The uncontrolled and unaccountable RUC Special Branch


In this blog I contend that the available evidence supports the argument that the RUC Special Branch operated without any legal constraints and was indeed a ‘force within a force’. The effect of this was as touched on, somewhat gingerly by the Chief Constable, in a recent speech. He  said this:


“The problem was much bigger and more complex than the “few bad apples” analogy that has been articulated previously. In the absence of any regulatory framework for managing “agents” police officers were left to set their own standards, they were unaccountable to the law because there was no law. They were unaccountable to their fellow citizens. Policing was being done in a vacuum that allowed unregulated practice. Honest individuals were placed in impossible situations, having to choose between bad and worse. Many people lived; but some people also died as a result of that practice.

The environment in which they worked was chaotic – terrorist attacks were happening on a daily basis, and many lives were being lost. Investigations struggled to keep pace with the rate of murder and serious injury.  The pressure was extreme. In these extraordinarily difficult and dangerous circumstances, the intent with which the vast majority of decisions were made was for the protection of the community. But they were, on many occasions, decisions and judgements that should not have been taken; and, I believe, would not have been taken if there had been a proper regulatory framework in place.

The RUC recognised the almost impossible situation they were in and the Da Silva Review makes reference to the fact that the RUC had asked Government for a framework, guidance or legislation on many occasions. Nothing was forthcoming.”




Let’s parse that:

  • Police officers managed agents
  • There was no regulatory framework
  • Officers set their own standards
  • They were unaccountable to the law
  • There was no law
  • Policing was being done in a vacuum
  • There was unregulated practice
  • The RUC had asked the Government for a framework, guidance or legislation on many occasions



Many police officers managed agents. Those in CID were regulated by the use of the Home Office guidelines.


Here they are. There was a later, almost identical version.


Our rcfncncc: POL/ 69 1050/1/1

Four rtftrtnct:





Horsefcrry House, Dean Ryie Street, London S.W.i

Telex: 24986

Telephone: 01-834 6655, ext.


12th May. L969




Dear Chief Constable,



Informants who take part in crime


The Home Secretary’s attention has been drawn to judicial comment in the appeal of Cork, Colman and Macro and to criticism of police action in several other cases involving police use of informants who took part in crime . He sought information about police practice from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and through H.M. Inspectors of Constabulary. The Central Conference on 6th March gave an opportunity for a general discussion of practices and principles.


2* The Conference fully recognised that informants, properly employed, were

essential to criminal investigation and that, within limits, they ought to be protected. The risks attached to their employment were obvious, however, and safeguards were needed before use was made of an informant taking part in crime.

The Conference appreciated that circumstances varied so widely that it was difficult- to establish rules of general application; but the discussion

identified the principles listed in the next paragraph.


  1. The Conference in general agreed on the following points.


(a) No member of a police force, and no police informant, should counsel,

incite or procure the commission of a crime.


(b) Where an informant gives the police information about the intention of

others to commit a crime in which they intend that he shall play a part,

his participation should be allowed to continue only. where :-


(i) he does not actively engage in planning and committing the crime;


(ii) he is intended to play only a minor role; and


(iii) his participation is essential to enable the police to frustrate

the principal criminals and to arrest them (albeit for lesser offences

such as attempt or conspiracy to commit the crime, or carrying of

weapons) before injury is done to any person or serious damage to



The informant should always be instructed that he must on no account act

as agent provocateur , whether by suggesting to others that they should commit offences or encouraging them to do so, and that if he is found to have done so he will himself be liable to prosecution.




Ac) ,


The Chi- f Constable




(c) The police must never commit themselves to a course which, whether to

protect an informant or otherwise, will constrain them to mislead a court

in any subsequent proceedings* This must always be regarded as a prime

consideration when deciding whether, and in what manner, an informant may be used and how far, if at all, he is to be allowed to take part in an offence.

If his use in the way envisaged will, or is likely to, result in its being

impossible to protect him without subsequently misleading the court, that must be regarded as a decisive reason for his not being so used or not being



(d) The need to protect an informant does not justify granting him immunity

from arrest or prosecution for the crime if he fully participates in it    with the requisite intent (still less in respect of any other crime he has committed or may in future commit),


(e) The handling of informants calls for the judgment of an experienced

officer, there must be complete confidence and frankness between

supervising officers and subordinates, and every chief officer of police

should ensure effective supervision of his detectives; a decision to use a participating

informant should be taken at senior level.


(f) Payment to informants from public funds should be supervised by a

Senior officer.


(g) Where an informant has been used who has taken part in the commission

of a crime for which others have been arrested, the prosecuting solicitor,

counsel, and (where he is concerned) the Director of Public Prosecutions

should be informed of the fact and of the part that the informant took in the commission of the offence, although, subject to (c) above, not

necessarily of his identity.


(h) Careful instruction should be given to detectives in training.


  1. The Home Secretary fully endorses these broad principles. He feels sure that

they are already widely applied in the police service; but in view of recent public

interest he thinks it right to bring them to the notice of all chief officers of police. He asks that you will find means of commending them to everyone who may be concerned in your force. He has instructed H.M. Inspectors of Constabulary to pay particular attention, in the course of their inspections, to the arrangements made in police forces for supervision and training in these matters.


Yours sincerely,





The clue is in the title “informants who take part in crime”


Participating informants are a necessary evil. There is no point in having an informant who has the occasional drink with the targets. He has to be in the thick of things. His intelligence is vital in identifying the main criminals. But the handling of a participating informant has to comply with the Rule of Law. It matters not whether the crime is burglary or murder. The law does not distinguish between ‘ordinary crime’ and ‘terrorist crime’.


My contention is that the Home Office Guidelines were perfectly appropriate.


What do others say?



The Police Ombudsman said as follows in her report [Operation Ballast]  into the activities of the Special Branch.

“It is accepted by the Police Ombudsman that intelligence, in itself, is not evidence. However it may be possible to derive investigative opportunities from intelligence. There were mechanisms which were used by other police forces within the United Kingdom to prevent the failings of informant and intelligence handling identified in this Report. Those mechanisms should have involved clear and effective policies for informant handling, combined with regular training and effective intrusive management.

  1. Although such systems were used, to some extent, by RUC CID, they were not used by Special Branch. In 1997 the RUC introduced new rules for informant handling and management. A decision was made by Chief Officers that those rules should not apply to Special Branch. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in 2000 imposed statutory rules about the review, management, assessment and cancellation of informants. The Surveillance Commissioner found, following the referral of the matter by the Police Ombudsman, that those rules had not been complied with in the case of Informant 1, and that there had been a failure to meet National Minimum Standards and to take into account intelligence about Informant 1’s own criminal conduct.

Comment: even after the enactment of RIPA police officers were still not complying with the rules. This gives the lie to ‘Jonty’s’ assertion that what SB did during the Troubles was vindicated by RIPA.

  1. 31.3  Informant handling is a sensitive and important task. Mechanisms did exist and were used by police forces in the rest of the United Kingdom (These were known as the Home Office Guidelines). They were not specifically designed for the purpose of terrorist informants. Nevertheless they would have provided a structure within which there would have been regular assessment of informants, clearly defined and auditable processes for intelligence handling, annual reviews of their contribution and situation, and control over any notified future occasions on which an informant was permitted to engage in crime.

Comment: O’Loan makes the assertion that the rules were not specifically designed for “terrorist informants”. Nowhere does she justify that.

This was the process known as “participating informants,” through which informants could be authorised, within defined limits, to engage in crime.

  1. 31.4  This system was used by RUC/PSNI CID, to some extent, prior to 2000.
  2. 31.5  The rules for participating informants were as follows:
    1. the police must never use an informant to encourage another person to commit a criminal offence;
    2. the police should not mislead a court about an informant’s role in the commission of a criminal offence, particularly where the informant had more than a minor role in the criminal act;
    3. No member of a police force, and no police informant, should counsel, incite or procure the commission of a crime;
    4. Where an informant gives the police information about the intention of others to commit a crime in which they intend that he shall play a part, his participation should be allowed to continue only where:
  1. He does not actively engage in planning and committing the crime;
  2. He is intended to play only a minor role; and

iii. His participation is essential to enable the police to frustrate the principal criminals and to arrest them, (albeit for lesser offences such as attempt or conspiracy to commit the crime, or carrying offensive weapons) before injury is done to any person or serious damage to property.

  1. The need to protect an informant does not justify granting him immunity from arrest or prosecution for the crime if he fully participates;
  2. Where an informant has been used, who has taken part in the commission of a crime for which others have been arrested, the prosecuting solicitor, counsel, and (where he is concerned) the Director of Public Prosecutions should be informed of the fact and of the part that the informant took in the commission of the offence, although, not necessarily of his identity.
  1. 31.6  These rules were not applied by RUC Special Branch. Officers have stated that in the context of terrorism, they were “unworkable”. Attempts were made in the early 1990s to devise a satisfactory system, and approaches were made to Government for the adoption of a more flexible approach to terrorist informant handling. Government did not respond positively to those approaches.
  2. 31.7  The Police Ombudsman has not been provided by the PSNI with any documentation which would indicate that any Special Branch informant whose activities were examined during this investigation, were given participating informant status by the RUC or PSNI for any of the crimes the investigators have examined. These include the suspected crimes of membership of a proscribed organisation and directing terrorism. Over the years informants were allegedly involved in a number of intelligence led operations managed by senior officers, in relation to situations in which the informants allegedly committed offences such as hijacking, unlawful imprisonment, possession of firearms and of explosives. For all of these offences there is no record of Participating Informant status being granted.
  1. 31.8  The Assistant Chief Constable Crime Department has told the Police Ombudsman that a system for the authorisation of participating informants was developed by the RUC for Special Branch in 2001.

Comment: if this was the first system for the authorisation of participating informants it proves that SB were indeed a ‘force within a force’, seemingly unaccountable

  1. 31.9  When information was received, Special Branch officers determined what intelligence should be disseminated to CID or Uniform police on a day-to-day basis. When there had been a terrorist murder, it was the responsibility of local Special Branch officers to liaise with the CID investigation team, to provide them with relevant information which could assist their enquiries. The Police Ombudsman has seen intelligence, which should have been passed to CID officers investigating murders, which was deliberately not passed to them, and was marked “No Downward Dissemination”.
  2. 31.10  When it became necessary to arrest or charge an informant the Walker Report provided that this should only be done in the case of “planned arrests”. In accordance with the following rules; it must be

cleared with Regional Special Branch to ensure that no agents of either RUC or Army are involved. A decision to arrest an agent must only be taken after discussion between Special Branch and CID. If agreement is not possible the matter will be referred to Assistant Chief Constable level. The charging of an agent must be the result of a conscious decision by both Special Branch and CID in which the balance of advantage has been carefully weighed.”

  1. 31.11  RUC rules provided also that :
    1. Police officers should record as much intelligence as possible on official documentation since intelligence ‘held in an officer’s memory’ was unlikely to be properly exploited;
    2. Until 1995, CID “agents”who were members of “subversive organisations” should be handed over to Special Branch or, where this was not possible, they should be jointly handled by Special Branch and CID.
    3. Special Branch had primacy over CID in terms of joint handling of paramilitary informants, until 1995 when CID officers ceased to handle paramilitary informants.
    4. Officers should assess the continued employment of their sources in the light of the information available at the time.
  2. 31.12  In 1997 the RUC adopted new rules for the “Management and Use of Informants,” modelled on rules produced by the Association of Chief Police Officers [ACPO] in 1995. A former Assistant Chief Constable told the Police Ombudsman in 2003 that Chief Officers of the RUC made a decision, in 1997, that Special Branch should be excluded from the operation of these rules. In 1998 a document was produced for the Patten Independent Commission on Policing, stating that all the rules did apply to Special Branch. This clearly was not the case. The evidence from officers is that there was no change in Special Branch practice until 2000.
  3. 31.13  On 25 September 2000, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 [RIPA] came into effect. Under the Act informants are referred to as “Covert Human Intelligence Sources” [CHIS]. In August 2002 a

 “Covert Human Intelligence Sources: Code of Practice”, came into force in accordance with the Act.

31.14 The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act also established the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners. Amongst the responsibilities of the Surveillance Commissioners is the review of the practices and procedures used, and the records kept in connection with the authorisations, review, cancellation and risk assessment of CHIS.



Here are extracts from the de Silva report into the murder of Pat Finucane



Guidance applicable to the Royal Ulster Constabulary

4.15 The only guidance in place relating to the use of informants by the police at

the time of Patrick Finucane’s murder was contained in a Home Office Circular,

the ‘Consolidated Circular to the Police on Crime and Kindred Matters’9 (‘the

Guidelines’). Although the Guidelines were issued in 1986, they were essentially

unchanged from previous guidance first issued in 1969.10 However, the RUC did

not apply either circular in Northern Ireland as they regarded them as inadequate

for dealing with terrorist-related crime.



Comment: This is incorrect. The guidelines were applied to the CID. De Silva contradicts himself later. Also, he appears not to have enquired as to the practical or legal objections to the application of the guidelines to the RUC.


4.16 A letter dated 21 January 1987 from the RUC to the Northern Ireland Office

(NIO) summarised the position as follows:

“[The Guidelines] take no cognizance at all of the special problems relating

to Northern Ireland. They were, of course, drawn up to deal with ‘ordinary’

criminals in a mainland context, rather than for coping with terrorists.

Given our special situation the restrictions placed upon us by virtue of the

guidelines are unrealistic if we are to continue paramilitary penetration/

source protection.”11



Comment: What is the ‘special situation’- how does a ‘civilian’ murder differ from a ‘terrorist’ one?


4.17 A paper subsequently prepared by the RUC for submission to the NIO in February

1988 set out a detailed analysis of the position, which they summarised as


“At present Special Branch in common with other branches throughout

the United Kingdom, has available to it only one set of guidelines upon

which to base its information gathering procedures and to conduct reactive

operations based on the information received. Those guidelines are set out

in the Home Office Consolidated Circular on Crime Kindred (sic) Matters.

They were originally drafted in 1969. In essence the guidelines seek to set

parameters within which the police can determine the degree and extent to

which informants are to be used in the investigation and detection of crime

and the prosecution of criminals before the courts.

By and large they have been successful in this respect and they continue to

meet the needs of the police in dealing with ordinary crime as no apparent

difficulty is experienced in adhering to the principles expressed therein.

However, major problems do arise when it comes to the application of the

guidelines to the terrorist scene, for here it rapidly becomes apparent that

strict adherence to the guidelines would result in a far from comprehensive

or effective intelligence network ever being recognised.” 12

9 Home Office Circular 35/1986

10 Home Office Circular Informants who Take Part in Crime, 97/1969

11 Letter from the RUC to the NIO, 21 January 1987

12 RUC commentary on the Home Office Guidelines on the Use of Informants, 11 February


Comment: Now the RUC are admitting that the guidelines should apply to their Special Branch, the same as all other UK SBs. But there are again “unspecified difficulties”.



4.40 A later submission to the Minister of State at the NIO, John Stanley MP, on

24 February 1988 attached a paper received from the RUC. As was noted in

the covering minute, “[i]t leans rather more towards an analysis of the admitted

problems than towards actual proposals”.33

4.41 The RUC’s submission noted that the Stalker Report had accepted “the

limitations of the Home Office Guidelines on the use of informants in Northern

Ireland ”34 and that the McLachlan Report had found that those Guidelines “must

be regarded as obstructive and confusing in the dangerous task of defeating

terrorism”.35 A detailed background paper by Assistant Chief Constable (ACC)

Monahan analysed “the gap between the demands placed on the intelligence

sector and its legal capacity to achieve its objectives”.36


Comment: It is not known what arguments Monahan made in this paper.


On 3 March 1988 the NIO wrote to the Home Office on the subject of the

Guidelines, noting that:

“… the Stalker/Sampson enquiry raised the question of the guidelines for

the police in dealing with informants in terrorist cases. The subject was

subsequently dealt with in some detail in the report of Mr Charles McLachlan,

a member of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary [HMIC], on his

special investigation of the RUC. The general thrust of the comments is that

the existing Home Office Guidelines on Informants are not appropriate to

police forces, particularly the RUC, in their counter terrorist operations.” 38


Comment: It is not known what comments McLachlan  made on this subject.


Information I have received from the Security Service indicates that the issue

was a topic of informal discussion for some months between the Attorney

General and the Security Service’s Legal Adviser. In a note dated 28 April 1989

recommending that the Home Office Guidelines be amended “to allow effective

but properly supervised use of agents in countering terrorism”, the Legal Adviser

summarised the problem as follows:

“… it can be argued that the Home Office Guidelines are undermined because,

in order to run a terrorist agent so as to gather intelligence or evidence, they

must be continually breached. If that is the case it is unacceptable in terms

of law enforcement. The law enforcement authorities should not be put in

such a position. The rights of the terrorists themselves to a fair trial should

not be jeopardised by non-observance of the rules. Agents’ rights should not

be put at risk by inadequate protection under the rules, particularly as to the

disclosure of their identity.” 50


Comment: my underlining-it is clear that the MI5 Legal Adviser does not see how a participating informant of the type being run can be operating within the rule of law.



4.59 On 12 December 1990, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland wrote to the

then Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Kenneth Baker MP, enclosing a copy of the

new draft Guidelines produced by the Working Group.61 His letter summarised

the current position as follows:

“It has long been tacitly acknowledged that the current Home Office Guidance

on the use of participating informants was inappropriate in the current

terrorist context in Northern Ireland. That Guidance was drafted in 1969, ie

before the emergence of the current terrorist campaign, and it was therefore

designed essentially for ‘ordinary’ crime. Although the so-called ‘Home

Office Guidelines’ are not, of course, binding on the RUC in the absence of

any other guidance, they have been adopted as a general yardstick for RUC

operations, at least as far as non-terrorist crime is concerned.


Comment: this contradicts de Silva’s earlier statement that the guidelines were never applied to the RUC

The RUC have strongly represented – and have been supported in this by ‘outsiders’

like Mr Stalker and the late Mr McLachlan – that a completely new set of

Guidelines are required. They want Guidelines which would recognise the

need to allow informants providing vital intelligence to take part in serious

crime provided that certain criteria were met and under the strict supervision

of a senior officer.” 62


Comment: this is on the face of it, an extraordinary demand. The request is that participating informants should commit serious criminal offences and be not prosecuted, if they are providing “vital intelligence”. It suggests that this is already happening and that RUC SB simply want it “recognised”.


4.65 Blelloch’s Report was circulated by the then NIO Permanent Secretary, John

Chilcot, on 15 July 1992.67Blelloch produced a range of recommendations for

the better management and handling of agent activities in Northern Ireland.

However, as he noted in the Report, the question of the guidance to be issued

regarding the position under the criminal law of agents, their handlers and others

engaged in the intelligence process was one that he was not able finally to

resolve. He described the position as follows:

“It has long been acknowledged that the current Home Office Guidelines on

the use of participating informants are inappropriate in the current terrorist

context in Northern Ireland. The Guidelines were drafted in 1969 before the

emergence of the current terrorist campaign and were accordingly designed

essentially for dealing with ‘ordinary’ crime …

These issues were raised both by Mr Stalker and subsequently by Mr

McLachlan in their reports of 1987/1988. A NIO-led Working Party has since

drawn up, in 1990, a revised set of draft Guidelines … These have been

seen and endorsed by the Chief Constable of the RUC but have not, as yet,

received collective Ministerial approval. The Security Service have in the

meantime for practical purposes been following them, as have the Army.

The RUC in their somewhat different circumstances have not. There, for the

moment, the matter rests.


Comment: it is striking that MI5 and the Army, aka FRU etc seem to be content to use the new guidelines, but not the RUC. I wonder why?

The Nelson case has revived the issue. Source handlers and sources have

both queried, as well they might, what, with Nelson in prison, their position

now is and neither can at present be given a very satisfactory answer …

[T]here is something manifestly unsatisfactory about a situation in which

people are expected by Government to undertake difficult and often very

dangerous tasks without, as far they can see, any clear idea of the extent of

the support they can expect if things go wrong.

Nothing has emerged in the context of this review of agent handling to

suggest that the content of the [proposed] draft Guidelines … should be

revised: the problem is one of the status of the document, and, specifically,

the extent of Ministerial approval. The need to clarify this status seems to the

review team to be a matter of some urgency now, and, moreover, one that

will not go away …” [Emphasis in original]68

Chilcot’s letter of 15 July 1992 distributing the Blelloch Report also enclosed a

copy of a minute from the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick

Mayhew. The minute endorsed the report but gave the following comment on the

section regarding agent-handling guidelines:

“… I believe the position is more straightforward than the Report suggests.

… The starting point is that an agent may not, and may not be ‘authorised’ to,

commit a criminal offence. A criminal offence, however, requires a criminal

mind: for all practical purposes no offence will be committed by an agent

whose act is not accompanied by a criminal mind – that is to say, a mind

desirous of the commission of the relevant offences.

Subject to the views of the Attorney General, I consider that, for example,

the ostensible membership of a proscribed organisation acquired by an

agent for the purpose of contributing to the prevention of the organisation’s

objectives is not criminal in character. Similarly, an act that is relevant to

the criminal law of attempt, is not criminal in character if it is done with the

purpose of permitting the actor to participate in the subsequent frustration of

the offence.” 69


Comment: let’s consider an example. Agent 1234 tells his handler that his ASU is going to plant a bomb below a policeman’s car. Agent 1234 is to pick up the device and deliver it to the planter. According to Mayhew [who I knew and liked] Agent 1234 has no guilty mind because he does not intend the bombing to take place and/or at the moment when he hands the bomb over it is merely an attempt , not an actual bombing.

4.67 Commenting on that suggestion in a minute dated 25 August 1992, the then

Attorney General, Sir Nicholas Lyell QC, said:

“I recognise there is a serious argument, as you suggest in your minute, that

someone who participates in a particular crime with the intention of actually

frustrating that crime is not guilty as a secondary party. But even if that is

right, and it must be recognised that the law in this area is not yet clearly

developed, it would not assist the individual who participates in a crime not

with the object of frustrating that particular incident but with the intention of

maintaining his cover in order to help the Security Forces generally or to

permit them to prevent a subsequent crime or to arrest those concerned

after the event.


Comment: here the Attorney General gets to the core of the problem. The issue that apologists for the Special Branch, like Dr Matchett, cannot answer. Agent 1234 not only hands over the bomb but he drives the bomber to the scene and the policeman is murdered. Is the Agent to receive an amnesty because to have intercepted the bomb might have betrayed the presence of an informer? How many such operations might be authorized for this agent?

It may be that the courts would also recognise a more general defence for

undercover agents based on considerations of expediency or necessity. But

again the very existence of such a defence, let alone its precise scope, is

uncertain and I see no way in which an informant could properly be told to

rely on it.

Clear evidence of motive and intention may of course be highly relevant in

the analysis of any potentially criminal conduct which comes to the notice of

the prosecuting authorities in relation both to sufficiency of evidence and to

consideration of the public interest. But it remains my firm view that this must

be a matter for the prosecuting authorities after the event and in the light of

all the circumstances. There cannot be a basis for the approval of guidelines

which might be said to purport to condone in advance conduct which would

properly be the subject of criminal proceedings.”


Comment: my underlining- here the A-G again gets to the core of the problem. No guidelines which pre-approve  serious criminal conduct can ever be legal.


4.69 Further insight into the Attorney General’s perspective can be gained from the

minutes of that meeting which noted, in relation to one of the options under

consideration (“Option 3: 1990 Guidelines to be approved by the Attorney

General ”), that:

“… the Attorney General could not approve any guideline which appeared to

condone in advance the commission of serious criminal acts. Responding to

the point that even were he brought to do it the pressure of the first difficult

case would make his position intolerable … [the Legal Secretary to the Law

Officers] agreed and added that the Attorney did not believe that this option

could be delivered.” 71


4.71 On 14 July 1993 Chilcot submitted a note to the Secretary of State setting out

the conclusions of the Interdepartmental Working Group, which he summarised

as follows:

“… the present situation is not satisfactory. The existing law appears to leave

agents, handlers, and others involved in the intelligence process – including

Ministers – unduly exposed. This has practical drawbacks (in terms of our

ability to run agents, who are vital to our work against terrorism) as well as

political and ethical ones.

There is much that can, and should, be done on a non-statutory basis to

improve matters. The Blelloch recommendations will help (although they

are primarily directed to army agent handling, whilst the underlying problem

affects all agencies). So will further elaboration of the existing schemes of

guidance and regulation within agencies, based around a common core

understanding both of the law and of best practice. Nonetheless, a stable

and satisfactory way forward, which is fair to agents, handlers and the others

could only (in the view of my group) be achieved by new legislation.” 74

4.72 Thereafter the Cabinet sub-committee on Northern Ireland, under the Prime

Minister’s chairmanship, considered papers from the Secretary of State for

Northern Ireland on 29 July and September 1993. An internal Home Office briefing

note dated 1 September 1994 summarised the results of these discussions

as follows:

“The Northern Ireland Secretary and the Attorney, with some support

from the Defence Secretary, argued strongly that a statutory solution was

necessary. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary

and the Chancellor of the Exchequer all expressed grave reservations about

opening up such a sensitive area to Parliament when the slenderness of the

Government’s majority could not guarantee a satisfactory outcome.

Formally the meetings were not conclusive in that the committee left open

the possibility of legislation if further work by the NIO failed to identify a

satisfactory non-statutory solution.” 75

4.73 The changing political landscape in Northern Ireland, however, appears to have

diminished the impetus to resolve the problem. The briefing note goes on to

comment that:

“The issue has not subsequently been referred back to Ministers though

there have been occasional meetings of the NIO working group … Given

Ministers’ declared view and the new context created by the Joint Declaration

we have endorsed the NIO view that the issue is best played long. Moreover,

some of the alarm in the immediate aftermath of the Nelson case has abated.

The argument that increased uncertainty about the legality of particular

operations would make agent recruitment and handling more difficult was

probably overstated …

The PIRA announcement of a cessation of violence must increase the

possibility that the policy issue will quietly be laid to rest unless the police

and other agencies start to argue (as they have not yet done) that the law

needs to be changed to buttress their covert operations against other forms

of serious crime. The 1969 circular remains an embarrassment but the line

will have to be that the police and each of the agencies rely primarily on their

own internal (unpublished) guidelines and that they are, in addition, subject

to the ultimate oversight of the prosecuting authorities and the courts.” 76

4.74 Sir Patrick Mayhew minuted the Prime Minister on 28 May 1995 with the following

update on agent-handling:

“In my minute of 11 January I reported that the official Working Group on

Agent Handling remained of the view that the shortcomings in the existing

arrangements for running agents may satisfactorily be resolved only by

legislation, but that the absence of a suitable legislative opportunity and the

uncertainties over the peace process meant that the time was not yet right

to take a final decision on the matter …

With the [PIRA and loyalist] ceasefires in Northern Ireland continuing to hold,

the need to resolve the issue will not be compelling, unless the situation

deteriorates. I still consider that legislation is the only effective solution, as

officials have been unable to produce any viable non-statutory proposals.

However, I doubt there will be a suitable opportunity for legislation on this

topic in this Parliament … I suggest therefore that unless things change we

simply continue to keep open the possibility of legislating … on the issue

when an opportunity arises.” 77

4.75 The necessary legislation was eventually passed (under a different administration)

in the form of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).




4.85 As the running of agents lies at the heart of this Review, I have dealt with the

history of the applicable guidance at some length.

4.86 It is absolutely clear that there was no adequate agent-handling guidance

or direction whatsoever in the late 1980s. The 1969 Home Office Guidelines

had not been designed for a counter-terrorism situation and had, rightly, been



Comment de Silva again falls into error. The guidelines had not been discarded by RUC CID. The CID ran agents, many of who were involved in terrorism.  What the Special Branch wanted would never have been granted, that is clear. They wanted rules to permit them to run agents who participated in serious crime, including murder. They ran these agents in any event, without the cover of the State. Therein lies much of what is appearing in the Belfast News Letter, under cover of the response to the legacy consultation. A police officer swears to uphold the law and to protect life. A soldier or an agent swears no such oath.


The FRU Directives and Instructions were manifestly unsatisfactory

and the Security Service similarly lacked any external framework for assessing

the extent to which agents could become involved in criminality. Successive

reports and representations from senior RUC, Security Service and (latterly)

Army officers had highlighted the fact that this situation was unacceptable.

4.87 In such circumstances the UK Government had a duty to provide an effective

statutory framework and clear policy direction. The issue was considered

extensively at Cabinet level and Government Ministers were clearly aware

that agents were being handled in Northern Ireland without reference to any

adequate guidelines because no such framework existed. Ministers nonetheless

continued to place a high priority on pursuing an intelligence-led approach to the

terrorist threat. The result of this was that agent-handlers and their supervisors

were being asked to perform a task – namely the penetration of agents to the

heart of a terrorist group – that, in some cases, could not be carried out in a way

that was both effective and lawful.

4.88 What was required was a clear statutory recognition that agents must be run at

the heart of terrorist groups; some recognised limits as to the extent to which

agents could become involved in criminal enterprises; and a rigorous regulatory

framework to prevent abuses. RIPA subsequently demonstrated the type of

statutory regime that should have been applied much earlier in the context of

Northern Ireland. However, it is doubtful whether RIPA and its associated Code

of Practice provides a real resolution to these difficult issues given that it provides

little guidance as to the limits of the activities of covert human intelligence sources.

4.89 Many of the grave issues relating to the involvement of agents in the murder of

Patrick Finucane must, therefore, be considered in the context of the wilful and

abject failure by the UK Government to put in place adequate guidance and

regulation for the running of agents.

[R/15] said that the gistthat he took from the Government’s response was, in effect, ‘carry on with

what you’re doing but don’t tell us the details’. This remained the attitude

until around 2000 when the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA)

coming into force required the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

(RIPA) to be passed to deal with the situation.” 81


Similarly,although RUC SB officers undertook training and received supervision, I have not

seen any evidence to suggest they were provided with training or briefing on the

legal implications of agent-running. This is, however, not particularly surprising

given the absence of a statutory framework on which to base any such training

or guidance.


So , let’s return to George’s bullet points:


  • Police officers managed agents-yes
  • There was no regulatory framework-incorrect, it just wasn’t applied to SB
  • Officers set their own standards-looks like they did
  • They were unaccountable to the law-they have got away with it so far
  • There was no law-the law was ignored
  • Policing was being done in a vacuum-wrong, policing is always done within the law
  • There was unregulated practice-definitely
  • The RUC had asked the Government for a framework, guidance or legislation on many occasions-yes, but what they wanted was undeliverable and would not be countenanced under RIPA

Final comment

There are no bad soldiers, only bad generals. RUC high command turned a blind eye to SB and all its works. The consequences were as Hamilton says , mistakes were made and lives were lost. There is no such thing as the ‘greater good’ as an excuse for facilitating murder.

The outcome is that the state and in particular the PSNI is concealing millions of documents that would , as in Ballast or de Silva, show the extent of malpractice.

Hundreds of cases turn on the availability of these documents.

It’s not only SFIRA who want to re-write history.

Would you buy a used car from Jeffrey Donaldson?

In the sixties , cars were pretty basic. The standard model had no radio, no heater and no carpets. For those you had to buy the “de luxe” model.

Neither were there many improvements or innovations.

So, in order to sell more models , the company would advertise the “new 1967 model” , which would just be like the 1966 model , except that it would have a different paint job, a new grille and go-faster stripes.

The Historical Enquiries Team was dreamt up by the Brits to make the citizen think that the State was somehow interested in solving the murders of their loved ones. It was a sop, which Sinn Fein IRA were happy  to go along with because they had been assured that it would also be a flop. Its modus operandi was to obtain the box containing the investigation file and associated items, dump them onto a desk, read them and put them back in the box. They then used a boiler plate template to produce a “report”. Those of us who objected to this charade were given the privilege of a “focussed report” where the team got off its ass and interviewed a few superannuated RUC men , who could remember nothing.

It was the basic model of investigation.

But now, a new model is in the showroom. The “de Luxe HIU”.

It has those go faster stripes, paint job and grille. But no heater or radio.

And its being sold by this man, your friendly knight of the showroom, Jeffrey Donaldson.

Jeffrey Donaldson

Here’s what he had to say about the HIU and all its works at a Westminster hall debate on 10 January 2017.


“Two years ago, we reached an agreement in Stormont about the legacy issues and several new institutions were proposed, including an historical investigations unit that would have full police powers to revisit the unsolved murders. The main impact of the establishment of that unit would be that the murders committed by the terrorists would finally be subjected to proper scrutiny and reinvestigation, and the innocent victims that the hon. Member for South Down referred to would have the opportunity to have their cases re-examined to see whether there was the prospect of prosecution and people being brought to justice. I accept the point that the hon. Member for South Antrim made about getting evidence for cases from so long ago.

The Stormont House agreement is there. There is currently an impasse between Sinn Féin and the Government on national security. Sinn Féin are demanding that this Government fully disclose in the public domain everything that happened, which would mean that if the Special Air Service had carried out an operation in Loughgall and shot members of the Provisional IRA who were exploding a bomb outside a police station, all that the SAS did—all the rationale, all its modus operandi and all the military planning that went into that operation—would be out in the public domain. How could we ever counter terrorism again if we put in the public domain the very methods that we use to detect what is happening and safeguard life? It is a nonsense that a former terrorist organisation should have the right to demand that a lawful Government put that information in the public domain.

The Government must hold the line on national security; further, they should act now. They need to proceed with the Stormont House agreement.”

Like most car salesmen, Dear Reader , this one is prone to exaggeration and not to be trusted.

His sales patter is a farrago of lies.

What are they?

In the next episode I will kick the tyres, open the bonnet and take Jeffrey’s de luxe model for a spin. Let’s see how it handles, compared to the old model, shall we?









An open letter to George Hamilton

Dear George,

I’ve just got around to reading the full text of your speech of 15thMay.

Straightaway, you mention transparency. That doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it’s because since I started communicating with the PSNI in 2002, your force has been opaque.

But let’s leave that for now.

I’m glad that you agree with me that something untoward was happening in policing during the Troubles and that it was not restricted to a few bad apples.

But then I’m puzzled. You say “In the absence of any regulatory framework for managing ‘agents’ police officers were left to set their own standards.”

Then  you say that “there was no law”  a few lines  later you say “ there are [sic] a range of charges that can be brought”

You see, George, the persons who murdered my parents, whose names you can find on my blog, most of them had a handler and some of those handlers were police officers and you know who they were. Those officers knew, if not before , then certainly afterwards, the identities of the perpetrators. They , the police officers, committed most of  the range of offences you enumerated above.

Records: lets dwell on that for a second. Prof Lundy and other academics have commented on those records which you say the Police Ombudsman has “unfettered access to”. No he doesn’t. Are you telling the public that the Ombudsman’s representatives roam the stores at Sprucefield and Seapark at will? What about your gatekeepers? The old SB guys. What about your chief spook, Drew Harris? Don’t they keep tabs on the files? What about the ‘difficult’ files which the Security Service has removed from you and now stores at Loughside?

Although you admit that you know of no legal definition of collusion, you say that it “signals malevolent intent”. What’s your authority for that proposition , George?  I know why you say it. The secret is in the next bit. You want us to think about all the brave officers. It’s not about bravery , George.

You can give me no lessons on what a brave officer looks like.

It’s not long before you return to your old unapologetic self. You say that the police were operating in a vacuum. The police had no “framework, guidance or legislation”

I’ve news for you , George. The Human Rights Act of 1998 simply put on the  British statute book  the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which had long been recognised by British courts and a good read of it by senior officers might have given a hint about how to police. Anyway, allowing an agent to kill doesn’t take  much of a look at a moral compass to know that it is wrong .

Frankly, I got weary of the same old words at this point, George. Why? Because for almost twenty eight years your force and its predecessor and every chief constable has lied to me.

So, on close inspection, I’m as unimpressed by this speech as I have been by all the rest.

Take your own advice, get out of your own comfort zone, be selfless and open the files on James and Ellen Sefton.

Yours sincerely

Peter Sefton

My life in a banana republic-Latin edition


Or as the Romans said “salvete”.

My father and uncle were keen that I should get a good education in my home country, so they handed me over to the nuns when I was four. Then I was educated by the Jesuits at my country’s leading grammar school. Dingle asked me if they were violent. I said no , but the nuns could punch their weight.

So the Jesuits taught me Latin. This has stood me in good stead. I recognise many Latin words in English. The lawyers are particularly fond of it. John Larkin never lets a paragraph go by with out a ‘bon mot’ or should I say a ‘verbum bonum’.

Why all this pretentiousness?

I had difficult questions for Dingle, my friend, part academic, part soldier, part philosopher.

Me: Dingle, the police exist to investigate crime?

D: Yes

Me: So all crime is investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland?

D: Not necessarily.

Me: What crimes would the PSNI not investigate?

D: If a police officer was alleged to have committed a crime.

Me: Who investigates that?

D: The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Me: Is he a policeman?

D: No , but he employs former policemen-and women.

Me: So they investigate the police who are alleged to have committed crimes?

D: Yes

Me: And if they think they have, what then? Does one of these police persons make a report?

D: No the Police Ombudsman makes a report.

Me: But he is not a policeman?

D: Quite so. They can recommend that the policeman is prosecuted.

Me: Who does that?

D: The Director of Public Prosecutions

Me: So he prosecutes policemen?

D: If need be

Me: So what happens if the Police Ombudsman thinks that the policeman should simply be reprimanded?

D: He reports to the Chief Constable, who decides on a punishment.

Me: What if the Chief Constable is reported as having done something wrong?

D: The Police Ombudsman investigates that

Me: So do these three people ever speak?

D: Yes , when the Police Ombudsman produced a very critical report on Loughinisland, the Chief Constable thought it was very good. Although when Mr Justice McCloskey said it was very bad, George said that he tended to agree with him.

Me: Is that it?

D: Oh no. The Police Ombudsman is investigating the Chief Constable as we speak.

Me: That must be embarrassing ?

D: Perhaps. You see, the Police Ombudsman investigated the man called Stake Knife but because there were lots of Brit Spooks involved [which he is not allowed to investigate] he gave the files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Me: And he investigated it!

D: No he can’t he gave it back to the Chief Constable.

Me: And he investigated it!

D: No he can’t because the courts said that his force is biased in favour of the Brit Spooks, so he gave it to a man called Jon Boucher, the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Constabulary.

Me: And his force investigated it!

D: noooo, he is acting with all the powers of the PSNI and his officers come from all arts and parts and he is being judicially reviewed because he works for PSNI.

Me: But apart from that one, there are no complications are there?

D: Weeelll….

Me: Tell me!

D: Some of the Chief Constable’s former senior officers say that the Police Ombudsman’s report into Loughinisland was unfair towards them.

Me: Why?

D: Audi alteram partem.

Me: Ah! so what did they do?

D: They judicially reviewed the report.

Me: How did the Police Ombudsman react to that?

D: Well, after he had removed the makeup, having appeared in a film about Loughinisland, he objected.

Me: And who won?

D: It’s not over yet.

Me: Why not?

D: The Police Ombudsman has employed the just resigned Director of Public Prosecutions to represent him in front of Mr Justice McCloskey, who many years ago , when he was a barrister, represented some  police in a  case similar to the one he is trying.  Mr McCloskey’s father used to be deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. The just resigned Director of Public Prosecutions and his father before him  used to represent SF/IRA people who wanted to kill policemen. The Chief Constable has said that the inquiry by the Police Ombudsman into his conduct will exonerate him. A man called Bryson has complained to the Department of Justice about the Police Ombudsman appearing in the  film.

Me: Is that a crime?

D: No but it will have to be investigated.

Me: By whom?

D: By the Justice Minister.

Me: But there isn’t one.

D: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

At least I learned Latin in MY banana republic…..





Why Drew Harris is not to be trusted

Readers of this blog will have read my previous articles about the murders of my parents and my attempt to obtain justice for them.

During this campaign I have engaged, inter alia , the RUC, the PSNI, the HET , the Police Ombudsman and others.

A recurring theme, like “Blackpool” through a stick of rock , has been that there is no intelligence as to the killers. Every organisation has said the same thing.

Consider this. The two most deadly areas of conflict in the Troubles were South Armagh and North Belfast. It is likely that these two areas received the most attention from the security forces.

The “supremo” re intelligence in the PSNI is Drew Harris. He is presently Deputy Chief Constable.

In 2014 , when he was an ACC , I raised with him , again, the issue of intelligence, either before , during or after the murders. I had pointed out the persons whom  I alleged were informers to the PSNI, MI5 or the Army. [See previous blogs]. All agencies had told me that no such intelligence existed.

He said in a letter to me dated 11th August 2014, “Whilst is [sic] not appropriate to comment upon the governance arrangements that exist in relation to the exchange of intelligence between agencies, I can assure you that both the SCRT and the HET had full access to all available information and intelligence during the course of their respective Reviews.”

I recommend to you that you read Ed Moloney’s blog entitled “The Tom Oliver Killing-Transcript of Drew Harris’ Testimony to the Smithwick Tribunal”

Aside from the specific references to the killing, Mr Harris is plainly uncomfortable about the twenty pieces of intelligence [not silver] which had lately been laid before the tribunal at his hand.

Where have they been all these years, was one question.

Mr Harris placed these items of intelligence before the tribunal in October 2012. When his testimony  was read into the record, the tribunal had been hearing evidence for 124 days.

More importantly, North Belfast was riddled with PIRA informers. Sean Maguire, now SF/IRA publicity director , operated there. The  command structure encompassed Gillen, Spike Murray, Scap and McGuinness. All likely informers.

To suggest that no intelligence exists for 1990 in North Belfast ,  comparable to that in 1989   in South Armagh, is a lie and a desecration of the memory  of a man who served the RUC and of a woman who was an “innocent victim”

It’s time ‘men’ like Harris and others who populated Special Branch stood up and admitted what they did and the level of collusion between the State and PIRA.

Or are they just happy to spend their pension in Marks and Spencer ?

Does National Police Memorial Day prick any conscience?


Twenty seven years ago

On this day, twenty seven years ago , the PIRA bomb team, which I have publicly named, [ all of whom are still alive, some active in the SF/IRA election campaign in North Belfast] killed my father and so wounded my mother that she died the next day.

Let’s focus on  my mother, Ellen Sefton, aged 66, retired. Her only connection to “the conflict ” as SF/IRA now call it, was to be married to my father and to be a Protestant. No words of apology were ever uttered  by PIRA about her  death. She was the subject of a sectarian assassination involving collusion by the State, no different to those killings suggested by republicans. In all the forty years I knew her she never uttered a word against Roman Catholics. She was ahead of her time. She  befriended gays and Jews and loved the  heady atmosphere of New York. She loved its words and its freedom. She loved her family. She looked after  her mother till she died at 92.  She was full of life. She was my biggest fan. Perhaps that’s why it hurts so much.

Twenty seven years on , the State campaign of ‘forgive and forget’ is still being waged. Useful young idiots , solicitors, businessmen etc. are tapped up with promises of places on NGOs, slap up dinners, and photographs with the great and the good; if only they would embrace the “Peace Process”. The hurt and damage that these people cause  is beyond measure.

For all of these 27 years the State has lied to me, about the big stuff, its involvement  with PIRA, with Libya -and about the little stuff, who knew what about  UCBTs. The State knows who killed my parents, why would they not? They had so many informers that  by 1990 they had over run PIRA. So why don’t they come clean? What dead hand prevents disclosure? Who protects the like of Sean Maguire? To what end?

Who could believe the British Government about any security issue, old or current? A lesson that many of us have learned and many of the relatives of  the dead of Manchester and London will soon learn. Nothing is ever as it seems and the State will always lie to you.

I miss my parents every day.

I’ll continue to fight for them till my dying breath. It has cost me every material thing  I owned  but that doesn’t matter.

If I don’t do it , who will?

And I still own myself….

Deputy First Minister/Murderer

Two interesting points emerged from last night’s Spotlight on BBC NI.

First , that Sinn Fein/PIRA’s command structure requires that murders must be approved by the man at the top, Gerry Adams.

This would of course be known to the State and anyone who has the least knowledge of SF/PIRA operations.

I made a similar allegation in June 2015 and stated that Martin McGuinness as head of Northern Command would have been aware of the plan to kill my father. He approved it. This was not a new allegation. Ed Moloney first made it in 2002 , in his book, “A Secret History of the IRA”.

McGuinness is guilty of murder , as an accessory.

The PSNI have refused to pursue McGuinness or any of the other persons whom I named. See my blog “The murderers of my parents”.

Several of the people named are also State agents.

Secondly, the allegation that there might have been 800 to 1,000 State agents within PIRA will equally come as no surprise to many people. Except that the PSNI, the HET and the Police Ombudsman cannot find one agent who has information on the murderers of my parents. This is what I have been consistently told by these organs of the state, since 1990.

They are simply telling me lies.

Like Hillsborough, the truth cannot remain hidden for ever. Adams has been in the firing line for several months now, because he is no longer of value to either the British or Irish States. McGuinness’s day will also come.

Sinn Fein IRA , in their press releases and statements in the last twenty four hours blame the Brits for a further propaganda campaign.

The awful truth is that the British State is protecting men and women who were involved in the murder of my parents and , so far , are protecting McGuinness.

As for Denis Donaldson and his murder, remember Dear Reader, nothing is ever as it seems in Northern Ireland.

The Crumlin Road Canteen

In the series “Life on Mars’ the boss calls a meeting. The shock is that his colleagues are smoking, drinking, , eating pies and generally behaving in a way that nobody under 55 could remember.

I have read the Police Ombudsman’s report into the Loughinisland killings and , hopefully, I will write about it. But the point which is missed by him is the historical context. It is as if two men went into a pub in leafy Surrey and carried out an atrocity and the local Bobbies, with time on their hands, screwed up.

Let me describe the Crumlin Road courthouse in the 1980s. I do this  for two reasons. First , because, as a matter of policy, anyone associated with prosecuting for the Crown in those days has been erased from history as part of the deal with SF/IRA and secondly to explain what life was really like.

As one approached the courthouse from the city direction, there was frequently a RUC or army road stop. Only the bold prosecutor approached from the Ardoyne direction. This I did occasionally. More frequently I drove my GTI Golf at 90 mph down the M2 and then came up from the city centre.

At the entrance to the courthouse there was a security team who wanted to inspect your car, including boot and engine compartment.

This team was covered both from the open ground and from the heavily armed sangar.

Once inside the grounds, a further check might be carried out.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had its offices on the top floor of the building. Not a problem when one is fit.

More important was the canteen, to be found on the left hand side of the ground floor. Here was a microcosm of the Troubles. It was a small room, a counter at the far end and a number of tables. Behind the counter Etta presided. She had been at school with my Dad. She and her staff produced a wide array of food. From the black coffee and a possible scone for the barrister to the fry for the constable.

Why is this story important?

Because each morning the fug in that room had to be seen to be believed. There was no ban on smoking. Officers who had been out all night on duty and who were now required to attend court to give evidence in a terrorist trial , were trying to dry off their uniforms while having a fag and an fry. Later they would try to get home for a few hours sleep before another spell of duty.

Sometimes it was hard to see across the room. I recall chatting to colleges about how nice it would be to get away to the Med. One said, “isn’t it great to walk down to the local shop and buy croissants and yesterday’s paper and come back and read them in the sun?” Another described how beads of water ran down the outside of a bottle of white wine, placed on your table.

That was just escapism. On a day when the great and the good have joined together to mark the first day of the Somme, it is important that we do not wait one hundred years to mark what ordinary men did to protect society in Northern Ireland.

As , Dear Reader, you judge the acts and omissions of policemen and lawyers and read the Police Ombudsman’s report, prepared at length, in a non smoking environment, reflect on what life was really like and how the Crumlin Road canteen, shared with police officers, prosecutors, witnesses, paramilitaries ,Patrick Finucane, Paddy McGrory, Oliver Kelly and Seamus Tracey was a microcosm of how the troubles was really played  out.




Ice cream, Gillen and the state

Many of you , Dear Readers, who have read about the book; “They killed the Ice Cream Man” will not be surprised by the allegations made by the Larmours.

Since I started my research in earnest two years ago, veteran observers had no difficulty in telling me about these practices. It was well known that senior members of PIRA were state agents and permitted to continue directing terrorism. They would have been little use to the spooks otherwise. On occasions they were permitted to commit murder, either directly or as someone who was involved in planning or directing. Look at the activities of  Loyalist Mark Haddock for a mirror image of the practice.

One name that came up frequently was Brian Gillen. My informants were in no doubt that he had been turned by the state and that he continued to operate in the role of Belfast Brigade commander. I named him as a participant in my blog ” The murderers of my parents”.

I have no difficulty in stating that he is the person referred to by the Armours and by by Ed Moloney. I have also made this allegation , some time ago to the Police Ombudsman.

Just as disturbing as these revelations are, what is more disturbing is that the State and its employees and ex employees refuse to admit that these tactics were used. I have had assurances from the PSNI, the Police Ombudsman and the Secretary of State that there was no advance intelligence of the murders of my parents . The same bodies have denied that an informer participated in the planning or execution of the murders.

A glance at my blog will show the one or more State agency is telling lies.

The Director of Public Prosecutions declined to direct the police to investigate Martin McGuinness’ role in the murders of my parents, despite Ed Moloney naming him in his book; “A secret History of the IRA”. He was quick to direct investigations into the Army on similar information. The Attorney General, despite his close interest in major issues such as abortion and gay discrimination, has declined to direct a fresh inquest, which would be required to examine special branch files.

The questions for readers are these. Are all those, like me, who have published names and activities, deluded? Or are we just scraping the surface of the State’s involvement in the dirty war? Is the State terrified of what might become known? Are Adams McGuinness and others equally frightened?

I’m given hope by the Hillsborough families. One day the truth will be known.