In any other jurisdiction, there are cold case reviews on a regular basis. Even the PSNI is embracing this idea , with the recent activity over the death of Inga Maria Hauser, found dead in April 1988.
As someone said , recently, sad as it is, why her?
The answer of course is that the huge lump of Troubles deaths involve the state and the vast store of documents, implicating it. There are stores in Sprucefield, Seapark and Thiepval, where the army sits on a million copies. The state, in the form of Hamilton, Harris and the faceless people of MI5 will keep the lid on, as best they can.
All the citizen can do is keep probing.
What is additionally disappointing is that the new leaders appear to have gone to Spooks Academy.
Consider the letter written by the deputy director of the PPS in the case of Seamus Ludlow. His understanding of hearsay would shame a first year law student. How did he become deputy director and regurgitate all the lines of the state? Can you guess? Let’s hope he gets well spanked in the High Court.
As part of the week to mark twenty eight years since the murders of my parents, I am posting a secret document, giving an insight into how the state worked.
There will be other posts in this anniversary week.
Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour and reputation were clearly common knowledge among the Hollywood set.
It took one woman to speak out. Then many others spoke out and then the ‘set’ admitted that they knew.
So too in Northern Ireland. Everyone knows that the IRA army council runs Sinn Fein. Everyone knows who is on the army council. They can be seen at Stormont any day of the week.
Everyone knows that many of them are MI5 agents, paid for by you and me.
Everyone knows that they were sometimes allowed, by their British masters, to kill. Police officers , soldiers, civilians and children were their victims. Everyone knows.
But nobody will tell.
Every informer had a state team around him. Several handlers. Minders. Back up. Senior detectives who approved recruitment and payment. MI5 operatives who de-briefed them.
Lots of people who now live comfortably on a pension could unwrap hundreds of cases. The relief to the ageing families would be immense.
The PSNI won’t do it. The HET didn’t do it, [described by an army council member as a sop to the loyalists]. PONI doesn’t deliver and the HIU is a distant and flawed dream.
So I’m appealing to all those retired RUC men and women. All those soldiers who served here, many of whom are outraged at their treatment, compared to informers and on the runs.
As with Harvey, it just needs one to speak out. To tell us of the crimes of Donaldson, Scappaticci, Sean Maguire and Brian Gillen, all paid killers of the state.
Then the rest will open up.
Isn’t it time you salved you conscience?
“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory” Mark Twain.
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?
The Guardian ran an article by Henry McDonald on 21st August entitled “Stakeknife could face perjury charges , says senior police officer”.
Before you ask, the ‘senior UK police officer’ is not named. Quelle surprise.
So the theory is this. Scappaticci went to court in 2003 to force the NI security minister to state publicly that he was not Stakeknife and therefore not an agent.
Now, says McDonald, he could be prosecuted for going to court and “denying he was a spy”.
But hold on a minute. He denied that he was a spy and the NI minister confirmed that.
So who would be prosecuted?
The NI minister who wrongly said he was not a spy, when he was? Or Scap who falsely said that he wasn’t when he was?
So would one or both be prosecuted? Lets look at the legislation
- – (1) Any person lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding who wilfully makes a statement material in that proceeding, which he knows to be false, or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of perjury, and shall, on conviction on indictment, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or to a fine, or to both.
(2) The expression “judicial proceeding” includes a proceeding before any court, tribunal, or person having by law power to hear, receive, and examine evidence on oath.
(3) Where a statement made for the purposes of a judicial proceeding is not made before the tribunal itself, but is made on oath before a person authorised by law to administer an oath to the person who makes the statement, and to record or authenticate the statement, it shall, for the purposes of this Article, be treated as having been made in a judicial proceeding.
(4) A statement made by a person lawfully sworn in Northern Ireland for the purposes of a judicial proceeding-
(a) in another part of Her Majesty’s dominions; or
(b) in a British tribunal lawfully constituted in any place by sea or land outside Her Majesty’s dominions; or
(c) in a tribunal of any foreign state;
shall, for the purposes of this Article, be treated as a statement made in a judicial proceeding in Northern Ireland.
(5) The question whether a statement on which perjury is assigned was material is a question of law to be determined by the court at the trial.
False written statements tendered in evidence
- – (1) Any person who in a written statement tendered in evidence in criminal proceedings by virtue of-
(a) section 1 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 1968, or
(b) Article 33 of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981,
wilfully makes a statement material in those proceedings which he knows to be false, or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of an offence.
(2) Any person who in a written statement made in Northern Ireland and tendered in evidence in the Republic of Ireland in any criminal proceedings wilfully makes a statement material in those proceedings which he knows to be false, or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of an offence.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (1) or (2) shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both.
Aiders, abettors, suborners, etc.
- – (1) Any person who aids, abets, counsels, procures, or suborns another-person to commit an offence against this Order shall be liable to be proceeded against, indicted, tried and punished as if he were a principal offender.
(2) Any person who incites another person to commit an offence against this Order shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both.
- A person shall not be liable to be convicted of any offence against this Order, or of any offence declared by any other enactment to be perjury or subornation of perjury, or to be punishable as perjury or subornation of perjury, solely upon the evidence of one witness as to the falsity of any statement alleged to be false.
So it seems that the Minister could be prosecuted for falsely stating in judicial proceedings that he was not a spy and that Scap could be prosecuted for falsely making the same claim. In addition her civil servants and members of MI5, Special Branch, the Army or MI6 could also be prosecuted.
Sadly , the response of Jon Boutcher, if accurately reported, leaves a great deal to be desired.
The devil is in the detail of Article 14. At least two witnesses are needed for the Crown to prove perjury. Who will they be?
Meanwhile one has to ask who sponsored the Guardian article- dark forces, Henry?
Who is person K, referred to in the PONI report ?
His family live between Clough and Dundrum. He is related to Delbert Watson who was convicted of the murder of Jack Kielty in Dundrum in January 1988. Also convicted of that murder were David Curlett and William Bell, the driver of the getaway car. Doreen Watson, whose husband had been murdered by the IRA , sister of Delbert , was convicted of manslaughter.
K , according to Maguire, is a heavily traced terrorist. He has been linked to a conspiracy to murder Peter McCarthy and the attempted murder of John Henry Smyth. He is alleged to have been involved in the murder of Peter McCormack in Kilcoo on 19 November 1992.
Police told Maguire that he was part of a UVF unit.
Dear Reader, you might pause here to wonder, if the RUC Special Branch, inter alia , was involved in collusion with terrorists, why it would divulge this information to the PONI. I leave that with you.
K and others were identified by Special Branch to the Loughinisland MIT on the morning after the murders, as potential suspects.
K was arrested and interviewed several times on 18 July 1994. He provided an alibi for the time of the shootings. He said that he was in the Clough Inn with his girlfriend.
This alibi was not properly investigated, says Maguire . It is hard to see what the police could have done , two years later, to establish the truth of the alibi.
Maguire makes a mistake when he says at paragraph 7.169 that K’s hair sample was obtained and found to be a ‘microscopic match ‘ to a hair recovered from a holdall. The bag had not been found at this point.
The holdall was not found until 4 August 1994. A hair found therein was examined and K was arrested again on 22 August and the match was made. Caution should be exercised re hair matching after the FBI scandal regarding the science of hair matching.
However, police had a holdall in which they had found, inter alia, the hair and some overalls. The overalls showed a link with the seats of a Triumph Acclaim car found in a field and bearing a resemblance to the getaway car. Close by was found the VZ58 rifle which was the murder weapon. Fibres from the rifle matched fibres recovered from the Triumph Acclaim.
It is tolerably clear that the Acclaim was the getaway car.
Also, found on a roadway , was a blanket. It has not been properly examined.
I do not know if K has a criminal record, or other matters which might be used as bad character.
I do not know if the hair provided DNA evidence to link K to the bag.
In any event, it is hard to understand why K has not been charged in connection with the murders.
Maguire provides no explanation.
Additionally he makes no case that K was in any way protected, especially by Special Branch. If there was “collusion” as widely defined by Maguire , one might have expected Special Branch to have with held information in respect of K. Instead, the morning after the murders, they tell the MIT about K. K is , one might have thought, a prime suspect.
Maguire makes no criticism of the rigour of the initial investigation.
What is always absent from these reports is the general context.
Viewed as a homicide in leafy Surrey, I’m sure there are points to be made. Northern Ireland was a different environment, with the police overwhelmed by terrorist crime.
But the question remains.
Who is K and is he a State agent?
That, more than grandstanding by Maguire , would be a fact that the relatives of Loughinisland would prefer to know.
The Police Ombudsman produced a 157 page report. It wasn’t until page 85 that he got around to the police investigation.
After a detailed discussion, his conclusions were that there were “fundamental failings” in the investigation. He believes that persons A,M,K,I and B , whose names were given to the investigating team as suspects by Special Branch the day following the murders, should have been immediately arrested, because there was “strong circumstantial evidence”. That would have made for interesting interviewing. “Well, suspect K, we think you were responsible for the murders, because Special Branch say so”. One can imagine K’s response , the attitude of his solicitor and the view of the custody sergeant. Dr Maguire’s case is that there was a “compelling intelligence picture”, which demanded their arrests. This is , of course, the stuff of fantasy. No SIO would have authorised arrests in those circumstances.
He next states that when the suspects were ‘belatedly arrested’ , there was a failure to properly examine one person’s alibi , K , an inconsistent approach to the collection of forensic samples and an inadequate investigation into the ownership of the Triumph Acclaim , which he asserts was “used by those responsible for the murders”.
Lets consider the evidence in the case. Neither person who entered the bar could be identified because they were masked. There was nothing found in the bar to connect any person to the shooting, despite rigorous forensic examination of the scene.
The getaway car has been described as a red Triumph Acclaim or Honda Accord. No VRM was reported. A red Triumph Acclaim was found the following morning at Listooder Road. Nothing in the car provided any evidential opportunities and there was nothing to connect it to the murder scene. There is criticism that the surrounding area should have been examined for foot prints and that the foot wear of suspects might have matched soil samples from the scene. Those two points are well made, except that , again, who would have been arrested and what would the basis for the arrest have been?
The investigation into the possession of the suspect car at the material time was badly handled. Its movements were never adequately traced.
A blanket found on a road has not been fully examined.
So, in the immediate aftermath of the murders, the SIO had no evidence to arrest any person for the murders. Even if person O,P,Q, R or S had been suspected of possession of the car, where would that have led, given the usual negative response in interview?
A subsequent find, in August 1994 of a bag containing clothing provided strong supporting evidence that the boiler suits had been in contact with the front passenger seat and the rear seat of the Acclaim. K’s hair sample was a microscopic match with a hair recovered from the holdall. It is not clear what happened to that evidence, although hair matching has been recently questioned as a forensic tool. K’s alibi was not properly tested.
The VZ 58 rifle was not found until August 1994 , separately from the bag. It can be demonstrated that it was the murder weapon. The rifle cannot be connected to any suspect. It could be connected to the Acclaim.
Let us now assume that K was the best suspect and that he was arrested. In interview police would have asked him about his movements and challenged his alibi. They would have pointed to the hair match. It is not clear whether or not any DNA was available. Let’s assume it was. The police case, working backwards would be that his hair and DNA was found in a bag, along with overalls, which could be linked to the seats of the Acclaim which might have been the getaway car. The murder weapon was found close by and can be connected to the Acclaim. K remains silent, as is his right. That’s the height of the case.
Would that provide a reasonable prospect of success for a prosecution for murder?
Finally, Dr Maguire accepts that the investigation “categorised in excess of one hundred people as suspects”. Make of that what you will, Dear Reader.