of politicians on the board "would be a lame duck from day one."

There were also concerns that politicians on the board could launch legal action if they were excluded from the appointment process.