Friday 11 June 2004

Why London Still Opposes Collusion Inquiries into Ulster Murders

by Trowbridge H. Ford

Downing Street, though formally committed to the recommendations of retired Canadian High Court judge Peter Cory after his inquiries in Northern Ireland and the Republic, is actually opposed to the judicial inquiries he recommended into official collusion in four sectarian murder in Ulster leading up to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement for the simple reason that they might well scuttle it. The delicate situation has been compromised further by the fallout from the Hutton Inquiry's verdict into the death of biological weapons expert Dr. David Kelly - what was so one-sided, and contrary to the evidence that the integrity of the bench, particularly Lord Hutton, was called into question. The Blair government decided to delay matters further in the hope that passions will fade with Hutton disappearing into retirement.

Hutton's finding were so controversial that the English media even gave former Provisional Irish Reublican Army (PIRA) "Lord Chief Justice" Danny Morrison opportunities to express his dissatisfaction with the former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. Morrison had the responsibility of determining why the 'tet offensive'-style attack on the Derryard check point, near Roslea, in December 1989 was such a fiasco. Instead of the PIRA flying column blowing up the quarters of the King's Own Scottish Borderers with a 400-pound van after a withering fusillade of fire - what they had hoped to do at the Loughgall police station back in 1987 - it was ambushed by British soldiers hiding in a nearby field, and a Wessex helicopter flying overhead. Then the bomb failed to explode. While two British Army soldiers were killed, the PIRA was lucky to escape without injury or capture.

Morrison's job was to determine who had sabotaged the bomb, and tipped off the British of the attack, and, its seems, several members had done so, particularly 'Stake Knife' aka Freddie Scappaticci. Why they informed was in the hope of getting the peace process back on track, now that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had said she was willing to negotiate a settlement, after the shooting of the unarmed PIRA volunteers on The Rock in May 1988 - what had set another 'Steak Knife' aka Padraic Wilson and 'John Oakes' on the warpath since he set up the operation with a peaceful outcome in mind. Once RUC Special Branch agent Sandy Lynch had been caught, it was Morrison's job to see that he was fully interrogated in the hope of discovering the leak or leakers - what had not occurred when Joe Fenton was suspected in February 1989 of having betrayed the Libyan arms shipment on the Eksund in October 1987 for the original 'tet offensive'. Fenton was killed by over-eager interrogators.

No sooner did Morrison arrive at the site where Lynch was being held than he was arrested by police and soldiers. Morrison obviously thought his arrest was the result of another tipoff - what was confirmed during his trial before Lord Hutton after which he was sentenced to eight years in prison on the basis of an informer's claims. While serving his time, Morrison became quite disillusioned with the PIRA and the peace process, culminating in the terms of the Weston Park agreement which was intended to prevent any judicial inquiries which could embarrass any of the parties on both sides of the border. In lieu of them, London and Dublin were willing to think about possible inquiries into the shooting of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in February 1989 by three Ulster Defence Association (UDA) assassins, the beating death of Catholic Robert Hamill in 1997 by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in Portadown while the RUC Special Branch looked on, Irish National Liberation Army's murder of hard-liner Billy Wright, the head of the Mid-Ulster UVF, in retaliation in the Maze Prison shortly thereafter, and the murder of another solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, by a car bomb outside her home in Lurgan in March 1999. They were thought to have no connection with other killings, especially most controversial ones, or any pattern of systematic ones.

Morrison, in his article "My Report on Hutton" for The Guardian of February 3, 2004, ruined these illustions by talking about the Law Lord's role in helping cover up the Finucane murder - what previous accounts had gone to great lengths to show was free of political and judicial interference. (See, e. g., Peter Harclerode's Secret Soldiers, pp. 567-71.) The solicitor's killing was the most notorious one that Brian Nelson, the Force Research Unit's mole in UDA intelligence, arranged with its assassins, and his ultimate plea bargain over it and many other crimes seemed to have been arranged between Sir John Stevens's special investigators, the Attorney General, and Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions. Morrison said this about Hutton's input: "And he was involved in the Brian Nelson affair. Just a week before Nelson's trial, which almost certainly would have exposed British collusion with loyalist death squads, Hutton and the trial judge, Basil Kelly, met the prime minister John Major." Nelson was offered a sample plea bargain of charges, which he would plead guilty to in return for a short sentence, and being set up in a new life. He, of course, agreed, and served only four and a half years in prison. Morrison ended up comparing Hutton to the judge in an episode of Yes, Minister who did not need to be leaned on to do what Jim Hacker wanted.

Having lifted the lid on the former Lord Chief Justice's role in covering up the British Army's assistance of loyalist death squads, then Morrison mentioned the killing by two Royal Marines of Feral Caraher, and the wounding of his brother Michael on December 30, 1990 when they were driving out of the car park of the Lite and Easy pub in Cullyhanna, South Armagh. The soldiers claimed that they had driven through a checkpoint, while witnesses claimed no such thing. In fact, the Cullyhanna Justice Group staged an open, on the site inquiry of the shooting which disproved what authorities were claiming - what forced them to try Marines Eldington and Callaghan in December 1994. Just before Christmas, they were acquitted of all charges, the trial judge, reminiscent of how Hutton behaved in the Kelly inquest, deciding that none of the witnesses, especially the ones for the prosecution, were to be relied upon.

Matters did end there, though, as the shootings of the Caraher brothers were so reminiscent of what happened to Seamus Grew and Roddy Carroll in South Armagh eight years before that Ken Loach made a film entitled Hidden Agenda. Seamus and later his brother Dessie were so wanted dead in revenge killings that they were cruelly achieved - the first after the Hyde Park bombings of the summer of 1982, and the latter after the PIRA went on the rampage over the murders at Gib in May 1988. Now it looked as if the Caraher brothers had been shot in reprisal for the killing of the Scottish Borderers. At least that was what Loach's movie was trying to convey.

And that idea was just what Peter Harclerode, former Irish Guards officer, and official dispenser of special forces' disinformation, was trying not to when he discussed Michael's capture, and imprisonment in 1999 for the murder of Lance Bombardier Stephen Restoric, the last British soldier killed in Ulster, now that it was okay to talk about SAS achievements in the war against terrorism. (See p. 176ff.) The only trouble with Harclerode's story is that he left out the incident - the wounding of Michael and the killing of his brother Feral - which made him a terrorist in the first place, though by this time London had compensed the Caraher family for his murder. Moreover, there were no allusions in Secret Soldiers to remind readers of the fate of Grew and Carroll.

Such allusions undoubtedly would rekindle interest in John Stalker's investigation into the so-called Shoot-to Kill murders in Northern Ireland during the fall of 1982. In Ulster, what was increasingly seen by Greater Manchester Police Force's Deputy Chief Constable as reckless killings by reinforced RUC E4A squads, reduced to dire expedients because reliable British services were unavailable because of the Falklands War - what London was obliged to cover up - turned out to be, it seems, terrible mistakes by the best forces, caused by faulty intelligence, especially from two informers, that Whitehall did everything possible, short of disclosing vital national security secrets, to rectify. Despite all the confusion, there was apparently never any Shoot-to-Kill policy by anyone.

According to Peter Taylor's latest book, Brits: The War against the IRA, and he should know because he has written a half-dozen on the subject, the RUC was prepared for any contingency with its equivalent of what Britain's 'Det' aka 14 Intelligence Company, and Special Air Services (SAS) supplied, what went into action when the IRA opened its terrorist campaign on the mainland, killing four Guardsmen of the Household Cavalry in Hyde Park, and seven bandsmen of the Royal Green Jackets in Regent's Park on July 20, 1982, with remote-control nail bombs, followed by a terror campaign by the IRA and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in the then quiet province to see which organization could kill more people in its establishment. It was in this context that the RUC, with the help of the 'Det', swung into action, going after the INLA's Dominic 'Mad Dog' McGlinchey, the murderer of around 30 people, who had taken refuge in the Republic.

Thanks to a surveillance that the 'Det' had conducted on Seamus Grew, and to an informant, George Poyntz, that the RUC's Special Branch had in the Republic's Castleblaney where McGlinchey was hiding, Taylor continued (p. 243ff.), a 'Det' tail was put on the Austin Allegro Grew was driving, accompanied by Roddy Carroll, when it went across the border on December 12th to pick up McGlinchey for apparently another shoot-up of the province. When they arrived, however, McGlinchey 'went ape' because Grew was driving his own car, and, consequently, they were sent back to Armagh to get another. Unfortunately, the Headquarters Mobile Support Unit (HMSU), the RUC equivalent of SAS units, for some reason, did not register the 'Det' message that McGlinchey was not on board, and so when Grew stopped at the HMSU roadblock at Mullacreevie Park, SB officer Constable John Robinson calmly killed both unarmed men with his Smith and Wesson revolver as they started to get out of the yellow car. Special Branch then weaved a rigmarole of lies about the killings to protect Poyntz, and the sensitivity of the operation from any possible trial. "The involvement of the 'Det' and the fury of its operators," Taylor added, "was never revealed." (p. 246)

Then Taylor turned to the other killings Stalker had been asked to investigate in 1984 - the killing of unarmed Michael Tighe when he and Martin Cauley wandered into a Lurgan hayshed that the IRA had been storing explosives in, and a HMSU was conducting a surveillance of; and the shooting of unarmed Eugene Toman, Sean Burns, and Gervaise McKerr after they drove through another HMSU roadblock in a Ford Escort in Craigavon, and were mowed down in the subsequent high-speed chase. The operations had been the result of information from another SB informant, apparently David Burton aka Bertelstein, but who Taylor declined to identify for some unkown reason, perhaps to avoid trying to identify even more controversial ones. The mole had located the hayshed which an MI5 officer, and a 'Det' operator had bugged. Unfortunately, the IRA was able to remove the explosive without the authorities noticing, and it was used to blow up three RUC police officers at a Kinnego roundabout.

That night, the mole identified for his handlers Toman and Burns, "both IRA men 'on the run' " (p. 249), as responsible for the explosion. As a result, RUC forces mounted increasing challenges to them, one E4A officer even lighting one of their cigarettes when they were with their accomplice, McKerr. Little wonder that when the mole reported that they were planning to kill an off-duty member of the security forces, a HMSU disposed of them pronto. Of course, the shooting of Tighe was recorded, the HMSU claiming that a rifle had been cocked, and all were concerned about what was on the tapes, especially if repeated warnings had been given, and by whom before it took place.

Stalker was now completely absorbed in recovering the tapes, believing that he was involved in a possible murder inquiry. While he was not able to obtain them, Taylor explained, forcing him to make an interim report only to the RUC's Chief Constable Sir John Hermon until he did, Stalker was then removed from the inquiry for controversial, not conspiratorial, reasons - his association with Manchester businessman Kevin Taylor (no relation). His successor, though, Sir Colin Sampson, provided the dramatic denouement for the whole controversy, thanks to the assistance the West Yorkshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Donald Shaw.

Not only did they determine that no warning had been given in the hayshed shooting but they recommended that police and MI5 officers be prosecuted for destroying a copy of the tape. A soldier in the 'Det's' Special Collation Team had made his own personal copy of Tighe's murder as a souvenir (p. 251). In doing so, Taylor forgot, however, the Panorama program he produced in August 1986, claiming that Stalker had rightfully been removed from the inquiry to maintain its purity because of his relation with Kevin Taylor, and another on the BBC five years later, contending that Sampson had also wanted the RUC police officers responsible for killing Tighe prosecuted for murder.

Taylor concluded that all the good work by Stalker and Sampson went for naught, though, as the Thatcher government decided not to, Attorney General Sir Patrick Mayhew explaining to the Commons in January 1988 that they were not 'in the public interest.' Mayhew later added for Taylor's benefit: "A lot of intelligence matters would have been brought out that would have been very deleterious to the intelligence operation that was essential in the circumstances of the time." (Quoted from pp. 252-3.

Taylor's account is highly unsatisfactory, by far the worst one yet. As New Labour is adopting the ways of Old Tories, the press is apparently adopting similar ways - repeating more and more dubious descriptions of controversial events in the hope of giving credibility to false explanations. Tony Geraghty's The Bullet Catchers, though written at the time, and basically about a related subject, had a caustic, though slightly inaccurate, account of the shootings, Stalker's removal, and Mayhew's justification of not prosecuting (pp. 383-4), adding that the Attorney General's decision was so controversial that he now required around-the-clock bodyguard protection, and concluding, along with the LSE's Professor Patrick McAuslan, that such use of the prerogative could be a 'license to kill' for officers of the security services, empowering them to kill even their own fellow citizens. (p. 400)

Even in The Irish War, what Geraghty wrote with the Secretary of the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Committee looking over his shoulder, these claims were essentially repeated (p. 111ff.), and when Geraghty illustrated its dustjacket with a photograph of Life Guardsman Captain Simon Hayward in full battle gear on the back cover, indicating in the text that he might now be known as Captain 'James Rennie', author of The Operators (pp. 141-2), the MOD Police conducted a surveillance of his Herefordshire home, raided it for evidence, and undertook a criminal prosecution of him for violating the Official Secrets Act. Labour Attorney General Lord Williams only dropped prosecution when the book was reprinted in paperback without Hayward's photo on the back cover, and Duncan Campbell supplied a long brief about there having been no disclosure of Artificial Intelligence secrets on the inside.

Mark Urban only added to the controversy when he wrote Big Boys Rules, what induced the D-Notice Secretary to take a much more active role in protecting state secrets. During Urban's discussion of the six killings in which he even expressed uncertainty about what units had actually done them (p. 151), he noted the differences between Taylor and Stalker about his inquiry's jurisdiction, even citing the reporter's Stalker: The Search for the Truth which claimed that he was only to investigate the RUC cover ups. While Urban thought that there had been a conspiracy to squelch Stalker's investigation, it had failed, he concluded falsely, thanks to Taylor's BBC program, because Sampson had recommended prosecuting the hayshed shooting as a conspiracy to murder.

Urban added that the SAS committed its own Shoot-to-Kill murders when it disposed of Francis Bradley on February 18, 1986 (pp. 214-5), and Seamus McElwaine two months later, thanks to similar faulty handling of dubious intelligence. In fact, Shoot-to-Kill murders became so out-of-control that the 'Det' allowed the East Tyrone IRA to kill the UDR's William Graham on April 25, 1987, thanks to what "a member of the security forces in a position to know" (p. 225), who might have been disposed of by the IRA himself because of what MI5's Michael Bettaney had told it about security operations in Northern Ireland while on remand at Brixton for spying for the Soviets (p. 99), claimed about the intelligence officers responsible. Urban explained: " was following the events of 25 April, an intelligence expert says, that security chiefs decided to allow the terrorists' plan to attack Loughgall police station to run." (p. 226)

Instead of trying to sort out this confused mess, Taylor has opted to smother the whole controversy, dealing in reverse order with the six 1982 killings, inventing the 'Det's' role in them, overlooking ad hoc substitutes for it, ignoring his own role in the whole process, especially not backing off from his self-serving justification for Stalker's removal, failing to determine what intelligence matters and operation Mayhew was referring to that justified no criminal prosecutions, and the like. Actually, the Shoot-to-Kill controversy was sparked by Downing Street's reaction to the July 20, 1982 killings in London, setting off an emergency in South Armagh in which a reinforced RUC SB carried out revenge murders so over-the-top that Stalker had to be appointed to investigate them, one of which the European Court of Human Rights has recently judged a violation of his civil rights, awarding his widow, Eleanor McKerr, £10,000 in damages.

Stalker's inquiry was, unfortunately, overtaken by more pressing intelligence matters, especially an operation involving his leading suspect, causing its stoppage, and then Stalker's suspension on the grounds that he was involved with him in drug running. Once Stalker was out of the way, the Crown resolved the difficulties his chief suspect had been causing over the operation's fallout as if it were an absolute state. In the process, it apparently aided and abetted a drugs conspiracy it had arranged with its most important PIRA informant to imprison falsely its agent, and when he threatened to expose the whole operation during the appeal of his conviction, it conspired to murder a taxi-driver in Ulster to keep either its agent or an IRA informant from blowing it sky high.

In September 1989, when Simon Hayward, a former Captain in the Household Cavalry who had had to resign from the Army in November 1988 after he had been convicted of importing 50.5 kilos of cannabis into Sweden in March 1987, was released from Malmo prison after serving half his sentence, his autobiography, Under Fire: My Own Story, was published, indicating that he might well be the leading suspect Stalker was looking for. Hayward was so bitter about how British officials had betrayed him after all his undercover work in Northern Ireland that he threatened to tell all. Increasingly convinced that he had been set up in Sweden, thanks to activities by his commanding officer Colonel James Emson, colleague Major Simon Falkner, the National Drugs Intelligence Unit's Detective Sergeant Brian Moore and Detective David Morgan, and others, he discussed his experience growing up, in the Army, serving in Northern Ireland, on "holiday" on Ibiza in the Balearic Islands, and in trouble in Sweden in such revealing ways, and threatening to tell more, that he had authorities pulling out all the stops to muzzle him.

About his education, Hayward could only discuss in considerable detail his mock assassination attempt of Wellington College's Headboy with an air gun, a novice attempt which went wrong because of faulty intelligence. Then he described how he lost the middle joints of his middle and ring fingers on his right hand because of an accident while on patrol in Cyprus in August 1976, what enabled me to identify him on the back of the dustcover of Geraghty's The Irish War. Thanks to quick surgery, he added, they were just about as good as new.

About his two tours of duty in the province, Hayward wrote: "The first time was not until 1982 when I was attached to the Coldstream Guards as a Company Operations Officer during a four month emergency tour of South Armagh." (p. 40). Of course, the road from Armagh to Castleblayney passes through the center of South Armagh, and Craigavon and Lurgan are in the county's northeastern corner. The need of Hayward's presence cast the greatest doubt on Taylor's claim that police and security forces, especially the 'Det's, were properly manned for the task at hand, what kicked off with out-of-uniform men trying to kill Grew at his house in Armagh on September 22, 1982, and similar personnel succeeding in a drive-by shooting on its streets of ex-internee Peter Corrigan a month later, incidents which somehow escaped Taylor's notice. Hayward added that his second tour for two years commenced in June 1985 at Headquarters Northern Ireland in Lisburn, just when IRA assaults on undermanned police stations in rural Tyrone were increasing in number.

If this wasn't revealing enough, Hayward discussed his alleged holiday in Ibiza with his brother, Christopher, in February 1987, and its consequences in Sweden with reckless abandon. Since he was required to bring along £7,000 in cash, and a night sight, his planned cruise on Chris's catamaran, True Love, into the Mediterranean, especially since he did not invite his girlfriend along, seemed like a mission to catch the IRA's DOOK aka Duke shipping Libyan arms to the terrorists, what was stopped by his brother somehow not making necessary repairs to the boat at Gibraltar, and DOOK forcing Chris to make his brother drive his Jaguar to Sweden, ostensibly for sale, but actually loaded with cannabis to secure his incarceration. (The catamaran was previously owned by Kevin Taylor, leading Peter Taylor to report on the August 1986 Panorama program that he had paid Stalker's way to visit it in America five years before, which was not true, but was the pretext used for his removal, and then had sold it to a man in Spain who allegedly used it to transport cannabis.)

Hayward, thanks to private detective Richard New's inquiries on the island after his conviction in Stockholm, discussed DOOK's operations, and holdings in such detail that he ended up sounding like 'Steak Knife', what had caused the Field Research Unit's infamous Brian Nelson to hurriedly have the UFF target taxi-driver Francisco Notarantorio instead when he heard that the Loyalists were planning to kill its priceless asset for fear that he was going out of control. When Chris's Jaguar was stolen so that it could be loaded with hidden cannabis for Simon's trip, he discussed a person by the name of Brian, with a London accent, helping get him dead drunk, making it seem as if it were more of Nelson's handiwork.

Once in Sweden, Hayward made it very clear that he was a military intelligence operator whose superiors were out to get him for some unexplained reason. When the Swedish drugs police outside Linkoping closed in on the Jaguar, as Hayward tried to follow DOOK-connected Forbes Mitchell's car, he immediately remembered similar, upsetting experience with the IRA in Ulster, and what countermeasures he had been taught to take. When the police forced him off the road after an intersection, he recalled the trouble he had had in the E4A car following Toman, McKerr, and Burns: "Bloody hell! The car behind me had also turned but in the process had almost overshot, sliding all over the place." (p. 14) Instead of the IRA taking its revenge, though, the Swedish police arrested him for smuggling drugs, obviously acting upon a British tipoff.

While Hayward thought that he could easily make his escape with his experience, and acquaintance with the country, when he was moved towards Stockholm, he was sure he could beat the charge, and save his new intelligence appointment in Whitehall. His confidence was totally shaken, though, by an unexpected visit by Colonel Emson to question him about the validity of the charge, Major Falkner trying to explain away as innocent his dealings with another Brian, drug dealer Walsh, and the NDIU's officers assuring him that they would obtain his conviction as they went about securing Mitchell's. Falkner was apparently the Major in Germany who Stalker had been looking for because he either had the second tape of the hayshed shooting or had heard it. Little wonder that when Hayward was convicted, he saw it as the culmination of Stalker's pursuit of him, claiming, with apparently artistic license, that he had seen an elderly man outside the Uppsala Police Station on televsion afterwards: "He was obviously a senior police officer. I caught my own name being mentioned and then the letters 'SAS' several times." (p. 276)

When Hayward's appeal was being heard, he was most anxious to force Mitchell and DOOK to testify as their collaboration with the NDIU's officers and Swedish police to secure the former's lighter sentence had more than made up for British efforts in government, especially MP John Gorst's for Downing Street, the police, and media to make sure that he had none at all. DOOK continued to tell his lawyer, Dutchman H. K. ter Brake, and Simon's mother that he was guilty. DOOK, however, refused to appear at the appeal, and ter Brake refused to identify him, explaining on Oct. 7th that he was afraid to do so for fear that the British Army would kill him. Then the court recessed, and two nights later Notarantorio was murdered because he threatened to expose the IRA's 'Steak Knife' as the FRU's mole. When the court resumed, ter Brake introduced a letter, dated Oct. 11th, from DOOK's apparent handler, Heather Weissand, claiming that Hayward was guilty, taking all the fight out of his appeal. Weissand is apparently the FRU's 'Mags', Captain 'M' who also handled Nelson, and who MI6's renegade officer Richard Tomlinson has described as 'the troll bitch from Hell'. Hayward had been persuaded that somehow the Army would take care of him too.

And it did, though it took a long time in coming. Of course, Hayward had to serve half of his sentence, Britsh officials recommending that he only serve a minimum one. Just before it was completed, 'Mags' led a squad which assassinated the UVF's Brian Robinson who knew all about FRU's operations, especially the killing of solicitor Pat Finucane who wanted to get to the bottom of the murders of McKerr, Toman and Burns. Once released, Hayward threatened to tell more on Terry Wogan's Show, but he was prevented from appearing. Instead, Hayward took the advice of The Times reviewer of his autobiography, writing its sequel which took back all the sensitive information that he had supplied Urban as his military intelligence expert for Big Boys' Rules.

As Captain James Rennie, the name he assumed upon entering the 'Det' in 1984, but unconvincingly claimed was actually his real one, he wrote The Operators: On the streets with Britain's Most Secret Service. Of course, Hayward tipped his hand about his authorship by discussing understandably the trouble he had with his right hand by his mentioning his "cackhandedness" (p. 90), something he claimed he developed on the spur of the moment by switching from his natural left hand to his right (pp. 105-6), something one without an impaired right hand would never even attempt.

In discussiong operations, he created a largely fictional description of his tenure as the South Detachment's Ops Officer. The shootings of Bradley and McElwaine, what he was most involved in, passed without notice. Instead of Graham having been deliberately allowed to be killed during his absence in Sweden, the 'Det' protected him from the East Tyrone killers (pp. 216-9), Graham's actual murder passing without comment too. Of course, his discussions of the Loughgall and Gib culls were understandable most abbreviated, and unbelievable because he was locked up in Sweden at the time.

The book, though, had the desired effect. Britsh authorities made Hayward's assumed identity a reality, and gave Rennie apparently an official position befitting his experience, and sacrifices. One can only wonder why the British government went to such trouble to see that Hayward was locked up falsely in Sweden, only to go to ridiculous lengths afterwards to undo. Moreover, the operation that Mayhew was assuming such difficulty to protect must have been a whopper. Little wonder London wants no inquiries - not even a truth and reconciliation commission - into all these operations.