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Full Hearings

Hearing: 7th January 2009, day 96

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ROSEMARY NELSON

PUBLIC INQUIRY

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


on Wednesday, 7 January 2009
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 96


1 Wednesday, 7 January 2009

2 (10.15 am)

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Currans, the checklist. Is the public

4 area screen fully in place, locked and the key secured?

5 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the fire doors on either side of the

7 screen closed?

8 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

10 and securely fastened?

11 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

13 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

14 of this chamber?

15 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Can the video engineer please confirm that

17 the two witness cameras have been switched off and

18 shrouded?

19 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

20 THE CHAIRMAN: All the other cameras have been switched off?

21 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

22 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

23 Bring the witness in, please.

24 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

25 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

2

1 switched back on.

2 Would you please take the oath.

3 A660 (sworn)

4 Questions by MR SAVILL

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

6 Yes, Mr Savill?

7 MR SAVILL: Thank you, sir.

8 Before I take you to your statement and some

9 questions I would like to ask you, can I just remind

10 you, please, that there is an issue of anonymity in the

11 matters we are dealing with and you should have a set of

12 ciphers in front of you?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Obviously your own name is ciphered. Could I just ask

15 you to pause for thought before you mention any names

16 and just check in your own mind and on the sheet whether

17 you should be using a cipher instead, please?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Thank you. Could we call up RNI-845-001, please

20 (displayed). That is the first page of your statement

21 to the Inquiry. We can see your cipher, A660, and then

22 the final page is at RNI-845-020 (displayed), dated

23 19 November 2007 and, again, that is your ciphered

24 signature there.

25 You will get used, I hope, in due course to some

3

1 documents appearing on the screen before you. If there

2 are any problems with the questions or the documents,

3 please let me know.

4 A. Thank you.

5 Q. I think I'm right in saying you were commissioned into

6 the Army in December 1991?

7 A. Yes, that's correct.

8 Q. Where did you go for your first posting?

9 A. I was posted to 5 Battalion of the Ulster Defence

10 Regiment based in Ballykelly.

11 Q. What portion of your service did you spend in

12 Northern Ireland?

13 A. From April 1992 through until November 1999 I was

14 permanently based in Northern Ireland and then

15 I returned to the Province in August 2003 until I left

16 the Army in December/January 2006/2007.

17 Q. Thank you. What was your job, if I can use that word,

18 in March 1999, please?

19 A. I was the operations officer for 3 Royal Irish based in

20 Mahon Road, Portadown.

21 Q. You will have obviously many memories of that and an

22 expert understanding of what the job involved. I am

23 afraid I don't. Could you please explain to me as

24 briefly as you can what is an operations officer?

25 A. The operations officer was the principal staff officer

4

1 who worked directly to the Commanding Officer of the

2 battalion. I was responsible for all operational

3 matters in support of the police. That included

4 planning patrols in conjunction with the police and for

5 day-to-day operational matters, which included running

6 the battalion operations or ops room.

7 Within the ops room, routinely there would be, on

8 a day-to-day basis, five members of staff of which I was

9 one, but we drew those staff from a pool of maybe 15

10 or 20.

11 Q. Thank you. Now, we will come to those members of staff

12 in a moment, but before I do, this is my description,

13 but would you agree with me if I described your role as

14 being the link between higher command and the day-to-day

15 forces that were operating?

16 A. Yes, that's a fair description. A lot of the radio

17 traffic and communications from the operational soldiers

18 would come through the operations room, and if it were

19 deemed necessary I would inform the Commanding Officer.

20 Q. And in the reverse, you were responsible, I think, for

21 the implementation of the -- I was going to say desires,

22 but I suppose I should say orders of those in command of

23 the forces?

24 A. That's correct, yes.

25 Q. Now, I think you said there were five, didn't you, other

5

1 people in the operations room as well as yourself,

2 ordinarily?

3 A. Routinely, on a day to day basis there would be myself,

4 my sergeant major, a clerk, a watchkeeper and

5 a signaller.

6 Q. Which is five?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. And, again, perhaps a statement of obvious, what level

9 of authorisation was needed for people to come into and

10 out of the operations room?

11 A. It was a controlled area. They had to buzz. There was

12 a CCTV camera. So it was a secure location and it would

13 be the watchkeeper or the signaller who would have

14 control over the access. But the sergeant major faced

15 the door, so he was able to question anyone before they

16 actually come into the operations room as such.

17 Q. You have mentioned various job descriptions, but

18 presumably the sergeant major didn't have a particular

19 task. He was your second in command in the room, was

20 he?

21 A. That's correct.

22 Q. Now, geographically or in terms of the station itself,

23 where was the operations room?

24 A. The operations room was located at the entrance to

25 battalion headquarters.

6

1 Q. And which floor or level was that on?

2 A. On the ground floor just at the entrance.

3 Q. So far as the intelligence cell was concerned, in

4 relation to the operations room where was that?

5 A. It was located upstairs on the first floor.

6 Q. Level 1?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. You were on the ground, intelligence cell was on

9 level 1?

10 A. That's correct.

11 Q. This is my description of it, but as I understand it,

12 you were very much concerned with the day-to-day running

13 of things, contemporaneous events, whereas the

14 intelligence cell was more concerned with future plans

15 and obviously intelligence?

16 A. Yes, the two -- the two departments worked together but

17 had distinct responsibilities.

18 Q. Now, as far as intelligence was concerned -- we will

19 come to it in a bit more detail later on -- were you

20 ever formally briefed by the intelligence cell or was it

21 just on a drip feed basis, as and when you needed to

22 know something, they'd tell you?

23 A. Both. Each morning, myself, the intelligence officer,

24 the company commanders and the Commanding Officer would

25 meet at 9 o'clock and there would be a formal briefing

7

1 on operational and intelligence matters. However, if

2 the circumstances changed, as they often did, then the

3 intelligence cell would come down and brief the ops

4 staff and myself accordingly.

5 Q. So it was daily, but in addition there were ad hoc

6 meetings?

7 A. Correct.

8 Q. Now, what time period did you spend on a shift, if I can

9 use perhaps a non-military expression?

10 A. I would generally work a normal working day of maybe

11 8 o'clock until 5.30 or 6. However, due to the nature

12 of the job, really you stayed until you could leave.

13 Sometimes that required overnight stays and often

14 working at the weekend.

15 Q. Thank you. Now, just give us a flavour. Working in the

16 operations room: high pressure or did it vary?

17 A. It varied. Some days were quiet and other times it was

18 particularly busy.

19 Q. And presumably, bearing in mind at times it was very

20 busy and that this was after all a military

21 organisation, presumably there were strict guidelines

22 and procedures for doing things in the operations room?

23 A. There were guidelines and procedures. There was also an

24 awful lot of experience, which helped in those

25 situations.

8

1 Q. Yes. Now, turning to record-keeping if I may, we have

2 two different types of events, I think. First of all,

3 we have what can be described as pre-planned?

4 A. Correct.

5 Q. And secondly, we have events that take place

6 off-the-cuff, if you like, as and when required, when

7 a situation demands it?

8 A. Yes, reactive --

9 Q. Reactive. So pre-planned and reactive. So dealing

10 first of all with pre-planned matters, could you tell us

11 what the record-keeping would be from start to finish of

12 pre-planned matter?

13 A. Well, pre-planned operations were always planned in

14 conjunction with the police and there would be

15 a fortnightly patrols programme produced. On a -- and

16 that would act as a planning tool for myself and for the

17 companies that provided the soldiers to go on the

18 ground. It would allow them to look ahead and see what

19 they were required to do.

20 On a day-to-day basis, as far as record-keepings

21 were concerned, the watchkeeper would keep a log that

22 would be handed over at the beginning and end of each

23 shift and the signaller would also keep a log of radio

24 traffic.

25 Q. Thank you. Now, dealing with the reactive events,

9

1 obviously by definition there was no record-keeping

2 prior to them, but would those then be recorded in the

3 operations log and the radio log?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. Am I right in saying -- I hope very much that I am --

6 that the operations log was also known as the

7 occurrence log?

8 A. Yes, I always referred to it as the watchkeeper's log,

9 yes.

10 Q. But there was no such separate document called the

11 occurrence log?

12 A. There was no duplication of the ops log.

13 Q. Just breaking those things down, whose duty was it to

14 complete the operations log?

15 A. The watchkeeper.

16 Q. That was the definition of that person's job, was it?

17 A. Not only that. It would be a much wider remit. They

18 had quite a responsible job. They would also be

19 involved with writing and sending signals to outside

20 agencies to keep our superior headquarters informed and

21 also maybe conducting some retasking of soldiers on

22 patrol.

23 Q. When you say sending, presumably not actually sending

24 them because that was the signaller's job?

25 A. Sometimes the signal would be written by or crafted by

10

1 the watchkeeper.

2 Q. And passed to the signaller. And turning to the

3 signaller, that presumably involved telephone answering,

4 telephone call making, radio traffic, making it and

5 responding to it?

6 A. Yes. All of those things.

7 Q. Perhaps even sending faxes?

8 A. Perhaps, yes.

9 Q. Those sorts of things. And again, was that the

10 definition of the signaller's job?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Did they have any other responsibilities?

13 A. Sometimes they may help mark the map board, for example,

14 but nothing in terms of real decision-making. They were

15 there to support the watchkeeper.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: You said that the signaller kept a log. Is

17 that right?

18 A. That's correct, yes, sir.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: What did the signaller record in his log?

20 A. Radio traffic, any messages that were sent in to our ops

21 room from any other call signs and whatever their

22 replies were.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

24 MR SAVILL: That leads me on to the question: what was the

25 data that informed the entries into the watchkeeper's

11

1 log?

2 A. Well, the watchkeeper's log, the data would come from

3 a phone call or from radio traffic or quite simply would

4 be a way of formalising a decision that the watchkeeper

5 had made. For example, if he had retasked a helicopter

6 or if he had sent a request for an agency, he would log

7 that. The data that was recorded on the signaller's log

8 would have been exclusively phone or radio traffic.

9 Q. And how reliant was the watchkeeper on the accuracy and

10 content of the radio log to keep the watchkeeping log

11 up-to-date and accurate?

12 A. Not wholly reliant because a lot of the information

13 would have been entered simultaneously and the

14 information is different. The two logs are not a mirror

15 image of each other.

16 Q. Do you see what I'm driving at?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. I do not have a picture in my mind's eye of the

19 operations room, but was there a speaker on the wall

20 that everybody could hear, radio traffic? People were

21 telling each other what was going on?

22 A. You had two -- there were two options. The radio

23 traffic could have come through on a speaker, or if the

24 ops room was particularly busy and there was an incident

25 ongoing, then perhaps -- and the signaller was having

12

1 difficulty in hearing, then they would have donned

2 headphones. But the signaller and the watchkeeper were

3 sat immediately beside each other.

4 Q. Thank you, that's helpful.

5 A. At a desk. During an incident like that -- my office

6 was separate and to the rear of the main operations

7 room, but during an incident like that there was

8 a raised desk behind the watchkeeper and the signaller

9 that faced the map board on the wall, and that meant

10 that I could have an overview of everything that was on

11 the map board and also be immediately behind the

12 watchkeeper and the signaller, so I could see

13 immediately what was going on.

14 Q. So just to take it hypothetically, it wouldn't be fair

15 for the watchkeeper to say, "Don't blame me, it is not

16 in my log because it wasn't in the radio log"?

17 A. Absolutely not. It is the watchkeeper's responsibility.

18 Q. And how serious was the accuracy and the content of the

19 watchkeeper's log dealt with?

20 A. It was looked at and kept very seriously. I checked it.

21 If I was away -- if I was at home for the evening, for

22 example, I would look at it first thing when I come in,

23 along with any other messages that were there. The

24 watchkeeper would often maybe ask for five or ten

25 minutes and go and sit down quietly if the desk was busy

13

1 and write everything up so that he was sure that all the

2 details were included.

3 Q. So it was your touchstone, really?

4 A. Absolutely, yes.

5 Q. And I hate to put it this way, but if, as things do in

6 life, something had gone wrong and somebody was looking

7 to blame someone, that would be your best and first

8 defence, as it were? It is your record of what was

9 going on?

10 A. That's a record of what happened in the ops room, yes.

11 Q. Now, just taking it down a level, did you yourself and

12 those in the ops room possess pocket notebooks?

13 A. Of the electronic variety or just purely to write down?

14 Q. Either.

15 A. No, I never used an electronic recording device. I had

16 a notebook, which was -- it was treated as a classified

17 document. The pages were numbered, and at the end I

18 would hand it back in and I would sign another one out.

19 Q. When you say "the end", do you mean the end of the book?

20 A. Yes, the end of the book, when it was complete.

21 Q. It sounds to me as though you had a lot going on in the

22 operations room at times with lots to fill in. Were you

23 filling in your notebook?

24 A. No.

25 Q. Did you fill it in at the end of the shift?

14

1 A. The notebook was not -- it was for personal business

2 use, so to speak. So if I attended the intelligence

3 briefings that I mentioned earlier, then anything -- any

4 notes I wanted to take from those would be written in

5 this notebook. They would not be written anywhere else.

6 Q. Because -- I'm building a picture in my own mind -- the

7 operations room log was the primary log; it was

8 event-specific, if you like. The radio log was simply

9 a recording of what was being said. So you wouldn't be

10 recording, any of you in the operations room, in

11 a notebook, things that were or should be in the

12 operations log. That's not what it was for?

13 A. No, the operations log was the record of what happened

14 in the ops room.

15 Q. Thank you.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: In your personal notebook, did you write in

17 each day when you came on duty and when you went off

18 duty?

19 A. No, sir. This notebook was to ensure that if we wrote

20 down any information in any meetings or briefings that

21 we attended, that it was kept in a classified document.

22 So it wasn't put down in a document or in a notebook

23 that you could buy in a stationery store.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: No, it was an official Army-issue notebook?

25 A. Correct. But there was no clocking in or logging in

15

1 done by me, no, sir.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: I see, thank you.

3 MR SAVILL: Is there or was there any record kept of when

4 you or anyone else in the operations room, as it were,

5 signed in and then signed off at the end of the shift?

6 A. No.

7 Q. Nothing at all?

8 A. No.

9 Q. When you were briefed daily and sometimes more

10 regularly, that was by someone from the

11 intelligence cell?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Yes.

14 A. On intelligence matters, yes. I was briefed on other

15 things, but on intelligence --

16 Q. Who else briefed you?

17 A. Well, whenever I come in in the morning, the watchkeeper

18 would brief me on what happened during the night, if

19 there was anything significant. But generally if

20 anything significant did happen they would phone me at

21 home and I would have been aware of it. And other

22 people would have briefed me perhaps on training issues

23 or future operational plans and so on.

24 Q. I think I'm right in saying that your operations room

25 may have delivered briefings as well?

16

1 A. That's correct. I briefed -- each morning, I or my

2 sergeant major would brief on that day's operational

3 tasking.

4 Q. To?

5 A. To the rifle company representatives that were there so

6 they had an overview of the battalion business. Also we

7 would conduct briefings to units that may be working in

8 our area for a period of time to sort of familiarise

9 them with the area.

10 Q. And in -- using an umbrella -- briefings given by you,

11 to you, whoever that may have been from, did you

12 discuss, and were they discussed, individual terrorists'

13 names or was it just a more strategic level?

14 A. The briefings that I give would not focus on individual

15 terrorists or suspects. That would have fallen to the

16 intelligence cell. I would basically take them through

17 the operational tempo, how the ops room worked and how

18 we expected them to work. It was more of

19 a procedural brief.

20 Q. Yes, and what about the briefings that you were

21 receiving?

22 A. From?

23 Q. From the intelligence cell or whoever else it would be?

24 A. From the intelligence cell, they would range from

25 sightings of terrorist suspects to the suspected

17

1 activities of those suspects, to a threat update.

2 Q. And as far as you can recollect, was Rosemary Nelson's

3 name ever mentioned in any of these briefings?

4 A. I don't recall Rosemary Nelson's name being mentioned in

5 any briefings.

6 Q. As far as your relationship with the police, the RUC,

7 was concerned, how would you describe that? Not your

8 personal relationship, but the Army?

9 A. It was professional. It was difficult at times because

10 they were particularly demanding of our resources and

11 sometimes that was quite hard for us to sustain. But

12 overall I would describe the relationship as good and

13 positive.

14 Q. And just so I understand, who took the operational lead,

15 would you say?

16 A. Well, the Commanding Officer would discuss sort of

17 generic operations with the Divisional Commander of --

18 I believe it was J Division at that time.

19 Q. Yes.

20 A. And then at fortnightly operational tasking meetings, I

21 would sit down with the Deputy Divisional Commander and

22 three operational planning sergeants from the RUC and I

23 would plan the fortnight's patrol programme.

24 Q. Now, as far as the military operations were concerned,

25 how did you come to be informed about ongoing operations

18

1 in your area?

2 A. Well, there was radio traffic for a start. The patrols

3 would let us know where they were and what stage of the

4 operation that they would be at. However, prior to

5 that, they would submit a patrol trace, which we would

6 then mark on the map board which would show the areas

7 they would be working in and at what times they would be

8 in those areas.

9 Q. Yes. And what about advance warning of operations? Is

10 there a special name for the briefing or the tasking

11 sheets, or how would you find out two weeks/three weeks

12 in advance what was going to be going on?

13 A. I mentioned the operational tasking meetings with the

14 Deputy Commander.

15 Q. Yes.

16 A. At those meetings the police would put in their requests

17 for support, and the patrol programme would be

18 formulated from that. So at the very most, we would

19 know perhaps a fortnight in advance of what routine

20 military support would be required.

21 Q. Now, breaking that down into overt and covert

22 operations, if you understand me, what level of

23 knowledge were you provided with concerning covert

24 operations?

25 A. Absolutely none.

19

1 Q. A stupid question maybe, but why not?

2 A. Because my primary concern was overt operations,

3 involving what we called green troops. It, quite

4 frankly, wasn't within my remit to -- to have anything

5 to do with covert operations, and quite rightly so.

6 Q. But would it not have been important for you to have

7 been aware in your position of any covert operations

8 that were going on in your geographical area?

9 A. The soldiers -- our patrol programme was known to the

10 police and known to brigade headquarters. So they knew

11 where our soldiers were going to be.

12 Sometimes if a covert operation was taking place, an

13 area may be placed out of bounds and that would be noted

14 on a map, and we noted it with a red hatched box. If

15 that -- if there was a box on the map, then we simply

16 patrolled around it, we didn't go into it, and that was

17 how we deconflicted the overt military presence with any

18 covert operations that may have been taking place.

19 Q. So you didn't know the detail, but you had the bare

20 bones of it, i.e. where not to trespass, if you like?

21 A. We were told where areas were out of bounds; we were

22 never told the reason for that out of bounds.

23 Q. Did you ever, subsequent to an operation or a patrol,

24 discover that there had been an out of bounds area that

25 you hadn't been told about?

20

1 A. No.

2 Q. Can you recollect whether there were any out of bounds

3 areas on the night of Sunday, 14 March 1999?

4 A. No, I can't specifically.

5 Q. So there may have been --

6 A. It is possible that there were out of bounds areas in

7 and around Lurgan at that time, but I can't remember.

8 Q. And this map that had the red hatching on, I think you

9 have described, that was in the operations room?

10 A. It was in the operations room, yes, and whenever the

11 patrol commanders came in before they went out on

12 patrol, they would familiarise themselves with this map

13 to ensure that they didn't stray into the out of bounds

14 area.

15 Q. I see. You have spoken a moment ago, I think, of

16 personal traces. Are those the same as honesty traces?

17 A. The patrol traces that were submitted allowed me to have

18 advance warning of what the patrol commander had

19 planned. It also allowed the watchkeepers to mark the

20 map.

21 Honesty traces were brought in afterwards because

22 situations or circumstances may change on the ground,

23 and obviously what was planned may differ slightly from

24 what was taken out. An honesty trace is exactly where

25 the soldiers went, not what was planned.

21

1 Q. And I'm not going to ask you to, but how would you

2 demonstrate to us an honesty trace? Would you be

3 showing us a map or playing us a tape of radio traffic?

4 A. The soldiers very often would photocopy a map and then

5 they would draw on the map where the vehicle checkpoint

6 took place or what patrol routes they took.

7 Q. But presumably that was only as accurate -- and if I may

8 say so, honest -- as the person who was completing it?

9 A. That's correct.

10 Q. I appreciate that you could double-check. If they said

11 there had been a VCP at this point, you could perhaps

12 ask civilians if they had been stopped at that point and

13 check records, but it was reliant on the person

14 completing it?

15 A. It was reliant on the person completing it. It could be

16 checked against radio logs if they had been sent in

17 their locations at a specific time. It could also be

18 checked against sort of patrol record cards, which were

19 cards where individual's details may have been completed

20 at a vehicle checkpoint, because at the top of those

21 cards the grid of the vehicle checkpoint had to be

22 written down.

23 Q. Now, I just want to ask you -- we can perhaps unpack it,

24 but how difficult would it be for a patrol to set up an

25 unauthorised vehicle checkpoint?

22

1 A. Well, if they are out on patrol, then they are

2 authorised to set up checkpoints as long as it is not

3 within an area that has been declared out of bounds and

4 as long as it doesn't go against the wishes of the

5 police, who we worked to.

6 I'll give you an example. Sometimes, for community

7 sensitivity reasons, the police would request that we

8 didn't go into particular areas. So we wouldn't go into

9 that area. If patrol set up a VCP in that area, then

10 I suppose you could call it unauthorised.

11 Q. Let me add to the question I just asked you: how

12 difficult would it be for a patrol to set up a vehicle

13 checkpoint and not have it discovered subsequently by

14 yourself or any other members of the military or police?

15 A. Well, if they were out on patrol and they didn't report

16 it, they could set one up every ten minutes, if they

17 liked.

18 Q. What I'm driving at, and you will have to help me --

19 obviously I'm unclear about this -- is the level,

20 I suppose I'm saying, of supervision or contact with a

21 patrol, either by virtue of face-to-face or radio

22 traffic that may have made doing that difficult. Does

23 that have any impact on it?

24 A. Well, you are placing a huge amount of trust in the

25 patrol commander, and we operated -- the Army at that

23

1 time operated something called mission command, where we

2 would tell the patrol commander what to do but not how

3 to do it. So that gave them a certain amount of freedom

4 in how they conducted their operations.

5 Q. But, again, bearing that in mind, you say it would have

6 been relatively straightforward for a patrol to set up a

7 VCP under its own steam and for that, as it were, never

8 to be known by the operations room or, indeed, anybody

9 else?

10 A. They could have set it up and not informed us on the

11 radio and then not put it on their honesty trace and,

12 you know, it could be as simple as that, I suppose.

13 Q. But again, they would be -- forgive the expression --

14 chancing their arm because they could be in the middle

15 of doing that and somebody could radio through to them

16 and say, "Where are you?" or "We need you to go and do

17 this"?

18 A. It depends. If you look at the operational tasking

19 sheets and you see that they are to provide soft target

20 protection in the Moira area, that's left up to the

21 patrol commander's discretion. So he can set up vehicle

22 checkpoints anywhere he likes.

23 If, for example, there is an incident going on in

24 Lurgan, then the location of his vehicle checkpoint is

25 non-critical, so he may leave decide to stay off the

24

1 radio and allow that incident to be dealt with. So at

2 the time, we wouldn't know that he has a VCP, for

3 example, in Moira town centre, but I still know that he

4 is in the area. So that's the sort of level of how it

5 worked.

6 Q. Just taking it one step further, how unusual would it be

7 for there to be a VCP set up by a patrol under its own

8 steam and not recorded that you were perhaps made aware

9 of six/nine months later? Would you consider that odd

10 or not really?

11 A. I'm not aware of a circumstance like that happening.

12 Q. So it would be odd?

13 A. Very, yes.

14 Q. Just to a slightly different topic, at vehicle

15 checkpoints, have you yourself ever conducted them?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. And you have presumably done so on a number of

18 occasions?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. So you can speak with some authority about what goes on

21 at them?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Have you ever experienced what I would call favouritism

24 in the operating of a vehicle checkpoint? By that

25 I mean somebody comes to be stopped, but a member of the

25

1 patrol, for whatever reason, indicates that that person

2 shouldn't actually be stopped or searched and should in

3 fact be waved through?

4 A. No.

5 Q. The example I give you is someone on the patrol that may

6 be on one side of the sectarian divide, as it were, and

7 may see someone that they felt sympathy towards in the

8 car and say, "Don't worry" and wave them through.

9 That's something you have never encountered yourself?

10 A. No.

11 Q. Have you ever heard of that occurring?

12 A. I don't recall any specific events at all relating to

13 that.

14 Q. You paused slightly before you said that. Do you --

15 A. Well, you would hear stories, you know, in the media,

16 but were any brought directly to my attention whenever I

17 was the Operations Officer or whenever I was out on

18 patrol conducting vehicle checkpoints? Then the answer

19 is no.

20 Q. What about one step down from the media in the chain of

21 hearsay, for example, in the canteen?

22 A. I don't recall any incidents being mentioned of that

23 sort of thing, no.

24 Q. Of that nature. If we could just call up RNI-845-004,

25 please (displayed), and highlight paragraph 7, we have

26

1 talked already about briefings, but I'm looking in terms

2 here of intelligence. Third line down:

3 "In terms of military intelligence, the only

4 information that I had in relation to this came from G2

5 updates, which contained information from Special Branch

6 that was provided to us by the military intelligence

7 cell. The purpose of such updates was to assist with

8 the tasking of troops."

9 So could you just explain that to us? Did you

10 receive intelligence documents in addition to the

11 briefings?

12 A. No, all the intelligence documents would come through

13 the intelligence cell and they would be delivered to me

14 verbally.

15 Q. So just to tie this off, you are saying, are you, that

16 you never had sight of anything that could be described

17 as a document containing intelligence?

18 A. Well, if we are referring specifically to my time as the

19 Operations Officer in 3 Royal Irish, then no. Prior to

20 this, I was the Intelligence Officer for three years in

21 Ballykelly.

22 Q. Right.

23 A. So within that job, obviously I would have, but not in

24 the capacity as Operations Officer in Portadown.

25 Q. I see. That's helpful to make the distinction.

27

1 Perhaps we can just look at a document and have it

2 on the same screen as that page of your statement. The

3 document is at RNI-511-099 (displayed). Thank you. Can

4 we highlight that?

5 Is that a document that you are familiar with? Not

6 this particular document, but the type of document?

7 A. I wouldn't say I was familiar with it. It is called an

8 INT REP so it would have gone to the intelligence cell.

9 Q. Let me put it like this: have you ever seen a document

10 like it?

11 A. Similar, yes.

12 Q. Could we go to the next page, RNI-511-100 and highlight

13 the text (displayed)? I'm not going to read it all, but

14 this is in relation to the murders of Constables Graham

15 and Johnston, and there is some information at (a) about

16 establishing of alibi witnesses for Colin Duffy. Then

17 if we look down to "Comment":

18 "It is assessed as possible that the [blank] and

19 other PIRA/PSF in conjunction with Rosemary Nelson are

20 attempting to establish witness evidence in support of

21 Duffy."

22 Did you ever come to see either this or similar

23 intelligence documents that related to Mrs Nelson?

24 A. Well, I think that this document was dated in August and

25 I arrived in 3 Royal Irish in November 1997, so

28

1 I certainly wouldn't have seen this document.

2 As I said previously, I think that these documents

3 went through the intelligence cell and were delivered to

4 me verbally. They were strictly controlled and I think

5 that there was a separate intelligence IT system that I

6 had no access to. So, again, I would have seen -- I

7 would have been given this information verbally.

8 Q. Okay. Well, let's come at it from another angle.

9 Verbally, were you ever made privy to intelligence that

10 concerned Rosemary Nelson?

11 A. Not that I recall.

12 Q. Or, indeed, her association with suspected terrorists,

13 and in particular Colin Duffy?

14 A. No.

15 Q. And were you ever briefed on the content of those type

16 of intelligence reports that you can recollect?

17 A. No.

18 Q. No. Now, turning to the deployment of a helicopter, if

19 I may, I would like to just ask you, before we turn to

20 the reality of March 1999, to deal with the theory.

21 Could you, please, tell us what would be the audit

22 trail in terms of the deployment of a helicopter from

23 start to finish?

24 A. If it is a pre-planned deployment, my sergeant major

25 would look at the patrol programme, and to support that

29

1 programme or to maybe cover some gaps in our coverage,

2 he would submit a heli quest and he would send that to

3 Aldergrove, and this would be done in a signal format.

4 Q. When you say signal format, what do you mean by that?

5 A. In a similar sort of document to the intelligence

6 document that you showed me. It would follow a very

7 specific format that's easily understood and not open to

8 interpretation.

9 Q. So just taking it in stages, there is the patrol plan?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. The sergeant major looks at it, uses his brain and says,

12 "We could do with helicopter support potentially". So

13 he sends a written request to those in charge of the

14 helicopters making a request for a specific type of

15 helicopter, or just ...?

16 A. For a type of helicopter and for the time of that

17 helicopter.

18 Q. Which would be date and time?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Yes.

21 A. And then we would get confirmation signals back and they

22 would be included in the patrol's programme, and then

23 the helicopter would appear and it would -- sometimes it

24 would come in for what we called a closedown brief. So

25 it would close down on the heli pad at Mahon Road and

30

1 come up to the ops room for a briefing, or it would be

2 met by a liaison officer and he would be given a brief

3 by the liaison officer on what tasks to carry out.

4 Q. I think we are blurring a bit the pre-planned and the

5 active, are we?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Let's just stick with the pre-planned?

8 A. Certainly.

9 Q. The request goes off to Aldergrove and it comes back in

10 the affirmative. That would be concluded how far in

11 advance of the actual need for the helicopter, roughly?

12 A. Anything from two to three days to a fortnight at most.

13 Q. And what about the operational tasks forecast?

14 A. That worked on a -- that was produced each fortnight, so

15 the heli task would be confirmed just before it went to

16 print and it would go as far as two weeks in advance.

17 Q. So the maximum was about two weeks?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. And then the minimum could be five minutes?

20 A. No, a couple of days, two to three days.

21 Q. When I say five minutes, what I mean is dealing with the

22 reactive now?

23 A. Oh, sorry, the reactive?

24 Q. Yes.

25 A. The reactive could be as little as five minutes if there

31

1 were a helicopter overflying the area, and we could

2 perhaps request that to divert to have a look at

3 something. Yes, it could be that quick.

4 Q. Or it would be more like half an hour because what you

5 were telling us, I think, was summoning a helicopter to

6 the heli pad if the LO was available?

7 A. It also depends on the nature of the incident. If, for

8 example, there was a helicopter on a task in Armagh and

9 we required one in Portadown, then, you know, we would

10 go to ask brigade headquarters and brigade headquarters

11 could retask that helicopter and it could be with us in

12 10 or 15 minutes.

13 Q. We come to the LO in a moment, but could I just ask that

14 RNI-512-027 be called on to the screen, please

15 (displayed)?

16 Now, this is a document that you will be familiar

17 with and that you have just been telling us about, and

18 if we just look at it at the top, we can see that it is

19 called the operational tasks forecast; yes?

20 A. Yes, that's correct.

21 Q. What does 10/99 stand for?

22 A. That was probably the tenth forecast for that year.

23 Q. Because it is not October because we can see Sunday

24 14 March 1999?

25 A. Correct.

32

1 Q. And I'm not going to state the obvious, but we can see

2 the subdivisions listed and we can see, I think,

3 horizontally across the page what can be described as

4 a timeline?

5 A. Correct.

6 Q. And on the left-hand side of the page, numbers that

7 would be used to reference the entries?

8 A. Correct.

9 Q. And, as I've said, this is Sunday, 14 March and we can

10 see -- I'm not going to go into it -- what was going on

11 on those days, but in particular in the middle, at the

12 bottom of this piece of paper, we can see:

13 "AVN: Finch, 23.30-00.30. MBP stations/RFL/Ban TC."

14 Do you have that?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Can you enlighten us as to what that means?

17 A. Certainly, "AVN" is an abbreviation for aviation.

18 Aviation we would use to describe, you know, the Gazelle

19 helicopter or Puma helicopter. The Finch was a thermal

20 imaging camera that was attached to a Gazelle, so it was

21 a night time capable helicopter. That one hour, 23.30

22 to 00.30, is the time that we would have the helicopter

23 available to us. "MBP" is mortar baseplates. There

24 would be studies conducted around various security force

25 locations to show mortar baseplates. "RFL" is

33

1 Rathfriland and "Ban TC" is Banbridge town centre.

2 So it would be tasked to look at mortar baseplates

3 around the police stations and security force bases in

4 Rathfriland and Banbridge, and also Banbridge town

5 centre.

6 Q. Thank you very much. I'm going to come back to that

7 entry in a moment, but could we just ask you how unusual

8 is that entry, in your experience?

9 A. It is not particularly unusual at all. We have got

10 entries for aviation on virtually every day of our

11 patrol programme.

12 Q. Let me help you with that. We will come back to that,

13 but could we just go to page RNI-512-035, please

14 (displayed). A similar document, Friday the 12th, and

15 we can see at the bottom there:

16 "Puma, 10.00 hours to 12.00 hours, EVCP OP."

17 And:

18 "Finch, 19.30 to 21.00."

19 And is it "PDN POE" written in handwriting? So just

20 explain to us what those two entries are?

21 A. The Puma from 10.00 to 12.00 hours is for an Eagle VCP

22 operation. So just to vary our profile and try and

23 deter attacks, we would put those in periodically. They

24 would be conducted -- in this case they were being

25 conducted by the patrol in Lurgan. If you look at

34

1 serial 35, you can see EVCP op --

2 Q. When you say serial, you mean the entry at the top of

3 the page?

4 A. Sorry, along the side, yes.

5 Q. Number 35?

6 A. Number 35.

7 Q. Yes.

8 A. If you go along the timeline to 09.00 hours, you can see

9 there in brackets "EVCP op".

10 Q. "EVCP op", yes.

11 A. And that was to be part of that stage of the patrol.

12 Q. Thank you.

13 A. The Finch -- the night time capable Gazelle was booked

14 for an hour and a half. "PDN" is an abbreviation for

15 Portadown and "PDE" is an abbreviation for parade. So

16 that may have been a late request, which is why it was

17 handwritten and not typed with the initial programme;

18 a late request maybe to have some aviation just to cover

19 a parade in Portadown.

20 Q. Thank you. Now, perhaps we should go back to

21 RNI-512-037 because that was the one that concerns us

22 (displayed).

23 Dealing with the handwriting first of all, how

24 unusual was it for there to be a handwritten amendment?

25 A. I couldn't put a figure on it, but we -- the

35

1 programme -- the patrol programme was something that

2 would be changed if circumstances dictated it. So it

3 wouldn't have been unusual to see patrol programmes with

4 handwritten amendments done to it.

5 Q. This document was printed about a fortnight before the

6 day contained within it?

7 A. This particular document finished on Sunday the 14th.

8 That was the last day, so it would have been done at the

9 end of February.

10 Q. Yes. So it is printed about a fortnight before. How

11 soon up to the actual deployment of the helicopter might

12 a handwritten amendment be made?

13 A. The day before -- possibly the same day.

14 Q. We don't actually have a handwritten amendment here, but

15 we have got Finch and the statement of what it was meant

16 to be doing. So that would be known to you well in

17 advance, that a helicopter was assigned?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. To perform these tasks?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Now just talk us through, please, the implementation of

22 that particular assignment. What I mean by that is when

23 you came on duty, would you be thinking, "I need to ring

24 Aldergrove to make sure this helicopter is going to come

25 and do that or it will just turn up and I will be made

36

1 aware of it"? How did it happen?

2 A. The brigade headquarters or Aldergrove would inform us

3 if there were any changes to the heli taskings that day

4 because obviously the helicopter assets were deployed

5 across the Province, so there may have been priorities

6 elsewhere that we were unaware of. So you would always

7 be told by brigade headquarters whether it was

8 happening.

9 The watchkeeper, if he hadn't heard anything, may

10 just make a phone call to confirm that the helicopter

11 was, indeed, still on line. The helicopter would, once

12 it entered our sort of area, was overflying our area, it

13 would come on to our communications net and let us know

14 that, and it would either say, "We'll touch down to pick

15 up the LO" or touch down for a closedown brief, and then

16 they would take off on their task.

17 Q. To put it another way, when you came on duty on Sunday,

18 you would be expecting to deal with that Gazelle between

19 roughly those times?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And if somebody under your command had made the call

22 and, for whatever reason, been told the helicopter is

23 not available, presumably would they cross that out and

24 write it on there, or not bother with that?

25 A. This was not the only copy of this document.

37

1 Q. Right.

2 A. And what also happened was that on the map board, the

3 watchkeepers would write on the map board a list of

4 taskings for that day.

5 Q. For every resource?

6 A. For every resource. Perhaps not in this amount of

7 detail, but certainly the timings. For example, I look

8 at Lurgan. They would say that from 11.00 to

9 23.00 hours, they would write that there would be four

10 teams and their call signs in Lurgan. Why that's useful

11 is if something happens, it is a very quick reference

12 for the watchkeeper to see what assets he has

13 immediately available. So if it were cancelled, it may

14 not have been notified on this tasking sheet.

15 Q. But it would be notified in the room?

16 A. Yes, someone in the room would know about it, yes.

17 Q. Thank you. There may be many answers to this, but who

18 had the authority to deploy helicopter assets?

19 A. The watchkeeper could request a helicopter through

20 brigade headquarters or through Aldergrove itself, but

21 they had the responsibility either to -- in brigade's

22 case to pass the request on, or in Aldergrove's case to

23 grant that request. If they were requesting

24 helicopters, it would be because maybe the police had

25 requested it or because there had been a change, an

38

1 incident, on the ground. If there had been an incident,

2 then either myself or the sergeant major would have been

3 informed of that regardless of where we were.

4 Q. We have got requests and authorisations, haven't we?

5 They are two different things, and requests come from

6 a very low level, man on the ground, literally, police

7 or Army, up to the operations room; yes?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. They then filtered up either, I think you said, to

10 brigade or to Aldergrove?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Would it be to both or was it one or the other?

13 A. It was one or the other.

14 Q. And presumably, if it went to brigade, that went across

15 to Aldergrove?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. There was a liaison officer at Aldergrove?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. So just so I'm clear, authorisation, could brigade, as

20 it were, demand and order Aldergrove to release a

21 helicopter or did the buck stop with the aviation

22 liaison officer?

23 A. I would have thought the buck stopped with the aviation

24 liaison officer because he knew the limits and the

25 flying hours that his pilots had been doing, and what

39

1 the priorities were, you know, outside of 3 Brigade.

2 The brigade watchkeeper only knew what was happening

3 within his TAOR.

4 Q. What rank would the liaison officer be?

5 A. I don't know.

6 Q. You don't know. I think it was captain.

7 A. It may have been, but I don't know.

8 Q. But not only in terms of resources, there were safety

9 issues that would dictate whether or not helicopters

10 would be released?

11 A. There would be a certain number of hours and heli hours

12 available, not just for safety, but I think also for

13 budgetary constraints as well.

14 Q. How hard would it be for a helicopter to be requested or

15 authorised without you and your team in the operations

16 room knowing about it?

17 A. I don't really think it would be possible because the

18 aviation liaison officer must -- as we said earlier, he

19 is the man that makes the decision. So it really is

20 down to him.

21 Q. So it wouldn't be possible for either a junior officer

22 to you or a senior officer to you, for example, brigade

23 level, to, as it were, miss you out personally?

24 A. No, they would have to inform the operations room

25 because the helicopter -- if it was to be tasked in

40

1 support of our operations, then the helicopter would be

2 working to the operations room.

3 Q. And you have mentioned previously some, I think, very

4 capable staff that you had working for you in your team.

5 Obviously they didn't every single decision past you

6 because they were capable people, but presumably the

7 deployment of a helicopter wouldn't be one of those

8 smaller matters that they wouldn't feel the need to

9 refer to you?

10 A. It depends what the helicopter was being used for and

11 the context of the request. Sometimes, for example, the

12 police may request a helicopter and we would try and get

13 one for them quite simply to sort of give them a wee bit

14 of confidence and that sort of thing. But if -- but

15 generally, if it were -- the helicopter was involved in

16 supporting our response to an incident, then I would be

17 informed.

18 Q. I see. So there were occasions when a helicopter could

19 be tasked and you wouldn't feel that you had been left

20 out by not being told?

21 A. No.

22 MR SAVILL: Sir, I have more questions, but I wonder if this

23 might be a good moment to take a short break?

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. We will break off until just

25 after half past.

41

1 Before the witness leaves, can the video engineer

2 please confirm that all the cameras have been

3 switched off?

4 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please escort the witness out.

6 (11.17 am)

7 (Short break)

8 (11.34 am)

9 THE CHAIRMAN: The checklist, Mr Currans. Is the public

10 area screen fully in place, locked and the key secured?

11 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the fire doors on either side of the

13 screen closed?

14 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

16 and securely fastened?

17 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

19 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

20 of this chamber?

21 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

22 THE CHAIRMAN: Can the video engineer please confirm that

23 the two witness cameras have been switched off and

24 shrouded?

25 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

42

1 THE CHAIRMAN: All the other cameras have been switched off?

2 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

4 Bring the witness in, please.

5 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

6 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

7 switched back on.

8 Yes, Mr Savill?

9 MR SAVILL: Before we move on, or come back, I should say,

10 to that which we were talking about, can I just ask you

11 a quick question about the vehicle checkpoints? When

12 you say you experienced them yourself, was that as an

13 officer commanding the patrol or the checkpoint?

14 A. Yes, that would have been between 1992 and 1993, the

15 start of my career.

16 Q. And again, just so I'm clear about this, your statement

17 says that you were commissioned into the Army

18 in December 1991. That's as an officer, is it?

19 A. That's correct.

20 Q. Had you been in the Army prior to that or did you come

21 straight in as an officer?

22 A. No, I spent a year at Sandhurst and then was

23 commissioned.

24 Q. Right. Thank you very much.

25 Liaison officers. They were, as I understand it,

43

1 the rank of corporal or above?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. They were members of the Royal Irish Regiment?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And they would be, if I can use the expression,

6 primarily infantrymen?

7 A. Well, the Royal Irish Regiment is part of the infantry

8 so, yes.

9 Q. What I mean is it wasn't their sole raison d'Ítre to be

10 a liaison officer?

11 A. No, absolutely not.

12 Q. They were soldiers first and foremost who would be

13 designated shift patterns like any other soldier, would

14 be based, for example, at Mahon Road and when they came

15 on to duty in the day or the evening, they would know,

16 therefore, that the chances were they would be called on

17 to operate as a liaison officer?

18 A. Yes, the liaison officers at Mahon Road, to the best of

19 my knowledge, came primarily from the quick reaction

20 force that was based at Mahon Road. So whenever the

21 commander of that force assumed his duties in the

22 morning, he would see what tasks were ahead and he would

23 note down whatever liaison officer tasks that had to be

24 done.

25 Q. Would there be more than one person who was capable of

44

1 being an LO or was it just limited to one person?

2 A. Sometimes it may have been limited to one person, but

3 generally there would have been more than one.

4 Q. And would that person be chosen for a task because he

5 had a particular knowledge of the geography of where the

6 helicopter was going or were all liaison officers

7 stationed at Mahon Road presumed to have that knowledge

8 of the local area?

9 A. Everyone would be presumed to have a knowledge of the

10 local area. The reason why that was corporal or above

11 was because they had a certain level of seniority or

12 maturity and operational understanding.

13 Q. Because they were working cheek and jowl on the

14 helicopter with people of ranks above them?

15 A. Yes, but I think primarily because of their experience,

16 they understood the sort of information that we in the

17 ops room were required to do. I don't think there was

18 any -- there was never any issue of the pilots

19 outranking the liaison officers, in my experience.

20 Q. Just tell us, please, what it was that a liaison officer

21 did or was expected to do when he was on board

22 a helicopter?

23 A. He was merely to provide what we would call steers to

24 the pilots, maybe direct the pilots to fly and overlook

25 a particular area, really to provide the pilots with

45

1 a wee bit of local knowledge and, again, for the pilots

2 to keep them informed of what they were doing. You

3 know, it is not very good practice just to tell a pilot

4 to hover over Lurgan without actually telling them the

5 purpose for their flight.

6 Q. And as far as the liaison officer was concerned and the

7 operations room was concerned, what was the role there?

8 What was meant to be fed back? What was meant to be

9 done by the liaison officer to help you?

10 A. Well, anything on -- anything that he deemed

11 significant. It really did depend on the task and the

12 circumstances on the ground when the helicopter was up.

13 But, for example, they may be able to relate

14 features on the ground to previous incidents that they

15 had been involved in, or they may be able to relate

16 activity on the ground to experiences or incidents that

17 they had had. And that just helps present a fuller

18 picture to us in the ops room of what was happening and

19 potentially what could happen.

20 Q. And you, I think, said that sometimes they would be

21 briefed before they went on the helicopter?

22 A. Sometimes the pilot would conduct a closedown brief, so

23 they would close down and come into the ops room. That

24 really did depend on the time that the helicopter

25 arrived, the urgency that it required to get them up or

46

1 the circumstances in which they were going up.

2 Q. And sometimes there was a great urgency and they were

3 briefed on board?

4 A. Correct.

5 Q. Did you brief any liaison officers?

6 A. Yes, if the circumstances dictated it or if there was

7 something that I specifically wanted them to understand

8 or to carry out, then I would speak to them personally.

9 Q. Thank you. How easy would it be for a liaison officer

10 to either ensure or avoid being assigned to a particular

11 helicopter at a particular time?

12 A. Well, really the booking of the helicopters and the,

13 I suppose, the shift pattern are not linked; they are

14 completely random. So I think it would be pretty

15 difficult for an individual to avoid going up in

16 a particular helicopter. I mean, there were soldiers

17 that did complain of air sickness and they requested

18 that they didn't do it, but if push came to shove and we

19 needed to provide someone, then they would have to

20 do it.

21 Q. And you say to ensure. What about avoid: The same

22 principles would apply?

23 A. I think so, yes.

24 Q. I think I'm right in saying in fairness to you that

25 there might be occasions, as a member of the quick

47

1 reaction force, that the problem was they had reacted

2 too quickly to something and it was impossible for the

3 LO to come back or be at the base when the helicopter

4 arrived?

5 A. That's when the liaison officers were always a nice to

6 have and not a must have. When a liaison officer wasn't

7 available, if it was during the normal working day then

8 perhaps we could ask someone from the intelligence cell

9 or from any of the rifle companies that were in camp if

10 they could provide a liaison officer. But if it was

11 out-of-hours and the QRF were deployed and there was

12 no one available, then the pilot either had to be

13 briefed over the radio or have a closedown brief.

14 Q. Thank you. Now, turning our attention to Sunday,

15 14 March, could we call up RNI-513-001, please

16 (displayed). No need to highlight it. I think we can

17 all read that.

18 I just want you to be familiar that this is

19 the statement made to the police investigating

20 Mrs Nelson's murder on 18 March 1999.

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Can we turn over to page RNI-513-002, please, and

23 highlight the bottom half of that page (displayed).

24 Thank you.

25 I think, if I may say so, the fairest and easiest

48

1 way for me to help you is to take you to this statement,

2 which is an account given, as we have seen, very soon

3 after the death of Mrs Nelson, of what you were doing?

4 A. Hm-mm.

5 Q. And I will just read through it with you, if I may:

6 "On Sunday, 14 March 1999, I commenced duty in the

7 ops room at Mahon Road at 17.30. The watchkeeper had

8 just received a telephone call from police in Lurgan.

9 The watchkeeper briefed me to the effect that a suspect

10 device had been reported in the area of 5 Lake Street,

11 Lurgan. It was at the request of the police, because it

12 was still daylight, that a helicopter be deployed. The

13 reason for this was to attempt to ascertain if there was

14 in fact a device without having to deploy resources to

15 an area which had seen public disorder in the past when

16 responding to similar type calls."

17 Pausing there, you were always mindful, I suspect,

18 that this may have been what is known as a come-on?

19 A. Yes. Primarily you were concerned about the safety of

20 your own troops, but I think as well that there had been

21 several instances of unrest around the Kilwilke Estate

22 at that time. It was an area that was renowned for it,

23 and to put it quite simply, if we weren't there, they

24 had nothing to throw stones at. So we didn't want to

25 exacerbate the situation.

49

1 Q. Thank you. Reading on:

2 "I deployed a helicopter via the RAF ..."

3 Does that mean, can you remember, that it was

4 the call that we discussed through to Aldergrove, or do

5 you mean it was an RAF --

6 A. Specifically I can't remember, but if I said the RAF, I

7 think it would be safe to assume that it was Aldergrove.

8 Q. "... and am aware that a Gazelle was deployed, but not

9 aware of what facilities are on board a Gazelle. I

10 spoke to the crew of the Gazelle helicopter and they

11 advised that the Kilwilke area was extremely busy for

12 a Sunday evening with approximately 200 people milling

13 around the estate in general."

14 So that would be communication with the liaison

15 officer?

16 A. Maybe, maybe not. I can't remember specifically. It

17 could well have been that the helicopter flew from

18 Aldergrove directly to Lurgan and stopped overhead and

19 he was briefed by radio and perhaps I spoke to him on

20 the radio. I don't know if there was a liaison officer

21 present at that time.

22 Q. We have heard some evidence about that, but there could

23 well have been, you say, but you don't remember?

24 A. Possibly, but I don't remember.

25 Q. I'm not going to read the next part because that just

50

1 deals with disorder that has been reported back to you.

2 Could we go over the page, please, RNI-513-003, and

3 highlight that (displayed):

4 "I subsequently received a telephone call from

5 Inspector [blank] advising me that one of the residents

6 of Lake Street had disposed of the device in an area of

7 waste ground to the rear of 5 Lake Street, Lurgan.

8 Because of security implications, it was decided that

9 a search would not are carried out until the following

10 day. Details of this incident would also be logged by

11 the watchkeeper.

12 "I finished duty just after midnight and have been

13 on planned leave since. I can say the helicopter

14 deployed in this instance was withdrawn from the area of

15 Kilwilke at 20.00 hours."

16 Yes?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. So that's your very nearly contemporaneous account of

19 what was going on. Do you actually recall briefing

20 an LO or not to go up on that flight?

21 A. No, I don't recall briefing an LO.

22 Q. But you might well have done?

23 A. It is possible.

24 Q. Yes. As far as you are concerned, can you help me with

25 the recording capabilities of that helicopter? Would

51

1 you accept from me that it had a video recording

2 facility on it, a thermal imaging facility?

3 A. If you have been told that by an expert witness, I would

4 accept it.

5 Q. From your experience, Gazelles did have video recording

6 facilities?

7 A. To be honest, I know that Puma 4 had a recording

8 capability. Regardless of what I said in my statement,

9 I'm not sure at the moment. I wouldn't like to give

10 a definite answer.

11 Q. That's very fair of you. You are perhaps not the best

12 person to ask about that.

13 As far as you are concerned, what, if any,

14 recollection do you have of the instigation of video

15 recording on this Gazelle 4?

16 A. If it had video recording capability, I have no

17 recollection of tasking it to record any video.

18 Primarily I just wanted to get eyes on the estate to try

19 and get a feel for what was going on, and also inform

20 the police because the police would have channels open

21 into the community where they could perhaps decide how

22 to take things forward. Really the deployment of the

23 helicopter was an information-gathering exercise.

24 Q. Yes, and would I be right in saying -- and I haven't

25 read it out to you -- there was quite a lot of disorder

52

1 going on that night -- cars being set on fire, people

2 moving around -- that, sadly, was rather

3 run-of-the-mill?

4 A. At that time it wasn't unusual.

5 Q. So, therefore, not to record it might not be deemed

6 entirely unusual?

7 A. Not at all.

8 Q. There was discretion though, was there not, between

9 those on the actual helicopter as to whether or not they

10 set the video in motion? They didn't have to wait for

11 a command or a request from the ground?

12 A. I don't know what the sort of procedures, the exact

13 procedures, were in terms of setting recording videos on

14 the helicopter, no.

15 Q. No, as far as obtaining a recording from a Gazelle

16 helicopter is concerned, are you able to assist me with

17 that at all?

18 A. It certainly wasn't a case of the pilot landing and

19 handing me a video cassette. A formal request would

20 have to be put in, and more often than not it would have

21 had some sort of classification, be it restricted or

22 otherwise, that would have to be made formally.

23 Q. Could we call up RNI-845-011, please (displayed). Thank

24 you. Could we highlight 24. This is your statement to

25 the Inquiry:

53

1 "I have been asked if it was possible to request the

2 video footage from the helicopters. Access to the video

3 recordings of footage from helicopters was very tightly

4 controlled. To get hold of a video from a helicopter, I

5 would have had to submit a request to the Squadron

6 Leader at Aldergrove. It was rare for such a request to

7 be made as the need to see such footage rarely occurred.

8 It was the real time pictures that were of interest to

9 us in the ops room."

10 So that expands slightly on what you have just told

11 me. Can you in fact remember whether you made a request

12 on this occasion for the video?

13 A. I can't remember.

14 Q. Can you remember whether in fact ever you have requested

15 a video?

16 A. I think that on occasions I did. For the purposes of

17 learning from previous operations, for example, if the

18 soldiers were involved in public disorder, then they

19 have a very sort of colloquial view. They only see

20 things immediately in front of them. What the

21 helicopter video can highlight is perhaps how the

22 rioters are organised or what is going on in streets

23 parallel to the main riot taking place. This could then

24 be shown to the commanders afterwards maybe to allow

25 them to identify indicators in the future of a riot

54

1 escalating or an attack taking place behind the coverage

2 of a riot. So it would be used to try and learn from

3 our operational experience.

4 Q. Thank you. Now, moving on to the second and final

5 flight that I would just like to ask you about, can we

6 call up RNI-840-010, please (displayed), highlighting

7 paragraph 22. Just to again be clear, this is your

8 statement to the Inquiry:

9 "I have been asked if there were any flights tasked

10 later in the evening of 14 March. No flights were

11 tasked by me between 8 pm and 12 am (when I came off

12 duty). I've been asked if I would generally have been

13 aware if other flights took place over my area that were

14 not authorised by me. If pilots were flying over our

15 area, they would usually radio in their call signs to

16 tell us they were in the area."

17 Just pausing there, I take it that you mean there if

18 someone was flying, I don't know, from the south of

19 Ireland to Scotland, for example, transiting your area,

20 that's what you are talking about there?

21 A. Yes, it is purely transit.

22 Q. "There may also be training flights taking place in the

23 area and I would probably have been told about these.

24 However, if the helicopters were being used by covert

25 special users, I would not have been told about the

55

1 flights."

2 Just taking that last sentence, obviously you may

3 not have known about the detail of covert special

4 flights, but were aware, either at the time or

5 subsequently, that there were helicopters operating in

6 your area that you were not told about or in

7 communication with?

8 A. No, not that I recall.

9 Q. So -- and I don't mean this rudely -- that last sentence

10 is in some respect speculation, it is not, based on your

11 experience?

12 A. Certainly they wouldn't come up and say, "I'm supporting

13 a covert troop". They may have come up and say their

14 helicopter call sign and say, "I'm transiting your area

15 from north to south", for example, but they wouldn't

16 explain their purpose and we wouldn't ask.

17 Q. So by virtue of them not explaining their purpose, might

18 you have been able to make an educated guess as to what

19 they were doing?

20 A. No.

21 Q. When I say what they were doing, I don't mean precisely

22 but that they were covert?

23 A. No, not particularly because other helicopters who were

24 genuinely transiting, we didn't guess what they were

25 doing. They were just overflying our area.

56

1 Q. So that last sentence is simply you saying, "I know, as

2 a fact, that I would not be told about covert or special

3 flights"?

4 A. Yes.

5 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Supposing that there were

6 a helicopter being used for a covert flight, would you

7 not have known at all about the fact that there was

8 a helicopter in your area or would that have been safe,

9 is the question that occurs to me?

10 A. They would have come up and announced themselves on our

11 communications net if they were transiting, but if they

12 were being used for covert operations, they would have

13 been using their own communications network; they

14 certainly wouldn't be operating on our radio net. It

15 would -- I can't speak about the sort of air traffic

16 control safety aspect of it, but the people who are

17 using the helicopters know where it is and I suppose

18 from a safety point of view, if anything went wrong,

19 then they would press the appropriate button and put any

20 sort of incident reaction into place.

21 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: But what about any clashes with any

22 overt helicopter tasking?

23 A. That's a question for air traffic control. We didn't

24 control the airspace over Northern Ireland. Aldergrove

25 or Bessbrook would to do that.

57

1 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Right.

2 MR SAVILL: Thank you. Now, we are talking about this

3 Gazelle 6 flight that took place roughly the half hour

4 prior to midnight on Sunday, 14 March. You said in your

5 statement there that no flights were tasked by you.

6 When did you first become aware of this flight? That

7 this flight had taken place?

8 A. Well, it was on the operational tasking sheet, so I

9 would have been aware of it probably for -- since the

10 operational tasking sheet was printed.

11 Q. Well, forgive me, but they are not quite the same thing,

12 are they? What we know about is a flight flown by

13 Gazelle 6 with certain people on board that observed --

14 I will come to this -- roughly the Kilwilke area; yes?

15 A. Right.

16 Q. I'm not going to call it up unless anybody particularly

17 wants me to, but the tasking sheet that we looked at

18 RNI-513-037 -- don't call it up -- lists MBP, mortar

19 baseplate, stations and two locations and an operating

20 time of 23.30 and half past midnight.

21 I accept from you that there is a coincidence, if

22 you like, of the two flights, but it is not quite

23 possible, is it, to say that they were one and the same,

24 that the flight that took place was that planned flight?

25 Can you say that?

58

1 A. It is possible, yes.

2 Q. Well, it is possible, but can you say that?

3 A. To be absolutely definite about it now, no, I can't.

4 Q. No. So you have, I think, answered my question, which

5 was when did you first become aware of this Gazelle 6

6 flight by saying, "Well, it is on the tasking sheet";

7 yes?

8 A. Hm-mm.

9 Q. Now, you say in your statement no flights were tasked by

10 me between 8 pm and 12 am. Are you distinguishing being

11 aware of a flight and tasking a flight?

12 A. I think that what I was saying was that I did not task

13 another flight in relation to a public disorder incident

14 that happened. The flight coming in at 23.30 was

15 pre-planned and was due to happen anyway.

16 Q. Now, did that flight, to your recollection, that you are

17 saying was pre-planned on the tasking sheet come to

18 Mahon Road to collect an LO?

19 A. I don't remember.

20 Q. Because is it the situation that you may have briefed

21 the LO before he went out again on this flight?

22 A. I would think that in light of what had happened earlier

23 in the day that I would have wanted to speak to either

24 an LO or at least have a face-to-face briefing with the

25 pilots. But I don't remember if I did either of those

59

1 things.

2 Q. You see, what we have got is an advance plan for

3 a flight to come and conduct certain activities, and

4 then a helicopter, a Gazelle helicopter, carrying out

5 something rather different, it would seem, to the

6 pre-planned activities. That's fair, isn't it, to put

7 it that way?

8 A. Yes, it is fair, and it also makes a certain amount of

9 sense that programme was done a format in advance. You

10 are not going to slavishly follow a programme if the

11 circumstances change. We had a helicopter for an hour

12 according to the programme and, you know, really in the

13 vast majority of these cases it was left up to the user,

14 i.e. 3 Royal Irish, how to use that helicopter, that

15 asset, in support of its operations.

16 Q. In fairness, we should note that it was Gazelle 6 on

17 this flight and it had been Gazelle 4 that had been

18 conducting the earlier circuit of the estate?

19 A. Yes, I think that beforehand it was still daylight, but

20 Gazelle 6, I believe -- I don't know, but I'm assuming

21 that that would have been the Finch or the night time

22 capable helicopter.

23 Q. Yes. So as far as you are concerned, this second

24 flight, Gazelle 6 flight, whatever it said on the

25 tasking sheet -- can you remember it conducting

60

1 a further similar set of activities to that of

2 Gazelle 4? Can you remember that?

3 A. No, I can't.

4 Q. Because what I want to ask you is -- we have heard about

5 the disorder and Gazelle 4 going up and relaying back

6 images, and my impression certainly is that perhaps

7 things were -- or had the potential to calm down of

8 their own accord. Do you follow me?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. So would you say now that it was perhaps unusual or

11 unnecessary even to send out Gazelle 6 -- I'm just

12 thinking -- three or four hours after Gazelle 4 when in

13 reality it might have been easier and better, more

14 efficient, to check in the morning?

15 A. We could have looked at it in the morning. The police

16 may have requested us to have an overflight just to

17 check that it was quiet. In my experience, if an area

18 had been quiet for three hours, a helicopter looking

19 maybe obliquely into an estate and not hovering directly

20 overhead would not be enough to spark a riot.

21 I think the important thing in relation to the

22 disorder that night was that we did not physically fly

23 into the estate. Had we done so, I'm in no doubt that

24 the disorder would have escalated and perhaps continued

25 into the night. So whilst you could have looked at it

61

1 in the morning, I think that it was fine perhaps to go

2 and have a look at it during the night.

3 Q. So not entirely out of the ordinary?

4 A. No, I wouldn't have thought so, no.

5 Q. You have mentioned a request from the police and you

6 have explored a little bit these flights. Let me just

7 turn to record-keeping, if I may.

8 If I could just ask you, when you are sending up

9 a flight to send back information, it would be strange,

10 would it not, if no information first of all was sent

11 back?

12 A. Well, it depends. If there is nothing happening, then

13 there isn't a great deal to say. There would be nothing

14 to report.

15 Q. That's what I mean: there would at the very least have

16 been nothing to report?

17 A. Unless there is some sort of communications fault,

18 I suppose it is reasonable to assume that.

19 Q. What I'm saying is you wouldn't send off a helicopter

20 with a liaison officer on board. Whilst I'm on that

21 subject, could you just look at your cipher list? A645,

22 does that prompt any memories as to an LO or --

23 A. Yes, I know that individual, yes.

24 Q. Can you remember whether he was the LO, looking at that

25 name --

62

1 A. I can't, no.

2 Q. It would be unusual for a flight to go up with an LO on

3 board, for there to be total silence until the

4 helicopter comes down and somebody comes into the

5 operations room and reports to you. You would expect

6 there to be traffic back while the helicopter is in the

7 air, at the very least to say nothing to report,

8 situation normal?

9 A. They could report that. But, again, you know, maybe

10 they were reporting by exception. You know, we won't

11 say anything unless we see anything of interest.

12 Q. But this was a flight, was it not, that was checking up

13 on previous incidents?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. So it might not have been unusual, might it, for it to

16 have said --

17 A. The area is quiet.

18 Q. "The car fire that we saw previously has gone out", for

19 example?

20 A. Potentially.

21 Q. There were points of reference. That's what I'm

22 driving at?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. Could we just have a look, please, at RNI-406-291

25 (displayed)? This, I very much hope, is the radio log

63

1 that we have been talking about.

2 A. It looks like it, yes.

3 Q. We can see at the top of the page, before we highlight

4 anything, the date, 14 March 1999 and the frequency. If

5 we then run our finger, as it were, figuratively, down

6 the left-hand column, we come to an entry at 18.12. If

7 we can just highlight from there downwards, please, we

8 can see that the first column is the time, the second

9 column is headed "A call to". What does that represent,

10 that M -- is that 0?

11 A. Zero or Mike Zero is the control station, so that would

12 be the operations room.

13 Q. Then we have GZ4?

14 A. Gazelle 4.

15 Q. Then we have got what is headed in the column as an MR

16 number. What's that? 93?

17 A. I think that's probably just a serial number for that

18 day. That would be the 91st entry and the 92nd entry

19 for 14 March.

20 Q. Okay. And in the far right-hand column, we can see

21 gold-coloured -- I can't actually decipher that --

22 outside the address given. "PC", is it? A short form

23 for something. Parade? I don't know --

24 A. I don't know.

25 Q. And then we have got "Group at ..." I presume that is

64

1 a grid reference?

2 A. That's correct.

3 Q. "... playing soccer. Groups of three to four hanging

4 around the estate."

5 I'm not going to read all of these; we can all see

6 it. It is basically information from Gazelle 4 about

7 what's going on. And at 18.39, you are told:

8 "15 minutes left a task."

9 Presumably that's due to fuel; yes?

10 A. Perhaps, yes.

11 Q. There might be another reason. Can we go over the page

12 to RNI-406-292, please, and highlight as much of that

13 page as we can (displayed)? We can see, for example, at

14 18.47 it looks as though they had set fire to a car and

15 that above, "grid", I think:

16 "... the crowd was starting to disperse."

17 Yes?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. So, as I say, I'm not going to read them all, but we

20 have got what I think fairly can be described as a blow

21 by blow account of what is going on on the estate while

22 the helicopter is overhead; yes?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. And just to be fair to you, is there anything you would

25 like to say about that? This is normal, is it, and what

65

1 you would expect to see?

2 A. I have nothing to add to what's on this.

3 Q. Thank you. If we get rid of the highlight, please, we

4 can hopefully just see towards the bottom of the page

5 that at 20.01, underneath 19.54:

6 "Return your log for drop-off."

7 Yes?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. That would suggest, at the risk of stating the obvious,

10 the drop-off of someone or something, probably --

11 A. The liaison officer.

12 Q. Thank you. We then go over the page to RNI-406-293

13 (displayed). I'm not going to read it all out, but we

14 go down the page in time sequence and it is perhaps of

15 interest to us to remember the time, as I have said,

16 around half past 11, towards midnight, that Gazelle 6

17 was overhead and operating.

18 But we see, if we can highlight the middle portion

19 of the page, please, 22.47, 22.53, and then it runs down

20 the page, 12 minutes past 11, 15 minutes past, 19, I

21 think that is, 23 minutes past, 28 minutes past and then

22 at 23.51 we have an entry from Gazelle 6, don't we?

23 A. Yes, we do.

24 Q. That's, on any view, towards the latter end of

25 Gazelle 6's flight time and it says "flicking". I think

66

1 that's something to do with radio frequency, is it?

2 A. Yes, flicking would have been a term that we used to say

3 leaving your area and flicking to other means or another

4 channel.

5 Q. Right. Now, I haven't gone through every single entry

6 prior to that, and I hope I don't need to, but having

7 looked at it, that's the only mention of Gazelle 6. So

8 there is a mention; yes?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. And that is the only radio traffic coming in from

11 Gazelle 6. So I have already asked you about the

12 possibility and probability of there being very little

13 input from the helicopter. Seeing that now, does that

14 strike you as unusual or normal, that the helicopter

15 that had had one task, pre-planned, that had gone off to

16 do something else, simply doesn't send in any traffic to

17 you or that traffic is not recorded?

18 A. I suppose in the context of earlier in the evening, then

19 perhaps it looks a little odd, yes.

20 Q. You know, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but

21 you have got a helicopter that has gone out again to

22 check up, as it were, on what has been going on

23 previously; yes? It has got an LO on board --

24 A. I don't remember what it was specifically tasked to do.

25 Q. Forgive me, I'm just trying to set the scene for you as

67

1 we understand it. And there is absolutely nothing

2 either that was radioed through or, as I say, that was

3 recorded.

4 Dealing with the second of those possibilities, have

5 you ever encountered a situation where you or the radio

6 operator, the signals logger, has either rightly or

7 wrongly excluded entries from the radio log?

8 A. Not that I can recall. I don't recall having to speak

9 to a signaller about -- at any stage about not logging

10 or recording anything.

11 Q. There is poor standards on the one hand because they are

12 sloppy. I'm not suggesting they were, but because they

13 were sloppy in doing it, and on the other we have

14 a definite reason for not doing it: don't record that

15 because X, Y and Z. Are either of those familiar

16 situations to you?

17 A. I haven't encountered either. There would have been

18 signallers, as in any walk of life, who are probably

19 better than others, but certainly in my time in the ops

20 room I never heard anyone say don't record it and

21 I certainly didn't tell anyone not to record anything.

22 My view of these documents are that if we record

23 everything that's there, then they can be as much for

24 your defence, shall we say, as anything else, and I use

25 that word "defence" in terms of some of the complaints

68

1 or claims that are made against us for damage and so on.

2 These documents can be very helpful.

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Just that one entry, Gazelle 6 there on

4 the screen, "flicking", you say that's flicking from the

5 channel that is being monitored --

6 A. Flicking communications channels. So it is probably

7 leaving our airspace.

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Leaving your airspace?

9 A. Yes.

10 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: But is that flicking from the ops

11 channel that you are monitoring or flicking from the air

12 traffic control?

13 A. It would be flicking from our radio channel.

14 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So you couldn't hear? Your signaller

15 couldn't hear anything after that entry?

16 A. Correct.

17 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Could he/she?

18 A. They couldn't hear anything after that. They would be

19 operating on either the Aldergrove radio net, or if they

20 were working to another battalion, working on that other

21 battalion's radio net. But we couldn't hear anything

22 after 23.51.

23 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So in terms of monitoring operational

24 actions and feedback, who would they be reporting to if

25 not to you?

69

1 A. I don't know because they are not under our control at

2 that stage. If we can't speak to them, then they are

3 not under our control. They would be -- I don't know

4 how many nets the helicopters monitor, but they would

5 have been in contact with someone.

6 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: But in terms of the geographical area

7 that you were covering, you were the sole operations

8 room and that was the sole channel monitoring

9 operations, as far as you were aware?

10 A. In the Craigavon area, yes.

11 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: I mean, can you offer any operational

12 explanation from your experience as to who might have

13 been monitoring that alternative channel once they

14 flicked off yours?

15 A. Well, the two places where we got helicopters from were

16 Aldergrove, but also there was a very busy heliport in

17 Bessbrook at that time, and I don't know -- I don't know

18 where the helicopter came from or went to, either

19 Aldergrove or Bessbrook. I also don't recall if it was

20 retasked to another battalion. I do not know. We had

21 a neighbouring battalion headquarters in Armagh city and

22 one further south based in Bessbrook and one in

23 Dungannon. They are the three closest other battalion

24 radio networks, to the best of my memory.

25 THE CHAIRMAN: You said the entry 23.51 is the helicopter

70

1 Gazelle 6 leaving your airspace. Shouldn't there be an

2 entry when it enters your airspace?

3 A. That would be normal practice, sir, yes.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: And that would be round about, wouldn't it,

5 23.25?

6 A. Probably, based on the tasking sheet that we saw

7 earlier, sir, yes.

8 THE CHAIRMAN: Why wouldn't there be any record of it

9 entering your airspace?

10 A. I don't know. I can't offer an explanation for that,

11 sir.

12 MR SAVILL: Would there have been a brigade radio net,

13 as such?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. As I understand it, the helicopter could have chosen to

16 be in contact with any frequency. It was up to the

17 helicopter?

18 A. That's correct.

19 Q. But as you have been asked by the Panel, if I can put it

20 like this, you were the one that they should have been

21 in touch with?

22 A. When they were operating over our area to us, yes.

23 Q. Let me ask you this question, which may or may not

24 assist you: if you were asked to critique that radio log

25 perhaps as part after training exercise or a personnel

71

1 assessment, yes, and seeing that single entry as to

2 Gazelle 6, knowing what you know, what would you say?

3 A. In the context of what happened on the 14th and what we

4 have seen previously?

5 Q. Yes.

6 A. I would say that it doesn't -- that it looks to me as

7 being quite unusual, bearing in mind that the log seems

8 to have been very well kept throughout. Certainly it is

9 pretty detailed what happened on the previous page.

10 Q. And can we get rid of the highlight, please. Thank you.

11 Just take in the handwriting there of that page; yes?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Do you in fact recognise that handwriting?

14 A. No, no, I don't.

15 Q. But just have a look at that. Could we just then call

16 up RNI-406-292 (displayed). Are you able to tell us the

17 same person? Or, putting it another way, should there

18 be an entry in the log if the logger changes?

19 A. I don't know if it is the same person or not. Some of

20 the shifts -- it depends on manpower availability.

21 Sometimes there would be three shifts of eight hours,

22 sometimes two shifts of 12. So I don't know what the

23 changeover was at that time.

24 Q. All right. Another question. I can't profess to having

25 read every single page of every single radio log, but

72

1 having looked at the ones I have, I think I'm right in

2 saying that when we look at the call to and from, it is

3 always inward bound traffic to you. There isn't an

4 entry that says, "Call from M -- mike -- 0". Do you

5 follow me?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Why is that? Is there another log for traffic going the

8 other way?

9 A. There was only one log, one signaller's log, kept to the

10 best of my knowledge.

11 Q. I probably shouldn't give my own personal opinion, but

12 it seems strange that it is all one-way traffic that is

13 entered on the log. You know, if you said to the

14 signals operator, "Find out from the helicopter, I don't

15 know, how much fuel they have got or whether that car

16 fire has gone out", that might be something you would

17 say, would it?

18 A. Potentially, yes.

19 Q. You wouldn't get on the radio yourself, would you?

20 A. Sometimes I would. Sometimes I would just say -- if I

21 was doing something else, I would say to the signaller,

22 "Please ask the helicopter what the status is --

23 Q. Yes, but that is something you would expect the logger

24 to note -- an outward going communication -- as much as

25 an inward bound communication?

73

1 A. I suppose if I'm there and I'm hearing it, it wasn't

2 something that I really have given any thought to,

3 I must admit. I mean, I think that the watchkeeper's

4 log, the two logs --

5 Q. Hold on, this is the radio log?

6 A. Yes, but I think that the watchkeeper's log made more

7 detail of the actions that we took and the decisions

8 that we made in the ops room, as opposed to the

9 signals log.

10 Q. But it this way if -- and I'm not suggesting we do -- we

11 spent a couple of hours going through the radio logs for

12 various dates and times, would we ever find an entry

13 recording from M -- mike -- 0 to a helicopter?

14 A. I don't know. I have never gone through any signals

15 logs before.

16 Q. Let me put it like this: should those communications be

17 recorded?

18 A. I suppose they should, yes.

19 Q. Because it is a bit of a hole in the net, isn't it, if

20 your communications log only records incoming traffic?

21 A. I suppose it does, yes. As you say, showing sort of

22 one-way traffic, it has never been brought to my

23 attention before until now.

24 Q. Apologies.

25 A. It is not just in this context of the Inquiry, but when

74

1 I was working in the ops room it didn't raise its head

2 either.

3 Q. Let's us perhaps --

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Before we leave RNI-406-292, would you look

5 at the entry 19.44 --

6 MR SAVILL: We can probably highlight that.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: -- and 19.49. Those are both entries

8 relating to Gazelle 6, aren't they?

9 A. Yes.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Does that mean that at 19.44, Gazelle 6

11 passed over your airspace?

12 A. East to west?

13 THE CHAIRMAN: That's right.

14 A. That's what it looks like to me, sir, yes.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: So it is entering your airspace and then it

16 is leaving your airspace at 19.49.

17 A. When he says flicking, so moving to other channel.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. But, of course, that particular journey

19 of Gazelle 6 was not part of your tasked, written

20 requirement for Gazelle 6, was it?

21 A. No, that flight wasn't --

22 THE CHAIRMAN: It was nothing to do with your operations?

23 A. It looks as though it was quite simply a transit flight.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. But there the records of the entries

25 made?

75

1 A. Correct, sir.

2 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can I just follow that up because

3 having heard evidence of the tasking for Gazelle 6, it

4 was an all Northern Ireland capability, as we understand

5 it. It was the night capability.

6 A. It was a night time capable helicopter, yes, that's

7 right.

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So looking at these entries, it would

9 not be unusual for Gazelle 6 to be deployed to any of

10 the operational areas in Northern Ireland?

11 A. Not at all.

12 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: And, therefore, would come in and leave

13 airspace quite frequently?

14 A. Yes.

15 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Now, having that roving responsibility,

16 what were the instructions given in relation to

17 Gazelle 6 when there was an operation that that

18 helicopter was deployed to within a particular command

19 area?

20 A. Instructions given by whom?

21 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Well, who would they report to?

22 A. They would report to the unit that had requested their

23 support.

24 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So if the request for that flight on

25 the 14th, for Gazelle 6, had not come from you, which is

76

1 what --

2 A. Are we talking about the one at 19 --

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: No, the later flight.

4 A. There was a request for a Finch, the same thing as

5 Gazelle 6, put in by us for 23.30 to 00.30 on that night

6 on the operational tasking sheet.

7 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: That was the pre-planned?

8 A. Yes.

9 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: But we are saying, Mr Savill, aren't

10 we, that's not the Lurgan deployment?

11 MR SAVILL: I'm going to have to be totally honest with you,

12 I was reading a note. Could you repeat that, sir?

13 I'm sorry.

14 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Yes. Well, let me deal with it then.

15 There was a pre-planned Gazelle 6 flight for that

16 night?

17 A. That's correct.

18 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Which you had requested?

19 A. Yes.

20 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: But to your knowledge, that was not the

21 Lurgan flight that we are concerned with, the second

22 visit to Kilwilke Estate, was it?

23 A. I honestly do not remember whether that flight was

24 retasked to Lurgan for definite. It is entirely

25 possible and I would perhaps even say likely that given

77

1 what had happened earlier on the day of the 14th, that

2 the helicopter was retasked to have a look at Lurgan to

3 ascertain that it was quiet.

4 If we had the -- and it was then possible within an

5 hour that it could have conducted the other tasks in

6 Banbridge and Rathfriland, although there wouldn't have

7 been any loiter time or capability at those two

8 occasions.

9 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Right. Can I return to my original

10 point then, if I may. Thank you for that.

11 If that redeployment took place, what were the

12 standing instructions to the helicopter crews as to

13 which ops room they would report to if they were

14 redeployed to a task around Lurgan?

15 A. They would work to us in the battalion.

16 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: They should book on to say that they

17 were now deployed to a task with you?

18 A. Yes.

19 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Their operational reporting should be

20 to you?

21 A. Yes.

22 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: And if they then moved to another area

23 of deployment --

24 A. Yes, they would tell us.

25 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Then they would flick and move away

78

1 from you?

2 A. That's correct.

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay.

4 MR SAVILL: Perhaps we can look at it in a theoretical way.

5 We have got a pre-planned Finch capability waiting or,

6 in theory, available at Aldergrove that night; yes?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. And we have heard about a flight involving a Gazelle

9 helicopter, Gazelle 6, around half past 11/midnight, in

10 that time bracket, following up on the Gazelle 4 flight;

11 yes?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. I know you can't remember, but talking about theory at

14 least, would it have been your decision to send another

15 helicopter around again later in the evening, or would

16 it be more likely to have been a request from the

17 police?

18 A. It could have been either. I'm sorry I can't give you

19 a definite answer, but it could have been either.

20 Q. So in stages, it could have been you or it could have

21 been the police that made the request?

22 A. Correct.

23 Q. Whoever made the request, someone, presumably, would

24 have had to communicate that to the Finch pre-planned

25 capability helicopter?

79

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Would that have been done before they took off?

3 A. It is unlikely that it was done before they took off

4 from their base location in Aldergrove.

5 Q. Who would have done it?

6 A. Either -- so it was more likely that the brief took

7 place then in Portadown, and the brief would have been

8 conducted either by myself or by the liaison officer

9 going up with them.

10 Q. As part of their pre-planned activity, would they have

11 expected to touch down at Portadown?

12 A. Probably not.

13 Q. So at what point, being colloquial, would the commander

14 or pilot have looked at each other and said, "Oh,

15 I thought we were checking out baseplates tonight. It

16 seems we are going round over the Kilwilke Estate"?

17 A. It is like I said earlier, about for sending an LO up,

18 you like to try and place it in context. You explain to

19 the pilot why they are doing a particular task, and as

20 we discussed earlier, this was pretty familiar territory

21 in the Kilwilke at that stage so they wouldn't have been

22 surprised.

23 Q. So putting it in this way, it might have been the case,

24 might it, that the crew of this helicopter would have

25 taken off -- yes? -- would have been told to go to

80

1 Portadown, would have collected an LO, taken off again,

2 and the LO would have made them aware for the very first

3 time that they aren't going to be doing what they were

4 tasked to be doing, but something different?

5 A. Potentially that could happen, yes.

6 Q. And in your opinion, that wouldn't be a particularly

7 surprising sequence of events?

8 A. No.

9 Q. The air crew wouldn't be taken by surprise; it was

10 a common occurrence to be in principle tasked to do

11 something and then utilised to do something else. Is

12 that right?

13 A. Yes, they were a Province-wide asset. I think that

14 flexibility was one of their sort of key things.

15 Q. And was flicking an automatic electronic matter or was

16 it something someone had to do manually?

17 A. No, they would inform us when they would be doing it and

18 they would then change.

19 Q. So far as alteration of somebody's task and route and so

20 on and so forth in a helicopter, would that have been,

21 and should it have been, recorded anywhere?

22 A. I suppose maybe it -- you know, hindsight would make it

23 clearer if it was, but if I was in the ops room I might

24 have said, "We have got that Finch tonight. I'm going

25 to send it over Lurgan." It just would have been my

81

1 decision at the time. It may not have been logged.

2 Q. Yes. But let's be honest, there is perhaps more so in

3 the Army than anywhere else a right and wrong way of

4 doing things: should the alteration of the tasking of

5 this helicopter have been noted anywhere?

6 A. I'm taking a long time to answer on this one because in

7 the context of the time, changes to taskings were almost

8 a daily occurrence.

9 Q. Do you mean the night time or the year?

10 A. Daily, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year circumstances

11 changed. You know, demands always changed. Was every

12 operational task change logged? No, it wasn't. Should

13 they have been? If we are sticking by the absolute

14 letter of the law, then I suppose perhaps they should

15 have been. But the reality of the situation of the time

16 was that we were so busy and events were that fluid was

17 that they weren't.

18 Q. Thank you, and please feel free to enjoy me wallowing in

19 hindsight, but you understand why I'm asking you. The

20 flight that was pre-planned, I think, was for an hour;

21 yes?

22 A. That's what it says on the tasking sheet, yes.

23 Q. It says 23.30 to 00.30. Now, to do what they were

24 retasked to do didn't take all that long. Why, then,

25 did the pre-planned operation not take place prior to

82

1 going around the Kilwilke or subsequent to it, in

2 addition to the retasking? Can you help with that?

3 A. Well, I suppose it is a case of priorities. You know,

4 you want to have a look at the area that is of greatest

5 concern. You know, at that stage, you know, we were

6 looking at deploying troops into the Kilwilke on Monday

7 for a potential search and clearance of a device, an

8 explosive device. So that had the priority, which maybe

9 explains why it wasn't done first. Why they didn't do

10 the other things afterwards, you know, within that sort

11 of 20-minute window, perhaps we were retasked or had

12 something else to do.

13 Q. But that was their task, wasn't it, the pre-planned

14 task?

15 A. Yes, but it doesn't mean that you are wedded to that

16 throughout. They are a Province-wide asset, so they

17 could be tasked anywhere if a higher priority comes in.

18 Q. But if a higher priority didn't come in, it would be

19 unusual, would it not, for them to have completed the

20 circuit of the Kilwilke and then, in the remaining half

21 an hour or so, to use what you described as a valuable

22 resource to actually carry out the pre-planned

23 operations?

24 A. Well, what had happened on a couple of occasions,

25 perhaps they had been used extensively before and

83

1 perhaps their flying hours were down so they had to

2 perhaps curtail tasks. I do not know if that was the

3 case.

4 Q. But in any event, they didn't carry out, it would seem,

5 the pre-planned operation?

6 A. That's what it appears.

7 Q. Now, I was going to move on to another document,

8 RNI-833-121, please (displayed) because we are talking

9 about recording procedures. That needs to be flipped

10 round. This, I again very much hope, is the

11 operations log?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. That we have heard so much about. Very

14 self-explanatory, I think. 3 Royal Irish, Sergeant A642

15 completing, 14 March 1999, sheet number 3; yes?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Serial is the entry number, time to and from, event and

18 actions. Yes?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Now, we have got at the top of the page:

21 "Proposed cordon, POSNs ..."

22 That's what?

23 A. Positions.

24 Q. "... positions for suspect package at Lake Street.

25 Action: ops office aware. QRF."

84

1 I think it is "commander aware".

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Do you see that?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. Then we go to 19.10 and we have two ops from -- can you

6 help me with that?

7 A. RUC Lurgan.

8 Q. "RUC Lurgan called locals in the area and confirmed

9 details of the suspect package. It is a plastic

10 container of approximately 8 inches with black tape and

11 wires coming off it."

12 And perhaps more significantly in the action column:

13 "Gaz ..."

14 Gazelle, I presume:

15 "... informed."

16 A. Correct.

17 Q. "Ops officer informed. QRF informed."

18 So everybody is being informed. We, again, go down

19 and see that we have got a message at 18, I think, 50

20 from Gazelle 4 to you -- and I'm using the plural there,

21 you in the ops room?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. "Large crowd in ..."

24 I think:

25 "... around Kilwilke Estate. A group of 15 to 20

85

1 torched a vehicle in the wasteland next to the community

2 centre."

3 Yes?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And then we see who is informed about that. We have got

6 another entry -- well, that's, I think, 19.40, when

7 Gazelle 4 makes another report to you; yes?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Could we go over the page, please, to RNI-833-122

10 (displayed). We have got an entry at 20.20. We have

11 there, significantly, "Gazelle 4 LO". So Sergeant A642

12 has taken the trouble to distinguish between helicopter

13 crew and the liaison officer, I think.

14 A. Yes, that would be my reading of it.

15 Q. That's not to say that the previous entries weren't the

16 LO, but this one is being specific that it was. Again,

17 not reading the whole thing:

18 "Large groups in and around the Kilwilke Estate

19 ranging from 15 to 20. Approximately 200 in total all

20 over the estate."

21 And action is summary of activity. So would you

22 agree with me that there is a relatively detailed set of

23 entries here by Sergeant A642 recording what is going on

24 with these events on the Kilwilke Estate at that time?

25 A. Yes.

86

1 Q. Would you also agree with me, again, that there doesn't

2 seem to be, certainly on these pages, again, the second

3 side of the street, traffic and communication orders, if

4 you like, from you to the helicopter?

5 A. No.

6 Q. Again, is that unusual? Is that what the log should be

7 used for or not?

8 A. Well, this log is our actions and traffic. I wouldn't

9 describe it as particularly unusual. It is the first

10 time it has been brought -- as I said --

11 Q. We have got one at 19.40 from ops office to ops. Do you

12 see that?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Number 18.

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. What's the difference there?

17 A. That's me, the "from", telling the ops room or the

18 watchkeeper too. And what is says is that at 7 o'clock,

19 the Lurgan framework patrol -- after the changeover,

20 they are doing to Juliet Lima, which is Lurgan police

21 station, to be briefed by the duty inspector. And

22 that's presumably the plan for the following day's

23 operation.

24 Q. I'm sorry, it is my fault. I thought it said "office",

25 but it is actually ops officer?

87

1 A. Yes.

2 MR SAVILL: Thank you.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: And it is 7 am the next day?

4 A. That's correct because that was the plan that we were

5 sort of formulating to try and deal with the device that

6 we thought was there.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: The 20.20 entry, does that indicate that the

8 liaison officer, your corporal, was physically

9 reporting, having got out of Gazelle 4, to the ops room

10 or was he still in flight at that stage?

11 A. From reading that, sir, I would take it that he was in

12 flight.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

14 MR SAVILL: Looking at that entry, I wanted to ask you --

15 number 18 -- another question, that seems to be an

16 embryonic plan as to what you were going to do in the

17 future having received this information?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. So, again, looking at that -- and we have touched on

20 this -- it is a little surprising in the context of that

21 that the helicopter was sent out again because it would

22 seem that you had made a plan of action regardless?

23 A. Well, it was in its very early stages, as you've said,

24 and, you know, really what we like in these situations

25 whenever you are going through a sort of planning

88

1 process is to try and be drip fed information, to try

2 and have the most up-to-date information as you can.

3 As someone who plans operations, it wouldn't make

4 any sense to me to plan an operation for 9 o'clock the

5 following morning based on information I had at

6 7 o'clock the previous evening. I would like to have

7 up-to-date information if I could.

8 Q. Such as a helicopter going out at 5 in the morning, two

9 hours before 07.00 hours?

10 A. We try not to do that to sort of minimise -- we want to

11 minimise the impact on the local community. But

12 secondly, you really don't want to signal your

13 intentions to early. And the other thing is that the

14 police had worked quite hard to develop inroads into the

15 community in the Kilwilke and they had channels of

16 communication open that we didn't. So we were very much

17 reliant on them to give us the information about how the

18 operation should proceed.

19 Q. Yes. And if we can turn over the page to RNI-833-123,

20 please (displayed), we have got the last half of the

21 previous entry from 20.20 hours. Then, again, I think

22 it is 22.00, we have got "stand down". Perhaps you can

23 tell me what that means?

24 A. Yes. That would be a multiple, which is how we patrol.

25 It would be 12 soldiers in three vehicles, from

89

1 ten minutes' notice to move to 30 minutes' notice to

2 move. That was provided by an operations company from

3 a different regiment, but that would have been relating

4 to the Portadown subdivision and the ongoing dispute at

5 Drumcree at that time.

6 Q. Yes. And we have got an entry at 23.59. Now, just

7 first of all, I'm not an expert, but that certainly

8 looks to be a different pen being used to the previous

9 entries, doesn't it?

10 A. Possibly.

11 Q. Possibly. Are you able to tell me whether you recognise

12 that as being different handwriting to that of A642?

13 A. It looks like different handwriting to me, yes.

14 Q. Because if you look at your cipher sheet, how about

15 A175?

16 A. Yes, he was also one of my watchkeepers.

17 Q. He came on after this. Are you able to tell me whether

18 that's his handwriting or not?

19 A. No, I can't.

20 Q. So we have got the log being closed at 23.59. Now,

21 theory and reality are different things. In theory,

22 first of all, presumably the log should be closed in the

23 way that it is with a line drawn down the page and

24 someone saying or writing "log closed for the day".

25 That should happen every time?

90

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Should that be done, should that be written, by the

3 person who is finishing at that precise moment in time,

4 the end of the day, or should it be done by the person

5 coming on the next day?

6 A. Well, if they handed over -- if they handed over at

7 midnight, they conduct a full handover. For example,

8 the oncoming watchkeeper could turn up as much as

9 30 minutes in advance ready to be fully briefed on what

10 had happened the previous day in order to resume his

11 duty. It may well have been that he took over at a

12 quarter to midnight or ten to midnight.

13 Q. So it wasn't custom and practice that it would be the

14 person leaving that would sign it, it could just as

15 easily be the person coming on, could it?

16 A. As I said earlier, the shift pattern varied.

17 Q. With the best will in the world, has it ever been your

18 experience that someone has perhaps forgotten or omitted

19 to close a log and it has been done subsequently?

20 A. I suppose it is possible, but you --

21 Q. I'm not asking if it is possible; I'm asking has that

22 happened in your experience?

23 A. I don't recall it happening in my experience simply

24 because whenever you start a new day after midnight, you

25 begin with a new serial. So you start afresh.

91

1 Q. You mean a new page?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. And the serial is one for a day?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. But have you ever experienced someone saying, "I'm on

6 the new page, one, I have just flicked back out of

7 interest and, goodness me, sergeant so and so has been

8 so keen to get out of the base he has forgotten to close

9 the log"?

10 A. I don't recall ever having to deal with an incident like

11 that.

12 Q. Thank you. And obviously the question I have to ask you

13 is simply this: there is no record or entry of the

14 Gazelle 6 flight, whatever it was doing, on this page,

15 is there?

16 A. No.

17 Q. And taking a few moments, if you wish -- I'm not

18 suggesting it is your responsibility -- but can you

19 offer us any assistance as to why that is, particularly

20 bearing in mind the entries that we have already seen?

21 A. Well, I think that we don't see anything in the

22 watchkeeper's log pertaining to any of the routinely

23 planned patrol activity. It is all pertaining to that

24 particular specific incident, which, you know, at around

25 8 o'clock it had quietened down and we decided we were

92

1 going to leave it until the next day.

2 The Gazelle 6 was pre-planned. Okay, there is

3 a degree of flexibility in how we task it and, you know,

4 as I have explained, you know, it was a busy sort of

5 fluid place, so maybe the change in tasking just went on

6 ahead without being logged.

7 Q. I hear what you say and I don't want to be difficult,

8 but we have heard that it didn't carry out the

9 pre-planned operation, it went and did something else?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. That which had already been logged from Gazelle 4. So

12 there is a precedent for that being recorded in the log.

13 Is it not unusual that having been retasked to do

14 something that had previously been logged, the reactive

15 incident, if you like, that there isn't anything in

16 there to, for example, assist someone the next day

17 launching troops into the area, "Gazelle 6 went round,

18 everything is quiet"?

19 A. No, I don't think it is particularly unusual. As I have

20 said before, you know, there is the benefit of hindsight

21 here.

22 At the time, a similar thing happened on Saturday

23 night and a similar thing happened a couple of weeks

24 beforehand. This sort of activity at the night time was

25 sadly almost routine. And, you know, being flexible

93

1 with the assets you have at your disposal is absolutely

2 vital in providing the support to the police in dealing

3 with these incidents.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: The duty watchkeeper was on for two hours

5 from 10 to midnight. Is that right?

6 A. No, they would have done a minimum of eight hour shifts,

7 sir.

8 THE CHAIRMAN: Who was on duty from 10 o'clock until

9 midnight when, let's say, A175 took over?

10 A. I'm sorry --

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Assume it is A175 who took over at midnight.

12 A. Yes.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Who was supposed to be the duty watchkeeper

14 between 10 pm and midnight?

15 A. It would have been A642.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. And he makes no record at all of any

17 kind for two hours.

18 A. That's right.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: And when A175 comes in, if he looks at the

20 previous day's log, he has nothing to alert him to the

21 fact that a helicopter was specially tasked to see if

22 all was quiet at Kilwilke round about half past 11.

23 A. Well, what would have -- they would have done the

24 handover and they would have -- the way it happened that

25 I witnessed it was that they are taken round to the map

94

1 and they look at the map board, and the deployment is

2 marked on the map. And it would probably be something

3 along the lines of Gazelle 6 was tasked to go and do

4 Rathfriland and Banbridge, but he is going to overfly

5 Lurgan to have a look at the area that was troublesome

6 earlier today. They would move on. It would literally

7 just be a sentence.

8 It was -- I can appreciate the importance in this

9 context, but on a day-to-day basis back then it was not

10 a significant event to retask a helicopter.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: But you realised the significance of it on

12 18 March 1999, when you were first interviewed by the

13 police, no doubt?

14 A. Well, of course.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Did you mention it to them, this retasking?

16 A. I can't remember. If you showed me the statement,

17 I might be able to enlighten you further.

18 MR SAVILL: Were you in any way personally responsible for

19 checking entries in the log, either during its

20 compilation or at the time of signing off?

21 A. No, because I would generally, whenever I come in in the

22 morning, I would have a look at -- flick through the

23 previous day's occurrences and then I would get on with

24 my day's work.

25 Q. Because what I was going to ask you -- a slightly cheeky

95

1 question, which I hope you will forgive me for -- you

2 were going to leave the next day, weren't you?

3 A. That's right.

4 Q. In your statement to the police that the Chairman has

5 just mentioned, you say you finished duty just after

6 midnight and had been on planned leave since?

7 A. That's correct.

8 Q. Might there have been a possibility that you left early

9 and things weren't logged that could have been?

10 A. I may have left slightly before midnight, but I don't

11 think me leaving would have made any difference to the

12 log. I certainly didn't leave before 22.00 hours.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: That's 10 o'clock.

14 A. That's correct, sir.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: But officially you were on duty until

16 midnight?

17 A. It is not a clocking on, clocking off thing. If things

18 were busy at midnight, I certainly wouldn't go home, but

19 if I would leave at, say, 20 to or five to midnight,

20 then really I would be get to the front gate at

21 midnight. I would often be any further away. I could

22 come back if necessary.

23 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: But what sort of timeframes are we

24 talking about that you may have left earlier than

25 midnight?

96

1 A. I have said five or ten minutes.

2 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Five or ten minutes?

3 A. Yes.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: You said earlier, "I certainly didn't leave

5 before 10, or 22.00 hours". May you have left --

6 A. No, I think if that was -- No, to be clear I did not

7 leave before 10 o'clock. If I left earlier, it was

8 within the five or ten minutes that I said a second ago.

9 MR SAVILL: The position -- and I'm hoping to bring things

10 to a conclusion -- that we seem to have is not that this

11 was a flight that nobody knew about because there are

12 documentary mentions of Gazelle 6 flying at that time;

13 yes?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. We have those, but we also have omissions, to use what

16 I hope is a neutral word, in two other documents that

17 you were responsible for?

18 A. That's right.

19 Q. Now, it would, therefore, seem to be the case that this

20 couldn't properly be described as a covert flight

21 because, as I say, there are records of it and we have

22 heard evidence about it before the Inquiry?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. But what I want to ask you to give me your opinion on

25 is, albeit this may not have been a covert flight, might

97

1 the reasons and motives behind such a flight have been

2 of themselves covert?

3 A. No.

4 Q. Why do you say no?

5 A. Well, why -- I can't envisage a situation where I or

6 anyone would want to do that sort of flight.

7 Q. Let me, in fairness to you, take it a step further. The

8 reasons and motives for the flight may not have been

9 actually made known to you or the crew of the

10 helicopter. The helicopter doing what it did would have

11 served the covert purpose, albeit you and the helicopter

12 crew were not made aware of it, i.e. to see what was going

13 on on the Kilwilke Estate, perhaps in support of

14 a covert surveillance operation that we have heard was

15 in fact taking place around that time. Do you

16 follow me?

17 A. Yes, but I wasn't aware of a covert surveillance

18 operation going on at that time.

19 Q. You weren't?

20 A. I said that at the start. I'm aware of out of bounds

21 boxes, but in terms of specific operation, no, I'm not.

22 Q. You know about out of bounds areas?

23 A. In which case, the helicopter -- there were overflight

24 categories for out of bounds. So they weren't just out

25 of bounds to ground troops. There would be restrictions

98

1 placed on helicopters, whether they could overfly.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Savill, I think this might be a convenient

3 moment for us to adjourn until 2 o'clock.

4 MR SAVILL: Certainly, sir, yes.

5 THE CHAIRMAN: We will do that.

6 Before the witness leaves, can the video engineer

7 please confirm that all the cameras have been

8 switched off?

9 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they are.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out and I will ask

11 you to come back at 2 o'clock.

12 (12.55 pm)

13 (The short adjournment)

14 (2.00 pm)

15 THE CHAIRMAN: The checklist, Mr Currans. Is the public

16 area screen fully in place, locked and the key secured?

17 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the fire doors on either side of the

19 screen closed?

20 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

22 and securely fastened?

23 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

25 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

99

1 of this chamber?

2 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Can the video engineer please confirm that

4 the two witness cameras have been switched off and

5 shrouded?

6 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, they are.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: All the other cameras have been switched off?

8 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they are.

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

10 Bring the witness in, please.

11 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

12 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

13 switched back on.

14 Yes, Mr Savill?

15 MR SAVILL: Thank you. We have had, I am afraid, a fairly

16 lengthy session together this morning. I'm not

17 intending to put anything new to you now, but because it

18 was quite lengthy, possibly in bullet point form almost,

19 I am just going to recap on one or two points, if I may,

20 please.

21 As I understand your evidence, you are saying that

22 it was not unusual for a pre-allocated helicopter to be

23 reallocated to a different task?

24 A. If the circumstances had changed, then, yes, it wasn't

25 unusual.

100

1 Q. Are you saying that it was unusual, however, for that

2 fact and then the subsequent reallocation not to be

3 recorded?

4 A. I wouldn't describe that as unusual, no.

5 Q. And obviously I'm directing your attention to your log

6 in particular?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. But as I understand it, you have said you, in the

9 operations room, would at least expect to be either

10 responsible for or made aware of that reallocation?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Could it ever have been the case that a reallocation of

13 this sort would have taken place and you, in the

14 operations room, would have been out of the loop and not

15 been made aware of it at all?

16 A. No, because the reallocation in this case followed an

17 incident of disorder and I would have been informed and

18 most likely have been in the ops room at any --

19 following any such incident. So I would have been aware

20 of a retasking.

21 Q. You would have been aware of it. Could it have been

22 reallocated and retasked at brigade level?

23 A. Yes, if there was an existing priority elsewhere.

24 Q. I'm sorry, I didn't make myself clear. Could it have

25 been reallocated at brigade level to do what we

101

1 discussed it was doing?

2 A. That is possible.

3 Q. Would it then be the case that you in the operations

4 room at Mahon Road would not be communicated with in

5 relation to what the helicopter was doing because it

6 would have been communicating at brigade level?

7 A. It may well have been, but the brigade would at least

8 have informed us that they had taken control of that

9 helicopter. I have to say I don't recall an incident

10 where that actually took place.

11 Q. No. Would that notification to you, again, have been

12 the sort of thing that would have been noted or should

13 have been noted?

14 A. I don't recall it taking place. It probably would have

15 happened as a matter of being a phone call, perhaps.

16 Q. Cipher sheet. A645 has told the Inquiry that he was

17 briefed by you in relation to the Gazelle 4 and

18 Gazelle 6 flights at Mahon Road. So I'm not seeking to

19 be confrontational, but in fairness to you I'm just

20 telling you that.

21 A. Okay.

22 Q. Are you saying, "No, he is wrong" or are you saying,

23 "I may have done"?

24 A. I may have done.

25 Q. Now, this Gazelle 6 flight is not mentioned in your

102

1 statement dated 18 March to the police at all, is it?

2 We have already touched on that.

3 A. Correct.

4 Q. But I think, or hope, you would agree with me that you

5 do go into some detail in that statement in relation to

6 the Gazelle 4 flight?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. You also mention various times and who you spoke to and

9 so on and so forth. Can I ask you from which source did

10 you obtain that detail when you made that statement?

11 Can you remember?

12 A. On what date did I make the statement again?

13 Q. I can show it to you if you want to, but it is the

14 eighteenth day of March 1999?

15 A. That source was my memory because the statement was

16 given at night at Dunmurry RUC station and I came in off

17 leave to do it. So I had no documents in front of me

18 when I gave that statement.

19 Q. But it would seem you were being fairly accurate, if

20 I may say so, in terms of times and places?

21 A. It was a short time after the event, so yes.

22 Q. Precisely, because what I wanted to be fair to you about

23 is if you were relying on the log to make the statement,

24 there is nothing in the log about Gazelle 6; yes?

25 A. Yes.

103

1 Q. Which would be an explanation as to why you didn't

2 mention it in the statement. Do you understand? I just

3 wanted to give that as an option to you. Do you

4 follow me?

5 A. No, not really.

6 Q. I am enquiring with you why Gazelle 6 is not mentioned

7 in this statement; yes?

8 A. Right.

9 Q. I wanted to be fair to you and give you the opportunity

10 to say, if it had been the case, "Well, I was relying on

11 the ops room log to complete this statement".

12 A. Right.

13 Q. "Gazelle 6 isn't mentioned in the operations log, so

14 that's why I didn't mention it in the statement." Do

15 you follow?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. So you have told us that you were relying on your

18 memory, a good memory, because there is quite a lot of

19 detail there. What I'm going to suggest to you, if

20 I may, is that it's almost as though you were ignorant

21 of the Gazelle 6 flight when one reads the statement

22 because there is absolutely no mention of it. Do you

23 follow?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So just to put the question to you: why is it that there

104

1 is no mention at all of the reallocation and subsequent

2 operation of the Gazelle 6 flight in your statement made

3 to the police bearing in mind the detail you give about

4 Gazelle 4?

5 A. Well, to the best of my knowledge or my recollection,

6 that statement was given simply following questions that

7 I was asked by the police detective at the time. I

8 think as well that the incident had really -- whilst it

9 was due to be continued, so to speak, on Monday morning,

10 more or less it had petered out itself by about

11 8 o'clock. And as I have said, if you are going to plan

12 something, you like to be drip fed information.

13 The helicopter was there as an opportunity to update

14 our information, but the incident or the public order

15 certainly wasn't ongoing at that time and, indeed,

16 Lurgan had quietened down towards the latter part of

17 Sunday evening. So perhaps I didn't sort of link

18 specifically what had happened before with the

19 helicopter later.

20 Q. Forgive me, I'm going to try your considerable patience

21 just a little further. Can we call up RNI-513-001,

22 please (displayed)? You have mentioned that you may

23 have been following questions that were asked of you by

24 police officers, and that's probably the case. Now, I'm

25 not going to read the entire statement -- everybody has

105

1 got it, everybody has no doubt read it -- but I'm just

2 going to highlight for you -- don't highlight it on the

3 screen, but in the second line, we can see you say:

4 "On Saturday, 13 March 1999 ..."

5 We then have a whole page of things that were going

6 on on that date; yes?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Can we go over the page to RNI-513-002, please

9 (displayed)? Could we just highlight the top half of

10 that page, please? You helpfully tell the police in the

11 middle of that, the line beginning "general to avoid":

12 "A log would be kept by the watchkeeper detailing

13 the various instruction events during such a situation."

14 Then you go on to Sunday, 14 March and you start by

15 telling them when you commenced your duty, who the

16 watchkeeper was, that he had just received a telephone

17 call. And, again, if we can get rid of the highlight,

18 please, we have another page of what was going on. Go

19 over the page to RNI-513-003, please, and highlight that

20 (displayed):

21 "I subsequently received a telephone call from

22 Inspector [blank] advising me that one of the residents

23 of Lake Street had disposed of the device."

24 Then you say:

25 "Because of security implications, it was decided

106

1 that a search would not be carried out until the

2 following day."

3 That, I think, ties in with the 07.00 hours mention

4 in the log?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. "I finished duty just after midnight and have been on

7 planned leave since. I can say that the helicopter

8 deployed to this incident was withdrawn from the area at

9 20.00 hours."

10 Yes?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. I just want to ask your comment on this. This is

13 a fulsome detailed statement, putting it bluntly, about

14 what you got up to, what you were doing, what was going

15 on over this time period?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. And I don't want to be too harsh, but it would be

18 a little unreasonable, wouldn't it, to suggest that the

19 omission in this statement of Gazelle 6 was because you

20 weren't asked the right questions?

21 A. I'm answering them as best as I can.

22 Q. Certainly, I do understand that, but do you see what I'm

23 driving at? The picture given by this statement is that

24 you were unfolding and delivering an account over

25 a period of time from memory?

107

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Shortly thereafter; yes?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Can you tell us why it was that you seem to omit

5 something that would have been in your memory?

6 A. No.

7 Q. No.

8 A. I cannot offer an explanation for that.

9 Q. To conclude, I'm just going to give you four

10 possibilities that come from me, so they are probably

11 not very good and they are probably not exhaustive, but

12 I would just like you to comment on them, please. This

13 is by way of explaining the omissions.

14 One, there is a simple explanation, namely

15 sloppiness. Someone didn't write down in these logs

16 what they should have done. What do you say about that?

17 A. I think that it is possible.

18 Q. Very possible? Likely? Never heard of it before --

19 A. Possible.

20 Q. Just possible. Secondly, there are omissions for

21 a reason, an innocent reason, that we may not be aware

22 of. For example, someone wasn't where they should have

23 been at a particular time. A reason that has been given

24 to us was that maybe someone had gone to the lavatory

25 and, therefore, wasn't there when they should have made

108

1 a note of something. What is your comment on that

2 second scenario?

3 A. Well, if by that you mean that maybe the watchkeeper or

4 signaller went to the bathroom, then that is possible.

5 I mean, they have to go to the bathroom from time to

6 time. I don't recall if that was the specific case on

7 that evening.

8 Q. What I'm driving at is sometimes we are not given the

9 explanation because it is perceived by someone that,

10 rightly or wrongly, that explanation is either

11 embarrassing or perhaps something that shouldn't be

12 revealed. So, for example -- and I'm just taking

13 a hypothetical -- that the log maker had gone for a very

14 long cigarette break?

15 A. I don't know.

16 Q. Was that the sort of thing that happened?

17 A. No.

18 Q. No, because what I would expect you to say would be that

19 people didn't miss writing things down in logs because

20 they were in the lavatory or having a cigarette break

21 because that would have been entirely unprofessional?

22 A. You are presenting situations to me that you are asking

23 me to say did they happen, yes or no. Hand on heart I

24 cannot say that for definite. Should they have missed

25 things that they should have written down? No, they

109

1 shouldn't.

2 Q. Let's stick to my rather boring 1, 2, 3, 4. 2 is they

3 were omitted because something happened that we are

4 unaware of. It doesn't really matter in the great

5 scheme of things if someone was in the lavatory, but

6 that may be the explanation. What I'm asking is is that

7 possible?

8 A. It is possible.

9 Q. Had you ever encountered it?

10 A. No, I don't recall anything like that happening.

11 Q. No, so unlikely may be a better word?

12 A. It is unlikely.

13 Q. Thank you. The third scenario, there was a legitimate,

14 valid reason that may have had something to do with

15 either an attempt or a desire to conceal the flight of

16 this helicopter or to conceal the motivation behind

17 sending the helicopter out in the first place; yes? Do

18 you understand that?

19 A. Not really, no.

20 Q. Okay. My fault. This is the third scenario: Something

21 wasn't registered or logged; yes?

22 A. Deliberately so?

23 Q. Yes, because someone wanted to conceal either the very

24 fact of the helicopter's flight -- yes? -- or the

25 primary motive behind that helicopter making the journey

110

1 and taking on the activities that it did?

2 A. No.

3 Q. Why no?

4 A. Because I don't see any motive to do that from my point

5 of view. It was already tasked to us. It had been put

6 on a tasking sheet that we were due to have that

7 helicopter. The circumstances have changed, and as

8 I said prior to lunch, that the daily taskings that we

9 had changed on a regular basis.

10 So, you know, I really don't see anything unusual in

11 retasking -- in retasking the helicopter. And I have to

12 say that in my experience in the ops room that nothing

13 was ever deliberately withheld and we certainly didn't

14 task helicopters or any other sort of military asset for

15 sort of personal, private or underhand use.

16 Q. Let me perhaps alleviate, I hope, a little bit of your

17 concern -- easy for me to say. You are the one giving

18 evidence. I'm not necessarily -- I'm not laying the

19 blame or the responsibility at your feet.

20 An option that we discussed prior to the adjournment

21 for lunch was this: that those in the ops room and those

22 on the helicopter were in fact never told what the real

23 purpose of the flight was. The fact of the flight, that

24 which it reported back served a purpose that you and

25 those on the helicopter were not aware of. Do you

111

1 understand that?

2 A. So it may have served an additional purpose to the

3 reason why we wanted it to go there?

4 MR SAVILL: Precisely, precisely.

5 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: A legitimate real purpose?

6 MR SAVILL: A legitimate purpose, yes. This is my third

7 scenario.

8 A. That may well be possible. How likely it is, I have

9 absolutely no idea.

10 Q. No. And the fourth scenario I want to put to you -- and

11 before I do, let me say this: there is no evidence to

12 support this. I'm not suggesting that you or any of

13 your colleagues were involved in this; it is pure

14 speculation. But in fairness to you, I want you to have

15 the opportunity to address it -- is that there may have

16 been a fourth reason or scenario, which was a sinister

17 scenario: that Gazelle 6 in some way facilitated the

18 planting of the device under Mrs Nelson's car; yes?

19 A. I understand what you are saying, yes.

20 Q. And I hope you understand the context in which I'm

21 saying it to you?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Would you just take the opportunity to give us your

24 comments on that, please?

25 A. I would refute any such allegation absolutely and

112

1 totally. To the best of my knowledge, that helicopter

2 was being used for legitimate security business in

3 support of the police.

4 Q. Yes. Thank you.

5 It has been perhaps slightly longer than we thought

6 it would be. I apologise for that. Thank you for your

7 assistance, but at this stage is this anything that you

8 feel that we haven't discussed or that, in addition to

9 the evidence you have given, you would like the Inquiry

10 to be aware of? We say this to all the witnesses that

11 come before the Inquiry.

12 A. Nothing further, thank you.

13 MR SAVILL: I'm very grateful, thank you. There may be some

14 more questions from the Panel.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much for your assistance.

16 We will adjourn for a quarter of an hour before the

17 next witness, but before we do so, the Video Engineer,

18 can you please confirm that all the cameras have been

19 switched off?

20 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they are.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please escort the witness out.

22 We will adjourn for a quarter of an hour.

23 (2.24 pm)

24 (Short break)

25 (2.40 pm)

113

1 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Currans, checklist. Is the public area

2 screen fully in place, locked and the key secured?

3 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the fire doors on either side of the

5 screen closed?

6 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

8 and securely fastened?

9 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

11 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

12 of this chamber?

13 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Can the video engineer please

15 confirm that the two witness cameras have been switched

16 off and shrouded?

17 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they are off.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. All the other cameras have been

19 switched off?

20 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they are.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

22 Bring the witness in, please.

23 The cameras on the Panel, the Inquiry personnel and

24 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

25 switched back on.

114

1 Would you please take the oath.

2 A643 (sworn)

3 Questions by MR PHILLIPS

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

5 Yes, Mr Phillips?

6 MR PHILLIPS: I think you have made just one statement to

7 the Inquiry. Can we look at that together on the

8 screen? It is RNI-845-072 (displayed), and do we see

9 your ciphered signature at RNI-845-088 (displayed) and

10 the date of 14 March this year?

11 A. That is correct.

12 Q. Now, you have been granted anonymity in the Inquiry and

13 given a cipher, A643, and I hope you have got in front

14 of you a list of other witnesses and their ciphers. I

15 would be grateful if you would consult it from time to

16 time so that their anonymity can also be preserved.

17 A. Yes, I have the list in front of me.

18 Q. Thank you very much. Can we look then at your career

19 first of all. We have the paragraph, paragraph 1, on

20 the screen, please.

21 Is it right to say that from about 1990 in your Army

22 career you were involved in intelligence in one form or

23 another?

24 A. Here in Northern Ireland, yes.

25 Q. Yes. Can you help us, please: what was the role of the

115

1 counter intelligence company that you were with 1990 to

2 1991?

3 A. It was the military organisation that was -- would

4 provide security advice to units and carry out a system

5 of reviews, investigations into incidents and regular

6 surveys to update security procedures.

7 Q. Was this in particular concerned with personnel who

8 might be under threat?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. And what about your next job, ops officer of data

11 management company military orgs?

12 A. That was a unit that was there to manage the data on the

13 two large intelligence databases that were used by the

14 military in Northern Ireland.

15 Q. Which were they, please?

16 A. I think the name that was most recent was MACER.

17 Q. Yes.

18 A. And there was another one that was referred to as

19 Project Vengeful, which was to do mainly with vehicles.

20 Q. Yes. And just so we are clear about what exactly you

21 were doing there, how did you go about validating the

22 integrity of the data?

23 A. The unit consisted of a total of 28 people. Each --

24 there were three main teams, one for each of the brigade

25 areas, and the idea was that with the roulement of

116

1 soldiers who are on six-month tours, there was a number

2 of occasions where the accuracy of data being put on to

3 the system was being brought into question. We

4 addressed that by improving the training of the

5 individuals prior to their arrival, but also providing,

6 if you like, an audit of the information that was being

7 released on to the system, bearing in mind the principle

8 is it is no good having the wrong information available

9 to others. It was an attempt to maintain the integrity

10 of it.

11 Q. Thank you. Now, looking at the unit with which the

12 Inquiry is particularly concerned -- that's the Special

13 Military Intelligence Unit that you say you moved to in

14 1995 -- just looking at the size of the unit first,

15 please, if we go over to paragraph 2, RNI-845-073

16 (displayed), you say in the period immediately prior to

17 Rosemary Nelson's death, which we know is of

18 course March 1999, the SMIU had no more than 18 people.

19 And you then tell us later in the paragraph that you

20 became in effect the head of the unit. By the time you

21 became its effective head, was it still at 18, the

22 strength, or had it gone down to nine?

23 A. It was that interim period. There was a nominal person

24 who was in charge of the unit, but they were

25 increasingly more based in Lisburn, whereas day-to-day

117

1 running of the unit was my responsibility based at the

2 Police Headquarters at Knock.

3 Q. What was the role of that unit, please?

4 A. It was to provide intelligence support to key RUC and,

5 subsequently, PSNI organisations, with the critical

6 thing being that we were resident in their offices.

7 Q. Right. So you were, to use an expression, co-located?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Yes. And can you help, please, so that the Inquiry

10 understands exactly where this unit fitted into the Army

11 structure more generally: how did the SMIU fit into the

12 intelligence set-up of the Army in Northern Ireland at

13 this time?

14 A. At the early stages, it was a stand-alone unit with

15 a sort of -- if you like, a dotted line through to the

16 G2 division at the Army headquarters in Lisburn. As it

17 reduced in size, it became more under the direct sort of

18 G2 division day-to-day. I can give you an example.

19 In the 1980s, the strength of the unit was 170. So

20 by coming forward ten/12 years, it had been reduced down

21 to that level. So it was manageable as part of the

22 G2 division, whereas as a unit with 170, it had to stand

23 alone because it needed all the administrative support

24 supplied to -- provided to it.

25 Q. Right. Now, with the period with which we are

118

1 particularly concerned, which is really from that time,

2 let's say, 1999 onwards, to whom did you report? It

3 might be best to use a rank rather than a name.

4 A. Well, because I was resident in the Police Headquarters,

5 I was officially accredited to the Head of

6 Special Branch.

7 Q. What does that mean, please, accredited to?

8 A. My day-to-day responsibilities for the work that

9 I undertook were at his behest.

10 Q. Right.

11 A. I was used as a conduit for both the police and the Army

12 to liaise with counterparts of it within the other

13 organisation.

14 Q. Did you have any line of reporting upwards within the

15 Army organisation in Northern Ireland?

16 A. Day-to-day I would -- it is a little bit difficult to

17 explain it. Day to day I would be doing the job for the

18 Head of Special Branch, but I would be representing the

19 military interests in a great deal of cases. So where

20 it was agreed that the Army had to be informed on

21 certain issues, then I would report back to key

22 personnel in Lisburn.

23 Q. But in that example -- just taking that example -- where

24 the Head of Special Branch decided that the Army needed

25 to be informed of something, he would instruct you to

119

1 inform the relevant people within the Army structure.

2 Is that right?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. So on a daily basis then, your orders, the tasking, as

5 people call it, came from Special Branch rather than

6 from the Army?

7 A. That's correct.

8 Q. Now, can I follow that through with you and see where it

9 takes us in terms of your statement. If we go on to

10 paragraph 6, RNI-845-074 (displayed), there you talk

11 about the intelligence spectrum and I think in the

12 context in which it appears, this is the intelligence

13 spectrum within the Army. Is that right?

14 A. That's right.

15 Q. And so you go on to say that operational and tactical

16 intelligence was fed into, effectively, regional level

17 and dealt with by the people you tell us were called

18 liaison officers. Is that right?

19 A. That's right.

20 Q. Can I take it from the answers you have been giving so

21 far, therefore, that your unit, the SMIU, took no part

22 in any of that?

23 A. The -- two of the team -- eight of the personnel who I

24 had administrative support for in the early stages were

25 based in the police locations in Portadown and

120

1 Ballykelly.

2 Q. Yes.

3 A. Their primary role was working with the police in

4 support of operations at regional level. When there was

5 a reorganisation, my role became just the personnel at

6 Knock and at Castlereagh, which is in support of Belfast

7 Region.

8 So in the context of the statement I was making

9 there was that our role was primarily at a higher level,

10 and day-to-day passage of information for soldiers and

11 policemen at a regional level was nothing to do with me.

12 Q. Is that what you also mean by SMIU sat at the HQ level?

13 That's the last sentence.

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. I understand, thank you. What about the analysis of

16 intelligence? Did your unit carry out any analysis of

17 intelligence?

18 A. On occasions, yes.

19 Q. Can we look together at your paragraph 15, please, and

20 that's at RNI-845-076 (displayed). Here, the question

21 was obviously posed to you -- if we could enlarge it --

22 thank you very much -- in the interview that you had

23 with Eversheds:

24 "I have been asked if SMIU carried out any

25 analytical work on the intelligence it received."

121

1 You respond:

2 "Yes, it did, but only at a very basic level, though

3 sometimes very effectively as we had military skills

4 which were not available to the police."

5 So just looking at what you have just been saying,

6 do I take it that you were only occasionally involved in

7 analytical work of this kind?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. And what do you mean, please, by it being at a very

10 basic level?

11 A. The police mechanism for, you know, releasing the

12 intelligence from their desk officers required them to

13 carry out research and to either validate the

14 information or try and gather a bit more -- what we

15 would call basic information: does a person live at

16 a certain address or is associated to an address? Do

17 they use a vehicle? And because of the understanding

18 that the military had of MACER and Vengeful, the police

19 would sometimes use my office personnel to carry out

20 that research because they were better able to do it,

21 basically.

22 Q. When you say we had military skills, does that mean

23 specifically the knowledge of those two military

24 systems?

25 A. Yes.

122

1 Q. Thank you. Now, moving back to an earlier part of your

2 statement, paragraph 7, RNI-845-074 (displayed), where

3 you are also talking about the sort of work you did --

4 and you will appreciate that's what I'm trying to

5 ascertain from you -- you say at the start:

6 "The information the SMIU handled was intelligence

7 and security focused."

8 Then you go on helpfully to give us an example at

9 the beginning of the next line. Do you see that?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. From that, it looks as though one of your concerns was

12 with the security of military personnel. Did that take

13 up some of your time?

14 A. Yes. In the context, I think, that this question was

15 phrased, it was the police would get a lot of

16 information about the terrorist capability to make bombs

17 and mortars and devices that would pose a threat to

18 military personnel and installations, and it was vital

19 that the military had access to that intelligence so

20 that they could adopt, you know, the correct security

21 measures.

22 Based on my experience in the counter intelligence

23 company, I obviously knew that requirement to be

24 paramount. So as part of the SMIU role, I saw it as

25 part -- to gather or gain that information, you know,

123

1 when it was available.

2 Q. But presumably there was still a counter intelligence

3 company in existence at this time?

4 A. That's correct, yes.

5 Q. So how did the sort of work you are describing here for

6 us differ from what you did at counter intelligence?

7 A. In order to prepare your security plans to protect the

8 base, you have to understand the threat, and that threat

9 in the Northern Ireland context was constantly changing.

10 I use the example there that if, for instance, we

11 knew that the terrorists had a capability to mount

12 a mortar attack from a radius of 250 yards, but then

13 recently they have developed the ability to mount an

14 attack from a greater distance, you had to adjust your

15 security plans to meet that threat. And I saw it as

16 part of the SMIU role to gain that updated threat

17 information.

18 Q. And presumably in that you were able to draw on your

19 experience and your knowledge working earlier with the

20 counter intelligence company?

21 A. That's correct, yes.

22 Q. Can I just ask you about the computer system, MACER,

23 which we have the relevant paragraph up on the screen.

24 You say that in the mid 1990s -- you see it is the

25 third line of the paragraph -- the police became

124

1 formally involved in the management of MACER. Did they

2 take over complete control of the database at that

3 point?

4 A. No.

5 Q. Did the Army, therefore, maintain control of at least

6 part of it?

7 A. There was -- I'm not sure of the exact timeframe, but it

8 was somewhere around -- there had been a high level

9 meeting, I think, in Downing Street between the Prime

10 Ministers of the Republic of Ireland and the UK where

11 some kind of accord was reached that the police would

12 have to take greater responsibility as the situation

13 improved. And I think part that of agreement was that

14 the military computer systems -- the police would take

15 a greater role in the management and running of them. I

16 think that date of 1995 was the first time that they

17 started to put data -- that they were originating -- on

18 to the system, and they formed a small team to replicate

19 the data management company that I had previously been

20 involved in.

21 So there was a liaison between the respective teams,

22 but as you can appreciate, it took a long time to bring

23 the two together.

24 Q. Yes.

25 A. So the SMIU role at that time was quite critical to

125

1 ensure that they were able to do that work.

2 Q. And, again, you were involved, were you, in your unit in

3 liaising with your colleagues?

4 A. On both sides, to understand how that objective could be

5 achieved.

6 Q. So in this aspect of your unit's role, you were drawing

7 on your immediately previous experience?

8 A. That's correct, yes.

9 Q. Yes. Now, in the same paragraph in the second line you

10 say:

11 "The RUC did not use it [the system] in the same way

12 as the military did."

13 What do you mean by that, please?

14 A. You have to understand the concept of operations. The

15 way the military would use the system would be to assist

16 the military role and the way they went about it. No

17 military patrol would ever go out on a patrol without

18 a briefing that was intelligence-related. And

19 subsequently to competing that patrol, there would be

20 a process of gathering information back from the patrol

21 and updating the system.

22 The police wouldn't have used it in that way. I

23 think they would have used it -- initially, they used it

24 as a records database. They would put information into

25 it from which they could subsequently retrieve the

126

1 information at a later date. They didn't use it -- they

2 didn't update it with what I would call basic

3 intelligence information. That was still primarily the

4 military that were doing that.

5 Q. And you talk there in the same paragraph about

6 petitions. You say, do you see about five lines down:

7 "The RUC had a partition that only they could see

8 and not the military."

9 Was the same true the other way round: were there

10 parts of the system that only the military could see and

11 use?

12 A. Yes, I think one of the great benefits of the security

13 protocols was that it could be made available --

14 information would be made available to those that needed

15 it at a higher level. Those that would only have lower

16 level access could still use it for what they needed it

17 for, and you wouldn't be compromising information before

18 a wider audience.

19 Q. So far as levels are concerned, you go on to talk about

20 that in your next paragraph, 9. If we could have that

21 on the screen, please, RNI-845-075 (displayed) at the

22 top of the page. And as I understand it from what you

23 are telling us, you had access to all of the military

24 levels on MACER. Is that right?

25 A. That's right.

127

1 Q. So far as the RUC access to MACER, were they at

2 different levels, different, in other words, to the

3 numbers you have set out there: 7, 5 and 3?

4 A. Yes, I think this was part of the agreement that -- to

5 allow them to use the system jointly, but to maintain

6 the integrity of their information.

7 Each data security level was a prime number and, as

8 I understand it from the computer experts, they can

9 create this partition, the integrity of which is

10 maintained by a combination of when the logging for the

11 individual is created, it can be specific to a data

12 security level and he or she can see the information

13 down but not up.

14 So the RUC partitions were created at a higher

15 level; I think it was level 19 and level 21. So

16 military personnel even with level 7 access would not be

17 able to gain access to level 19 or level 21.

18 Q. What about senior RUC people? Would it follow from what

19 you are saying, would they be able to get access to 7, 5

20 and 3 if they wished to?

21 A. If they had the correct log in ID that was created at

22 a higher level, yes, they could see the information

23 further down.

24 Q. Can I just ask you in terms of military personnel and

25 the lowest level, level 3, what type of soldier,

128

1 officer, would have access to level 3? Would it include

2 people who were completely outside the Army intelligence

3 framework?

4 A. No.

5 Q. It would not?

6 A. The -- level 3 was primarily for the infantry units on

7 the ground and the only personnel who would have log in

8 IDs for access to the system would be members of the

9 intelligence cell and no one else.

10 Q. So in other words, if information even at level 3 was to

11 be disseminated, it had to, as it were, come off the

12 computer if it was to go outside the intelligence

13 framework?

14 A. Yes. If you remember, I made reference to a briefing to

15 a patrol before they go out.

16 Q. Yes.

17 A. They would perhaps -- whoever was preparing the briefing

18 would perhaps make reference to or draw information from

19 the system that would possibly be just making notes to

20 aid his briefing. But he would not be -- the individual

21 soldiers who were being briefed would not be seeing the

22 data on the system.

23 Q. Thank you. Now, so far as other aspects of your unit's

24 role are concerned, you talk about liaison in various

25 parts of your statement, and in particular in

129

1 paragraph 5 -- look at that please, RNI-845-073, the

2 bottom of the page (displayed) -- you say:

3 "There were lots of avenues of liaison between the

4 RUC and the Army. The SMIU was just one of them."

5 Then these two sentences:

6 "Those that wanted to use the SMIU did, and others

7 didn't."

8 Now, that has a slightly mournful tone to it,

9 suggesting that whether or not anybody ever bothered to

10 contact you was very much an option. So there were all

11 sorts of different ways of contact between the Army and

12 the police. Is that right?

13 A. That is correct.

14 Q. Of which your unit was only one?

15 A. That's right.

16 Q. Are you suggesting that there was, as it were, nothing

17 in particular which absolutely had to go through your

18 unit?

19 A. That's right. I think at this stage the relationships

20 between the Army and the police had matured to a point

21 where there were a better understanding from the police

22 side of what the Army did and what they needed to do,

23 and vice versa. So you didn't need a definitive liaison

24 officer to interpret one side for the other, but in

25 certain areas it was still a useful -- if you like, an

130

1 asset to use as and when necessary.

2 Q. And is that phenomenon reflected in the huge decrease in

3 the number of personnel within the unit, for example?

4 A. Yes, absolutely.

5 Q. So that was a feature of success, as it were?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Now, so far as your unit's role in the liaison aspect

8 was concerned, how was that arranged? Were there

9 regular meetings set up between you and the police

10 personnel?

11 A. No, because -- that was the value, if you like, of us

12 being resident in their office areas. The contact could

13 be as frequent or infrequent as necessary. We were

14 available to the desk officers if they had a question,

15 they could ring up and we could meet up in either

16 offices or vice versa. If we had a question that came

17 in from the military, we were in a position to just walk

18 upstairs and go into the office and pose the question.

19 So there didn't need to be formal meetings because we

20 were there on a daily basis.

21 Q. Thank you. Can I just ask you about a specific point

22 you make in this paragraph? You say in the penultimate

23 sentence:

24 "SMIU's role was to facilitate the flow of lower

25 level intelligence. Their job was necessary, but it did

131

1 not require too senior an officer to facilitate it."

2 How did you go about facilitating the flow of lower

3 level intelligence?

4 A. The RUC around this -- it must have been the early part

5 of 1997 -- changed their organisation slightly and they

6 formed what they called the Intelligence Management

7 Group, and the process of disseminating intelligence to

8 their customers was done in the form of what they called

9 an Intelligence Management Group Intelligence Report.

10 Q. IMAGIRs?

11 A. IMAGIRs, for short.

12 Q. Yes.

13 A. And there needed to be -- prior to that, the means by

14 which the information was disseminated was done through

15 a military communications centre, but the advent of

16 computer technology allowed the police to produce the

17 reports themselves on their own computer system. And so

18 we had to change the working practices so that the

19 reports which they would release to the military could

20 be handled by SMIU in a secure way, and we would

21 effectively print off a document from their computer

22 system and then -- through a secure fax system send that

23 to the military.

24 Q. So you were, if not a customer of the IMG, you were, as

25 it were, the intermediary between them and their

132

1 military customers?

2 A. Yes, I would invariably get involved sometimes on

3 a discussion of whether or not the military should

4 receive the report or not, and based on the principle of

5 need to know, we would have discussions and if it was

6 deemed that the Army should receive the information, we

7 subsequently got the published report on the computer

8 system.

9 Q. Now, so far as the IMAGIRs are concerned, you touch on

10 that in paragraph 10 of your statement. Can you look at

11 that, please, at RNI-845-075 (displayed)? Here, you

12 talk about the nature of these reports. You say, for

13 example, in the fourth line:

14 "They didn't identify the source of the

15 intelligence."

16 We have seen a number of IMAGIRs in the Inquiry and

17 they tended to be relatively high level reports, didn't

18 they?

19 A. That's correct.

20 Q. And you say just a few lines on:

21 "The RUC was occasionally reticent about disclosing

22 intelligence because they did not want to blow

23 a source's cover. However, sometimes the military

24 needed to know that intelligence, which would feed into

25 their own intelligence jigsaw."

133

1 Now, was it in cases such at this, where the RUC

2 were being reticent, that you acted, as you put it

3 elsewhere in your statement, as the honest broker,

4 trying to ensure that the military got what they

5 genuinely did need out of the RUC?

6 A. I think the best way to describe it was there was

7 a number of personnel working on the desks. The

8 personnel would change over, and as part of their

9 getting used to doing the job, I would, you know,

10 provide them with a sort of Powerpoint based

11 presentation on the role the military still fulfilled at

12 that time and their intelligence requirements. And it

13 was a question of them understanding that requirement so

14 that when they saw the intelligence passing through

15 their hands there, they would make the decision, yes,

16 the Army had a need to know.

17 Where we had -- where there was some doubt, I can

18 remember saying to a couple of people that perhaps you

19 need to tell me the information so that I can tell you

20 whether we have got a need to know or not. And that

21 became not a common thing, thankfully.

22 I was confident that the majority of the information

23 we would need to know, we were getting, but occasionally

24 it had to be caveated heavily. So, for instance, if

25 they were still a little bit worried about it being

134

1 released to the military, even though they accepted

2 there was a need to know, it would perhaps be marked for

3 the GOC only. That didn't happen very often, but it

4 was an ultimate means by which the military could get to

5 know without compromising the RUC sort of wishes.

6 Q. And just going back to the questions I was asking you

7 earlier about your reporting upwards, in a case where

8 you had presented the case for the Army's need to know

9 and it had not been accepted, to whom could you at your

10 end, as it were, appeal for assistance from the Army's

11 point of view?

12 A. I think I would have compromised my position with the

13 police if I had wanted to plead my case back with the

14 Army. I would have to plead my case within the police

15 organisation.

16 Q. So you were effectively embedded in that sense?

17 A. I think I got the benefit of being able to stay in the

18 job for a length of time to build up the trust with the

19 key individuals.

20 Q. But the counterbalancing point is that you, as I

21 understand it, sacrificed your ability to go up the

22 chain in military command?

23 A. You are being too kind, I think. There were others who

24 might perceive I reached my ceiling.

25 You are right. The opportunity to move onwards

135

1 within the military organisation would have been

2 sacrificed because totally unheard of for someone to

3 stay that long in one particular job.

4 Q. But I didn't just mean your own position. I meant about

5 the idea that you had available to you people at higher

6 ranks to whom you could appeal if there was a dispute

7 with Special Branch. It sounds as though you forewent

8 that?

9 A. If I felt that we -- if you like, dealing with the desk

10 officer, who, even with the reason -- the debate says

11 no -- if I was to have been made aware that the

12 intelligence existed and still felt the need for the

13 military to have it, I would go up the RUC chain to

14 appeal. I wouldn't go anywhere near the military.

15 Q. So you would go above the desk officers in E3 up to the

16 Head of Special Branch, if necessary?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Yes. Now, when you succeeded -- if we can look at that

19 case in paragraph 11, which we have on the screen -- it

20 looks as though you then say:

21 "They would disseminate intelligence by email."

22 This is the point you made earlier about the

23 computerisation. Then you would pass it on, as

24 appropriate, by secure fax. Can I just ask you about

25 this sort of material coming to you by email? Was it in

136

1 the form of the IMG material? Was it the sort of higher

2 level intelligence we talked about earlier, which

3 wouldn't ordinarily have been disseminated on the lower

4 levels of MACER. Is that the point?

5 A. That's correct.

6 Q. Thank you. Now, can I ask you about some specific

7 aspects of liaison within Special Branch? Could we look

8 at paragraph 14, please, which is at RNI-845-076

9 (displayed)? Could we have that enlarged, please?

10 You tell us there that you dealt personally with the

11 regional heads of Special Branch and others, but no one

12 lower than a chief inspector. So when we are thinking

13 about your contact with the desks in E3, for example,

14 you would there be dealing with the relevant chief

15 inspector. Is that correct?

16 A. If you like, initially that point of contact, but if

17 that individual was happy that we dealt with the junior

18 members of the department, then that's what we would

19 continue to do. We would adhere to what their wishes

20 were. We wouldn't try to undermine their line

21 management.

22 Q. Yes. So far as some specific individuals within

23 Special Branch are concerned, I just want to ask you

24 some questions about how regularly you would be in

25 contact with, for example, the Head of Special Branch at

137

1 the relevant time, who is B542 on your list. How

2 regularly would you be in contact with him?

3 A. I think it is fair to say infrequent, but because his

4 office was on the same corridor, you could

5 coincidentally bump into each other, you know, and

6 occasionally he would ask me to come up to see him in

7 his office if he had a specific question.

8 Q. Right.

9 A. But it is fair to say that the meetings were infrequent.

10 Q. What about the slightly lower level officers within

11 Special Branch, for example, the then Head of the South

12 Region, who is B629? How often would you be in contact

13 with him?

14 A. Even less frequent than with the Head of Special Branch.

15 Q. Is that simply because the geography?

16 A. Partly so, but his remit or, if you like, the military

17 liaison was vested in another individual.

18 Q. Right.

19 A. My involvement with B629 would be usually at his request

20 and it could have been at a time when he was

21 coincidentally visiting Belfast and I would meet him in

22 an office in the Police Headquarters.

23 Q. Right. Does the same answer apply, if I can put it that

24 way, to his deputy, B503?

25 A. That's correct.

138

1 Q. Yes. Now, I would like to move on, please, to look at

2 the murder investigation and what you tell us in your

3 statement about your involvement with it. All of the

4 specific events you deal with in your statement took

5 place some years ago now.

6 A. That's right, yes.

7 Q. Before we look at any in particular from that period,

8 I wanted to ask you about your view of your own memory

9 of those events.

10 When you came to be interviewed for this Inquiry,

11 did you find you had a reasonable recall or were you

12 essentially reliant upon the documents you were shown?

13 A. I think it was the former. I had a reasonable

14 recollection because of, if you like, the importance we

15 placed on the role we had at that time. It filled a lot

16 of the working day in the initial stages.

17 Q. Right. Can I ask you this question: you tell us in your

18 statement about the work that you did and the

19 information you provided to the Murder Investigation

20 Team, looking at Rosemary Nelson's murder. Had you at

21 that point, March 1999 and following, performed such

22 a role in relation to any other RUC investigated murder?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. You had?

25 A. Yes.

139

1 Q. So it wasn't, as it were, a first time?

2 A. No.

3 Q. Had there been many such previous examples?

4 A. An increasing number, as police awareness within the

5 wider CID, of the role that we, you know, were able to

6 fulfil -- we were getting more and more enquiries, you

7 know, requests for information, usually in the form of

8 data on vehicles and the movement of -- which could

9 assist the early stages of an investigation.

10 Q. Yes.

11 A. The dilemma we would have though, it was always caveated

12 that the data was not presentable as evidence within

13 a court, but within the context of intelligence-led

14 policing, which UK mainland police forces had adopted

15 years earlier and which the RUC were moving towards, it

16 was a natural move for them to take.

17 Q. I may be wrong, but that suggests that there hadn't been

18 that many earlier murder investigations where you had

19 been called upon. Is that fair?

20 A. I can only talk about the period -- the time that I

21 was -- from 1995 onwards.

22 Q. Yes.

23 A. It would probably have been a slower process, but

24 probably around 1997 onwards because a greater number

25 were becoming aware of what we could do for them, you

140

1 know, within the caveats that I have stated, then we had

2 a protocol that would allow that to happen.

3 Q. That's obviously the next question I wanted to ask you

4 about. You refer to a protocol in the very specific

5 context of this case, but at the time of

6 Rosemary Nelson's murder, March 1999 was there already

7 in existence, as far as you can recall, a protocol

8 governing the way in which your unit would go about

9 assisting murder investigations?

10 A. Yes, but it would come to us in a different -- through

11 a different organisation.

12 Q. Right. Can you explain?

13 A. The -- if you like, the CID equivalent of the IMG within

14 Special Branch was a thing called the Force Intelligence

15 Bureau, and they would be the RUC Headquarters, if you

16 like -- if a senior investigating officer for a case

17 wanted to get information from outside agencies, he

18 would invariably consult personnel within the Force

19 Intelligence Bureau on how to go about it, and then in

20 turn then, if it was vehicle-related, saw us as the

21 experts that could assist.

22 Q. And in those cases, what was the process by which you

23 sent back information?

24 A. We would -- the request would be, say, for a particular

25 vehicle. It could be that they had information that,

141

1 following an incident -- you know, someone may have only

2 had a description of a vehicle or a partial

3 registration. We had the ability to do research on that

4 and perhaps narrow down the possibilities of what that

5 vehicle was and who -- more importantly, who owned it,

6 and would produce a small report.

7 Q. And to whom would you send that report?

8 A. We would send it back to the desk officer within the

9 Force Intelligence Bureau.

10 Q. Within the Force Intelligence Bureau?

11 A. With all the caveats that I previously explained.

12 Q. Yes, but you wouldn't send to it to the desk officers in

13 Special Branch. You would send it, in the cases we have

14 been talking about, to the Force Intelligence Bureau

15 desk officers?

16 A. I think I remember, when this first started to become

17 a possible regular occurrence, we would have got

18 permission to do this from Special Branch. But at this

19 stage, I wouldn't have seen it as divulging, you know,

20 sensitive intelligence.

21 Q. Why was that, please?

22 A. Because all it was was a record on a piece of paper of

23 a vehicle information and the date and time of

24 a sighting.

25 Q. Yes, thank you. Now, in relation to these other

142

1 investigations you are talking about, I think you very

2 much stressed, as it were, the vehicle side of things,

3 intelligence about vehicles, using presumably the

4 Vengeful system you told us about.

5 In those cases, do you ever remember requests being

6 made for detail about individual soldiers or individual

7 serving members of the armed forces?

8 A. Not during that time period, no.

9 Q. So in that sense at least, what happened in the

10 Rosemary Nelson murder investigation took you into new

11 territory?

12 A. I think I may be slightly misunderstanding your line of

13 questioning. The information that we were asked for on

14 the Rosemary Nelson murder inquiry was initially in

15 relation to vehicles -- would have been much the same as

16 we had previously been doing. Someone may have had

17 information concerning a particular vehicle or a type of

18 vehicle and its critical sighting in a sort of small

19 area that's related to the incident.

20 So in that context, the Rosemary Nelson murder was

21 just -- if you like -- another example of the way in

22 which we had been helping the police previously.

23 Q. But in your statement you tell us that there were two

24 principal areas with which they were actually concerned

25 as the investigation developed. The first was security

143

1 force movements on the weekend before the murder, the

2 helicopters, et cetera?

3 A. That was unique, we had never been asked for something

4 like that before.

5 Q. Thank you. And the second were a whole series of

6 questions about individuals, and you have exhibited an

7 example of a note from the Chief Superintendent in the

8 murder investigation to you with a list of people about

9 whom they were seeking information?

10 A. That's correct.

11 Q. Again, was that something which was new?

12 A. No, sometimes the police had information that -- where

13 they needed to either identify whether or not an

14 individual had a link to the military or the MoD itself

15 in the wider context, and we would be asked to try and

16 confirm that information. But that was part of their

17 research process prior to them producing their reports.

18 Q. Can I ask you this question, if you are able to help: we

19 know that Rosemary Nelson was murdered in the middle

20 of March 1999. Can you remember when you first became

21 aware that allegations of collusion were being made

22 about her murder?

23 A. It would most probably have been prior to March 1999,

24 but I think it was more in the context of the media

25 coverage than anything specific in the form of a formal

144

1 document.

2 Q. Just so I'm clear about that answer, she was murdered on

3 15 March 1999. Are you saying that you were aware of

4 allegations of collusion concerning her before her

5 murder?

6 A. I was aware of the publicity surrounding the alleged

7 threats to her.

8 Q. I see.

9 A. The -- I think there was -- the United Nations, whose

10 name escapes me.

11 Q. Mr Cumaraswamy?

12 A. Yes, but it would be wrong to say I was aware on the

13 collusion side because from my recollection there was

14 nothing to suggest any activity like that

15 concerning her.

16 Q. Yes. Can I just ask you to focus on the time after her

17 murder? Can you help us as to whether or not you became

18 aware, after her murder, that it was being suggested

19 that members of the security forces had been involved --

20 there was collusion in the murder itself?

21 A. I think it was the very nature of the fact that the

22 normal investigation, I think, only lasted a matter of

23 ten days before the Port Inquiry was set up. So that

24 suggested to us that there had been these allegations

25 made and someone had decided that a rather larger

145

1 investigation needed to be carried out.

2 Q. And you were aware presumably that the Port team's remit

3 included the investigation of these allegations of

4 collusion?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. Did you know, for example, that his terms of reference

7 granted him unlimited access to all intelligence and

8 information available to or in files held by the RUC?

9 A. Not in those specific words, no.

10 Q. But did you have a discussion with your Special Branch

11 colleagues in which the nature of his enquiries was laid

12 out to you?

13 A. I think at the time my awareness of the Inquiry was only

14 on the terms that it would most probably include

15 military personnel, and therefore there was an

16 assumption that we would have some involvement at some

17 stage.

18 Q. And before contact of any kind was made with you by the

19 Murder Investigation Team, did you discuss with

20 Special Branch colleagues how you, the SMIU, would deal

21 with any such requests?

22 A. I am afraid I can't remember the exact sequence, whether

23 or not it was the Inquiry team asking specifically

24 Special Branch who then, in turn, contacted myself, or

25 whether it was myself thinking ahead and asking what

146

1 will be the procedures. But either way, we agreed on

2 a procedure that we would work at the behest of the

3 Special Branch as they saw fit.

4 Q. We will come back to that in a moment. But can I just

5 ask you whether, in these early weeks and months after

6 the murder, your unit was given a responsibility to

7 liaise with the Murder Investigation Team?

8 A. Not directly, no.

9 Q. If that had happened, can I take it from your earlier

10 answer that it would have been at the behest of the Head

11 of Special Branch?

12 A. That's correct.

13 Q. Yes. Now, in terms of your actual dealings with the

14 Murder Investigation Team, as I understand it your

15 principal point of contact was Arthur Provoost. Is that

16 right?

17 A. That's correct.

18 Q. I would just like to ask you some questions about the

19 comments, or some of the comments you make about Mr Port

20 in your statement. The first is in paragraph 35 at

21 RNI-845-082 (displayed). You say in the final sentence

22 of that paragraph:

23 "I heard Colin Port took a back seat in the

24 investigations."

25 Can I just ask you, who did you hear that from,

147

1 please?

2 A. This was at the latter stages of the investigation.

3 Q. Right.

4 A. So it would have been quite some way into the timeframe.

5 Q. Right. Well, when you say the latter stages, we have,

6 as an exhibit to your statement, a report you did in, I

7 think, July 2001. Is that the sort of time you are

8 talking about when you refer to the latter stages?

9 A. No, I would have put it further than that. It could

10 have been somewhere around 2003.

11 Q. Thank you. By which time he had in fact left the murder

12 investigation?

13 A. I think that's what I was referring to.

14 Q. Right. So he took such a back seat that he had actually

15 left. Is that what you meant?

16 A. That's my understanding.

17 Q. Right. Yes. But you are not suggesting, are you, that

18 while he was in fact in charge of the investigation, he

19 was taking a back seat?

20 A. Oh, no, no, I wouldn't have had any knowledge anyway of

21 what he was doing day-to-day anyway.

22 Q. No, you didn't have any direct knowledge of that.

23 A. No.

24 Q. No. Did you ever have any direct contact with him,

25 in fact?

148

1 A. I think I met him on maybe one or two occasions.

2 Q. Right.

3 A. At the early stages. As I have said, the main

4 day-to-day contact was with Arthur Provoost.

5 Q. Just looking at that, please, paragraph 33, which is on

6 RNI-845-081 (displayed), you say in relation to him that

7 in around June 1999, you think, you had your first

8 contact with Arthur Provoost?

9 A. That's correct, yes.

10 Q. Now, can you assist us with this: do you think that by

11 this stage you had already been dealing with requests

12 for information from the Murder Investigation Team, or

13 do you think this was the beginning of the process?

14 A. I think it was -- probably that some of the initial

15 requests were coming to us through the accredited police

16 channels, but given the nature and the profile of the

17 investigation and the sheer number of personnel involved

18 in it, and perhaps also we had reached a conclusion that

19 if the investigation team had a better understanding of

20 what our capabilities are, they could perhaps, you know,

21 ask a more specific question. So it was an opportunity

22 perhaps for us to explain to them that if -- certainly

23 in the case of the vehicle intelligence, there was

24 probably a lack of understanding of what we were capable

25 of doing for them and this was an opportunity to perhaps

149

1 brief them.

2 Q. So you think it may have been something that you

3 suggested, do you, that you volunteered to give them

4 a fuller or clearer idea of what you were capable of

5 doing for them?

6 A. Yes, it was part of the role -- if you can appreciate at

7 that time we had got a military aspiration to draw down

8 from the day-to-day operations and to have the police

9 more involved, but also at the same time allow the

10 police to have the benefit of a good working practice

11 that had been set up in support of policing operations.

12 So I just saw it as an extension of our day-to-day

13 role, but obviously focused specifically on the murder

14 enquiry mindful of the fact that, with detectives

15 brought in from mainland Britain, they would not have

16 been aware of the way the military operated or what the

17 military could perhaps do for them in support of their

18 investigation.

19 Q. Right. Now, so far as what I think you were saying were

20 earlier enquiries, I think you suggested that those had

21 been dealt with by -- did you say the accredited

22 channels, the proper channels? What do you mean by

23 that? Is that back to the FIB?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So you think there may have been some enquiries coming

150

1 from that source in the early stages, do you?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Right. Now, so far as Mr Port himself is concerned, you

4 make one or two other remarks about him in this part of

5 your statement, and we have it on the screen. In the

6 fourth line, you say:

7 "It was our perception (i.e. SMIU) that Colin Port

8 didn't trust the military to be open and honest with the

9 MIT about its manoeuvres over the weekend immediately

10 prior to Mrs Nelson's murder."

11 Now, what was the basis, please, of that perception?

12 A. I don't think in this context I was specifically talking

13 about him; I was talking perhaps about the team in

14 general.

15 It was my own view that there was an assumption that

16 this collusion was present, and therefore, because the

17 military were part of it, if they were being asked to

18 facilitate an investigation into, say, their own alleged

19 activities, they wouldn't want to come directly to us.

20 I saw it as part of our role to say that we could assist

21 them if they ask us the question and that an assumption

22 of collusion was not a fair position to take at

23 that time.

24 Q. But this view you took, that they had assumed there had

25 been collusion, was that based on things that individual

151

1 officers within the team said to you?

2 A. I had previously had dealings with the Stevens Inquiry

3 team and they were still present carrying on their

4 investigations at the time -- at the early stages of the

5 Port investigation. I believe the detectives in support

6 of the Port investigation were staying at the same

7 hotels.

8 Q. Right, and you think that they had been influenced by

9 the Stevens team's approach?

10 A. I formed that view subsequently, that that was

11 a possibility.

12 Q. And had you yourself had dealings with the Stevens team?

13 A. I had, yes.

14 Q. And you had formed the view, can I take it, therefore,

15 that they were proceeding on an assumption of collusion?

16 Is that right?

17 A. That's right.

18 Q. And that they had in some way infected the officers on

19 the other team?

20 A. Yes, by virtue of the fact that they perhaps had

21 socialised with each other. The Port Inquiry team were

22 drawn from many mainland forces who perhaps had not had

23 any experience of working in Northern Ireland before,

24 let alone with the military, and therefore, perhaps at

25 that early stage had been overly influenced on the

152

1 negatives.

2 Q. Do you think that this perception of the Port Inquiry

3 team was one shared by your colleagues within the unit,

4 SMIU?

5 A. At a senior level, yes.

6 Q. And do you think it was one shared more widely within

7 the Army?

8 A. No, because I wouldn't have necessary discussed it --

9 specifically with individuals.

10 Q. But did you discuss it with, for example, your

11 Special Branch colleagues?

12 A. It is possible.

13 Q. Did they hold the same view, namely that there was, on

14 the part of the Port team, an assumption of collusion?

15 A. I couldn't be sure that those exact words were used.

16 But perhaps in the discussions that we had in setting up

17 the protocols, we were of the same mind, that if they

18 had this perception, we had got to do what's necessary

19 to try and prove that not to be the case.

20 Q. When the difficulties and frictions which did occur, as

21 you tell us in your evidence, when they took place in

22 your dealings or your unit's dealings with the Port

23 team, did you not discuss them with Special Branch

24 colleagues?

25 A. I would have done, yes.

153

1 Q. And did you not find that they either shared or were

2 sympathetic to your view that they were indeed assuming

3 that there had been collusion and seeking out to

4 establish that?

5 A. I think the differences were there from a professional

6 perspective. Anything that the military could do to

7 bring the perpetrators to a court of law would have been

8 done. The RUC would have been doing the same. The

9 Port Inquiry chose to do things a certain way, so the

10 disagreements were not on the ultimate goal, but on the

11 way in which they were going about it. And it was, I

12 think, this lack of understanding of the operational

13 environment and this lack of trust initially with the

14 RUC and the Army, you know, together that caused this

15 friction in the early part of it.

16 I believe that towards the end of it, they came to

17 respect the fact that they were -- they possibly had the

18 wrong perception at the very beginning.

19 Q. We will come back to this, but can we look now at the

20 report you made in July 2001, specifically on this

21 point. That's at RNI-513-008 (displayed).

22 Now, the way you explain your unit's dealings with

23 the Port team, the Murder Investigation Team, is by

24 dividing it, as we can see in paragraph 3, into two

25 phases, isn't it? The first phase, the initial phase,

154

1 as you put it, and the second phase?

2 A. That's correct.

3 Q. And it looks as though, in your view at any rate, the

4 mark between the two phases came with your meeting with

5 members of the Inquiry team which, as we can see from

6 page RNI-513-010 (displayed), took place on

7 12 March 2001?

8 A. That's correct, yes.

9 Q. And it looks as though from that point on, a system was

10 agreed whereby, as you put it there in paragraph 1:

11 "This office would provide a direct conduit for all

12 enquiries to mil units of interest."

13 A. That's right.

14 Q. So far as the initial stages are concerned, if we can go

15 back in the document to RNI-513-009, the previous page

16 (displayed), you make some observations and the first is

17 the one we have just been discussing underlined there,

18 an assumption of collusion:

19 "The Inquiry team seem to have formed the conclusion

20 from the outset that there was widespread collusion

21 between members of the security forces and ..."

22 I think that's "Protestant paramilitaries". Is that

23 right?

24 A. That's correct, yes.

25 Q. And that:

155

1 "... the Inquiry was an attempt to prove this."

2 As I understand it, therefore, this is you

3 in July 2001 saying very much what you have been

4 explaining in your evidence just now. Is that right?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. Can I ask you, just returning to your statement briefly

7 at paragraph 32, RNI-845-081 (displayed), about a very

8 particular comment you make in relation to Mr Port in

9 the second line. You say:

10 "Colin Port was a close friend of Ronnie Flanagan."

11 Again, can I just ask you what is the basis of that

12 suggestion, please?

13 A. It is difficult to actually recall the circumstances,

14 but it may have been something to the effect that why

15 would Colin Port have been asked to carry out an

16 investigation when there was no obvious reason for it.

17 And I think it may have been that someone may have said

18 to me, "He is known to the current Chief Constable".

19 Q. But that wasn't something you knew yourself?

20 A. No.

21 Q. And it may well have been speculation?

22 A. Absolutely, yes.

23 Q. Which you have passed on to us in your statement?

24 A. I can't remember now the context in which I was asked

25 about it. It may be that -- no, I can't remember the

156

1 context.

2 For me to have known that would have had to have

3 been from someone within the RUC Special Branch probably

4 saying that to me.

5 Q. So you think that information came from Special Branch?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. You didn't have any independent means of knowing whether

8 it was true or not?

9 A. I think it could have been borne out of the fact that I

10 think he was Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary,

11 which was not a name in British policing that I was

12 aware of. I may have asked the question, "Does anybody

13 know why it is Colin Port?" And it could have been

14 a general discussion that he was known to the

15 Chief Constable.

16 Q. Now, so far as the next paragraph is concerned, we were

17 looking at it together, and you say in the third line in

18 paragraph 33:

19 "His ..."

20 That's Arthur Provoost's:

21 "... team of about 60 or more detectives were

22 ferreting around on HOLMES."

23 Now, HOLMES is the system that the Murder

24 Investigation Team used?

25 A. That's correct.

157

1 Q. So what do you mean by this comment, "ferreting around

2 on HOLMES", please?

3 A. They would -- as I understand the way HOLMES worked,

4 they would feed a lot of information into the system

5 and -- out of which actions would fall out. And whoever

6 was sort of controlling that on a day-to-day basis would

7 pass those actions to a detective to go off and get the

8 information for. Because the -- at the early stage, it

9 is my belief that the detectives didn't trust the

10 official lines of communication. They sought to set up

11 their own links with military personnel, and in doing so

12 on occasions they may well have got some information.

13 But I subsequently formed the opinion that if they had

14 asked the same questions through the official channels,

15 they would have probably got more information.

16 Q. Right. So is this what you are getting at when you say

17 in the next sentence:

18 "They were interfacing with the military at all

19 levels"?

20 A. That's correct.

21 Q. So your concern then was that they were making contact

22 with military personnel at all levels direct rather than

23 through your unit?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Right. And in your view, the correct approach would

158

1 have been for them to proceed with all of their

2 enquiries through your unit. Is that right?

3 A. That's correct, yes.

4 Q. What did you do to express that view to Mr Provoost

5 before or after June 1999?

6 A. Well, again, his -- I think I had a meeting with him

7 in February 2000 at which, if you like, as a result of

8 some of the disagreements and, if you like, military

9 irritation with these -- what we would call unofficial

10 approaches to individuals, I basically was able to

11 convince him that by going through a formal protocol, he

12 had a better chance of getting all the information he

13 needed rather than just bits of it.

14 Q. Let's look at the chronology together. RNI-513-035 is

15 a memorandum from him (displayed). In fact it is

16 addressed to the Deputy Regional Head, B503, and it

17 records the meeting with you on 17 February 2000. Do

18 you see that?

19 A. I see that, yes.

20 Q. And we have already looked together at the report you

21 did in July and the meeting which set up, in your view,

22 the second phase of your dealings with the Inquiry which

23 came over a year later in March 2001.

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So can I take it that during the year after this meeting

159

1 in February 2000, there were still, as far as you were

2 concerned, problems and difficulties in the way in which

3 the Murder Investigation Team were seeking to get hold

4 of information?

5 A. Yes, but less so, and because we had by that stage

6 a mutual understanding of each other's position and

7 because -- and respect for each other's position

8 overall, we had the mechanism to sort those problems out

9 rather than let it snowball into something more serious.

10 So if I had a concern about the way in which an

11 enquiry had been presented, I would go and speak to

12 Arthur Provoost. And likewise, if he had a concern

13 about a response or an interaction from someone in the

14 military, he would come to me. So he could effectively

15 troubleshoot his own organisation on my behalf and I

16 would do the same for him on the military side.

17 Q. So is this fair then: that although, in your view, the

18 second phase didn't begin until March 2001, after this

19 meeting in February 2000 things, if not ideal, were

20 better than they had been at the beginning?

21 A. Yes. You probably could split phase 1 into two succinct

22 parts: the initial phase up to February 2000, and

23 subsequently a better situation developing after that

24 meeting.

25 Q. Right. With that in mind, can we go back to your

160

1 statement, please, RNI-845-081, and paragraph 33

2 (displayed) because here you talk about Mr Port -- you

3 use him in this sentence, but I'm going to assume it is

4 the Murder Investigation Team generally. You say about

5 six or seven lines down:

6 "So he was trying to get the information using the

7 'old boy network' through the back door."

8 Now, can you just try and explain what you mean by

9 that, please:

10 "... using the 'old boy network' through the back

11 door"?

12 A. It is really just a -- I think as I explained

13 previously, because they didn't at that stage seem to

14 want to trust the official lines of contact, they -- by

15 virtue of the fact that they had some contact with the

16 military at the early part of it and they were then

17 using those contacts subsequently, so -- but I would

18 consider that to be the back door approach.

19 Q. In other words, an approach which bypassed your unit?

20 A. Yes. The best way to probably explain it is if they

21 were interested in the integrity of a serving soldier

22 and the possibility that that individual was involved in

23 Protestant paramilitaries, which was primarily the focus

24 of their investigation at that stage, it is no good

25 going to the individual soldier's unit and trying to

161

1 glean information from either other individuals or

2 senior personnel in the unit because those people

3 wouldn't necessarily know what was held on official

4 records back in -- you know, in Lisburn and they

5 wouldn't have had access to that information, whereas

6 I did.

7 You can appreciate that if information is held on

8 record about the possible integrity of an individual,

9 that is a very tight circle of knowledge, quite

10 correctly.

11 Q. Yes. But you see, what they were actually looking at

12 initially -- certainly you seem to suggest this from

13 this paragraph of your statement -- was not about that,

14 but about the manoeuvres over the weekend. Because if

15 you remember, right from the beginning there was an

16 allegation that there had been suspicious security force

17 activity on the weekend before Rosemary Nelson's murder.

18 That was one of their principal areas of investigation

19 right at the outset, wasn't it?

20 A. Yes, and I can remember -- and I can't, again, put

21 a timeframe on it, but having a discussion with Arthur

22 Provoost and them saying that their perception of what

23 collusion may or may not have taken place was

24 fundamentally different to the way I would have

25 viewed it. If collusion was part of this, it was

162

1 possibly the actions of a few, not the actions of many

2 and that an attack on a possible target would take place

3 when the military were in the area rather than -- if I

4 can put it in context, there were many times when the

5 police had intelligence about a possible terrorist

6 attack, but not knowing the specific targets. They

7 would -- part of the defence to that attack or

8 protection from that attack would be to flood the area

9 with troops because any potential terrorist would not

10 wish to engage or try to get through vehicle checkpoints

11 or risk being stopped by Army patrols or police patrols.

12 So the number of troops -- a number of troops in a given

13 area would work the other way; it would deter any kind

14 of attack.

15 Q. Yes.

16 A. If there was collusion, it is more likely to take place

17 when people know the military aren't going to be there.

18 So I had many discussions with Arthur Provoost on that

19 basis.

20 Q. But presumably you accepted that he and the other senior

21 officers had to run their own investigation using their

22 own very considerable experience. That wasn't your job,

23 was it?

24 A. No, and that's why we did our best to give them the

25 information they requested.

163

1 Q. And one of the things they had to establish, not least

2 for the public, was that they were truly independent in

3 the way they investigated all of the very serious

4 allegations of collusion which surrounded the murder?

5 A. Absolutely. Arthur Provoost is a very thorough and

6 professional policeman.

7 Q. Indeed.

8 A. And we did what we could because I understood from his

9 position that it was necessary. I think the phrase he

10 used was, "It may be necessary ultimately to prove the

11 negative".

12 Q. But did that help you to understand why they wanted to

13 go about things in a way that was consistent with their

14 approach rather than with your wish to have a protocol

15 whereby everything fed through you?

16 A. I still maintain -- and I know they managed to get

17 information from other agencies, the police being the

18 most obvious. But I still maintained that for him to

19 get the accuracy of the information, he would -- it

20 would take him longer, I think, to have got the

21 information from other sources, which he could have

22 done. But time being of the essence, I was able to show

23 to him that I could get the information for him in

24 a more timely manner.

25 Q. Can I just take up the example of the troop and other

164

1 security force activity over the weekend before the

2 murder.

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. When you realised that that was one of their major areas

5 of enquiry, did you offer or volunteer to get to the

6 bottom of all of that for him, to provide him with all

7 the statistics so that he didn't have to go constructing

8 the picture for himself piecemeal?

9 A. I think it is fair to say I only became aware of that

10 line of his enquiry quite some time afterwards.

11 Q. Really?

12 A. Because I had no direct involvement.

13 Q. Right.

14 A. If you like, operationals being carried out by the

15 troops, as you refer to, were under the auspices of the

16 Regional Head of Special Branch. So I would have

17 nothing to add or assist Arthur Provoost because he

18 already had his own contact with the Regional Head of

19 Special Branch, and he would more quickly get that

20 information that he was requesting through that line of

21 enquiry rather than me.

22 Q. So when in this paragraph you talk about the first time

23 you had contact with him in June 1999 and the views we

24 have then been looking at together that you express

25 about Port not trusting the military to be open and

165

1 honest with the MIT about its manoeuvres over the

2 weekend, are you saying you weren't aware of his

3 interest in those matters by June 1999?

4 A. I think I probably was aware. That probably would have

5 been one of the reasons why we needed to set up a better

6 system, to give them the information they were

7 requesting.

8 Q. Yes.

9 A. Because he was more interested in the role of the

10 infantry battalion rather than, you know, the troop, as

11 you refer to. And I was able to explain to him that

12 without disclosing his specific interest, there were

13 means of communication with senior members of the unit

14 that I could carry out discreetly to try and help gain

15 the information himself, rather than him going directly.

16 If he went into the unit directly and followed the

17 protocols of a detective, he would have to declare why

18 he was there, and I understood at that time that he

19 wouldn't wish to do that.

20 Q. Right. Can we look together at a part of your statement

21 where you talk about this specifically, and that's

22 paragraph 40 at RNI-845-083 (displayed). You say there:

23 "The MIT only asked us to help them with their

24 enquiries relating to the military, i.e. their enquiries

25 about ex or serving soldiers and where the military were

166

1 the weekend before the murder."

2 Do you see that?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. And then you go on to say a few lines down:

5 "We were able to prove that the helicopter which was

6 heard over Lurgan on the Saturday night before the

7 murder was there by coincidence. The helicopter was

8 doing a job over somewhere else ..."

9 Et cetera. Now, I'm trying to work out from what

10 you have been telling us when you think you, as you put

11 it, proved that the helicopter which was heard over

12 Lurgan, et cetera, had nothing to do with the murder.

13 Are you saying that that took place some time

14 after June 1999?

15 A. I think at some stage -- and, again, it probably could

16 have been around this period between, say, June 1999

17 and February, if you like, the latter part of the first

18 phase, where the Inquiry team needed to understand the

19 military operational procedures better, and part of that

20 was explaining that just because you can hear

21 a helicopter hovering, doesn't mean to say it is looking

22 at you.

23 I can again draw an analogy that if -- I spoke

24 previously about -- taking Belfast as an example, if the

25 police had intelligence about an impending terrorist

167

1 attack, one option was to flood the area with troops to

2 deter that attack. Another option sometimes was to ask

3 the helicopter to hover in a general area around North

4 and West Belfast, and the possible attack -- I know

5 generally attacks were deterred because the perception

6 on the ground is the helicopter can see you, where in

7 reality he can't.

8 Q. So I'm clear about this, you are not suggesting, are

9 you, that this helicopter was sent up over Lurgan

10 because there was intelligence that Rosemary Nelson was

11 about to be murdered?

12 A. No, it was in the context of the helicopter was on a job

13 related to Lurgan, whereas I am given to understand that

14 it was on -- it was carrying out a task that was nothing

15 to do with Lurgan at that particular -- it was just

16 coincidentally in the area and the reports that the

17 Inquiry team had had from members of the public had

18 drawn their attention to it, and that's why they were

19 investigating the possibility of it being in support of

20 some kind of operation in Lurgan, when I believe that

21 not to be the case.

22 MR PHILLIPS: Right. Sir, would that be a convenient

23 moment?

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. We will have a quarter of an hour break

25 until 20 past.

168

1 Before the witness leaves, can the video engineer

2 please confirm that all the cameras have been

3 switched off?

4 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please escort the witness out.

6 We will resume at 20 past four.

7 (4.05 pm)

8 (Short break)

9 (4.25 pm)

10 THE CHAIRMAN: The checklist, Mr Currans. Is the public

11 area screen fully in place, locked and the key secured?

12 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the fire doors on either side of the

14 screen closed?

15 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

17 and securely fastened?

18 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

20 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

21 of this chamber?

22 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Can the video engineer please confirm that

24 the two witness cameras have been switched off and

25 shrouded?

169

1 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: All the other cameras have been switched off?

3 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

5 Bring the witness in, please.

6 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

7 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

8 switched back on.

9 MR PHILLIPS: Now, before we look at the protocol which you

10 established eventually, can I ask you about another

11 comment you make about the investigation team? This is

12 at RNI-845-082 and it is paragraph 34 (displayed). This

13 is the section of your statement where you start to talk

14 about the protocol.

15 But four lines from the end of the paragraph, you

16 say:

17 "At first, Colin Port's team was reluctant to come

18 to me with their enquiries as they thought it was all

19 a conspiracy. They were feeding off Republican

20 propaganda."

21 I have got to ask you the same question about this

22 as I did about the other rather pointed views you

23 express about the team in your statement: what was the

24 basis for your view that they, the team, were feeding

25 off Republican propaganda?

170

1 A. I think it goes back to -- a key aspects of a terrorist

2 organisation trying to promulgate its views to others is

3 to -- clever use of propaganda to -- on the basis of if

4 you throw enough mud somewhere, some of it will stick.

5 Q. Yes.

6 A. I think they had, over the years, seen that to work. So

7 in going back to what I said earlier on, where my view

8 was that the investigation team had come in with an

9 assumption of collusion and because the media was full

10 of these unsubstantiated allegations of collusion, by

11 default they were feeding off that information ahead of

12 their -- what I would have hoped would have been a more

13 objective position at the start of an investigation.

14 Q. So you are suggesting, are you, that from the start they

15 didn't have open minds, they approached it with

16 a particular view of the matter based on Republican

17 propaganda?

18 A. That's my personal opinion, yes.

19 Q. Which they didn't, in your view, sufficiently challenge

20 or test; they simply accepted it or, as you put it

21 there, fed off it?

22 A. You have got to understand that with a large number of

23 personnel, my contact was at that early stage -- wasn't

24 necessarily with one or two people; it was with a number

25 of them. So this was an opinion that was formed over

171

1 a relatively short period of time, and you could look at

2 it in the context of, you know, from the time that they

3 were formed up at the end of March to that meeting with

4 Arthur Provoost in June.

5 So that -- my opinion would probably have been

6 formed in that initial stage.

7 Q. Do you think it is possible that you mistook a rather

8 robust approach to investigating this murder in which

9 allegations of collusion had been made for them being

10 rather gullible in relation to the Republican

11 propaganda?

12 A. It is my belief that they were susceptible to that level

13 of propaganda, yes.

14 Q. You don't think they were doing what they could to

15 independently investigate these serious allegations of

16 collusion?

17 A. I never doubted their -- the seriousness of what they

18 were trying to do. My dismay at the early stages was

19 that they weren't being as objective as they could

20 have been.

21 Q. To what extent do you think your view of the way they

22 behaved was shaped by their failure to do what you

23 wanted, which was to direct all their enquiries

24 through you?

25 A. I think to understand that, you have to -- I had been

172

1 involved in the setting up of the new protocol in 1990,

2 which was as a direct result of some of the

3 recommendations from the -- Stevens Part 2, I think it

4 was referred to, in which there was criticism of the

5 Army vetting procedures and that if we had individuals

6 who were involved with Protestant paramilitaries, we

7 needed to have a more robust vetting system in place to

8 try and avoid them being recruited into the organisation

9 in the first place.

10 So I was aware of what the Army had tried to do to

11 meet that recommendation with, I believe, a fair degree

12 of success in the context of not allowing individuals of

13 dubious background to be recruited in the first place.

14 And then also have a procedure for monitoring

15 individuals if they came to note at any stage. And

16 there was a protocol -- again, I use this word protocol,

17 but a procedure set up in the police that if they had

18 information on the possible activities of a serving

19 soldier with Protestant paramilitaries or Republican

20 paramilitaries, we would have a system by which we could

21 investigate and take the necessary action. And it was

22 on -- my knowledge of those procedures that allowed me

23 to form the view that widespread collusion was not

24 a factor at any time.

25 Q. And you must accept presumably that whatever your

173

1 conclusion, it was their job, their responsibility, to

2 investigate the specific allegations that had been made

3 in this case?

4 A. That's right, and I think that's why I -- when I -- as

5 I wanted them to understand my position more, I accepted

6 that I had to understand their position more, and that's

7 why ultimately I established what I considered to be

8 a very good working relationship with Arthur Provoost.

9 Q. But do you think it is true that the initial

10 difficulties and frictions were, at least to some

11 extent, caused by what you regarded as their failure or

12 their refusal to use the established procedures?

13 A. I don't wish this to sound arrogant, but at the end of

14 the day it is my honest belief that if we were asked the

15 right question, we would invariably have more

16 information for them. It was to allow them to get more

17 information in a timely manner than they were otherwise

18 sort of getting through other means.

19 Q. Yes. Now, we know that there were two meetings of

20 significance we have looked at together:

21 in February 2000 and then again in March 2001. Before

22 the first of those meetings in February 2000, did you at

23 any point say to Mr Provoost, "Look, the difficulty here

24 is you are not asking us the right questions"?

25 A. I probably did.

174

1 Q. Can you say for certainty whether you expressed all of

2 this to him at any point before February 2000?

3 A. I couldn't with any certainty, no.

4 Q. No. Now, so far as the protocol which you are talking

5 about in this paragraph, 34, we have on the screen is

6 concerned, can I take it that that's the protocol that

7 was established in March 2001, which led to the second

8 phase of the Inquiry?

9 A. Yes. I think you have to accept -- well, understand the

10 stage the Inquiry had got to by March 2001 was that they

11 had gathered in a huge amount of information, and as

12 a result of that and assessing that information, they

13 had subsequent lines of enquiry which they wished to

14 follow. And what we needed to do was to set up a system

15 which allowed that to happen in a more expedient way.

16 So by this stage it was agreed that it didn't need

17 to go through the Special Branch desk officer directly;

18 it could come to my office straight from the Inquiry

19 team.

20 Q. Just have a look at what you say at the beginning of

21 this paragraph because you say the direct opposite of

22 that:

23 "We set up a protocol with Arthur Provoost. His

24 team would feed requests to the RUC desk officer to put

25 to us. Then we would research the matter on his behalf

175

1 and produce a report, which would be passed back up to

2 him through the same channels."

3 In other words, back through the desk officer?

4 A. That referred to the protocol that was set up after the

5 first meeting in -- resulted in his request

6 in February 2000.

7 Q. We had better look at the report that you compiled

8 in July 2001 to see whether that's correct. Can we go

9 to that, please, at RNI-513-088 (displayed)? Do you

10 remember I showed you this before?

11 The report divides the Inquiry into two phases, and

12 we agreed that the end date for the first and the start

13 date for the second was 12 March. Do you see that?

14 A. That's right, yes.

15 Q. If we then go on to RNI-513-010 (displayed), you deal

16 with all of the difficulties and problems that you

17 encountered, some of which we will return to. But at

18 11, you say:

19 "It is believed that the circumstances reported in

20 paragraphs 9 and 10 above contributed to members of the

21 enquiry team making a number of unauthorised contacts

22 direct to a number of units of interest."

23 All of these remarks are about the first phase, as

24 you put it, aren't they?

25 A. Yes.

176

1 Q. Then you say:

2 "During such contact, units directed enquiry team

3 members to this office and reported their actions to the

4 relevant brigade G2. The actions of the enquiry team

5 did, on a number of occasions, cause a degree of

6 friction between the police and the mil. This lead to a

7 meeting on 12 March 2001 to resolve any perceived

8 problems."

9 Then you say:

10 "Following a meeting with members of the enquiry

11 team on 12 March 2001, it was agreed that this office

12 would provide a direct conduit for all enquiries to mil

13 units of interest."

14 So what's the distinction between the two phases,

15 please?

16 A. Well, if you recall, we split phase 1 into two parts

17 effectively.

18 Q. Yes.

19 A. So to take the latter parts, it was following the

20 procedures that they were requesting information

21 concerning military personnel in the main and they were

22 feeding that information through the RUC Special Branch

23 chain to the desk officer, and the reports were going

24 back that way.

25 In addition to that, there were still what I would

177

1 term unauthorised contacts with individuals in

2 the units.

3 Q. Yes.

4 A. I can't relate directly to what, you know -- whether or

5 not, you know, instances. But there were a number.

6 Q. Right.

7 A. And I go back to what I said earlier: if I felt there

8 was a problem, I would go to Arthur Provoost and say,

9 "If you do this, you risk not getting everything that

10 you want. You are far better off sticking with the

11 protocol." And to the latter part, say the immediate

12 period prior to 12 March, I would have been able to say

13 to him, "You must accept that things have worked better

14 since we set this protocol up."

15 So now, if you like, that meeting on 12 March was

16 seen as an ideal opportunity to fine tune it, and it was

17 at that stage that I became aware of the way in which

18 the enquiry was then being run.

19 Q. I understand.

20 A. They gathered information. They now had to assess that

21 and carry out further enquiries.

22 Q. So from this stage they came to you direct for

23 everything?

24 A. Because there was an establishment of trust with them

25 and the police, Special Branch, if you like; there was

178

1 an accepted trust. So they were happy that I wouldn't

2 be divulging stuff to the Inquiry that was maybe of a

3 particular sensitive nature without speaking to them.

4 Q. Right. So after about two years, the murder

5 15 March 1999, the procedure you agreed on 12 March 2001

6 was that it would come to you direct?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Not involving any more the E3 desk officers?

9 A. That's correct.

10 Q. Thank you. Let's go back together then, please, to

11 paragraph 4, which is at RNI-513-008 (displayed). So

12 where you say in that paragraph:

13 "During the initial stages ..."

14 This is referring to the first phase:

15 "... all requests for access to military records and

16 intelligence was directed through E3B, the Protestant

17 paramilitary desk in the RUC Special Branch ..."

18 That's the protocol, is it, that you are

19 referring to?

20 A. That's right.

21 Q. Right. So the protocol that you sought to put in place

22 covered the first phase of the Inquiry, as you

23 describe it?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. And under that protocol, am I right in thinking that

179

1 everything had to go through E3 desks; in other words,

2 their enquiries came in to E3, they were passed to you,

3 you made a report and the answer came back via E3 to the

4 Murder Investigation Team?

5 A. That is correct.

6 MR PHILLIPS: Thank you. Now --

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Sorry to interrupt, but that applies only to

8 military records and intelligence. Is that right?

9 A. That's correct, sir, yes.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

11 MR PHILLIPS: That was in fact the next --

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Sorry.

13 MR PHILLIPS: No, the next point I wanted to ask you. So

14 that covered, did it, for example, personnel records, as

15 they would be called outside the forces certainly; in

16 other words, the employment records of individual

17 officers and soldiers?

18 A. That's right.

19 Q. As well as military intelligence?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. As well as operational orders, patrol material,

22 briefings, et cetera?

23 A. The information that they required sometimes on the --

24 where everybody was over that period of 12 to 16 March,

25 that was more difficult. The information was readily

180

1 available from the units on the ground, but at some

2 stage -- at that early stage, the investigation didn't

3 want to declare their interest.

4 Q. Yes.

5 A. So they would use our office as a discretionary way of

6 trying to obtain the information without necessarily

7 disclosing who was wanting it.

8 Q. Yes. But just to take the example of the records, in

9 other words, the records about individual officers and

10 soldiers, they would be the property of the Army,

11 wouldn't they?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. They would be maintained by Army personnel. If

14 disciplinary issues arose they would be dealt with by

15 Army personnel, wouldn't they?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. They had nothing to do, as such, with intelligence?

18 A. Some of the personnel they were asking for information

19 on, as well as having their basic records or their

20 service, would have any what I would call security

21 intelligence-related information, and sometimes that

22 information had come to our notice from the police.

23 Q. Yes. But the files would be generated, maintained,

24 updated, by Army personnel, wouldn't they?

25 A. Yes.

181

1 Q. And in the absence of any specific cases of intelligence

2 being passed on, they would be regarded, wouldn't they,

3 as Army material?

4 A. That's right.

5 Q. So why was that material having to pass through E3B to

6 get to the Murder Investigation Team?

7 A. Because under the terms of the concept of operations and

8 with police primacy in existence at that stage, the

9 police had ownership of the data.

10 Q. Even of the Army personnel records?

11 A. It wasn't so much -- it was the -- it wouldn't have been

12 necessarily the Army personnel records in their own

13 right, but if there was a security intelligence report

14 attached to it, the Army were not involved with

15 gathering intelligence on -- from Protestant

16 paramilitaries. Intelligence on the activities of

17 Protestant paramilitaries and their possible contact

18 with serving soldiers always came from the RUC.

19 So when that information was given to us and we

20 would correctly append the individual records, the RUC

21 still owned that base level of information.

22 Q. But that wasn't the reason why the protocol was set up

23 in this way, was it?

24 A. It was the main reason on the understanding that the

25 police had ownership of the data.

182

1 Q. Right. Well, could you look with me at the third line

2 of this paragraph, because there you forward in this

3 document of July 2001 the reason for this system, and it

4 goes like this:

5 "The reason for this was so that Special Branch

6 could maintain sight of the direction the enquiry was

7 taking."

8 It has got nothing to do with the ownership of the

9 material. As I understand it, what you are saying is

10 that the protocol was set up in this way so that

11 Special Branch could keep an eye on what the Murder

12 Investigation Team were doing?

13 A. Yes, I would say -- that was of a secondary nature.

14 Q. It is not put there as a secondary point, is it?

15 A. No, it is not.

16 Q. It is put as the reason?

17 A. In the context of that wording, yes.

18 Q. And no other reason is in fact included in this report,

19 is it?

20 A. It would have been accepted at the discussion for the

21 protocol that, quite rightly, Special Branch would want

22 to maintain an awareness of what direction the Inquiry

23 was going in. And to avoid me having to produce regular

24 reports, it was probably agreed that it was far better

25 that they had sight of the document as it passed through

183

1 their hands.

2 Q. So the effect of it was that where a request came in to

3 you for information of whatever kind, they would have

4 sight of the information which you passed back to the

5 Murder Investigation Team?

6 A. I saw that as a necessary safeguard that would --

7 because I had this mandate to protect their data and I

8 was not authorised to release it to outside agencies

9 without their specific authority -- I saw it as

10 a necessary safeguard to prevent that happening.

11 Q. But Army operational documentation or, in general, Army

12 personnel files were not their data, were they?

13 A. Purely personnel files, yes.

14 Q. They were not?

15 A. But where you aggregate that file up with security

16 intelligence information, you could argue that the whole

17 report becomes subject to that data ownership that the

18 police would have.

19 Q. Now, this was an internal report, wasn't it?

20 A. This report was generated because of the change in the

21 Chief of Staff in Lisburn.

22 Q. It was for the Army, this report that you drafted?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. And so presumably you wanted to be sure that you were

25 setting out as accurately and as clearly as possible

184

1 what had been done and why it had been done?

2 A. The purpose behind it was, at the initial contact with

3 the Inquiry we were given a period of time of no more

4 than six months, and by this stage in July 2001 that

5 clearly was not the case. And because of the continued

6 use of military personnel in facilitating the

7 investigation to the level that we were, it was

8 appropriate to give, you know, the brigadier sight of

9 what we had done to that point. And what we were

10 probably seeking is an endorsement of continuing to do

11 the same.

12 Q. Yes, and you gave as the reason for the system that had

13 been set up initially that Special Branch could maintain

14 sight of the direction the Inquiry was taking?

15 A. I would say now, on reflection, there was a dual purpose

16 to this then.

17 Q. But it is not recorded, is it?

18 A. No.

19 Q. Thank you. So far as the protocol is concerned, if we

20 go back to your statement, please, at RNI-845-082 and

21 paragraph 35 (displayed), you say in the first line:

22 "I didn't set this protocol up on my own. I would

23 have checked if the Head of Special Branch and the ACOS

24 G2/G3 agreed to this so we could show the MIT that we

25 were not holding anything back."

185

1 So presumably, before you entered your agreement

2 which you describe with Arthur Provoost, you had to

3 check it off with your actual boss, the Head of

4 Special Branch?

5 A. That's correct, sir.

6 Q. And no doubt, given the relationship between you and him

7 which you have described to us, he would have had an

8 input at the very least in improving what you were

9 proposing?

10 A. That's right.

11 Q. And had he had concerns about what you were proposing,

12 you would have had to deal with them, would you not?

13 A. That's right.

14 Q. Did you at any stage tell Mr Provoost, as far as you can

15 remember, that the reason for setting up the protocol

16 was so that Special Branch could maintain sight of the

17 direction the Inquiry was taking?

18 A. I don't believe I would have used that phrase, but he

19 fully accepted the protocol. He didn't question why he

20 would have to go through the desk officer. He accepted

21 it as a -- I would have explained it to him that our

22 office was an integral part of the Special Branch

23 organisation and we were not autonomous and we had to

24 follow certain procedures, as would be the same with any

25 organisation. So to facilitate what he wanted, this was

186

1 the best way to do it.

2 Q. But just get back to the question I asked you. You

3 didn't tell Mr Provoost, I assume, that the reason for

4 the protocol was so that Special Branch could keep an

5 eye on what he was doing?

6 A. No, but he was initially -- he was based in the police

7 station in Lurgan and he had a protocol contact with the

8 divisional Special Branch officer and he would have

9 accepted that that was the right way to go about it if

10 he was seeking intelligence or security

11 intelligence-related information.

12 Q. But come back to the question we have been going round

13 and round on about Army material other than

14 intelligence, the same considerations wouldn't have

15 applied, would they?

16 A. But in the main, the information we were being asked for

17 was concerning security intelligence information related

18 to individuals.

19 Q. Now, so far as the desks were concerned, can I ask you

20 to look at paragraph 39, please (displayed)? Here you

21 talk about the particular desk, E3B, the Protestant

22 paramilitary desk, and you say:

23 "This was because of the supposition that

24 Rosemary Nelson was murdered by Loyalist

25 paramilitaries."

187

1 And you say at the end:

2 "I have been asked to request that these enquiries

3 go through the PPM desk ..."

4 And you can't now recall.

5 Presumably that was something that was set up and

6 agreed with you by the Head of Special Branch?

7 A. That's right.

8 Q. So as far as you can recall then, the assumption on

9 which he was working, and presumably the assumption on

10 which you were working, was that Rosemary Nelson had

11 indeed been murdered by Loyalists?

12 A. I think there is another point that may be worth

13 including at this point, that the Protestant

14 paramilitary desk were reacting themselves to requests

15 from the Inquiry team which I would not have had sight

16 of, and it could be that some of the information that I

17 had in my report could have added value to information

18 that they in turn were passing on. And they would

19 know -- have no need to tell me what their information

20 was, but it would be quite right and proper that my

21 information was made available to them on its passage

22 through the system, which could allow a bit of comment

23 or that they could add to that report that would aid the

24 investigation.

25 Q. So presumably this was something which, if it did

188

1 happen, happened after your report left your hands?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Are you in a position to tell the Inquiry whether you

4 know that that ever happened?

5 A. I'm not aware of it in -- in specific terms, no.

6 Q. Can I ask you to go back to your report and paragraph 4,

7 RNI-513-008 (displayed). In the last sentence you refer

8 there to an undertaking -- if we can have that enlarged

9 please:

10 "An undertaking was given at the start of the

11 enquiry that no intelligence would be released to the

12 enquiry team without the permission of either ..."

13 Then the same two senior people: the Head of

14 Special Branch or Chief G2. The undertaking, can I take

15 it, was given by your unit; is that right?

16 A. It was the undertaking that I would not be releasing

17 anything without the required authority.

18 Q. But that was an undertaking that you or your unit gave?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Is that right? To whom?

21 A. It would have been, again, in discussing in -- if you

22 like, in persuading the investigation team that this was

23 what I considered to be the right way to go, but also an

24 assurance to the desk officer within Special Branch that

25 we would not be acting outside of the protocol.

189

1 We were mindful of the fact that there were ongoing

2 counter terrorist operations which we would have no

3 knowledge of, and we wouldn't want to be party to

4 passing information that could compromise something that

5 could be going on at that particular time.

6 Q. Yes.

7 A. Whereas Special Branch would have knowledge and,

8 therefore, they would be able to -- I referred to it

9 earlier as add value to a report prior to passing it on.

10 Q. Now, the undertaking -- it sounds rather formal, the way

11 you express it in this report -- was that something that

12 was written down, or was it just something that was

13 agreed in a meeting, as far as you can remember?

14 A. It would have been agreed at that meeting, that initial

15 meeting in June of 1999.

16 Q. But this is an undertaking presumably by you to the Head

17 of Special Branch?

18 A. I think perhaps it could have been a necessary

19 reassurance that we weren't acting outside of our remit.

20 Q. But you see, what you are saying there is:

21 "An undertaking was given at the start of the

22 enquiry that no intelligence would be released to the

23 enquiry team without the permission of ..."

24 Those two very senior officers. What I'm trying to

25 get from you is who did you give your undertaking to?

190

1 A. It would have been jointly to the Head of Special Branch

2 through his desk officer, and Arthur Provoost I hope

3 would have been aware that the information that was

4 being passed to him was coming to him through ...

5 Q. Right. So you think, do you, that you told Arthur

6 Provoost that you had given an undertaking of this type?

7 A. I think I would have explained to him that I was not

8 allowed to release information to him that could have

9 been deemed to be of a sensitive nature.

10 Q. Right. But in relation to the protocol that we just

11 were looking at about the way that material had to be

12 passed, as I understand it that covered absolutely

13 everything that was required from you; in other words,

14 not just intelligence material, but military records,

15 everything else that the Inquiry asked from you had to

16 go through E3B in the way that you set out in this

17 paragraph. Is that right?

18 A. It was administratively convenient to deal with the

19 requests or the replies to the requests in one report.

20 Even if the information they were requesting on

21 a particular soldier, we were reporting back that there

22 was absolutely nothing on record to show there was

23 anything known about any subversive activities, it was

24 convenient to include that on the same report as other

25 information which may have had something related to it.

191

1 Q. So the answer is yes, that all the information had to go

2 through the system?

3 A. Yes, all the information. But I accept that if it is

4 just personal records it probably didn't need to.

5 Q. But it did, in fact?

6 A. It did in fact go that way.

7 Q. Now, can I just ask you some questions more generally

8 about your comments here about collusion and military

9 personnel. You say in paragraph 8 of this same

10 report -- and that's on the next page, RNI-513-009

11 (displayed) -- reminding you this is what you are

12 writing in July 2001:

13 "Whilst it is acknowledged that a number of military

14 personnel do have links to Protestant paramilitaries,

15 the majority of these traces are previously documented

16 at HQNI or CI ..."

17 Presumably counter intelligence?

18 A. That's right.

19 Q. "... section and have been actioned accordingly."

20 And we can see the traces broken down at

21 RNI-513-013. If we could have that on the right-hand

22 side of the screen, please (displayed). Thanks.

23 So the traces, as I understand it, the way it works

24 under your statistics heading -- this is an annex to

25 this report:

192

1 "The number of traced individuals: 27."

2 Is that right?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. And then you break down the types of reporting in

5 relation to those 27 individuals:

6 "Discharged on security grounds for membership of

7 a proscribed organisation.

8 "... suspected involvement in the theft of

9 explosives."

10 Et cetera. Just so that we are aware of the

11 position here, presumably there was an established

12 system for dealing with cases where intelligence or

13 information came in suggesting there were improper links

14 of this kind?

15 A. That's correct.

16 Q. And was that something that you were responsible for

17 dealing with whilst you were at this unit, the SMIU?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Now, under a further heading in your report -- if we can

20 keep it on the left-hand side, please -- RNI-513-011

21 (displayed), paragraph 17 of the report, if we could

22 have that enlarged as well, that would be excellent --

23 thank you -- you say:

24 "It is also believed by this office that there is

25 little evidence to suggest widespread collusion between

193

1 members of the security forces and Protestant

2 paramilitaries, although at individual level it is

3 acknowledged that this may have taken place. Whether or

4 not this is directly linked to the murder of

5 Rosemary Nelson is difficult to assess, but it is

6 believed to be more general in nature."

7 Presumably you would agree that the assessment of

8 whether or not there was a direct link to the murder of

9 Rosemary Nelson was rather an important question?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. And the individuals primarily charged with answering

12 that question were the Murder Investigation Team?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. So did you, in all of the work you have been doing, or

15 you did, and you have described for us this afternoon,

16 regard it as your job, your duty indeed, to give them

17 all reasonable assistance in answering that question for

18 themselves?

19 A. Absolutely.

20 Q. And with hindsight, now that years have passed, don't

21 you think that what you saw as a failure or refusal to

22 abide with your procedures was simply their attempt

23 independently to get to the bottom of that very question

24 of whether there was a direct link between members of

25 the security forces and the murder of Rosemary Nelson?

194

1 A. I don't accept that. I would say that because things

2 improved dramatically at times and that by the time -- I

3 can't recall the exact timeframe of when perhaps we

4 might have deemed with hindsight to have got the last

5 enquiry, but the quality of the information we were able

6 to give them significantly improved once these protocols

7 were in place. Whereas before they were getting

8 snippets of information from which they weren't able to

9 base any realistic -- or draw any realistic conclusions

10 because in many cases they were going down cul-de-sacs

11 because they hadn't got all the information available to

12 them.

13 Q. But you are saying, are you, that once the protocol --

14 i.e. the system of using the E3B desks and then later the

15 direct access from March 2001 -- once all of that was in

16 place, are you saying that the system operated

17 effectively?

18 A. From my perspective it worked more effectively, yes.

19 Q. Once March 2001 had passed, that meeting, can you

20 remember whether they expressed concern or

21 dissatisfaction about the way that system was operating?

22 A. I can remember possibly as late as 2003/early part of

23 2004, a meeting with Arthur Provoost in which he

24 acknowledged that our assistance had been of value to

25 their investigation. And I took that as an endorsement

195

1 of the procedures that we had set up at our own behest.

2 Being proactive in this, looking back, I think was the

3 right thing to have done at the time, and the fact that

4 he personally made that statement to me encouraged me to

5 believe that they were happy with what we had done for

6 them.

7 Q. Can I just ask you to look finally at paragraph 10 of

8 the report at RNI-513-010 (displayed)? Here, you,

9 amongst your list of the points about the initial phase,

10 say:

11 "Duplication of effort."

12 Paragraph 10. And you suggest there that:

13 "The unit would receive duplicated requests for

14 information, albeit it sometimes worded differently."

15 Presumably you would accept that there were some

16 occasions where new information would come in to them

17 and it would require them to go back and ask, as it

18 were, for more on what you thought was a topic they had

19 covered earlier?

20 A. I think the background to why I would have phrased it in

21 that way was, regardless of how the information was

22 being fed into us as a request, in order to maintain the

23 right audit trail, the report was always classified

24 secret and was handled in accordance with military

25 procedures for looking after classified documents. And

196

1 my concern was that if they were seeing fit to ask the

2 same question again at a latter stage, had they lost

3 a classified document which had the information in it in

4 the first instance.

5 Q. Did you raise that concern with them?

6 A. I did. I can remember going to see Arthur Provoost and

7 asking him how was he effectively looking after our

8 classified information, and he was able to reassure me

9 that the probability was that the information was still

10 in the right place, but because of the sheer volume, it

11 was possible that the actions had been shown as

12 incomplete and, therefore, the collation that of report

13 hadn't been carried out.

14 Q. But in relation to your primary concern, namely about

15 the security of the material, you were rather --

16 A. I probably would have met Arthur Provoost in his office

17 in Lurgan, and I remember him explaining to me his

18 procedures for looking at sensitive documents, which

19 included our military reports.

20 Q. Thank you. I do not have any more questions for you.

21 You have probably gathered by now that we always offer

22 witnesses to the Inquiry the opportunity to add to their

23 evidence if there is evidence we haven't covered.

24 Is there anything you would like to add to the

25 evidence you have given?

197

1 A. I think during the course of today, you wanted to know

2 why I had reached certain conclusions. I think the only

3 piece of information that I would have considered

4 relevant that hasn't been covered was an instance when,

5 using the MACER database, we were asked if the military

6 had gathered intelligence on Rosemary Nelson at any

7 stage. And I remember having to brief the investigation

8 team on how information was recorded on to the MACER

9 database. And at some stage after that briefing, they

10 came to me and wanted to get the details on a soldier in

11 the Royal Irish who I believe at that time it was their

12 intent to arrest. And I seemed a bit surprised at that

13 stage because nothing else had occurred of that nature

14 prior to that.

15 It turned out that it related to information on the

16 MACER database dated October 1998, and there -- because

17 it pre-dated the murder in March 1999, they felt there

18 was grounds to pursue this as possible evidence of

19 military gathering information on Rosemary Nelson prior

20 to her death. And they were going to arrest the

21 soldier. I was able to do the investigation of who this

22 soldier was and I discovered that the reason why his

23 name had come to their note was because he was the

24 releasing officer of the information on to the database

25 and it related to a sighting report of Rosemary Nelson

198

1 in October 1998, as a result of her vehicle going

2 through a vehicle checkpoint, and that the soldier was

3 doing his job.

4 All that had happened was the patrol would have

5 returned to barracks, they would have reported the fact,

6 it would have been quite correctly loaded on to the

7 database and there was, therefore, nothing to suggest

8 that the Army were proactively looking for information

9 on Rosemary Nelson prior to her death and that it would

10 be totally inappropriate to arrest that soldier because

11 if they wanted to interview him, that could be arranged.

12 But there was no need to take what I would consider to

13 be inappropriate action to, you know, arrest him. It

14 was not necessary.

15 And that helped, if you like, form these opinions

16 that they had the false -- if you like, the false belief

17 that this collusion was widespread when there was no

18 evidence to support it.

19 Q. Can I just ask you arising out of that. This is not

20 something you mention in your statement, is it?

21 A. No.

22 Q. No. Any particular reason for that?

23 A. I probably wasn't asked about it.

24 Q. Right. So did you go about providing your evidence on

25 the basis that if you weren't asked a question, you

199

1 didn't provide the evidence?

2 A. No, I would like to think my statement is as

3 comprehensive as it could have been within the terms of

4 how it was conducted.

5 Q. Are you able to recall when this incident took place?

6 A. What, the discussion?

7 Q. Yes.

8 A. My problem is I can't put a specific timeframe on it.

9 Whether it was before March 2001 or after March 2001, I

10 couldn't recall. I would have to rely on the

11 investigation team perhaps to come up with the date.

12 But it was probably either side of that March period,

13 when there was a better understanding of -- from our

14 side of what they were doing, and -- and there was

15 a better understanding from them of what we could do for

16 them. But equally, there were still instances where

17 they were trying to do things outwith, you know, the

18 protocol.

19 MR GRIFFIN: May I help just with a couple of dates which

20 may or may not take this much further forward?

21 I can say that on 15 September 2000, Mr Provoost met

22 this witness at Mahon Road to discuss MACER and, again,

23 the collusion team met with him and that was on

24 24 October 2000, again, for an explanation of MACER.

25 I can't give any information about the latest matter

200

1 that has been raised.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.

3 MR PHILLIPS: Sir, I think it would be helpful if Mr Griffin

4 can supply anything further and give it to us. That

5 would be very helpful because this is new information,

6 as far as the Inquiry is concerned.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Would you suggest that the Panel rose for

8 a quarter of an hour --

9 MR PHILLIPS: I don't think he will be able to get it that

10 quickly.

11 MR GRIFFIN: I can certainly give it a go. I think

12 Mr Provoost will be at the end of a telephone and I can

13 certainly try and get instructions immediately if that

14 would help.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Shall we rise for a quarter of an hour? We

16 will rise for a quarter of an hour.

17 Before the witness leaves, can the video engineer

18 please confirm that all the cameras have been

19 switched off?

20 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out.

22 We will adjourn for a quarter of an hour until half

23 past five.

24 (5.14 pm)

25 (Short adjournment)

201

1 (5.35 pm)

2 THE CHAIRMAN: We will wait for the witness to come in.

3 Mr Currans, is the public area screen fully in

4 place, locked and the key secured?

5 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the fire doors on either side of the

7 screen closed?

8 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

10 and securely fastened?

11 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

13 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

14 of this chamber?

15 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

17 Can the video engineer please confirm that the two

18 witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

19 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

20 THE CHAIRMAN: All the other cameras have been switched off?

21 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

22 THE CHAIRMAN: Bring the witness in, please.

23 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and Full

24 Participants' legal representatives may now be switched

25 back on.

202

1 Yes, Mr Griffin?

2 MR GRIFFIN: Sir, I have been able to speak to Mr Provoost,

3 but unfortunately without some further details, it is

4 very difficult to take this matter any further at this

5 stage.

6 I can say the MIT may well have been interested in

7 speaking to a soldier who had stopped Mrs Nelson, but

8 the incident which has just been related does not

9 immediately ring any bells with Mr Provoost. But as

10 I say, further research would need to be undertaken.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Mr Griffin.

12 Mr Phillips, anything else you want to say?

13 MR PHILLIPS: No, sir. I think if we decide to pursue it,

14 we can pursue it with Mr Griffin in due course.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr Phillips.

16 Before the witness leaves, can the video engineer

17 please confirm that all the cameras have been

18 switched off?

19 THE VIDEO ENGINEER: Yes, sir, they have.

20 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out.

21 We will adjourn until tomorrow morning.

22 (5.39 pm)

23 (The Inquiry adjourned until 10.15 am the following day)

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Questions by MR PHILLIPS ..................... 114
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