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Full Hearings

Hearing: 17th December 2008, day 94

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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, 17 December 2008
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 94

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

1 Wednesday, 17 December 2008

2 (10.15 am)

3 (Proceedings delayed)

4 (10.28 am)

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

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

7 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

9 screen closed?

10 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

12 and securely fastened?

13 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

15 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

16 of this chamber?

17 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

19 Mr (name redacted), can you please confirm that the two

20 witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

21 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

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

23 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

25 Bring the witness in, please.

 

 

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1 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

2 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

3 switched back on.

4 Would you please take the oath.

5 B503 (sworn)

6 Questions by MR SKELTON

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

8 MR SKELTON: For the purpose of this Inquiry, you are known

9 as witness B503 and your statement can be found at

10 RNI-846-357 (displayed). If we go to the final page at

11 RNI-846-420 (displayed), we can see your signature has

12 been replaced with your cipher, and the date there of

13 24 September 2008?

14 A. That's correct.

15 Q. I would like, if I may, just to very briefly go through

16 your background in the RUC, as it then was. I'm not

17 expecting a detailed explanation of each of your posts,

18 but it would be helpful for us to have confirmation of

19 the roles you undertook.

20 I think you joined the RUC in September 1977. Is

21 that correct?

22 A. That's correct, after a period in the Royal Ulster

23 Constabulary Reserve Force.

24 Q. And you joined the Special Branch in about 1980?

25 A. That's correct.

 

 

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1 Q. And by December 1988, I think you were a DI, detective

2 inspector, in Newry?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. And thereafter I think you became a detective chief

5 inspector in what is known as E3A, which we will come on

6 to, in about April 1994?

7 A. Yes, indeed.

8 Q. Did you remain there until about 1997, when you moved to

9 become a detective chief inspector of South East

10 Special Branch based at Mahon Road?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. You moved in April 1998 to become detective

13 superintendent in what is known as E9?

14 A. Correct, yes.

15 Q. But I think you remained for about a year before going

16 back to South Region Special Branch, first in the TCG

17 and secondly as Head of the South West Sub-Region?

18 A. That's correct.

19 Q. Thereafter I think you say in your statement towards the

20 end, that you remained there until you became

21 effectively the Head of South Region Special Branch on

22 the retirement of B629?

23 A. That's correct.

24 Q. By that stage, I think you were a detective chief

25 superintendent, were you?

 

 

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1 A. I was, yes.

2 Q. How long did you remain as the Head of South Region

3 Special Branch?

4 A. Approximately a year and a half and then I moved to

5 Headquarters in Belfast, taking over as head of the

6 department.

7 Q. That's by about 2002, is it?

8 A. Early 2002, yes.

9 Q. So you were in fact Head of Special Branch, were you, by

10 then?

11 A. Correct.

12 Q. But remaining in the rank of detective chief

13 superintendent?

14 A. Correct.

15 Q. And you retired in October 2003?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Thank you. The first issue I would like to cover with

18 you, please, is just something to do with Special Branch

19 generally and its relationship with other aspects of the

20 intelligence agencies and CID.

21 Could you describe in essence what you saw

22 Special Branch's role to be in the period in which you

23 were working in it?

24 A. The Special Branch's primary role was to gather

25 intelligence to keep the public and the citizens of

 

 

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1 Northern Ireland as safe as possible.

2 Q. And I think in your statement at paragraph 12 -- which

3 we can find on page RNI-846-360, which should come up on

4 the screen, if you need to refer to it (displayed) --

5 you say at the bottom there that during the Troubles you

6 were stopping on average four out of every five

7 terrorist incidents. Where do you get those statistics

8 from?

9 A. That was a quote that was made in a speech given by

10 Sir Hugh Annesley, who was then the Chief Constable,

11 a speech that he gave in London, that from his

12 statistics that were available to him, that the

13 intelligence brought in by Special Branch was preventing

14 four out of five terrorist incidents from occurring.

15 Q. Did that roughly accord with your own personal

16 experience of interdicting terrorism?

17 A. Absolutely.

18 Q. In your statement you describe the limitations of

19 intelligence with some precision, and one of the points

20 you make, I think, is that you can't necessarily follow

21 up the intelligence that you receive in Special Branch.

22 Could you expand a little bit on that?

23 A. Well, I think the term "intelligence" covers a variety

24 of different pieces of information. On occasions it can

25 be very precise, it can be very specific, but on other

 

 

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1 occasions it can be imprecise and, indeed, fractured at

2 times. So I think the term does encompass quite a wide

3 range.

4 Q. And presumably in relation to intelligence that is

5 gathered from technical sources, you are really in the

6 hands of what you're intercepting. You can't go back

7 and ask them to talk about something else; you are

8 waiting for more bits of information. So there is

9 a limitation there?

10 A. Absolutely. One of the big problems with technical

11 intelligence is you can't ask it questions. So you can

12 only actually listen to what is said and what you

13 actually have.

14 Q. And were you cognisant of the danger that you are really

15 in the hands of the listener to understand what is being

16 said when you intercept a conversation, that there is

17 a degree of interpretation which could be

18 misinterpretation?

19 A. I think there is always the possibility that

20 misinterpretation can occur, but I think we compensated

21 for that by having people's experience, that were

22 experienced, trying to listen to the same telephone

23 lines, the same eavesdropping, so that they built up

24 a knowledge of the people that they were listening to.

25 Q. But the reports that find their way on to the system

 

 

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1 from that kind of intelligence are generally written by

2 one officer, aren't they?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. So it ultimately, having seen the transcribed

5 conversation or heard the conversation from an

6 intercepted device or telephone, you are reliant on that

7 single officer's final gloss on the conversation, aren't

8 you?

9 A. Yes, you are.

10 Q. Was there any system for auditing whether or not there

11 was a proper correlation between a report and the

12 conversation?

13 A. Well -- I think there were two types of technical

14 intelligence. Obviously there is eavesdropping

15 intelligence. There is a sort of a fail-safe, in that

16 the first listen would be carried out by officers in the

17 local area from which the information is obtained.

18 There would then be a transcription process that was

19 carried out at Headquarters. So that ensured, in a way,

20 that there were actually two sets of people listening to

21 that information.

22 In relation to telephone information, if there was

23 any doubt about the veracity of what had been recorded,

24 it was always easy to ask another officer to re-listen

25 and, indeed, if the officer that was doing the

 

 

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1 transcription had any difficulty, on occasions they

2 would ask someone else would they also listen to it just

3 to make sure they were accurate in what they were

4 recording.

5 Q. Did this process occur frequently, in practice?

6 A. It was really based on needs. If it was needed, it was

7 done; if it wasn't needed, it wasn't done.

8 Q. In relation to intelligence from human sources, how did

9 you go about corroborating that?

10 A. The best corroboration was always if you had another

11 source that was getting their intelligence from

12 a different person, as it were. Obviously, if you could

13 have a number of different sources reporting the same

14 intelligence, that was very good corroboration.

15 Q. I think in your statement you mention that sometimes the

16 handler may himself test the source by asking a question

17 to which he already knows the answer?

18 A. I think all experienced agent handlers at times do test

19 agents just to make sure they are being told the truth.

20 Q. If it subsequently became apparent that what had been

21 reported and found its way on to a formal report, a SIR

22 or a SIDD, wasn't correct, was there a system for

23 removing that reporting or changing it in some way?

24 A. The intelligence could have been brought out and marked

25 as being inaccurate and some feedback would have went

 

 

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1 back to the handler who had produced it. And obviously

2 that handler would have been in a position to, with

3 care, challenge the agent because if it was information

4 coming from a small circle of people, you did have to be

5 careful that you weren't educating that particular

6 informant of the existence of another informant.

7 Q. Was it occasionally the case where, after a period of

8 time, it became apparent that a particular human source

9 wasn't in fact as reliable as you first thought?

10 A. Yes, there were occasions when that happened, yes.

11 Q. But what about the reporting that had already found its

12 way into the records?

13 A. Again, it depended -- because some reporting was found

14 to be inaccurate, it didn't mean that all reporting was

15 actually inaccurate. So some sort of judgment would

16 have had to have been made and should have been made in

17 relation to it.

18 Q. Now, we have heard about the five by five system, the

19 grading system. Now, I don't want to go into the

20 specifics of how particular types of intelligence were

21 in fact graded, but would it be fair to say that the

22 five by five system wasn't fully and effectively

23 operated?

24 A. Yes, I think that would be fair.

25 Q. In that the handlers whose job it was to use it,

 

 

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1 effectively ended up with the same sort of number, or

2 numeral, and letter each time for the different types of

3 sources?

4 A. I think historically it was a problem, but I do think

5 that the department under sort of -- underwent an

6 education programme, and our training department was

7 asked to include some better training on how to use the

8 system.

9 I think initially when it came in there was some

10 misunderstanding amongst handlers just on how to use it,

11 and once the education process started it did become

12 much better.

13 Q. Special Branch are obviously interested in who is

14 a member, an active member of the paramilitary

15 groupings?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. And they are also interested in their associates and

18 supporters, and friends and family in some instances?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Was it the case that once you had received intelligence

21 that someone was associated or friendly with

22 a paramilitary, they were in effect bracketed in that

23 terrorist group?

24 A. Not necessarily bracketed in the terrorist group because

25 they may not have been a member of a terrorist

 

 

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1 organisation. We would certainly have been interested

2 in them because they may have been someone we wished to

3 approach to see if they could help us. So there would

4 have been an interest in that regard.

5 Q. I think the point that I'm sort of gearing towards is,

6 once a view had been taken about a person's affiliation,

7 whether or not it was quite difficult to break that

8 view?

9 A. Yes, I think that would be fair.

10 Q. CID: I think in your statement you state that there is

11 in effect a divergence of agenda between CID and

12 Special Branch, Special Branch being interested in the

13 preservation of life pre-criminal activity and CID being

14 interested in the investigation and prosecution of

15 offenders?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Broadly speaking. How much of a tension was there in

18 the period in which you were working between the two

19 organisations?

20 A. Sorry, did you say how much tension?

21 Q. Tension, indeed.

22 A. I think I was probably fortunate in that I worked in

23 some difficult areas of the Province and relationships

24 continued to be quite good mainly because we couldn't

25 afford relationships to be bad, because in the areas I

 

 

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1 was working, we were losing officers, members of the

2 public were being murdered. So we didn't have the

3 luxury of putting personal disputes or sort of turf

4 wars, for want of a better description, in the way of

5 what we were trying to do and achieve.

6 Q. Are you referring to your time in Newry?

7 A. My time both in Belfast and Newry. I worked in

8 difficult areas that had a lot of murders occurring in

9 them, and both areas where we were losing, as I said,

10 officers.

11 Q. Was it the case when you were in Newry that you, as

12 a Special Branch DI, would brief your counterparts in

13 CID about the local paramilitaries?

14 A. Yes, both CID and uniform.

15 Q. Would that include the associates of the paramilitaries

16 as opposed to the members of the groups?

17 A. Yes, on occasions, yes.

18 Q. Was it the case that generally CID would be pretty

19 abreast of who was who in the local area?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Going back to the issue of the use of intelligence, what

22 problems were there in trying to use Special Branch

23 intelligence for investigatory purposes?

24 A. There were a number of issues surrounding it. Obviously

25 the big one is intelligence is not evidence, and

 

 

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1 sometimes people think that intelligence is evidence.

2 But it won't actually sustain in the normal court

3 setting.

4 So sometimes knowing from intelligence who committed

5 a crime and proving who committed a crime can be very

6 difficult. Intelligence can be sometimes used to find

7 evidence. Sometimes the intelligence I have can be

8 converted into evidence. But there are difficulties

9 with it. A lot of intelligence can be hearsay, a lot of

10 it can be a source reporting what someone else has told

11 them. So it is not coming in the first party. So there

12 can be a number of problems with it.

13 Q. So when you were working in Newry, for example, and

14 there was a murder, would it be the case that if you had

15 intelligence on that murder, you would indicate that

16 intelligence to your CID counterpart?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. And what if, in doing so, you would potentially lead

19 that person to know who the source was?

20 A. Well, on occasions that did happen and I think the

21 relationship there between the Special Branch officer

22 and the CID officer was of paramount importance because

23 there was times when you couldn't help but let the CID

24 officer know that. But most CID officers knew that you

25 were trying to protect the source, and in my experience

 

 

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1 most of them would have been quite amenable to working

2 with you to make sure that you didn't lose your source.

3 Q. So if you were confident in the CID officer, you trusted

4 them, you may be prepared to allow them to have

5 sufficient information to identify the source?

6 A. On occasions that was necessary, yes.

7 Q. What would happen then in terms of follow-up? If your

8 source has reported on a murder, and it may be, as you

9 say, something that is a fractured and imprecise piece

10 of evidence, would it be routine that you would offer

11 retasking of that source or other sources to get more

12 information?

13 A. Absolutely, there was a process in place where all

14 officers were issued with question via the local source

15 unit or via the local sergeant or inspector. There

16 would have been a retasking process that they would have

17 gone back to the source to seek further intelligence,

18 further information. And, indeed, very often before

19 handlers would have finished a source meeting, the

20 experienced handlers could have anticipated the

21 questions someone like myself would have asked them and

22 they would have actually already set the process in

23 motion of asking the source to produce further

24 intelligence.

25 Q. But weren't there pitfalls to that retasking, one of

 

 

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1 which may be that the source may incite some suspicion

2 amongst his colleagues?

3 A. I think you had to be careful what you asked a source to

4 do and how you asked a source to do it because obviously

5 a source just can't go out with a list of questions and

6 start asking them from someone that has been involved in

7 a terrorist incident because they would immediately

8 detect that something was wrong and these were unusual

9 questions for that person to be asking.

10 So, yes, there was a degree of guile and cunning

11 needed both by the source and by the handlers who were

12 tasking them.

13 Q. In terms of the product of the intelligence, which we

14 have seen, in our Inquiry, has found its way on to

15 either the PRISM or the MACER system, would you have

16 given CID access to those systems or to hard copies of

17 reports from them?

18 A. No, they wouldn't have access to that system, but there

19 was a system in place where intelligence could be passed

20 via what was called an action sheet or a briefing sheet

21 type of thing that would have been passed across to CID

22 very often.

23 Q. Were there occasions where CID were suspicious that one

24 of your sources may have been in fact involved in the

25 crime?

 

 

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1 A. Yes.

2 Q. How did you deal with that?

3 A. Well, we would have discussed it with the CID, and if

4 the CID had strong evidence that the source was involved

5 in a crime and wanted to arrest him, they would have

6 been permitted to do so.

7 Q. What about if you had intelligence which showed that the

8 CHIS was involved in the crime but that CHIS was

9 extremely valuable?

10 A. Well, again, we weren't sort of in the process of giving

11 CHISs permission to go out and commit crime or we

12 weren't in the process of protecting them when they did

13 commit crime. All CHISs, when they were being sort of

14 taken on by the department, it would have been explained

15 to them that if they carried out any criminality and

16 didn't tell us about it, they would be facing the full

17 rigours of the court. And, indeed, if they did tell us

18 about it, they would be facing the full rigours of the

19 court.

20 What we were looking for them to do was to talk to

21 us before they committed a crime so that we could work

22 with them to make sure that they didn't get involved in

23 the crime, but trying to do it in a creative way that

24 they could catch the others that were actually in the

25 process of wanting to commit that crime.

 

 

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1 Q. But given the kind of people you were dealing with, the

2 kind of people you recruited, it would be naive,

3 wouldn't it, to think that on occasions they didn't

4 continue to commit crimes despite your advice?

5 A. They were committing crimes by their membership of an

6 illegal organisation. They were committing a conspiracy

7 every time they met together. So, unfortunately, as you

8 say, the people who we were working with were not people

9 who, in a normal society, you would wish to get involved

10 with. But because of the drive to save life, we very

11 often had to get involved with those type of people.

12 Q. Going back to my earlier question, if you had a source

13 who was extremely valuable -- in other words, you had

14 a history of good quality reporting which may have led

15 to a number of lives being saved over a period of time

16 and possibly to future lives being saved if that person

17 were well placed -- would it not be in your thinking to

18 think, "Well, if I allow CID to interrogate, investigate

19 and prosecute this person, we will lose that information

20 for the sake of a conviction which may not be worth it"?

21 A. Well, it certainly would have been in my thinking, but

22 at the same time we weren't in the process of protecting

23 criminals and protecting people who had operated outside

24 the boundaries and the guidelines that we had set for

25 them.

 

 

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1 I think it is very important to realise that we

2 weren't in the position of playing God and looking at

3 what the future may have held and sending someone back

4 out on to the streets who might have been involved in

5 a murder at a later stage or something. So I think it

6 was always looked at on a case by case basis, and

7 a balanced judgment, I think, would have been reached.

8 Q. So were there in fact occasions where you lost a CHIS to

9 a prosecution who was in fact valuable?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Collusion is an issue which is used a lot in the context

12 of these sorts of inquiries and it can take a variety of

13 forms. Were you aware of collusive activity during your

14 period in Special Branch?

15 A. No, I was not. I'm certainly aware of a -- what I would

16 describe as a demonisation process of Special Branch in

17 terms of allegations of collusive activity, but

18 I certainly wasn't aware of any collusive activity.

19 Q. What do you mean by the "demonisation"?

20 A. I think when you look at what has happened in both media

21 and the public domain over the last few years, I think

22 Special Branch has come under attack from lots of

23 quarters.

24 I think all the valuable work that Special Branch

25 carried out and the many lives that were saved, the four

 

 

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1 out of five terrorist operations that were prevented,

2 seems to have been overlooked and forgotten and I think

3 that our terrorists and our former terrorists, many of

4 whom today are leading local politicians, are quite keen

5 to try and rewrite history. And part of them justifying

6 their outrageous and horrendous her murders over the

7 years is to try and in some way commit the lawful

8 activities of the security forces, both the police and

9 the Army and, indeed, the Security Services, with their

10 own actions in an attempt to justify the horrendous

11 crimes that they committed.

12 Q. Was there also a sense that the demonisation was

13 effectively to demoralise Special Branch, to prevent you

14 from doing your job properly because you were having to

15 fend off criticism, deal with inquiries and so on?

16 A. Well, I think that is very much the case and I think the

17 Chief Constable himself has recently said that he has

18 more intelligence-related officers involved in dealing

19 with historical issues, public inquiries than he

20 actually has probably actively dealing with dissident

21 groups.

22 Q. Now, I did not define collusion when I was asking that

23 question, but can I just ask you this in terms of

24 a particular type of collusion. You mentioned in your

25 statement there were potentially problems with leaks of

 

 

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1 information, i.e. intelligence from Special Branch. Were

2 you aware of that occurring at any stage?

3 A. Yes, I certainly had been involved, as a sergeant, in

4 identifying a civil servant who had passed out some

5 Special Branch documents. The case was discovered and

6 dealt with some years ago.

7 I was also aware historically -- both historically

8 and through intelligence, of the -- certainly the

9 Provisional IRA's desire to infiltrate the ranks of

10 Special Branch and gain intelligence. And, indeed, one

11 of the lessons from history is that if Michael Collins

12 was able to penetrate the Dublin Castle and the

13 intelligence structures there, I had no reason to

14 believe that the Provisional IRA wouldn't be trying to

15 do exactly the same with us.

16 Q. Do you think they managed it?

17 A. I don't really know. I know they did manage to

18 penetrate many areas and layers of our society, and

19 I know that there was -- there was certainly a community

20 collusion, to use your term "collusion", going on in

21 various parts of the Province.

22 There were areas where I worked where police

23 officers were murdered, where the community was deaf,

24 dumb and blind to the fact that police officers had been

25 killed, when police were carrying out door-to-door

 

 

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1 enquiries afterwards, no one saw anything, heard

2 anything or knew anything. To me, that was pure

3 community collusion.

4 Q. Just focusing back to security forces more generally, I

5 think in your statement you mentioned that members of

6 the Army may also have leaked some information. What do

7 you mean by that?

8 A. That was perhaps taken out of context in terms of the

9 answer I was giving to the question.

10 I think one of the reasons we were keen to protect

11 our intelligence both from junior military officers and

12 junior sometimes uniformed police officers, we had to be

13 careful because people who were dealing on a day-to-day

14 basis with terrorists on the street, we had, and

15 I certainly had, experience of people saying things to

16 terrorists which weren't helpful to us in terms of

17 terrorists becoming alert to the fact that we may have

18 had intelligence. And I can give you an example of

19 a young soldier saying to a terrorist we haven't been in

20 a certain road for a while because we know you have

21 something waiting for us in that road. That terrorist

22 went back and initiated a security investigation as to

23 how they would actually know that they actually had an

24 IED hidden somewhere along that road. That (redacted)

25 (redacted).

 

 

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1 (redacted).

2 Q. That was more of an indiscretion, was it --

3 A. I was thinking more of indiscretion rather than

4 deliberate leaks. And as I say, again, I think that was

5 down to inexperience and perhaps naivety rather than

6 anything more deliberate than that.

7 Q. You have mentioned the Army and given that one instance,

8 and you gave an instance earlier about a civil servant.

9 How can you be certain that that may not have occurred

10 in relation to some of your colleagues?

11 A. You can never be certain about anything in life, but I

12 had no evidence to base that on and no information that

13 that had indeed happened. And it would be fair to say

14 that there were some police officers who were placed

15 before the courts and were indeed tried and convicted.

16 So, you know, I would like to think that when it came to

17 the police's attention, we dealt with it swiftly and we

18 dealt with it effectively.

19 Q. May I turn briefly to the issue of the Security

20 Services' role in Northern Ireland. One of the issues

21 that has come up with some of our witnesses is exactly

22 what access the Security Service had to RUC

23 intelligence. What was your understanding of that?

24 A. My understanding of it was all our intelligence would

25 have been shared with them. If something was a live

 

 

23

 

1 operation, there might have been a time delay before

2 they became aware of it, but certainly copies of our

3 intelligence report were sent to the Assessments Group

4 at [redacted].

5 When the IT system was up and running, there was

6 a terminal or two placed into Thames House in London, so

7 they would have been aware of the intelligence we had.

8 Q. The key question is whether that access was somehow

9 restricted or unrestricted. From what you were saying,

10 which I think chimes in with what the Security Service

11 told us, it was indeed the case that decisions were made

12 about sending them intelligence, either to the IMG or to

13 the desk officers back in the Security Service, in order

14 for them to produce NIIRs and so on. Would they have

15 had free access to all of your intelligence through the

16 computer systems?

17 A. Yes. Certainly that's my belief, yes.

18 Q. Did it work the other way round? Did you have access to

19 all of their intelligence?

20 A. Well, I have no way of actually knowing that, but I

21 would have been very surprised if we had access to all

22 of their intelligence because at the end of the day they

23 are an intelligence service, whereas we, on the other

24 hand, were a police service.

25 Q. Their view, as expressed to this Inquiry, is that all of

 

 

24

 

1 their intelligence gathering in Northern Ireland was

2 under your aegis, i.e. the RUC's aegis, and therefore it

3 was your intelligence ultimately and not theirs, even

4 though they may have garnered it from their agents?

5 A. If they say that, I have to accept it.

6 Q. But in practice, did you sense that that was the case?

7 A. I would not have thought that was the case in practice,

8 but I am not in a position to argue with them over that.

9 Q. In your statement, you deal, if I may say so,

10 tentatively with the issue of RUC primacy in relation to

11 the Security Service, and you mention the DCI's role as

12 an example of whether, in theory rather than in

13 practice, you had primacy because the DCI took such

14 a senior role in his advisory capacity and in relation

15 to organisations like the JIC and so on.

16 Can you expand a bit on your thinking in relation to

17 the primacy issue?

18 A. The primacy was with the RUC, but all the funding came

19 from the DCI. DCI chaired the meeting at which the

20 intelligence requirements were set and DCI held quite

21 a powerful role within the intelligence community.

22 Q. You mentioned funding. There is also the issue of the

23 supply of technical assets?

24 A. Absolutely. All our technical support, in terms of

25 eavesdropping devices, and indeed the financing for our

 

 

25

 

1 telephone intercepts and capability all came via the

2 Service.

3 Q. What about training of your officers.

4 A. Indeed, you know, officers like myself, my initial

5 training was carried out by the Security Service in

6 London in the days before Special Branch had its own

7 in-house training team. And later we had developed our

8 own training team, but we still would have kept links

9 with the training that the Security Service offered in

10 order to ensure that we had the best skills available.

11 Q. So did you, as a senior Special Branch officer, see

12 yourself as answerable to the Security Service rather

13 than to the broader RUC?

14 A. No, I don't think it was as simple as that. Obviously I

15 was an RUC officer working towards the objectives of

16 the -- that the Chief Constable had set for me to work

17 against. But I would also have been very conscious that

18 there was a bigger concept of wider national security

19 that the Security Service had a remit for.

20 The Security Service also had a remit for Irish

21 terrorist activities outside the United Kingdom. So

22 there was a sort of dual relationship there that, yes,

23 there were times we were doing things to support what

24 Security Service were doing in addition to what we were

25 doing in terms of our own organisational objectives.

 

 

26

 

1 Q. I'll turn now, please, if I may, to the issue of your

2 knowledge about Rosemary Nelson in the period prior to

3 her death and the first issue I would like to touch

4 upon, please, is your role in E3A, which was the

5 Republican desk within Headquarters looking at

6 Republican intelligence.

7 I think in your statement you say, first of all,

8 that you had access to all intelligence relating to

9 Republican paramilitaries?

10 A. Technically, yes, but the sheer volume meant that I

11 wasn't in a position to read and deal with everything

12 myself because the position I held in E3A, there was

13 quite a substantial workload.

14 Q. You were the senior officer?

15 A. For the Republican -- what we called the Republican

16 desks, yes.

17 Q. Does it follow then that your junior officers would have

18 fed you intelligence that was significant?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. And what was your team's role?

21 A. The team's role -- there were really three themed desks,

22 which were based on geographical spread across the desk.

23 There was a South desk, a North desk and a Belfast desk

24 and their responsibility would have been to look at all

25 the intelligence coming in from those three regions, to

 

 

27

 

1 look collectively at what the three desks had acquired

2 and to try and put the higher level strategic picture

3 together of what was happening across the Province and,

4 indeed, further afield in Great Britain and, indeed,

5 worldwide in relation to the terrorist activities.

6 Q. You produced, I think, intelligence précis’s, as you

7 term them?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. What did they contain?

10 A. They would have contained a synopsis of perhaps a number

11 of pieces of intelligence coming together to try and put

12 a much more comprehensive picture together than looking

13 at different strands of intelligence. It was trying to

14 join those together to give a more complete picture.

15 Q. Who were they for?

16 A. They would have been for senior officers within our own

17 organisation. They would also have been shared with the

18 Security Service up at the Assessments Group at [redacted]

19 so that they could share it with various political

20 ministers and so on.

21 Q. Were these documents, as the word implies, précis’s,

22 i.e. a collation and summarisation of intelligence, or

23 were they more analytical?

24 A. Analysis then was slightly different and, again, I think

25 the word "analysis" conveys different things to

 

 

28

 

1 different people.

2 We were working with the tools that we had available

3 then, which was limited analytical skills. So we would

4 certainly have been doing our best to make as complete

5 a picture of what was happening as possible.

6 Today obviously there is much more structure because

7 you have more IT-based analytical tools, which can look

8 at some of those issues better perhaps than we were able

9 to when they weren't available.

10 Q. Did you keep these précis’s?

11 A. Yes, there would have been some form of retention policy

12 at Headquarters and I would think that most copies of

13 them would have went in to Special Branch Registry.

14 Q. Should I be distinguishing them from IMAGIRs, which were

15 the product of the IMG in the later years of 1997

16 onwards?

17 A. I think the précis’s became IMAGIRs over time. IMAGIRs

18 were a new thing. Before that there had been like an

19 intelligence brief is probably the term -- a better term

20 for the précis, which an IMAGIR really replaced.

21 Q. The IMAGIRs that we have seen were more analytical?

22 A. Yes, we were able to get staff that were dedicated to

23 the process of producing them, and that obviously

24 improved the quality because when you have dedicated

25 people capable of sitting and doing that as their main

 

 

29

 

1 function, I think the quality and the volume got better.

2 Q. I think you also had a role, or your team had a role in

3 administration of intelligence?

4 A. Absolutely.

5 Q. And is it right that your system effectively allowed for

6 the saving of intelligence on a number of different

7 files at a time?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. So if there were a number of different people mentioned,

10 the same report would appear again and again in the

11 different people's files?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. That effectively became an effective archive for

14 research purposes for anyone that needed to research

15 that particular individual?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. As far as the individual files go -- and I mean this in

18 a paper file form, in the early 1990s -- and you are at

19 E3A from 1994 to 1997, aren't you?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. So that is the period I'm focusing on. Would you have

22 kept individual files on all the individuals that were

23 mentioned in the reports?

24 A. The system was there was initially a system of small

25 slips that were kept in small green books, and when

 

 

30

 

1 someone was initially mentioned, they would have been

2 allocated an SB number and they would have got what we

3 called a white slip.

4 Once they had been reported on on a number of

5 occasions -- it could have been three or four

6 occasions -- they may then -- a decision may have taken

7 it is time to open a file. Again, it would have

8 depended on the nature of the specific intelligence you

9 had, whether it was something quite comprehensive or

10 whether it was merely a one-line report.

11 As I say, the lines -- there were lines that would

12 have just been retained on the slip for maybe three or

13 four occasions, and then a paper-based file would have

14 been at some stage -- as the volume of paper grew, it

15 would have been opened.

16 Q. Obviously the 1990s is when technology comes to the

17 fore, and we have heard a lot of evidence about the

18 computer systems developing during that period. Did the

19 computer system run in parallel to the paper system

20 throughout this time?

21 A. I wouldn't have said it ran in parallel because the

22 purpose of computerisation was to create a more secure,

23 paperless system. So theoretically, the computers were

24 designed to replace the paper-based system.

25 Q. Did that in practice occur? In the period, say, 1994 to

 

 

31

 

1 1997, did there come a time when you would stop using

2 the paper file and just convert it to a PRISM file?

3 A. No, we weren't able to convert because the vast volume

4 of records we had, a decision was taken that it wasn't

5 possible to convert all the paper files into an IT file.

6 So there was a decision made that anything new coming in

7 would go on to the computer and that they would try and

8 embark on -- I think the computer term for it is

9 migration process for a limited amount of sort of back

10 data.

11 But to go back 30/40 years with records would have

12 been a massive undertaking. It would have been

13 extremely expensive. It would have been quite staff

14 intensive. So in a way, we were running historical

15 paper record, but new stuff coming in from then on

16 should have been added to the computer system.

17 Q. Presumably that made for some difficulties for the

18 researchers, who had to determine when the paper system

19 stopped and the computer system started?

20 A. Indeed it did, and it was also the fact that there were

21 a couple of computer systems being probably worked at

22 a similar time.

23 Q. This is MACER and PRISM?

24 A. Yes, sir, MACER, CAISTER, PRISM. And I have to be

25 honest and say sometimes I get confused between which

 

 

32

 

1 was which and when each one appeared.

2 Q. During your time in Special Branch, did the process of

3 destruction of archives start to occur?

4 A. No, I generally found that the archive file, in

5 Special Branch the policy was really to retain the

6 material indefinitely. And, indeed, certainly I had

7 experience before I retired of us being able to turn up

8 some very old historical documents in relation to some

9 things the NIO were doing that the NIO couldn't turn up.

10 The paper system was actually, I think, a very good

11 system. It was, as you can imagine, quite a culture

12 shock to move to an IT system and I certainly at the

13 start wasn't convinced that the IT system was better

14 than the old paper system.

15 Q. I think it is right, isn't it, that some agencies still

16 use the paper system as more effective than the computer

17 one?

18 A. I certainly found it much easier, and if there was a

19 particular individual you were interested in, you could

20 ask for their file, their file would be brought to you

21 and every piece of information we had in relation to

22 that person was in the file and -- like this file, you

23 could take it and flick through it.

24 Going into the screen, the set-up on the IT side was

25 quite different. There were individual documents and

 

 

33

 

1 you had to sort of go to one document, find your way to

2 another document, and I certainly felt at that time that

3 it had increased my work flow quite considerably and it

4 was slower than actually having a paper file in front of

5 me. But the theory behind it was that it was more

6 secure, it was paperless. So we just had to shift the

7 culture, unfortunately.

8 Q. In your statement, in answer to a question about whether

9 a file was held on Rosemary Nelson, you said, "Probably

10 if she was mentioned regularly"?

11 A. I wasn't sure exactly how much reporting there was on

12 Rosemary Nelson. If there had been a lot of reporting,

13 I would have expected there to have been a paper file.

14 If there wasn't a lot of reporting, she may have been on

15 a white slip and, indeed, there may have been reporting

16 in relation to her on the IT system depending on when

17 that reporting came in.

18 Q. I'm going to show you some reporting that clearly has

19 made its way on to the IT system because that is the

20 reason we have it. Do you think that the fact that

21 there is information on the IT system, carries the

22 implication that the paper system was not being used?

23 A. I certainly think so, yes. If it is on the IT system, I

24 can see no reason why we would have retained a hard copy

25 in the file.

 

 

34

 

1 Q. The first report I would like to show you is at

2 RNI-540-001 (displayed), which is the first document we

3 have in relation to Rosemary Nelson. You weren't asked

4 about this in your interview with our solicitors, but I

5 think you have seen it this morning albeit possibly

6 briefly?

7 A. Yes, briefly, yes.

8 Q. Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions

9 about it.

10 It is dated December 1994, so you would have been in

11 E3A at this period of time, and it is from Lurgan

12 Special Branch. You can see the name of the two

13 handlers there, who are both officers from Lurgan, and

14 one of them at least I think you are familiar with?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. If we go overleaf, you can see the text of it. Before

17 I ask you about the text, can I ask you about the

18 security level? This is a PRISM document with

19 a security level 199. Do you think what that means?

20 A. I'm not exactly sure. What I can tell you was that

21 there were various tiered security levels within the

22 system, and there was a level 19, which would mean that

23 only a certain level and above could have access to that

24 intelligence. No one who wasn't cleared for level 19

25 could see the intelligence.

 

 

35

 

1 Q. I think possibly, as predicted, you may have confused

2 the MACER and the PRISM system there. I think 19 was

3 a MACER level for Special Branch. This is a PRISM

4 document with level 199, and I think sometimes one sees

5 210 appears?

6 A. I'm sorry, I can't help you with those security levels

7 then.

8 Q. In terms of the content of the report, it's a document

9 which is very familiar to the Inquiry and it is about

10 a leading PIRA member and Rosemary Nelson attempting to

11 construct a false alibi for Colin Duffy, who was at that

12 time remanded for the murder of John Lyness in 1993.

13 This was bracketed as Republican intelligence. The

14 title there, you can see, is "PIRA activity, Lurgan".

15 Would you have expected to have seen it?

16 A. I would have expected to have seen it, but to be frank,

17 I've no recollection of having seen it prior to the

18 death of Mrs Nelson.

19 Q. I appreciate that your answer is that you can't remember

20 receiving it, but had you received it in late 1994, can

21 you give us a idea of what you would have done in E3A in

22 relation to it?

23 A. I would have drew it to the attention of the Head of

24 Intelligence at the time, who would have briefed the

25 Deputy Head of Special Branch and the Head of

 

 

36

 

1 Special Branch.

2 Q. Do you think it likely that that in fact occurred?

3 A. Yes, I would have expected that to have occurred.

4 Q. Does it follow from that that it would have come to the

5 attention of the Chief Constable?

6 A. Quite possibly.

7 Q. Is it likely?

8 A. It is impossible to say because I don't know if the

9 Chief Constable was in the Province at the time. So

10 there could be reasons why the Chief Constable wasn't

11 aware of it. If the Chief Constable was there, as part

12 of the normal briefing, it may have been brought to his

13 attention. It is difficult to say.

14 Q. Now, does it follow from what you have just said that

15 this was a significant piece of intelligence for you?

16 A. It is an interesting piece of intelligence. I wouldn't

17 have regarded it as highly significant.

18 Q. And in terms of the précis’s and tentative analytical

19 work that you may have done during this period, would

20 this have found its way on to a précis?

21 A. Quite possibly, yes.

22 Q. And would it also have been the subject of some

23 discussion and follow-up?

24 A. I think it would -- the follow-up would have been that

25 we would have been interested in getting more

 

 

37

 

1 intelligence and looking to see if there was any other

2 intelligence that could validate and confirm this

3 report.

4 Q. Now, right at the start of your answers you sort of

5 explained about Special Branch's role in effectively

6 stopping terrorist at this time.

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. But here, we can see a report which is about a criminal

9 investigation and prosecution?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. So how does one take it forward? What does

12 Special Branch do in this situation when you receive

13 intelligence like this?

14 A. I think you are very limited in what you can do because

15 I do go back to the point that this is intelligence --

16 it is not evidence -- of a crime having been committed.

17 It is very difficult to go to a CID officer and say,

18 "Here is one stand-alone piece of intelligence that says

19 a crime has been committed".

20 I think there are a number of things you have to

21 consider before you would do that. One is would you be

22 forewarning the people that you are interested in that

23 you are aware that a criminal act is actually taking

24 place or being committed. I think you would also have

25 to look at the complications for the source of the

 

 

38

 

1 intelligence who may be given time to actually produce

2 some evidence for you or point you in the direction that

3 you can guide the CID to where evidence may be.

4 So a piece that sits like that alone, it is very

5 difficult to do a lot with it other than to retask

6 sources to see if they can produce any more.

7 Q. The next report I would like to show you is at

8 RNI-541-009, please (displayed). Again, this is one

9 that you have only seen, I think, or refreshed your

10 memory about today. It is dated April 1996, and if we

11 go on to the main body of it, again it is about

12 Rosemary Nelson. It says:

13 "She is using her position to gather information for

14 the IRA in Lurgan. This includes details of RUC members

15 who she comes into contact with."

16 Then there is a comment there:

17 "Nelson is known to represent a number of Republican

18 activists in the Lurgan area."

19 Can I ask you the same question that I asked you

20 before, about whether you first of all recollect this

21 information coming to your attention?

22 A. No, not specifically.

23 Q. Is it likely it did?

24 A. It very well could have, yes.

25 Q. Again, would you give the same answers in relation to

 

 

39

 

1 the follow-up about the briefing upwards towards the

2 Chief Constable even if you can't tell us precisely

3 whether or not he was shown it?

4 A. I think a lot depends on what else was happening at the

5 time that this intelligence may have come in.

6 Our focus would have been very much on life saving

7 intelligence and there would always have been -- the key

8 things we would have been dealing with were the

9 important operational issues that were leading to

10 possible loss of life. So it depends what this actually

11 came in with at the time, how much we would have been

12 able to do with it, who would have been briefed on what.

13 If there was, say, intelligence that a major attack

14 was going to take place, that would have been where

15 a lot more of attention would have been going rather

16 than on to a piece of intelligence like this because,

17 actually, whilst it is interesting, whilst it is

18 worrying, whilst it is concerning and there are

19 long-term threats to our members, there is nothing

20 actually quite immediate in it, and I think we would

21 have been dealing with stuff that was much more

22 imminent.

23 Q. Now, these answers that you have just given may apply to

24 the next report I'm going to show you, which is at

25 RNI-541-015 (displayed). This has the same date. It

 

 

40

 

1 is April 1996 again, and it is emanating from Lurgan;

2 you can see there the origin "JL" and two ciphers of

3 officers from the Lurgan Special Branch office.

4 If we go overleaf, you can see the text. A lot of

5 it has been redacted and we have only left in the bits

6 that are of interest, I think, to this Inquiry because

7 they relate to Rosemary Nelson. And you can see there

8 it is about Rosemary Nelson having contact with someone

9 over a judicial review and them being in constant

10 contact with various persons to appraise them of

11 Sinn Fein's legal affairs.

12 And you can see at the bottom:

13 "Rosemary Nelson would take a very keen interest

14 within the Republican movement and especially Sinn Fein,

15 whom she would legally represent."

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Again, the same questions: can you remember receiving

18 information to the effect that Rosemary Nelson was

19 a supporter of Sinn Fein?

20 A. Not specifically, no.

21 Q. Overall in this period -- and I appreciate, again, it is

22 difficult for you to put yourself back to that

23 three-year window -- did you gain an impression of

24 Rosemary Nelson during that time?

25 A. My impression of Mrs Nelson really came from the media

 

 

41

 

1 because I was probably more aware of her activities

2 through newspapers and television. But she wouldn't

3 have been high profile in my thinking, and to me she was

4 just the legal representative for the Drumcree

5 residents. There were other legal representatives

6 representing other groups at the time. And, again, in

7 relation to the questions of all three documents, I

8 think it is important to point out that we were seeing

9 varying reports of lots of people that were actively

10 involved with Republicans and that were assisting

11 Republicans in various shapes and forms.

12 So it wasn't as if this reporting was coming as the

13 only reporting of that nature we were getting. It would

14 have been one of many strands of reporting we were

15 receiving.

16 Q. About many different people?

17 A. About many different people in many different parts of

18 the Province.

19 Q. But this is a solicitor who, on the intelligence we have

20 seen, is engaged in more than simply legal work, has

21 a personal connection with the terrorists and is

22 supporting them in a more active way, at least according

23 to the intelligence?

24 A. Absolutely. It is, as I say, very worrying, but I do

25 think -- and I don't mean to be cheeky when I say this,

 

 

42

 

1 but I think sometimes that features more in the legal

2 profession's mind than it features in the like of my

3 mind because I certainly had saw reports about people

4 from a wide section of the community, including

5 politicians and everyone, being involved with terrorist

6 groups.

7 It was worrying, it was difficult. It was something

8 that no doubt we would have liked not to have occurred,

9 but it was a reality, it seemed to me.

10 Q. Now, when asked about these sorts of issues, two of your

11 colleagues, who were former ACCs who were both heads of

12 various sides of the IMG, said in effect that they

13 considered this sort of intelligence to lead to the

14 conclusion that Rosemary Nelson was a terrorist. Was

15 that a conclusion which you were aware of?

16 A. Well, I wasn't aware of any intelligence that indicated

17 that Mrs Nelson was a member of a terrorist

18 organisation. But I certainly think, through giving

19 more than the support that she appeared from these

20 intelligence reports to be giving, yes, I would

21 certainly place her into the category of someone that

22 was committing criminal offences in relation to

23 terrorist activities.

24 Q. And you mentioned previously the media appearances that

25 really were your principal form of knowledge about

 

 

43

 

1 Mrs Nelson. Do you think they were sufficient in

2 themselves for someone to draw a conclusion about her

3 affiliations?

4 A. I think it is very difficult question to answer because

5 obviously different people have different perceptions.

6 It certainly wouldn't have led me to jump to conclusions

7 because, as I say, I had seen a wide variety of

8 solicitors appearing at different times representing

9 different groups, and I understood the legal profession

10 well enough to know that, you know, that they had

11 a variety of clients and were engaged to do a job.

12 My opinion would obviously arise more from what I

13 would call good quality intelligence than it would from

14 a perception out of the media.

15 Q. Now, I have only shown you a few isolated reports from

16 that period, but I think it's fair to say that certainly

17 around this period, 1994 to 1996, there aren't very many

18 reports relating to Mrs Nelson either directly or

19 indirectly.

20 I think the point I would like to ask you about

21 really is whether or not, once you just get one or two

22 reports of this nature, in effect the conclusion is

23 fixed about who she was and what she was doing, and the

24 fact that there isn't other intelligence in this period

25 to support that conclusion is neither here nor there?

 

 

44

 

1 A. Well, I think there is again a number of factors you

2 must look at. You must look at the agent who is

3 supplying the intelligence, you must look at where that

4 agent -- for want a better term, the provenance -- it is

5 almost like an antique -- where they got the

6 intelligence. I think you also have to be -- you also

7 have to take consideration of the fact that intelligence

8 of that nature is extremely difficult to come by and it

9 can usually only come from someone that is very close

10 and tightly in with the group that it is reporting on.

11 Q. It is difficult, of course, for this Inquiry to do that

12 exercise and all we really have are these snippets that

13 we have seen and the questions that we can ask from the

14 officers themselves, which of course we are doing.

15 A. What I can say to you, if it is of help, is with the

16 personal knowledge I have of the officers involved, they

17 were held in very high regard by myself.

18 During my time in E3A, I had seen the reporting that

19 was coming from the Lurgan Special Branch office over

20 a number of years and I have to commend them for the

21 lives that were saved by the intelligence that they

22 brought in. As far as I was concerned, they were

23 hard-working, dedicated, professional police officers

24 who were working in an extremely difficult area of

25 policing. And as I say, certainly in my opinion, they

 

 

45

 

1 made a major contribution to saving lives and to the

2 stability, indeed, of that area. They weren't the sort

3 of people who would have been flippant about their job,

4 they took it very seriously, they were very professional

5 and when I would read a report like that coming from

6 them, if they told me it was coming from a good source,

7 I would have been inclined to accept that and

8 believe it.

9 Q. Just to be a bit more specific, and obviously without

10 giving the names, I think B567 is one of the officers

11 you are referring to in that context, is he, who is the

12 DI?

13 A. Absolutely, the DI. I have to be honest and say the

14 whole team that was there, I knew them all personally

15 having previously served in the region and having had

16 contact with them during my time in Headquarters, and I

17 can't overstate how high my regard was for both the DI,

18 the DS and the detective constables in that office.

19 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can I just take that one stage further

20 because you are dealing with it?

21 A. Certainly.

22 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: You have been shown those three

23 separate pieces of intelligence?

24 A. Yes.

25 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: I heard what you said at the outset

 

 

46

 

1 about corroboration. We have heard from other witnesses

2 the difficulty of corroborating individual pieces of

3 intelligence because of being unable to go back and task

4 sources, because otherwise it may put them in danger.

5 With your vast experience in this area, in the

6 context of Northern Ireland, would it in your view be

7 legitimate to take each of those three separate pieces

8 of intelligence as corroborating each other without any

9 independent corroboration of each as an individual piece

10 of intelligence, if you understand my meaning?

11 A. I do indeed, sir. I ideally would have liked other

12 intelligence coming from a different source because for

13 me that's the best type of corroboration. But I would

14 also have been interested in who was telling the source

15 this information because it was possible, when you track

16 back on where the agent or the informant got the

17 intelligence, he may have got it from different people.

18 So in a way, there could be, if you were able to

19 check where he got it -- which a good Special Branch

20 officer should have been able to do -- it may have give

21 you some corroboration because it was coming from

22 different people to the one source.

23 I think it is important to point out to you that

24 sources are quite sort of a difficult thing to get in

25 this Province because most of the people that you would

 

 

47

 

1 approach are aware that if they are detected working for

2 you as an agent, that the ultimate penalty for them is

3 death. So they are actually very difficult to recruit.

4 Certainly in nowhere I have worked did we have anywhere

5 near the number of sources that we would have liked to

6 have had to provide us with the type of corroboration we

7 would have liked.

8 So I think there is a yes and no to your answer.

9 Ideally, I would have liked corroboration from

10 a different source, but I would have settled for

11 corroboration coming from different people to the one

12 source.

13 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Was an effort put in to preventing

14 reliable source equals reliable intelligence because

15 there is a danger there, isn't there?

16 A. Again, that is why we always would have been interested

17 in where did the source get the intelligence because aye

18 certainly experience of working with sources who I would

19 have regarded as highly reliable. I would have believed

20 what they were telling me. But the person that was

21 telling them may have been someone whom I did not

22 believe.

23 But, again, I think that comes from experience and

24 judgement. And the officers in Lurgan were highly

25 experienced officers who had often exercised very good

 

 

48

 

1 judgment. So I would have been inclined to say to them,

2 knowing where their sources had got the intelligence,

3 did they place a credibility on it and I would have been

4 perfectly happy to accept what they told me.

5 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Thank you very much.

6 MR SKELTON: Sir, I think it is right to clarify that we are

7 not drawing a connection between these three documents

8 as being from the same source and one wouldn't

9 necessarily draw that conclusion, just for the record.

10 May I turn now to your role in E9?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Which I think you joined in about April 1998, where you

13 stayed for just over a year?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Really the key role that I want to ask you about is

16 warrantry and what you and your team did in terms of

17 pursuing the applications that have led to the warrants.

18 The Inquiry, I think it is right to say, has heard

19 a lot of evidence about this issue and I don't want to

20 rehearse all of that evidence with you. Really all

21 I want to know is what E9's involvements was with that

22 process. We have heard, for example, that the

23 applications emanated from the local offices for the

24 most part?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

49

 

1 Q. And they went up through the chain of command in

2 whichever regional Special Branch they were starting?

3 A. Correct.

4 Q. At some point they may have had involvement with the

5 IMG, the Head of the IMG may have become cognisant of

6 it, and clearly at some level it had involvement with

7 the DCI's representative in Knock, the Security Service

8 person?

9 A. That's right.

10 Q. And ultimately with the DCI who had the job of going to

11 the Secretary of State, and he has explained to the

12 Inquiry how that worked. What was your role?

13 A. I think perhaps just to give clarity to the process, I

14 think it might be helpful to the Inquiry if I take you

15 through my understanding of what the various steps were.

16 As you said, it was initiated by the local office

17 who then would have submitted an intelligence sort of

18 précis and the reasons why they wanted the technical

19 support they were seeking. That would have gone through

20 their own line management. Their own line management

21 would have had the ability to go back to them and query

22 and question them about the need or about anything that

23 was contained within the report.

24 When that was done, the report then came to us in

25 E9, who were actually part of the IMG. It would either

 

 

50

 

1 have came to me as the Superintendent in E9 or it would

2 have went to the Chief Superintendent in IMG if I wasn't

3 available for any reason.

4 Within E9, we had a small team who, for want of

5 a better term, quality controlled the standard of the

6 reports coming in. They were an experienced team who

7 knew the type of information we needed to place before

8 the Security Service who, in turn, would place it before

9 the relevant minister for signature. So we would have

10 performed the quality control. We would have also

11 probably have had more experience in dealing with the

12 IOCA commissioner's inspectors because there was quite

13 a heavily regulated regime in place at the time, where

14 there was set criteria that had to be met before an

15 application could have been considered, and we would

16 have been subject to examination and inspection by both

17 the IOCA Commission and later the RIPA Commissioner's

18 staff.

19 So we would have been conscious of things that they

20 had pointed out to us in the past as good practice,

21 things they had pointed out to us in the past as bad

22 practice. So we would have sort of quality controlled

23 it, made sure that we were satisfied with the warrantry.

24 I would have satisfied myself that I thought it was

25 a necessary and lawful application. And once we had

 

 

51

 

1 completed that process, we passed it to the DCI's rep at

2 Police Headquarters, and he also had someone in his

3 office who looked at it knowing, again, better than us

4 what exactly the ministers would require. And it

5 eventually went up to DCI who would have satisfied

6 himself or herself as to the necessity and the legality

7 of the application. Then it would have been placed

8 before a minister to sign.

9 So it was quite a well-stepped process, and at any

10 stage in that process anyone could have challenged or

11 questioned anything they were uncertain about.

12 Q. Did you then have the authority to stop an application

13 from proceeding?

14 A. Absolutely. If I had saw an application that I had

15 concerns about, I would have stopped it and, indeed, any

16 of the line management could have stopped it at any

17 stage; the Head of IMG could have stopped it.

18 I think that was one of the very good fail-safes

19 that were built into the system: that at any stage

20 questions could be asked or a warrant -- or people could

21 be told no, the application wasn't going forward.

22 Indeed, on occasions I did that.

23 Q. Did you also have a role in redrafting?

24 A. Yes. Again, because the quality control functions at

25 times -- sometimes, to be quite blunt, the grammar

 

 

52

 

1 wasn't great, the way the thing was prepared maybe

2 wasn't as professional as we would have liked and part

3 of the process was educating the officers that were

4 putting these type of applications in to ensure that

5 a good standard of application was coming forward.

6 So we would have fed back to them concerns and, on

7 occasions sent reports back to them to be redrafted. At

8 the end of the day, it is people we are dealing with and

9 sometimes the only way people learn is when you ask them

10 to do something again.

11 MR SKELTON: Thank you.

12 Would that be a convenient moment?

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. Mr (name redacted), before the witness

14 leaves, would you please confirm that all the cameras

15 have been switched off?

16 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out. We will have

18 a break until 10 to 12.

19 (11.33 am)

20 (Short break)

21 (11.55 am)

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

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

24 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

 

 

53

 

1 screen closed?

2 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

4 and securely fastened?

5 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

7 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

8 of this chamber?

9 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

11 Mr (name redacted), can you please confirm that the two

12 witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

13 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

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

15 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

17 Bring the witness in, please.

18 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

19 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

20 switched back on.

21 Yes, Mr Skelton?

22 MR SKELTON: Now, from what the Inquiry has seen, there was

23 an application made at some point to intercept

24 Rosemary Nelson's office telephone, and I think you have

25 seen that application, which you can find at

 

 

54

 

1 RNI-542-259.500 (displayed).

2 Now, the date of it is July 1998 and the

3 justification -- I have no need to take you through the

4 full text because I think you have read it previously --

5 is really to do with the Drumcree situation and

6 gathering intelligence in relation to that. Were you in

7 E9 aware of that application being made?

8 A. No, I don't think it came to my level.

9 Q. Does it follow from that that it must have been

10 squashed, if I may put it that way, at an earlier stage?

11 A. Yes, I certainly think someone made a decision not to go

12 forward with it.

13 Q. And can you elucidate --

14 A. Well, I think it is always difficult when you are

15 looking at a member of the legal profession in terms of

16 interception. Especially, I think that related to

17 Mrs Nelson's office and I think the amount -- certainly

18 if it had came to my level, I would have equally, to use

19 your term, squashed it because I think the amount of

20 collateral inclusion into other legal privileged issues

21 would have outweighed the benefit that we were going to

22 obtain from the warrants. So I certainly wouldn't have

23 put it forward for a recommendation to be done.

24 Q. You mention that it may not have met the threshold of

25 threat to life?

 

 

55

 

1 A. I certainly think if you were looking to intercept the

2 phone of the legal profession, I would like to be

3 satisfied that there was almost an immediate or imminent

4 serious risk to life because I would go down that route

5 because I think the proportionality and, as I say, the

6 levels of collateral intrusion would outweigh the

7 objectives that you were trying to achieve.

8 Q. What about the political requirement? It was the

9 Drumcree situation, therefore it wasn't really an issue

10 of getting information about terrorist activities and

11 attacks, it was more to do with looking at what the GRRC

12 was doing, who she was representing?

13 A. I also think that with any application for interception

14 you should be considering can that intelligence be got

15 from somewhere else, and I would think on that occasion

16 intelligence like that could be got from somewhere else

17 rather than a solicitor.

18 Q. Now, this is one application which it doesn't appear

19 proceeded, and it is correct that we don't have any

20 other documents in relation to it. Do you know if there

21 were any other technical applications against

22 Rosemary Nelson herself, i.e. one of her telephones or

23 properties, which you were aware of?

24 A. I think there was an application against a property

25 owned by Mrs Nelson, but not -- and I did stress, not

 

 

56

 

1 against Mrs Nelson but against a leading terrorist who

2 was living in a property owned by Mrs Nelson.

3 Q. Which we will come on to. Operation Indus, I think you

4 are referring to?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. But as far as her herself goes, she was not a target of

7 any technical operations?

8 A. No, I'm certainly not aware of Mrs Nelson being a target

9 of technical operations of any kind.

10 Q. Now, the operation you are mentioning was

11 Operation Indus, the target of which I think was

12 Colin Duffy who was then the suspected leader of Lurgan

13 IRA and possibly even the North Armagh PIRA?

14 A. Certainly not suspected in my mind, but quite definitely

15 the leader of that grouping, as far as I'm concerned.

16 Q. The operation was initiated by the same office, the

17 Lurgan office, in about August 1998?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Would you have been aware of that when it was initiated

20 at a time when I think you were still in E9?

21 A. Yes, quite possibly, yes, I would have been aware of it.

22 Q. Do you remember it?

23 A. Not specifically because, as I said, I dealt with

24 warrantry for the whole of the Province.

25 Q. What I will do is just put on the screen a revalidation

 

 

57

 

1 document which we have seen, which is at RNI-531-116

2 (displayed). You can see there the date of that is

3 22 February 1999, and it says:

4 "Property warrant revalidation. Colin Francis

5 Duffy, technical operation."

6 Then it is the formalities, as you can see there,

7 and the case for revalidation?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. And overleaf I think we can see your signature, which

10 has again been changed to put your cipher on. You were

11 directly involved in that?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. So is it fair to say that you would have been familiar

14 with the operation and its purpose?

15 A. At the time of that revalidation, I would have received

16 both that paper and a verbal briefing about the

17 requirement for the operation.

18 Q. Now, the document itself, the original application, was

19 quite a lengthy document, and it contained a lot of

20 details about Mr Duffy's alleged activities and also

21 some details about Mrs Nelson?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Who was said to be an associate of the IRA and, in

24 particular, of Mr Duffy. Were you aware that there was

25 intelligence to support an conclusion they were having

 

 

58

 

1 a relationship?

2 A. Yes, I was.

3 Q. And how did you become aware of that?

4 A. Well, probably when the warrant was being validated,

5 along with it would have been the original application.

6 So I would assume that I read it on the original

7 application.

8 Q. All it says, quite simply, is that they were having

9 a sexual relationship. And I think if we go to

10 page RNI-543-020, which is part of the application, we

11 can see that (displayed). It has obviously been heavily

12 redacted there, but you can see that is the reference to

13 that relationship?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Would that have been the only time that that issue came

16 to your attention?

17 A. Well, it would have came in connection with that

18 proposed technical operation. I'm not quite sure that

19 I want to go into in open forum why that would have been

20 an issue of interest to us, but obviously Mr Duffy's

21 movements were something that we would have been

22 interested in.

23 Q. And was it general knowledge within Special Branch that

24 Mrs Nelson was thought to be having a relationship with

25 Mr Duffy?

 

 

59

 

1 A. I can't say it was general knowledge because certainly

2 when I took over the department, there were

3 approximately 820 officers of various degrees in the

4 department. But I think it would be reasonable to say

5 in the Lurgan office and within a certain part of

6 Headquarters, it would have been known.

7 Q. "Certain part" meaning what?

8 A. Well, E3, parts of E9.

9 Q. And again, I appreciate that the sensitivity doesn't

10 allow us to discuss exactly the detail of how that

11 intelligence may have come about, but were you satisfied

12 that it was credible?

13 A. I have no reason to disbelieve it. As I say, given my

14 personal experiences of the officers that were putting

15 it in, given the reassurances that was coming from

16 a creditable source, I would have been inclined to

17 believe it and accept it, yes.

18 Q. As far as we were aware, the operation didn't ultimately

19 proceed to a full technical attack; in other words,

20 a device was not installed in the property at

21 Deeny Drive, which was owned by Mrs Nelson?

22 A. Okay.

23 Q. Does that accord with your recollection?

24 A. Yes, I'm not aware of it having occurred.

25 Q. Rosemary Nelson was killed on 15 March 1999, so a few

 

 

60

 

1 weeks after this revalidation. Presumably you were

2 aware rapidly of the media and political interest in her

3 death?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And what did you know about the allegations of collusion

6 between the perpetrators and police officers?

7 A. I think there was some references in the press to it,

8 yes.

9 Q. Were they specific?

10 A. I honestly can't recall.

11 Q. What was your response to them?

12 A. Well, my response would have been -- during my time in

13 Special Branch, I think there was very little that

14 Special Branch weren't blamed on, so I wasn't surprised

15 by them because very often it seems to me that a key

16 tactic that many terrorist groups and, indeed, many

17 political groups employ in the Province is to push the

18 blame for their actions elsewhere. So blaming police

19 collusion, blaming the Special Branch, didn't surprise

20 me in the least. As I say, it is a well-used tactic by

21 them.

22 Q. As far as you were aware, was that one of the reasons

23 why an external officer, i.e. an English police officer,

24 appointed as the officer in overall command of these

25 allegations?

 

 

61

 

1 A. Yes, I would assume that was why an outside officer was

2 appointed: Obviously to try and build up public

3 confidence if public confidence wasn't there.

4 Q. Did that fact, i.e. the appointment of an external

5 officer, cause Special Branch to take umbrage that there

6 may be something in those allegations?

7 A. I don't think we took umbrage. I think that most

8 Special Branch officers are realists and live in the

9 real world.

10 We could see the political reasons and we see the

11 position that the Chief Constable was in. It seemed

12 quite a reasonable step to take if it was going to

13 achieve the result of refocusing people back on to the

14 people that had murdered Rosemary Nelson and not taking

15 them off in a completely different direction.

16 Q. Initially, David Phillips was the officer in overall

17 command of the investigation, and after a period of a

18 few weeks he left that post and was replaced by Mr Port?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. At what stage were you asked to become involved?

21 A. I can't remember the specific date, but really I would

22 have went -- returned to Mahon Road full-time in

23 around May time. But I had attended a few meetings both

24 in my capacity as Superintendent E9 and I think I had

25 gone to a few in the knowledge that I would be going

 

 

62

 

1 back to Mahon Road.

2 Q. I think, as we said at the start, by that stage you had

3 left E9 I think in April 1998 and were initially in the

4 TCG part of South Region Special Branch?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. But were you also in effect the head of the South West

7 section at that stage?

8 A. Yes. What exactly happened was the

9 Assistant Chief Constable asked me would I return to

10 Mahon Road because the Superintendent who was in the

11 South West region was on an extended sick leave. He had

12 been off ill for quite a period, so there wasn't

13 a substantive superintendent in that role.

14 The Detective Chief Inspector that was there was

15 acting up and the Detective Inspector from Lurgan was

16 acting in the Chief's role. I think at that time they

17 were getting busy because Drumcree, the annual Drumcree

18 dispute, was looming. They obviously had more

19 requirements being put to them by Mr Port and his team

20 and I think they just needed an extra pair of hands and

21 someone else to go down and help out down there.

22 So the ACC asked me would I go back, and he was very

23 gracious in asking me would I go back when he could have

24 sent me back, but I was glad to be of assistance and go

25 down and see what I could do to help.

 

 

63

 

1 Q. The ACC you are referring to is B542, who is the ACC

2 Special Branch?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. And I think you say in your statement that it was he and

5 B629, who was the Regional Head of Special Branch, who

6 briefed out the murder investigation at the start?

7 A. Correct.

8 Q. What did they tell you?

9 A. I can't remember the exact details because, as you

10 appreciate, it is ten-odd years ago. But it was just

11 basically that there was a need for to liaise into the

12 team. It was very important to Special Branch as

13 a department that we were seen to be helpful as opposed

14 to being unhelpful.

15 The Chief Constable had given Mr Port unusual terms

16 of reference in terms of the access that he was being

17 granted. Something, in my opinion, which was quite

18 unprecedented, certainly in my experience, in my time in

19 the police. Really, I was to go down and do what I

20 could to assist, is a short synopsis of what I was

21 doing.

22 Q. Can we look at the terms of reference? I think that

23 would be of some assistance. It is at RNI-831-083

24 (displayed), the date a few weeks after the murder.

25 In fact, the bit I would like to show you is

 

 

64

 

1 overleaf, although we can see the title there:

2 "The terms of reference in Rosemary Nelson's death."

3 It is particularly paragraph 7.

4 When you said it was unprecedented, is that what you

5 were referring to?

6 A. Yes, I certainly never saw a statement like that in

7 relation to any previous murder investigation or any

8 investigation before.

9 Q. For the record, it says:

10 "You will have unlimited access to all intelligence

11 and information available to and all files held by the

12 RUC."

13 A. Correct.

14 Q. So it is carte blanche?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. And why do you think the Chief Constable, who had

17 experience with Special Branch personally since he had

18 been a senior officer within it, gave such an open door

19 to Mr Port?

20 A. I think quite simply the Chief Constable knew that the

21 organisation had nothing to hide. I think the

22 Chief Constable knew well that Special Branch were not

23 involved in this murder, had nothing to do with this

24 murder, but yet the finger of blame was being pointed by

25 people for political reasons. And I think the

 

 

65

 

1 Chief Constable wanted to make sure that Mr Port had

2 access to everywhere inside the organisation that he

3 needed to go to satisfy himself of the fact that that

4 was true and accurate.

5 Q. I think it's axiomatic, isn't it, that Special Branch

6 are concerned with protecting their sources?

7 A. Absolutely. We would be neglectful of our duty if we

8 weren't.

9 Q. Was one of the immediate responses to these terms of

10 reference, including that particular level of access,

11 the possibility that your sources could be compromised?

12 A. No, I don't think it would be true to say that was the

13 concern. We certainly were concerned about how we could

14 protect our sources, and obviously through negotiation

15 and discussion with Mr Port, we believed that we could

16 achieve his objectives while still trying to ensure that

17 our sources stayed safe.

18 Q. What did the ACC, B542, say about them?

19 A. I'm sorry, could you --

20 Q. What was B542's reaction to these terms of reference?

21 A. I think he just accepted it, as I did, that those were

22 the terms of reference that the Chief Constable had set

23 before us and that we may not have liked them, but we

24 have to work with them. So it was as simple as that.

25 Q. Were you in effect a senior liaison officer for the

 

 

66

 

1 murder investigation?

2 A. Yes, I think that would be a fair description.

3 Q. Why was it the case that the existing liaison officer,

4 who was the DI that we have referred to earlier, B567,

5 was not sufficiently authoritative to take that post?

6 A. He was, in my opinion, sufficiently authoritative to

7 take that post and had indeed -- both him and the

8 Detective Chief Inspector had been fulfilling that role

9 prior to my arrival. But there was a sort of hole, for

10 want of a better term, in the management pyramid because

11 this superintendent who was there was on extended sick

12 leave.

13 The officer you are referring to produces lots of

14 life saving intelligence during the Drumcree period.

15 The Drumcree period was traditionally a very difficult

16 period for the police service. There were a lot of

17 attacks on police officers both at Drumcree and in their

18 homes and elsewhere. And, indeed, you know, I have

19 experienced having my own house windows smashed during

20 the time that I was in Drumcree, so I'm very familiar

21 with the distress that can be caused to families of

22 police officers whilst they are in other parts of the

23 Province carrying out their duty.

24 So it was very important to us that we actually

25 tried to free up the detective inspector you are

 

 

67

 

1 referring to, that he could get out and get the

2 intelligence we so crucially needed.

3 Q. Does that also apply to B629, who is the Chief

4 Superintendent, the Regional Head of Special Branch?

5 A. Yes, absolutely. Because I think what you have to

6 remember is as well as doing what we did in relation to

7 supporting and assisting the Port Inquiry team, we did

8 still have quite a difficult area of the Province to

9 manage in terms of intelligence gathering operations.

10 We had dissident groups that were active and were

11 keen to try and upset the peace process. We had varying

12 reports of explosives and weaponry at different times

13 moving through the Province. So we had day-to-day

14 tactical operations to manage, we had strategic

15 operations to manage and, as I say, it was a busy and

16 challenging place then to work.

17 Q. Just a last question in relation to that paragraph: was

18 Special Branch, either the ACC or the Regional Head,

19 consulted before it was fixed?

20 A. I'm sorry, I don't know.

21 Q. Your role as, in effect, the senior liaison officer,

22 presumably incorporated an interpretation of these terms

23 of reference and their application to the intelligence

24 you had charge of, did it?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

68

 

1 Q. And how did you interpret those terms of reference?

2 A. Well, as you said, they were carte blanche. From what I

3 could see, anything that Mr Port wanted, Mr Port could

4 get as long as, again, it was legal.

5 Q. There is a difficulty there with you taking a passive or

6 an active role in relation to the provision of

7 intelligence. Can you see that could be a problem for

8 Mr Port? Mr Port may not necessarily know what he wants

9 because you hold the cards, in effect?

10 A. I'm sorry, I don't quite understand your question.

11 Q. If South Region have hold of their intelligence about

12 the murder, about the potential murderers, they may be

13 aware of things that Mr Port isn't aware of, but unless

14 they are offering it proactively, he may not ask the

15 right questions and, therefore, may not see it?

16 A. I can see no reason with term of reference like that why

17 we weren't offering what intelligence we had. And,

18 again, certainly in my time there, it is certainly my

19 belief that we did offer any intelligence we did have to

20 Mr Port, and if anything fresh came, it was offered to

21 the team. I certainly wasn't involved at any stage in

22 any holding back, waiting on the question being asked,

23 none of that activity.

24 Q. How did you going about discovering for your own

25 purposes what he would be interested in?

 

 

69

 

1 A. I attended various meetings with the Port team, both

2 ad hoc and regularly structured meetings.

3 It was interesting at the start because by the time

4 I arrived back to Mahon Road, Mr Port already had

5 a relationship 629, B629, because they had obviously

6 been speaking and discussing and briefing one another

7 before my arrival. And likewise, there was

8 a relationship with 567. So to a certain degree, I was

9 the new person there, playing a bit of catch-up in terms

10 of getting up-to-date with what was happening and where

11 we were going.

12 But certainly one of the things we undertook was to

13 ensure that the other regions and the other

14 Special Branch offices were all briefed on the

15 importance of, firstly, tasking their sources to see if

16 they could find out any intelligence about who had

17 committed the murder of Mrs Nelson, and also, when they

18 got it, getting that reporting to us as quickly and as

19 speedily as possible so that we could move it onward to

20 the Inquiry team.

21 Q. Now, given the unprecedented nature of this murder and,

22 indeed, of the investigation, was there consideration of

23 whether, in giving him -- Mr Port, this is --

24 intelligence about the murder or about the perpetrators

25 of the murder, you could end up pushing your source to

 

 

70

 

1 become a witness or to at least being exposed?

2 A. I'm sorry, could you qualify what you mean "the

3 unprecedented nature of the murder"?

4 Q. It caused, I think, didn't it, an international furore

5 at a time when the peace process was underway, and there

6 were immediate allegations of collusion by the RUC

7 officers and that had led to various comments by,

8 indeed, the Prime Minister and others and it led to an

9 external investigator investigating the murder. So I

10 think on that level it could be described as

11 unprecedented, couldn't it?

12 A. I think some elements of it could be described as

13 unprecedented, but we were familiar with outside

14 investigators coming in and, indeed, Lord Stevens has

15 spent quite a considerable part of his career here in

16 Northern Ireland.

17 Q. Indeed. I think the access we have described earlier in

18 relation to the paragraph on the screen was

19 unprecedented?

20 A. Certainly that was unprecedented, yes.

21 Q. My question was really about source intelligence. If

22 your sources had provided intelligence, as they did,

23 after the murder in relation to it, was there a concern

24 that in providing intelligence in this kind of

25 investigation, which had such a high profile with such

 

 

71

 

1 an impetus to get a conviction, that those sources would

2 be exposed?

3 A. I think it would be fair to say that there was a concern

4 that sources could be exposed, but I think the same

5 concern would be true of any murder investigation. And

6 what experienced and mature people are able to do is sit

7 down with the people they are supplying the intelligence

8 to and work out methods and ways that they can use the

9 intelligence without exposing your source.

10 I don't believe for a moment it would have been in

11 the Inquiry team's interest to have exposed sources of

12 intelligence because I think they wanted the

13 intelligence that those sources could supply to help

14 give them the investigative leads that they were keen

15 to get.

16 Q. An associated issue would be the validation of the

17 intelligence that did come in?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Were you engaged with that process in any way?

20 A. Again, we would have been asking questions. We would

21 have been going back to the -- certainly the management

22 of the originators of intelligence or of people that

23 were working for me in that region, I would have been

24 going back and asking questions like, "Where did you get

25 this? Can you get any more? Can you go back to the

 

 

72

 

1 source?" So certainly, yes, there was a revalidation

2 attempt going on.

3 Q. Now, from an external perspective, it may be said that

4 there is a inbuilt problem with South Region's

5 involvement with the murder because South Region is the

6 region that has the intelligence that is coming in in

7 relation to it, but it is also under investigation

8 itself because of the allegations of collusion that

9 Mr Port had to investigate. Now, can you see how that

10 could lead to a tension?

11 A. Well, I think there was -- again, I think it was

12 slightly more complex than that. I don't think the

13 collusion allegations were initially directed towards

14 Special Branch officers. My understanding was that the

15 collusion aspect was more directed towards CID officers.

16 I certainly wasn't aware of collusion directed at

17 Special Branch other than by elements of the media.

18 But there was no -- there was no evidence or no --

19 nothing that would have gave you a reasonable suspicion

20 that any member of Special Branch had been involved in

21 anything untoward with regard to Mrs Nelson.

22 Q. But the point really still needs to be answered, I

23 think. I think you are correct in that they did

24 investigate a number of avenues of potential collusive

25 activity in order to eliminate them -- for example,

 

 

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1 members of the military, other police officers who were

2 possibly in uniform or in CID -- but they certainly did

3 look at some of the Special Branch officers as well. I

4 think that's right, isn't it?

5 A. I'm not sure to what degree any Special Branch officer

6 was looked at.

7 Q. We will come on, I think, to two operations in

8 particular, one in particular, Operation Fagotto, which

9 we will discuss which was a surveillance operation?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. They were Special Branch officers?

12 A. They were Special Branch surveillance officers, that

13 would have been distinctly different to Special Branch

14 agent handlers.

15 Q. That would be correct, but I just use the term broadly

16 of Special Branch officers. But I think it is correct

17 that they were looked at in terms of whether or not that

18 operation could be collusive?

19 A. I would like to be specific on that that some

20 surveillance officers were looked at because of an

21 operation that they were engaged in at the during the

22 murder.

23 Q. I'm jumping the gun slightly here. We will also look at

24 the issue of whether phone calls were made to potential

25 participants in the murder or to sources who may have

 

 

74

 

1 been engaged with the murder?

2 A. There were some questions about that issue.

3 Q. That was to do with SB handlers?

4 A. I'm not sure that that was in relation to collusion

5 because I'm not sure what the reason for that was. But

6 there were questions, certainly, asked.

7 Q. So it's right to say that there was some element to

8 which Special Branch were under investigation while also

9 being in a position of providing intelligence?

10 A. I can only go back to the reassurances that I was

11 receiving from the Port team that Special Branch

12 officers weren't under investigation. So there seems to

13 be a diversity there of --

14 Q. Could you elaborate on that? What assurance did Mr Port

15 give you about that?

16 A. There was questions being asked certainly about what

17 sources we were meeting and what intelligence we were

18 getting, but I certainly wasn't aware that

19 Special Branch officers were actively being investigated

20 for -- as suspects in the murder of Mrs Nelson.

21 Q. That's quite a heavy qualification, I think, in giving

22 your answer. It may not have been they were formal

23 suspects, but it is right that one of the things you had

24 to look at was whether or not there was any involvement

25 between any officers, including Special Branch officers,

 

 

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1 and the murder?

2 A. Yes, I'm sure he did, but, as I say, I don't think that

3 was being looked at quite to the depth that I think you

4 were portraying it a moment ago.

5 Q. Even by the so-called collusion cell?

6 A. I can't tell you what the collusion cell was doing

7 because I wasn't aware of fully what they were engaged

8 in.

9 But I go back to my earlier point: my belief was it

10 was some CID officers and some RIR officers were the

11 main focus of the collusion team's activities.

12 Q. What did you understand the liaison officers, by which I

13 mean B567's, role to be?

14 A. I think, again, B567 would have been accepting taskings

15 from Mr Port in relation to areas of intelligence that

16 he was particularly interested in, looking to see could

17 we help, could any of our sources be tasked to supply

18 some of the intelligence gaps, for want of a better

19 term, that were there.

20 Q. Again, going back to the earlier issue, would he have

21 looked through his database, either PRISM or MACER, to

22 have found all intelligence, for example, on the groups

23 who claimed responsibility?

24 A. No, he would have been able to look at the intelligence

25 that was within his area of access. So he would have

 

 

76

 

1 looked, but if he wanted to know what was coming from

2 further afield in the Province, there would also have

3 had to have been an inquiry made to Headquarters, which

4 he would have been doing. He would be asking

5 Headquarters was there any intelligence coming from

6 other parts of the Province or from other centralised

7 technical resources.

8 Q. Did that in fact occur?

9 A. Yes, I was briefed that it had occurred yes.

10 Q. So although the liaison officer was from South Region,

11 Mr Port was effectively able to call upon intelligence

12 from, for example, Belfast Region?

13 A. Yes. And certainly -- just to qualify on that -- when I

14 was there I had discussions with the Regional Head of

15 Belfast, again about the importance -- had they received

16 any intelligence, about the importance of getting it

17 down to us quickly so that we could pass it on to the

18 MIT team.

19 Q. Earlier in your cross-examination, I asked you about the

20 perception of Rosemary Nelson prior to her death and

21 I showed you some individual reports and I also showed

22 you the interception application that didn't proceed and

23 Operation Indus which also contained some remarks about

24 Rosemary Nelson. And I think you had also answered that

25 the perception of her was that she was a supporter of

 

 

77

 

1 the Republican movement, if I put it in that term?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Was that conclusion or that perception conveyed to

4 Mr Port?

5 A. Yes, I believe it was.

6 Q. Did you consider it to be relevant to his

7 investigations?

8 A. Yes, I think it was.

9 Q. Why?

10 A. Well, I think, when you are conducting any murder

11 investigation, all motives for the murder are something

12 that should be considered. And I think certainly if

13 there was the perception that Mrs Nelson was actively

14 supporting the Republican movement, there were people on

15 the Loyalist side who wouldn't have liked that and would

16 have had wished her ill. So I think there was a motive

17 there that needed certainly brought to the murder team's

18 attention.

19 Q. Now, the perception that I had identified was one really

20 within Special Branch based on the intelligence that had

21 been received about Mrs Nelson and not necessarily

22 within the Loyalist community?

23 A. Well, again, I can't speak freely what perception was

24 within the Loyalist community, but I think that any

25 one -- I think you have to understand that Drumcree was

 

 

78

 

1 a highly emotive time within the Loyalist community and

2 I think that anyone that was standing up for identifying

3 themselves as on one side or the other could have been

4 perceived in lots of different ways by lots of different

5 people.

6 Q. Going back to the issue of Mr Port's remit to exclude

7 collusion as a possibility, were briefings given to the

8 local officers about that fact, that he would be looking

9 into it and that they shouldn't necessarily take it as

10 being an insult to their integrity?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Who gave those briefings?

13 A. The Regional Head would have gave briefings, the

14 Detective Inspector would have gave briefings.

15 I certainly had discussions with individual officers,

16 and at times we spoke -- probably the Chief

17 Superintendent and the Superintendent TCG spoke to some

18 of the surveillance people in relation to them being

19 asked to make statements and their vehicles being

20 forensically examined.

21 Q. Do you think that worked?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. You see, one witness who came to give evidence a few

24 weeks ago who was a handler from Lurgan, explained that

25 he felt demoralised by the Port team's attitude towards

 

 

79

 

1 him and he described actually on one occasion that

2 Mr Port had sort of blanked him in the corridor. And he

3 felt that they were being effectively excluded and that

4 they could have added some value to the murder

5 investigation in some form had they been treated more

6 hospitably?

7 A. I think it is a very difficult thing that if you have

8 been a police officer, you have gave dedicated service,

9 you have worked long hours, you have put yourself in

10 danger, you have went out and you have met with

11 informants, as I mentioned earlier, in a very difficult

12 and contentious area of policing. I think if someone

13 then points the finger at you or suspects you of being

14 one of bad guys, I think that has a slightly

15 demoralising effect on anyone.

16 When I say it worked, I think people accepted that

17 this was something that had to be done. That doesn't

18 mean that they necessarily liked that this was having to

19 be done and that it didn't have an emotional effect on

20 them. I think almost that they would have been inhuman

21 if they had not felt in some way that they weren't

22 totally comfortable with it.

23 I certainly wouldn't have been comfortable with the

24 fact that the officers under my command were being

25 investigated because, as I say, I had the great

 

 

80

 

1 privilege of being in charge of those officers and

2 working with those officers on a daily basis, and I know

3 the contribution both in terms of professional

4 contribution and in terms of personal contribution that

5 those officers made. I know very well the impact that

6 it had on many of them in terms of their health, and

7 I know the impact that it had in terms of many of their

8 families when the officers worked long hours and didn't

9 see their children growing up and all of a sudden

10 a murder happens in Lurgan and all of a sudden they are,

11 as you say, maybe feeling that they are in some way

12 suspected of it. I think that is quite understandable.

13 Q. Now, we all know from our routine working lives that

14 when one feels demoralised or unhappy with your

15 colleagues or the people who you are working with that

16 you cannot necessarily work as hard as you might have

17 done or not necessarily assist or go the extra mile, if

18 I may put it that way.

19 Was it the case that that may have occurred in

20 relation to the murder investigation? That there was

21 a sense of this demoralisation between the local

22 officers and the external investigators, and so the

23 assistance in fact wasn't forthcoming?

24 A. I would say absolutely not. I would say in actual fact

25 the opposite happened because people were in that

 

 

81

 

1 position, they were absolutely determined that we would

2 try and uncover who the real murderers of Mrs Nelson

3 were and that we would show people that our department

4 was in no way involved in her murder.

5 So I actually think that -- that's like the

6 demoralisation was turned to our advantage and that

7 people were working hard because they wanted to disprove

8 the allegations that were out there.

9 Q. There is a particular remark that was alleged to have

10 been made by Mr Sam Kinkaid, who was a CID officer who

11 became the SIO of the murder investigation.

12 A. Yes, I'm aware of it.

13 Q. Who told you about it?

14 A. I think I was originally briefed by the Regional Head,

15 B629.

16 Q. What did he say?

17 A. He told me that there had been a comment made at a CID

18 briefing at which there had been a Special Branch

19 officer in the back of the room, and I think -- you will

20 forgive me, I'm not quoting exactly right, but there was

21 along the lines of there is no one has anything to worry

22 about here. The only people that have anything to worry

23 about are the people down the corridor. Down the

24 corridor the only people were Special Branch.

25 Q. What did B629 say was the effect of that? What had been

 

 

82

 

1 his reaction?

2 A. Well, B629 had gone across to speak to Mr Kinkaid to try

3 and, I suppose, get some understanding of what exactly

4 he meant by that comment. My understanding was that he

5 said that he hadn't made that comment and that he had

6 been in some way misquoted.

7 Q. Was he angry about it?

8 A. I think he was angry -- a mixture of angry and concerned

9 because we both -- I wasn't there at the time it was

10 made, it was only subsequently I heard about it, so it

11 is difficult for me to say what his reaction was. But

12 if it was said to me, I certainly would have been angry

13 and disappointed in a remark like that.

14 Q. How was it resolved?

15 A. As I understood it, B629 went across and spoke to

16 Mr Kinkaid about it and accepted the assurances he was

17 given that there had been a misquote or

18 a miscommunication.

19 Q. But did it grumble on?

20 A. It certainly registered in the back of my mind when

21 I went down there because I thought it was an unusual

22 quote. It was a quote that you could interpret in many

23 different ways. It was given to a room full of CID

24 officers, and I have certainly wondered -- there is

25 nothing to worry about because if we don't solve this

 

 

83

 

1 murder, we can lay the blame at the door of

2 Special Branch. It was open to many interpretations if

3 it was made, but I think the claim was that it wasn't

4 made.

5 Q. But the interpretation that was taken by B629 was that

6 his officers were under suspicion?

7 A. Certainly that was my initial reaction. When I was told

8 it, I would have interpreted it this way.

9 Q. Had he had his conversation with Mr Kinkaid when he

10 mentioned it to you?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. So in fact, the issue should have been put to bed by

13 then?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. But it hadn't been?

16 A. I think something like that had been spoke about, but

17 when a quote like that is made, it's very difficult to

18 erase it totally from your memory. And I was getting

19 a full briefing, I think, at that stage to bring me up

20 to speed, so I think it was an important thing that

21 I needed to know about.

22 Q. You say in your statement that you had known Mr Kinkaid

23 from his time as a uniformed sergeant in Queen Street?

24 A. I had served in North Queen Street, which is quite close

25 to these premises, at the same time. I was a detective

 

 

84

 

1 sergeant in Special Branch when Sam Kinkaid was

2 a uniform sergeant. I did not know him well, but knew

3 who he was and had spoken to him.

4 Q. What did you know about him in terms of this type of

5 issue, his attitude towards SB?

6 A. I didn't know a lot about him because that was the only

7 place I had dealt with him over a period of years. Him

8 and I hadn't been in each other's path until I went back

9 to Mahon Road.

10 Q. Did he have a reputation of someone who had a grudge, as

11 it were, against Special Branch?

12 A. I tend not to listen to gossip or make judgments on

13 gossip, and something like that would have been gossip

14 so it wouldn't have interested me.

15 Q. So it wouldn't have been the case that B629, in

16 conveying this to you, would have said, "Sam is always

17 angling to get us looked at or angle for the

18 intelligence that we have"?

19 A. No, I think 629 was giving me a comprehensive briefing

20 on what all had taken place prior to my arrival in Mahon

21 Road, so that I was aware -- I suppose in case an issue

22 did flare up again, that I did not have to go to him and

23 say, "Look, have you heard of this, what happened" and

24 occupy his time by regurgitating something that had

25 already been dealt with.

 

 

85

 

1 Q. There was an operation that had been running against the

2 LVF in Armagh, North Armagh, from about the beginning of

3 1998 at least through the pre-murder period and the

4 post-murder period continuing through 1999, and it is

5 called Operation Shubr?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Were you aware that of operation?

8 A. Yes, I was -- well, I would have been aware of it from

9 my previous serving in the region because it was

10 a long-running operation and I wasn't made aware of it

11 when I went back to serve in Mahon Road again.

12 Q. Were you aware that some members of the LVF were under

13 suspicion?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Did it occur to you that the surveillance of them prior

16 to the murder may be of relevance to the Murder

17 Investigation Team?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. And did you or your colleague, possibly B567, inform the

20 Murder Investigation Team of the contents of that

21 surveillance?

22 A. It was my belief that they were briefed prior to my

23 arrival on that operation.

24 Q. Now, as we understand it, the senior management team at

25 least don't recall being briefed about Operation Shubr

 

 

86

 

1 and what product, if I may put it that way, had been

2 obtained prior to the murder. Can you respond to that?

3 A. I find that quite strange. I certainly remember

4 discussions we had in relation to Op Shubr, where

5 Mr Port had asked us if we were carrying out any arrests

6 of any Loyalists, could we inform him before we carried

7 out such arrests. And I distinctly remember

8 a discussion where we said to him, as you know, we have

9 an operation where we look at them periodically as

10 resources were available and that if, during the course

11 that of operation, we saw them preparing to carry out

12 a terrorist incident or we saw them moving weapons or

13 something, that we would be obliged to take a reaction

14 without contacting them.

15 And the purpose for that discussion was obviously we

16 didn't want to do something without Mr Port

17 understanding what our motivation had been for it. So

18 I find it quite extraordinary that they didn't know that

19 we had been looking because we had been looking at all

20 organisations across South Region periodically with

21 surveillance for many years.

22 Q. Might it have been that there was a consideration about

23 the sensitivity of the operation in terms of who was

24 conducting it? The Inquiry has heard --

25 A. No.

 

 

87

 

1 Q. -- that it was a sensitive military unit?

2 A. No, there were no sensitivities about who was conducting

3 the operation.

4 At our disposal at Mahon Road there was an Army

5 surveillance capacity and there was a police

6 surveillance capacity, and each had different areas of

7 operation. But no difference would have been made in

8 relation to who had carried it out.

9 What I would say to you was that it was highly

10 unlikely that there was anything that was observed that

11 had a relevance to the murder, and perhaps that is what

12 they mean, that there was nothing given to them that was

13 relevant.

14 But certainly in terms of personalities and

15 association, the operation you are describing was to

16 build lifestyle patterns of the LVF members in that

17 area. At times, if there was specific intelligence come

18 in about them being engaged in activities, the same

19 operation would have come on to deal with that specific

20 intelligence. But I find that remark quite

21 extraordinary.

22 Q. Who determined relevance?

23 A. Well, again, I think in the first instance -- it is

24 a good question. I think in the first instance, with

25 something like that, you would have been focused on the

 

 

88

 

1 incident, Rosemary Nelson's murder. What -- had

2 anything been turned up in a surveillance operation six

3 months prior to the murder, that would have all been

4 looked at and, again, if anybody saw anything they

5 thought would have been relevant to the team, it would

6 have been passed on. If the murder team had asked to

7 see any of the surveillance logs, that would have been

8 passed on as well.

9 Q. But what you may have thought was relevant or necessary

10 or proportionate to show him, show Mr Port, may have

11 been different from what he thought was relevant. On

12 some levels, anything to do with the activities of

13 dissident Loyalist groups prior to Rosemary Nelson's

14 murder, in the months or even the year prior to her

15 murder, may be of interest, which could cover an

16 enormous amount of material, couldn't it?

17 A. That material -- if the Port Inquiry had wanted to see

18 that material, it would have been made available to

19 them.

20 I fully accept the point you are making and if they

21 had wanted to look at any of the Shubr logs that were

22 available, they would have been made available to them.

23 But I find it extraordinary that they didn't know that

24 we had been looking at the LVF for a period of years.

25 Q. I would like to give you, if I may, one example of

 

 

89

 

1 a specific intelligence report, which, as we understand

2 it from the senior management team, they didn't receive,

3 which may have been of relevance. That, we can find at

4 RNI-544-207 (displayed).

5 Now, this dated March 1999 and it emanates from

6 Belfast and it is to do with the UFF. If we go

7 overleaf, you can see the content. It says:

8 "The UFF have voiced concerns over the fact that

9 their organisation cannot now account for one of their

10 bombs. Although they have denied UFF involvement in the

11 murder of Rosemary Nelson, they are aware that their

12 missing bomb may or may not have been the one under

13 Mrs Nelson's car."

14 Now, I think it is pretty obvious to say that that

15 may be relevant to the murder investigation?

16 A. Yes, I would accept that.

17 Q. If it is right that that wasn't disclosed to the murder

18 investigation, do you think that would indicate a

19 failure of the system that was in place?

20 A. It would. It should certainly have been passed to the

21 Murder Investigation Team, in my opinion.

22 Q. And given that this has come from outside the South

23 Region. So it may have been the case that the liaison

24 officer, B567, may not have had immediate access to this

25 had he done a search for intelligence referring to

 

 

90

 

1 Mrs Nelson?

2 A. But it should still have been picked up at Headquarters

3 and passed down to us in Mahon Road to have been passed

4 on to the Murder Inquiry Team.

5 Q. Who at Headquarters was charged with doing that kind of

6 research?

7 A. It would have been into E3. Any request that we put up

8 from South Region were handled in E3. What particular

9 individual it is difficult to say because there were

10 numerous enquiries going to Headquarters to be answered.

11 Q. So if it was intelligence on the Republican side, it

12 would have been probably one of your former colleagues

13 on E3A, and someone on E3 --

14 A. Exactly. E3B if it was Loyalists.

15 Q. Can you recall whether that process was ongoing and did

16 in fact result in intelligence from outside the region

17 being disclosed to Mr Port?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. An operation I mentioned earlier was Operation Fagotto,

20 which was a surveillance operation that occurred on the

21 night before Mrs Nelson's murder in the vicinity of her

22 house and the Kilwilke Estate.

23 It is a sensitive operation and there is no need, I

24 think, for your purposes to go into the details of

25 exactly why it was running, but I think you would have

 

 

91

 

1 been aware that it had occurred?

2 A. Yes, with hindsight. As I say, I only learned about it

3 when I returned to the region.

4 Q. I think it is right that after a period of a few days,

5 Mr Port's investigation was told about Operation

6 Fagotto?

7 A. That's my understanding, yes.

8 Q. Quite understandably, I think, he want to eliminate the

9 possibility that Operation Fagotto had some connection

10 with the murder?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. And I think it is fair to say that anyone finding out

13 that there had been a covert operation near Mrs Nelson's

14 house just before her murder would want to do so?

15 A. Yes, I agree.

16 Q. Did you accept that it was a legitimate part of his

17 investigation to check whether or not the type of

18 explosive used to kill Mrs Nelson could be found within

19 the officers' cars?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Was that accepted by the officers themselves?

22 A. Yes, the officers did accept it. Again, to go back to

23 my earlier comment about police officers who have

24 worked -- dedicated long hard work suddenly finding

25 themselves, in their eyes, suspected in some shape or

 

 

92

 

1 form, you know, there would have been a natural reaction

2 about whether -- which side they were on, were they the

3 good guys or were they the bad guys. But I think that

4 good communication by their own management team overcame

5 that. And the reasons why it needed to be done were

6 explained to them, and they were mature enough and

7 sensible enough to accept the explanations that were

8 given. But I think, yes, there was a natural reaction

9 at first: why were they doing this. And I think that is

10 a question anybody would be asking.

11 Q. Were you engaged with that process of briefing or was

12 that, again, something for B629 to do?

13 A. I certainly spoke with B629 about it, and I think I have

14 recollections of speaking with the Superintendent in TCG

15 about how the process was managed. And as I say, it

16 went down to the various managers to explain to each of

17 their team. And, again, we were there if any of the

18 team did want to discuss it or had any reservations,

19 they would like to voice to us. Our door was open if

20 anybody wanted to come to further discussions about it,

21 but it was resolved quite quickly and quite easily.

22 Q. In due course I'm going to show you some memos from the

23 Security Service about these sorts of issues because

24 they, at some point, became involved in advising both

25 Mr Port and South Region Special Branch in relation to

 

 

93

 

1 these kind of things?

2 A. Okay.

3 Q. And there is certainly an indication in one of those

4 memos that Mr Port's behaviour, as it is put in the

5 memo, was considered to be outrageous in relation to

6 this kind of issue, and that this particular request in

7 relation to the officers' cars, the surveillance

8 officers' cars, carried on being a source of complaint?

9 A. I'm certainly not aware of anyone describing it as

10 outrageous, and it seems quite colourful language to me.

11 I think there were some issues because there were some

12 officers were interviewed three and four times and asked

13 the same thing and had expressed concern about why they

14 had been interviewed, re-interviewed and interviewed yet

15 again. But, again, that was a management issue and it

16 was resolved and I could certainly understand why

17 Mr Port wanted to do that, and I certainly accept that

18 it was necessary for him to do that.

19 Q. It may be worth -- although I don't want to take you

20 through the entire memo just yet, but having it on

21 screen so you can see exactly what I'm referring to. It

22 can be found at RNI-532-146 (displayed).

23 Now, this is the note for file, as it is termed,

24 which is written by S224. I am afraid you don't have

25 his cipher name on your list, but I can find that for

 

 

94

 

1 you over the break.

2 It is about RUC liaison and the date, as we can see,

3 is April 2000. If we go to page RNI-532-148, please

4 (displayed), which is the bit that I'm concerned with,

5 you can see there the title of this paragraph,

6 paragraph 7 is "Port and other inquiries". And just the

7 first bit of it:

8 "B629 mentioned the Port Inquiry saying it was

9 likely to run on for another year."

10 Then another person whose name is redacted:

11 "... chimed in with expostulations about Port's

12 outrageous behaviour in the course of the Inquiry

13 (mainly the old complaint about the Port team making

14 forensic tests on police cars)."

15 Now, it does appear from this, doesn't it, that this

16 was grumbling on?

17 A. Without knowing who made the comment, who's described as

18 chiming in, it's difficult for me to say. Different

19 individuals react differently to situations, and when

20 you say it rumbled on, there were obviously some people

21 who weren't happy with it occurring. That doesn't mean

22 that they didn't accept it and they didn't understand

23 it, but it might have rubbed some particular individuals

24 up wrong. But I would think they were in the minority

25 rather than in a majority.

 

 

95

 

1 Q. Another issue of some sensitivity as between

2 Special Branch and Mr Port was the issue of identities

3 of sources?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. Now, can I just ask you this preliminary question? You

6 comment upon this in your statement as a result of the

7 interview you had with Eversheds: Are you clear about

8 exactly what Mr Port had asked for?

9 A. My understanding -- and I think the issue you are

10 referring to was -- I would have concerns when I was

11 told that Mr Port had asked to have access to all the

12 identities of all Loyalist agents that we were running

13 in the Province.

14 Q. That was your understanding of his request?

15 A. That was my understanding of the request, and

16 I certainly was concerned about that request because I

17 could not see the necessity of knowing the identity of

18 an agent in, say, Derry, Derry -- Londonderry, up in

19 that part of the world, say, a UDA source, what

20 relevance that had to the murder in Lurgan.

21 But, as you said, it wasn't always easy for me to

22 see what was of relevance to Mr Port. But I certainly

23 had never came across a request like that being made

24 before, that every identity of every Loyalist agent be

25 shown to him.

 

 

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1 Q. Now, what I will do, I think, is take you through this

2 issue -- we can see how it develops, so we can come back

3 to that particular point at the end. First of all, just

4 some points of principle. Can you see why Mr Port would

5 want, for example, to know whether one of his suspects

6 was a source?

7 A. Yes, I can, and I think that was a simple question that

8 could have been asked and it could have been -- I think

9 it could have been dealt with on a case by case basis

10 rather than the identity of every Loyalist source being

11 exposed.

12 Q. And broadening it again, if Mr Port was interested in

13 a number of Loyalist dissident groups -- and I don't

14 think there is any need to name the kind of groups that

15 we are talking about, but a small number of groups who

16 were considered to be somehow connected with the Nelson

17 murder, can you see why he may want to know whether

18 there was sources within those groups who possibly could

19 provide reporting, but also whether some of the sources

20 again had been involved with the murder?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. And they were legitimate requests?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. You have given a very straightforward positive answer to

25 that. Was that view held by your ACC?

 

 

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1 A. I assume so. As I say, I don't seek to speak for the

2 ACC. I think it is for him to answer that. But I can

3 understand why that would have been requested. But I

4 think, again, there was an issue of how that was

5 managed, of the proportionality of what you were asking.

6 I go back to my point that I think asking to see the

7 identity of every source, every Loyalist source in

8 Northern Ireland was, in my opinion, more than

9 proportionate.

10 Q. What role did you play in that issue in terms of

11 fielding that request and deciding whether it was

12 necessary and proportionate?

13 A. I don't think I really did play a role in it other than

14 to move the request on. I would certainly have offered

15 my opinion on what I thought on the request because,

16 again, I think that healthy organisations question why

17 something is being done, and whilst Mr Port had a very

18 wide terms of reference, I think it was healthy at times

19 to ask him, "Look, do you actually need all this? Do

20 you need to do it in this way?" because I think that

21 focuses everyone's mind and everyone's thinking as to

22 whether they do need to do anything a particular way. I

23 think group think is a dangerous thing for any

24 organisation.

25 Q. I would like to show you another Security Service

 

 

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1 document, please, and that's at RNI-532-157 (displayed).

2 This is a note for file. I am afraid the author has

3 been redacted and, if necessary, during the break I can

4 show you the unredacted version with the author's

5 designation written on it. You can see it is copied to

6 S224, whom we had seen on the previous note, and this is

7 about Port's request for the identity of Loyalist

8 agents.

9 A first point, and possibly the more important

10 point: why was Special Branch, why were the officers

11 such as B629, going to speak to the Security Service

12 about this?

13 A. Well, we would have had some agents that were jointly

14 handled by the -- jointly handled with the Security

15 Service and I would assume it was to discuss with them

16 how we would manage the process.

17 Q. Was it more than that, though? A minority, I think it

18 is fair to say, of agents --

19 A. Yes, a small minority, but quite a -- they had some

20 quite significant sources that were jointly handled. So

21 they may have been a minority in one sense, but quite

22 important in another sense.

23 Q. The impression that is gained from this note and other

24 notes is that Special Branch were effectively seeking

25 Security Services' support in their response to Mr Port,

 

 

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1 that there was a lack of confidence possibly in the

2 Chief Constable's view of this issue?

3 A. No, I certainly wouldn't have had a lack of support in

4 the Chief Constable's view. I would have been quite

5 happy to make the Chief Constable aware of my opinion.

6 The Chief Constable told me to go and do something.

7 I was a member of a disciplined organisation, and

8 whether I agreed with something -- which I'm not saying

9 I didn't agree on this occasion -- I would have carried

10 out the wishes of the Chief Constable. But I certainly

11 would have discussed with the Chief Constable and others

12 the best way to manage that process so that it had

13 minimum impact on our intelligence gathering

14 capabilities.

15 Q. Well, the Chief Constable, who will be giving evidence

16 in due course, will no doubt explain the reasons why he

17 gave Mr Port the wide access that we have seen in his

18 terms of reference. He may, indeed, explain what his

19 attitude was to the issue of specific source identities.

20 But it does appear here, doesn't it, that senior

21 management of Special Branch, rather than going to the

22 Chief Constable to explain their position, which was

23 about source protection, I think, ultimately?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Were going to another external organisation to seek

 

 

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1 their advice and support?

2 A. Well, when you say we were going to another

3 organisation, I think it is true to say that the

4 Security Service were very good at continually offering

5 us support and offering us the use of their legal

6 adviser on occasions to give advice. They were always

7 there with us, so it wasn't a matter of running off to

8 seek them out because they were side by side with us

9 throughout a lot of this period.

10 I have only seen this document this morning, before

11 I arrived. I obviously haven't had time to read it

12 in any depth, but I would consistently say that we were

13 dealing with how we managed the process. We were

14 alerting to them to potential ramifications for them if

15 it became known that every source's identity had been

16 exposed. And I think we had some legitimate concerns

17 around that issue.

18 Q. What was it that the Chief Constable may not have fully

19 understood?

20 A. Again, just from my previous experience in E9, I was

21 very aware of -- probably focused by the warrantry issue

22 that we talked about earlier on -- that you had to have

23 a good reason, there had to be a very good reason for

24 why you wanted to see things. I would certainly have

25 been concerned that what was happening here was

 

 

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1 a checklist, ticking the box to be able to say we have

2 done this all without actually having a good reason for

3 seeing every source. Because I go back to my earlier

4 comment: I can't see why a source, for instance, in the

5 UDA in Derry needed to be -- his identity needed to be

6 declared.

7 That was my opinion. I'm sorry if it is not the

8 opinion you are seeking.

9 Q. If we look at this note in a bit more detail, you can

10 see in paragraph 2 what is being requested, and I asked

11 you earlier about this issue in relation to dissident

12 Loyalist groups. And you can see there, it says:

13 "A letter from ACC asking for the identities of all

14 RUC agents who reported on dissident Loyalist groups."

15 And I think you gave the answer that it would be

16 appropriate to make that request and to get the answer

17 you sought?

18 A. I certainly wasn't aware of it as dissident Loyalist

19 groups. My understanding was that it was all Loyalist

20 groups.

21 Q. If this note is correct, at this point at least it is

22 slightly narrower, isn't it?

23 A. Indeed, and it would have been much easier to manage

24 because we would have had less agents and informants

25 within the dissident groups at that stage that we had

 

 

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1 within the more established, if I can put it that way,

2 Loyalist groups that had been around for a long time.

3 Q. What one sees from that note is that that request was

4 not being met with the ready answer of yes that you gave

5 to me earlier?

6 A. No, I'm certainly not saying that that request wasn't

7 being met because that request, as I understand it, was

8 met. So what we were dealing with was how we would

9 manage the process, how we would manage any fallout from

10 the process if it became known that that process had

11 actually happened, which I think is a slightly different

12 issue.

13 Q. There is an issue of risk avoidance and risk management,

14 which I think is the one that you are adverting?

15 A. Absolutely.

16 Q. In this note, there is an expression of concern about

17 leaks, and you can see that is the continuation in

18 paragraph 2:

19 "Port gave no indication as to how he might handle

20 such a delicate document, and the Regional Head of

21 Special Branch [who's B629] said that he knew from his

22 own sensitive sources that other intelligence passed to

23 Port had leaked out. RUC South were, therefore, most

24 reluctant to compile and hand over such a list."

25 What is the leak?

 

 

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1 A. I'm not in a position to help you with that because I

2 don't know.

3 Q. Wasn't it your job to know that kind of thing? If there

4 was a problem of that nature, i.e. a security breach by

5 the Murder Investigation Team, weren't you right in the

6 position to be dealing with something like that?

7 A. I think it depends what you mean by the term "leak".

8 There had been some articles that had appeared in the

9 press that had caused us some concern and, indeed, there

10 was a subsequent article that caused us some quite

11 serious concern.

12 Q. What did the article say?

13 A. I can't remember specifically. I know the subsequent

14 one was there was a report in the press that, indeed,

15 Loyalist source identities had been disclosed to the

16 Port team.

17 Q. Now, why is that sensitive?

18 A. Well, I think it is sensitive to us in the sense that

19 anyone that has managed or handled informants knows and

20 understands the fragile psychology that goes along with

21 handling agents. Agents all like to operate under

22 a cloak -- what I would call a cloak of anonymity. When

23 you are recruiting a source, the first question they

24 will always ask you is, "Who will know about my

25 identity?" and officers who are involved in source

 

 

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1 recruitment go to great lengths to offer reassurance to

2 sources that their identity will be kept within a very

3 closed team, whether that be the handlers and their

4 management.

5 So obviously anything that appears in the press that

6 causes them to have concern over their safety can lead

7 to, again, a detrimental effect on intelligence

8 gathering operations. When we lose intelligence, we

9 lose the ability to protect the public. We lose the

10 ability to interdict terrorist operations and prevent

11 operations and the public becomes at much more risk.

12 So those issues were always of concern to us, not

13 for the selfish reasons of protecting our little empire

14 and our own sources, but for the more noble reasons of

15 protecting our community.

16 MR SKELTON: Sir, would that be a convenient moment?

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. We will break off until 2 o'clock.

18 Mr (name redacted), before the witness leaves, would you

19 please confirm that all cameras have been switched off?

20 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

22 Please escort the witness out.

23 (1.00 pm)

24 (The short adjournment)

25 (2.00 pm)

 

 

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

2 area 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.

15 Mr (name redacted), can you please confirm that the two

16 witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

17 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

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

19 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

20 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

21 Bring the witness in, please.

22 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

23 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

24 switched back on.

25 Yes, Mr Skelton?

 

 

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1 MR SKELTON: Before the break we were looking at document,

2 RNI-532-157 (displayed), and I was asking you about the

3 issue of leaks and I think you adverted to your

4 knowledge of a press article about Loyalist agents'

5 identities being passed to Mr Port?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. First of all, just focusing on that particular article,

8 were you clear within Special Branch that that was an

9 article which came from information given by Mr Port's

10 team?

11 A. I wasn't sure where that information came from. I was

12 quite sure I didn't believe that it came from anyone in

13 Special Branch because I go back to my earlier answer

14 that I think anyone that has handled the agents knows

15 the psychology, knows the importance of them being

16 assured of their cloak of anonymity. And I know the

17 impact that press articles can actually have on agents

18 in terms of them becoming reticent to pass intelligence,

19 becoming fearful about their own safety. And, indeed,

20 we have had to nurse many an agent through a difficult

21 personal crisis caused by items they have read in the

22 press.

23 Q. But in this instance, to some extent a cynic might say

24 that Special Branch had something to gain by telling the

25 press this because in fact what would be precipitated

 

 

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1 was a shutdown of the information being given because it

2 looks like, if the leak had emanated from Mr Port, that

3 he could be considered untrustworthy?

4 A. I would see it from the opposite perspective because I

5 think Special Branch had quite considerable things to

6 lose if there was a shutdown of intelligence because

7 they were there to try and protect the public.

8 We were trying to get the intelligence in that makes

9 a difference and made a difference in this Province.

10 And as I say, those of us that were there and were

11 working in that arena I would like to think were quite

12 dedicated in what we were trying to do and cared with

13 passion about what we're trying to do. So anything that

14 hindered us from getting the smooth flow of

15 intelligence, worked against us rather than worked for

16 us. So I certainly don't believe anyone in Special

17 Branch was involved in leaking that article to the

18 press.

19 Q. People in Special Branch may, I think, quite reasonably,

20 have had some contact with members of the press,

21 mightn't they?

22 A. Well, it was frowned upon in our department. We did not

23 encourage officers to have contacts in the press. If

24 they did have any contact with the press, they were

25 supposed to declare it. I had been asked indeed many

 

 

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1 times by the Chief Constable to speak to various

2 journalists and decline because I think most Special

3 Branch officers have a serious difficulty in remembering

4 what they have read in a secret intelligence report,

5 what they have read in a newspaper, what they saw in a

6 television programme, what someone has told them out

7 socialising. So the way we, in a way, firewall, to use

8 a computer term, our dealings is not to deal with

9 journalists. In that way, you can't be indiscreet or

10 let something slip that you shouldn't have said.

11 Q. Although you may not have been certain that the leak --

12 if we can term it as a leak -- came from Mr Port's team,

13 was that your suspicion?

14 A. I certainly thought it had came from someone in CID,

15 whether it was Mr Port's team or some other member of

16 CID. Yes, that would have been my chain of thought.

17 Q. Did you deal with that issue directly with them?

18 A. I think perhaps the Regional Head might have mentioned

19 it to them. I think there was some discussion that I

20 wasn't party to around the issue, but we certainly would

21 have made our concerns about leaks to the press known to

22 them because, again, it has been an investigative

23 technique that has been used by some investigators in

24 the past, to leak stuff to the media to get people

25 talking and to get some information flowing.

 

 

109

 

1 As I say, sometimes that has a good effect for the

2 investigation, but can have a detrimental effect on what

3 we were trying to do.

4 Q. But you yourself, despite your role as a senior liaison

5 officer, as we put it earlier don't have a recollection

6 of speaking to Mr Port about that?

7 A. No, something like that would probably have been taken

8 on board by either the ACC or the Regional Head.

9 Although I was there, there was still a chain of command

10 above my position, and as I say, something as serious as

11 that I think they would have dealt with themselves.

12 Q. Now, in the document on the screen, it would appear that

13 the leak is not about the identities and their being

14 given to Mr Port, but about specific intelligence that

15 had been passed to Mr Port and had been leaked.

16 A. I'm sorry, I can't recall the specifics.

17 Q. The difficulty with this is this note is of

18 a conversation between B629 and members of the Security

19 Service and there aren't any specifics about the alleged

20 intelligence leak and yet the Security Service is being

21 asked to advise about whether or not information should

22 be given to Mr Port and whether or not it is safe to do

23 so. So somebody must have known specifically what it

24 was and somebody must have told them, mustn't they?

25 A. I think that is something you should really take up with

 

 

110

 

1 B629 because I can't speak on his behalf. I can only

2 speak about the matters within my sphere of knowledge,

3 and as I say, I don't appear to have been at that

4 meeting and I'm not referred to.

5 Q. But would you accept it is a serious issue?

6 A. Leaks is always a serious issue, and as I say, it is

7 something we wouldn't have treated lightly at all.

8 Q. And is your answer that your memory doesn't assist you

9 on this issue rather than you didn't know about the

10 leaks?

11 A. No, I think some stuff had appeared in the press that

12 certainly we were concerned about.

13 Q. And beyond that, you cannot help us?

14 A. No.

15 Q. Over the break we copied a single-page document, which

16 is authored by Chief Superintendent Provoost, who is one

17 of the senior officers on Mr Port's team. That document

18 doesn't form part of the Inquiry's bundle and,

19 therefore, has not gone through the sensitive redaction

20 process to allow it to be released to the Full

21 Participants. But I have shown you a copy and I have

22 shown a copy to the three Panel members who are

23 listening to your evidence.

24 It appears to the Inquiry at least that that is the

25 request which precipitates these meetings in autumn of

 

 

111

 

1 2000. Have you read that?

2 A. Yes, I have read it during the break.

3 Q. Now, you can see from that that the request, without

4 going into the specific detail, is narrowed down into

5 a number of organisations?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Now, in light of that, would you like to elaborate on

8 whether or not you remembered that the request was that

9 narrow?

10 A. No, my recollection is that the request wasn't that

11 narrow.

12 Q. Would you have seen this document?

13 A. No, I have no recollection of seeing it.

14 Q. Again, given your role as the liaison person, would you

15 not have expected to have some involvement in conveying

16 views upwards and downwards in relation to these sorts

17 of issues?

18 A. I think it is important to contextualise that whilst I

19 was fulfilling a senior liaison role, I was also running

20 quite a busy region of the Province with quite a number

21 of tactical and strategic operations happening on

22 a daily basis. I also had the normal requirements of

23 leave, courses to attend, flu and colds to attend with.

24 So everything that happened during the months preceding

25 Rosemary Nelson's murder, I wasn't involved in

 

 

112

 

1 everything; I was involved in as much as it is humanly

2 possible given the other requirements that were upon my

3 time to be involved in. But I don't think, you know, it

4 was conclusively this that I was dealing with.

5 It is very difficult for me to contextualise for you

6 just how busy we were then. I think it is difficult to

7 convey to the Panel that and I think it is difficult to

8 convey to anyone that. Unless you were there to see how

9 challenging and difficult and busy a job we were doing,

10 as I say, it is very hard for me to put that into

11 context for you.

12 Q. In the second paragraph, you can see that the request is

13 couched with a number of caveats, if I may put it that

14 way, in that the information is going to be handled in

15 the strictest confidence, not to be incorporated into

16 any database and in accordance with the protocol where

17 it would be passed directly to Mr Port and only Mr Port?

18 A. I would certainly have taken some reassurance from that.

19 Q. Going back to the memo we have seen, which is dated

20 only, I think, two and a half weeks or so after this

21 request, you could see there that the comment is clearly

22 being made to the Security Service:

23 "Port gave no indication as to how he might handle

24 such a delicate document."

25 Then it goes on to the sensitive sources being

 

 

113

 

1 leaked issue.

2 Now, it appears, doesn't it, that the apparent

3 representation to the Security Service about Mr Port's

4 assurances is incorrect in that regard?

5 A. Certainly what is mentioned in this document wouldn't be

6 correct given what I have just read in this document.

7 Q. As far as your recollection goes -- and I think it is

8 fair to say that this was a very important issue for you

9 at the time, the release of your identities -- do you

10 recall that Mr Port was at pains to give you some

11 reassurance that it would be handled very carefully?

12 A. Yes, I think he would have, yes.

13 Q. Do you think the protocol, if I may put it that way,

14 that is expressed in this document would be sufficient?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. May I look now at another Security Service document?

17 This is at RNI-532-169 (displayed). This is a loose

18 minute from S224, who is the head of the agent running

19 section in Northern Ireland and is a witness to this

20 Inquiry, to the Deputy General of the Service, to

21 Director T, to the DCI and to the legal adviser. It is

22 dated 18 September 2000, so it is around this period.

23 Its title is:

24 "Port Inquiry, RUC Regional Head of Special Branch

25 South complains and seeks advice."

 

 

114

 

1 Overleaf, we will see the contents of this

2 conversation.

3 Now, it deals with quite a lot of matters and I

4 don't want necessarily to have to go through every

5 single one of them with you, but the first point really

6 to mention is that there is a concern, you can see

7 expressed, I think, paragraph 4 -- in fact it is

8 overleaf -- coming back to a theme that we saw in the

9 previous memo, that:

10 "The Chief Constable may not hold the line, and if

11 South Region was let down, they would be minded to pay

12 off all their Loyalist agents."

13 So arising from that is a view of the

14 Chief Constable being expressed by the Regional Head of

15 Special Branch to some senior members of the Security

16 Service.

17 Do you remember that issue coming up, the concern

18 about the Chief Constable?

19 A. No, I don't recall a conversation with B629 about the

20 Chief Constable. B629 was very close to the

21 Chief Constable and was a very good personal friend, so

22 I'm not sure that is actually an accurate reflection of

23 what he would have said.

24 Q. Well, it appears to be a theme from some of these notes

25 that the Chief Constable is minded to give the

 

 

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1 information and the Regional Head of Special Branch

2 isn't and there is a problem there, and therefore, that

3 is why these very senior people within the Security

4 Service are being briefed about it in order to help?

5 A. I go back to my earlier comment. I think we were

6 speaking primarily to the Security Service people in

7 terms of how we managed the process and where the

8 process may take us next, as opposed to actually trying

9 in any way to undermine the decision that had been made

10 by the Chief Constable.

11 And I think it is important that I say to you that

12 the Chief Constable is a man I hold in very high regard.

13 I have worked for him personally on at least two

14 occasions and there is absolutely no way I would be

15 looking to undermine anything that he had made

16 a decision on.

17 Q. Now, the second part of that sentence I have read out is

18 in relation to a comment made by B629 that if South

19 Region were let down, they would be minded to pay off

20 all their Loyalist agents; in other words, to take quite

21 extreme action and shut down agent gathering?

22 A. I think again it depends the context in which you put

23 that statement. If the identities of our agents had

24 become known or had become exposed, that's in effect

25 what would have happened: agents would have had to have

 

 

116

 

1 been resettled and taken into protective custody and we

2 would have basically lost our Loyalist network of

3 agents. That was a difficult -- at what was a difficult

4 time politically.

5 Q. Is that really what is coming through as the theme of

6 this document, though?

7 A. I can't see any other interpretation of it. I certainly

8 don't think we were being churlish saying, "If we don't

9 get our way, we will pay Loyalist agents off" because

10 I go back to my recurring theme as to what

11 Special Branch was about.

12 Special Branch was about saving lives. It was about

13 making a difference. We needed our Loyalist agents to

14 keep people alive. We were very conscious of the price

15 that we would pay and, indeed, the price uniformed

16 police officers, young soldiers and, indeed, members of

17 the community would pay if we didn't have intelligence

18 coverage coming out of the Loyalist organisations.

19 So to suggest that we might, out of bad temper or

20 something, suggest we would pay off our agents is just

21 ridiculous to me, absolutely ridiculous.

22 Q. Well, it appears from your own statement that Mr Port

23 was viewed with some respect?

24 A. I certainly had respect for Mr Port.

25 Q. And it would appear from your previous answers to my

 

 

117

 

1 questions in relation to the memo from Chief

2 Superintendent Provoost, that the protocol that he put

3 in place for the handling of this very sensitive

4 intelligence was reasonable and sufficient?

5 A. Yes, and we would have been seeking, and were

6 continually seeking assurances, because one of the

7 problems -- one of the worries you would always have at

8 any time when you passed intelligence is things can

9 change and a decision given to you one day can be

10 changed another day, and a protocol that you are

11 promised one day can change another day. And if

12 intelligence is cascaded down and further out through an

13 inquiry team, you can actually lose control of it.

14 So, yes, those assurances we would have been looking

15 to make sure were in place and we would have been

16 looking for continual reassurances that they stayed in

17 place and that circumstances didn't change over time.

18 Q. But at this point in time the request had been made on

19 a limited basis for the identities of the agents within

20 particular dissident groups, and assurance had been

21 given that the information would be handled sensitively

22 by the senior officer, a deputy chief constable of the

23 investigation. And yet at this very moment, the

24 Security Service are being advised by the Head of

25 Special Branch in the region, who is the recipient of

 

 

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1 Mr Provoost's memo, that it could cause the end of RUC

2 SB's Loyalist intelligence gathering?

3 A. I think you are sort of making it sound more extreme

4 than what it was. I don't think there is anything wrong

5 in reinforcing to Mr Port or to anyone the consequences

6 we would suffer if guarantees that were being given

7 weren't adhered to, and I think it is reasonable for us

8 to have concerns that if guarantees we were given

9 weren't adhered to, I think it is important that people

10 knew what the consequences of not keeping to those

11 guarantees were.

12 Q. Well, I take your point about putting it strongly, but

13 if you look at the text of this particular memo, he is

14 saying:

15 "He added that if matters continued in this way, RUC

16 SB would become paralysed."

17 It couldn't be more extreme, could it?

18 A. As I say, if we lost the network of Loyalist agents we

19 had in terms of Loyalist intelligence, we were blind.

20 And at that stage, as is evidenced by the murder of

21 Mrs Nelson, there were vicious and active Loyalist

22 terrorists within the region and, as I say, all we are

23 doing is saying, "Look, if it is not protected, these

24 are the consequences" and I see absolutely nothing wrong

25 with reinforcing to people the importance of looking

 

 

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1 after the identities of agents.

2 Q. But what it looks like from this is that you don't, in

3 fact, want to give the answer; in other words, you

4 haven't accepted Mr Port's assurances?

5 A. We had no choice but to give the answer because the

6 Chief Constable had directed that the answer would be

7 given.

8 So certainly, as far as I was concerned, the

9 identities were being given to Mr Port because I had

10 a clear direction from the Chief Constable that that is

11 what we should do. As I say, what I would have been

12 keen to do, and even personally, was make sure that

13 everybody knew the consequences if what was agreed to

14 was not adhered to.

15 Q. So the predicament was that Mr Port wouldn't handle this

16 material safely, was it?

17 A. No, the implication was that it needed not, over time,

18 for -- and I have been in Special Branch a long team and

19 I have seen many agreements and many protocols drift

20 slightly over time and as other issues and other things

21 arise. So I would have been quite keen that there was

22 no drift or no slightly going off mission in relation to

23 what had been agreed.

24 And as I say, I think that's a perfectly responsible

25 position to take because the consequences, if there was

 

 

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1 any creep off what had been agreed for us, was quite

2 disastrous. And when I say "for us", I mean for the

3 people of Northern Ireland because at the end of the day

4 it was intelligence to keep them safe that we were

5 gathering.

6 Q. Now, the final bit of that memo -- you can see

7 a comments section -- states that:

8 "B629 appeared to S224 to be overwrought and

9 extremely tired, and S224 attempted to be sympathetic

10 but without committing himself or the Service to

11 anything specific."

12 Now, can one draw the inference from that that to

13 some extent this issue had become overheated?

14 A. I certainly wouldn't agree with that comment for

15 a start. I would agree with part of it, in that I think

16 we were all tired because we -- to repeat myself yet

17 again -- we were working in a challenging and difficult

18 environment. We were working very long hours in South

19 Region, and I don't think there was any of us that would

20 stand up and say that we weren't tired, that we weren't

21 facing difficult challenges. There was a lot going on

22 around us. We had a lot of responsibilities, we had

23 a lot of work to do.

24 So being tired is fine, but I have known B629 a long

25 time, a very long time, and I have never known him to

 

 

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1 be, as described here, overwrought.

2 Q. So you don't think it is the case that this issue had so

3 vexed the Chief Superintendent that he had lost his

4 judgement?

5 A. Absolutely not.

6 Q. A further document I would like to show you, please, in

7 relation to this sort of issue is RNI-532-174

8 (displayed).

9 This is another loose minute and it is to do with

10 agent identities again, and it occurs a few months

11 later. It is from 10 January 2001 and it is written by

12 S224, the same Security Service officer we have seen

13 before.

14 Just a point of clarification, I think, for the

15 record. In your statement, you refer to S188 on

16 a number of occasions, and it is right, I think, that

17 S188 had a particular role for a short period of time as

18 a liaison person between Special Branch and Mr Port's

19 team?

20 A. I'm quite happy to accept I may have got mixed up, given

21 the passage of time and poor memory. So I'm quite happy

22 to accept I may be incorrect in that regard.

23 Q. Now, looking at this document, you can see that the

24 request in this case is couched in somewhat wider terms,

25 at least as reported. Can you see that? It says:

 

 

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1 "At 9.20 this morning I was contacted on [blank] by

2 an agitated Regional Head of Special Branch who said

3 that the Head of Special Branch, B542, had just told him

4 that Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan had decided release

5 to the Port Inquiry the names of all RUC Loyalist

6 agents. B629's views on this matter may be imagined."

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Now, was it your understanding -- again, I'm trying to

9 focus first of all on your recollection -- that the

10 original request for agents in relation to a number of

11 groupings had widened at some point?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Can you expand on that?

14 A. No. Before coming here today, my opinion was that what

15 had been asked for was the name of all the RUC Loyalist

16 agents, and I personally thought this was

17 a disproportionate request. It was only when you showed

18 me the document earlier on that narrowed the focus, but

19 that would have been closer to my understanding of what

20 was being asked for.

21 Q. If that is correct, and as I say, it is not something

22 that is necessarily accepted by Mr Port's team --

23 A. That's fine, yes.

24 Q. If that is correct, all agents were being asked for,

25 again would you have considered that to be a reasonable

 

 

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1 request?

2 A. No, I wouldn't have considered that to be a reasonable

3 request.

4 As I mentioned, I think that was disproportionate

5 because there were people in organisations in part of

6 the Province whose identities would have been disclosed

7 without me seeing a need for the relevance or the

8 necessity of revealing their addresses. That, to me,

9 seemed more like a tick a box to say that you have done

10 it, rather than actually going in to seek something

11 constructive.

12 But, again, I would like to stress here if the

13 Chief Constable told me to do it, it would have been

14 done, but I would have expressed my opinion to the

15 Chief Constable. I think the relationship I had with

16 the Chief Constable was that the Chief Constable would

17 have wanted me to offer my opinion to him and let him

18 know how I saw things, and I would have gladly

19 done that.

20 Q. Now, if there were any ambivalence about the nature of

21 the request and its limitations, do you think in

22 retrospect it would have been appropriate to have had

23 a full and frank discussion in a group with Mr Port to

24 ascertain exactly what he wanted and why he wanted it?

25 A. I think that probably would have been useful, yes. But,

 

 

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1 as I say, as far as I was concerned, there was no

2 ambivalence. I was told that that was the request. So

3 I wasn't aware, as I say, until today, until I saw some

4 of your documents, that there was a different

5 interpretation of the request.

6 Q. Well, if we go to the final document in this stream that

7 I would like to show you, which I think is ultimately

8 the answer to Mr Port's request, we can see that at

9 RNI-532-198 (displayed).

10 Now, this is another note for file. The author's

11 identity has been redacted, but it is copied again to

12 S224, who was the officer that we have seen on a number

13 of occasions. It is dated a little bit later on,

14 8 February 2001, and again, it is to do with B629's

15 comment on Port and the disclosure of agent identities.

16 Now, before we look at the body of the minute, I

17 would just like to ask you a little bit about the

18 perception that comes through in the first paragraph:

19 "Throughout our discussions ..."

20 Says the author of this document:

21 "... the Regional Head of Special Branch South did

22 not hide, first of all, anger at the way that he had

23 been treated by Port and his inquiry team."

24 What is he talking about there?

25 A. I don't know. I think that is a question you should

 

 

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1 really address with him.

2 Q. We will do so, but given your position as a colleague of

3 his, working on the investigation pretty closely for

4 several years, what was your perception of that?

5 A. I'm not aware of any anger that was directed in that

6 direction. I think at times there were some issues that

7 would have been -- what I would call the normal, natural

8 tensions that you get, that can cause irritation, but I

9 think anger is a very strong and emotive word. And

10 certainly I had no recollection of B629 expressing

11 anything near what is described there to me.

12 Q. And the second point again is going back to the

13 Chief Constable, a feeling of betrayal by the

14 Chief Constable who'd gone back on his word over

15 disclosure of agent identities?

16 A. No, that was never shared with me, that feeling, never

17 mentioned to me.

18 Q. So you never had any sense that the Chief Constable, for

19 whatever reason, had given freer access than he had

20 previously promised Regional Head of Special Branch he

21 would do?

22 A. Well, I think the Chief Constable had gave Mr Port very

23 wide terms of reference at the beginning. So Mr Port

24 had gone to him and exercised those terms of reference.

25 I don't see where we had any cause for complaint

 

 

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1 because he was only getting what he had been promised he

2 could have. As I say, our concern was about managing

3 the process and the damage that could be caused to us if

4 the process wasn't very carefully handled, and as I say,

5 that the process didn't change or alter in any shape or

6 form over time.

7 Q. In the paragraph 3, which is under the heading "The

8 disclosure process", you can see, albeit that it is

9 partly redacted, the mechanism by which some identities

10 were indeed conveyed to Mr Port?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. And it that happens he was shown a list of identities?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And he had his own list that he was comparing it to?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. In order presumably to fulfil an investigative avenue of

17 his own?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Now, again, it would appear that there is some at least

20 limitation to the exercise, that it isn't

21 a carte blanche request for all identities. He is

22 working to a particular remit of his own. Were you

23 aware of that limitation?

24 A. No. As far as I was concerned, Mr Port had gone to see

25 the ACC in Headquarters and had seen a list of the

 

 

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1 agents we were running, and he had a list of his own and

2 he compared it against the list of the agents we were

3 running. But as far as I was concerned, it was all

4 agents, not a limited number.

5 Q. Now, I have taken you briskly through the chronology of

6 the request by Mr Provoost, the involvement of the

7 Regional Head of Special Branch, the contact with the

8 Security Service, the worries about the issue and then,

9 ultimately, the end point, the answer and the

10 disclosure?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. What had happened internally within Special Branch to

13 get to the point where the disclosure was given?

14 A. Well, I don't think anything had happened internally.

15 The Chief Constable had made a decision it would be

16 shown and at an appropriate time it was shown. So the

17 request was answered.

18 Q. Had your objections -- I say your objections, the

19 objections of the senior management in South Region

20 Special Branch effectively been overridden by the

21 Chief Constable's decision?

22 A. Well, the Chief Constable is paid to make the hard

23 decisions, and as I say, we were never an organisation

24 that was engaged in group think.

25 I think the Chief Constable would actively encourage

 

 

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1 officers like me to offer an opinion and he certainly

2 didn't want to be surrounded by yes men. So I certainly

3 voiced my opinion to the Chief Constable. The

4 Chief Constable articulated the decision, that it would

5 happen, and in fact it did happen.

6 Q. Well, may I just clarify that just so I understand what

7 you are saying: was it your advice that these identities

8 in these terms should not be given and was it,

9 therefore, the Chief Constable's decision that they

10 should?

11 A. My concerns would have been at showing all Loyalist

12 identities. It seems to me that the -- to use the term

13 "the goalposts have moved slightly", and that what

14 actually was shown was a limited amount of identities

15 referring to Loyalist dissident groups.

16 So I'm quite happy because it seems that my concerns

17 were assuaged, and at the same time Mr Port got the

18 necessary access that he requires. So I think it

19 finished up quite well for both sides.

20 Q. It would appear that the process of disclosure took

21 place in the confines of the Head of Special Branch's

22 offices, B542?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. Were you personally involved with that process?

25 A. No, I wasn't there and it would have probably have

 

 

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1 occurred there (redacted)

2 (redacted).

3 (redacted).

4 Q. The other issue I would like to deal with you in the

5 context of the Security Service is the involvement of

6 S188 in the investigation, and the document which really

7 sets this out in summary form, which I would like to ask

8 you a few questions about, can be found at RNI-532-061

9 (displayed).

10 Now, this is the note, the loose minute, from S188,

11 who is the officer in question, to the DCI, a senior

12 officer of the Security Service. You can see it is

13 copied to a number of other people, including the

14 secretary of the Deputy Director General, Director T and

15 Director A. The title is "The Rosemary Nelson

16 investigation, some local difficulties".

17 First of all, the background to S188's involvement.

18 It was initiated by a request, as appears to be the case

19 from this document, from Mr Port for assistance in how

20 to deal with sensitive intelligence handling?

21 A. That's what it says on the report, so I'm assuming

22 that's accurate.

23 Q. What about your recollection?

24 A. My recollection -- I'm honestly not sure how it came

25 about, but I have to accept what's in writing in front

 

 

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1 of me.

2 Q. Now, what I would like to do, if I may, is to look at

3 some of the substance of the issues that seem to have

4 arisen that at least S188 identified and seek to

5 ascertain whether they chime in with your recollection.

6 Really, the page I would like to start is at

7 RNI-532-063 (displayed), which is the issue under "Key

8 issues -- relationships". The first point to be

9 mentioned is that it states that:

10 "The relationship between the Regional Head of

11 Special Branch South and the SIO ..."

12 Who I think was Mr Kinkaid:

13 "... was particularly hostile."

14 A. Again, I wouldn't have described the relationship just

15 in those terms.

16 Q. How would you have described it?

17 A. There had been a difficulty early on, I think, with

18 a comment that had been made by Mr Kinkaid, the SIO,

19 which caused some concern. It certainly caused me some

20 concern. But I think that issue had been dealt with and

21 moved on.

22 Q. Was there still an issue that Mr Kinkaid, with his sort

23 of CID hat on, was pushing or using the Rosemary Nelson

24 investigation as a means for CID to gain greater access,

25 possibly as a precedent, to Special Branch's assets?

 

 

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1 A. I think we were in very much a new ground where lots of

2 things that had been protected, not by Special Branch

3 protecting their empire, but protecting vital

4 intelligence gathering tools that broadened the life

5 saving intelligence.

6 There were certainly concerns that some of our

7 techniques and some of our methodology could end up in

8 the public domain, either through the court or, indeed,

9 even through a public inquiry like this. The

10 ramifications for us of that happening was that those

11 techniques would be unusable, the methodology would be

12 compromised and yet again we would be in a position of

13 not bringing in the vital and important intelligence

14 that we were trying to get.

15 Q. Do you think that problem, that perception that there

16 could be long-term compromise of your assets as a result

17 of this type of liaison, or request if it were granted,

18 may have led to some distrust?

19 A. Distrust is too strong a word. I think it was something

20 that we needed to work through as mature adults trying

21 to sort out the best way through those concerns and

22 those difficulties.

23 Q. We have gone back in time of course in terms of the

24 chronology. I have taken you through the CHIS identity

25 issue and we have gone back to May 1999, in fact, on the

 

 

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1 chronology. So we are in quite early days?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. But it is clear, isn't it, from this document, if it is

4 indeed an accurate account of how it was, that the

5 relationships weren't very good in May 1999?

6 A. That's one person's perception of how the relationships

7 were. I think the relationships were still at an early

8 stage and were only in a development mode. We were

9 a lot of strangers, in a way, thrown together. I had

10 been parachuted in from Headquarters. B629 had been

11 there a while. You had Mr Port's team coming in. There

12 were faces changing in Mr Port's team as he was bringing

13 in a more settled team. Again, there were some people

14 changed over quickly and left his team, so I think we

15 were in the early stages of an ongoing relationship.

16 Q. Are you playing it down to some extent?

17 A. Well --

18 Q. In that it is clear from this --

19 A. I think I would prefer to look at it that there is some

20 people playing it up, rather than me playing it down.

21 Q. Well, the agenda of this person is unknown -- he will be

22 a witness to this Inquiry, so we can ask him, but he

23 clearly doesn't have a particular axe to grind. He is

24 setting out an account in fairly objective terms and

25 fairly clear terms of what he found when he was asked to

 

 

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1 come and have a look. In fact, it is a balanced account

2 in that he portrays both sides, in effect, he says

3 almost as a mirror image of each other. And the account

4 he gives of Mr Kinkaid and the Regional Head of

5 Special Branch's relationship is one of considerable

6 distrust and hostility. You can see there that one of

7 the comments that is made is that Mr Kinkaid is said to

8 have a grudge against Special Branch?

9 A. I think the language that you use there is quite strong,

10 and as I say, that's his perception. Mine would not be

11 as strong as that.

12 Q. Do you think he is mistaken?

13 A. Personally, yes, I think he is overstating the

14 relationship that was there.

15 Q. Now, just taking a few of the issues at a time. First

16 of all:

17 "The inquiry isn't capable of handling securely

18 their intelligent product ..."

19 Was that an issue for you?

20 A. Oh, yes, early on that was an issue because, again, this

21 was new to them. They had very few people who came from

22 an intelligence background. So, again, they were on

23 a steep learning curve. But, again, it wasn't something

24 that we weren't able to work through, but certainly

25 initially we were trying to -- we were trying to ask

 

 

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1 them in a way to come up to our very high standards and

2 they were coming, as I say, at it in a way as new to,

3 I suppose, the intelligence world, for want of a better

4 way of putting it.

5 Q. And that took a period of time, presumably?

6 A. Yes, because there were DV clearances to be got -- but,

7 again, this was all done through a process of much

8 discussion, negotiation, explaining the reasons why

9 things were required. And I think that -- again, that

10 is perfectly reasonable. I wouldn't have expected them

11 to come in and have everything in place right away.

12 I think there was a settling in period. There was

13 a request we were making to them and they were obliging

14 and putting things in place to help reassure us in terms

15 of how they were looking after intelligence that was

16 being passed them, and I think that is a normal process.

17 Q. So the issue of DV clearance, was it the case that all

18 Special Branch officers had received clearance up to

19 that level?

20 A. Yes, the requirements for a developed vetting were that

21 anyone who had regular access to secret or top secret

22 material had to have a developed vetting.

23 Q. And what about in relation to the SIOs involved with

24 murder investigations?

25 A. My experience was that most SIOs, because they weren't

 

 

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1 in receipt of regular secret and top secret

2 intelligence, didn't have developed vettings.

3 Q. But as far as you were concerned, it was an essential

4 requirement for the provision of that kind of

5 information?

6 A. Well, when you say "as far as I was concerned", it was

7 Government regulations at the time because there was

8 instructions from the Cabinet Office in relation to who

9 should have a developed vetting. And the rules were

10 that if you had access to regular top secret or secret

11 intelligence, that you should be develop vetted, and

12 that was standard across the United Kingdom.

13 Q. And presumably there was a period of time in which that

14 wasn't in place?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. And did that cause some difficulties in that there was

17 some of clamour for information, particularly in the

18 early stages of investigation, but an inability on your

19 part to provide it until the necessary clearance was --

20 A. It probably caused some difficulties for Mr Port because

21 I think the agreement that we reached was that although

22 Mr Port didn't have a developed vetting, we would allow

23 him to have access to IOCA material whilst his developed

24 vetting was being done. And he was gracious enough to

25 agree to that.

 

 

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1 So we probably increased his workload and asked him

2 to do a lot of things that normally would be performed

3 for him by a more junior officer.

4 Q. One of the other issues that appears to have caused some

5 problem was the degree of suspicion caused by Mr Port's

6 investigation of allegations of collusion. And you can

7 see that's in the third point under the heading of

8 paragraph 8, that:

9 "Members of the Inquiry team treat RUC

10 Special Branch South with suspicion."

11 And it says:

12 "B629 is aware of the perception that Southern

13 Region is holding back intelligence and strongly resents

14 the emphasis being placed on investigating the

15 allegations of SB collusion in the murder."

16 A. I think there were certainly some officers that had

17 concerns about how they were being treated, but I would

18 definitely disagree with the comment that any

19 intelligence was being held back.

20 I think the key to us showing that we had nothing to

21 hide was by the provision of intelligence, not by hiding

22 intelligence. We were all acutely aware of the politics

23 surrounding this and I don't think any of us were in any

24 way remotely interested in holding back intelligence.

25 Q. Now, I think to balance the perspective it is probably

 

 

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1 necessary to put a few more of the comments out into the

2 public domain. It says there, "Comment":

3 "From my observations, I am persuaded that the RUC

4 Special Branch is being unusually open with the

5 intelligence, if only because it is aware that it cannot

6 be seen to be anything less than 100 per cent

7 cooperative."

8 A. Absolutely. I would agree with that totally, and I

9 would go back to my remarks earlier on, that we were --

10 this was unprecedented. I can think of no other murder

11 investigation that had the access that this one had.

12 Q. This document is dated not long after the murder, and

13 there were clearly still some problems in relation to

14 the relationship between the senior management of the

15 murder investigation and the senior officers in

16 Special Branch a year later when the requests for

17 identities were being given. Do you think matters did

18 improve over a period of time?

19 A. I can only, again, account for my own. I had a very --

20 I felt I had a very good working relationship with the

21 Port team. I liked Mr Port. I found him easy to deal

22 with. I also dealt on a regular basis with his deputy

23 and the detective chief inspector who was attached to --

24 I'm sorry, I don't see his identifying number here, but

25 the detective chief inspector was there and I met with

 

 

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1 them on a regular basis to deal with a lot of the

2 day-to-day enquiries and a lot of the normal stuff that

3 was flowing between the Inquiry and ourselves. And

4 I did feel that we had quite a good relationship.

5 They briefed me. I certainly felt that they were

6 telling me what was going on and I hope that that was

7 reciprocated by them; that they felt that we were

8 answering their enquiries and doing our best to help

9 them.

10 Q. Is the person that you are thinking of the person with

11 the cipher M540 whom you can see on your list?

12 A. Yes, sorry. That is the officer I'm referring to.

13 Q. Thank you.

14 A. And those are the people that I primarily dealt with on

15 a regular basis.

16 Q. Is it fair to say then that at some point you gained

17 sufficient confidence in Mr Port to believe he would

18 handle this kind of material, whether it is IOCA

19 material or identities or, more broadly, the

20 intelligence you had been giving him from your agents,

21 safely?

22 A. Mr Port was offering us reassurances and reassurances

23 are always welcome. So, yes, when he told me something,

24 I tended to believe him.

25 Q. A further issue I would like to deal with you, if I may,

 

 

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1 is the issue of phone calls because it led to a small

2 series of letters, particularly a letter from Mr Port to

3 yourself?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And the detail of why this issue arose is sensitive to

6 some degree, so may I just put it in this way? In

7 about August 2000, Mr Kinkaid made a request for some

8 details of phone calls made to Lurgan Special Branch?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. And those requests were made as part of his

11 investigation into whether any untoward contact had

12 occurred which may have had some bearing on

13 Rosemary Nelson's murder?

14 A. I'm not sure why he made the request because that was

15 never explained to me.

16 Q. Well, let's start at the beginning then. I think the

17 request is made by Mr Kinkaid to B567?

18 A. Correct.

19 Q. Who was the DI in the Lurgan office?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And it caused some consternation when it was received?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. And I think a reassurance, as I understand it, was given

24 to Mr Kinkaid about any such conversations that may have

25 occurred between sources and officers of the Lurgan

 

 

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1 Special Branch?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. And Mr Kinkaid withdrew his request?

4 A. Not exactly in that timeframe.

5 Q. Could you give me an idea of the timeframe? I think the

6 date of the original request was 22 August?

7 A. Well, the simple answer is that the request was put in,

8 there was an explanation offered and Mr Kinkaid decided

9 that the request should go ahead and be sent on into the

10 system and over to me. So the request to return the

11 request came at some stage later.

12 Q. I think you got it on 7 September, didn't you, so

13 a couple of weeks later?

14 A. I would have to accept your interpretation of the dates.

15 I honestly can't remember.

16 Q. If we go to the bit of your statement where you talk

17 about this and then it might help you to assist us on

18 the chronology. It is paragraph 181 on page RNI-846-413

19 (displayed). In fact, it starts at paragraph 180.

20 The difficulty we have, of course, is that the

21 documents themselves are sensitive and so I can't show

22 you the original documents on the screen. So I'm

23 relying to some extent on your recollection of having

24 seen them.

25 Now, it appears from what you are saying, at least

 

 

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1 in this statement -- which if you would like to, you can

2 of course clarify -- is that the request was taken back

3 but you were still concerned?

4 A. The request to have it back came, although it says

5 "shortly" in my statement, my recollection is it may

6 have been a couple of days later and I was certainly

7 perplexed by the fact that a couple of days later he had

8 come back and asked could he have this request back.

9 I found that strange.

10 Q. If we go overleaf, it may assist you, on to

11 page RNI-846-414 (displayed). Again, we probably need

12 to have the paragraphs expanded a bit.

13 A. Yes, please.

14 Q. "DI 567 sent Sam Kinkaid's memo to me on 7 September.

15 My recollection is that DI 567 and I had already spoken

16 about the request before he sent it to me."

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. "His first concern was that if any information had been

19 given to Special Branch in those telephone calls that

20 had related to the murder of Mrs Nelson, this would have

21 been passed on to Mr Port immediately and that this

22 should not be in doubt. However, what we both felt was

23 strange was the fact that DI B567 asked for the memo

24 back."

25 A. A couple of days later.

 

 

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1 Q. "My recollection is that Sam Kinkaid made his request to

2 retract the memo after DI 567 had forwarded it to me,

3 7 September 2000."

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. If it had been taken back at some point, albeit possibly

6 after you received the memo, what was the ongoing worry?

7 A. Well, I was concerned that the answer to the questions

8 that were being made had been obtained from somewhere

9 else and that he no longer needed an answer to the

10 request that he had made because they had obtained the

11 information, as I say, from another source.

12 Q. By that, do you mean that he had somehow got hold of the

13 telephone records?

14 A. Well, he had either got hold of the telephone records or

15 he had got hold of what was said on the telephone.

16 Q. How would he have done that without you knowing?

17 A. Well, if there had been -- any of the telephone lines

18 had been intercepted, he would have had access to that

19 sort of information.

20 Q. Did you seriously think that Mr Port would have managed

21 to get a warrant through to intercept your telephones

22 this period without any word being given to any of the

23 senior managers in Special Branch?

24 A. That's why I decided to ask the question because I

25 wasn't sure of, legally, whether it would be possible to

 

 

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1 actually get a warrant or not. And it depends very much

2 on the warrant, what would have been described in an

3 application made for a warrant, how it was worded and

4 the case that was made.

5 But I thought in these circumstances it was better

6 to ask the question. You have pointed out a number of

7 times to me today that sometimes you have to ask the

8 question. And this was certainly one where I thought

9 the issue could be quite easily dealt with by me asking

10 the question, receiving the answer "no" and then we

11 could all move on.

12 Q. What question did you ask and to whom?

13 A. I wrote back to Sam Kinkaid asking him was any of the

14 lines into any of the Special Branch offices being

15 intercepted and, if so, could he tell me had any CHIS

16 identities been disclosed as a course of any

17 interception if it had taken place.

18 Q. Again, trying to play the role of the disinterested

19 observer, one can see two issues at play here. One is

20 the source identification issue, the concern of

21 Special Branch through you and your junior officer that

22 this interception could lead to the identity of sources

23 and they could be compromised?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. But secondly, a sense of probable affront that the

 

 

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1 Lurgan Special Branch handlers' phones were tapped by

2 a CID officer and that they themselves were under

3 suspicion of collusion in Rosemary Nelson's murder?

4 A. I would again take a slightly different interpretation

5 of it.

6 My concerns were for the safety of both the officers

7 to whom I had a duty of care and to the agents to whom I

8 had a duty of care. If covert placing techniques were

9 being deployed at any time against the Lurgan office,

10 there was always the potential that either an agent

11 could be compromised or a set of handlers meeting an

12 agent could be compromised.

13 So, again, my request was purely about making sure

14 that the safety of my officers was protected, that the

15 safety of the agents we were working with was protected.

16 I saw it as being a simple way of addressing the issue.

17 As I say, a reply come back to me to say, "No, we are

18 not doing this", put the matter to bed quite quickly.

19 Q. If, at this period of time -- and this is the time when

20 the request is made for the identities of CHIS as well,

21 which is 2000 -- there was some confidence over the

22 previous year that Mr Port was a sensible man who was

23 able to deal with matters safely, was your concern that

24 the CHIS could be identified through an interception --

25 which was, again, a very sensitive mechanism --

 

 

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1 misplaced?

2 A. Well, I thought that's why I should ask the question

3 because I think it was an important question to ask

4 because, again, it wasn't just a simple issue to do with

5 CHIS identities. If the telephones into any

6 Special Branch office were intercepted, it could have

7 been possible to identify when handlers were carrying

8 out meets with agents. If there were any other covert

9 placing activities such as surveillance put on a pair of

10 handlers going out to meet a source, there was a serious

11 possibility that there could be a compromise.

12 As I say, I didn't fully believe that this was

13 happening, but I thought it was better to ask the

14 question and then at least I could offer reassurances to

15 the officers that were working for me that such

16 activities weren't taking place and assuage any concerns

17 that anybody might have.

18 Q. If we go overleaf, we can see paragraph 185, your

19 comments about your own letter, which unfortunately we

20 can't show on screen because of its sensitivity. But

21 one of the things that you do mention is the fact that

22 Mr Kinkaid's comment that, that comment that we talked

23 about this morning, was still in your mind --

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. -- when this issue came to the fore?

 

 

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1 A. Absolutely, yes.

2 Q. So to some extent there was still a sense that

3 Mr Kinkaid was suspicious of Special Branch and that

4 that suspicion wasn't being met with --

5 A. Well, I think when a comment like that is made -- and as

6 I say, it is disputed as to whether the comment is

7 made -- but I think it is impossible for you to erase

8 that from your memory. You accept what you are told,

9 but somewhere in the back of your memory is always the

10 fact that that was said if it was, indeed, said. But it

11 was certainly in the back of my mind, and yes, I have

12 got to be honest with you about that. It was there and

13 that's a fact.

14 Q. Doesn't that cut across what you have been explaining

15 earlier, which is that the relationship had been patched

16 up, it was successful, it was working well, there wasn't

17 a level of distrust or hostility and you were very clear

18 about that in relation to the Security Service document?

19 A. No, because I think you are sort of looking at that as

20 if that was in some way eating me up. I can assure you

21 it was not eating me up. It was another consideration

22 or factor very much in the back of my mind.

23 I thought relationships were good. As I say, I was

24 intrigued and perplexed by this series of events, with

25 a request being put in a couple of days later withdrawn.

 

 

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1 I had a concern on my mind and I thought the grown up

2 way to deal with that concern was to ask the question

3 that had come into my mind, and I thought at that stage

4 relationships were good enough that a question like that

5 could indeed be asked openly and honestly.

6 Q. Mr Port writes his own letter, which we can see. And

7 first of all, he sends it to the Head of Special Branch

8 and that's at RNI-548-253 (displayed). He is referring

9 to the letter which you have written to Chief

10 Superintendent Kinkaid in relation to this issue.

11 Now, was it the case that rather than going to see

12 Sam Kinkaid, you wrote down your feelings?

13 A. Well, I was replying on the piece -- the written file

14 that Sam Kinkaid had sent to me. So I just wrote on the

15 piece of paper and sent it back to him, but I did so

16 after consultation with both the Regional Head of

17 Special Branch and the ACC, who I informed that I was

18 doing this.

19 Q. This letter back from Mr Port says that he expresses

20 disappointment with the letter and says that it could be

21 used by others to demonstrate that the RUC and, in

22 particular, E Department are attempting to obstruct this

23 investigation, and says:

24 "You and I both know that this is not the case"?

25 A. I'm not quite sure how Mr Port arrived at that

 

 

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1 conclusion. That certainly was not my intention.

2 Q. Mr Port will no doubt speak for himself in due course,

3 but it may have been his concern that you were dressing

4 up your senses of indignation about this by using the

5 issue of safety as the excuse for --

6 A. I hadn't got -- I think the important thing to say to

7 you is I hadn't got a sense of indignation. At that

8 stage, as I say, I was an experienced officer that was,

9 I would like to think, well beyond getting indignant at

10 small things.

11 I think my perspective -- and I would be quite

12 adamant about it -- was I had lost no agent handlers

13 that worked for me during my time in post and I was

14 going to be damn sure I didn't lose any anywhere in the

15 middle of this. So if there were questions that had to

16 be asked that maybe ruffled people's feathers, I was

17 quite prepared and quite happy to ask them so long as I

18 was sure I was asking them with the interests and safety

19 of my officers in mind.

20 Q. Mr Port's final comment states that he didn't intend to

21 respond to your letter, which seemed to be

22 a manifestation of paranoia.

23 Now, he is not really saying in this letter, is he,

24 that you were suffering from a psychiatric illness?

25 A. Well, when I first read the letter, as you can imagine,

 

 

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1 I was somewhat shocked, somewhat disappointed.

2 I wrote to Sam Kinkaid, Sam Kinkaid hadn't replied.

3 He had obviously escalated the matter up to Mr Port. I

4 had studied criminal psychology with the behavioural

5 science unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and

6 I was well aware that paranoia was a diagnosable mental

7 illness. So naturally when you see a piece of paper

8 talking about the term "paranoia" and it is being used

9 in reference to you, it is easy to jump to the

10 conclusion that that reference is being made towards

11 you.

12 I was quite pleased when I subsequently received

13 a personal letter from Mr Port that assured me his

14 comments weren't directed at me and he was sorry that I

15 had taken it in that sense, and he assured me that he

16 was regularly telling the Chief Constable about the fine

17 job I was doing. So I parked the issue and moved on

18 quite quickly.

19 Q. With the benefit of hindsight, eight years on, do you

20 think you were overreacting when you thought he was

21 alleging that you were mentally unfit for the job?

22 A. Well, it was probably the shock. I would accept that

23 there was somewhat of a degree of shock. I walked into

24 the ACC's office about another matter and I was

25 presented with the letter that, again, I found

 

 

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1 disappointing and surprising. So there was a natural

2 shock reaction in there.

3 When I read it the first time, I read me, I read

4 paranoia and I was somewhat concerned and I expressed

5 those concerns to the ACC who, in turn, I understood,

6 wrote to the Chief Constable about it. I was very

7 concerned about whether both the ACC and the

8 Chief Constable retained confidence in me and I was

9 naturally concerned was I going to be relieved from my

10 post.

11 Those are the questions that first come into my

12 mind. If that was an overreaction at the time, so be

13 it, but that was how I read it on the day, as I say

14 coming as a complete surprise to me.

15 Q. As you say, Mr Port did write back to you a lengthy

16 handwritten letter?

17 A. He was very gracious. He did indeed.

18 Q. Can I just show you that? It is at RNI-548-313

19 (displayed).

20 Now, I won't go through the entire letter, but there

21 are a couple of bits I would like to ask you about.

22 First of all, on the second page, RNI-548-314

23 (displayed), the bit that starts about three fifths of

24 way down -- it starts with the sentence:

25 "Given the relationship between E Department and the

 

 

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1 senior management team of the Rosemary Nelson

2 investigation, I would have hoped and expected that we

3 could have first discussed the issues you raised."

4 Now, albeit in the context of an apology about how

5 things have escalated perhaps beyond where any of you

6 wanted, he is really saying we should have talked about

7 this, shouldn't we?

8 A. Yes, he is.

9 Q. And he is right about that?

10 A. I would sort of see is slightly different. I would

11 still go back to my point that I was responding to

12 a request that had come in to us. So part of my reply

13 was replying to that piece of paper.

14 Q. Without --

15 A. Can I also point out to you I was also available at any

16 stage if Mr Port had wanted to speak to me before

17 sending this letter to the Assistant Chief Constable.

18 Q. So both of you to some extent are not speaking to each

19 other when it perhaps might have been useful for you to

20 have done so?

21 A. That was a surprise to me. I'd received a piece of

22 paper from Mr Kinkaid. I had wrote back asking

23 a question and the first thing I know when I walk into

24 this ACC's office and he hands me this letter, asks me

25 to read it and asks me to comment on it.

 

 

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1 Q. I won't necessarily take you, unless you would like me

2 to, to the other bits which I would like to ask you

3 about --

4 A. No, I'm fine about that.

5 Q. One of things he does is to try and put you at ease

6 about the issue of the paranoia?

7 A. And he certainly succeeded.

8 Q. And the other point that he raises and tries to deal

9 with is the continuing feeling of, as he puts it:

10 "The prevalent feeling in certain quarters that

11 E Department is subject to a wider investigation by this

12 team."

13 And he says in a pithy sentence:

14 "There are no secondary objectives or subplots."

15 A. Yes, and I was happy to accept that from him.

16 Q. The implication really of having to make an assurance is

17 that it needed to be given, that there were still

18 concerns even amongst senior officers such as yourself

19 that you were under suspicion, that there was distrust,

20 that there was an investigation going on into your

21 officers?

22 A. I wouldn't put it, again, as strongly as that. There

23 were certainly some of my officers that felt their

24 phones could be being intercepted in the office, and I

25 thought, again, a simple answer that no, the phones were

 

 

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1 not being intercepted would have been very useful for me

2 being able to say to them, "I have asked the question.

3 The question has been answered. It is not happening."

4 MR SKELTON: Sir, those are my questions. The

5 representatives of the SMT have indicated they would

6 like to speak to me briefly before we --

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, should we have a 20-minute break?

8 MR SKELTON: I think that would be very adequate.

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. Thank you. We will have a 20-minute

10 break.

11 Before the witness leaves, Mr (name redacted), would you

12 please confirm that all cameras have been switched off?

13 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

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

15 (3.07 pm)

16 (Short break)

17 (3.30 pm)

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

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

20 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

22 screen closed?

23 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

25 and securely fastened?

 

 

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1 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

3 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

4 of this chamber?

5 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr (name redacted), can you please

7 confirm that the two witness cameras have been switched

8 off and shrouded?

9 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

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

11 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

13 Bring the witness in, please.

14 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

15 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

16 switched back on.

17 Yes, Mr Skelton?

18 MR SKELTON: Sir, the first issue I would like to deal with

19 is an issue of clarification in relation to the request

20 by Mr Kinkaid which we discussed earlier.

21 A. Okay.

22 Q. The request was made in writing on 22 August 2000, and

23 if you would like to go back to your statement just to

24 see where you refer to it, it starts at

25 page RNI-846-413, paragraph 180 (displayed). There you

 

 

155

 

1 refer to his original request.

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. If we go overleaf to page RNI-846-414, if you could

4 highlight paragraph 182, please (displayed). Now,

5 during the break, the representatives of the senior

6 management team have shown me an endorsed copy of the

7 request that was produced by Mr Kinkaid, and on the

8 endorsement Mr Kinkaid has put handwritten notes dated

9 29 August 2000, stating to the effect that he had spoken

10 to B567, to whom the request was directed, on 25 August.

11 And the officer has disclosed everything relevant to the

12 investigation.

13 In effect, he had been given his answer within

14 a period of three days from B567, and that was the end

15 of the matter so far as the MIT were concerned. Now,

16 I appreciate you have not seen the evidence to back that

17 up, so I'm asking to you answer this question on the

18 basis of the explanation I have just given, but it would

19 appear, if this endorsement is correct from Mr Kinkaid,

20 that the matter had ended several days before you were

21 sent the memo by B567?

22 A. I have to be frank and say that dates and me don't go

23 together particularly well. So the dates that were in

24 my statement were dates that probably were -- I was

25 reminded of by the people that interviewed me at the

 

 

156

 

1 time. What I can say was that my recollection was that

2 yes, indeed, a conversation had taken place between B567

3 and Mr Kinkaid and that Mr Kinkaid had still gone ahead

4 and requested that the report be sent on to me.

5 So as far as I was concerned, the piece of paper had

6 landed to me for me to deal with. If it had been

7 resolved to Mr Kinkaid's satisfaction, I would have

8 imagined he would have taken the piece of paper with him

9 then and there out of the office and not let it go ahead

10 and come forward to me.

11 Q. Thank you. I think that's as far as I can go before we

12 receive Mr Kinkaid's evidence, but I think I can

13 anticipate that we won't be recalling you just to give

14 an answer to that.

15 A. Thank you.

16 Q. A second issue arises from one of the Security Service

17 documents that is in the bundle that I showed you

18 earlier. The document can be found at RNI-532-066

19 (displayed) and it is a loose minute produced by S284,

20 who is another Security Service officer, and copied to

21 Director A and to the DCI. The title is "The

22 Port Inquiry technical operations".

23 Now, it is a long minute and there is no need, I

24 think -- unless you need me to -- to take you through

25 all of it, but rather to focus on the bit I'm

 

 

157

 

1 interested in.

2 A. I'm quite happy to be guided by you on that matter.

3 Q. I am grateful. If we go to the final page, which is

4 page RNI-532-070 (displayed), it is the conclusion

5 section which is the important bit because it refers to

6 you directly. If you could just take a moment to read

7 through that. It starts off:

8 "It is clear that the team has seriously

9 underestimated the difficulties of mounting technical

10 operations in the Province."

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Now, towards the end you can see your cipher?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. B503, and it states:

15 "B503 also commented that RUC CID were exploiting

16 the situation using the Port team as part of a wider

17 strategy to gain access to eavesdropping systems that

18 had hitherto been denied them. Several members of SB

19 have indicated that, but for firm instructions to

20 cooperate from the Chief Constable and fears of bad

21 media publicity, still less assistance would have been

22 offered."

23 A. No, I don't think that's a comment I would have made in

24 those terms.

25 Q. It is difficult from this note to ascertain whether you

 

 

158

 

1 made the second sentence comment?

2 A. I certainly do not think I did.

3 Q. What about the first one?

4 A. What I would comment on was concerns that I had at the

5 time.

6 If I can go back to an earlier comment I made in

7 relation to early days in the relationship and

8 I certainly --some of the officers I was dealing with in

9 Mr Port's team seemed to be new to the arena of

10 intelligence, seemed to be new to the installation of

11 technical devices. I felt with some of them there was

12 certainly, for want of a better term, a naivety in that

13 regard.

14 When I say that, it is not meant in an insulting way

15 because I think they were coming into a completely

16 different, more hostile environment in which to try and

17 deploy covert policing techniques, and I think there was

18 an education process that we were going through with

19 them to try and bring realism to some of the schemes and

20 ideas they were coming up with.

21 As I say, it wasn't a major issue. I think it was

22 perfectly understandable where they were coming from,

23 but we were keen to lend them the benefit of our

24 experience and our knowledge, having worked for many

25 years with technical devices in the hostile environment

 

 

159

 

1 that many of the housing estates in Portadown and Lurgan

2 were.

3 As I say, there is a difference in working in a town

4 like Portadown than perhaps working in somewhere like

5 West London, and I think it was quite crucial because,

6 again, I think there were dangers for us if methodology

7 and techniques were compromised because there were other

8 devices, other techniques that we needed to protect.

9 Q. Erm --

10 A. I'm sorry, did you get all that? I thought I had

11 perhaps lost you a second.

12 Q. Sorry, I had to look at my documents, but please don't

13 take it as an insult.

14 A. No, no, just to make sure you are content with the

15 answer.

16 Q. Whether you made the comment or not in the second

17 sentence, do you think it was an issue that the RUC sort

18 of culture, the SB's culture of protection which had

19 served you well for many years -- and as you say, you

20 had never lost an agent -- was under threat as a result

21 of this type of investigation and that without sort of

22 management pressure, i.e. pressure from someone like the

23 Chief Constable, you wouldn't necessarily have allowed

24 those investigators into your coffers?

25 A. No, I'm absolutely content -- and I don't think that

 

 

160

 

1 refers to me because it actually says when I read it

2 "several members of SB". It doesn't seem to be

3 connected to my personal identifier above. But I think

4 it was an interesting time in terms of changing culture

5 and changing political landscape in Northern Ireland.

6 What I'm absolutely confident then is that if we had

7 any intelligence that would help the Rosemary Nelson

8 murder investigation, that that investigation would have

9 been presented with that intelligence. As I say, there

10 were some differences here because the investigation for

11 the first time had access to what I would call raw

12 interception material, material that wouldn't been

13 sanitised to protect its identity. And that was

14 certainly a new departure for us as an organisation.

15 But I'm absolutely content that if we had anything to

16 help the investigation, they would have got it.

17 Q. Now, I hope that neatly brings me on to the final

18 document I would like to show you. I must apologise,

19 this is not one that you will have seen before. So if

20 you would like to take a little bit of time just to read

21 it on the screen and comment upon it, that would of

22 course be quite right. It is at RNI-532-193 (displayed)

23 and it is dated 23 January 2001. Its author is the DCI.

24 A. Would it be possible to get it made a little bit larger

25 please? Thank you.

 

 

161

 

1 Q. Now, the bit I'm actually interested in is paragraph 5,

2 but if you want to see the context, please do so.

3 A. Please, if I could. (Pause)

4 Yes.

5 Q. Can we go overleaf just so you can see the end of the

6 fifth paragraph? Can you expand that, please? Thank

7 you.

8 Now, it is a complex issue and it is a mixed

9 picture, but it is one that you have already, I think,

10 adverted to a number of times during your evidence?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. The nub of it really is whether there was an element of

13 senior management -- and you can see that B542, the ACC,

14 Head of Special Branch, is referred to directly -- who

15 weren't happy with the changes that were taking place

16 and who want to, rightly or wrongly, preserve the

17 techniques that Special Branch had in its power and keep

18 them from use by CID?

19 A. I can only again say that the ACC never shared any

20 concerns like that with me personally. I think -- to

21 try and put the thing in context for you, I do think it

22 was an interesting time because a lot of changes were

23 taking place and I think most reasonable thinking

24 officers in the RUC knew that change was coming.

25 There was a changing political -- a changing

 

 

162

 

1 terrorist landscape, and I think maybe the pace of

2 change was more an issue than rather -- than whether

3 change should occur. I would like to think the

4 Chief Constable had confidence in me because after my

5 involvement here, he did sit personally on the promotion

6 board that promoted me and, indeed, I went on under the

7 subsequent Chief Constable to head the department. So

8 you know, I was quite personally amenable to the changes

9 that were coming, and I would honestly say that the

10 Special Branch officers that I talked to on a daily

11 basis knew there was a changing landscape.

12 There was a bigger demand for political

13 intelligence, there was new dissident groups coming on

14 the scene. So Special Branch was having to juggle quite

15 a lot of balls in the air at the time. There were also

16 demands on reducing personnel within the department.

17 There was a growing emphasis on intelligence in relation

18 to serious and organised crime.

19 So there were changes coming, and as I say, my

20 experience was most people were accepting that and were

21 dealing with the changes. But we were moving forward

22 with caution because, again, one of the key questions

23 that was on a lot of people's minds was how genuine were

24 many of the ceasefires. Could it go back if things did

25 revert in any shape or form. Were we, as an

 

 

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1 organisation, in a position to fulfil our statutory

2 requirements under the Police Act of protecting the

3 people of Northern Ireland.

4 So, I think, yes, it was an interesting time and I

5 think that is probably the only way I can answer that

6 question.

7 Q. Thank you. Those are my questions. Is there anything

8 you would like to add before I ask the Panel if they

9 have any questions?

10 A. I will like to make a very quick -- just a very quick

11 statement.

12 First of all, can I thank you for how you conducted

13 things with me today. Thank you very much for the way

14 you handled it and thank you very much to the Panel for

15 granting me anonymity. On behalf of both my family and

16 myself, I would like to express my thanks.

17 I would just like to say thank you for giving me the

18 opportunity today to come before you. As someone who

19 had served in Special Branch for quite a long time, I

20 have been very perturbed over the last few years by what

21 I referred to earlier on as the demonisation process

22 that Special Branch has undergone in certain sections of

23 the media and certain sections of the community.

24 What I would like to reassure you is that the

25 Special Branch I served in had very hard-working

 

 

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1 dedicated police officers who had elected -- who had

2 actually chosen to go into probably what I consider to

3 be one of the most difficult arenas inside the policing

4 family. They worked in a very difficult area.

5 The work they did was often very dangerous because

6 very often when you were going out to meet an informant,

7 if that informant had decided to set you up and to tell

8 the organisation that they belonged to that they were

9 working as an informant, you were in danger and, indeed,

10 Special Branch lost officers during that time.

11 I'm grateful to get the opportunity to talk about

12 the work that we did, to talk about some of the

13 successes we had because I think it is overlooked, and I

14 think people tend to look very much at the negatives and

15 not the positives. I firmly believe that we would not

16 be in the position we are in today in Northern Ireland

17 but for the dedication and work of the officers that I

18 was privileged to be in charge of.

19 And I would ask you, when you are reaching your

20 deliberations, to remember the hard work and effort and

21 dedication of those officers because, as I say, I feel

22 they are much maligned.

23 That's all I have to say, other than, once again, my

24 thanks for your time and your patience.

25 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much for coming and for the

 

 

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1 evidence you have given. Do you want to ask --

2 Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN

3 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: I did want to ask for a little

4 clarification, If I may, about Operation Shubr.

5 A. Yes.

6 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: If I understood aright, what you

7 said earlier to Mr Skelton was that you did give the

8 Port team a general briefing about the fact that you did

9 do surveillance on Loyalist paramilitaries as resources

10 permitted on an intermittent basis. Was that the extent

11 of the briefing? It sounds rather general, but did you

12 tell them more specific things?

13 A. I honestly don't recall what specifically we went into.

14 I think it is important maybe to recap on what Op Shubr

15 was.

16 Op Shubr was just an operational name for the

17 ability for us to deploy surveillance when it was

18 available, primarily on getting to know the LVF targets

19 that surveillance were working on. It was what I would

20 call lifestyle, pattern building, getting to know them,

21 getting to know their associates, getting to know the

22 vehicles that they used. On the occasions when we did

23 get specific intelligence, we did go out with a specific

24 operational outcome in mind. So there were times when

25 it was specific, but we were actually running similar

 

 

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1 operations right across the region. We would have

2 looked at dissident groups in various areas and, as

3 I say, part of that was so that if specific intelligence

4 came in, we weren't asking a surveillance team to go out

5 and work on people who weren't known to them. The

6 officers would have been out, they would have identified

7 who the various personalities were and it actually aided

8 them.

9 I don't really want to say more in the open session,

10 but there were good operational reasons for why they

11 needed to get to know who these people were, the

12 vehicles they used, the premises and things they

13 frequented. I honestly can't recall specifically

14 sitting down with the Port team and saying specifically

15 about Shubr, but I would find it extraordinary -- and

16 again, the RUC officers that were attached to it would

17 have known we were running that type of operation on an

18 ongoing basis because it happened right across the

19 Province.

20 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Are you confident that any specific

21 product from that which might conceivably be relevant to

22 the Inquiry would have been passed to the Port team?

23 A. I would be confident in that because I know the

24 Superintendent who was in TCG at the time and was in

25 charge of the surveillance operation, and I'm absolutely

 

 

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1 confident that if there was anything there, he would

2 have identified it to the like of me or to the Regional

3 Head for us to pass to the team.

4 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Thank you.

5 Questions by SIR ANTHONY BURDEN

6 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So when they did go out proactively on

7 an operation against Loyalist terrorists, were those

8 separate operations given different operational names?

9 A. No, very often they would have run under the generic --

10 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: They would have come under generic

11 Shubr?

12 A. Because we would have known ourselves that Shubr was an

13 operation against the LVF. As I say, there were other

14 operations to do with technical installations that had

15 separate operational names, but running on the LVF was

16 a generic operational name.

17 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay, thank you.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Once again, thank you very much.

19 A. Thank you very much.

20 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr (name redacted), before the witness leaves, would

21 you please confirm that all the cameras have been

22 switched off?

23 MR (NAME REDACTED): Yes, sir, they have.

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

25 Yes, Mr Skelton?

 

 

168

 

1 MR SKELTON: Sir, aside from wishing everybody a merry

2 Christmas and happy New Year, I have a very short

3 announcement to make about the witnesses.

4 We have now heard from 125 witnesses during the

5 course of the full hearings and the Inquiry has also

6 taken into account the statements of a further 185

7 witnesses. Therefore, the evidence of a total of 310

8 witnesses has now been considered by the Inquiry. Thank

9 you.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. The Panel wishes everybody a very

11 happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you all on

12 Monday, 5 January.

13 (3.52 pm)

14 (The Inquiry adjourned until 1.00 pm on Monday

15 5 January 2009)

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1 I N D E X

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B503 (sworn) ..................................... 2
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Questions by MR SKELTON ...................... 2
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Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN ........... 165
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Questions by SIR ANTHONY BURDEN .............. 167
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