Chairman: Lord MacLean

Transcript for 28th January 2008

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The Billy Wright Inquiry Oral Hearings

Hearing: 28th January 2008, day 24

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9 BILLY WRIGHT
10 PUBLIC INQUIRY
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16 held at:
17 The Courthouse
18 Banbridge
19 County Down
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21 on Monday, 28th January 2008
22 commencing at 10.00 am
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24 Day 24
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1 Monday, 28th January 2008
2 (10.00 am)
3 (Proceedings delayed)
4 (10.20 am)
5 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Batchelor.
6 MR BATCHELOR: My Lord, the first witness for the resumption
7 of the public hearings is a witness who is to be
8 referred to by the designation DO1. His witness
9 statement is at WS265.
10 THE CHAIRMAN: That means that there must be screens in
11 position?
12 MR BATCHELOR: Yes. That has all been set up, my Lord.
13 THE CHAIRMAN: That's right. In which event, I had better
14 just check, if I may. The witness camera has been
15 switched off?
16 SECURITY GUARD: It has, my Lord.
17 THE CHAIRMAN: The screen is fully in place?
18 SECURITY GUARD: It is.
19 THE CHAIRMAN: And the witness cannot be seen from the
20 public seating area?
21 SECURITY OFFICER: That is correct, my Lord.
22 THE CHAIRMAN: And the gallery has been cleared of members
23 of the public and that only Inquiry personnel are seated
24 there. That is right, is it not?
25 SECURITY OFFICER: That's correct.
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1 THE CHAIRMAN: Only legal representatives, Inquiry personnel
2 and security staff are seated in the body of this room?
3 SECURITY OFFICER: That's correct.
4 THE CHAIRMAN: The witness may be brought in.
5 You are aware, of course, that you will be referred
6 to as DO1?
7 A. That's correct.
8 THE CHAIRMAN: Would you take the oath or do you prefer to
9 affirm?
10 A. Affirm, please.
11 WITNESS DO1 (affirmed)
12 THE CHAIRMAN: Please sit down.
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14 Questions from MR BATCHELOR
15 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Batchelor?
16 MR BATCHELOR: I am obliged, my Lord.
17 Good morning. When I have to refer to you by title,
18 I will refer to you as "DO1", or perhaps more often than
19 not I will not refer to you as anything when I am asking
20 you a question.
21 Am I right in saying that between August 1997 and
22 August 1999, you were a member of the Security Service
23 working in Northern Ireland?
24 A. That's correct, yes.
25 Q. And, as I understand it from your statement, which is at
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1 WS265, you were a member of the assessments group in
2 Northern Ireland?
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. Can you tell the enquiry, please, in general terms, what
5 it was that the assessments group did?
6 A. Certainly. Our primary role there was to provide
7 assessments, strategic level assessments of what the
8 terrorist groups' leaderships were deciding, what their
9 plans were and what their main activities were at the
10 time, primarily for a range of readers in the Northern
11 Ireland Office and Whitehall and elsewhere.
12 Q. In terms of your management accountability, to whom were
13 you accountable in the position that you held?
14 A. I was immediately accountable to a team leader and then
15 a group leader above him and then our authority was the
16 head of the assessments group.
17 Q. And the abbreviation that's normally used for that
18 person, is it H-A-G or HAG?
19 A. That's right. We used to call them HAG. That's right.
20 Q. Were you responsible for carrying out assessments on all
21 paramilitary groups or Republican groups or Loyalist
22 groups?
23 A. Myself, personally, I was the Loyalist desk officer. So
24 I had sole responsibility for assessing the Loyalist
25 paramilitary groups. Other people in assessment group
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1 had different roles.
2 Q. We have in our witness list a witness who has
3 a designation DO2. Is that a person who would deal with
4 Republican groups?
5 A. That is correct.
6 Q. So far as the readership of your work was concerned, to
7 whom were your assessments disseminated?
8 A. There was a range of addressees. The addressees were
9 decided upon, depending on the nature of the report and
10 depending on who we thought would be the most suitable
11 and appropriate recipient of the report, primarily it is
12 the Northern Ireland Office, ministers or heads of
13 departments, people in Whitehall, the Cabinet Office,
14 assessment staff, the police, the RUC, as it was at the
15 time, occasionally the army, and also occasionally
16 Security Service and Secret Intelligence Service in
17 London.
18 Q. If you had information which came into you in your desk
19 in the assessments group relating to a prisoner in
20 Northern Ireland, would they be included in the
21 dissemination list, in relation to a prisoner?
22 A. Yes, the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the
23 Director of the Northern Ireland Prison Service would be
24 included in the distribution as a normal addressee, yes.
25 Q. You mention in your report two types of Security Service
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1 reports which have the designation SSR, standing for
2 Security Service report, and NIIR, standing for
3 Northern Ireland intelligence reports. I think we can
4 refer to the latter as NIIRs. Is that right?
5 A. That's right.
6 Q. In relation to Northern Ireland matters, were most of
7 the material you produced Northern Ireland intelligence
8 reports?
9 A. They were exclusively NIIRs. That's correct.
10 Q. When you wrote those reports, can you give the Panel,
11 please, a general indication of the material that you
12 had and from which you extracted relevant information to
13 put into the assessment?
14 A. Certainly. We received a range of reporting from
15 various sources, mostly covert intelligence sources, and
16 we would either issue a single report NIIR based on one
17 particular report from a particular source, where we
18 would produce a report NIIR placed on two or three
19 reports from a range of sources, or an assessment NIIR,
20 which was usually based on a wider range of, again,
21 usually covert sources.
22 Q. We may see some examples of these different types of
23 NIIR as we go through the productions that you are going
24 to speak to, but in terms of the covert sources you
25 referred to, would I be right in saying in very general
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1 terms that these would be human sources and also
2 technical sources?
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. That information would come to you from which bodies in
5 Northern Ireland or elsewhere?
6 A. Oh, it is primarily the police and also our own Security
7 Service agent running section and very, very
8 occasionally the army as well.
9 Q. Thank you. When you were writing either a single
10 subject report or a report based on two or three source
11 reports or indeed an assessment, can I understand it
12 that you have to be careful in the way in which you
13 write the assessment and report the information that has
14 been received?
15 A. Absolutely right.
16 Q. Partly because of sensitivities relating to how the
17 information was collected. Is that right?
18 A. That's correct.
19 Q. But also partly because you have to accurately reflect
20 the information that has been received?
21 A. That's right. That's the role of the assessments; to
22 assess the credibility of the source, and if there is
23 any doubt about the credibility, we would discuss that
24 with the originating body, agency. Then it is our role
25 to present that report, not in raw form, but in a form
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1 that made sense to our readership.
2 Q. When you were making an overall assessment of the
3 position of a paramilitary group, was that something
4 that you devised yourself, or was there input from other
5 parts of the assessment group that you worked with?
6 A. Well, I would usually discuss that with my team leader
7 and perhaps head of assessments group as well, HAG, but
8 also something we discussed, usually again with the
9 police, before we made a final judgment.
10 Q. That final judgment would have to be a balanced view on
11 the basis of all the information you had and the
12 reliability or the credibility you put on it?
13 A. Absolutely right.
14 Q. Similarly, any factual comment that was made in any of
15 these NIIR reports would have to be soundly based?
16 A. That's right, yes, and it was based on the events in and
17 around the time the reporting was received and the
18 context of what was going on in the wider world.
19 Q. You mentioned earlier in your evidence the fact that
20 what you dealt with, in general terms, was strategic
21 intelligence?
22 A. That's correct.
23 Q. Is that to be contrasted with operational or tactical
24 intelligence?
25 A. That is correct. Strategic intelligence, from our point
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1 of view, is primarily focused on what the leaderships of
2 the paramilitary groups are concerned with at the time,
3 their strategy, perhaps with regard to ceasefires,
4 breaking ceasefires, their involvement in the political
5 peace process and their relationships with other
6 Loyalist terrorist groups, or, indeed, their views on
7 the Republican terrorist groups.
8 That differed quite differently from what we would
9 regard as operational tactical intelligence, which was
10 very much lower level, regarding the plans of a specific
11 group to carry out a specific attack, or their
12 day-to-day decisions about memberships and movements,
13 and so on.
14 Q. Would it be reasonable to describe tactical intelligence
15 as information relating to operations, proposed
16 operations, by paramilitary groups or specific threats
17 by paramilitary groups?
18 A. Yes, that's absolutely right. It is very much focused
19 on what the paramilitary groups were engaged in at the
20 time, at sort of street level in terms of their actual
21 plans to carry out attacks.
22 When we did assessments, we were not involved in
23 producing threat assessment at all. That was the role
24 of the police.
25 Q. But in terms of tactical intelligence, intelligence
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1 relating to operations that were ongoing, am I right in
2 thinking that is information that you did not receive at
3 least contemporaneously?
4 A. Very rarely, yes. Again, it is a matter for the police
5 to take action on any intelligence which was of tactical
6 intelligence value, which they could interdict that
7 activity before it had taken place. Our role was
8 a wider intelligence assessment role. Occasionally, we
9 did see some operational reporting, but you are correct,
10 usually it was after the event.
11 Q. So pre-emptive information in relation to an operation
12 would not come to you contemporaneously?
13 A. No.
14 Q. And, indeed, might not come to you at all?
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. Information about a specific threat to an individual,
17 whether paramilitary, politician or member of the
18 public, would not come to you contemporaneously?
19 A. No.
20 Q. And, indeed, might not come to you at all?
21 A. Correct.
22 Q. And that information, as I understand your evidence,
23 would be largely held by the RUC?
24 A. Sorry.
25 Q. Operational intelligence?
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1 A. Yes, absolutely.
2 Q. And in particular by Special Branch of the RUC?
3 A. Yes, yes.
4 Q. Now in terms of the statement that has been produced by
5 you for the Inquiry, which perhaps we could have up on
6 the screen, WS265-0001, I think we can see there in the
7 second paragraph, just the first sentence of that, that
8 you were asked to make a statement summarising the
9 assessments which the Security Service had issued
10 leading to the emergence of the LVF in 1997 up to the
11 date of Billy Wright's murder in Her Majesty's Prison in
12 the Maze.
13 Just to remind everyone, I think you were not in
14 post until August of that particular year?
15 A. That's correct.
16 Q. So the information in this statement has been taken from
17 documents which exist in the Security Service
18 repositories?
19 A. They do, and I have seen sight of those documents.
20 Q. If we could go to the following page, WS265-0002, in
21 paragraph 6 do we there see a general summary of what
22 you are going to give evidence about, and that is the
23 split from the UVF of the Mid-Ulster UVF and the
24 formation of the Loyalist Volunteer Force, the focus of
25 the LVF on parades, and the fact that the LVF, from its
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1 inception until the present day, has not been affiliated
2 to any political party. Is that right?
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. You also make the general statement there that there was
5 a combined Loyalist military command death threat
6 against Billy Wright issued towards the end of 1996?
7 A. That's right. August 1996.
8 Q. Now, just to give some historical context to the
9 remainder of your evidence, by the middle of 1996, the
10 Provisional IRA had been on ceasefire for nearly two
11 years. Am I right in that?
12 A. That's correct.
13 Q. And, indeed, after PIRA had declared a ceasefire, the
14 Loyalist paramilitary groups followed suit?
15 A. That's right. They did indeed.
16 Q. They did so through a statement from the combined
17 Loyalist military command?
18 A. That's right.
19 Q. Just to remind people -- no doubt everyone does
20 remember -- but lest it be forgotten, the CLMC was
21 a fairly loose grouping of the leadership of the Ulster
22 Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force?
23 A. That's right, and they also had representatives from the
24 Red Hand Commando as well.
25 Q. On 9th February 1996, we had the bombing in London's
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1 Docklands --
2 A. Uh-huh.
3 Q. -- and a resumption of paramilitary activity by PIRA?
4 A. That's right.
5 Q. At that point, what was the Security Services'
6 assessment as to the stability of the Loyalists'
7 ceasefire?
8 A. At the time, they felt the Loyalists would try to
9 maintain their ceasefires, if at all possible, pending
10 further on Republican -- what they would see as
11 Republican provocation from -- through another attack on
12 the mainland or a significant attack in
13 Northern Ireland.
14 Q. So far as the attitude of the Mid-Ulster branch of the
15 UVF were concerned, what was the stance that they were
16 seeming to adopt at that particular time?
17 A. Well, the Mid-Ulster UVF was led by Billy Wright at the
18 time, who was taking a very hard-line stance against the
19 peace process and against all the ceasefires, and he
20 wanted to -- or encouraged others to take a hard
21 line and wanted to retaliate for the Republican atrocity
22 on the mainland.
23 Q. I wonder if we could have on the screen, and if you
24 could look at Security Service production SS01-0004?
25 This is the first intelligence document that we have
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1 looked at. It is not a NIIR, and it is not -- well, it
2 is an unusual report. Let me just put it that way. Can
3 we note there the date of that is 31st January 1996 and
4 it is a report which has been sent to the Security
5 Service by the Ulster Volunteer Force. Is that right?
6 A. Yes. Sorry. Correct.
7 Q. You have to answer so that something can be noted --
8 A. I beg your pardon.
9 Q. -- in the evidence. If we can go to page SS01-0005 of
10 this document, which everyone will see has been redacted
11 by agreement, we will see the comment that Billy Wright
12 travelled to Belfast where he made someone or some group
13 aware that the Mid-Ulster UVF would no longer operate
14 under the auspices of the Belfast Brigade staff?
15 A. That's correct, yes.
16 Q. Was that a declaration of independence?
17 A. I think it was, yes. I mean, it did reflect the sort of
18 situation at the time where there was a gap widening
19 between Billy Wright's views, and, therefore, the
20 Mid-Ulster UVF's views, and those of the main UVF
21 leadership that was based in Belfast.
22 Q. If we move to the following page, page SS01-0006, we see
23 the very first sentence of that paragraph is:
24 "Wright's autonomy within Mid-Ulster will now be
25 a move of particular concern."
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1 Concern to whom? Can you tell us from that?
2 A. I believe that was referring to concern of the UVF
3 leadership in Belfast, because it was, as it says there,
4 carrying attacks unsanctioned by the leadership.
5 Q. There is a suggestion one might take from the second
6 sentence that this was not the first indication that
7 Billy Wright was not going to toe the line in relation
8 to the Loyalist ceasefire?
9 A. No, that is correct. For a while, there had been
10 indications of a sort of a split or a widening of
11 differencing of opinions between Wright and the
12 Mid-Ulster UVF unit and UVF leadership in Belfast. The
13 leadership toeing very much a line in support of the
14 ceasefire and Wright was against that.
15 Q. Is this the start of the indication that matters between
16 Billy Wright and his Mid-Ulster group and
17 Belfast Brigade staff were coming to a head, if I can
18 put it that way?
19 A. I think it is one of the indicators at the time --
20 absolutely right -- that this showed that the crack was
21 sort of widening, yes.
22 Q. In your statement, WS265-0003, page 8, we can see there
23 that you say in the middle of that paragraph:
24 "Wright was seen as potentially useful in the case
25 of a resumption of a terrorist campaign. However, the
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1 UVF attempted to reduce Wright's sphere of influence to
2 the Portadown area in order to ..."
3 keep Mid-Ulster under their control.
4 Was it the case, in February 1996, that the Security
5 Services assessed that the UVF might go back to military
6 action?
7 A. I think that was always a possibility. I can't remember
8 at this particular time whether that was recorded as
9 a possibility in the short term, but I think there the
10 reference to Wright being potentially useful was the
11 fact that he had shown himself willing to carry out
12 attacks, both north and south of the border. They felt
13 that might be something useful to have up their sleeve
14 if they needed to do so in the future.
15 Q. The prospect of attack south of the border, was that
16 something that caused concern to, not only the UVF
17 perhaps, but to Governments?
18 A. Oh, very much so. I mean, the UVF had a different view
19 to the Government on attacks south of the border, but it
20 is something that we were particularly keen to assess,
21 the credibility of reporting on such attacks, and try to
22 assess the nature and give people indications of the
23 impact.
24 Q. Now, the last sentence of paragraph 8, you make
25 reference to Alex Kerr, who we know was also subject to
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1 the UVF threat later in the year.
2 It appears, from what you say there, that there were
3 indications available, to the Security Service at least,
4 that there was the prospect of an alliance between Kerr
5 and Wright as of January 1996?
6 A. That's correct, yes. There had been a number of
7 indications that -- primarily, I think, on a personal
8 level, that the two individuals were quite close, but
9 also in terms of their views on terrorist policy and the
10 way forward.
11 Q. Could you now look for me at SS01-0019? It will be
12 brought up on the screen for you. We see this document
13 is described as a "loose minute".
14 Please correct me if I am wrong, but I understand
15 that is a minute that is inserted into a Security
16 Service file for internal use?
17 A. That's right. It is an internal document primarily.
18 Q. It is dated 4th March 1996?
19 A. That's correct.
20 Q. And the subject is a brief for a PEC meeting that
21 particular day. The PEC, could you advise the Inquiry,
22 please, what body that was?
23 A. That's short for the Province Executive Committee,
24 primarily made up of senior representatives of the NIO,
25 the police, the army and Security Service, DCI, Director
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1 and Co-ordinator of Intelligence.
2 Q. So far as the Security Service was concerned -- and we
3 will see this in some minutes we will come to -- the
4 Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence, who was
5 a Director of the Security Service, was a member of that
6 committee. Is that right?
7 A. That's correct, yes.
8 Q. Am I right in saying the heads or one of the heads of
9 Special Branch was also a member of that committee?
10 A. That's correct, yes.
11 Q. And one of the senior persons in Army Intelligence sat
12 on that committee?
13 A. That's right.
14 Q. What, again in general terms, was the function of the
15 Province Executive Committee?
16 A. That was to -- the content of the loose minute was to
17 summarise key events in terms of leadership decisions
18 within both the Republican and Loyalist terrorist
19 groups, their strategy towards the ceasefire and
20 attitudes towards the political peace process at the
21 time, and also to summarise if there were any
22 significant attacks that had taken place, but it was
23 primarily to give senior readership -- again, primarily
24 in the Northern Ireland Office and elsewhere --
25 an understanding of events, I think over the previous
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1 week, I believe.
2 Q. Again, it is part of the strategic overview of what was
3 happening in Northern Ireland?
4 A. Absolutely correct. Strategic summary as opposed to,
5 you know, a daily account of events.
6 Q. If we go to SS01-0021 on this document, we can see at
7 the foot of paragraph 11 that the meeting is to be told
8 that the Loyalist paramilitaries have continued to
9 exercise restraint, as you have indicated to us.
10 In the second sentence, that they are monitoring the
11 situation and are reported to be prepared to return to
12 violence if the PIRA campaign moved to the north of
13 Ireland.
14 If we go to page SS01-0022, in paragraph 12 the
15 assessment by the Security Service at that time, perhaps
16 you could just tell us in your own words what it was?
17 A. Well, as it says in the document there, primarily we
18 thought that the Loyalist ceasefires would continue to
19 hold, barring significant -- what they would see as
20 provocation. The focus of attacks would be primarily in
21 Northern Ireland, but also, as it says there, there were
22 indications they may consider attacks in the Republic of
23 Ireland also.
24 One of the key issues was our assessment of their
25 capability to carry out such attacks and their
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1 willingness to do so.
2 Q. Was there, perhaps at this stage, a greater concern at
3 this time about what was happening within the UVF as to
4 whether or not the Loyalist ceasefire would hold?
5 A. Very much so. Particularly the split between the
6 Mid-Ulster UVF and the main leadership in Belfast was
7 a key subject at the time. Our assessments were focused
8 on looking at what impact, if any, that sort of split in
9 the UVF would have on the overall Loyalist ceasefire.
10 Q. Hence the reference at this high level group to the
11 splinter group that was announced in The Sunday Life in
12 March and the tying of that group to Billy Wright and
13 Mid-Ulster UVF?
14 A. Absolutely right. That's quite a key point, and, again,
15 it was a further indication of this split between
16 Billy Wright and the Mid-Ulster grouping and the Belfast
17 leadership.
18 Q. And, indeed, the liaison, or potential liaison, between
19 Wright and Alex Kerr, which is mentioned at the very
20 foot of paragraph 13. That can be brought up for you.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You see it says:
23 "Earlier intelligence had indicated a firm intention
24 between Wright and ... Kerr to join forces ..."
25 A. Yes.
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1 Q. What was happening between Wright and Kerr was of
2 concern to the Province Executive Committee?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And, if we go to the next document, which is SS01-0025,
5 sufficiently of concern to reach the Cabinet Office in
6 March of 1996 and senior ministers in Her Majesty's
7 Government?
8 A. That's correct.
9 Q. There is reference there to a Security Service report.
10 If we go to page SS01-0027, we can see that what is
11 raised again is the question of the Mid-Ulster UVF
12 splitting off from mainstream UVF and not being under
13 the auspices of the Belfast Brigade staff?
14 A. That's correct.
15 Q. In paragraph 6 there, the assessment at the time was
16 that Wright's position on the peace process and the
17 ceasefire would have been attractive to a lot of the
18 rank and file of these organisations, or at least of the
19 UVF?
20 A. A fair few, yes, both across the Loyalist spectrum, UVF,
21 UDA and others. There is a number who felt that
22 Billy Wright's hard-line stance was their preference --
23 preferred strategy, but didn't want to break ranks with
24 their declared membership to their declared grouping.
25 Q. Can we move on then a couple of weeks to SS01-0038,
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1 which is a Province Executive Committee minute for
2 a meeting held on 19th March 1996, where we see those
3 attending are the Deputy Chief Constable of operations,
4 the Chief of Staff was army clearly, the head of
5 assessment group, HAG, and the assessment head of
6 Special Branch?
7 A. That's correct.
8 Q. At page SS01-0046 on that particular minute at 4.16 the
9 RUC are advising the Province Executive Committee that
10 Wright is, in fact, behind the threatened breakaway
11 group and that he has support from militant elements
12 both within the UDA and UVF both in Belfast and
13 Mid-Ulster?
14 A. That's correct. That very much reflected the situation
15 as we understood it at the time.
16 Q. At 4.19 there is reference to a meeting of the combined
17 Loyalist military command and to a statement. What was
18 happening there within the Loyalist paramilitary
19 groupings at that stage?
20 A. I think there was a lot of tension within the
21 leaderships because of the PIRA activity. There was
22 a lot of pressure put on the Loyalist leaderships to
23 break with the Loyalist ceasefire and respond to the
24 Republican attacks. So they were coming under
25 increasing pressure to do something to show that
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1 Loyalists disagreed with what Republican groups had done
2 and what PIRA had done particularly.
3 Q. I think they issued a blow-for-blow type statement
4 shortly after this meeting?
5 A. That's correct. That's right.
6 Q. But am I right in saying that what it shows is that
7 Billy Wright, at that stage in March of 1996, was
8 creating tensions within Loyalism?
9 A. Very much so. Because people saw him -- he was a very
10 charismatic leader and had a degree of support around
11 him, as is said, not only from Mid-Ulster UVF but from
12 others elsewhere, primarily in Belfast, that were
13 starting to be sympathetic to his hard-line stance and
14 his sort of anti-ceasefire stance, and that caused
15 a great degree of attention with the leaderships of the
16 UVF, UDA in Belfast.
17 Q. Could you look now for me, please, at SS01-0061, in
18 which we see the heading is "SPM Intelligence Brief" and
19 the date is May 1996. What was the SPM?
20 A. I am afraid I can't remember.
21 Q. Well, we will find out from someone else.
22 A. I am sure, yes.
23 Q. The correspondence is addressed to the DCI, who was the
24 Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence. Am I right?
25 I beg your pardon. It was a DCI, in E3 --
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1 A. That's right, Detective Chief Inspector --
2 Q. In Special Branch?
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. If we go to page SS01-0067, we see reference to a bomb
5 hoax at Dublin Airport and attribution of that
6 particular piece of work to Billy Wright with the
7 sanction of the UVF leadership?
8 A. That's right. I think that's a real example of what was
9 referred to before, where the UVF leadership thought
10 Billy Wright and his activities might be useful to the
11 UVF to carry out attacks more or less on their behalf,
12 but they could not be blamed and could keep a distance
13 from.
14 Q. So it was a way, was it, of allowing Billy Wright to let
15 off some steam?
16 A. I think so. I think that's a fair description, yes.
17 Q. And perhaps a way of giving some succour to rank and
18 file members who were more militant than the leadership?
19 A. I think so, and I think the fact that they made it clear
20 that the UVF leadership were aware of this attack was
21 exactly that, to say, "We knew what he was going to do
22 and, therefore, kind of support these sorts of actions
23 but we are not willing to put our name to them."
24 Q. But as we see from the paragraph which is on the screen,
25 it also created further tensions between the UDA and the
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1 UVF, because the UDA knew nothing about it before it
2 happened?
3 A. Absolutely right. This is a reflex of the sort of
4 tensions that existed within the CLMC at the time, that
5 there was disagreement and tensions throughout its
6 existence.
7 Q. If we move down that SS01-0067 to paragraph 3 -- and
8 I appreciate this is not an assessment that you would
9 have written, but looking forward, it would appear that
10 the author of this document is suggesting that the
11 Dublin Airport bomb hoax was not an indication that the
12 Loyalists were going to return to battle?
13 A. No. I think, as it says there, it was more or less
14 viewed as a shot across the bows, as a warning that the
15 Loyalists were still a force to be reckoned with, but
16 not a significant attack in their eyes to be worthy of
17 breaking their ceasefire.
18 Q. Although there were tensions mounting between UDA and
19 UVF, so far as their political parties to which they
20 were affiliated were concerned, were they still involved
21 in the peace process, the UDP and the PUP?
22 A. Very much so. They were both very keen to take part in
23 the talks. The PUP, the Progressive Unions Party,
24 particularly, under David Ervine's leadership, was very
25 keen to be fully engaged in the peace talks, as was the
25
1 Ulster Democratic Party.
2 Q. Can we return to your witness statement, WS265-0004,
3 paragraph 12? In that paragraph you tell us about the
4 continued support of the Loyalist paramilitaries in
5 relation to the political process?
6 A. That's correct.
7 Q. But in June 1996, of course, we had the Manchester bomb
8 and the Loyalist parties also signed up to the Mitchell
9 principles, which you say in your statement caused
10 concern amongst hard liners in the paramilitary groups?
11 A. That's right.
12 Q. Was there a concern at this point time that Billy Wright
13 was attracting members from UVF and UDA to his position?
14 A. Yes, there were. There were continuing indications
15 that, again, his hard-line stance, his anti-ceasefire
16 stance was very attractive, particularly the Mitchell
17 principles. I think one of the particular elements to
18 that which the Loyalist groups disliked was the
19 reference to decommissioning, and the thought of handing
20 in weapons was anathema to them. They thought that
21 Wright offered an alternative approach which they
22 could -- a number of hard-line Loyalists felt more
23 sympathetic with than their main leaderships.
24 Q. From the nature of your answer, that wasn't restricted
25 to Mid-Ulster but that was more general?
26
1 A. Oh, it was general across the province, absolutely, as
2 I say, although small numbers, but nevertheless there
3 seemed to be a bit of a groundswell.
4 Q. Then we move to July 1996, which, of course, was
5 Drumcree, which I think you have been referring to as
6 Drumcree 1, if I remember correctly, although clearly it
7 wasn't. Could you look for me, please, at SS01-0069?
8 Do we have here a Northern Ireland intelligence report
9 of the type that you, yourself, would have produced in
10 the course of your engagement?
11 A. That's absolutely correct, yes. That's the report.
12 Q. When we look to the word or the letters "NIIR" at the
13 top, we see the date 4th July 1996.
14 A. That's correct.
15 Q. And we have a title "UVF: Loyalists threaten to end
16 ceasefire if Drumcree Orange March rerouted". Is this
17 what you described earlier as a subject report?
18 A. Yes, that's right. It is based on a specific, probably
19 a specific intelligence report from a covert source and
20 we were making an assessment on that report and putting
21 it into context.
22 Q. Can we just note some of the addressees? This
23 particular report would go to the Northern Ireland
24 Office, the Prisons Minister?
25 A. That's correct. CEAS prisons.
27
1 Q. And to Mr Ancram, who was then, I think, the minister
2 responsible for pushing on the peace process?
3 A. That's right.
4 Q. We see in the first line it goes to the Chief Executive
5 for Prisons. That would be Mr Shannon. Am I right?
6 A. I think that was Mr Shannon at the time, yes.
7 Q. And in the second set of addressees it goes to the RUC
8 Superintendent in intelligence, Superintendent in E3,
9 the Republican desk in E3, the Loyalist desk in E3, and
10 then a department and headquarters of the Special Branch
11 called E9?
12 A. That's correct.
13 Q. The next set, it goes to the Army Intelligence, G2, G3
14 and chief of G2?
15 A. That's right.
16 Q. And the bottom line I think is the same distribution
17 more or less as the top line, except presumably to
18 London rather than Belfast?
19 A. That's right, because of the -- the ministers and heads
20 often shuttled between London and Belfast.
21 Q. We can see in the bottom line that London-based
22 departments such as the SIS, Foreign and Commonwealth
23 Office, and "Cab" presumably is the Cabinet Office?
24 A. Cabinet assessment staff. That is correct.
25 Q. I was referring you to this document because I wanted
28
1 you to look at page SS01-0070, which refers to Drumcree.
2 Do we see there that there is reported by the Security
3 Service that Wright had promised that UVF members from
4 throughout Northern Ireland would support the Orange
5 Order's March in Portadown on 7th July?
6 A. That is correct, yes.
7 Q. More particularly for our purposes, in paragraph 2, that
8 Billy Wright had -- if we can read it despite the
9 redactions -- indicated that unless the march was
10 allowed to proceed on its traditional route, the
11 Loyalist ceasefire would be terminated as of effectively
12 that particular Sunday?
13 A. That's correct. I think there must be a word missing.
14 That sentence does not read.
15 Q. I know it does not read. Because of sensitivities, it
16 has had to be -- the degree that came out. In general
17 terms the sense is there, that unless the march was
18 allowed to proceed, the ceasefire would be terminated?
19 A. That's correct, yes.
20 Q. If we can to the bottom of that page, where there is
21 a comment written by your predecessor, one of your
22 colleagues --
23 A. That's correct.
24 Q. -- that, at that particular point in 1998, tensions in
25 Mid-Ulster UVF were building up and it was anticipated
29
1 there would be disturbances, including street violence?
2 A. That's correct, yes.
3 Q. Indeed, we know generally what did happen in 1996 at
4 Drumcree.
5 A. That's correct.
6 Q. The UVF's attitude to Drumcree, how did they view the
7 demand to walk down Garvaghy Road by the Orangemen in
8 Portadown?
9 A. I think generally they were very supportive of it, as
10 generally most Loyalists were. What they disagreed with
11 was the violence that Billy Wright was threatening to
12 use. I think they were quite happy to support the
13 Orangemen in their peaceful protest to march down the
14 Garvaghy Road. As I say, it is the violent element
15 which they, certainly publicly, didn't want to be
16 involved in and didn't support.
17 Q. Could you have a look for me, please, in this particular
18 connection which appears in SS01-0127 and if we go to
19 page SS01-0128, we see in the top left-hand corner this
20 has a reference "RUC HQ/E3C"?
21 A. Correct.
22 Q. We will come to deal with what these documents represent
23 in due course. If you look to the right under "Document
24 Header Details", do you see "Document type: SIDD"?
25 A. That's right.
30
1 Q. Am I right in saying this was the sort of document that
2 was disseminated fairly widely amongst the security
3 agencies in Northern Ireland --
4 A. I believe so, yes.
5 Q. -- as SIDD? And it relates to UVF paramilitary
6 operations?
7 A. This particular one, does, yes.
8 Q. The information originating with a Special Branch unit
9 in Headquarters, E3A?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. As I think we will come to here, E3A was the Republican
12 desk?
13 A. E3 was. I can't remember the difference between E3A and
14 E3B I am afraid.
15 Q. But E3 was Special Branch?
16 A. Special Branch certainly.
17 Q. If we go to the text at page SS01-0129, and we see the
18 UVF's view expressed in the first sentence of that
19 particular paragraph that they thought the best
20 compromise was to allow the lodges to march down the
21 Garvaghy Road without any music, and that Billy Wright
22 had offered to marshall supporters and ensure no
23 trouble. Do you see that?
24 A. Yes, I do. Sorry. Yes.
25 Q. We know there was, as is reflected here, a stand-off on
31
1 Garvaghy Road in that particular July?
2 A. That's right.
3 Q. The part I want to direct your attention to of this
4 particular report was Billy Wright was heard
5 bad-mouthing the UVF, UDA, PUP and UDP and said that the
6 Loyalist ceasefire would be broken at midnight. Later
7 that day, although it has been redacted, we know the
8 name of the person who was killed in Lurgan that
9 particular night.
10 A. Mr McGoldrick, I believe.
11 Q. Mr McGoldrick, yes. How did the Security Service assess
12 the relationship between Billy Wright and Mid-Ulster UVF
13 and the mainstream UVF at the time of Drumcree 1996?
14 A. I beg your paragraph. Could you repeat that?
15 Q. How did you assess the relationship between Mid-Ulster
16 UVF and Belfast Brigade staff or mainstream UVF after
17 Drumcree 1996?
18 A. It was pretty poor at best. Again, I think this is
19 about the time that they were at the end of their tether
20 and the distance between them in terms of their
21 activities and strategy was probably at its greatest.
22 Q. The murder of Michael McGoldrick, was that something
23 that you assessed was likely to lead to a break of the
24 Loyalist ceasefire?
25 A. I don't think so at the time. It wasn't that
32
1 significant.
2 Q. If we move to paragraph 14 of your statement, page 5,
3 WS265-0005, I don't think we have a document for this,
4 but in paragraph 14, after Drumcree the Security Service
5 made an assessment there were three possible outcomes
6 from the situation in Mid-Ulster. Can you tell us
7 briefly what these outcomes were?
8 A. The UVF discussed -- I just mention there this was at
9 a time of heightened tension between UVF leadership and
10 Billy Wright and his supporters. They had three options
11 that they had considered. One there was to kill
12 Billy Wright outright; the second one was to try to
13 negotiate with him to come back under their command and
14 control and in some way or another to cooperate with
15 each other; or a third view was that in actual fact that
16 he would formally break away from the UVF and form his
17 own group.
18 Q. Now bearing these options in mind, could you look,
19 please, at SS01-0080? That is a NIIR which is dated
20 19th July 1996. Am I right?
21 A. That's correct.
22 Q. And the heading is that, at that point in time, in the
23 middle of July 1996, the UVF leadership had authorised
24 the execution of Billy Wright?
25 A. That's correct.
33
1 Q. If you go to page SS01-0081, the reason for that
2 decision appears to be set out in the second
3 paragraph of that document, because of the execution of
4 Michael McGoldrick, in order to placate the IRA and to
5 send a message to potential dissents within the
6 organisation itself?
7 A. That's right. I think, as I say, this was an attempt by
8 UVF to bring some sort of control to the situation
9 which -- the murder of Mr McGoldrick had sort of raised
10 those tensions and this was their attempt to try to
11 bring things back under control.
12 Q. What do you think the UVF meant when they said that the
13 execution of Wright would placate PIRA?
14 A. As the victim was a Catholic, it is quite possible that
15 the Republicans, and PIRA in particular, might feel
16 duty-bound to respond in "tit for tat", as we call it,
17 killing of possibly a Protestant -- a member of the
18 Protestant community.
19 Q. If we look to the Security Service comment which is on
20 that screen, if you can just bring it up and highlight
21 it again, in paragraph B, there is an indication there,
22 or one can read into it, that the UVF were really
23 concerned about the prospect of a splinter group at that
24 point in time?
25 A. Absolutely right. As I say, I think things had come to
34
1 a crunch point here. I think they realised that Wright
2 had built up a level of support which would enable him
3 to form his own breakaway group, and they were concerned
4 at the consequences of that, because his particular
5 strategy and views were at sort of opposite ends of
6 spectrum to theirs.
7 Q. Totally divergent?
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. Was that concern related to the stability of the
10 Loyalist ceasefire?
11 A. I think it was less to do with the stability of the
12 ceasefire and more to do with the command and control of
13 UVF members across the province. That was the UVF's
14 leadership's main concern, maintaining some sort of
15 cohesion amongst the group. They didn't want their
16 members to break ranks, essentially, and join Wright and
17 his supporters in large numbers, because that would
18 undermine their own authority and command.
19 Q. Presumably they wished to maintain cohesion in order
20 that they could pursue their policies and their
21 objectives?
22 A. That's correct.
23 Q. The opposite effect might be that people might defect to
24 Wright and the ceasefire might be put under threat
25 again?
35
1 A. That's true, but it wouldn't be their own ceasefire. It
2 wouldn't be the UVF, UDA ceasefires as such.
3 Q. In any event, they appear to have been concerned over
4 the splinter group. Can we move on to look at the
5 document at page SS01-0083, which again is another
6 loose minute? Just to note the date of that,
7 23rd July 1996, then can we move to page SS01-0086? In
8 the last two paragraphs, if these could be highlighted,
9 having said that the Loyalist ceasefire is still
10 holding, at this point, this minute, which again is
11 prepared for the SPM -- we have not quite identified
12 what that group is yet -- the UVF believe it is
13 a question of when, not if, their ceasefire would break,
14 and they were considering a controlled return to
15 a limited campaign?
16 A. I think that is correct. I think this was possibly
17 reflecting thoughts about keeping the wider membership
18 under some sort of control by letting off a bit of
19 steam, which they could do so with, as they say there,
20 a limited campaign. Whether the attacks were claimed or
21 unclaimed, I don't know, but it would be exactly that,
22 to show they were still a force to be reckoned with, but
23 without losing control of the membership.
24 Q. Am I right in saying that this consideration of limited
25 return or controlled return to a campaign was caused by
36
1 Wright?
2 A. That certainly would have been a factor at the time,
3 yes, certainly.
4 Q. There is reference in the next paragraph to a PIRA
5 attack outside Northern Ireland as having that potential
6 of a return to violence by the UVF in particular, but in
7 relation to that paragraph, can I just ask you for your
8 comment on the sentence that says:
9 "The tension within the CLMC remains with the UDA
10 refusing to cooperate with the UVF, on the grounds that
11 the UVF cannot control its Mid-Ulster faction centred on
12 Billy Wright."
13 A. That's right. As I mentioned before, there was quite
14 a degree of tension and disagreement between the UDA and
15 UVF leaderships under the umbrella of the CLMC at this
16 time, and I think the UDA leadership felt the UVF did to
17 the have any control of Wright and wanted them to try to
18 get a grip of the situation as best they could.
19 Q. Can we go to the previous page in this document,
20 page SS01-0085, and can we focus on the bottom
21 paragraph in relation to PIRA? We will come back to
22 deal with the INLA with another witness. Can you see
23 the paragraph typed in bold that says:
24 "PIRA has publicly declared its intention to
25 retaliate against Loyalist violence and the current
37
1 internal tensions within the organisation render the
2 actions of individual groupings unpredictable."
3 The Loyalist violence that has been referred to
4 there, is that associated with Billy Wright?
5 A. It may well have been certainly a factor. I can't
6 recall if that was the only thing that was going on at
7 the time.
8 Q. At this particular point in time, July 1996,
9 Billy Wright may have been creating tensions within the
10 Provisional IRA?
11 A. That's quite possible.
12 Q. He appears to have been creating tensions or disharmony
13 with the UVF?
14 A. That's correct.
15 Q. He appears to have been causing any coherence there was
16 in the CLMC between the UDA and UVF to weaken or to
17 lessen?
18 A. Well, that's -- he was one of the reasons. That's
19 correct.
20 Q. If he did move into the Republic of Ireland, he
21 presumably would cause concern to the Republic of
22 Ireland Government?
23 A. In terms of carrying out attacks?
24 Q. Yes, in terms of carrying out attacks.
25 A. Absolutely right, yes.
38
1 Q. And to Her Majesty's Government as well?
2 A. Absolutely, in terms of the overall situation and the
3 stability -- security of the province.
4 Q. These tensions that were building up, were they all due
5 to Billy Wright or were they due to other factors?
6 A. No, I believe there were other factors going on at this
7 time. I can't recall any details, but Wright was
8 certainly one of the factors that was causing these
9 sorts of tensions and these sorts of discussions across
10 the Loyalist and Republican leaderships.
11 THE CHAIRMAN: Would that be a convenient point?
12 MR BATCHELOR: Yes, my Lord.
13 THE CHAIRMAN: We will have a break now. DO1, you have the
14 privilege of leaving first.
15 A. Thank you.
16 THE CHAIRMAN: Could we resume about 11.35, please?
17 (11.25 am)
18 (Short break)
19 (11.40 am)
20 THE CHAIRMAN: Before we resume the evidence of DO1, could
21 I just go through the check list again?
22 The witness camera has been switched off?
23 SECURITY GUARD: It has, my Lord.
24 THE CHAIRMAN: The screen is fully in place and the witness
25 cannot be seen from the public seating area?
39
1 SECURITY GUARD: That's correct.
2 THE CHAIRMAN: The gallery area has been cleared of members
3 of the public and only Inquiry personnel are there?
4 SECURITY GUARD: That's correct, my Lord.
5 THE CHAIRMAN: Only legal representatives, Inquiry personnel
6 and security staff are seated in the body of this room?
7 SECURITY GUARD: That's correct.
8 THE CHAIRMAN: Good. Bring the witness in, please.
9 (Witness D01 returns to hearing room)
10 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Batchelor?
11 MR BATCHELOR: Just to recap slightly, you told us just
12 before the break in your evidence that the Security
13 Service, in July of 1996, had assessed that there were
14 three possible outcomes to the UVF Mid-Ulster situation.
15 One was that the leadership would decide to kill Wright;
16 the second was there would be mediation; and the third
17 was that Wright would split and form his own group?
18 A. Yes, that's correct.
19 Q. We saw by reference to one of the documents that,
20 indeed, by July 1996, the leadership had sanctioned the
21 killing of Billy Wright?
22 A. That's correct, yes.
23 Q. Could I ask you to look at SS01-0087, which we will see
24 is a Province Executive Committee minute for 29th July.
25 We can note that the attendees were similar to the last
40
1 occasion, except this time the head of Special Branch
2 attended instead of the assistant head of
3 Special Branch?
4 A. That's correct.
5 Q. If we go to page SS01-0089 of that document which has
6 the heading "Loyalist", and note firstly that on
7 22nd July the political parties affiliated to the UDA
8 and the UVF had a meeting with the Prime Minister, then
9 John Major, in Downing Street?
10 A. That's correct, yes.
11 Q. Further down on that SS01-0089, in paragraph 7, the
12 Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence is advising
13 the committee of an analysis in the Sunday newspapers on
14 the UVF's attitude to the PUP's policies and on the
15 threat posed to the UVF's leadership by Billy Wright's
16 group in Mid-Ulster.
17 The point I wanted to ask you to look at and comment
18 on is about eight lines from the foot, where it says:
19 "It would also have difficulty in taking any kind of
20 disciplinary action against Billy Wright, since he had
21 now demonstrated that he had widespread support within
22 Mid-Ulster and elsewhere."
23 Do you see that?
24 A. That's right, I can see that, yes.
25 Q. Having sanctioned the killing of Wright, was what is
41
1 quoted here a factor in what subsequently transpired in
2 relation to the emergence of the LVF, that there was
3 difficulty in getting access to Billy Wright and
4 Mid-Ulster?
5 A. Well, certainly, I think it is true to say there would
6 be difficulty for the CLMC for the UVF at this point to
7 carry out their intended sort of killing of Wright,
8 partly because they could see he had quite a build-up of
9 support at this point around him, people loyal to him,
10 and the view was that they would find it difficult to
11 get close to him to carry out any kind of fatal attack.
12 Q. I asked you about the pragmatic aspect, but was there
13 a political aspect as well, in that Wright turned out to
14 have more support than they anticipated within their own
15 organisation?
16 A. Yes, and I think this -- that's right. As you say, at
17 this point, I think Wright himself believed he had sort
18 of a critical mass of support which would enable him to
19 create a separate entity at this point.
20 Q. If we move to SS01-0094 of this document, at the top of
21 that page, at 4.25, we have a comment. It says the
22 Assistant Head of Special Branch, who didn't appear even
23 to be at the meeting, but that the UVF Brigade staff
24 were still committed to the ceasefire. There was,
25 however, major dissent in Mid-Ulster which had spread to
42
1 other areas.
2 A. That's right.
3 Q. At 4.26, the assessment at that stage by the police
4 representative indicated that the process would only end
5 when Billy Wright left the UVF and formed a new grouping
6 which would be a hard-line grouping?
7 A. That's right. I think, as I say, at this point the
8 distance between them, between the UVF leadership and
9 Billy Wright and Mid-Ulster had reached its ultimate
10 point.
11 I think, as reflected there, the leadership felt the
12 only way to resolve the situation -- one way to resolve
13 the situation would be for Wright and like-minded
14 supporters to formally distance themselves and create
15 a new group.
16 Q. That, of course, would have some effect on what was
17 happening in the political process?
18 A. Some effects, although Billy Wright was not represented,
19 or his group and his supporters per se were not
20 represented in the peace process at all, and, therefore,
21 had no sort of direct bearing on it.
22 Q. So am I right in saying that your view is that he could
23 only have had an indirect effect through the lessening
24 of the position of UVF and the UDA and the creation of
25 dissension within these organisations?
43
1 A. That's right. It was certainly, you know, a major
2 talking point in terms of the overall security situation
3 amongst the Loyalist groupings at the time, and his --
4 Wright's actions and his breaking away was quite, you
5 know, a key factor at the time.
6 Q. If we look at 4.30 of this document on the same page,
7 page SS01-0094, we see the comment that a leading member
8 of the RHC -- which is the Red Hand Commando. Is that
9 right?
10 A. That's right, yes.
11 Q. Had expressed his support for Wright's policies and the
12 comment that, if Wright did split from the UVF, RHC's
13 support would give him a power base in Belfast.
14 If that turned out to be factually correct, would
15 that be a matter of concern, that his influence was
16 extending into Belfast and particularly to that group,
17 the Red Hand Commando?
18 A. Not especially, no, because I think the numbers we
19 assessed to be supporting Wright at this time were
20 relatively small, certainly when compared to the main
21 Loyalist groupings. So even -- and indeed, with
22 previous references to Alex Kerr and his support, which
23 was based in Belfast, his support for Billy Wright,
24 again that didn't cause us any great concerns.
25 Q. If you just give me a moment, please, to check
44
1 something. Can we look, please, to SS01-0102 to see if
2 we can get some feel of the extent of support for Wright
3 round about this time? I see this is dated
4 3rd September 1996, so we are moving on a bit in the
5 chronology. If we could have a look at this document,
6 and in particular at page SS01-0104, at the top of
7 that -- I see I have jumped ahead a bit in the
8 chronology. This is after the public declaration for
9 the requirement for Wright to leave Northern Ireland.
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. If we can take this as our reference point, 31st August,
12 Billy Wright had not left Northern Ireland. As we can
13 see from this report, the media were around and
14 interested in what the situation was. If we go to the
15 foot of that page, at 6 we see on the Saturday afternoon
16 that a Sunday Times reporter interviewed Wright in his
17 home asking what support he was getting. Wright said he
18 was receiving total support from -- we have to go across
19 to the next page, SS01-0105 -- someone who was in charge
20 of the Red Hand Commando unit and someone with a unit in
21 East Belfast. Is that right?
22 A. That's correct, yes.
23 Q. Units from Ballymena, then there is reference to
24 a parade which took place in Portadown that particular
25 day?
45
1 A. That's right.
2 Q. If we move to the next page of that document, SS01-0106,
3 we see at the top the details of the groupings have been
4 redacted. Another UVF unit had informed the UVF that
5 they fully support Wright and believed the CLMC had come
6 to the wrong conclusion in relation to Wright's recent
7 activities.
8 In paragraph 10, a Red Hand Commando team from
9 Bangor attended and gave a statement in support of
10 Wright. Later on in that paragraph, the RHC asked that
11 they be removed from the public statement which related
12 to the threat of Wright and that they were not prepared
13 to stand by and see him be shot?
14 A. That is correct.
15 Q. If we go to the next page, SS01-0107, there is reference
16 to people turning up at Billy Wright's house, with
17 a video tape which showed people in balaclavas with
18 guns. Four lines from the foot:
19 "A statement was read by one of the individuals ...
20 stating that members of the UDA and UVF would not stand
21 by and witness action against Mid-Ulster UVF."
22 It appears there was disagreement within the UVF and
23 UDA about the leadership's decision to kill Billy Wright
24 even at that stage?
25 A. Absolutely. I think the references you have made there
46
1 reflect this sort of range of support that Billy Wright
2 was starting to gather for his cause, a lot of which
3 I think was based on his personal charismatic sort of
4 leadership credentials as opposed to necessarily his
5 policies, but nevertheless there is a groundswell of
6 support and I think a lot of Loyalists, as indicated
7 there, felt that an attack on Wright himself was somehow
8 negative -- it was a negative thing to happen for the
9 Loyalist cause overall.
10 Q. Can we look also at SS01-0116, which is an SPM
11 intelligence brief dated 10th September 1996? Do you
12 see that?
13 A. That's correct, yes.
14 Q. If we go to page SS01-0118, we can see "SPM" stands for
15 "security policy meeting"?
16 A. Aha. Yes.
17 Q. Are you able to help us now with what that particular
18 group was, who sat on it?
19 A. I am afraid I cannot recall. I had no involvement with
20 that.
21 Q. Can I direct your attention to the last bullet point on
22 SS01-0118:
23 "Wright's position within the Loyalist community has
24 been enhanced in the wake of the publicity following the
25 CLMC threat against him."
47
1 A. That's right. I think it kind of boosted his sort of
2 personal credibility and sort of standing, and certainly
3 boosted his profile among the Loyalist groups. As it is
4 indicated there, he gained from it rather than -- the
5 original intention was for him to lose by it.
6 Q. Indeed, as you say in your statement at paragraph 16,
7 did in effect that public announcement create more
8 problems for the UVF and the CLMC than anything else?
9 A. That's right, because I don't think they actually
10 between them had any clear idea how they were going to
11 carry out that threat, nor indeed what really the nature
12 of the threat was, but particularly how they were going
13 to carry it out, and moreover, who, if anybody, they
14 were going to get to physically carry out an attack on
15 Wright.
16 Q. Indeed politically, if they had carried out their public
17 threat, that would have impacted upon the position of
18 the political parties in the peace process?
19 A. Quite likely so, yes, because if it had been shown that
20 actually the main groupings were behind the attack, it
21 could have been regarded as a breach of their ceasefire,
22 and, therefore, all the implications that may have had
23 for their involvement in the peace process.
24 Q. Indeed, if I remember correctly, the very issuing of the
25 threat caused a motion to be made to the Commission to
48
1 have the UDP and the PUP removed from the talks process?
2 A. Yes, I think that's correct.
3 Q. On this document, can we go to page SS01-0122, at the
4 top of which we see reference to the statement on
5 28th August instructing Wright and Alex Kerr to leave
6 Northern Ireland?
7 In the next paragraph, the public statement was that
8 they both leave the province or face summary justice.
9 What was understood by the phrase "summary justice"?
10 A. Again, I don't think it was clear. I don't think
11 anybody had a clear understanding that. That may have
12 been an actual fatal attack or some other attack. It
13 wasn't clear at all.
14 Q. But in view of the information you had previously about
15 the sanctioning of the killing of Wright, the security
16 agencies presumably read it as an intention to remove
17 him?
18 A. Certainly that was our first and foremost thought, that
19 exactly what they meant by this was the carrying out of
20 their death threat against him.
21 Q. In the next sentence after the words "summary justice",
22 it says:
23 "In the event, this action has caused the CLMC more
24 problems than it has Wright, who has benefited from
25 a significant increase in support from both within the
49
1 paramilitary organisations and the wider Unionist
2 community."
3 Then there is reference to the fact that a pipe bomb
4 was thrown into the home of Alex Kerr's parents?
5 A. That's correct.
6 Q. In paragraph 16 of your statement, if we could refer
7 briefly to that, WS265-0006, in the last sentence of
8 that paragraph you say:
9 "Since the CLMC had issued the order, it lost
10 credibility with Loyalists, having failed subsequently
11 to act against Wright once the 72-hour grace period had
12 elapsed."
13 A. That's correct, yes.
14 Q. Did the situation develop in such a way that the CLMC
15 threat in effect was dissipated as the months went by?
16 A. Absolutely right. I think the CLMC had got themselves
17 into a corner and they weren't clear how they were going
18 to get themselves out of that corner.
19 From the reaction to the Wright supporters and other
20 members across the Loyalist community elsewhere, they
21 could see actually they were digging themselves into
22 a hole which they were having difficulty getting out of,
23 and in actual fact, as happened, they issued no further
24 statements, and neither further threatened Wright nor
25 withdrew the threat against him, and, as happened, it
50
1 quietly sort of was swept under the carpet.
2 Q. Swept under the carpet. The public statement was still
3 there in the public domain?
4 A. Correct.
5 Q. But the reality might have been different?
6 A. Absolutely right. I don't think they had any clear
7 plans or necessarily clear intentions to carry through
8 with their statement.
9 Q. Whilst we are on page WS265-0006 of your statement, at
10 paragraph 17 you make reference to the sensitive
11 position of the UDP and the PUP in the talks process in
12 relation to this particular public threat against
13 Billy Wright and Alex Kerr?
14 A. Yes, very much so. As you made reference to, the fact
15 that the UDP and PUP represented the UDA and UVF
16 respectively in the talks, and the fact that their sort
17 of military wings were making such public statements,
18 was putting them under pressure within the talks and, as
19 you say, I believe there was a representation made for
20 them to be removed from the talks at the time.
21 Q. Can we look then, please, to Security Service production
22 SS01-0110, which is another loose minute for a brief of
23 the Province Executive Committee meeting. Note that
24 this is dated the beginning of September,
25 9th September 1996. It was from the Director and
51
1 Co-ordinator of Intelligence and copied to the head of
2 assessments group?
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. If we move to page SS01-0113, there is a recording there
5 that in the second sentence the UVF recognised that it
6 had created a difficult position for itself with its
7 publicly stated threat against Wright and Kerr, and at
8 that stage did not intend to take any action against
9 Wright or his followers in the near future, nor to
10 retract the threat or seek any accommodation with
11 Wright, which is partly what you said a moment ago.
12 A. That's correct.
13 Q. But at the end of that particular paragraph:
14 "It intends to take action against Wright at some
15 stage in the future."
16 So does this reporting at the beginning of
17 September 1996 in effect indicate a watering down of the
18 threat?
19 A. I think that's absolutely right. As I said before,
20 I think they were actually -- they had realised at this
21 point that they had dug themselves a bit of a hole that
22 was probably a bit difficult to get out of. They wanted
23 to save some sort of face, hence their comment at the
24 end of that paragraph saying, "Yes, we still intend to
25 take action", but I don't think there was any real
52
1 intention to do so.
2 Q. Did there then follow, to take it in general terms, some
3 internal discussion between the UVF, both in Mid-Ulster
4 and Belfast, with a view to resolving the issue?
5 A. I believe so. At one point I think there were
6 discussions and negotiations held between leading
7 members of the UVF in Belfast and Wright himself and
8 various supporters to try to come to some sort of
9 accommodation whereby they could effectively draw
10 a line under this incident and move on.
11 Q. Can we look at some other documents then in the
12 chronological run? First of all at SS01-0123. Can
13 I ask that we move on to SS01-0124, first of all,
14 because these have been scanned with the front
15 page second.
16 We will see this document is described as
17 an "NIO/NIO". Am I right in thinking this is a police
18 document or do you not know?
19 A. I can't really tell from that, I am afraid.
20 Q. You would tell from the originating unit, would you?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. We can ascertain that later. If we look to
23 page SS01-0123, we have a date stamp in the top
24 right-hand corner of 6th September, slightly before --
25 26th September -- it is my eyesight -- I think it is
53
1 26th September. The text is fairly short, but it is to
2 the effect that:
3 "The CLMC will not carry out its threat against
4 Billy Wright following internal negotiations."
5 A. That's correct.
6 Q. If we go to page SS01-0126 on that run of documents, do
7 we see again -- you can take it from me this is
8 a document which is date-stamped October -- described as
9 a SIDD, which is a document which is disseminated fairly
10 widely amongst security agencies, originating from the
11 RUC Headquarters, E3A?
12 A. That's correct, yes.
13 Q. This is an NIO/NIO, so does that help you whether
14 NIO/NIOs are police documents or not?
15 A. Very much so. It says there the originating unit is RUC
16 Headquarters/E3A, which is Special Branch.
17 Q. If we go to the text of this document, which is the
18 previous SS01-0125, headed "CLMC expulsion warning to
19 Billy Wright and Alex Kerr", the text says:
20 "The CLMC have decided to let the exclusion orders
21 on Alex Kerr and Billy Wright die a death. They have
22 agreed that no action will be taken against either man
23 unless they step out of line and interfere in the
24 running of either the UVF or the UFF."
25 A. That's correct.
54
1 Q. Is that the type of document you would take into account
2 when making an assessment, if asked to make
3 an assessment, whether or not the UVF would carry out
4 its threat in relation to Billy Wright and Alex Kerr?
5 A. That's right. It is very much one of a range of
6 intelligence reporting we would have seen at the time
7 that added to our overall assessment of the situation.
8 Q. Can we then look to an assessment that was made at that
9 time, on 27th September 1996, which is at
10 page SS01-0136? This is a NIIR from your group in
11 Belfast.
12 If we go to the next page, SS01-0137, a reference to
13 a CLMC meeting in September 1996, there is an indication
14 that at a previous meeting there was support for Wright
15 and the Red Hand Commando had asked for the threat
16 against Wright to be lifted.
17 If you go to the next paragraph which is available
18 for us to read further down the page, discussion about
19 the possible resolution, and then the next sentence, the
20 Security Service assessment at that stage is:
21 "We now assess it to be unlikely that any violent
22 action might be taken against Wright."
23 A. That is right.
24 Q. Was it the Security Services' assessment at this
25 particular point in time, September 1996, that the
55
1 threat against Wright had gone?
2 A. That's correct.
3 Q. If we go back to page SS01-0132, do we see another NIIR
4 dated 19th September 1996, the week before. Yes?
5 A. Yes. Sorry.
6 Q. And to page SS01-0133, where in the first paragraph it
7 is recorded that:
8 "The death sentence on Wright was a tactical error."
9 Or at least someone thought it was a tactical error?
10 A. That's right. As I mentioned before, I think they
11 realised it might have been a mistake.
12 Q. Down to the bottom of paragraph 2, if we highlight
13 paragraph 2:
14 "It had been a tactical mistake for the CLMC to have
15 issued a sentence of death against breakaway UVF member
16 Billy Wright."
17 It then says:
18 "For the time being, no action will be taken to
19 execute the sentence, but Wright would ultimately be
20 killed."
21 But if we move on to SS01-0134 at A in the bottom
22 half of the page:
23 "The Wright issue as reported does not reflect
24 recent developments. Wright caused enquiries to be made
25 as to whether the UVF leadership would be prepared to
56
1 meet with him in order to seek an accommodation."
2 Then in the last part of the text which is available
3 to us:
4 "... proposed that the Brigade staff's authority be
5 enhanced and that Wright should become subordinate to
6 Brigade staff in all respects. If he agreed to these
7 terms, the threat against him should be lifted and his
8 UVF membership reinstated. Wright was reported to be
9 content with these proposals."
10 We then had the document that I took you to out of
11 order, indicating that it was unlikely that the threat
12 would be carried out?
13 A. That's right, yes. I think that report was reflecting
14 a particular source's point of view.
15 Q. Now clearly assessments -- perhaps it is not clear, but
16 is it the case assessments would never be made simply on
17 the basis of a single report?
18 A. That's correct. We would issue a report sometimes
19 actually on the basis of a single report, but only after
20 we had assessed the reliability and credibility of that
21 particular report, if we felt we were satisfied with
22 those elements, and if needs be, we would speak to the
23 Police Headquarters, RUC Special Branch about that
24 report. If we were satisfied on those grounds, then,
25 yes, we would issue a report either on the basis of
57
1 a single report or on a combination of several.
2 Q. But the more corroborative reporting, the better
3 presumably?
4 A. Absolutely, because it gave us a better degree of
5 confidence, in that our assessment was not just
6 reflecting one particular individual's or one particular
7 strand of reporting, but in actual fact that this was
8 a more widely-held view.
9 Q. Can we look then, please, to SS01-0145, to note this is
10 another RUC Special Branch document coming from E3A,
11 dated September 1996. If we go to the following page,
12 SS01-0146, can we note there again, in the second
13 paragraph, some unit in the UVF believes that eventually
14 the death threat to Wright and Kerr will be lifted, but
15 even if this was the case, there are still UVF
16 personalities who, it is described here, would be keen
17 to kill Billy Wright in particular?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Move then to the document at page SS01-0148, which is
20 a brief for a PEC meeting in October of 1996. So far as
21 the relevant text of this document is concerned, at
22 page SS01-0150, where you see it is reported there that:
23 "The results of Mid-Ulster UVF's deliberations on
24 the Wright dispute, namely that Wright should be
25 reinstated and the threat against him lifted if he
58
1 agrees to abide by the leadership's authority have been
2 presented to the leadership. The leadership was
3 reported to be completely unreceptive to this."
4 Did that, in your recollection, from a review of
5 these documents, change the assessment that had been
6 made in 1996, that it was unlikely the threat would be
7 carried out?
8 A. No, I don't recall this particular line at the time, but
9 my understanding of the situation is that they didn't
10 have any clear intention to carry through with their
11 intended death threat.
12 Q. Can we perhaps see that, if we move to the next
13 document, SS01-0151, which is dated 15th October 1996?
14 It is a NIIR coming from presumably your desk or other
15 Loyalist desks in the assessment group?
16 A. That's correct, yes.
17 Q. At page SS01-0152, it is a fairly short NIIR, but it
18 says:
19 "The UVF would now definitely not be shooting
20 Billy Wright. The affair would go quiet now. Mediation
21 might be necessary in due course."
22 Then:
23 "Following the Lisburn bombing ... the UVF would not
24 therefore be able to justify taking any action against
25 Wright."
59
1 That reflects what you indicated to me a few minutes
2 ago: they decided there was no action to be taken and
3 the matter was going to die a death?
4 A. Absolutely. At this time, the reference to the Lisburn
5 bombing I think was the bombing of the army barracks at
6 Lisburn. Again, there is a bit of a groundswell amongst
7 the Loyalists that they felt they should take some sort
8 of retaliatory action against what they thought was
9 Republican aggression.
10 Q. So far as the -- I am sorry. I should take you first of
11 all to SS01-0161, which again is a NIIR,
12 23rd October 1996?
13 A. That's right.
14 Q. If we go to page SS01-0162, we see in the first
15 paragraph that, after the bombing of Thiepval army
16 barracks, Wright is reported as having decided to run
17 his own independent organisation and not subject himself
18 to the UVF Brigade staff?
19 A. That's right. I think shortly prior to this sort of
20 period there were, as indicated in previous documents,
21 indications that Wright and the UVF leadership were
22 considering some sort of negotiation over his situation,
23 but this seemed to give Wright a reason to actually
24 carry on with his plans to be independent.
25 Q. If we can look to the Security Service comment at A, at
60
1 the foot of that page, at that stage it appeared the new
2 group was going to be called the Ulster Patriotic Front.
3 What I was interested in was the last sentence:
4 "Wright has the potential again to destabilise the
5 Loyalist ceasefire."
6 That is an assessment being made in October 1996.
7 Is that right?
8 A. That's correct.
9 Q. The use of the word "again" suggests that the view had
10 been taken beforehand that he had the potential to
11 destabilise the Loyalist ceasefire?
12 A. That's correct. I think that probably refers to the
13 situation we discussed earlier whereby UVF leadership
14 didn't have control over Wright and there was
15 a groundswell of support amongst their own membership
16 and those amongst the UDA and Red Hand Commando that
17 perhaps, had that got out of control, may have impacted
18 on their own ability to maintain the ceasefire.
19 Q. If we go to your statement WS265-0007, paragraph 20, you
20 refer there to the Loyalist ceasefire coming under
21 further pressure at the end of 1996?
22 A. That's correct.
23 Q. At that time, how stable was the Loyalist ceasefire?
24 Was it something you expected to hold?
25 A. I think there were a lot of tensions at this particular
61
1 time, because there had been, at this point, about three
2 at least quite significant Republican attacks both on
3 the mainland and in the province, to which the Loyalists
4 had not really responded to any great degree, and
5 I think there was a lot of pressure on the UDA and UVF
6 leaderships to respond to those attacks, and they were
7 desperately trying to keep control and maintain the
8 ceasefires as best they could, but it was quite
9 difficult for them.
10 Q. Was that pressure coming to any extent from the
11 emergence of the LVF?
12 A. I don't think it was so much the emergence of the LVF,
13 but just the general situation, the fact there had been
14 these significant attacks and that there had not been,
15 in Loyalist eyes, any kind of particular response to
16 those attacks.
17 Q. If we could look to SS01-0190, which is another NIIR,
18 into the beginning of 1997, 28th February 1997, and go
19 to page SS01-0191, we see the first reference in these
20 documents, at paragraph A, after "Security Service
21 comment":
22 "The name 'Loyalist Volunteer Force' was coined in
23 December 1996 by the dissident Portadown grouping of
24 Mid-Ulster UVF led by Billy Wright."
25 Also, if you could highlight paragraph B, I wonder
62
1 if you could comment on what is stated there in relation
2 to what the LVF were doing at that stage?
3 A. Well, I think essentially this is a reference to --
4 Wright's particular strategy with the LVF was primarily
5 in defence of the Loyalist right to march and to lessen
6 or reduce what they saw as Irish Government interference
7 in Northern Irish affairs. Both of those, which were
8 very similar to the UVF's own policies.
9 So in that regard they were similar, but I think in
10 the way they were intending to pursue those policies,
11 that's where they differed.
12 Q. By that stage, of course, as is reflected in your
13 statement, Billy Wright had been remanded whilst on
14 trial to Maghaberry prison. So he was effectively in
15 prison in February of 1997?
16 A. Yes, I believe so, yes.
17 Q. And he was eventually convicted in the beginning of
18 March 1997?
19 A. That's correct.
20 Q. If we go to page SS01-0192 of this document, at letter C
21 we see an indication in this NIIR that you were
22 receiving, or your organisation was receiving,
23 information that Wright's group was attracting popular
24 support?
25 A. That's right, not only, as it says there, amongst sort
63
1 of Loyalist paramilitaries, but also across the wider
2 sort of Protestant Loyalist community, largely through
3 his involvement with the media and use of his statements
4 that he released to the media at this time.
5 Q. Can I ask you to look at SS01-0201, which again is
6 another NIIR dated 21st March 1997? If we can note the
7 date and then move to SS01-0202, the very first
8 paragraph, do we see, albeit he was in prison, there is
9 reporting on Billy Wright to the effect that he was
10 delighted with the progress of the LVF?
11 A. That's correct, yes. I think at this time there was
12 beginning to be -- he had got a critical mass of
13 support, both in Mid-Ulster and elsewhere, where he felt
14 that he had a cohesive group that he could actually give
15 a name to.
16 Q. What was the nature of the grouping in the LVF? Who was
17 joining the LVF?
18 A. Well, essentially at this time it was the main core of
19 what was previously the Mid-Ulster UVF, approximately
20 about 20 to 30 sort of individuals, but there were other
21 individuals, as we have previously referred to, in
22 Belfast and elsewhere that signed themselves up to the
23 LVF.
24 Q. On page 203, in the first sentence it is recorded there
25 the group includes a number of accomplished
64
1 paramilitaries who remained capable of carrying out
2 terrorist actions?
3 A. That's correct. As we had seen during the previous
4 July, the murder of Mr McGoldrick, they had the
5 capability to carry out fatal attacks.
6 Q. Now can we return to your statement, please, at
7 WS265-0007, focusing on paragraph 22 at the foot of the
8 page, where you talk about the LVF in January and
9 February of 1997, when Billy Wright was remanded in
10 Maghaberry?
11 Am I right in saying, in terms of the documents that
12 have been produced, the documents you have seen in
13 relation to the CLMC threat, that in effect all mention
14 of it disappears from the documents from October 1996?
15 A. Pretty much. That's right. At this particular time
16 I think they realised they had made a mistake. They had
17 issued a threat which in reality they didn't and
18 couldn't carry through with -- and essentially, as far
19 as our reporting was concerned, the death threat
20 situation had, as I say, been brushed aside and
21 everybody moved on from there.
22 Q. So would it be fair to say that by the time of his
23 remand to Maghaberry, the Security Service assessment of
24 the CLMC threat to Wright was that it had gone?
25 A. Pretty much, yes.
65
1 Q. Paragraph 22 of your statement you tell us about the
2 LVF's tactics at the beginning of that particular year
3 and I think we can go through the rest of your statement
4 fairly quickly.
5 If we move to the next page, WS265-0008,
6 paragraph 23, you indicate there that the UVF are still
7 concerned with Billy Wright, even when he is in prison,
8 because of the prospect of him moving to the Maze?
9 A. Very much so. As mentioned in that document, they were
10 very concerned about the status which the move to the
11 Maze, and particularly the establishment of an LVF wing
12 at the prison, would confer on Billy Wright and his
13 group. This was something which the other groups had
14 fought quite hard to establish in the past, and yet it
15 would appear that the LVF were given this status
16 straightaway.
17 Q. And the UVF were sufficiently irritated by this prospect
18 that they, as you record in paragraph 23, threatened to
19 attack prison officer staff?
20 A. Absolutely right. They felt this might be a way to
21 somehow influence the decision over the decision to
22 provide an LVF wing at the prison.
23 Q. Can I ask you about the comment in the last sentence of
24 paragraph 23:
25 "The leadership remained centred in Mid-Ulster
66
1 and the Security Service assessed that Wright continued
2 to exert a strong influence over the direction of the
3 group."
4 I take it that you made that assessment, even though
5 Wright was by that stage convicted and had been
6 sentenced to a fairly long-term of imprisonment?
7 A. That's correct, but he did have regular visitors to him
8 inside the prison, including Mark "Swinger" Fulton, who
9 was the de facto leader at the time, and I can only
10 assume that instructions -- leadership-related
11 instructions were passed at those meetings and perhaps
12 through other means.
13 Q. Would I be right in saying, even with Billy Wright
14 incarcerated in Maghaberry prison and subsequently in
15 the Maze Prison, LVF membership continued to increase?
16 A. That's right. As I say, Billy Wright had this very
17 charismatic leadership profile at the time, and I think
18 all the reporting, both the intelligence reporting we
19 were receiving, and the media reporting on the situation
20 at the time, just continued to raise that profile, and
21 a lot of people in the Loyalist paramilitary groups and
22 across the wider community I think felt sympathetic to
23 Wright's cause.
24 Q. Can we look, please, to a NIIR, which is SS01-0254, to
25 see how the LVF had developed by the middle of 1997?
67
1 You have that on the screen now. It is dated
2 4th July 1997. It has been produced in connection with
3 the forthcoming Drumcree Parade in that particular year.
4 If we go to page SS01-0255, not focusing on
5 Drumcree, but focusing on the third key point in the
6 document in relation to the LVF's membership, the point
7 that's being made by this NIIR is that:
8 "The LVF's membership now includes former UVF and
9 UDA members in various areas of Northern Ireland."
10 A. That's correct, yes.
11 Q. If we go to the second page, SS01-0256, we can see that
12 there is reference to and probably concern about what
13 might happen at Drumcree in 1997 at paragraph 3(a)?
14 A. That's correct, yes.
15 Q. That there was concern, in paragraph 3(b), that the LVF
16 might engage in purely sectarian terrorist attacks?
17 A. That's right.
18 Q. And at 3(c) there was concern that it might take its
19 military action into the Republic of Ireland?
20 A. That's right.
21 Q. So far as, if we take the highlighting off, please, the
22 personnel are concerned, at paragraph 4, there seems to
23 be an indication that the group was increasing, although
24 the estimate I think at that stage is 40 to 50 active
25 members described, however, as including experienced and
68
1 committed terrorists?
2 A. That is correct, yes.
3 Q. We see there from the geographic description that the
4 membership of the LVF had spread from Mid-Ulster to
5 other parts of Northern Ireland?
6 A. That's correct, but still relatively small numbers
7 compared to the other Loyalist groupings.
8 Q. I was going to come to ask you that after we looked at
9 SS01-0257, in relation to firearms and explosives.
10 There is an indication there that the LVF had access to
11 weaponry.
12 A. That was our assessment, yes. They had proven that
13 access in previous attacks and we had no reason to doubt
14 they had further supplies.
15 Q. So that those of us who don't have the same degree of
16 knowledge as you can get a proper picture of this, how
17 did the LVF, as it was expanding in 1997, compare with
18 the other Loyalist paramilitary organisations in terms
19 of size and capability?
20 A. Well, certainly it was essentially sort of probably
21 about third in order of size and capability. It would
22 be quite difficult for me -- I can't remember exactly in
23 terms of who was first and who was second, but certainly
24 the UDA I believe had the largest membership at the
25 time. The UVF were probably the second largest
69
1 membership. But those groups had very experienced
2 terrorist individuals amongst them, with proven
3 terrorist capability, many of whom had served prison
4 sentences as a result of their participation in
5 terrorist attacks.
6 The LVF, as mentioned in these various documents,
7 had a mixture of members from a mixture of backgrounds
8 and a mixture of capabilities, some more able than
9 others, and some again who had demonstrated their
10 ability in previous attacks elsewhere in the province,
11 but very much third in the pecking order, if you like,
12 in Loyalist paramilitary terms.
13 Q. So although we might get a picture of an increasing
14 support for a group that was only formed at the end of
15 1996 and increasing hard-line support and spreading over
16 Northern Ireland from Mid-Ulster and having capability
17 in terms of firearms and explosives, are you saying that
18 didn't really compare the potential capability of the
19 UDA or UVF?
20 A. No, no. It was a cause for concern certainly, because,
21 as I say, as assessed there, we did feel they had access
22 to some weaponry, explosives and so on, which obviously
23 was a cause for concern, but not to the same degree as
24 access and capability of the other two groups.
25 Q. Now we don't need to go to it, but we see from your
70
1 statement that the LVF was proscribed in June 1997 by
2 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which
3 effectively made it an illegal organisation?
4 A. That's correct.
5 Q. But in terms of its membership, can we move on to have
6 a look at -- I don't have the reference for it. We
7 possibly don't have the document. Can we have a look at
8 your statement, WS265-0010, paragraph 33? I don't think
9 we have got a document for this, but your assessment in
10 October 1997 was that they had increased in number to
11 about 200 members with about a fifth or a sixth of that
12 experienced terrorists?
13 A. That is correct. The 20 to 30 were the ones we were
14 particularly concerned about.
15 Q. Does that figure of 150 to 200 include those who were in
16 the Maze?
17 A. It could well have done. I can't be sure.
18 Q. The next sentence says:
19 "With many of the leading activists in prison, it
20 was unlikely that the recruits would enhance ..."
21 A. That's right. Those numbers would include those who had
22 assigned themselves to the LVF wing.
23 Q. The indication there in paragraph 33 is also that in
24 terms of armaments their stock had not increased
25 dramatically by that particular date?
71
1 A. No. That's right.
2 Q. In paragraph 34, you indicate that the LVF's military
3 action lessened and they became more focused towards
4 prisoner issues, which I think was the same stance as
5 the UDP and the PUP took politically in relation to UDA
6 and UVF prisoners?
7 A. That is correct, yes. That was very much the focus at
8 this particular time.
9 Q. We have just lost it on the screen, but the last
10 sentence is that the assessment was based not only on
11 the fact that Billy Wright was in prison, but also the
12 lack of means they had with which to mount further
13 attacks?
14 A. Yes, that's right.
15 Q. Then if we go to the last page of your statement,
16 WS265-0011, we will see reference to the murder of
17 Billy Wright in the Maze by the INLA prisoners on
18 27th December 1997. I think you and everyone here is
19 aware that subsequent to that there were a number of
20 revenge killings between Loyalists and Republican
21 groups?
22 A. Yes, there were.
23 Q. Which spread into January 1998 and beyond that?
24 A. That's right.
25 Q. So far as its impact on the peace process is concerned,
72
1 that's something that I will ask the head of assessments
2 group when he comes, but can I ask you this: in relation
3 to the specific issue of the murder of Wright in the
4 Maze by the INLA, was there ever, to your knowledge, any
5 assessment written by the Security Service in relation
6 to that?
7 A. None that I recall, no.
8 Q. At that stage, I think you were in post in
9 December 1997?
10 A. Yes, I was indeed.
11 Q. Is that something that, if such an assessment had been
12 written, you would have been asked to do it?
13 A. Absolutely. If it was an assessment of the impact
14 within the Loyalist paramilitary groups, then I would
15 have written that. If the question was, "Does this have
16 an impact on the Republican perspective?", that would
17 have been written by one of my colleagues.
18 Q. But that request, am I right in saying, would have come
19 effectively from the head of assessments group?
20 A. That's correct, and from Northern Ireland Office or
21 others to him, and I don't recall being asked that,
22 because at the time it seemed to be a -- the situation
23 seemed to be as reported, that he had been murdered by
24 INLA prisoners.
25 Q. I am thinking more of the effect on the Loyalist
73
1 ceasefire, the effect on the Republican -- the PIRA
2 ceasefire at that stage. If someone had wanted
3 an assessment as to what the impact of Wright's death
4 had been on that part of the peace process, the
5 political process, is that something you would have been
6 expected to write?
7 A. Very much so, yes.
8 Q. You were not asked to do so?
9 A. Not that I can recall, no.
10 MR BATCHELOR: Thank you very much indeed. If you just stay
11 there, some other people may have some questions for
12 you.
13 A. Thank you.
14 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Kane?
15 Questions from MR KANE
16 MR KANE: A few questions. In response to what we have just
17 been asked, the writing of a paper on the death of
18 Billy Wright and the impact on the peace process,
19 you say you were not actually asked to write a specific
20 paper on that?
21 A. Not that I can recall, no.
22 Q. But it would be fair to suggest from the thrust of your
23 evidence here this morning and what your work entailed
24 that the job of your department was certainly always to
25 keep in mind, in assessing the information which you
74
1 received, its possible impact on the ceasefires which
2 were pertaining. Would that be correct?
3 A. That's absolutely correct, yes.
4 Q. And the impact which any particular development might
5 have on the ceasefires?
6 A. Generally speaking, yes.
7 Q. And obviously the reason for being concerned about the
8 ceasefires would be that that could then have a roll-on
9 effect in terms of the peace process, the political
10 situation pertaining. Would that be correct?
11 A. That's correct.
12 Q. In that one breach of ceasefire by one particular group,
13 even on the Loyalist side, could have an impact on that
14 group's own perception, which could lead then perhaps to
15 a development on the conflict between the two sides of
16 the conflict, as it were. Is that right?
17 A. I believe so, yes.
18 Q. So it would be correct to portray the work of your
19 department as an ongoing monitoring of the ceasefires
20 and its potential political impact?
21 A. Well, we didn't monitor the ceasefires as such.
22 Q. Monitor the impact of developments?
23 A. We monitored -- in terms of its reporting that made
24 reference to the ceasefires, and that was based on
25 reporting from a range of sources that had access to all
75
1 these paramilitary groups at the time. You are quite
2 right, we would then put that into context and make
3 an assessment on how that impacted, not only on the
4 ceasefires, but also potentially on the Loyalist
5 engagement in the peace process.
6 Q. That consideration would have been ongoing right up
7 until the time of Billy Wright's death and thereafter?
8 A. Before and after. Absolutely.
9 Q. It seems from the portion of your statement that really
10 there seems to have been a greater amount of recording
11 of matters prior to the summer of 1997 in relation to
12 Billy Wright than there was thereafter. Is that a fair
13 comment to make?
14 A. I am afraid I couldn't comment. I don't know the full
15 extent of records held.
16 Q. But you have prepared your statement on the basis of
17 written records?
18 A. That's correct.
19 Q. And after August of 1997, you, in fact, were personally
20 there?
21 A. That's correct.
22 Q. Correct me again, if I am wrong, but the impression that
23 is given by your statement is that there is about
24 a page post-summer 1997 on which you have been able to
25 base this statement, whereas there have been a number of
76
1 pages on pre-1997 matters?
2 A. Right. Well, I can't comment on sort of the number of
3 documents that were produced at the time.
4 MR BATCHELOR: My Lord, if it helps my learned friend
5 Mr Kane, the general impact on the peace process will be
6 dealt with by the head of assessments group. This
7 witness was primarily asked to deal with the CLMC threat
8 and the emergence of the LVF. That may help in the
9 questioning.
10 MR KANE: My friend always has the advantage of knowing what
11 is ahead. Long may it continue!
12 Can I just ask you about one comment you made.
13 I think it was page 44/6 of the transcript. If that can
14 be shown up on screen, of this morning's transcript.
15 THE CHAIRMAN: There seems to be a problem.
16 DOCUMENTS OFFICER: We can't show the transcript on the
17 screen.
18 THE CHAIRMAN: Can you scroll up yourself?
19 MR KANE: Page 44/6. If you just read page 44/6, there is
20 a question there asked and then you give an answer.
21 A. Right.
22 Q. Then you talk about, at 44/6:
23 "... indeed, with previous references to Alex Kerr
24 and his support, which was based in Belfast, his support
25 for Billy Wright, again that didn't cause us any great
77
1 concerns."
2 When you say, "That didn't cause us any great
3 concerns", what are the concerns you are expressing
4 there?
5 A. I think essentially at the time, as I made reference to
6 before, was the fact that there were concerns among the
7 UVF leadership that they were losing control over
8 Billy Wright and their own membership across Belfast and
9 elsewhere, and that was the concern, that there was
10 a potential breakdown in cohesive membership of the
11 group and, therefore, their overall control of what
12 their members might be likely to do in the future.
13 Q. Those were the concerns of other paramilitary groupings,
14 but what were your concerns? What were the concerns of
15 your department? That's what I am trying to get at.
16 A. Oh, I see. I am sorry. Well, our concern at the time
17 was to make an assessment of what impact we thought this
18 may or may not have on the overall Loyalist ceasefire,
19 and, therefore, the Loyalist engagement in the peace
20 process, but that was as they always were.
21 Q. Now, if I can take you back just a little in the
22 transcript to page 41/12?
23 A. I think -- do we have a copy -- do we have a copy of
24 that ourselves?
25 MR NICE: I am here on behalf of the Security Services. We
78
1 do have a copy of the document. Is that what he is
2 asking for?
3 MR KANE: No, no, the transcript.
4 MR NICE: Oh, the transcript. The transcript will have to
5 be shown on the screen, but we are a little concerned
6 about the fact that he may, if he is not careful, show
7 up on the camera -- on the image on the screen, if he
8 walks round to counsel's row. It didn't happen the last
9 time, but if some way could be found to show him the
10 transcript without his moving, it would be preferable.
11 THE CHAIRMAN: Can you do that?
12 MR KANE: Do you see that? The question was:
13 "Question: Having sanctioned the killing of Wright,
14 was what is quoted here a factor in what subsequently
15 transpired in relation to the emergence of the LVF, that
16 there was difficulty in getting access to Billy Wright
17 and Mid-Ulster?"
18 You then preface your remark by saying:
19 "Answer: "Sadly, I think it is true ..."
20 Can you explain to us why you used that word
21 "sadly"?
22 A. I can't, I am afraid.
23 Q. It seems a very unusual word to insert as a preface to
24 your remarks.
25 A. No, I don't know why I used that particular word, but --
79
1 well, I think that I was trying to reflect that there
2 was a lot of tension within, sort of, the Loyalist
3 paramilitary community at this point because of the
4 death threat that they issued.
5 Q. But "sadly" is an expression of emotion, feeling?
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. You would agree with that?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. You have, as I say, prefaced your remarks in relation to
10 the difficulty in killing Mr Wright and the use of that
11 word. Is that an expression of a corporate feeling in
12 the department?
13 A. No. No. I don't know why I did that.
14 Q. I will not in any way suggest it is a personal feeling,
15 but have you any explanation to offer to the Inquiry as
16 to why that word has been used in that context?
17 A. No, I can't, I am afraid. I can't recall why I used
18 that word.
19 Q. Chairman, there are a couple of matters which have been
20 passed to me. It is obviously caused by the difficulty
21 in being screened off from Mr Wright. The note is not
22 sufficient for me to be able to pursue the matters which
23 are indicated on this. So I would like some time just
24 to raise exactly what it is that it is about and take
25 those instructions?
80
1 THE CHAIRMAN: You can do that now over lunch.
2 MR KANE: It is 12.55. I don't anticipate it will cause
3 very much in the line of questioning afterwards.
4 THE CHAIRMAN: We will break now for lunch and you will
5 resume after lunch. We will resume at 2 o'clock. You
6 can leave now.
7 A. Thank you.
8 (12.55 pm)
9 (Luncheon adjournment)
10 (2.00 pm)
11 THE CHAIRMAN: Now I need to go through the procedure again
12 to make sure that it is in operation.
13 The witness camera has been switched off?
14 SECURITY GUARD: It has, my Lord.
15 THE CHAIRMAN: The screen is fully in place and the witness
16 cannot be seen from the public seating area --
17 SECURITY GUARD: That's correct, my Lord.
18 THE CHAIRMAN: -- unless he moves from where he is? Sorry
19 about that.
20 Can I be assured the gallery has been cleared of all
21 members of the public and only Inquiry personnel are
22 those up there?
23 SECURITY GUARD: That is correct, my Lord.
24 THE CHAIRMAN: Can I be assured that only legal
25 representatives, Inquiry personnel and security staff
81
1 are seated in the body of the hearing room?
2 SECURITY GUARD: That is correct, my Lord.
3 MR NICE: Before the witness comes in, can I bring to your
4 attention that the LiveNote was checked by the editor
5 and page 41/17 does not read "sadly", it reads
6 "certainly". I suspect that it would be appropriate for
7 the witness to be told that, because he may have been
8 worried quite unnecessarily.
9 THE CHAIRMAN: That's true. Can we do that now?
10 MR NICE: No reason why not.
11 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Kane, do you mind? It was odd. I must
12 say, none of us here heard it, if it was that. It was
13 very surprising that none of the three of us picked it
14 up.
15 MR KANE: Certainly we would be anxious to allay any fears
16 or anxieties the witness would have had. Certainly it
17 must be corrected.
18 THE CHAIRMAN: Could you do that?
19 MR KANE: Of course. I will not say who actually professes
20 to have heard it.
21 THE CHAIRMAN: Oh!
22 MR KANE: We will put it down to age.
23 THE CHAIRMAN: And there it was when you looked.
24 MR KANE: Yes.
25 Perhaps, in the meantime, if SS01-0021 could be put
82
1 up for whenever the witness resumes his seat?
2 (Witness DO1 returned to the hearing room)
3 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Kane?
4 MR KANE: Before I ask any further questions, could we just
5 clarify the use of the word "sadly". It would appear as
6 if, despite what anyone may have heard, or you may have
7 thought, or anyone else, the word actually that was used
8 was "certainly". You will be pleased to know that is
9 what the people in the audio booth heard. So
10 I apologise for any inconvenience or anxiety that may
11 have caused you.
12 A. Okay. Thank you very much.
13 Q. You should have in front of you SS01-0021?
14 A. Yes, that's right.
15 Q. Do you recognise that document? Perhaps if I can just
16 go back to the beginning of that record so that the
17 witness knows fully what it is that's being shown to
18 him. SS01-0019. It is the PMC brief. Can we go back
19 to the bottom of page SS01-0021? At the bottom of the
20 writing there, it says:
21 "David Trimble has privately told Michael Ancram..."
22 Then over the page (SS01-0022):
23 "... that he has been told by David Ervine that
24 'an end to PIRA's ceasefire in Northern Ireland would
25 lead to a bomb in Dublin'."
83
1 There is a record of a conversation that was held
2 between two politicians. Is there a documentary record
3 as to where that information came from?
4 A. Not that I know of.
5 Q. It is just that it would appear at that particular
6 meeting there was a direct quote of a fairly serious
7 nature being attributed to David Ervine, and yet you
8 can't tell us where that quote was taken from?
9 A. No, I don't recall seeing that.
10 Q. Certainly it would tend to suggest that quote was being
11 taken from a document. It wasn't just "words to the
12 effect that", but it actually contained the quote?
13 A. Quite possibly, I am afraid. I don't know.
14 Q. You agree with me it certainly points towards some
15 documentation recording that?
16 A. Either documentation or the quoting of Mr Ancram in
17 passing on the comment.
18 Q. But it is going through a number of hands there,
19 David Trimble, Michael Ancram, David Ervine.
20 A. That is correct.
21 Q. One would be anxious there would not be misquoting of
22 any of those gentlemen. I am just anxious to know
23 whether or not, in your own view, there must be some
24 document where that quote came from?
25 A. There might be, but I am afraid I don't recall seeing
84
1 it, if there was one.
2 Q. Could I then ask you to be shown SS01-0089, please?
3 Again, if perhaps the witness could be shown the
4 beginning of that particular document (SS01-0087).
5 Again, that's another PEC meeting that was held on
6 29th July 1996.
7 Then, if one could go on to SS01-0089, and if that
8 could be blown up a little, please, that's reporting on
9 a meeting which was held with the Prime Minister in
10 Downing Street a week previously to 29th, on 22nd July.
11 Isn't that correct?
12 A. That's correct, yes.
13 Q. And again, in relation to that, that refers to a meeting
14 with the political representatives of the UDA and UVF,
15 namely the UDP and PUP. Isn't that correct?
16 A. That's correct, yes.
17 Q. Now the purpose of that PEC meeting, how was that
18 reported to the meeting? Was it purely a verbal
19 recollection, or, again, can I ask was there some
20 documentation from the meeting from Downing Street?
21 A. It was a verbal briefing from the DCI to the Province
22 Executive Committee. I don't know what that was based
23 on, whether that was based on a verbal briefing to him
24 or whether there were minutes from the meeting itself.
25 Q. It would be correct there would be minutes of any
85
1 meeting held in Downing Street?
2 A. I would have thought so.
3 Q. Would those minutes have been transferred to your
4 department if they touched on matters relating to
5 Loyalist terrorism in Northern Ireland?
6 A. Not necessarily. We may have seen some, but not
7 necessarily all.
8 Q. But it may well be that some of those documents, some of
9 those minutes, would have been sent to your department?
10 A. Possibly.
11 Q. Again, none have been produced in relation to this
12 particular meeting?
13 A. I can't comment on that, I am afraid.
14 Q. Well, you can comment so far as your searches are
15 concerned.
16 A. I didn't carry out the searches.
17 Q. So the statement which you have given today is not based
18 on your own personal searches?
19 A. No, I didn't do the searches of the documents. I think
20 that has been made clear before.
21 Q. So you are speaking to documents which have been
22 provided as a result of others searching?
23 A. That is correct.
24 Q. So you can't therefore validate that they are in
25 totality?
86
1 A. They are the documents that have been produced as
2 a result of the focus of the questions that have been
3 put to me in my expert position.
4 Q. Just so I do understand, in essence you are commenting
5 on a range of documents supplied to you by another
6 person?
7 A. That's correct.
8 Q. And therefore, you can't speak to whether or not there
9 are other documents which may or may not have been
10 relevant?
11 A. I can't, no.
12 Q. Of course, that meeting was before your time?
13 A. That's correct, before my time in Northern Ireland,
14 correct.
15 MR KANE: Thank you.
16 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Johnson?
17 Questions from MR JOHNSON
18 MR JOHNSON: My name is Jeremy Johnson and I ask questions
19 on behalf of the Northern Ireland Office and
20 Northern Ireland Prison Service. Just a few questions.
21 I don't think they will cause you any difficulty, but if
22 there are any that are more appropriately asked of
23 Witness DO2 or HAG, just tell me and I will direct the
24 questions to them.
25 A. Okay.
87
1 Q. Your statement deals primarily with events in 1996 and
2 1997?
3 A. That's true.
4 Q. By that time, Billy Wright had been under threat from
5 Republican groups for some years?
6 A. I believe that to be the case, yes.
7 Q. But that had not stopped him from taking part in
8 terrorist activity?
9 A. No.
10 Q. And during the period prior to 1996, there is no
11 suggestion, is there, of any threat from Loyalist
12 groups?
13 A. Not that I can recall.
14 Q. But in the period you deal with in your statement, 1996
15 and 1997, it is clear that Billy Wright did come under
16 threat from Loyalist groups?
17 A. He did indeed.
18 Q. Initially from the UVF leadership in mid-July?
19 A. Correct.
20 Q. I think that was assessed as a serious risk?
21 A. We didn't make risk assessments.
22 Q. I just had in mind document SS01-0086, and the last few
23 lines of that document, that the UVF leadership had
24 authorised his execution in retaliation for the murder
25 of a taxi driver?
88
1 A. Yes. Sorry. What was the question?
2 Q. Well, the question was that it was assessed, it was
3 recognised that this was a real risk, a serious risk;
4 that is execution by the UVF leadership?
5 A. We didn't make any comment on the validity of the risk
6 or level of risk or threat.
7 Q. Can we look then at paragraph 14 of your statement? It
8 may be slightly different to the chronology. This is
9 page WS265-0005 of your statement, paragraph 14. You
10 assessed that there were three possible outcomes. One
11 of those was that Wright would agree to cooperate within
12 the UVF umbrella. I think you said that was less
13 likely?
14 A. That's correct.
15 Q. So the two more likely outcomes were either that Wright
16 would be killed by the UVF leadership or that he would
17 break away?
18 A. Certainly that the UVF leadership would order the
19 killing of Wright, or, that's right, that Wright would
20 break away from his own group.
21 Q. That's why I suggested it was recognised that this was
22 a real risk, because it was one of the two more likely
23 resolutions of the situation?
24 A. Well, absolutely. It was a genuine threat, if I can use
25 that term.
89
1 Q. Right. We then come to the CLMC threat on 28th August
2 of 1996. Whereas Billy Wright hadn't been sufficiently
3 concerned about the Republican threat to stop his
4 terrorist activity, he did stop his terrorist activity
5 in response to the CLMC threat for a time?
6 A. For a time, I believe.
7 Q. I think you deal with that at page WS265-0006 of your
8 statement, paragraph 18. We see there that you say:
9 "Intelligence indicated that although he strongly
10 disagreed with the Loyalist ceasefire, his group would
11 not engage in further terrorist activities ..."
12 A. That's correct, for a time.
13 Q. He recognised the seriousness of the threat against him
14 from both the UVF and the UDA?
15 A. Yes, correct.
16 Q. So is it fair to say that at this point in late
17 August/early September 1996, the most immediate and
18 acute threat to Billy Wright was from Loyalist groups?
19 A. Possibly. It certainly was the Loyalist threat to him
20 that dominated at this time, yes.
21 Q. Whereas the Republican threat had been fairly constant
22 over the years, this was a new threat crystallising in
23 the summer and autumn of 1996. Is it fair to say that
24 it was a threat that was more difficult to assess than
25 the Republican threat?
90
1 A. As I said, we weren't involved in the threat assessment
2 process. Assessing the actual nature of the threat and
3 the level of the threat would have been a matter for the
4 police.
5 Q. All right. You have referred to the CLMC having
6 disagreements and tensions within it?
7 A. Correct.
8 Q. Can I just push you this far: does that suggest that
9 that exercise of assessment by the police of the level
10 of threat would be made more difficult because one is
11 not dealing with a clear, unified structure in the same
12 way as one might be with PIRA, for example?
13 A. Certainly, with regard to the CLMC, it was pretty much
14 an umbrella organisation that had no substance of its
15 own right. The leaderships of the UVF and UDA acted
16 independently of it, and yes, in that regard, you could
17 say it would be difficult to assess the threat from the
18 CLMC itself, but we, in [redacted], wouldn't be privy to
19 all threat-related intelligence, because that would be,
20 you realise -- operational tactical intelligence would
21 be primarily a matter for the police.
22 Q. I am grateful. Can we look at a series of documents to
23 show that the police thought the threat from CLMC
24 diminished in the autumn of 1996, starting, I think,
25 with page SS01-0123? I think we got to the point of
91
1 concluding that this was probably a police document. Is
2 that right?
3 A. That's correct, yes.
4 Q. Are you able to say anything about the basis for what's
5 set out in this document?
6 A. In what respect?
7 Q. Well, on what basis were the police able to say CLMC
8 would not carry out its threat against Billy Wright?
9 A. That would be based on some intelligence -- covert
10 intelligence strand of reporting.
11 Q. But is it right you don't have any knowledge about that
12 beyond what we see in this document. Can you help us
13 with what it says just above that? It says:
14 "No downward dissemination."
15 What does that mean?
16 A. Essentially, it is released to people in the --
17 addressees in the intelligence environment, and that it
18 wasn't for us to disseminate any further without the
19 permission of the RUC.
20 Q. I see. Can we tell who the addressees were from this
21 document?
22 A. No, I don't think you can.
23 Q. But there is no suggestion, for example, that it went to
24 the Prison Service?
25 A. I couldn't comment, I am afraid. I don't know.
92
1 Q. Can you help us with the "S" in brackets after "no
2 downward dissemination"?
3 A. No, I am afraid I can't remember what that's supposed to
4 refer to.
5 Q. Then at page SS01-0125 one sees a similar document,
6 I think a few days later on. This is the beginning of
7 October now.
8 A. That's correct.
9 Q. Again, are you able to say anything beyond what one sees
10 in the document as to the basis for what's written
11 there?
12 A. No. The same as the previous document, I am afraid.
13 Q. I think it was suggested to you that where one has
14 intelligence from a number of sources, it is likely to
15 be more reliable, and I think in general terms you would
16 agree with that?
17 A. That's correct.
18 Q. But here we are simply not able to say whether it is
19 different sources providing the same information or
20 whether, in fact, the police are using the same
21 intelligence source for the documents at both
22 pages SS01-0123 and SS01-0125?
23 A. That's quite possible.
24 Q. If one was taking a precautionary approach to threat
25 assessment and identifying risks to individuals, one
93
1 would not want to write off the continuing risk based on
2 a single source suggesting that the risk had dissipated?
3 A. Absolutely, and as I say, it wasn't our business to
4 assess risk to an individual.
5 Q. Then finally on this strand, please, could we look at
6 page SS01-0146? I think this is a document of around
7 the same period. This is again a police document --
8 A. It is indeed.
9 Q. -- one sees from the top left corner.
10 A. That's right.
11 Q. Here we see, not that the death threat has been lifted,
12 but there's a belief that it will eventually be lifted,
13 and the language tends to suggest that the author is
14 talking about the longer term.
15 A. That's true.
16 Q. Quite apart from that, it is said there are still UVF
17 personalities who would be keen to kill Billy Wright?
18 A. So it says.
19 Q. All right. Now against the context of that background,
20 can I just show you two documents which you may or may
21 not be able to help with? The first is reference
22 NP21-0109. Can you see that this is a letter from
23 a witness in the Operational Management Division of the
24 Prison Service addressed to the police, and, as far as
25 we can see, not addressed to the Security Service?
94
1 A. That's right.
2 Q. So you wouldn't ordinarily have seen this document. Is
3 that right?
4 A. No, I have never seen that before, no.
5 Q. But you see that it -- we can read it out. Billy Wright
6 had been held under Rule 32 for his own protection
7 following a death threat issued by the combined Loyalist
8 military command. He had now been sentenced for eight
9 years. The Prison Service were having to assess his
10 long-term management. The question is raised:
11 "In order for us to review the need for his
12 continued restricted association, I would be grateful if
13 you would confirm by return whether the threat against
14 him is considered to be ongoing or whether it has been
15 lifted."
16 That's what you would ordinarily expect, is it, the
17 Prison Service seeking advice from the police as to
18 threat assessment?
19 A. Absolutely. In terms of, particularly, threat
20 assessment to a particular individual, that's exactly
21 the police role.
22 Q. Then if we see the response at document NP21-0258,
23 please. Do we see this letter from the police on
24 4th April 1997 saying that:
25 " ... no information has been received which would
95
1 indicate that the threat against [Billy Wright]... had
2 been removed."
3 A. That's what it says.
4 Q. You are not able to help any further, again, on the
5 basis for which the police were providing this
6 information?
7 A. As I say, they would have access to their own sources of
8 tactical and operational intelligence which we may or
9 may not have seen and they would be in a much better
10 position than ourselves in the assessments group to make
11 that kind of assessment.
12 Q. All right. Once Billy Wright had been imprisoned in the
13 spring of 1997, I think you say in your statement that
14 Mark "Swinger" Fulton was in control of the LVF. Is
15 that right?
16 A. That's right.
17 Q. I can't resist asking is there any significance to the
18 nickname "Swinger"?
19 A. I wouldn't like to speculate.
20 Q. Does it follow that, because Billy Wright was in prison
21 and Fulton was outside and in control, that he, Fulton,
22 had a greater ability to organise terrorist activity on
23 a day-to-day basis?
24 A. Sorry. Could you repeat the question?
25 Q. Does it follow that, because Billy Wright was in prison
96
1 and Fulton was outside prison in day-to-day control of
2 the LVF, that he, Fulton, was in a better position to
3 organise terrorist activity?
4 A. I don't think he was necessarily -- he was in
5 a physically better position obviously, because he was
6 outside prison and Wright was inside, but I don't think
7 he had necessarily the same leadership ideas and
8 strategy that Wright had.
9 Q. All right, but in terms at least of immediate physical
10 risk and immediate ability to coordinate terrorist
11 activity, is it right that Fulton would have posed
12 a greater risk whilst Billy Wright was in prison?
13 A. In risk -- as I say, we are not in the risk assessment
14 business, but it is right to say that, yes, he would be
15 able to put whatever plans that the LVF had into action,
16 but I would assess -- and I think we made the assessment
17 at the time -- that Billy Wright remained in actual
18 control of the LVF and was probably more likely to be
19 responsible for the direction of the group.
20 Q. All right. I now want to ask you about the impact of
21 Billy Wright's activities on the peace process, a very
22 few questions. It may be that you are not in the ideal
23 position to deal with the politics of it, but in
24 paragraph 9 of your statement you deal with
25 Billy Wright's terrorist activities in 1996. I think it
97
1 has been established already that at that point PIRA had
2 been on ceasefire since 1994?
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. And INLA was de facto on ceasefire?
5 A. I believe so.
6 Q. They were under, effectively, a restraining influence by
7 PIRA?
8 A. That's correct.
9 Q. As you demonstrate in your statement, Wright was
10 carrying out terrorist activity in that period of 1996.
11 That didn't provoke any sort of terrorist response from
12 Republican groups, did it?
13 A. Not that I recall, no.
14 Q. And in particular, it didn't provoke a breach of the
15 PIRA ceasefire?
16 A. I can't recall the details of the ceasefire at that
17 particular time. It was breached significantly in
18 February of 1996, and I can't remember when it was put
19 back in place.
20 Q. All right, but there is no suggestion that that breach
21 in February -- the Docklands bombing -- was a reaction
22 in any way to the activities of Billy Wright?
23 A. Oh, none in any way, no.
24 Q. Is it right that the Security Service didn't assess at
25 any stage that Billy Wright was capable of inflicting
98
1 significant damage on the peace process?
2 A. I beg your pardon?
3 Q. Is it right that the Security Service did not assess
4 that Billy Wright was capable of inflicting significant
5 damage on the peace process?
6 A. I think that's true.
7 Q. I want to show you just one further document and that's
8 page SS01-0085. It may be that I misunderstood the
9 questioning on this, but I understood it to be suggested
10 that this document showed that Billy Wright was causing
11 tensions within PIRA. Do you remember a series of
12 questions about him being responsible for causing
13 tensions within PIRA?
14 If we look at the first paragraph, first of all,
15 that deals simply with the INLA feud?
16 A. That's right.
17 Q. It doesn't have anything to do with Billy Wright at all?
18 A. No.
19 Q. Let us take the second paragraph a little slowly:
20 "For some time it has been assessed that INLA would
21 be unlikely to resume violence in Northern Ireland
22 independently of PIRA for fear of PIRA sanction."
23 That's the restraining influence point I referred to
24 earlier.
25 A. That is correct, yes.
99
1 Q. Again, there is no direct reference to Billy Wright or
2 the LVF?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Then we have this:
5 "However, it", and the "it", I suggest, must refer
6 to INLA rather than PIRA?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. "... has publicly declared its intention to retaliate
9 against Loyalist violence, and the current internal
10 tensions within the organisation render the actions of
11 individuals/groupings unpredictable."
12 When it is talking about internal tensions, it is
13 talking about tensions within INLA, is it not?
14 A. I believe so.
15 Q. It is talking about tensions, not precipitated by
16 Loyalist violence, but the tensions that exist as
17 a result of the internal feud?
18 A. Quite possibly, but I am not best placed to comment,
19 I am afraid, on the inner workings of INLA at this time.
20 I believe D02 might be able to help you with that.
21 MR JOHNSON: All right, thank you very much.
22 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Fortt?
23 MR FORTT: No, thank you.
24 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Egan?
25 MR EGAN: No questions.
100
1 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Brangam?
2 MR BRANGAM: My Lord, I have no questions.
3 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Catchpole?
4 MR NICE: Geoffrey Nice is my name. I have gone down as
5 "security guard" once, I see.
6 THE CHAIRMAN: Neither name is on the sheet I have in front
7 of me. How do you spell it?
8 MR NICE: N-I-C-E. I have no questions.
9 THE CHAIRMAN: And your first name? Geoffrey, did you say?
10 MR NICE: Geoffrey.
11 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Batchelor?
12 Further questions from MR BATCHELOR
13 MR BATCHELOR: Just one point, please. If we could have
14 a look at SS01-0123. Mr Johnson asked you questions
15 about the very short text on a police document. We see
16 the date stamp on that is 26th September and you were
17 asked about the phrase, "no downward dissemination", and
18 what the "S" stood for. Could the "S" stand for
19 "south"?
20 A. That's what I thought when I saw the "N" in the other
21 document, "N" being "north" really.
22 Q. If we go to page SS01-0124, which is the front sheet of
23 that document, we don't see what the originating unit
24 for that information was, but it is dated the end of
25 September.
101
1 A. No.
2 Q. If we then move to SS01-0125, we see in relation to the
3 second document that it is a document dated in October.
4 After dissemination we have the designation "N", which
5 you surmise may refer to "north"?
6 A. That's correct.
7 Q. What we do have on the following page, SS01-0126, is
8 an indication of where this information came from in
9 terms of it being disseminated to you presumably and to
10 other agencies, and that's from RUC Headquarters E3A?
11 A. That's right.
12 Q. Am I right in saying E3A was the Republican desk in
13 Special Branch Headquarters?
14 A. That's right, yes.
15 Q. We also see, in answer to a point Mr Johnson raised, in
16 the right-hand column under "document type SIDD:
17 "dsl: 7."
18 Do you understand what's signified by that level or
19 not?
20 A. I can't remember what that means, I am afraid.
21 Q. Although you weren't involved in threat assessments in
22 relation to the risk to Billy Wright and any other
23 prisoner or person at any particular period of time, if
24 you had been asked by someone at Whitehall or a minister
25 in Northern Ireland for an assessment of whether or not
102
1 the UVF split was still ongoing, whether the UVF threat
2 was still alive to Wright, so far as you were concerned,
3 at the end of 1996, it had gone?
4 A. That's right, dissipated.
5 Q. I think I should point out to Mr Johnson you did not
6 have access to all of the information that might have
7 been around?
8 A. That's right.
9 THE CHAIRMAN: Indeed, in particular, if there was other
10 contrary information, it would have lain in the
11 repositories of RUC Special Branch?
12 A. Correct, or wherever the source of that information may
13 have come from, yes.
14 MR BATCHELOR: Thank you very much.
15 A. Thank you.
16 Questions from THE RT REV OLIVER
17 RT REV OLIVER: Could I ask two things? At the beginning of
18 your evidence you said you obtained information very,
19 very occasionally from the army.
20 A. That is correct.
21 RT REV OLIVER: I imagine people concerned with operations
22 would have received a lot of information from the army
23 from observation posts and so on. Can you tell us what
24 kind of information you did receive from the army and
25 just a little bit more about that?
103
1 A. Actually, it was along the same vein. It was very much
2 tactical operation-related intelligence, usually after
3 the event itself. It is usually low level sort of
4 movement-type information that terrorist A was seen
5 going to place B at a certain time.
6 RT REV OLIVER: So on the broader strategic front that you
7 were concerned with, very little, if anything?
8 A. Very little, if anything, of relevance to us that we
9 would factor into our assessments.
10 RT REV OLIVER: Thank you. The second question is about the
11 threat to Billy Wright. We have heard, I think on two
12 occasions, that there were people within the UVF who
13 were still determined eventually to kill him, although
14 the majority view prevailed that it would not be
15 possible or practical. So there was a threat from the
16 UVF which was in a sense ongoing, even if it was only
17 from a limited number of individuals, and there was
18 a threat from the INLA as well. So there was
19 a possibility that Billy Wright might be killed either
20 by his own side or by Republicans.
21 Did you produce an assessment of what would be the
22 likely impact of that death according to whichever force
23 managed to achieve it, if they did? I mean, were you
24 asked to say what would happen to the peace process if
25 Billy Wright were killed either by his own side or by
104
1 the Republicans?
2 A. No.
3 RT REV OLIVER: Is that something that you might have
4 decided off your own bat to do as an important exercise?
5 A. Not necessarily off my own back, but if somebody felt it
6 was sufficiently important, then either HAG, head of
7 assessments group, may have asked me to do so, or,
8 indeed, he may have been asked to do so by perhaps
9 someone from the Northern Ireland Office, but I don't
10 recall us ever writing such an assessment.
11 RT REV OLIVER: On the very last page of your witness
12 statement where you describe the murder having taken
13 place and the reaction from the LVF in response to it,
14 that was again not something which you were immediately
15 asked to undertake: what is the impact on the peace
16 process of this particular murder, having just taken
17 place?
18 A. No, we weren't asked to write an assessment at the time.
19 I did write an assessment some weeks later during
20 a period of quite intense violence of tit-for-tat
21 killings throughout January.
22 RT REV OLIVER: Thank you.
23 PROFESSOR COYLE: I have no questions.
24 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much indeed. You can go.
25 A. Thank you.
105
1 (Witness withdrew)
2 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Batchelor?
3 MR BATCHELOR: My Lord, I think my Lord is aware that the
4 other witness that it was anticipated would be called to
5 give evidence today has not yet produced a finalised
6 statement to the Inquiry. It is a matter that your
7 Lordship is going to address later on this afternoon.
8 So there are no further witnesses for today. If that
9 matter can be resolved this afternoon, then that person
10 will be hopefully available to give evidence tomorrow.
11 There is also another Security Service witness
12 tomorrow. So there will be evidence tomorrow, but
13 whether it will be one witness or two witnesses I as yet
14 am not in a position to say.
15 THE CHAIRMAN: Of course parties will require to have sight
16 of the statement, if it is agreed, and it still isn't?
17 MR BATCHELOR: It is still not agreed, my Lord, no.
18 THE CHAIRMAN: Well, can you start with the other witness
19 you mentioned?
20 MR BATCHELOR: I certainly can, my Lord. DO2. That's not
21 a difficulty. It may cause personal difficulties for
22 the other witness, who I think has other engagements in
23 his diary for later on in the week.
24 THE CHAIRMAN: That's a matter for him. Very well. We will
25 resume tomorrow at 10 o'clock. Is that right?
106
1 MR BATCHELOR: Yes, my Lord.
2 THE CHAIRMAN: Now, I understand you want to make
3 a statement.
4 MR BATCHELOR: I don't want to make a statement, my Lord.
5 THE CHAIRMAN: Not at this very moment, but you will want to
6 be addressing us on a problem.
7 MR BATCHELOR: There is an issue which I think, after
8 discussion with the Panel, requires to be resolved in
9 relation to the statement of the prospective witness and
10 associated matters. Because it involves issues of
11 anonymity, it is really a matter which the Panel should
12 properly hear in camera, I think. There are three
13 parties -- two represented parties at the Inquiry who
14 are involved in that, that is PSNI and the Security
15 Service, and there is also the witness himself, who is
16 represented by separate counsel and solicitors, who
17 should be present in the course of this particular
18 procedural point.
19 Otherwise, because the issue of anonymity is at
20 large, as it were, and the witness is -- let me just
21 say, because anonymity is part of the issue, it would
22 not be appropriate for any other party of the Inquiry
23 or, indeed, members of the public, to be present whilst
24 this matter was discussed.
25 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. Well, we will rise now and resume
107
1 tomorrow at 10 o'clock. Meanwhile, while we are off the
2 bench, as it were, arrangements will have to be made for
3 what is to follow to be heard in camera. That means
4 only the lawyers present and those that you mentioned,
5 Mr Batchelor. Is that quite clear? Right.
6 (The hearing was adjourned until 10.00 am
7 on Tuesday, 29th January 2008)
8 --oo0oo--
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10 WITNESS DO1 (affirmed) ........................... 2
11 Questions from MR BATCHELOR ............... 2
11 Questions from MR KANE .................... 73
12 Questions from MR JOHNSON ................. 86
12 Further questions from MR BATCHELOR ....... 100
13 Questions from THE RT REV OLIVER .......... 102
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