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Full Hearings

Hearing: 18th February 2009, day 109

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held at:
The Interpoint Centre
20-24 York Street
Belfast BT15 1AQ

on Wednesday, 18 February 2009
commencing at 10.15 am

Day 109









1 Wednesday, 18 February 2009

2 (10.15 am)

3 MR ARTHUR PROVOOST (continued)

4 Questions by MR SAVILL (continued)

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Savill?

6 MR SAVILL: Could I just briefly take us back, please, to

7 the topic we concluded, or thought we had concluded on

8 yesterday, namely that of the similar devices.

9 As I understood you to be saying to us, the

10 expression by Mr Todd that he disagreed with Mr Murray

11 as to similarities between the devices was not

12 particularly significant to you and your team because

13 the main point for you was that Mr Murray was saying,

14 "This is a Loyalist device"?

15 A. Yes, that was the main point.

16 Q. Now, I just want to be clear about that because I think

17 we also said that Mr Todd himself was also clear about

18 that fact?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. But as I understand it, Mr Todd was a scientist not

21 based in Northern Ireland and not with necessarily the

22 same experience as Mr Murray of these types of devices,

23 and Mr Todd was not asked, was he, to determine the

24 origin of the device?

25 A. No, I think that's fair to say, yes. He was asked about





1 the similarities that Dr Murray had identified.

2 Q. Well, he was asked -- I hope I'm right in saying to

3 you -- two things, which we can see in his statement and

4 report: namely to examine the device, which he did

5 because you kindly and helpfully gave him the component

6 parts of it --

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. -- and also to conduct -- and this is my expression --

9 a paper review of the similarity points?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. But at no point did he express an opinion that this was

12 a Loyalist device, did he?

13 A. No.

14 Q. But what he did do was say, "I disagree with Mr Murray's

15 assessment as to the similarities"?

16 A. Based on what he was seeing, based on a paper review,

17 bearing in mind of course Dr Murray actually had the

18 physical exhibits before him when he was conducting his

19 analysis.

20 Q. Yes, that's absolutely accurate. But is it not right

21 that Dr Murray didn't just pluck his assessment that

22 this was a Loyalist device from thin air, he must have

23 been applying comparators in his experience to other

24 devices that were Loyalist devices in order to reach

25 that opinion?





1 A. Yes, but I think even Mr Todd would concede that

2 Dr Murray was far more experienced in these matters than

3 he was, understandably.

4 Q. We may come to that in a moment. But if that was the

5 case, namely "This is a Loyalist device," says

6 Dr Murray, "based on similar devices in my experience"

7 --

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. -- you ask another scientist to review the similarity

10 point and the work conducted; he expresses a different

11 opinion. Why was that not significant to you?

12 A. Well, obviously it is a factor that one takes into

13 consideration, but it was not as significant to me as

14 Dr Murray's assessment. He was regarded as the expert.

15 He had actually examined all the physical parts of the

16 various devices, which Mr Todd had not, and I think most

17 people bowed to Dr Murray's superior knowledge in these

18 areas. And I would say, I think --

19 You know, one has to look at a wider view of the

20 investigations into the origins of the device. It

21 wasn't exclusively based on scientific opinion; there

22 were enquiries ongoing around the make-up of that device

23 that confirmed, in our opinion, Dr Murray's assessment.

24 Q. But this is a different point to that which you made

25 yesterday because yesterday, as I understand it, you





1 were saying it didn't matter that Mr Todd gave this

2 opinion because the point was Murray said this was

3 a Loyalist device.

4 Now, this morning you seem to be adding to that by

5 saying, well, Mr Todd wasn't as experienced -- yes?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. As Mr Murray, it was only a paper review; yes?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. So what I'm trying to get at is: isn't there in fact

10 more significance that could be attached to Mr Todd's

11 assessment than you expressed yesterday afternoon?

12 A. Well, I think at the end of the day that would be

13 a matter of judgment. I can only speak for myself and

14 on the basis of what I saw and what I read, I was

15 convinced by what I was reading that this was a Loyalist

16 device. And you know, I would say that was supported

17 then by the enquiries that were ongoing surrounding the

18 component parts of that device. Together, I think that

19 represented a pretty powerful picture that this was

20 a Loyalist device.

21 Q. Let me perhaps leave this issue with this question: what

22 would it have taken by way of opinion expressed by

23 Mr Todd for you to have reappraised the Murray opinion?

24 A. I think that's very difficult to say. I just couldn't

25 answer that, quite frankly. I think that's





1 a hypothetical question I couldn't answer.

2 Q. But that which was expressed in Mr Todd's statement

3 wasn't sufficient?

4 A. I don't think so, you know, for the reasons that in

5 fairness you yourself have pointed out. This was a very

6 different exercise that Mr Todd was undertaking. It was

7 in many parts a paper exercise, whereas Dr Murray had

8 the physical remains of these devices before him. So I

9 think on any test, the examination undertaken by

10 Dr Murray in our opinion was a much more informative

11 one.

12 Dr Murray had the necessary experience on the ground

13 and I don't think anybody could dispute that, and the

14 enquiries that were ongoing around the make-up of that

15 device confirmed our belief, underscored by Dr Murray's

16 opinion, that this was a Loyalist device.

17 MR SAVILL: Thank you.

18 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Sorry, before you leave that, it was

19 a paper exercise. Mr Todd had less experience than

20 Dr Murray of the situation in Northern Ireland. What

21 were you expecting to get of value from Mr Todd's work?

22 A. I think, ma'am, it was an attempt just to introduce

23 a review process, and I think from what you will have

24 seen of the investigation, we were wedded to a review

25 process wherever that could be introduced or usefully





1 introduced. So in a way it was trying to get a second

2 opinion, as it were.

3 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: But was he going to be in any

4 position to give you a valuable second opinion?

5 A. I think on hindsight, what we would have done now is

6 carry out a similar exercise to that which we asked

7 Dr Murray to undertake. We would have laid before him

8 exactly what we asked Dr Murray to examine so that it

9 was an examination of like against like.

10 I think in fairness if we were doing it over again,

11 we wouldn't carry out that exercise in the way that we

12 carried it out. I think probably it was a little bit

13 unfair on Mr Todd at the end of the day.


15 MR SAVILL: Thank you.

16 I would like to move on now, if I may, to the

17 subject of Operation George. Can you summarise for us,

18 please, because you are in many ways so well versed in

19 its content, what in essence was the purpose and focus

20 of that operation? I appreciate that the name, you may

21 want to tell us, applied to different aspects?

22 A. Yes. Well, perhaps I could start off by explaining what

23 I understand to mean by Operation George. I have always

24 used Operation George to define the covert operation

25 that we conducted in England, which actually starts with





1 the movement in June of one of our targets from

2 Northern Ireland, who takes residence in the South West

3 of England. The subjects of Operation George are that

4 individual and then the parties who were mentioned in

5 the early intelligence that we had a look at yesterday,

6 or rather the two individuals who belonged to the LVF

7 who were the subject of that early intelligence that we

8 looked at yesterday.

9 The objective was to gather evidence in respect of

10 the murder of Rosemary Nelson; if not evidence,

11 additional intelligence vis-à-vis that murder.

12 Q. Thank you. Now, can you assist us -- and it may not be

13 possible to be precise -- by telling us, was there a set

14 start date, looking back, a mid point, a finish date to

15 the operations that were going on?

16 A. A pre-ordained mid point, you mean, or finish point?

17 Q. No, to give us the flavour of when this was all taking

18 place.

19 A. As I say, I would consider Operation George starts with

20 the removal of a LVF target to the South West of England

21 in the summer of 1999. The next big step change,

22 I guess, in Operation George is when one of our key

23 targets moves to England in, I think it is October of

24 1999 to lodge with this particular individual who had

25 already taken up residence.





1 Pretty much around that date the second LVF

2 individual, (redacted)

3 (redacted), coincidentally

4 also moved to the South West of England (redacted)

5 (redacted). And the end of Operation George came

6 in June of -- well, the beginning, if I can put it this

7 way --

8 Q. The beginning of the end.

9 A. The beginning of the end of Operation George came

10 in June 2001 with the arrest of one of our targets, and

11 then there were phased arrests running right through to

12 Christmas of 2001 of LVF personnel, people for whom

13 evidence or intelligence of an incriminating nature had

14 been gathered during that operation.

15 Q. Thank you. So, roughly speaking, a period of just over

16 two years?

17 A. In entirety, yes.

18 Q. Thank you. When the operation or the operations were

19 conceived, were there set parameters in time and

20 location that were considered and set down prior to the

21 commencement of the operation?

22 A. No.

23 Q. Is that something that is unusual in your experience or

24 is that how things were done?

25 A. No, not really. I mean, in essence we had intelligence





1 that people who we were interested in were moving to

2 England. We saw that as an opportunity to advance the

3 investigation in terms of gathering evidence and

4 intelligence, and what followed after that was pretty

5 much led by those opportunities as they presented

6 themselves.

7 So it wasn't a case of, well, look, we are going to

8 run this operation until the end of 1999 and then it is

9 going to come to a conclusion. I think, you know,

10 obviously -- stating the obvious -- it would be pretty

11 silly and premature to set those sorts of parameters.

12 Q. So it was reactive, is that a correct word to use?

13 A. Yes, I think that's a useful word.

14 Q. And just to give us, again, a flavour, using adjectives

15 perhaps rather than specifics, what was, in your

16 experience, can you tell us, the scale of this operation

17 by the end of it?

18 A. Well, it was huge, quite frankly. I think -- you know,

19 one of the observations that was coming from the

20 National Crime Squad in the South West of England, who

21 was supporting our operation, is that at one stage we

22 had practically every undercover officer on their books

23 working on Operation George, or perhaps I should reword

24 that: every free undercover officer, every officer who

25 wasn't at that stage occupied.





1 No, it was huge, it was intense and at times

2 extremely challenging and demanding.

3 Q. Because, to state the obvious -- and perhaps we should

4 state this -- there were considerable personal risks

5 exercised by members of the police in conducting these

6 operations?

7 A. Yes, I think not the least being that this was in many

8 respects a cutting edge operation. We were, all of us,

9 including the National Crime Squad, going into, to

10 a certain extent, unknown territory. This was

11 a long-term undercover operation using officers who on

12 occasions were more used to short-term operations such

13 as test purchases for drugs, which would be over and

14 done with in a matter of hours. This obviously went on

15 weeks into months and then more months.

16 Q. I think an expression that I read somewhere -- perhaps

17 you used it -- was "lawfully audacious"?

18 A. I think that's a common expression which is used to

19 describe this sort of police work in the sort of

20 esoteric police circles where this type of investigative

21 technique is used.

22 Q. Why was it that this operation was conceived to be the

23 way forward?

24 A. Well, in essence, we didn't have too many more leads.

25 We had no hard evidence, as it were, we had no witnesses





1 to the crime, we had no forensic evidence, no physical

2 evidence of the remains of the device. We didn't have

3 any particular strong leads, so I think there was

4 a recognition on the senior management team, which was

5 identified by the SIO quite early on in the

6 investigation, that intelligence was going to be the

7 best means of taking this investigation forwards.

8 Q. Could we call up RNI-909-172, please (displayed). This

9 is an entry in the secret policy file, as opposed to the

10 regular policy file. The date of the decision we can

11 see at the top right-hand corner. It is 3 June 1999,

12 and I will just read the decision made by officer making

13 decision, Mr Kinkaid:

14 "The intelligence gathering aspect of the

15 investigation now represents the most important line of

16 enquiry. This has been reflected in the distribution of

17 personnel and IT resources.

18 "Six RUC officers have been [I think] returned to

19 ..."

20 Can you help me with that word?

21 A. Divisional duties.

22 Q. "... divisional documents from the general enquiry.

23 Seven non-RUC have been introduced to primarily work on

24 intelligence activities."

25 So it might be said that could be seen as the





1 genesis of the operation?

2 A. No, I wouldn't say that was. I think -- I would read

3 that as being the SIO identifying that intelligence in

4 all its many respects is going to be the most productive

5 line of enquiry for this investigation.

6 Q. I see.

7 A. There were things ongoing that I would regard as being

8 classified as intelligence-gathering beyond Operation

9 George, and the SIO was addressing those as well in this

10 policy book entry.

11 Q. Thank you. So just to assist me, when would you say the

12 time came that Operation George was perceived to be the

13 best way forward?

14 A. Well, I think -- I wouldn't exactly put it as the best

15 way forward.

16 Q. Well --

17 A. I would say it was perceived very, very early on as

18 being an extremely useful line of enquiry that we had to

19 pursue with vigour. I mean, in many respects this was

20 a huge stroke of luck for us because I think our --

21 without giving too much away bearing in mind that we are

22 in open session --

23 Q. Quite.

24 A. -- our intelligence gathering that we had been

25 undertaking to date, to date in terms of June 1999, had





1 shown us that trying to gather intelligence in

2 Northern Ireland was an extremely difficult undertaking.

3 People were very, very much more surveillance

4 conscious than one might have expected in the rest of

5 the UK. Introducing undercover officers into the

6 Northern Ireland environment in my considered opinion

7 was an impossibility when, you know, these terrorist

8 groups referenced people by who they were, which family

9 they belonged to, which school they belonged to. There

10 was a real, real difficulty bordering on impossibility

11 of undertaking any undercover operations of the type

12 that we are talking about with Operation George in the

13 Northern Ireland environment.

14 So George was a huge opportunity for us and a stroke

15 of luck, and we set about maximising that good fortune.

16 Q. So the stroke of luck, just to be clear, you are

17 referring to the movement to the South West of England?

18 A. Yes, of our targets.

19 Q. Yes. What, please, were the different responsibilities

20 of the SMT -- and we defined the senior management team

21 yesterday -- as regards Operation George?

22 A. I guess in short it would be that the SMT set the

23 strategy for Operation George and that strategy in the

24 main was led by Mr Port who, amongst the four of us, had

25 the most experience in this line of the investigations.





1 And the head of the Intelligence Cell was the manager of

2 Operation George, and then as Operation George increased

3 and ratcheted up, we introduced several managers to

4 Operation George, if I can put it this way, at the

5 coalface in the South West.

6 Q. Yes, and I'm sorry to ask you such an obvious question

7 but you can help me with it, I hope: what do you mean by

8 "strategy"?

9 A. I think we had a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve

10 from Operation George very, very early on and I think,

11 you know, we have articulated that in various documents

12 and decisions throughout the operation. But it was in

13 essence (redacted)

14 (redacted)

15 (redacted) to capture (redacted) a spontaneous

16 conversation in controlled surroundings (redacted)

17 (redacted) a conversation about the murder of Rosemary Nelson.

18 Q. So in a nutshell that was the pure aim of the operation?

19 A. That was the overarching strategy for Operation George,

20 yes, which was always consistent throughout Operation

21 George up until a point quite late on, at which we

22 realised that (redacted) was simply not going

23 to make contact (redacted).

24 Q. What time was that? When was that?

25 A. I think by February-ish of 2001 we had come to that





1 conclusion.

2 Q. So you had been trying to achieve that objective for

3 more than a year. That's roughly --

4 A. Yes. And in our defence, I would say that there were on

5 occasions -- there were many positive signs coming back

6 (redacted)

7 (redacted). One of those two LVF individuals. There were

8 positive feedbacks coming back (redacted) that the

9 strategy was going to be developed (redacted)

10 (redacted), because I think

11 what I should explain is that in order to take Operation

12 George forwards, (redacted)

13 (redacted)

14 (redacted)

15 (redacted)

16 (redacted)

17 (redacted)

18 (redacted)

19 and capture what we hoped would be a spontaneous

20 conversation regarding Mrs Nelson's murder.

21 Q. And what was your role -- you helpfully told us

22 yesterday more generally about it -- in relation to

23 Operation George?

24 A. I guess my role changed over time. In the initial

25 stages I didn't really have a hands-on role with





1 Operation George. I was part of the senior management

2 team, so I was allied to what the strategy was and

3 I guess my main role would be in terms of recruiting

4 people and facilitating the operation with resources.

5 And then around about December 2000, I think it was,

6 the head of our Intelligence Cell left the

7 investigation. He was replaced by a detective

8 inspector. His duties then changed somewhat so that he

9 had no involvement in Operation George. He exclusively

10 managed the intelligence centre. We had a detective

11 inspector who was the Operations Manager in the South

12 West of England for Operation George and I became his

13 line manager.

14 So from December 2000 onwards he basically came in

15 to me for extra resources, to discuss tactics, for

16 guidance on those areas that I could give him guidance

17 on. And where I couldn't give him guidance, I would

18 take those matters back to the senior management team

19 or, indeed, supervisory officers within the National

20 Crime Squad.

21 Q. Did there ever come a time where your role -- and

22 I don't mean this at all rudely -- of having to feed the

23 furnace, as it were, by providing resources, which was

24 an intensive exercise for you, did there ever come

25 a time where that may have resulted in you not being as





1 involved or as knowledgeable about the way in which

2 Operation George was proceeding?

3 A. No, because I don't want to overemphasise it -- you

4 know, I had a function for the investigation as a whole,

5 which was largely resourcing that investigation. That

6 was one of my main tasks. So I wasn't working

7 exclusively to resource Operation George. And we had

8 huge cooperation and assistance from the National Crime

9 Squad themselves, who in many respects were able to

10 facilitate that resourcing aspect much more smoothly

11 than, say, in other areas of the operation -- other

12 areas of the investigation.

13 Q. What consideration was given, when Operation George was

14 being discussed in the very early days, of the

15 likelihood that the operation would reveal other

16 criminal individuals and their involvement in offences

17 other than your core subjects?

18 A. Well, I don't think we had any misgivings or

19 misunderstandings about who we were dealing with.

20 I mean, we were looking at active terrorists, so there

21 was also the potential for this to happen. But of

22 course we had confidence that people that we were

23 looking at -- because of the early intelligence and

24 because of other matters surrounding the investigation,

25 which was pointing towards the LVF, it wasn't an





1 unrealistic prospect that we might have got early

2 admission.

3 So I don't think there was any sense of the senior

4 management team sitting down and saying, "Look, you

5 know, if this goes on for two months and they have not

6 admitted to the crime, what are we going to do then?"

7 Or if it goes on for three months or four months or five

8 months, or what happens if they start admitting to other

9 crimes but not Mrs Nelson. I would like to say we had

10 that degree of foresight, if you like, but I think in

11 fairness to us that may have been asking a little bit

12 too much.

13 Q. Thank you. Because I was going to go on to ask you --

14 I asked about personalities, but the admissions to other

15 offences were numerous and serious, were they not?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. And they included offences of the utmost gravity:

18 murder, assault, intimidation and so on and so forth?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. To manage the intelligence and product, if I can use

21 that word, that was coming from Operation George, it

22 wasn't possible, was it, to simply put it all on to the

23 HOLMES system, which was being utilised as one would

24 expect, for the murder investigation itself?

25 A. No, it wasn't. I think -- we touched upon this





1 yesterday and I was saying that there was a great deal

2 of sensitivity around Operation George. We were

3 operating it really on a basis of a need to know and our

4 judgment was that many people actually working on the

5 investigation simply didn't need to know about it. And

6 I think there were certain understandable concerns

7 within the National Crime Squad that we should keep

8 things as discreet and secure as possible.

9 Q. Which you did?

10 A. Which we certainly tried to do, yes.

11 Q. And what would you say to any suggestion that, as

12 a result of having to keep the two separate, there may

13 have been problems between researching and

14 cross-referencing the two separate component parts?

15 A. No, I think -- you know, I would -- I think I would

16 challenge that.

17 It is my belief that we had the systems in place to

18 manage both of the discrete elements. Obviously in

19 terms of the major incident room and, if I can put it

20 this way, the traditional investigation, then the engine

21 room for that was the MIR and HOLMES. But in terms of

22 Operation George, we had the all important back-up

23 systems, including the Intelligence Cell and then,

24 before too long, (redacted),

25 where all the product which was being gathered on





1 Operation George was being fed back into (redacted)

2 (redacted) and then worked on and worked up in

3 a structured way in order to secure the best evidence

4 from that product.

5 Q. Now, you may not feel comfortable answering this

6 question, but I hope you can: to, again, give us an

7 impression of what was going on, how many officers were

8 at its height, as it were, involved with Operation

9 George as opposed to the traditional murder

10 investigation?

11 A. Well, if one can break it down, on Operation George, the

12 undercover operation --

13 Q. Let me just interrupt you, I wasn't breaking it down

14 because I understand that may be something you didn't

15 want to go into too much detail about.

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. So it is a matter for yourself.

18 A. Thank you for that. It is probably a better way of

19 approaching it then to say, including the managers in

20 the South West, the undercover operation officers in the

21 South West, those within the (redacted) and

22 the Intelligence Cell itself -- although I would say

23 that the Intelligence Cell had purposes other than

24 simply servicing Operation George, but at its height,

25 one could be talking around about 50 to 60 individuals.






2 THE CHAIRMAN: At any one time, that is?

3 A. At any one time, sir, yes.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

5 MR SAVILL: Again, in fairness, I put the question as "at

6 its height".

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. At an average point, what would you say it would have

9 been?

10 A. I think it is difficult to say because it started off as

11 really quite a small operation and then gathered speed

12 over time. So once those (redacted) targets (redacted)

13 (redacted) came under

14 our surveillance, then Operation George really embarked

15 on quite a steep curve upwards in terms of demanding

16 resources.

17 So it started small, moved very quickly to quite an

18 intense operation and remained that way, quite frankly,

19 until the first of the arrests in June 2001.

20 Q. And looking at the other side of the coin, what were the

21 numbers involved in the traditional murder investigation

22 aspect?

23 A. You mean at its height or at the same time that

24 Operation George was running?

25 Q. Well, again, that which gives us the best flavour at its





1 height, at the same time, at the beginning before

2 Operation George started -- just so we understand.

3 A. Yes. I would say around about 50 to 60 officers --

4 well, 50 to 60 personnel again.

5 Q. At what? At its height?

6 A. No, at the time that Operation George was running.

7 Q. So there were -- I appreciate -- I don't want to be

8 accused of just dealing with pure arithmetic, but put

9 this question to you: are you saying that the number of

10 officers involved were equal at the height of Operation

11 George within that operation and within the MIR?

12 A. Probably slightly more in the MIR but not a considerable

13 imbalance, as it were.

14 Q. And were those officers in the MIR dealing with matters

15 arising from Operation George?

16 A. In the main, no.

17 Q. They were dedicated -- and I'm using the expression you

18 used -- to the traditional lines of enquiry?

19 A. Yes. Simply by way of clarification, I say "in the

20 main" because over time -- and I'm talking over time in

21 terms of Operation George -- we did have to detach two

22 officers from the outside enquiry, if one could put it

23 that way, to work on product that was coming back from

24 Operation George. But that was to compile interview

25 guides for the officers who would ultimately interview





1 the subjects once they had been arrested.

2 Q. There was no precedent, as I understand it, to setting

3 up an intelligence cell at this time, was there?

4 A. No, I think, speaking personally -- I mean, I had used

5 an intelligence cell within a couple of the murders that

6 I had led, but it was very much in the sense of this

7 being a desk within the major incident room where some

8 fairly discreet and a small volume of documents or

9 material would be dealt with. And my understanding is

10 that, you know, that pretty much was the experience of

11 most SIOs up until that time.

12 Q. And in that sense, am I right in saying that the

13 Intelligent Cell's role -- an intelligent cell's role --

14 is to support the work of the murder investigation room?

15 A. Yes, it is to support -- in its widest sense, to support

16 the investigation.

17 Q. And do you think that the Intelligence Cell fulfilled

18 that role in the course of Operation George?

19 A. It certainly supported the investigation, yes.

20 Q. That's not quite the question.

21 A. Right.

22 Q. Did it support the murder investigation room?

23 A. Yes, in as much as I have described the difficulties

24 that surrounded managing the material that was coming

25 into -- that was coming into the Intelligence Cell from





1 Operation George. I mean, it wasn't -- I don't think

2 you could define it as exactly smooth and unproblematic.

3 Q. Sorry, you couldn't describe what as?

4 A. The flow of material between Operation George, the

5 Intelligence Cell and then from the Intelligence Cell to

6 the MIR.

7 You know, this was very much a model that we were

8 designing and adapting and working on as we were going

9 along through the operation. So things had to be

10 changed, things had to be tweaked in order to get it to

11 operate to maximum efficiency.

12 Q. But the reality was, was it not, that the Intelligence

13 Cell was solely occupied in dealing with the product

14 that was being obtained during the currency of Operation

15 George?

16 A. No, not solely, we had other assets and the Intelligence

17 Cell was dealing with those too, with the product of

18 those too.

19 Q. Again, to try and help us, perhaps using percentages,

20 how would you describe the input into the Intelligence

21 Cell from Operation George and from other --

22 A. It is very difficult to say that. But I think in

23 fairness, one would say Operation George was the main

24 contributor -- yes, by far the main contributor -- I

25 would say, to the intelligence product.





1 Q. Now, just, again, so we understand this, what we are

2 talking about here is somebody giving information in the

3 course of Operation George that he or she, for example,

4 robbed a bank or shot somebody or committed some other

5 crime; yes?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. And the things that needed to be done were, to use an

8 expression, to corroborate that account?

9 A. The things that needed to be done by --

10 Q. By the Intelligence Cell?

11 A. By the Intelligence Cell. I don't think that

12 exclusively -- the Intelligence Cell was there to -- if

13 I can describe the paper flow systems, for want of

14 a better expression?

15 Q. Please do, yes.

16 A. But the undercover operation would be work with the

17 target. The target may make some admission which would

18 then be recorded. The recording would be passed to the

19 (redacted), as it were, automatically and

20 then the (redacted) would work up that

21 product.

22 So there would be, say, a first draft of that

23 conversation, and if there was something within that

24 conversation which was of interest to the managers (redacted)

25 (redacted) -- and sometimes they would





1 check with us, the senior management team, about whether

2 we wanted product working up -- then they would work

3 that product up to that point at which it was then -- it

4 was then worked up to its -- as it were, to its best

5 version at that point in time.

6 That was then passed on to the Intelligence Cell and

7 the Intelligence Cell would log that intelligence on

8 a stand-alone computer which was dedicated to the

9 Intelligence Cell. And over time, when the targets

10 returned to talk about matters which they had already

11 addressed, so that, you know, on day 10, one target

12 might talk about the murder of Mrs O'Neill and then

13 return to that subject on day 15 and again on day 21.

14 So that material would be dropped into certain

15 categories on the X2 account so that over time a picture

16 was built up in different categories of exactly what

17 offences the subjects were admitting, what they were

18 saying about the murder of Mrs Nelson, what they were

19 saying in terms of other LVF targets and what additional

20 intelligence we could capture.

21 That then was recorded and fed back to the senior

22 management team through regular Thursday meetings and on

23 occasion, if it was important enough, through a discreet

24 telephone call,(redacted).

25 Q. Were these the intelligence coordination group meetings?





1 A. No, in actual fact -- the intelligence coordinating

2 meeting was, for want of a better word, the strategy

3 meeting which was chaired by Mr Port.

4 Q. Is it right that that was the meeting from which it was

5 anticipated strategy would emanate for the operation?

6 A. Yes, yes. The meeting I was referring to was a regular

7 Thursday meeting that I and M540 -- because Mr Kinkaid

8 had been gone by this stage, but I and M540 would hold

9 with the Head of the Intelligence Cell where we could go

10 through a document prepared by the Intelligence Cell for

11 the intelligence that had emerged over the preceding

12 week. So that week on week, week on week, we were

13 getting a comprehensive picture of what our subjects had

14 said, where the admissions had come, what had been said,

15 if anything, about Mrs Nelson and what other

16 intelligence was being collected.

17 Q. So to use an expression, it was a very complicated fact

18 management exercise in many ways?

19 A. It wasn't complicated once one got the system up and

20 running and fine tuned it and tweaked it and had got the

21 support systems in place that we needed to get in place

22 and to get the technology in place -- for example, (redacted)

23 faxes and (redacted) telephones -- where we could speak

24 openly to the (redacted) and to Operation

25 George in the South West.





1 Q. Now, you mention strategy was designed to emanate from

2 the intelligence coordination meetings. Where would be

3 the best place to discover during the currency of

4 Operation George actual and active strategy and policy

5 decision-making? "We have been going down this path,

6 but that's not very good, so we are going to switch to

7 this path." Where would that have been recorded?

8 A. You would look to the intelligence coordinating meetings

9 in part, you would look to the policy logs that

10 accompanied Operation George in part, and then in part

11 it simply wouldn't be documented or it wouldn't be

12 recorded because it was the subject of ongoing,

13 sometimes daily assessment by the senior management team

14 in discussions.

15 Q. Oral discussions that were not recorded?

16 A. Oral discussion, yes.

17 Q. Yes. As the operation and the product began to come

18 forth from Operation George, when, if at all, did you

19 have a realisation that you were not going to get what

20 you had set out to get from the suspects?

21 A. In terms of that conversation that I talked about?

22 Q. Well, any incriminating conversation or incriminating

23 evidence.

24 A. Well, I think there was a realisation that, if I can put

25 it this way, the strategy that we were trying to





1 engineer was not going to come to pass in terms of the

2 (redacted) subjects (redacted)

3 (redacted) by February 2001. But then we realised

4 that another individual, who was recognised to be

5 a leading figure within the LVF, was being released from

6 a term of imprisonment in March of 2001, and we saw that

7 as being another opportunity (redacted)

8 (redacted) and advance the

9 investigation in that way. And, in fact, we succeeded

10 in doing that to a certain extent, in as much as that

11 (redacted)

12 (redacted) this (redacted) individual

13 to visit the South West of England on

14 a social-come-business visit, (redacted)

15 (redacted)

16 (redacted)

17 (redacted).

18 Now, we managed to engineer that meeting. It took

19 place over one weekend. Following that first meeting we

20 captured some very, very good evidence in respect of

21 a terrorist offence. There was no conversation,

22 unfortunately, in respect of Mrs Nelson, and the

23 intelligence that we picked up after that meeting led us

24 to believe that there wasn't going to be a repeat of

25 that meeting. And at that stage, there was an





1 assessment that we had taken this particular line of the

2 investigation as far as we possibly could and we needed

3 to move now to another phase and develop another line of

4 enquiry around the arrests of these targets, where we

5 hoped that evidence would be secured through interview.

6 Q. Can we call up RNI-817-264, please (displayed), and

7 highlight paragraph 400. Thank you very much.

8 This is obviously a portion of your statement, and

9 if we can count down eight lines to the middle of the

10 page, we can see "Mrs Nelson" and then the word

11 "however". Do you have that?

12 A. Yes, I do.

13 Q. "However, very quickly into the covert coverage ...

14 there was a realisation that many ... comments related

15 to serious crimes other than Mrs Nelson's murder.

16 Whilst Mrs Nelson's murder was and remained the

17 priority, we could not ignore evidence and intelligence

18 that touched upon other offences. In a way we were the

19 victims of our own success and we had to manage this

20 situation in-house or risk compromising the whole covert

21 operation."

22 Now, you use an interesting expression there,

23 "victims of your own success", because it was the case,

24 wasn't it -- again, to be clear -- that you never did

25 receive the incriminating evidence in relation to





1 Mrs Nelson's murder that you had hoped for?

2 A. No, that's right. I hope that I wasn't being too

3 conceited there.

4 Q. No, I'm just --

5 A. The expression was merely to indicate that Operation

6 George, in the sense of an undercover operation, was

7 a huge success. We did capture some very, very -- well,

8 I say incriminating evidence; it speaks for itself

9 because somebody is currently serving a life

10 imprisonment term.

11 Q. Indeed. But what I want to ask you is this: it is

12 right, isn't it, that it was, some may say, an

13 unqualified success in certain regards, but not in

14 regard to its primary objective?

15 A. Yes. And I hope my statement isn't misleading because,

16 I mean, I wouldn't regard it as being a success in

17 obviously taking the investigation of Mrs Nelson -- you

18 know, to the point at which we had secured evidence in

19 respect of that crime.

20 Q. But what I want to ask you is this: is it possible that

21 during the currency of Operation George you became so

22 immersed in the operation that was revealing huge

23 amounts of product and differing levels of criminality

24 that you, as it were, took your eye off the ball in

25 thinking objectively about the primary purpose of the





1 operation, namely to secure incriminating evidence

2 relating to the murder?

3 A. No, not at all. And I think -- you know, calling them

4 to mind now is difficult, but there are documents within

5 the system, I'm sure, where we register the fact that

6 Operation George, the main purpose of Operation George,

7 is to progress the murder -- the investigation into the

8 murder of Mrs Nelson and that what we are seeking is

9 evidence regarding Mrs Nelson's murder. And that's --

10 that was the purpose of Operation George.

11 Q. You may say that in documents, but the reality was

12 different, was it not?

13 A. No, no, it wasn't, sir. No, this was our best lead. It

14 is almost as if one is being criticised for pursuing

15 rigorously and with energy our best lead.

16 Q. Well, please don't think I'm being critical. I hope you

17 understand --

18 A. Perhaps I'm being over-defensive.

19 Q. I'm giving you the opportunity to comment on potential

20 criticisms.

21 A. I appreciate the opportunity. Let me say that our

22 purpose in advancing Operation George was to make

23 progress on the murder of Mrs Nelson. We had a strategy

24 in place, we tried to bring that strategy to fruition,

25 we tried long and hard. And one shouldn't imagine that





1 these things with these type of operations can be

2 achieved overnight.

3 In my own police force that I came from in 1999, we

4 had covert operations where we would simply (redacted)

5 (redacted)

6 (redacted)

7 (redacted)

8 (redacted)

9 (redacted)

10 (redacted)

11 start to operate and then to gather intelligence and

12 evidence, and the first (redacted) might be written off.

13 So, you know -- and I wouldn't say that we were

14 panicking after three months or six months. We had our

15 strategy, we were determined to pursue that strategy,

16 but that strategy never came to fruition.

17 Q. You say in this paragraph we looked at that you had to:

18 "... manage the situation in-house or risk

19 compromising the whole covert operation."

20 Did you ever consider, amongst yourselves in the

21 SMT, hiving off this operation that you had set up,

22 saying to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, "This is a very

23 well-run operation, it is up and running, we are getting

24 a huge amount of product, incriminating evidence against

25 a suspected terrorist in relation to offences in





1 Northern Ireland. That is something that you can deal

2 with, you should deal with. If anything is mentioned

3 about Mrs Nelson, please, obviously, feed that back to

4 us, but we are the Rosemary Nelson murder

5 investigation"?

6 A. No.

7 Q. And I'm going to concentrate on that. Do you understand

8 my point?

9 A. I understand your point, yes, sir. Yes. But that would

10 have been so difficult to do.

11 Operation George was parted of the warp and weft of

12 this investigation, it was a line of enquiry, it was our

13 best lead, as it were. So we wouldn't have considered

14 hiving it off and -- forgive me, but -- and I don't mean

15 this in any judgmental sense, but we wouldn't have hived

16 it off to the RUC because, of course, there was

17 a collusion issue and we were getting material that

18 suggested collusion that, on occasions, we had to look

19 at as being a potential collusion, which was coming back

20 to us through Operation George too.

21 So, you know, one point that would have been immense

22 difficulties trying to detach Operation George from the

23 investigation and we wouldn't have wanted to do that

24 because it was a productive line of enquiry, we felt.

25 But secondly, there were real challenges in terms of,





1 well, you know, how does one manage this when we are

2 getting information back that could suggest collusion

3 too.

4 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: You have mentioned the fact that,

5 moving on from the covert surveillance element to the

6 interview stage.

7 A. Yes, sir.

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: All of these stages, I would suggest --

9 and then further on, to opportunities (redacted) --

10 there would still be opportunities where loose talk

11 would give you the one piece of intelligence you were

12 looking for?

13 A. Absolutely, sir. And we tried to do that by

14 extending our surveillance (redacted)

15 (redacted).

16 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can I just ask you, please: looking at

17 the time Operation George commenced, can you just put

18 into context where the enquiry stood through the MIR in

19 relation to the murder of Mrs Nelson and whether you

20 were in fact in a situation where other lines of

21 enquiry, other opportunities, were beginning to dry up?

22 A. Yes. In essence, they were drying up, sir, very

23 quickly, as I have said. We had no physical evidence,

24 we had limited forensic evidence, we had no witnesses to

25 the device being planted. We had, quite frankly, no





1 strong leads. And I think there was a recognition that

2 we in a way were going to have to make our own evidence,

3 if I can put it that way. And the only way that that

4 could be done was by considering covert operations in

5 the widest sense, and that's what we started to embark

6 upon in an earnest endeavour to try and secure more

7 evidence and intelligence regarding the murder.

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr Savill.

9 MR SAVILL: Thank you. Let me just ask to be put up on to

10 the screen, RNI-602-031 (displayed), which is a page

11 from Mr Ayling's report, and highlight 2.12.11. This is

12 a mini table, if you like, that shows a summary of

13 actions raised within the J404, which was the HOLMES

14 account. I won't read them out. They are very simple,

15 we can all see them there on the page, and you will be

16 aware obviously that this was an illustration, he would

17 say, of the difference in priority or resources, if you

18 like, being devoted to the different aspects of the

19 murder investigation?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And taking, I suppose, the easiest way, he would say

22 that in January to March 2000, 14 actions raised in

23 relation to Operation George; 823, Rosemary Nelson

24 murder. And then the figures either decrease or

25 increase as one goes down the page.





1 I'm just showing that to you because on the page it

2 appears a stark illustration and I just want to give you

3 the opportunity to either agree or disagree with the

4 point that is being made?

5 A. Well, you know, first of all I couldn't but agree with

6 the figures. But secondly, I would say that those

7 figures simply don't surprise me.

8 By March of 2002, you have a murder investigation

9 that has been running for close on three years. That is

10 a long, long time for a murder investigation. You would

11 naturally expect to see a decline over a period of time

12 in any murder investigation, no matter how intense, of

13 the sort that these figures illustrate. It would start

14 off with a mass of actions being raised, rising to

15 a peak in the early months or perhaps longer depending

16 on the intensity of the investigation. But then, over

17 time, descending in a slow path. So those figures

18 really don't surprise me.

19 But then, secondly, you know, I think one has to

20 understand that there is a real danger in separating and

21 entitling these figures in this way. Operation George

22 was a line of enquiry in the murder investigation. I

23 would be much more comfortable seeing those figures

24 absorbed, quite frankly. I think one could do that with

25 any of our lines of enquiry and say, look, you really





1 didn't put enough effort into the crime scene,

2 six months or nine months on. I just think one needs to

3 look at Operation George as a line of enquiry that was

4 productive for the investigation. And some of those

5 actions I have no doubt would relate to matters that

6 relate to the actual arrest of our subjects.

7 We were gathering a lot of evidence that was going

8 to the heart of corroborating what these people were

9 saying during the course of the operation. And we

10 certainly saw this as being hugely beneficial when it

11 came time to arrest seasoned terrorists who previously,

12 when they had been interviewed, had refused to comment.

13 You know, I can give -- the proof of what we did, I

14 think, sir, is the fact that when we arrested one of our

15 individuals who had not previously talked when he had

16 been arrested for previous terrorist offences, he was

17 talking, I think, for the first day. Certainly for the

18 first set of four tapes we are having a conversation

19 with that individual, and then at the point that it is

20 disclosed that in actual fact what he was saying was

21 being said to an undercover officer, unfortunately at

22 that point he decided to make no comment from there on.

23 So, you know, Operation George we saw as bringing

24 value to all parts that of investigation beyond simply

25 just a covert operation itself.





1 Q. I would remind you that obviously Operation George was

2 founded on particular intelligence, was it not?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Are you saying --

5 A. Sorry, it was my fault -- yes, it was, but it wasn't

6 exclusively based on that intelligence, you know. There

7 were assessments going on all the time. There was extra

8 intelligence coming in during the lifetime -- well,

9 prior to Operation George commencing, there was extra

10 intelligence coming in and during the lifetime of

11 Operation George, which in many respects was confirming

12 that we were looking in the right place.

13 Q. In regard to these individuals?

14 A. Well, certainly, you know, in regard to, if I can put it

15 this way, our bomb maker in particular there was good

16 intelligence coming in. And by "good intelligence",

17 what I mean is when one had a look at it and looked at

18 the context of what was being said, you know, this was

19 valuable intelligence, this was detailed intelligence.

20 Q. (Redacted)

21 (redacted)?

22 A. (Redacted).

23 (redacted), but of course, if our targets were saying

24 things about that particular individual, then we were

25 deeply interested in that, and we were also interested





1 to see whether there was any opportunity of, at some

2 stage, bringing that individual, as it were, within the

3 purview of Operation George.

4 Q. I obviously don't want to name names, but would I be

5 right in suggesting to you that there were other

6 possible culprits for whom there was an equivalent or,

7 indeed, perhaps a greater quantity of intelligence than

8 the core suspects that were being looked at under

9 Operation George?

10 A. No, I think, you know, in terms of our bomb maker, the

11 intelligence was really quite consistent --

12 Q. I don't just mean him.

13 A. Could I deal with him first of all? I think, you

14 know -- (redacted)

15 (redacted) -- (redacted)

16 (redacted)

17 (redacted), if I can put it that way without going into too

18 much detail.

19 Now, staying with the bomb maker, if I can put it

20 this way, we did have intelligence that other Loyalist

21 bomb makers may have been involved and we had a look at

22 that. We did a considerable amount of research around

23 that from the point of view of trying to advance that.

24 So, you know, that pattern, I think, you know, I would

25 say, was replicated when we looked at those two





1 individuals as well. We had intelligence in respect of

2 them. Not only the early intelligence, but I think you

3 showed us a document (redacted) --

4 Q. Yes.

5 A. -- which in part corroborated that intelligence.

6 Q. But what I want to ask you is -- and, again, these are

7 my words -- there was a huge focus, a huge amount of

8 work, a huge amount of product on these core suspects.

9 Was any consideration given at any point to diverting or

10 creating resources to focus on other individuals?

11 A. Yes, we did look at other individuals.

12 Q. In terms of surveillance?

13 A. Oh, in terms of surveillance? I'm sorry, what I should

14 say is we did look at other individuals and we did

15 a good deal of work around other individuals.

16 But, I mean, in terms of the subject -- the

17 individual who was the subject of (redacted) that we

18 had a look at, we would say that we did undertake covert

19 surveillance on that individual. And I wouldn't want to

20 go into detail here, but you may know what I'm talking

21 about: it wasn't as all embracing as Operation George

22 because this was an individual who didn't move outside

23 the Northern Ireland environment. And I think I have

24 already explained the immense difficulties --

25 Q. This is what I wanted to ask you. Is it the case that,





1 had other individuals upon whom there was similar or

2 greater level of intelligence suggesting an involvement,

3 moved outside Northern Ireland, you would have attempted

4 to undertake covert operations in relation to those

5 individuals? Was that the operating factor in your

6 mind?

7 A. Yes, I mean, one would look at the basis of the

8 intelligence. One would look at the basis for the

9 assessment as to why that person should be regarded as

10 a subject of surveillance. But, for example, if the

11 party who was mentioned in (redacted), who wasn't

12 already under surveillance, had moved from

13 Northern Ireland and gone to, say, England, I'm

14 absolutely certain that we would have undertaken covert

15 surveillance on him because, you know, we tried at

16 different stages of the investigation to do just that

17 with this individual, even in the Northern Ireland

18 environment.

19 Q. So if I can help you perhaps to summarise your feeling,

20 there were -- again, you can feel free to disagree with

21 it -- a number of individuals who, if they had moved

22 from Northern Ireland, you would have given serious

23 consideration to applying the same level of surveillance

24 as you did to those who were the subject of Operation

25 George?





1 A. Yes. I mean, I wouldn't want to exaggerate it and say

2 that those were dozens and dozens of individuals, but

3 there were certain individuals who we had, and always

4 have had, a considerable interest in. And I think you

5 can see that from the amount of work that we did on the

6 account in respect of researching those individuals.

7 So if any of those small core of individuals had

8 decided to move outside the Northern Ireland environment

9 we would have seen that as an opportunity just in the

10 way that Operation George was an opportunity for us.

11 Q. We have touched on what you didn't get from Operation

12 George?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. I just want to explore with you very briefly one or two

15 aspects of what you were hearing as a result of your

16 operation.

17 Again, I'm being careful not to mention names. It

18 is right to say that certain individuals in the currency

19 of Operation George were perfectly happy to explain and

20 discuss to what may be described as strangers their

21 criminal activities?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. And not just to, as it were, in a weak moment disclose

24 a small aspect of something that they had done, but in

25 fact were quite clear and expansive, indeed could be





1 said were showing off, about the things that they had

2 got up to?

3 A. I wouldn't necessarily agree with the term "showing

4 off", but I take your point, yes --

5 Q. It didn't have to be dragged out of them?

6 A. No.

7 Q. I appreciate in an undercover operation that presents

8 its own difficulties?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. But they were able to discuss details of serious crimes.

11 Is it right that these individuals also expressed their

12 modus operandi, if you like, in terms of offences of

13 violence?

14 A. I'm not sure I understand the question.

15 Q. How they went about hurting and killing people?

16 A. I'm still not sure I understand what --

17 Q. You have seen and read the product from Operation

18 George?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. I'm asking you about the individuals.

21 A. Right.

22 Q. And what they have said amounts to criminal offences.

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. And what I'm asking you is they discussed, did they not,

25 the way in which they committed these offences, the





1 types of weapon used, for example?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Am I right in saying -- I may not be -- that the focus

4 by them really was on weapons other than under-vehicle

5 explosive devices and bombs?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Less sophisticated weaponry?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Is it also right that there was a degree of

10 incompetency, if you like, discussed by individuals in

11 the course of Operation George?

12 A. By the targets, you mean?

13 Q. By the targets.

14 A. It depends how you define that. It is very difficult

15 talking in broad terms --

16 Q. I will come to some particulars, but if --

17 A. I would feel much more comfortable if we were talking

18 particulars.

19 Q. Let me give you one or two examples to see if you recall

20 these.

21 A. Right.

22 Q. One of the individuals enticing a target to a house to

23 shoot him and the individual accidentally discharging

24 the weapon in the house, thus revealing his position?

25 A. Yes, I recollect that, yes.





1 Q. Another incident where an individual that was the

2 subject of Operation George taking a loaded pistol to

3 a funeral and accidentally discharging it in the

4 lavatory of a public house?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. And blaming it on another individual for leaving it

7 loaded?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Another example where one of the individuals was

10 a driver in an grenade attack. He delegates the tossing

11 of the grenade to another individual, but that

12 individual couldn't remove the pin and when he did throw

13 it he missed the target. Do you remember that?

14 A. Yes, I remember that.

15 Q. So those are just some examples. And what I want to ask

16 you about that obviously is this: at any time, did the

17 SMT sit down and think the flavour of these people, what

18 we are hearing in what seemed to be unrestrained

19 conversations, does not link in with the type of offence

20 that we are suspecting they carried out?

21 A. Of course, we considered that, you know. We were

22 looking at the product as the product was coming through

23 and making assessments, making judgments of who we were

24 looking at and who we were dealing with. But I mean,

25 forgive me -- and I know that you haven't done this





1 deliberately, but there is a certain amount of

2 selectivity there.

3 We have already said that Operation George was an

4 operation that continued between 18 months and two years

5 and, you know, mixed in with those suggestions of

6 incompetence were also admissions to some very, very

7 serious and well planned and well carried through crimes

8 of extreme violence.

9 Q. Anything approaching the similar scale to that of

10 Mrs Nelson's murder?

11 A. I think you have mentioned one there, with the grenade

12 attack. I mean the -- you know, this is a matter which

13 has been before the courts so I can talk a little bit

14 more freely, but the subject of that grenade attack was

15 actually a Sinn Fein councillor and the -- the subject

16 who acted incompetently, if I can put it that way, was

17 not our target. Our target actually, when his

18 accomplice failed to carry through what he was supposed

19 to do, he was the one who actually threw the grenade out

20 the window. As you say, he may have missed, but the

21 plan was that the window would be broken by the

22 accomplice, the grenade would go through. There were

23 people in that lounge, the lights were on in the lounge,

24 the television was on in the lounge, the family of that

25 individual were in the lounge. I cannot believe that





1 people would not have been seriously injured if not

2 killed once that Russian grenade went through the

3 window. Thankfully it didn't.

4 Q. Where would we find the discussions you mention you had

5 about the capabilities, if you like, of these

6 individuals?

7 A. You wouldn't find them recorded. We were having these

8 discussions as the senior management team, as the

9 investigation progressed, as we were looking at the

10 documents that were coming back from Operation George.

11 M540 and myself would have been having these discussions

12 with the Head of the Intelligence Cell. We might have

13 been having these discussions within the intelligence

14 coordinating minutes -- sorry, meetings. But it would

15 often be documented.

16 You know, these sort of discussions were going on

17 all the time. We were trying to make an assessment of

18 who it was that we were dealing because it was so

19 important to know who we were dealing with in order, as

20 it were, to maximise what we were doing. If we knew who

21 we were dealing with, we could get to a better stage of

22 achieving our strategy of bringing these (redacted) individuals

23 together.

24 So we had to have a good idea about what made these

25 people tick and what reliance we could place on what





1 they were saying. And as Operation George progressed,

2 and, you know, the -- perhaps the more verbose of the

3 targets, if I can put it that way, started to tell us

4 more and more and we started to work with that

5 intelligence, so it was that we found that much of what

6 he was saying we could actually corroborate and

7 corroborate to a point at which we were able to take

8 these matters before the court and prove beyond

9 a reasonable doubt that what that individual had said

10 was actually correct.

11 MR SAVILL: Could I call up RNI-610-048 (displayed) -- and,

12 again, I'm just going to show you this paragraph from

13 Mr Ayling's report to give you the opportunity to

14 comment. Highlight 10.13.3.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Would it be a convenient moment to have

16 a break actually?

17 MR SAVILL: I'm entirely in your hands. I was going to be

18 five more minutes, something like that.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: The stenographer has been working very, very

20 hard.

21 MR SAVILL: The assessment team, therefore, draws the

22 conclusion, based upon this evidence, that significantly

23 the tactics deployed within Operation George were

24 primarily used to confirm and not test the hypothesis

25 developed from intelligence received in March 1999.





1 I don't want to be adversarial about this with you,

2 but I think that perhaps encapsulates an opinion and

3 I just wanted to hear your answer to that, please.

4 A. I think it is the wrong opinion, sir. You know, I mean,

5 I would say that, but I think it is wrong.

6 I think the problem is that if we brought our two

7 subjects together -- can I put it this way: if our

8 strategy had been successful and we had brought our two

9 subjects together and they had had a conversation along

10 the lines of, "I simply don't know why there has been

11 newspaper reports or the suggestions on the streets that

12 we are involved in the Rosemary Nelson murder, it wasn't

13 us, we didn't do it, isn't this grossly unfair," then if

14 we had been confident that that was a valid

15 conversation, that they had no concerns that they were

16 being eavesdropped upon, then that would have led to

17 a radical reassessment of that surveillance of those

18 particular targets.

19 MR SAVILL: A positive denial, in other words?

20 THE CHAIRMAN: There was a refrain in these conversations

21 that the murder had been committed by an agent or

22 agencies of Government, wasn't there?

23 A. There was, sir. But, again, I would make the point that

24 our strategy was to bring the two individuals who were

25 the subject of that early intelligence together.





1 We were always careful that whatever the more

2 verbose of these individuals was saying to the

3 undercover officers, whilst there was a good degree of

4 corroboration about what he was saying, we knew that he

5 was not -- he was not presenting the full picture.

6 If I can put it this way, early on when he goes to

7 lodge with one of our targets in the South West of

8 England, he actually talks about the murder of

9 Mrs O'Neill in a way that distances himself from that

10 murder. So he wasn't -- he was always, we felt, careful

11 of who his audience was. And we thought that the best

12 opportunity of capturing a detailed, a frank and

13 a candid conversation about Mrs Nelson was when we

14 brought these two individuals together.

15 Q. I am afraid this is firing from the hip -- you will

16 forgive me -- because I do not have the reference to the

17 document, but is it not the case that there was a piece

18 of intelligence that involved the bomber reporting his,

19 the bomber's, disbelief, if I can use that word, that

20 the core suspects were involved?

21 A. I think you are quite right. I think there is some

22 intelligence to that effect.

23 Q. Because the core suspect had asked the bomber who had

24 done it?

25 A. Well, it is not as clear and unequivocal as that, I





1 think, if I'm thinking about the same sort of

2 intelligence that you are.

3 (Redacted)

4 (redacted)

5 (redacted)

6 (redacted)

7 (redacted)

8 (redacted)

9 (redacted)

10 (redacted).

11 Q. But one of the core suspects asking somebody else who

12 was responsible for Rosemary Nelson's murder?

13 A. No, who was responsible for the bomb.

14 Q. So it is for the bomb?

15 A. It is for the bomb, if we are talking about the same

16 intelligence.

17 Q. Or for the bomb? That's not inconsistent?

18 A. No, it isn't, sir, because we were fairly confident as

19 to who had made that bomb from the very early stage.

20 And then over time we get more and more and more

21 intelligence from multiple sources that confirmed that

22 we are looking in the right place as regards the bomb

23 maker. But that bomb maker, he was not part of the LVF

24 active service unit --

25 Q. No.





1 A. -- he made bombs for whoever was going to carry on the

2 Loyalist war.

3 Q. I have one minute left, because I have been looking at

4 my watch. Let me just ask you this from the question

5 from the Chairman, that the British Government was

6 responsible: What was the view of yourself and Mr Port

7 as to the explanation for that? How did you view that?

8 A. I mean, there were various discussions about what that

9 could be, what that could mean, whether that could

10 indicate some sense of collusion or who he was talking

11 about when he mentioned the British Government, whether,

12 you know, it could conceivably mean members of the

13 security forces, which would bring us back to some

14 earlier intelligence which I don't want to name, not in

15 this environment.

16 Q. Mr Port referred to it as a mantra, didn't he?

17 A. I was just going to say that point.

18 Q. A covert strategy?

19 A. Over time I think the senior management team, having

20 reviewed who we were dealing with, looking at the

21 product, looking at other material that surrounded this

22 operation, came to the view that this was, as Mr Port

23 said, a mantra, a fallback position for when (name redacted) was

24 talking to the undercover officers or to his, as he

25 thought it, the spoof members of the gang that -- you





1 know, this was his default position, it was the British

2 Government or the British forces who had killed

3 Mrs Nelson.

4 MR SAVILL: Thank you very much sorry. I'm sorry, but I'm

5 noticing that we are about to take an adjournment.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: A quarter of an hour break. That will be

7 just before midday.

8 (11.42 am)

9 (Short break)

10 (12.00 pm)


12 MR SAVILL: Before I move on, can I just try and conclude

13 with this comment or question: is it not a reasonable

14 inference to be drawn by an objective observer that the

15 persons you were focusing on in Operation George did not

16 make a comment about the murder of Rosemary Nelson

17 because they had in fact not had anything to do with

18 that?

19 A. That was a possibility.

20 Q. And how seriously did you consider that as

21 a possibility?

22 A. All I can say, sir, is that it was considered by us but,

23 quite frankly, until we had engineered the strategy that

24 I have already talked about, none of us felt confident

25 that we could make an absolute and valid assessment





1 about these people's involvement or non-involvement.

2 Q. Thank you. Is there anything further you wanted to say

3 before we broke about Operation George?

4 A. No, sir.

5 Q. Thank you. Now, I just want to move on to matters

6 really, I think, almost exclusively contained in your

7 third witness statement.

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. To begin with, when you arrived in Northern Ireland and

10 on the murder investigation, did you feel from the

11 Northern Irish officers you were encountering that there

12 was a feeling of any hostility or suspicion towards you

13 and Mr Port?

14 A. No.

15 Q. There wasn't a feeling, not necessarily on the Murder

16 Investigation Team but within other departments of the

17 RUC, that perhaps they themselves were being scrutinised

18 and examined in very close detail by officers from other

19 forces?

20 A. No, I think suspicion is too strong a word. I think

21 we -- well, speaking personally, I picked up on a sense

22 of caution, if I can put it that way, about who we were

23 and what our purpose was. I mean, on the face of, it

24 was perfectly obviously that we were there to

25 investigate the murder of Rosemary Nelson, but I think





1 the caution was how we were going to go about that

2 investigation.

3 Q. Because rightly or wrongly -- I don't want to get into

4 the historical detail -- there have been occasions prior

5 to your arrival of outsiders, if I can use that

6 expression, brought in to look at things that have been

7 going on within the police service in Northern Ireland?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. So did you feel that you were going to have to adopt

10 a cautious approach in order not to enhance that view?

11 A. I think from the sense that, you know, neither Mr Port

12 nor myself had operated in Northern Ireland before, we

13 were working with people who were absolutely unknown to

14 us, and that included obviously the SIO and M540.

15 So I think, you know, in the early days we were

16 trying to take some pretty rapid soundings as to the

17 people who were working around us and to the environment

18 that we were working in. But I wouldn't say that there

19 was any sense of feeling ourselves vulnerable, as it

20 were.

21 Q. Did Messrs M540 and Kinkaid speak to you, either

22 individually or with Mr Port, about the perceptions that

23 may have been encountered when you came to work in

24 Ireland?

25 A. No, not in any great detail. Not that I can remember.





1 I mean, there may have been passing comments about -- I

2 think it was widely known that I had come from the

3 Discipline and Complaints Department of GMP and I think

4 that was perceived in some quarters as perhaps sending

5 a message that was misinterpreted as to what I was doing

6 there as Mr Port's deputy. But other than that, it was,

7 you know, a casual aside or the odd comment. There

8 wasn't any sort of sit-down, detailed discussion about

9 is this going to be a problem or have we got a problem.

10 Q. No. They didn't say to you, "No offence, we appreciate

11 that you are from out of town, but actually we really

12 think you need to watch A, B and C as issues because in

13 our experience these are of the sorts of things that

14 could cause problems"?

15 A. No, not in that sense. We had early discussions about

16 the way in which Special Branch operated because,

17 I mean, it was alien to both Mr Port and myself.

18 Q. When you say "we had discussions", do you mean the --

19 A. The SMT, sorry.

20 Q. The SMT.

21 A. We were leaning heavily on Mr Kinkaid and M540, and

22 obviously, because of the early intelligence and because

23 of the way that we wanted to develop the intelligence,

24 it was bound to be that SB came up as a topic and how we

25 would interact with SB. And, you know, there were some





1 lessons that we had to learn very, very quickly there in

2 terms of different rules applying than would apply in

3 England.

4 Q. I hope to explore those in a little bit more detail.

5 Before I just call up a document, can we just be clear:

6 your involvement, as you understand it, was not because

7 you were at the time the Head of Complaints and

8 Discipline?

9 A. No, Mr Port made it clear he wanted me on the

10 investigation because of my experience as an SIO.

11 Q. Thank you. Could we call up RNI-831-083, please

12 (displayed)? Thank you. Can we highlight that? I

13 don't know if you are familiar with that? I hope you

14 are.

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. This is the specific terms of reference given to

17 Mr Colin Port.

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Could we have the next page, RNI-831-084, please

20 (displayed), and just look at number 6 and 7 there:

21 "You will have the fullest cooperation from the

22 Royal Ulster Constabulary in this matter."

23 Some may say that that's a statement, one might have

24 hoped, of the obvious. And 7:

25 "You will have unlimited access to all intelligence





1 and information available to, and all files held by, the

2 RUC."

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. So you were made aware of that very early, presumably,

5 by Mr Port. Did he give you a copy of the letter or did

6 he just tell you?

7 A. I considered this as part of the 28-day review. So very

8 early on into the investigation, a matter of a couple of

9 weeks, I would have been familiar with this document.

10 Q. And what did you actually -- and I'm referring to

11 paragraph 7 there. What did you actually understand

12 that to mean?

13 A. I think it is -- I took it as it is stated, really. It

14 seems a pretty plain and clear statement to me, that

15 Mr Port would have unlimited access to all intelligence.

16 Q. I think to be fair to you, in your statement -- I won't

17 take you to it -- you say you took that clause at face

18 value?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Was this the sort of term of reference that was very

21 unusual to you in your experience of other

22 investigations?

23 A. It was indeed, yes, because as an SIO predominantly in

24 Greater Manchester, I hadn't operated to terms of

25 reference prior to this. So my only experience of





1 working to terms of reference was when I had carried out

2 a long investigation for the CCRC.

3 Q. Did you, when you read that, or perhaps not at the

4 moment that you read it but subsequent to reading it,

5 think to yourself, "This is a good thing. This is going

6 to lead to good cooperation. This clears the way"? Or

7 did you say to yourself, "Maybe, upon reflection, this

8 is going to be a tricky issue, despite what's written

9 down in the letter"?

10 A. In terms of the terms of references as a whole?

11 Q. No, number 7.

12 A. Oh, number 7. No, I thought it was a good thing.

13 I thought in many respects it clarified the situation

14 beyond anybody's -- you know, beyond the issue of doubt.

15 Q. So you didn't say to yourself, "We will have to wait and

16 see about this"?

17 A. No, because, as I said, I took it at face value.

18 Q. Did you think it would have been correct or necessary or

19 fair to incorporate into number 7 a degree of relevancy

20 or need to know?

21 A. No, I think in many respects one would have reliance and

22 confidence on the officer in overall command to

23 determine what was relevant to his investigation. So I

24 think, you know, if one would try to introduce some

25 caveats into that, you could have got yourself into all





1 sorts of difficult areas.

2 Q. And you may not have considered it at the time -- and if

3 you didn't, please consider it now: did that clause,

4 number 7, as you read it, include implicitly access to

5 the identity of covert human intelligence sources?

6 A. Yes, I think we are all familiar with the extent to

7 which CHISs were used in Northern Ireland. So I took it

8 as read that that was all intelligence, as it is stated.

9 Q. You have mentioned that it would be Mr Port who would be

10 leading the assessment, as it were, in this regard?

11 A. The assessment of?

12 Q. Of this type of intelligence. You have talked about the

13 layered approach?

14 A. Yes, when I talk about the three structures or the three

15 layers, yes.

16 Q. Did you not consider that there was a risk inherent in

17 this that it might slow things down or hinder the

18 investigation? Mr Port would be tied up, as it were,

19 dealing with these sorts of issues and unable to

20 delegate them?

21 A. It was a quite obvious risk. I mean, there was a danger

22 in the system. I think I had said in my statement it

23 sort of broke the golden rule of murder investigations

24 that HOLMES would be the central repository for all

25 information and all material pertinent to that murder.





1 But, I mean, quite frankly, those were the terms

2 that were bartered, if one could put it this way, with

3 Mr Port. I don't think that there was anything else on

4 offer on the table at that time.

5 Q. We note at the bottom of the page, not a signature but

6 it is a letter from Mr Flanagan?

7 A. Yes.

8 MR SAVILL: Sir Ronnie Flanagan?

9 THE CHAIRMAN: There was no alternative because Mr Port was

10 the only person DV'd other than the detective inspector

11 in charge of the intelligence, isn't that right, in the

12 initial stages.

13 A. It is right, sir. But I would say this, that in Greater

14 Manchester, on a murder investigation, I have been privy

15 to sensitive material because I was security cleared.

16 But in Northern Ireland -- I make no observation about

17 this, it is probably perfectly proper that given that

18 they are dealing with national security issues, their

19 standard was that people had to be DV'd before they

20 could access sensitive material.

21 MR SAVILL: Sorry, I'm trying to remember what I was asking

22 you. Was it the case that in relation to this clause

23 that, again, at the risk of stating the obvious, you

24 were, though, very much in the hands of those providing,

25 or the owners of the intelligence because you were not





1 given any kind of overall access to their storage

2 systems? So at the end of the day you had to take their

3 word for what was given to you?

4 A. That's how it developed. I mean, I don't think when the

5 terms of reference were drafted and accepted, there was

6 an understanding of exactly how this matter would

7 unfold. But as it unfolded, that was the case, yes.

8 Q. I have just remembered a different question to that

9 which I was going to ask you, which concerned the

10 signature of Mr Flanagan and his name at the bottom of

11 the letter.

12 Did you discuss with Mr Port or within the SMT, as

13 it were, any kind of appeal process that might be

14 necessary in the conduct of the investigation; what you

15 would do, for example, if you suspected that information

16 was being withheld or matters were not proceeding?

17 A. No, we didn't discuss that. I mean, we would have dealt

18 with it on a case-by-case basis, I think. If we had

19 come across a situation where we thought that something

20 was being deliberately withheld or not made available to

21 us, then I have absolutely no doubt what would happen

22 next is that a report would have been made to Mr Port

23 and then Mr Port would have taken it up with the

24 Chief Constable. And I think, you know, there are

25 several precedents for that happening on the murder





1 investigation, and one can see how that was dealt with

2 by Mr Port at a very high level.

3 Q. When did you actually become developed vetted?

4 A. It was some time into 2004. I think it was around

5 about June 2004 that I was actually developed vetted,

6 but because of an administrative glitch I wasn't

7 informed that I was actually DV'd until I think it

8 was November 2000.

9 Q. So was it your understanding that that prevented you

10 until that point having the access that you received

11 after it?

12 A. Well, no, it is not as clear cut as that because I don't

13 think it was ever on offer that once I was DV'd then I

14 would have the same access, exclusive access, that was

15 being provided to Mr Port. It was just a question of --

16 you know, I probably would be able to see the material

17 that the Intelligence Cell DCI, who was DV'd, was seeing

18 at that time and being able to communicate at that level

19 with the Branch.

20 But I certainly think that in terms of the very

21 sensitive material and some material that was

22 source-specific, the exclusive arrangements with Mr Port

23 would have carried on beyond the time at which I was

24 DV'd.

25 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can we just clarify the evidence in





1 relation to dates there, please? We have got a 2004 and

2 a 2000.

3 MR SAVILL: Sorry, you are looking at the LiveNote?

4 THE CHAIRMAN: It is not the stenographer. I think it is

5 a slip of the tongue by the witness.

6 A. It was indeed. I meant 2000 that I was actually DV'd,

7 yes. I think I did say 2004. I apologise.


9 MR SAVILL: 2000. I'm sorry, just to be perfectly clear,

10 you were notified in June 2000 or you were DV'd

11 in June 2000, but you found out --

12 A. I actually found out that I had been DV'd in June 2000

13 but I didn't find out until November 2000.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: So you learned in November 2000 that you had

15 been DV'd in June?

16 A. That's right.

17 MR SAVILL: Thank you. As far as the attachment of -- and

18 you have got your cipher list there, I hope -- B567 as

19 a liaison officer, had you ever encountered that in your

20 experiences?

21 A. No, but I had no parallel experience back in Manchester

22 of this type of investigation.

23 Q. And as you understood it, was it a novelty in terms of

24 Northern Ireland?

25 A. I was led to believe so, yes, and nothing that I have





1 seen or heard since leads me to believe other.

2 Q. You have kindly helped me yesterday with some brief

3 snapshots of the personalities in the SMT. Could you do

4 that with B567?

5 A. He was clearly a very, very experienced Special Branch

6 officer. He was knowledgeable about his brief, careful,

7 as one would expect, a little bit reserved at first, I

8 think, which was to be understood. But as time

9 progressed, I thought our relationships, or the

10 relationship between he and I, grew and to a point at

11 which I thought I had quite a good relationship

12 with him.

13 Q. What actually did you understand his role or experience

14 his role to be?

15 A. Well, he was -- I understood his role to be that he was

16 the senior Special Branch officer for Lurgan and that he

17 managed the Lurgan Special Branch office.

18 Q. I'm sorry, my fault: within his role as a liaison

19 officer?

20 A. Oh, I'm sorry. Within his role as a liaison officer, he

21 was there to facilitate the murder investigation in

22 terms of resources, intelligence, material that we may

23 want from Special Branch.

24 Q. Did you consider that his role may have involved

25 a degree of supervision of the activities of the Murder





1 Investigation Team by Special Branch?

2 A. I don't think officially, no, but it would have been

3 unrealistic to have not expected that he was keeping

4 a watching brief, obviously, on what the murder team

5 were doing. I think that would have been common sense.

6 Q. Obviously we are calling him the liaison officer, but if

7 we, as it were, place the title to one side, would an

8 observer experienced in policing matters, looking at the

9 way that he behaved and the things that he did on

10 a day-to-day basis, have been under the impression that

11 for all intents and purposes, this was a person who was

12 part of the Murder Investigation Team, or his activities

13 suggested a different role?

14 A. No, I wouldn't like to overemphasise this. He had a, if

15 I can put it this way, a day job, but I mean, he was

16 present at the general morning conferences more often

17 than not where the MIT team were meeting to discuss the

18 general progress of the investigation. He was

19 invariably present at the strategic intelligence

20 meetings that we had on a Wednesday.

21 So he was active around the murder investigation,

22 but at the same time he was performing his normal duties

23 in respect of what he was tasked with doing in South

24 Region.

25 Q. And looking at your cipher list, what did you understand





1 B503's role to be?

2 A. He was part of the South Region command structure. So

3 his immediate line manager would have been B503 and

4 beyond that B629.

5 Q. You are talking about B567?

6 A. Sorry, yes.

7 Q. The line managers?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Turning to the relationship more generally between

10 yourself, the Murder Investigation Team and B567, would

11 you in hindsight describe it as a constructive and

12 helpful one on balance?

13 A. It seemed to me so, yes.

14 Q. Was there any time, any reason for you to doubt the

15 sincerity, if you like, of B567 in his efforts to assist

16 you?

17 A. No, no. In terms of his sincerity, no.

18 Q. And how did Special Branch become knowledgeable or be

19 briefed on the intelligence that you, the MIT, needed?

20 A. Well, I can't speak, obviously, for the other two

21 levels, if I can put it in that way.

22 Q. No, obviously.

23 A. No, I wasn't aware of what was happening at Mr Port's

24 level, nor the communication that was going to between

25 the Head of the Intelligence Cell and Special Branch.





1 But in respect of ourselves, we were meeting

2 formally through the Wednesday meetings, and more often

3 than not there was a range of issues that we were

4 bringing up at those Wednesday meetings, which in

5 respect -- if I can describe it this way -- were

6 basically demands -- I hope that's not impolite, but

7 were demands from us, the Murder Investigation Team, to

8 Special Branch by way of what we needed to advance the

9 investigation.

10 Q. Were those demands expressed in that way, so that

11 someone sitting in the meeting would hear you or

12 somebody else say to B567, "This is what we need," or

13 was B567 expected, as it were, to listen to what was

14 being said, to what was being discussed --

15 A. No, it was more of a discussion. You know, we would --

16 within the meeting -- discuss what it was we were trying

17 to achieve and then there would be an across the table

18 discussion about how that could be achieved or how it

19 might be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve some

20 of the things that we were discussing about.

21 So it was much more of a sense of a conversation and

22 feeling our way through. Some issues could be dealt

23 with relatively easily; others it was a case of, well,

24 I'm simply going to have to take this back to my line

25 manager to discuss.





1 Q. I appreciate that you can't comment on what others were

2 getting up to, but as far as you were concerned, did

3 Special Branch at any given time know what it was that

4 the lines of enquiry were that you were looking into?

5 A. Well, yes. I mean, they wouldn't have been too

6 interested in what I might term our traditional lines of

7 enquiry, so there would have been no great discussion

8 about things like house-to-house enquiries or the

9 forensic side of things. But certainly in terms of

10 intelligence gathering and that line of enquiry and then

11 subsequently Operation George, there were full and frank

12 discussions around those.

13 Q. Perhaps I can ask for RNI-817-373 to be called up

14 (displayed). This is paragraph 173 of your statement,

15 if that helps you. Top paragraph, please:

16 "SB had a hand in deciding what intelligence was

17 relevant to the murder enquiry, that. This was

18 a difficulty for us. SB was not best placed to decide

19 a 'relevancy', the SMT were. SB did not know all the

20 lines of enquiry we were pursuing. In Manchester I

21 would have expected to get all the available

22 intelligence from SB. I would then have decided on what

23 was and was not relevant to my investigation and, in

24 consultation with SB, we would then have decided how

25 best to manage that sensitive intelligence."





1 Perhaps I will hopefully come to relevancy in

2 a little while, but what I wanted to ask you there is

3 you say SB did not know all the lines of enquiry that

4 you were pursuing?

5 A. Yes, I probably should have been a little bit more

6 detailed in my statement. They certainly would have

7 been blind to all elements of our collusion

8 investigation. That would not have been a matter that

9 would have been under discussion at the Wednesday

10 meetings or, indeed, at any other meetings.

11 Q. Can I just interrupt you, I'm sorry. Strategic

12 intelligence meetings: those are the Wednesday meetings?

13 A. Yes, I'm sorry, the strategic intelligence meetings.

14 Q. Do go on.

15 A. That was a line of enquiry within the investigation that

16 I think I described yesterday as keeping extremely tight

17 and discreet. So, you know, they simply wouldn't have

18 known what we were doing around the collusion line of

19 enquiry. They may have been on the receiving end of

20 some requests for background material or intelligence or

21 assistance through the liaison with the Army

22 intelligence unit, but they simply wouldn't have known

23 who was the subject of those actions.

24 Q. Dangerous, do you think, that they didn't know?

25 A. No, I think it was essential that they didn't know,





1 quite frankly. Not only for their own -- you know their

2 own integrity.

3 It was not an arrangement exclusive to

4 Special Branch. There were many, many people within the

5 Murder Investigation Team as a whole who simply did not

6 know what we were doing on the collusion side of the

7 investigation.

8 Q. What about suspects? Would you say Special Branch in

9 your experience knew at any given time who the suspects

10 were, who they might also be?

11 A. Yes, they wouldn't have been aware of, as I say, any

12 suspects falling out of the collusion side of the

13 enquiry, but you know, they, quite frankly, were few and

14 far between and in the lower level, if I can put it that

15 way, in terms of what their reports came to be for the

16 investigation.

17 But certainly in terms of -- if one can describe

18 them as core suspects, they would have had a good

19 understanding of where we were looking and who we were

20 interested in. And, for example, we would have had

21 many, many discussions about the bomb maker and about

22 the people who were subject of the early intelligence

23 and other operatives or individuals within the LVF.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Special Branch had in fact provided you with

25 the initial intelligence that led to these people being





1 core suspects, hadn't they?

2 A. They had indeed, sir, yes.

3 MR SAVILL: How important was it in your experience to ask

4 the right question to phrase the right question to

5 Special Branch in order to receive the right response?

6 A. It came -- you know, I came to realise that it was

7 important to be precise when asking Special Branch for

8 assistance, but what I would say is that that happened

9 more often when one was corresponding with

10 Special Branch through documents or through reports.

11 One had to be, I found, crystal clear as to what it was

12 you were trying to achieve.

13 In the strategic intelligence meetings, of course,

14 we were able to have across the table discussions with

15 Branch officers. So, you know, there was much more

16 clarity around what it was we were asking them, what it

17 was we were seeking, the sort of clarity that simply

18 wasn't possible when one was corresponding with the

19 Branch.

20 Q. I don't mean this rudely, but you couldn't rely on them

21 to take on a request or a question and -- to use an

22 awful expression -- think outside the box, to think more

23 generally as to the purpose and to the themes that were

24 being enquired into as opposed to the precise question?

25 A. I think, you know, there was -- I wouldn't say that was





1 so across the board because what I did find was that

2 there was a -- you know, a mixed range of skills and

3 initiative on display within Special Branch.

4 We, on occasions, dealt with some extremely good

5 Special Branch officers who could, as you say, think

6 outside the box, use their own initiative and say, well,

7 they haven't exactly asked for this, but this is where I

8 think -- or I think this extra information that they

9 hadn't asked for may assist them. On other occasions,

10 you know, we got back exactly what we had asked for and

11 no more, even though afterwards we found there was

12 something more.

13 Q. And just returning to the hierarchy or the layered

14 system that you have referred us to, how effective do

15 you think it was in its operation?

16 A. I think it was as effective as we could make it, quite

17 frankly, because, you know, I talked about the

18 arrangement that was brokered with Mr Port. It really

19 was the only offer on the table at that particular

20 moment in time, as I understand it.

21 In terms of the Intelligence Cell, as we built the

22 Intelligence Cell up and got more accustomed to the way

23 that the RUC and, in particular, the RUC SB operated,

24 then we adapted the systems within the cell to

25 accommodate that. And certainly at my third level, if I





1 can put it that way, as time marched on and we got more

2 used to working with each other and more relaxed,

3 I guess, in each other's company, then the systems that

4 we had in place there seemed to improve with that

5 familiarity.

6 Q. In terms of volume of intelligence -- and as I'm sure we

7 all understand, there is a lot of it out there -- do you

8 accept that some sort of selection exercise had to be

9 undertaken by Special Branch independently to weed out

10 irrelevancy to prevent you, as it were, from drowning in

11 a surfeit of intelligence?

12 A. Some. It is difficult, isn't it, because where one

13 draws the line -- what's the definition of "some"?

14 I mean, it is so difficult because, you know, as the SIO

15 on a murder investigation, my approach would simply be,

16 you know, I would really like to see everything that

17 touches upon the subject which is under investigation,

18 and I really think that it should be me who determines

19 relevancy.

20 Q. Let me just read to you from paragraph 96 of your

21 statement where you say:

22 "Our position of course is that only the persons

23 leading the investigation could determine the question

24 of relevancy and we should have been given the

25 opportunity to consider this intelligence."





1 A. Yes.

2 Q. That's referring back in the statement.

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. You stand by that today?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. What do you say to the counter-argument that it is for

7 the owner of the intelligence to determine the

8 relevance, as opposed to, in this case, the SIO or you?

9 A. Well, I'm not unsympathetic to that. I think the

10 problem here is that we -- in a way, one has a clash of

11 objectives. We are trying to advance our murder

12 investigation and our argument would be that it is for

13 us to determine relevancy. Special Branch have

14 a different objective: that is to protect their source

15 material, to protect individuals who were providing

16 intelligence to them, and that's where their priority

17 lays. And to those ends, we would bring a different

18 approach to the dissemination of that material.

19 Q. Can we just re-highlight, if there is such an expression,

20 173. You say:

21 "SB was not best placed to decide on relevancy.

22 SB did not know all the lines of enquiry."

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. They didn't have CID backgrounds, did they?

25 A. In the main, no.





1 Q. So there may have been a different mindset?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. They also had a fundamentally different concern, if I

4 can put it this way, to yourselves. You wanted to catch

5 those responsible for Mrs Nelson's murder, but it would

6 be right to say, would it not, that they had a very,

7 very serious viewpoint of protection of sources?

8 A. Yes. I'm sure all the Special Branch officers that

9 I dealt with, you know, equally wanted the perpetrators

10 of Mrs Nelson's murder to be caught. But where I felt

11 that the points of tension came was when we wanted them

12 to do something or to provide something that ran counter

13 to their primary objectives, as they saw it, of source

14 protection and protecting individuals who were working

15 for them.

16 Q. Could we pull up RNI-817-303 (displayed) and highlight

17 the second half of the big paragraph four lines down,

18 beginning "I knew that."? Do you have that?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. "I knew that SB were operating at the national security

21 level and I had formed the clear view by this time that

22 SB officers saw 'source protection' as being a profound

23 individual responsibility as well as a department

24 priority. As vitally important as this objective was,

25 and I do not underestimate the consequences in the





1 Northern Ireland environment of an SB CHIS being

2 compromised, it came to seem to me over the first months

3 of this investigation that this objective was sometimes

4 used by SB to subordinate other considerations."

5 Expand on that last sentence, please?

6 A. Well, I think that what I was trying to get at here is

7 in our -- in my interaction with the Branch at this sort

8 of third tier when we are discussing how the

9 investigation could be advanced, what we might do, what

10 we might want to do, very often it seemed as though we

11 were hitting against what seemed to be a rock of SB

12 saying, "Well, you know, hold on, if you do this, this

13 could lead to source compromise". And it did seem to me

14 on occasions as though, you know, the risk of source

15 compromise was sometimes exaggerated to a point at which

16 I wondered whether it might not be used a little bit too

17 readily to explain away why things couldn't or shouldn't

18 be done.

19 Q. I hope I'm going to choose my words with care: are you

20 suggesting that the reaction of Special Branch was

21 a default reaction sometimes, rather than stopping and

22 thinking, "Actually, what's the way round this?"

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Could you explain to me what you mean by

24 a default reaction? Which I did not understand.

25 MR SAVILL: An automatic reaction.






2 A. I don't think it was an automatic reaction. I think

3 what it was was a case of where they set the bar in

4 terms of source protection was very, very high, and one

5 might say maybe they would because this is

6 Northern Ireland and look at the consequences if you

7 don't set that bar very, very high.

8 But on occasions, it was difficult to see why the

9 bar was so high in terms of what we were trying to do

10 and what we were trying to achieve.

11 MR SAVILL: What did you do to try and reassure those who

12 had these concerns that they were not necessarily

13 unfounded but that you were taking steps to address

14 them?

15 A. Yes. I mean, it wasn't only what I did, obviously. You

16 know, at the three levels that I talked about, this sort

17 of activity was going on in terms of trying to

18 constantly reassure SB that they could have confidence

19 in the investigation.

20 But, you know, there were some real, real

21 difficulties for the Branch and it revolved on many

22 occasions around the fact that here was a live murder

23 investigation where a mass of material was being

24 committed to HOLMES and preserved for posterity, that we

25 wanted to do all sorts of things that perhaps hadn't





1 been done in Northern Ireland by anybody else other than

2 Special Branch previously. And there was a risk in

3 that, of course, because you had outsiders operating on

4 your patch wanting to do things that you didn't

5 necessarily think that they could do and achieve.

6 And you know, I think also there was a sense of --

7 a sense of these are, if I can term it this way,

8 Special Branch's crown jewels. This is -- you know, we

9 have always had control over intelligence gathering

10 assets and once we lose control to an investigation

11 team, then what's to stop Sam Kinkaid or M540, the next

12 time that they are running an investigation, coming

13 along and say, "Look, you could do this for the

14 Rosemary Nelson investigation, why now can't you do it

15 for the next investigation that I am on?"

16 So there were a lot of things causing this anxiety.

17 Q. I was going to move on to that in a moment, but let's

18 just address it now.

19 That was a very real concern, do you think, that

20 there was a perception that the local officers might

21 have seen this as an opportunity to forge a path into

22 uncharted territory and quote it back at Special Branch

23 in other investigations?

24 A. I think if I can grade it, then source protection and

25 concerns about source protection was proportionately





1 considerably higher on their radar than concern about

2 setting precedents. But certainly there was

3 a feeling -- and I wouldn't like to put a percentage on

4 it, but there was a feeling that, you know, the position

5 as it was explained to me by more than one senior

6 Special Branch officer, is -- and one has to think back

7 to 1999. The peace process wasn't a done deal. There

8 were certainly grave concerns within Special Branch that

9 we could easily go back to a situation where, you know,

10 basically we are dealing with a terrorist war again.

11 And, you know, because of what this investigation may

12 have done -- and we have lost control of our --

13 exclusive control of our assets, methodology is being

14 compromised, sources are being compromised -- we would

15 be in a much, much more difficult position if we do

16 return to hostilities than if we, as it were, tried to

17 preserve the status quo.

18 Q. And looking back now -- I have to ask you this question,

19 I am afraid -- do you think that they, Special Branch,

20 got the balance right?

21 A. I mean, that is such a difficult question because of

22 course, you know, we know how the peace process has

23 gone.

24 Q. I mean in terms of this investigation.

25 A. No, you know, absolutely not, because I'm now aware of





1 new intelligence that I think there's absolutely no

2 reason, as an SIO, why I can see why I shouldn't have

3 had that intelligence.

4 Q. Well, we will deal with that in due course, but we have

5 touched already on the names of Mr Kinkaid and the

6 cipher M540?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. How was Mr Kinkaid, forgive me, perceived by

9 Special Branch?

10 A. I honestly don't know that I can answer that question.

11 All I can say is what I witnessed from the other end, as

12 it were. You know, in our witness meetings there seemed

13 to be a full and frank exchange of information and

14 views, and I guess Mr Kinkaid, being Mr Kinkaid, I can

15 remember on occasions would push SB or SB officers to do

16 things and encourage them to do things maybe that

17 initially they said, "No, we can't do this". So on

18 occasions he could be direct, as I'm sure you have seen

19 already.

20 Q. Just to quote two chunks from your statement, which

21 I won't take you to, you describe him as "no shrinking

22 violet"?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. And that he exercised what you describe as a "healthy

25 scepticism towards Special Branch"?





1 A. Yes.

2 Q. In fairness, I will go on to read:

3 "However, I was not aware of any personal animosity

4 between Superintendent Kinkaid and any senior SB

5 officers. Having said that, it was clear to me that

6 Superintendent Kinkaid was not on friendly terms with

7 any of the senior South Region SB officers and vice

8 versa"?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Now, you would probably say to me, would you, that you

11 didn't need to be on friendly terms with people to do

12 your job?

13 A. Absolutely.

14 Q. What was his relationship like with B629?

15 A. Professional, formal, it seemed to me. There was

16 certainly no warmth there.

17 Q. Did you feel at any time -- and obviously Mr Kinkaid has

18 given his evidence, but did you feel at any time that

19 the interaction between Mr Kinkaid and Special Branch

20 led to any inefficiencies in provision of intelligence?

21 A. I mean, I can only speak from our viewpoint, from the

22 MIT's viewpoint. I never perceived it to be so, no.

23 Q. And Mr Kinkaid never gave you that impression?

24 A. No, no.

25 Q. He never said anything along the lines of, "I'm sorry,





1 they have got a real problem with me"?

2 A. No, gosh, no.

3 Q. Mr Kinkaid, I think it is right to say, set out lists of

4 priority intelligence that he required at the outset --

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. -- from Special Branch. And I think I'm right in saying

7 this was a somewhat unusual course of action?

8 A. So I believed, yes.

9 Q. Did you think there was a lot to be said for reducing

10 things to writing, in list forms, to Special Branch;

11 that that was the best way to go about things?

12 A. I'm not sure that I could comment at that early stage.

13 I mean, I simply had no experience of dealing with RUC

14 Special Branch, so I'm not sure I could give a comment

15 about --

16 Q. Was any indication given to you as to the reaction from

17 Special Branch as to that approach?

18 A. No, not that I can recall.

19 Q. Turning to M540.

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Would it be right to say that he appears to have had

22 a somewhat different relationship with Special Branch

23 than Mr Kinkaid?

24 A. Certainly -- yes, certainly with B567, I would say --

25 yes, B567.





1 Q. How did that manifest itself?

2 A. Well, I just sensed that there was more -- more of a

3 relationship there, a little bit more warmth between

4 them, which I assumed came about because both men had

5 had long service within the same region.

6 Q. I think M540 has told us that he was able to perhaps

7 pursue lines with Special Branch more easily, to get

8 a little bit more detail, to find out a little bit more

9 information about something in a more relaxed, informal

10 way. Did you encounter that?

11 A. I think I assumed that. I mean, I didn't know it for

12 a fact, but both men were the same rank. As I say,

13 there was a certain rapport between the two and both

14 were practitioners and they had been operating on the

15 South Regions for some time. So it didn't surprise me

16 that there was that relationship that existed between

17 them that perhaps didn't exist between Mr Kinkaid and

18 other branch officers.

19 Q. Now, again, we are not going to mention his name, and he

20 doesn't have a cipher, but the officer who is the

21 detective chief inspector in charge of the Intelligence

22 Cell -- bring him to mind -- at paragraph 26, which is

23 at RNI-817-304 of your statement (displayed) -- could we

24 just highlight that -- if we look, well, five lines

25 down -- and obviously the name isn't ciphered, but it is





1 blanked:

2 "I soon realised, however, that DCI [blank] did not

3 have as good a working relationship with [B567] as we

4 would have liked. I think DCI [blank] was frustrated

5 sometimes by the lack of quick progress of enquiries he

6 routed through Special Branch and the bureaucracy he

7 associated with his requests for information."

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. So to begin with, just tell us how important and,

10 indeed, what was the interaction between B567 and the

11 Head of the Intelligence Cell?

12 A. Well, it would be difficult for me to talk about that in

13 detail because, of course, I have already explained that

14 level 2, if I can put it that way -- I wasn't intimately

15 involved with that. So my observations came around the

16 periphery, as it were -- I mean, it didn't seem to me to

17 have any effect on the workings of the Intelligence Cell

18 because, as you have explained to us before, you know,

19 you don't need warmth between colleagues in order to get

20 the job done. And I think what I was trying to get at

21 in my statement there is that, again, you had almost got

22 a clash of cultures here with a chief inspector who was

23 coming in from the National Crime Squad and SO 13 who

24 was used to getting things done much more quickly than

25 was happening in the environment of Northern Ireland,





1 when dealing with SB.

2 Q. Could we go over the page to RNI-817-305, please, and

3 highlight the top paragraph (displayed). This is

4 continuing the same theme. And reading the fifth line

5 up, the middle of:

6 "There were also worries ..."

7 Do you have that?

8 A. Yes, I do.

9 Q. "There were also worries about how the MIT's

10 Intelligence Cell managed the intelligence it was

11 accumulating. However, I got the impression that in

12 part this criticism of the workings of the Intelligence

13 Cell was fuelled by the cool relationship between DCI

14 [blank] and B567."

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. So did, in your opinion, this impact in any way, this

17 cool relationship, if I can use that expression, on the

18 flow of intelligence to the Murder Investigation Team?

19 A. No, I don't think -- I don't think it was because of

20 that relationship. I think what I was getting at there

21 is that during that meeting, I sensed there was a little

22 bit of point scoring, and the motivation for that was

23 personal rather than professional.

24 Q. And I don't want it to be called back up, but we looked

25 at the use of the word "bureaucracy" in your statement?





1 A. Yes.

2 Q. The detective chief inspector was frustrated perhaps.

3 Are you saying that in reality this was a meeting of

4 different minds and that one view might be that simply

5 Special Branch were doing the job that they had always

6 done and somebody from the outside was finding it

7 difficult to deal with that?

8 A. I don't think it was only a difference of minds; it was

9 a deference in the way in which we were operating, to

10 a certain extent a difference of objectives, you know,

11 in its broader sense almost a cultural difference.

12 But all of these differences were producing points

13 of tension that over time we overcame and managed. But

14 much of what I'm saying here are early assessments or

15 early descriptions of what was happening on the

16 investigation when we were interacting with the Branch.

17 Q. So this difficult relationship -- perhaps that is too

18 strong a word?

19 A. It is too strong a word, yes.

20 Q. The relationship between the detective chief inspector

21 and B567, that was an early issue?

22 A. Yes. I mean, I think that was an issue that didn't

23 really go away until the chief inspector left the

24 investigation after about a year. But, I mean, one has

25 to understand that this particular individual -- I mean,





1 I don't want to stereotype, but I mean, he was in

2 essence a dour Scotsman who was very, very focused and

3 not much given to sensitivity. So if he wanted to do

4 something, then he would drive it forward.

5 So it wasn't just a sense of -- looking at it in

6 a different way, maybe somebody with a little bit more

7 tact, a little bit more sensitivity might have had

8 a different or might have felt that there was

9 a different relationship.

10 Q. That's very helpful, and that's why I have asked you

11 sometimes to give pen pictures of people's characters.

12 So thank you for that.

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. You have mentioned that as time went on, the

15 relationship improved, I think?

16 A. Yes, indeed.

17 Q. I mean generally. If we call up RNI-817-311,

18 highlighting the paragraph with the large piece of black

19 in it (displayed):

20 "I began to have much more regular contact with the

21 SB officers as the investigation advanced. As time

22 progressed and we got to know each other, the atmosphere

23 of the meetings became more relaxed than the rather

24 formal affairs that they initially were. As

25 a consequence, the SB briefings began to be more





1 expansive than they have been earlier in the

2 investigation."

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. What I want to ask you about that is this: would it be

5 right to infer that not only were these meetings more

6 pleasant affairs, but that by inference you had not been

7 getting that which you should have been getting earlier

8 on by comparing the situation latterly?

9 A. No, I don't think that would be a fair assessment.

10 I mean, it is so difficult because, I mean, obviously I

11 don't know what was happening on the other side of the

12 table, as it were. You know, I simply have no idea

13 whether at its most sinister there was an agreement

14 between the SB officers that we are simply not going to

15 provide these people with anything and we are going to

16 be very, very formal and we are going to be very cool

17 with them, and/or -- and I suspect this was the case --

18 it was simply a matter of they didn't know who we were

19 and what we were going to do and how we were going to go

20 about doing what we wanted to do. And there was a sense

21 of, you know, until we see what sort of an animal we are

22 dealing with, perhaps we should be a little bit guarded

23 and a little bit cautious. And my instinct is that it

24 was much more that than anything sinister.

25 Q. If we could call up RNI-817-312, highlighting





1 paragraph 41, please (displayed). I appreciate I'm

2 plucking sentences from bigger paragraphs, but the last

3 sentence, which is four lines up, beginning with

4 "albeit". Do you have that?

5 A. I do.

6 Q. "Albeit, as relationships developed, provided what we

7 were seeking was not too sensitive, in order to speed up

8 the process we could sometimes make a direct approach to

9 [B567], either within or outside the Strategic

10 Intelligence Meetings."

11 So that's another example of the forming, if you

12 like, of the relationship?

13 A. Yes, and of course, you know, as the investigation

14 gathered speed, we were naturally making more and more

15 demands of SB. Therefore, in essence, it stands to

16 reason there was more contact with SB.

17 At that time, B567's office was on the same floor as

18 the SMT office and we often would bob into the office

19 and have personal conversations with him about what it

20 was we were looking for SB to provide us with and how

21 they might go about it. And that sort of personal

22 interaction was going on with all members of the SMT,

23 other than Mr Port, who, as I say, was operating at

24 a different level, and his interaction with the Branch

25 was at a much more senior level than that with which we





1 were dealing with.

2 Q. And were you provided informally by B567 or, indeed,

3 anybody else, with important intelligence?

4 A. No. I mean, if I have given that impression, it is

5 a misleading impression.

6 Q. I'm not suggesting you have.

7 A. Right. It was simply a question of we may have

8 discussed a particular issue at the Wednesday meeting,

9 say, you know, we really could do with some lifestyle on

10 a particular subject. And then having discussed that on

11 Wednesday, I might have gone into his office on Friday

12 to get a progress report on how we were doing with that.

13 But, I mean, there wouldn't have been any exchange

14 of important information because (a) that would have

15 been the wrong medium for it and it simply wouldn't have

16 happened, but you know, (b), the important information

17 wasn't, as it were, disseminated at that level.

18 Q. Would it be too -- I was going to say to clichéd, but

19 would it be too much for me to describe the

20 Special Branch and SMT as chalk and cheese?

21 A. I don't know that adds anything to what I have already

22 said. I'm sorry, I'm not being --

23 Q. What I'm asking is the way in which the murder

24 investigation was being conducted at a certain momentum,

25 a certain tempo?





1 A. That was very much out of kilter, I felt -- my personal

2 view -- with how the Branch operated.

3 I mean, we -- it is so important on a murder

4 investigation to build up a momentum and to keep that

5 momentum going, and the reasons for that are so obvious.

6 The longer an investigation goes on, then the more

7 likelihood there is of losing evidence, of evidence

8 being compromised or corrupted or simply lost.

9 So one needs -- you investigation has to be dynamic

10 and has to be moving forwards. And I sensed that this

11 jarred with the Branch ethos of a careful consideration

12 of tasks that they were undertaking and being more

13 methodical in their approach, because the consequences

14 of not being careful and methodical were just too awful

15 to contemplate.

16 Q. They were very much involved, though, weren't they?

17 I have, perhaps, given the impression we are talking about

18 the early stages of the murder investigation, but they

19 were very much involved with the product from Operation

20 George?

21 A. When I say involved in the strategic intelligence

22 meetings, there would be -- we would obviously share

23 information about what was coming out of Operation

24 George as related to our targets, although, as I have

25 already said, we never discussed collusion issues.





1 But if we thought that they could advance what we

2 were trying to do on Operation George or we thought that

3 a piece of intelligence or information had come out of

4 Operation George which could then be developed by

5 Special Branch, obviously on those Wednesday meetings we

6 were saying, "How can you advance this? How can you

7 flesh it out? He has mentioned here a particular

8 subject, can you give us some lifestyle on a particular

9 subject? Can you give us a profile?" That sort of

10 thing.

11 Q. If you had asked a member of Special Branch at the time

12 the operation was going on what their understanding was

13 of what covert deployments were, you would have got

14 a different answer than if you had asked Mr Port, namely

15 intelligence and evidence?

16 A. No, I'm not sure we would because, I mean, Operation

17 George was our operation, it wasn't a Special Branch

18 operation.

19 Q. I understand that, sorry.

20 A. There was a realisation that we were seeking evidence in

21 respect of Mrs Nelson's murder.

22 Q. Sorry, my fault I'm sure, but the way in which covert

23 operations and surveillance had been conducted

24 previously in Northern Ireland, in that context, was not

25 to gather evidence, was it?





1 A. Well, I'm probably the wrong person to comment on this,

2 but from my not particularly well informed perspective,

3 yes, it seemed to me that the motivation behind their

4 operations was to gather long-term intelligence and to

5 keep their assets in place over the long-term. And I

6 think, you know, this goes to the heart of something

7 that you said earlier; there were certain concerns about

8 not only HOLMES, but also about the disclosure rules

9 that would accompany any successful prosecution of

10 Mrs Nelson and what that might mean for the compromise

11 of covert methodology before the courts.

12 Q. Let's just call up one paragraph before we break for

13 lunch: RNI-817-320, paragraph 58 (displayed). I will

14 just read this in its entirety as quickly as I can:

15 "It seemed to me that within Special Branch there

16 was a lack of appreciation of how to convert

17 intelligence into evidence. In large measure, this was

18 because of the dearth of investigators in all

19 departments of SB, but it was also because, apart from

20 intercepting or thwarting crimes in action, this was

21 simply not a priority for SB.

22 "Looking back, I can see that the differing views

23 which sometimes existed between SB and ourselves came

24 out of this situation. SB tended to focus on what might

25 go wrong with our deployments, whilst we tended to focus





1 on how individual deployment might advance the

2 investigation. Consequently, we were asking SB to do

3 things that they had not done before and we were asking

4 them to do it at speed and that jarred with SB.

5 "I don't think any of this had a cataclysmic effect

6 on the murder investigation, but it did on occasion slow

7 down the process. However, I'm not aware of any

8 evidence that was lost or compromised as a result of

9 such delay."

10 A. Yes, the only thing I would add to that is that some of

11 this was written with ten years' experience of working

12 in Northern Ireland. Looking back --

13 Q. Your ten years?

14 A. Yes, my ten years. So some of this was written now with

15 hindsight.

16 Q. As far as being not unaware of any evidence that was

17 lost or compromised, presumably that is only a statement

18 that can be made in light of what you knew you had

19 been --

20 A. Yes, obviously, yes.

21 MR SAVILL: Sir, it has just gone 1 o'clock.

22 THE CHAIRMAN: Right, 2 o'clock.

23 (1.02 pm)

24 (The short adjournment)

25 (2.15 pm)





1 MR SAVILL: Thank you, Sir.

2 Mr Provoost, what role in the interaction between

3 the Murder Investigation Team and Special Branch did

4 B508 play?

5 A. B508 was the head of the RUC warrantry and our

6 interaction with him was obviously when we needed access

7 to authorities to undertake covert surveillance or

8 issues around the warrantries for such surveillance.

9 Q. Just forgive me for one moment. (Pause)

10 Could we just consider for a moment what I think you

11 referred to as shopping lists of tasks?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. An issue discussed at a meeting with Special Branch on

14 25 May was that they, Special Branch, wanted from you

15 something concrete, something in list form as to what

16 you were after. Do you remember that?

17 A. It was more particular than that; it was a list of

18 priorities that they were particularly seeking.

19 Q. And there was a degree of frustration, I think it is

20 right to say, from their end at your constant requests

21 for assistance and information?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Now, obviously there are two sides to every story.

24 A. Indeed.

25 Q. But would you say that they were justified in feeling





1 a degree of frustration?

2 A. I think their frustration came about because we were

3 making valid demands upon them, or we saw them as being

4 valid demands, but those demands were increasing very,

5 very quickly. And I think it is -- at times, they

6 simply felt overwhelmed. I mean, clearly we were

7 dealing with officers who were not particularly well

8 versed in murder investigations and I don't think

9 anybody could have been in an investigation as intense

10 and as demanding as this one was in the early months.

11 Q. Would it have been fair for them to have expressed

12 frustration that you were not providing priorities with

13 them and you were only really dealing in generalities?

14 A. I think they were certainly looking for some order of

15 priorities in terms of the many demands that we were

16 asking of them, what it was that we sensed were the most

17 important and then in descending order down to those

18 that presumably they felt could wait.

19 Q. If we call up RNI-817-306, please (displayed) and

20 highlight the big main paragraph, this is dealing with

21 the shopping list that was discussed at the meeting.

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. If we look nearly halfway down the page, there is a line

24 beginning "modality"; yes?

25 A. Halfway down?





1 Q. Yes, just under halfway down, "modality", left-hand side

2 of the page.

3 A. Yes, I have got it now.

4 Q. Further along the line, I'm reading:

5 "A murder investigation, especially in its early

6 stages, cannot work on the basis of identifying a series

7 of orderly and unchanging priorities and then delegating

8 control of those priorities to others whilst sitting

9 back and waiting patiently for those results to arrive.

10 I felt that SB were uncomfortable with the amount, the

11 range and the urgency of our demands. Looking back, it

12 was bound to introduce tensions between us because we

13 were engaged in a sprint and SB were running a marathon.

14 The SB ethos seemed to me to be one of careful,

15 methodical and considered approach to known tasks. That

16 approach was understandable, given that the consequences

17 of RUC SB making a mistake in their line of work could

18 be disastrous. But it was almost inevitable that such

19 an approach would jar with the persistent, time-loaded

20 demands from a dynamic murder investigation such as the

21 one that we were engaged in."

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. I'm just, in fairness, reading that through because I

24 think that encapsulates the position.

25 A. It does indeed. That was how I saw the situation at the





1 time.

2 Q. As far as resources for surveillance operations were

3 concerned, would it be flippant, as it were, for me to

4 say that you obviously realised that there weren't

5 unlimited resources?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. You were fully aware that Special Branch were not just

8 in existence to service your demands?

9 A. No, that's right. I mean, there were lots of

10 discussions, especially as we headed towards Drumcree,

11 which was a significant issue for South Region and made

12 many, many demands upon them. So I mean, there were --

13 it would be too -- too extreme to say protestations from

14 Special Branch, but there were reminders that they had

15 other demands upon their time and their resources.

16 Q. Did you not feel, though, or were you not given the

17 understanding that the way in which you were being

18 allowed to conduct this investigation -- I'm not going

19 to say you were given unlimited resources, but you

20 really were given a huge amount of support from the

21 Royal Ulster Constabulary to conduct the investigation,

22 were you not?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. Did you ever feel that perhaps that was a card that you

25 could play in order to trump, perhaps, the other demands





1 on Special Branch?

2 A. Not personally, no, because I didn't think it was my

3 card to play.

4 Q. Corporately then, if you like?

5 A. I don't think it was even corporately a card that we

6 could play. I think that was firmly a card in Mr Port's

7 hand, as it were. And I mean, I'm speaking for Mr Port

8 here -- obviously he may disagree with me, but I think

9 it was a question of really issues, you know: was the

10 issue so important to play that card or, if one could

11 put it this way, to result to the nuclear option, which

12 was refer it to the Chief Constable and referring back

13 to -- calling in, as it were, the demand -- the promise

14 that had been undertaken within the clause in the terms

15 of reference.

16 Q. That was what I was going to refer you to.

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Did, in fact, that ever become an exercised option, the

19 nuclear one?

20 A. I think on occasions we got very close to that but,

21 again, that was firmly in Mr Port's province and he

22 didn't discuss these matters with me. I think he felt

23 bound by the exclusive arrangements that had been

24 negotiated with Special Branch.

25 Q. Now, as far as B508 is concerned, you describe him in





1 your statement as someone who had -- or rather, I'm

2 sorry, I will be much fairer -- I'll quote it:

3 "I think that this gave B508 a gatekeeper mentality

4 where the Chief Constable was concerned."

5 A. Well, I think what I was referring to there was the

6 sense that I felt with that individual, which was, I

7 think, underscored by a comment which had been made by

8 a third party and reported back to me, that he felt that

9 his primary purpose was -- and the role that he was

10 fulfilling was to protect the Chief Constable.

11 Q. Let's call up RNI-817-316, can we, please (displayed) --

12 I'm trying to help you here -- highlighting paragraph

13 50, please. Just have a look at that.

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Is that what --

16 A. It is.

17 Q. So -- sorry, go on. I interrupted you.

18 A. The only thing I would add to that is it was quite clear

19 from dealings with B508 that he was extremely loyal to

20 the Chief Constable as well, and I think that played

21 into this sense that being loyal to the Chief Constable,

22 being there to protect the Chief Constable or, if one

23 could put it in the vernacular, watch his back, that

24 that gave him what seemed to me to be a gatekeeper

25 mentality.





1 Q. Did you ever try and go around the gatekeeper because of

2 his attitude?

3 A. No. I mean, that wasn't my function. I was still

4 operating at the third and, I would regard as being the

5 least significant layer of these three tiers of

6 interaction with Special Branch. So I simply don't know

7 what was happening on the two upper layers. But I had

8 very little dealings with B508 in actual fact in the

9 early months of the investigation.

10 Q. Now, gatekeeper mentality: would you say really that

11 that in essence was a direct result of him doing his

12 job?

13 A. Very much so, yes. I mean, obviously personality comes

14 into play as always, but I think it largely went to the

15 heart of what he saw his role as being.

16 Q. If we could call up RNI-817-317, the next page, please

17 (displayed). I suppose really, to be as fair as we can

18 to B508, the top paragraph, you say this:

19 "I didn't think DCS B508 was obstructive in his

20 dealings with the MIT. I'm aware that Mr Port had some

21 issues with him, which I presume he will deal with in

22 his own evidence to the Inquiry. However, I personally

23 did not find him obstructive. In fact, on many

24 occasions I'm sure that he gave us what he thought was

25 good advice and that he was sincere in his efforts to





1 help us try and achieve our desired objectives."

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. I'm just trying to give the whole picture, here. Moving

4 to a slightly different person, B542, did you have any

5 dealings with him yourself?

6 A. No, I didn't, no.

7 Q. And are you able to tell us anything of the dealings,

8 for example, Mr Port had with him, the relationship?

9 A. Very little, quite frankly, because after the 28-day

10 review, when I actually went to Lurgan to work within

11 the MIR, I was aware on occasions of this individual

12 visiting the major incident room. But, quite frankly,

13 he would open the door, ask for Mr Port, I would give

14 him directions to Mr Port and that's about as much

15 contact as I had with that individual.

16 Q. Thank you. Now, turning to the issue of an intelligence

17 file on Rosemary Nelson, you deal with that in your

18 statement?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Now, could we just call up RNI-817-328, please

21 (displayed), and highlight the top paragraph? Again,

22 you will excuse me, I'm not calling up the beginning of

23 the paragraph -- we can if we need to, but just -- I'm

24 going to read the last sentence:

25 "Whilst I consider much of the material that I saw





1 ..."

2 This is about Mrs Nelson:

3 "... to be low grade information or of questionable

4 intelligence value, it is difficult to draw any

5 conclusion other than that this represented an

6 electronic intelligence file held on Rosemary Nelson."

7 A. In my opinion, yes.

8 Q. Yes. Thank you, because I was going to say to you why

9 do you say that there was, in your opinion, an

10 intelligence file in existence in electronic form on

11 Mrs Nelson?

12 A. Basically because of what I was seeing. Just the

13 preamble to this is that I had been given access by this

14 time to MACER and specific access to intelligence held

15 on MACER in respect of Mrs Nelson. It was collected

16 together, as it were, sequentially all on one tranche of

17 material and there was a Special Branch unit number,

18 which was referenced to Mrs Nelson.

19 Now, obviously I had to seek guidance on what this

20 meant by -- you know, from contemporary Special Branch

21 officers, but once it was explained to me that this was

22 indeed a unique reference number and that it had been

23 given to this individual in 1994 and that intelligence

24 thereafter or information, albeit low grade information

25 in some parts, had been collected under this reference





1 number, which was -- which could then be called back by

2 accessing this reference number, it just seemed to me

3 that this was another word for an intelligence file.

4 Q. And for the Luddites amongst us, including myself, to

5 use the example of a hard copy system, what I think you

6 are saying is that the electronic system represented

7 a filing cabinet in which there would have been a folder

8 with Mrs Nelson's number on it?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. And these pieces of intelligence were in a folder and

11 were kept in that way?

12 A. Yes. And, indeed, the advice given to me was that, but

13 for the introduction of MACER and these files being

14 computerised, then the information that was held on

15 Mrs Nelson would have migrated to a hard copy or a paper

16 file shortly after 1994.

17 Q. Thank you. Could we call up RNI-817-331, please

18 (displayed)? Bottom paragraph highlighted, please:

19 "It concerns me greatly that Mr Port, as the OIOC

20 and in accordance with his Terms of Reference, asked SB

21 and, I believe, the Security Services, whether or not

22 there were any intelligence files held on Mrs Nelson and

23 was told that no such files existed."

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So we understand this, the question was put?





1 A. It was indeed. You know, I have checked this a couple

2 of times with Mr Port, not least following that

3 disclosure, and he confirmed that he had indeed asked

4 those questions of both SB and the security services.

5 Q. So, as I say, we understand the position, you would say

6 that that question should have been answered in the

7 affirmative?

8 A. In my opinion, yes. On the basis of what I was seeing

9 on MACER, I don't see how it could not have been

10 answered in the affirmative.

11 Q. We come back to perhaps a point I made some time ago

12 about asking the right question. Do you think there

13 would be any mileage, as it were, in someone who had

14 answered that question saying to you, "You didn't

15 specify a file"?

16 A. No --

17 Q. You were perfectly clear, were you, in what you were

18 asking for?

19 A. I think that would be disingenuous, quite frankly.

20 Q. I'm not suggesting anybody said that.

21 A. No. Hypothetically, if that question was posed -- if

22 one looks at it in its literal sense, there were --

23 there was the genesis of an intelligence file back in

24 1994, which was represented by something which was

25 termed the slip index file.





1 Q. Just explain that.

2 A. I'll explain it in terms of what it was explained to me,

3 and that was on taking advice on this from

4 a Special Branch officer in 2007, as far as he could

5 recollect, a subject who was attracting intelligence

6 would attract three slip index files, and on the fourth

7 slip index file, or if there was intelligence in the

8 system that would merit a fourth index file --

9 Q. Just explain the slip index, sorry.

10 A. I'm not sure if I can. It is just a piece of

11 intelligence, a piece of information. It could even be,

12 as it was explained to me, open source reporting. So it

13 could be something that you read in a newspaper about

14 a particular subject and then report back in a report

15 form to be indexed on a slip index.

16 I imagined it was something like a card index with

17 some sort of intelligence or information written on to

18 it. After four of those slip indexes, or three and one

19 in the system, then one would migrate to a paper file

20 and, you know, certainly talking to the SB officer,

21 that's what he seemed to regard as being an intelligence

22 file, the actual migration to the paper file.

23 I think one could have a debate about that, of

24 course, because preceding that would be four pieces of

25 intelligence held together still on the listed unique





1 Special Branch number.

2 Q. Yes. So it wasn't a matter of asking the wrong

3 question; you had asked for a file -- had you asked for

4 intelligence on Mrs Nelson?

5 A. Sorry, I had never asked for it. Mr Port had

6 exclusively asked for intelligence. But I think --

7 well, it is probably wrong of me to put words in his

8 mouth, but I think it was wider than --

9 Q. We can ask him, but I just wanted to get your

10 understanding of that.

11 Before we move on from this topic, what was the

12 significance of you not being shown the intelligence

13 file? What difference would it have made, in your view?

14 A. I think it goes back to something that we were talking

15 about earlier on. It goes back to the issue of

16 relevancy, and given that we were conducting a murder

17 investigation and a subject of that file was our victim,

18 then I think the SIO or the officer in overall command

19 should have had access to that file.

20 As I looked at it, as I say, I saw some pretty low

21 grade stuff that wouldn't have made any difference to

22 the murder investigation, but also there was usable

23 intelligence on there.

24 Q. You might have wanted to know how long she'd been of

25 interest to Special Branch, if indeed she had been?





1 A. I mean, questions like how long she had been of

2 interest, and I assume that there was, since 1994 when

3 the first slip index was generated, but also, you know,

4 what the objective was in gathering that intelligence,

5 who managed it --

6 Q. Who had access to it?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Those sorts of questions?

9 A. Yes, because of course, you know, there was a collusion

10 element to our investigation as well. So it seemed to

11 me that that had obvious implications for our collusion

12 investigation.

13 Q. And just before I move on, when was it in time that you

14 reached the conclusion that there was this intelligence

15 file?

16 A. Well, pretty much -- I suppose, proof positive was when

17 I sat down in front of MACER and saw the material so

18 documented.

19 But prior to that, I had had a very strong hint

20 because the superintendent from the PSNI who was

21 assisting me with this work and doing research for me on

22 what I saw turned on some MACER documents as things like

23 the Rosemary Nelson composite file or the RN composite

24 file and the South Region notational folder, which

25 didn't mean anything to me and didn't mean anything to





1 Mr Port, because I'd checked with him.

2 So I tasked the superintendent with finding out what

3 these references were to, and after a considerable

4 period of time and research and, I have to say, hard

5 work on his part he came back and said, look -- he gave

6 me an explanation for the meanings of these various

7 folders which persuaded me that, certainly in the main,

8 they were quite innocent. But apart from one, which was

9 the South Region notational folder, which seemed to hold

10 some pre-murder intelligence, and I think that was the

11 first inkling that I had that there was certainly some

12 intelligence gathering prior to Mrs Nelson's murder.

13 I mean, one would expect it after the murder. I think

14 that's an obvious statement.

15 Q. But when was this, I'm sorry? You have talked about

16 ongoing enquiries --

17 A. Goodness me ...

18 Q. Just roughly. Month and year?

19 A. I mean, this work started in early 2007 and

20 progressed -- probably by July 2007 I would have been

21 having those discussions with the PSNI superintendent,

22 where he was first saying, "Look, in the course of this

23 research, I'm beginning to find pre-murder intelligence

24 on Rosemary Nelson".

25 Q. Thank you. Now, moving on to the issue of missing





1 intelligence, if I can call it that, that you have

2 helpfully tabulated in your witness statement under two

3 headings, how much of that was contained in this file

4 that you have been telling us about?

5 A. I think there was certainly one document that was

6 contained in it. It would be very difficult to break it

7 down there. It is a bit of a memory test to know

8 exactly what, but I recollect there was certainly one

9 document that was of significance.

10 Q. Now, I'm not going to take you through each of these

11 documents because in your statement you helpfully, as

12 you say -- and I'll give people the page reference: it

13 is RNI-817-334 (displayed) -- list the 13 documents that

14 you hadn't seen, and you state that you feel they are of

15 significance and you give in a separate column the

16 significance of the intelligence to the investigation?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. It is page 40 of your statement, as I say, RNI-817-334.

19 I'm not going to go through each one with you, but can

20 I ask you immediately: what is your feeling or your

21 knowledge as to why it was you were not shown this

22 information?

23 A. I simply don't know. I mean, I could speculate but it

24 would only be speculation.

25 Q. Probably not a good idea.





1 A. No.

2 Q. But obviously one can draw inferences from information.

3 Are you even able to do that?

4 A. Only this: that this seemed to me that a lot of the

5 information, which I would regard as under the title of

6 new intelligence, (redacted)

7 (redacted)

8 (redacted).

9 Q. So that's, as I say, the borderline of inference and

10 speculation?

11 A. Absolutely. As vague as that, I am afraid.

12 Q. Have you in fact made any enquiries of Special Branch as

13 to the reasons why this wasn't disseminated to you?

14 A. Yes, I have, but I have received an unsatisfactory

15 reply. I mean, I think the people who tried to give me

16 explanations are quite sincere in trying to help explain

17 this, but they have just found it impossible to explain

18 and have not been able to really get to the bottom of

19 why the intelligence wasn't passed on. And, of course,

20 there are now so few people operating within

21 Special Branch who were operating in 1999/2000, and

22 a lack of historical records from that period as well, I

23 think, has further compounded the difficulties.

24 Q. What, if anything, did this new intelligence, the items

25 that we are talking about and also the ones that you





1 discovered as a result of Mr Ayling's work -- did that

2 supply above and beyond that which you already were

3 aware of?

4 A. Well, in terms of -- if I can confine myself to the new

5 intelligence first of all --

6 Q. Yes.

7 A. -- first of all that I discovered, or with the

8 assistance of the superintendent from the PSNI. I mean,

9 some of that intelligence was so significant in terms of

10 what -- in the way in which it might have allowed us to

11 develop.

12 What I should say is that there was -- you know,

13 there was no intelligence there which would represent,

14 if one can put it this way, a smoking gun. There was

15 nothing there to say, "I have overheard a conversation

16 where somebody confessed to the murder" or "If you go to

17 such and such an address, you will find the fourth

18 magnet from a gas cutter rail, the other three of which

19 were used on the device". So there was --

20 Q. I understand.

21 A. So in terms of that, there was nothing that we were

22 going to lose, in terms of the loss of evidence or the

23 compromise of evidence, by not getting this intelligence

24 in approximate manner. But I think the great sadness of

25 it is that it might have allowed us to do things that we





1 weren't able to do in order to develop that intelligence

2 and work up that intelligence and hopefully convert it

3 ultimately into evidence.

4 Q. So would it be incorrect of me to suggest that this

5 intelligence really didn't add very much other than

6 corroborating intelligence and conclusions that you

7 already had?

8 A. In my opinion it gave very powerful corroboration of the

9 intelligence that we already had and it could have, in

10 some instances, presented us with new opportunities to

11 develop the intelligence.

12 Q. Well, I said I wasn't going to take you through each

13 one, but in fairness to you, you have got your file in

14 front of you with your statement in it, I hope?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. RNI-817-334 is where you start your table (displayed).

17 Perhaps it would be helpful if I asked you just to take

18 a moment and pick a piece of intelligence in the table

19 and use it as a working example for us to first of all

20 show which piece was particularly significant and how,

21 as you say, it might have been developed, what you would

22 have done with it?

23 A. So you just want an example?

24 Q. Yes, please. You are better placed than I, I suspect,

25 to choose it.





1 A. I don't think I need to refer to the table. There is

2 one that sticks in my mind and that is -- it relates to

3 a claim of responsibility (redacted)

4 (redacted) using a telephone box. Had we had that

5 intelligence proximate to when it was received by the

6 RUC, then I can think of a number of things we would

7 have wanted to do, not the least being cell sight

8 analysis (redacted)

9 (redacted); perhaps

10 a telephone analysis (redacted)

11 (redacted)

12 (redacted)

13 (redacted)

14 (redacted).

15 There would have been, if we could have identified

16 the telephone box, forensic opportunities. And in

17 identifying the telephone box, I have no doubt that we

18 would have wanted (redacted)

19 (redacted), to

20 identify specifically which telephone box it was.

21 So, you know, there were a number -- just off the

22 top of my head -- that would come to me that would allow

23 us to develop the intelligence.

24 Q. Yes. Thank you. Now, moving on to Operation Shubr.

25 Rather than dealing with intelligence individually, that





1 was an operation -- well, you are now aware -- that had

2 been running against certain core suspects from the

3 beginning of 1998 through to 1999?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And you, I think, have told us in your statement that it

6 was not until very recently, February 2008, that you

7 were aware of that operation?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. As far as you are concerned, I just want to look at the

10 degrees of light and shade to this. You are

11 categorically stating that you knew nothing of this

12 operation name or, indeed, the substance of this

13 operation?

14 A. No, nothing.

15 Q. So there couldn't be any doubt, somebody saying, "We

16 didn't call it that, but you must have known because we

17 mentioned that we were looking at certain people"?

18 A. No, I mean, it stands to reason, it seems to me, that we

19 would have been very interested in any surveillance

20 operation that related to our targets. And, again,

21 through that surveillance operation, we could have seen

22 opportunities to have advanced the investigation.

23 So we would not only have wanted to know what was

24 being recorded in respect of that operation, but how we

25 might use it, how we might, if I can put it this way,





1 piggy-back on it to advance the investigation or

2 investigative opportunity.

3 Q. And it couldn't be the case that you were confused in

4 some way that you had seen some surveillance logs of

5 these characters and are not able now to put the two

6 together and realise that that was Operation Shubr? You

7 were unaware that they were the subject of surveillance?

8 A. No, I had seen surveillance logs at Special Branch, but

9 not on those targets.

10 Q. Not on the targets who were the subject of

11 Operation Shubr?

12 A. Yes.

13 MR SAVILL: Thank you.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Before you leave Operation Shubr, surely if

15 you had been informed of Operation Shubr, that there was

16 ongoing physical surveillance of two suspects, you could

17 have specifically tasked that surveillance operation to

18 look out for certain specific associates of those two

19 suspects?

20 A. Yes, that would have been one of the several things, I

21 think, that we would have been looking to achieve.

22 THE CHAIRMAN: And really it was for the MIT or the SMT of

23 the MIT to give of tasking indirectly through

24 Special Branch to the surveillance teams observing these

25 two suspects?





1 A. Yes, yes, sir. I wouldn't have been aware obviously of

2 what the Special Branch objectives were behind Shubr,

3 but we would certainly have wanted to employ that

4 surveillance operation to our own ends and to give them

5 some fixed objectives as to what we wanted to achieve.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

7 MR SAVILL: Operation Indus.

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Again, a separate operation that concerned a property?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. And surveillance of the same. You were not aware of

12 that either?

13 A. No.

14 Q. When did you become aware of that?

15 A. Basically when the Inquiry was --

16 Q. I was meaning the time?

17 A. Sorry, it would be certainly not before

18 2007, April 2007.

19 Q. And, again, very briefly, as you have helpfully done in

20 relation to Shubr, why would you have wanted to know

21 about that?

22 A. I must say Indus would have been of less significance to

23 us than Shubr, I think for the reasons that we were

24 very, very interested in the targets of Operation Shubr.

25 But Indus still -- I mean, it related to -- the subject





1 was, as I understand it -- or let's put it this way, on

2 the periphery of that operation was our victim and one

3 simply doesn't know what would have emerged or captured

4 through that operation that might have been of relevance

5 to the murder investigation itself.

6 So if there had been a surveillance branch to that

7 particular operation, you know, we would have been

8 interested in looking at the surveillance logs to see

9 whether there was any indication from there of whether

10 any of our targets vehicles had been spotted in the

11 locality, or in any way -- in the vicinity of Mrs Nelson

12 or Mrs Nelson's vehicle. It would have been those sorts

13 of things that we would have been interested in.

14 Q. Yes. Moving on again to an operation that was taking

15 place the night before Mrs Nelson's death, just briefly.

16 Again, you, I think, yourself, personally, carried out

17 in-depth enquiries into that?

18 A. On Mr Port's instructions, yes.

19 Q. Yes, certainly. There were issues involving

20 forensically examining vehicles that had been used and

21 obviously, for want of a better expression, checking the

22 accounts given by Special Branch officers?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. How deeply did the activities -- I don't mean you

25 personally -- of yourself on behalf of the MIT cut with





1 the Special Branch officers concerned and, indeed, their

2 superiors, the fact that you did this?

3 A. I couldn't really speak for the SB officers. I mean,

4 they were interviewed very shortly after the actual

5 operation by M540 and a Kent officer. I didn't really

6 have any dealings with them. I reviewed their role in

7 the operation through their statements and through their

8 logs.

9 My interaction in respect of that particular

10 operation was more with the Head of South Region

11 Special Branch and S567.

12 Q. Perhaps I can call up RNI-817-350 (displayed). This is

13 your statement again. Operation Fagotto, highlighting

14 the top paragraph four lines down, towards the end:

15 "The decision taken ..."

16 Do you see that?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. "... by Mr Port, and supported by myself, to undertake

19 forensic examination of the vehicle was something that

20 cut very deep with SB. I say this because the issue

21 never really went away as far as SB were concerned. It

22 was a rubbing point for them and they would refer back

23 to it when other areas of tension arose between us."

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So it cut very deep?





1 A. That was my assessment, yes.

2 Q. Do you think that your activities in relation to

3 Operation Fagotto caused any lack of cooperation by

4 Special Branch?

5 A. No, I don't think that at all. I think it was just

6 a sense that there was a certain amount of resentment,

7 as they saw it, that they and their officers were simply

8 doing their job and were now being made accountable for,

9 as they saw it, simply doing their job.

10 Q. Because in the last sentence of the page:

11 "In the first eighteen months of the investigation,

12 I felt as if these issues and issues like them were

13 being sorted, grated and stored ..."

14 I think that should be "graded":

15 "... and stored for later use by SB as evidence that

16 they were the real focus of our investigation."

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. So although you would say noses were very much put out

19 of joint, you don't think it actually affected --

20 A. No, I mean, there are a number of issues bubbling away

21 all around about the same time. There was the

22 examination of the Fagotto cars and then a little bit

23 later on, Mr Port want access to Loyalist CHISs from

24 certain groups.

25 Q. I'm about to move on to that.





1 A. Then there was another issue with some telephone traffic

2 between (redacted). So these

3 issues rumbled around, and there was certainly, I felt,

4 always a hierarchy to these issues.

5 The examination of the Fagotto car, I felt, really

6 cut extremely deep with the Special Branch and then

7 below that the access to the SB CHISs and then the

8 (redacted) episode, if I can put it

9 that way. So I always felt there was a definite

10 hierarchy to those things. And on occasions, these

11 would be tripped out to more or less question what the

12 investigation was about. You know, was it wholly

13 a murder investigation or was -- were we trying to

14 unearth collusion in respect of SB being involved in any

15 collusive activity?

16 Q. Isn't the answer to that question not, "Yes, we were

17 trying to uncover collusion by Special Branch but, yes,

18 we are looking for evidence of collusion"?

19 A. Absolutely, but I think SB felt a little bit -- they

20 felt vulnerable and felt that they were under the

21 microscope and misinterpreted what we were trying to do

22 with some of these enquiries. We were running to ground

23 viable lines of enquiry to a point at which we could

24 satisfy ourselves that they simply had nothing to say

25 about Mrs Nelson's murder, or they had and they had to





1 be taken further. And I think on occasions this put the

2 Branch on the back foot because they -- because it was

3 things like Fagotto and because it was access to the

4 CHISs and those sorts of things, they felt somehow as if

5 they were the subject of these enquiries that we were

6 making and that they were the focus for our

7 investigation. It wasn't; it was the issues themselves.

8 MR SAVILL: I think there is a question from a Panel member.

9 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Yes, I was actually going to stand

10 it on its head, as it were.

11 It seemed to me, and I think, listening to senior

12 officers who have already told us about Operation

13 Fagotto, that although there was that sort of feeling of

14 angst, eventually everybody did understand the reasons

15 why it was done. Reading your statement, it looks to me

16 as though it is a reasonable example of proactive

17 investigation of possible collusion, if only to

18 eliminate it as a possibility.

19 A. Yes, absolutely.

20 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: And my question is: did you in fact

21 take that activity as far as you properly should have

22 done? You do a lot of proactive work, it is very clear

23 from your statement. So far as Special Branch is

24 concerned, you only did activity in response to

25 particular things that caused you to do it. Was there





1 scope actually for doing more, if only to eliminate the

2 possibility?

3 A. Yes. I understand the question. I think our feeling

4 was that we were following the evidence and we were

5 following the intelligence and following the leads and

6 we went where they took us. And I don't think that we

7 felt that it would have been productive, in terms of

8 advancing our murder investigation, to have undertaken

9 speculative actions in respect of South Region

10 Special Branch on the basis of could there have been

11 collusive activity by Branch officers or individuals

12 within the Branch. It was rather we were reactive in

13 many respects, rather than proactive.

14 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: But you did, for example, check very

15 carefully on the whereabouts of officers who were on

16 duty over the relevant period. In the case of

17 Special Branch officers, might it have been a perfectly

18 defensible thing to do the checks on telephone traffic

19 that they feared you were doing?

20 A. There were some checks, ma'am. In terms of Operation

21 Fagotto, there was some examination of officers'

22 telephones around that operation, but from the point of

23 view of undertaking, shall we say, speculative action on

24 the basis of we have no information, we have no evidence

25 of a particular's involvement, but let's just run this





1 through in case there might be some involvement or there

2 could be, or in order to eliminate the possibility that

3 there may have been, my answer would be: no, we never

4 undertook that and it was a judgment call. But I think

5 we got the -- I think we got the balance right.

6 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Okay. So in the end it was a matter

7 of judgment about whether it would do more harm than

8 good?

9 A. No. I think, in fairness, if there had been any

10 evidence or any information that had caused us to

11 believe a Special Branch officer had been involved in

12 Mrs Nelson's murder, or some way associated with the

13 murder, then we would have followed that through to

14 a natural conclusion. But I don't think -- we weren't

15 prepared to assume that that may have happened and

16 follow through a hypothesis on the basis that it could

17 have happened and see where that would take us.

18 I think we would have thought that that was a step

19 too far in respect of our investigation.


21 MR SAVILL: Thank you. You touched on it a moment ago,

22 I just want to ask you a broad question about the

23 request by Mr Port for CHIS identities.

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Do you think that he handled that in a sensitive and





1 productive way when he issued a deadline of noon on

2 18 August for a response?

3 A. Well, I mean, Mr Port obviously can speak for himself

4 and he is more than able to do that, but I think the

5 build-up to that, as far as I saw it, was that there was

6 an element of frustration, in as much as that I think by

7 this stage Mr Port had suspected that there were more

8 Loyalist CHISs who could provide information to the

9 investigation to support the investigation than had thus

10 far been declared by Special Branch.

11 So I think what you are seeing in that

12 correspondence is an element of frustration on Mr Port's

13 part.

14 Q. Because subsequently the request for identities was

15 extended, was it not, to incorporate other

16 organisations?

17 A. Well, it was, but it was extended because, for

18 example -- and it is an exclusive to Operation George,

19 this.

20 Q. Well, just forgive me for interrupting you. Yes, in

21 answer to my question, it was extended?

22 A. It was extended, but for a very good reason. That's

23 what I was going to go on to say.

24 Q. That's not what I asked you: was it extended?

25 A. It was extended, yes.





1 Q. And it was dealt with in a slightly different fashion to

2 the earlier request; would that be fair?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Would you say that that really showed that if things had

5 been conducted in a more amiable fashion in the first

6 instance, there might not have been the tension, or

7 would you say it was inevitable because Mr Port was

8 firmly pushing for the information that he required?

9 A. Probably neither of those things. I think by the time

10 the second request goes in, which was 2001, we were

11 dealing with a totally different environment.

12 Northern Ireland had moved on, the Special Branch had

13 moved on, personalities had changed.

14 I saw that as being the key factors in why there was

15 such a different approach to our later request for

16 access to CHISs.

17 Q. Now, I'm just going to try and pick from your statement

18 some expressions which, I hope you would agree with me,

19 encapsulate the concluding position on your relationship

20 with Special Branch. So RNI-817-313, please. You may

21 disagree, but I hope these are the right paragraphs, 43

22 and 44 (displayed):

23 "In terms of the development of my relationship

24 about SB officers, there were probably a cluster of

25 reasons why this relationship got better over time. I





1 think that it took time for some SB officers to

2 understand that our motivation was to undertake a

3 thorough investigation rather than to critique SB.

4 Earlier in the enquiry, at times, SB displayed what I

5 would call a 'siege mentality' and I suspect that partly

6 this was because in the early days they were somewhat

7 suspicious as to our objectives and this made them

8 defensive. These concerns seemed to fall away over time

9 and the relationship between senior MIT officers and SB

10 largely developed into a sound, professional working

11 relationship.

12 "I would also like to add that on a number of

13 occasions SB volunteered information to the MIT that was

14 not obviously relevant to our investigation but they

15 felt it might be of some interest and use to us."

16 And you go on to give an example of that:

17 "There were a --

18 THE CHAIRMAN: I think the stenographer is having difficulty

19 keeping up with you.

20 MR SAVILL: "There were a number of similar instances of

21 information being volunteered to us by SB which

22 indicates to me that SB were genuinely attempting to

23 assist the investigation."

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Is that, or was that, a good choice by me to try and





1 summarise the relationship and how it developed and

2 concluded with Special Branch?

3 A. Yes.

4 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Isn't it true, though, that by the time

5 that relationship had improved, the day had somewhat

6 passed?

7 A. It was, sir, yes.


9 A. These paragraphs now, we will probably be talking about

10 our relationship in 2001.

11 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: When any constructive lines of enquiry

12 that would have been useful to you, the trail would have

13 been --

14 A. Cold.

15 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Absolutely. Thank you.

16 MR SAVILL: Can I just ask you, moving on slightly to a very

17 different topic, was an outside review of your murder

18 investigation ever given any consideration, bringing in

19 outsiders to review that which was going on or had taken

20 place?

21 A. We had an outside review of elements of the murder

22 investigation, for example the whole of the forensic --

23 Q. I appreciate that but a whole holistic overview of the

24 murder investigation, was that ever considered?

25 A. No, I don't think it was ever considered.





1 Q. Because as I understand it, that is something that can

2 take place in murder investigations.

3 A. I think it would have been extremely difficult on this

4 but -- and I think we were covering it by, as it were,

5 tasking outside teams to come in and look at discrete

6 areas of the investigation, which we did on a number of

7 occasions.

8 Q. But no one from the outside reviewed the heart of the

9 investigation, did they?

10 A. Well, we did have an outside review of the MIR, of

11 course --

12 Q. No, I mean, the lines of enquiries, the suspects --

13 A. That would have been undertaken on DI Hill's review in

14 2001 of the MIR in terms of, you know, how HOLMES was

15 operating --

16 Q. That was more of a functional review, wasn't it?

17 A. I think the point is nobody came in at any stage and

18 conducted an all-embracing overview of the investigation

19 and we never considered that anybody should come in. It

20 was -- quite frankly, it was difficult enough running

21 the murder investigation than to -- you know, to

22 accommodate a review team coming in and undertaking what

23 would have been a very, very challenging review.

24 Q. Do you regret that now, in hindsight?

25 A. Gosh, it is so difficult because one would have to put





1 oneself back in, you know, how we were operating in 2000

2 and 2001, and as I have said, it was so challenging and

3 so demanding at times that -- I'm not -- I don't even

4 think we gave consideration to it and I think it would

5 be unfair to say, where we are now, ten years on: do you

6 think that that would have been a useful or sensible

7 thing to do.

8 Q. No.

9 Now, at this stage, Mr Provoost, I do not have any

10 further questions on these areas that I would like to

11 ask you.

12 Something that is said to witnesses who come before

13 the Inquiry at this point is -- they are asked if there

14 is anything that they would like to add or comment on

15 that has gone before in their evidence. So, is there

16 anything that you would like to tell the Panel today?

17 A. I would just like to say that on occasions, when I have

18 given my evidence -- and this may be more so

19 yesterday -- I may have appeared somewhat intense, and

20 if that's the case, I certainly apologise for that, but

21 that comes about because I passionately feel that we

22 carried out a thorough and a determined murder

23 investigation, and it was well led and, in turn, Mr Port

24 was well supported by a senior management team that had

25 a range of talents. And everybody on this





1 investigation, both RUC officers and non-RUC officers,

2 were working very, very hard to a common and a shared

3 goal, which was to bring the perpetrators of this murder

4 to justice.

5 We didn't do that, and all I can say to Mr Nelson

6 and to the extended family is that that is a matter of

7 profound personal regret to me that we weren't able to

8 do that.

9 MR SAVILL: Thank you very much.

10 I don't know whether the Chairman or any of the

11 Panel have any other questions?


13 The proposal is we will move into a closed session

14 later. Is that right?

15 MR SAVILL: Yes, indeed.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. We will adjourn now certainly until

17 25 past three --

18 MR SAVILL: I would hesitate to say not before 3.30.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: 3.30. Right. We will adjourn until not

20 before 3.30, and the closed hearing procedure will then

21 apply.

22 We will adjourn until half past three.

23 (3.06 pm)

24 (Short adjournment)

25 (3.47 pm)





1 (Closed session)

2 (6.15 pm)

3 (The hearing adjourned until 10.15 am the following day)


























1 I N D E X

MR ARTHUR PROVOOST (continued) ................... 1
Questions by MR SAVILL (continued) ........... 1