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Full Hearings

Hearing: 8th December 2008, day 87

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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 Monday, 8 December 2008
commencing at 11.45 am


Day 87

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

1 Monday, 8 December 2008

2 (11.45 am)

3 (Closed session)

4 (1.39 pm)

5 (The short adjournment)

6 (3.15 pm)

7 MR DONALDSON: Sir, before the witness is sworn, I would

8 just like to mention something briefly. I have drawn to

9 the Panel's attention some correspondence -- some press

10 cuttings. May enquire if the Panel have been furnished

11 with them?

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

13 MR DONALDSON: I just want to make a short comment about it.

14 It would appear that a solicitor acting for the

15 Nelson family and a Full Participant has been making

16 statements to the media, commenting on and making

17 criticisms of witnesses and evidence which has been

18 given. Some of the comments are inaccurate and

19 speculative.

20 This is a matter of some concern and we consider it

21 inappropriate that the legal representative of any Full

22 Participant or, indeed, any participant should publicly

23 express any views or opinions concerning the evidence or

24 other matters which are solely within the province of

25 this inquiry, and we therefore invite the Inquiry to

 

 

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1 take such action as it considers appropriate.

2 It would seem to us, with respect, to be quite

3 improper for any of the legal representatives of anyone

4 to make comments to the press like this about the

5 evidence.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Do you want to say anything, Mr Harvey?

7 MR HARVEY: I take it that he is referring to my instructing

8 solicitor, Mr McGrory.

9 Outside the confines of this Tribunal, Mr McGrory is

10 free, whether perhaps cautiously or not, to make such

11 comment as he deems appropriate.

12 The weight and the effect of such comments normally

13 would be -- if there were a jury, there may well be

14 certain, shall we say, restrictions on what he ought to

15 say or does say. But given the fact that this is

16 a tribunal, that it is being heard by three

17 distinguished members who, I am sure, will give such

18 weight to Mr McGrory's comments as they deserve within

19 the terms of the functions of this Tribunal, which I'm

20 absolutely certain is nil.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr Harvey. The Panel will reach

22 its decisions on the evidence, oral and written, given

23 to us and on the submissions made to the Panel in the

24 hearing room and nothing else.

25 MR DONALDSON: Yes, I can quite understand that, sir, but we

 

 

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1 think it is still quite improper. I think that if I had

2 gone out and made a comment like this in public, I am

3 quite sure that I would be censured severely for it.

4 I feel that it is quite inappropriate that in the

5 public these kind of comments can be made. I think it

6 is damaging to the hearing. It is damaging to those who

7 take part and we feel it creates absolutely the wrong

8 impression. And I don't for one moment consider that

9 the Panel will take any of that into account, they will

10 only take heed of things that they hear in this chamber;

11 I have no doubt about that and I accept that.

12 MR HARVEY: In that case, a simple letter to my instructing

13 solicitor complaining about his behaviour would have

14 been a more appropriate way of dealing with this than

15 airing it before this Tribunal and wasting this

16 Tribunal's time.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: The Panel does not propose to make any

18 further comments.

19 Yes, Mr Phillips?

20 Could we have the next witness sworn, please?

21 MR STEPHEN LEACH (sworn)

22 Questions by MR PHILLIPS

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

24 MR PHILLIPS: Can you give us your full name, please?

25 A. Stephen James Leach.

 

 

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1 Q. Thank you. I think it is right, isn't it, that you have

2 made a statement to the Inquiry?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Can we see it, please, at RNI-841-302 (displayed)? And

5 do we see your signature at RNI-841-326 (displayed) and

6 the date of 15 October last year?

7 A. Yes, that's right.

8 Q. I would like to go briefly back to the beginning of the

9 statement with you, please, to set the scene. You tell

10 us in the very first paragraph you are Associate

11 Director of Security and Policing at the NIO. In your

12 own words, can you tell us, please, what were your main

13 responsibilities in that post?

14 A. Well, the -- that side of the NIO was organised with two

15 divisions. There was a Policing Division and a Security

16 Policy and Operations Division and supervising those two

17 divisions there was a senior director who was

18 John Steele followed by David Watkins. And I was

19 there -- the Associate Director was a sort of additional

20 senior management resource, so we collectively, as it

21 were, supervised and managed the divisions, although he

22 was superior to me.

23 So he was the boss. And I -- we sort of divided up

24 the responsibilities on a fairly ad hoc basis between us

25 depending on what was sort of current and live at the

 

 

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1 time. And I tended to focus on the Security Policy and

2 Operations side of the directorate because I had been

3 quite involved with a number of those issues in my

4 previous post in -- as Associate Political Director. So

5 that would be decommissioning, organisation and parades.

6 Q. Leaving John Steele principally to focus on Police

7 Division matters?

8 A. Yes, he would have been the first port of call for

9 Police Division. We did it in a sort of variable

10 geometry way. They didn't have to go through me to get

11 to him or anything.

12 Q. Right. Can I just ask you to look at our chart of the

13 NIO structure, which just about every witness has

14 corrected, to see if there are more corrections to come?

15 If we look at the second page, please -- I am afraid

16 it is not very clear, the top box on the left there, but

17 take it from me, that says "Senior Director

18 Belfast/Security Policing Director". Do we see your box

19 to the left there, "Associate Director"?

20 A. Yes, that's right.

21 Q. Now, so far as your day-to-day role is concerned, I just

22 want to ask you one question at this stage. Am I right

23 in thinking that you, along with David Watkins and

24 perhaps John Steele before that, attended the monthly

25 security policy meetings?

 

 

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1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Thank you. Now, coming to the thrust of your evidence,

3 it concerns the proximity talks, and before asking you

4 some questions about that I would like to ask you some

5 questions about Drumcree as an issue more generally.

6 In a couple of places in your statement you describe

7 parades as having the potential to derail the peace

8 process. I'm looking at an example now at RNI-841-303,

9 which is paragraph 4 (displayed). As I understand what

10 you are saying there, you believe that these parade

11 issues were not just public order issues but significant

12 political issues in themselves. Is that correct?

13 A. Yes, they had that potential at that time, yes, because

14 we were in a quite delicate process of starting and then

15 progressing the multi-party talks under

16 Senator Mitchell. And although the talks participants

17 had a sort of understanding that they would keep going,

18 they wouldn't be diverted by the last atrocity, which is

19 what had happened often in previous political

20 initiatives, something as major as Drumcree, which came

21 somewhat out of a blue sky in 1996, did have quite

22 a serious effect on the talks, although we did keep them

23 on the rails and continue. But after 1996 it was quite

24 clear to us that this was a big thing.

25 Q. And as you point out again later your statement, in

 

 

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1 a sense the importance of that issue was reflected by

2 the interest in it of number 10 and the involvement in

3 it of the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. Now, so far as, as it were, the NIO team is concerned,

6 the Inquiry has already heard evidence about the talks

7 from, amongst others, Tony McCusker and David Watkins.

8 And Tony McCusker described the team as being yourself,

9 David Watkins and himself. Is that how you remember it?

10 A. Yes, it is, broadly. David became involved in, I think,

11 around the summer -- well, before the summer of 1998 and

12 brought Tony along with him. Before that, it would have

13 been me and John Steele, I suppose, because David

14 succeeded John Steele in, I think, August 1998. But he

15 was involved in Drumcree a bit before that.

16 But, say, from 1996 -- after 1996 through to 1997 --

17 Drumcree 1997, it would have been me and John Steele.

18 Q. And as the Inquiry has heard, it was in 1998, I think,

19 that Jonathan Powell, the Chief of staff, became

20 involved in the talks, in that summer. Is that right?

21 A. Well, I think, yes, that's right. I mean, he was

22 interested in them before that. It was perceived from

23 the moment that the election took place and the new

24 Government came in.

25 Q. So in the summer of 1997 as well?

 

 

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1 A. Yes, he would have been aware of it, but he became

2 directly involved in the talks -- I think that's

3 right -- in the summer of 1998, before the summer of

4 1998.

5 Q. So far as the Residents Coalition is concerned, the

6 GRRC, who were the main speakers at your meetings so far

7 as the Coalition was concerned?

8 A. It was really just Breandan Mac Cionnaith.

9 Q. Yes.

10 A. I mean, occasionally other people might have said a few

11 words but he was the principal and really almost the

12 only speaker.

13 Q. Yes. And so far as his supporting cast at the meetings

14 were concerned, was there anybody who, as it were, stuck

15 out, as far as you perceived it, as his number 2 or as

16 somebody, you know, his deputy, or was it really just

17 him as the front man?

18 A. Well, it was him and Joe Duffy, who was also

19 a councillor. So Joe would speak and I suppose we would

20 have regarded him as the number 2. But Breandan was

21 clearly, you know, the leader of that organisation and

22 the spokesman for it; not just the spokesman, he was

23 actually leading the -- leading what it did and deciding

24 its tactics.

25 Q. Yes. Now, in a later part of your statement --

 

 

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1 paragraph 54, at RNI-841-321 (displayed) -- you remark,

2 about eight lines into this paragraph:

3 "Exactly who the Coalition were was never clear. He

4 had a few hard men around him, but it was uncertain how

5 extensive the Coalition really was. The Garvaghy Road

6 had a shifting population and even when asked, he ..."

7 And that's Breandan Mac Cionnaith in this paragraph:

8 "... never gave the names of any of his Coalition

9 members."

10 So was it never clear then to you how many people he

11 was purporting to represent?

12 A. Yes, I think the basis of his mandate from the

13 Garvaghy Road residents was never clear to me. Now, he

14 was a councillor. He was an elected councillor, so in

15 that respect I considered that he had a mandate. But

16 certainly how representative or otherwise the people he

17 brought to the meetings were, wasn't really clear to me,

18 no.

19 Q. Can I ask you, please, what do you mean by the comment:

20 "He had a few hard men around him"?

21 A. Well, I mean, a number of the people who would be around

22 him at these meetings were, you know, youngish men,

23 leather jackets. They didn't seem to be to be

24 exactly -- they can't have been a fully representative

25 cross-section of the population of Garvaghy Road.

 

 

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1 Q. They weren't obviously political theorists?

2 A. No, they didn't strike me as political theorists, no.

3 Q. Now, so far as Rosemary Nelson is concerned, and your

4 perception of her relationship to the Coalition, this

5 you touch on at paragraph 15 of your statement and I'd

6 like to look at that with you, please, RNI-841-307

7 (displayed).

8 The first thing you say is you have only one

9 recollection of meeting her and then you go on to

10 describe your recollection, what you remember about that

11 meeting. Just so I'm clear about it, are you saying you

12 only remember meeting her once or are you saying you

13 only remember speaking to her on one occasion?

14 A. I think what I mean there is speaking to her because I

15 think she was at other meetings. There just happened to

16 be one occasion on which I spoke to her, since she

17 didn't speak at the meetings when I was there and we

18 wouldn't otherwise have coincided, but I did -- I did

19 speak to her on this one occasion.

20 Q. And did you regard her as a member of the Coalition?

21 A. No, I didn't. I regarded her as the Coalition's legal

22 adviser.

23 Q. Yes.

24 A. Because that's how she had described herself in a letter

25 to the Attorney General and it is also, I think, how

 

 

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1 Breandan Mac Cionnaith occasionally described her.

2 Q. Yes. And as I understand it, the other point which

3 weighed with you in coming to that view of her was that

4 she was not in fact a resident?

5 A. No, I knew she lived in Lurgan. So she wasn't actually

6 a Garvaghy Road resident, that's right.

7 Q. So if it was a coalition of residents, then almost by

8 definition she can't have been a member, as I understand

9 it, was the way you thought about it at the time?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Thank you.

12 A. Could I perhaps just say one thing, that in reviewing

13 the papers for this event, I do see that she and I were

14 both at a meeting in January 1997 and I'd totally

15 forgotten about that, and I don't think I spoke to her

16 on that occasion.

17 This was a meeting with Sir Patrick Mayhew when he

18 was Secretary of State. John Hume brought along

19 Breandan Mac Cionnaith and Rosemary Nelson and one or

20 two other people on the Garvaghy Road issue. I had

21 totally forgotten about that, but in fact I did meet her

22 before 1998. I met her at the start of 1997, but

23 I don't remember anything about it.

24 Q. Just so we are clear about it, because we haven't heard

25 about that meeting, was there anything about your

 

 

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1 perception of her in that meeting which led you to think

2 she was acting in any other way than as the lawyer for

3 the Coalition, as you have just mentioned?

4 A. No, no, there wasn't. I don't actually have any

5 memory -- well, I have a very dim memory of that

6 meeting. I don't remember her being there, but

7 according to the notes she was.

8 Q. Now, the Inquiry has received a certain amount of

9 evidence on all of this from people who were involved in

10 the talks at various stages, and one of them is a man

11 called Peter Quinn whom you doubtless remember. Is that

12 right?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And he said in his statement to the Inquiry that he had

15 seen her in rather a different way: that she was

16 perceived by him as being something of a main player in

17 the Coalition, was treated as part of the group and

18 wasn't distinguished in that way from the residents

19 themselves. Can you understand, based on your

20 observations in these meetings, how he at any rate came

21 to form that opinion?

22 A. No, I don't think you could reasonably have formed that

23 opinion from the meetings that I was at. But, of

24 course, Peter -- Peter's role was to relate to

25 Breandan Mac Cionnaith and his colleagues in private, as

 

 

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1 it were, not just when they were meeting the Government,

2 and it may be in that context that she was more

3 prominent.

4 Q. But in the meetings you had at which she was present, do

5 you recall her speaking at any stage?

6 A. No.

7 Q. No. Thank you.

8 Now, the letter you talked about I would like to

9 look at briefly with you and it is at RNI-101-304

10 (displayed). It is a letter dated 9 July, so in the

11 summer phase, at very much the time of maximum tension

12 in relation to the marching. It is a letter to the

13 Attorney General and in essence it seeks his consent

14 to -- what lawyers, I think, call the relator action.

15 In other words, an action brought in order to deal as

16 a matter of law with the situation on the ground as she

17 and her clients perceived it.

18 Now, if you look at the first paragraph, it begins

19 with a rather traditional phrase:

20 "I have been instructed to write to you on behalf of

21 ..."

22 Do you see:

23 "... the Garvaghy Road residents"?

24 If we turn over to the bottom of page RNI-101-305,

25 the last paragraph, we will see:

 

 

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1 "For these reasons I wish to make a formal request

2 on behalf of my clients."

3 Then over the page at RNI-101-306 (displayed) in the

4 very last paragraph, we see a request here:

5 "We had hoped to receive your consent to an

6 application in your name at our clients' relation

7 [relator action] in sufficient time ..."

8 Et cetera. So are those the points you had in mind

9 in relation to the lawyer/client relationship?

10 A. Yes. I mean, she clearly presents herself in this

11 letter as the lawyer to the Coalition, not a member of

12 it. They are her clients, yes.

13 Q. As a matter of interest, are there any other matters

14 based on your dealings with the Coalition which led to

15 your view that she was acting as a lawyer rather than as

16 a member of the organisation?

17 A. Well, I think Breandan Mac Cionnaith did refer to her

18 once or twice as their legal adviser.

19 Q. Right.

20 A. I can't pin that down, but I do have that recollection

21 from meetings.

22 Q. Now, so far as your knowledge of Rosemary Nelson as at

23 the summer of 1998 is concerned, outside your experience

24 and meeting with her in these talks, what did you know

25 about her, do you think, in about the summer of 1998?

 

 

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1 A. Well, I was aware that she had represented clients in

2 some fairly high profile terrorist cases and she had

3 represented Colin Duffy, I think, and I was also aware

4 that there were -- she had made complaints about police

5 harassment or possibly police threats to her conveyed

6 through her clients, and that that had been -- or was

7 being investigated by the ICPC.

8 Q. Yes.

9 A. And that there was some correspondence about her sort of

10 personal security.

11 Q. Yes.

12 A. I was aware of that as a sort of general issue because

13 papers would have been copied to me mentioning those

14 matters.

15 Q. Some of which you have referred to in your statement?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Yes.

18 A. But I wasn't at the time directly involved on that side

19 because I didn't tend to get involved in KPPS issues or

20 the business of the Police Division. That was more done

21 directly between the Head of Division and John Steele.

22 Q. But as a result of the material crossing your desk,

23 albeit as often just a copyee in perhaps a long list of

24 copyees, you were aware, were you, of all the other

25 points you have just mentioned, which were issues in

 

 

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1 which other officials at the NIO had become involved in

2 points concerning her?

3 A. Yes, well, I suppose I have been -- I have become more

4 aware of them in reading the papers which the Inquiry

5 has sent me.

6 Q. Yes.

7 A. But, I mean, I was at the time aware of them, but it

8 wasn't something on which I focused because I focused on

9 a range of other issues on which I was more focused.

10 Q. Yes. And had you, do you think, at that point in the

11 summer of 1998, heard of the allegations which you

12 doubtless heard about as having been aired in the

13 evidence here, that she was having a relationship with

14 Colin Duffy, which was more than a client/solicitor

15 relationship?

16 A. No, I hadn't heard that.

17 Q. The reason I ask you that is that Mr Watkins told us

18 that at one of these security policy meetings, the one

19 on 10 July, at exactly the time we are looking at now,

20 1998, there was a reference to her and to the

21 relationship between her and Colin Duffy made by the

22 Chief Constable.

23 Now, do you recall that remark or those remarks

24 being made?

25 A. No, I don't.

 

 

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1 Q. Do you think you were present at that meeting, the

2 security policy meeting on 10 July 1998?

3 A. Yes, I'm pretty sure I would have been, yes, because

4 that would have been a crucial meeting, yes.

5 Q. But you don't recall that remark being made?

6 A. No, I don't, no.

7 Q. And you say, do you, that you weren't aware as at this

8 point of the rumours or the allegations that were being

9 made about that relationship?

10 A. No, I mean, I wasn't particularly focused on

11 Rosemary Nelson at all, so no, I don't remember any such

12 story.

13 Q. What contact, in the course of your work as Associate

14 Director, did you have with the Chief Constable?

15 A. Well, I would see him from time to time. I mean, he

16 would talk, I suppose, slightly more directly to

17 John Steele or David Watkins, but I did actually have

18 meetings with him and I did discuss issues with him, and

19 certainly around the time of Drumcree, 1997 and 1998,

20 there were fairly continuous meetings going on, so I

21 would have seen quite a lot of him.

22 Q. Do you recall Rosemary Nelson ever coming up in the

23 course of those meetings?

24 A. No, I don't, actually. I mean, it is possible in the

25 context of the letter which we have been looking at that

 

 

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1 her name might have come up, but I don't specifically

2 recall it, no.

3 Q. David Watkins also told us that his general impression

4 was that the RUC had a pretty dim view, as he put it,

5 a pretty dim view of Rosemary Nelson. Was that

6 something that you had already picked up?

7 A. Well, I suppose what I would have picked up is that she

8 had made complaints against the RUC which were being

9 investigated and that -- clearly the relationship

10 between her and them would have been cool as a result of

11 that, but I had no specific knowledge of anything beyond

12 that, you know, she was entitled to make complaints and

13 they were being investigated, but I mean, no.

14 Q. But was that an inference you drew or is the remark you

15 have made just based on something that was said to you

16 by an RUC officer at the time?

17 A. No, it would be an inference, I suppose, from the fact

18 that there had been complaints -- no, I mean, I think it

19 was just based on the fact that she -- I mean, she

20 was -- she took prominent Republican cases, she had

21 complained about her own treatment and that of her

22 clients and that she was therefore someone of whom the

23 RUC might have been wary, perhaps.

24 Q. Now, so far as the question of protection is concerned,

25 I would like to look with you briefly, please, at the

 

 

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1 history in relation to Messrs Mac Cionnaith and

2 Joe Duffy, and that's something you deal with by

3 reference to the documents in your statement.

4 Can we start, please, by looking at RNI-305-132

5 (displayed)? This is a memo from a ciphered witness,

6 G116. I hope you have a cipher list there to --

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. -- consult as necessary -- addressed to

9 Christine Collins, the then Head of the Police Division,

10 and it records that during what are described here as

11 the indirect contact talks last Saturday, he, Mr Mac

12 Cionnaith, had raised the possibility of meeting with

13 the RUC to discuss his personal protection.

14 Are you able to help as to whether you would have

15 been present at these indirect contact talks?

16 A. No, I'd gone on holiday in the previous week.

17 Q. Right. And this official, who is obviously in the

18 Political Affairs Division, was he another official

19 involved in the talks at this time?

20 A. Yes, he was.

21 Q. Thank you. Now, so far as the next stage of the process

22 is concerned, can we see at RNI-305-148.500 (displayed)

23 another note of the talks? And these, I think, are

24 talks going on on 21 July. Yes, you see that from the

25 first paragraph.

 

 

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1 A. Yes, there were three sets of indirect contact talks.

2 Q. Thank you. You will see the same official, G116, is

3 minuting the various conversations involving, amongst

4 others, the two individuals we have mentioned,

5 Jonathan Powell on the one hand, and Peter Quinn.

6 Now, if you turn over, please, or if we turn over to

7 the screen, to RNI-101-501 (displayed), in the context

8 of the talks with the Residents Coalition, you will see

9 four lines down:

10 "They also raised the issue of the Coalition's

11 personal security (see below) and complained about the

12 removal of protective barriers on the Garvaghy Road."

13 And right at the bottom of the page, if you read on,

14 please:

15 "During this final meeting, Breandan Mac Cionnaith

16 asked that an NIO official contact him the following day

17 to discuss the personal security of the Coalition."

18 If we look at the top of the next page, it looks as

19 though there was something of a misunderstanding. He

20 had expected somebody to be in touch with him before

21 that.

22 Now, it looks again from the reference to you in the

23 copyee list as though you were not present at this

24 meeting either. Is that right?

25 A. No, I was away for this meeting too. I was in France.

 

 

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1 Q. Yes. So "OR" means "on return". Is that right?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. When you returned from your holiday, did you take up

4 these questions and discuss them with the officials who

5 were dealing with them on the ground, if I can put it

6 that way?

7 A. Yes, I would have resumed involvement in this issue when

8 I came back in August, yes.

9 Q. And how significant at this stage -- so not quite the

10 end of July 1998 -- was the issue regarding it at this

11 stage?

12 A. Well, what had happened in 1998 was that the march had

13 not gone down the road.

14 Q. Yes.

15 A. And the major -- well, a very difficult situation had

16 been adverted by the tragic murder of the Quinn

17 children, which had caused the Orangemen and others to

18 sort of step back. Clearly the issue hadn't gone away,

19 and in the context of trying to get the Assembly moving

20 and to form a multi-party executive, which we wanted to

21 do by the end of the year, and bearing in mind that the

22 MP for Portadown, for this area, was David Trimble, who

23 was the putative first minister, it was clearly an issue

24 that it was quite important, if at all possible, to seek

25 to resolve. So there was still considerable political

 

 

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1 impetus behind the issue.

2 Q. Yes. Thank you.

3 Just moving on to the next document of which, again,

4 you are a copyee, at RNI-305-144 (displayed), we see

5 a memo this time from another official, this time in

6 Police Division, saying that there had been an initial

7 contact -- do you see under "Background", the second

8 paragraph? -- with Mr Mac Cionnaith in advance of the

9 meeting. And you will see there he is recorded, at the

10 bottom of the page, as also raising personal security

11 concerns in respect of:

12 "... his other Coalition partners."

13 If we turn on to the next page, RNI-305-145

14 (displayed), the initials "OR" have been removed from

15 beside your name. So can we take it that by this stage,

16 22 July, or shortly thereafter, you were back from your

17 holiday?

18 A. No, I returned to the office on 10 August.

19 Q. Thank you very much. So all of this is material you had

20 caught up on your return in August?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Thank you. Now, so far as the events that were going on

23 in your absence are concerned, which you will have

24 caught up on at that stage, there is just one further

25 document to look at and that's RNI-305-149 (displayed).

 

 

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1 This is the record of the meeting itself, and we

2 will see from the opening paragraph who was present:

3 G116 and Mr McCourt. It took place on 23 July, and you

4 will see that he is recorded as asking for consideration

5 to be given for Councillor Duffy, his Coalition partners

6 and himself to be admitted to the Key Persons Protection

7 Scheme. And, again, under "Background", reference there

8 not only to his own position, but that of his Coalition

9 partners and, again, in the next paragraph.

10 Now, I don't want to take you through the rest of

11 this document, other than the penultimate paragraph at

12 RNI-305-151 (displayed), where the official says:

13 "In respect of his Coalition partners, I advised

14 that each application would be treated on an individual

15 basis against the criteria for admission to the scheme.

16 He undertook to provide me with the details we required,

17 namely the perceived threat to each individual, their

18 occupation and home address. Mr Mac Cionnaith undertook

19 to fax the information through to me on 24 July."

20 Now, when you returned from your holiday in the

21 second week of August, had those details been faxed

22 through?

23 A. No, my understanding is that he never gave the

24 information.

25 Q. And when you returned and discovered that nothing had

 

 

24

 

1 been received from him, did you seek to chivvy him or

2 remind him?

3 A. Well, this was being handled by the Police Division.

4 I may have asked in broad terms what was going on, and

5 I'm not sure whether I was aware at that point that the

6 details of the other Coalition members hadn't been

7 provided because I think he had provided his details and

8 those of Joe Duffy, and it is not immediately clear to

9 me that I -- it would have been made clear to me that it

10 was only him and the other details hadn't come through.

11 I should say I came back on the 10th. I had quite

12 a lot of stuff to catch up, and then on 15 August, the

13 Omagh bombing took place and I was very heavily involved

14 in that weekend and also in the follow-up to Omagh. So

15 that would have monopolised my attention for some time.

16 Q. As we have seen, these references in the little series

17 of documents we have looked at are very general in the

18 way they talk about the Coalition partners. Do you have

19 any recollection of Rosemary Nelson's name being brought

20 up in meetings which you were present at in relation to

21 the question of personal security?

22 A. No, no -- I mean, he may have made a general reference

23 to personal security, but certainly I don't think he

24 mentioned anyone's name in that connection other than

25 his own and Joe Duffy's.

 

 

25

 

1 Q. Now, Mr McCusker, as you know, has already given

2 evidence to the Inquiry and what he said was that

3 Breandan Mac Cionnaith at meetings at which he was

4 present -- Tony McCusker -- did raise her name but as an

5 example, if I can put it that way, of the situation in

6 which the Coalition members found themselves. Do you

7 remember her name being used in that way?

8 A. No, I don't remember that and I think I might have

9 picked up on it if he -- well, if I had recalled him

10 saying that because, as I said, I didn't think she was

11 a member of the Coalition in that sense.

12 Q. So, so far as you were concerned then, when you read the

13 notes that we have looked at together on your return --

14 obviously you hadn't been at the meetings yourself so

15 they were, as it were, what you had to go on -- you took

16 it, did you, that when there was reference there to the

17 Coalition partners, Rosemary Nelson was not one of them?

18 A. That's right. I wouldn't -- I mean, she wouldn't have

19 come into my mind as among the people he meant, no.

20 Q. In your discussions with officials on your return, in

21 order to catch up, find out what had been going on, was

22 it ever suggested to you by Mr McCourt, Mr McCusker or

23 anyone else that her name had come up as being part of

24 this group of Coalition partners?

25 A. No, I don't recall anyone mentioning her name to me in

 

 

26

 

1 that context, no.

2 Q. Thank you. Now, Mr McCusker said in particular he could

3 remember two specific occasions when he thinks the name

4 came up. The first was in relation to the leaflet,

5 which you and I are going to discuss in a minute and

6 which you refer to in your statement, the "Man Without

7 a Future" leaflet. If you remember, it mentioned her

8 as well?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. And the second in relation to some of the protests which

11 had been going on. Again, do you have any recollection

12 of her name being brought up in those contexts

13 specifically?

14 A. No. I mean, I would have read -- I did read the leaflet

15 and I would have noticed the reference to her, but I was

16 focused at that time on the level of threat to

17 Breandan Mac Cionnaith because that fed into his

18 willingness to resume the proximity talks. So apart

19 from that, I don't think anyone drew out the fact that

20 her name was mentioned to me, no.

21 Q. So your recollection does not accord with Mr McCusker's

22 that her name was always the example that Mr Mac

23 Cionnaith drew out when he was raising this issue of

24 security?

25 A. No, it doesn't. I certainly don't remember him ever

 

 

27

 

1 raising her name in that context. It is possible, of

2 course, that Tony may have meetings with them -- I think

3 in fact subsequently he did -- which I was at because he

4 was there to talk particularly about the urban

5 regeneration project and the possibility of funding for

6 that. So it may be that he had meetings with them that

7 I didn't attend.

8 Q. That included, presumably, the discussions that took

9 place about the possible involvement of the

10 Rowntree Trust?

11 A. Yes. Well, I was at the first meeting where that came

12 up, but there was a subsequent meeting between Tony, the

13 Rowntree Trust man and Breandan Mac Cionnaith, which I

14 wasn't at.

15 Q. Now, so far as the state of the talks when you returned

16 was concerned, in other words in August 1998, were the

17 proximity talks continuing during that month?

18 A. Erm, well, I suppose in rather loose terminology, the

19 proximity talks were essentially talks in which we got

20 the two sides into the same building and they wouldn't

21 actually meet, but we shuttled between them. And those

22 are the meetings at which Jonathan Powell was involved.

23 Now, before and after those talks there was a sort

24 of -- and there were three meetings of those talks

25 in July, but there were then meetings which I was

 

 

28

 

1 involved in with both sides at which I would go to the

2 community centre on the Garvaghy Road and talk to the

3 residents. Then I would go to Carlton Street and talk

4 to the Orangemen along with other colleagues.

5 So I mean, those were in a sense not proximity

6 talks, but those talks, yes, not involving

7 Jonathan Powell, but attempts to pave the way for

8 another round of proximity talks, they happened, yes.

9 Q. I see. Can we have a look at a note of what I think you

10 are referring to there, RNI-305-169 (displayed)? Here

11 they are described as being bilateral contacts. Is that

12 what you are talking about?

13 A. Yes, that's what I'm talking about.

14 Q. So these were, as it were, warm-ups for the proximity

15 talks as and when they could properly restart?

16 A. That's right, yes. The talks had continued in July and

17 then there had been a pause. People had been on

18 holiday. And this was resuming them, yes.

19 Q. We can see from this document -- and I hope you'll take

20 it from me that there's no reference to the continuing

21 question of protection in this note of yours. Can

22 I take it from that that the point wasn't raised with

23 you by Mr Mac Cionnaith on behalf of the Residents

24 Coalition during these contact meetings?

25 A. Yes, I think so. I think I would have recorded it if

 

 

29

 

1 that had been raised.

2 Q. Right. Well, then, the next we hear of it is at the end

3 of the month, RNI-305-182 (displayed), and this is

4 a letter addressed to you from Mr Mac Cionnaith, and he

5 talks there about the issues which remain outstanding.

6 And as far as one can see from this letter, there

7 was no reference in the list of the points outstanding

8 to the question of security or protection. Is that

9 right?

10 A. That is right, yes, that's right. And I think I would

11 have -- he was certainly not backward in raising issues

12 which did concern him. So I would have taken from that

13 that this was not a live issue at that point.

14 Q. So if we take the two points, his safety or protection

15 and that of Councillor Duffy, on the within hand, and

16 the issue he had raised about the Coalition members on

17 the other, what was your understanding at this point,

18 end of August, as to where things stood on those two

19 issues?

20 A. Well, I would have assumed that applications to the KPPS

21 had been put in and they were being assessed and going

22 through the machinery, and that pending an outcome, you

23 know, he was content, you know, to sort of raise the

24 other issues.

25 Q. Yes. So that was, as it were, underway?

 

 

30

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. What about the general point about the Coalition

3 partners? Where had that got to as far as you are

4 remember?

5 A. Well, I'm not sure if it was clear to me at that point

6 that they hadn't also applied to the KPPS.

7 Q. You think you may have been under that impression?

8 A. I could have been under that impression, yes, because

9 certainly the last paper I would have seen would have

10 had him sort of offering to fax the details.

11 Q. Yes. Now, just returning to the question of their

12 position, the councillors' position, we know from the

13 other material the Inquiry has seen that there were

14 threat assessments and they came back at threat level 4;

15 in other words, as you point out in your statement, too

16 low to allow for admission to the scheme, given that

17 they were covered under the discretionary part of the

18 scheme.

19 Were you surprised to hear that they had been

20 assessed at level 4?

21 A. Well, I was, and am not a professional in making those

22 sorts of assessments, so I would -- you know, I would

23 accept obviously what the RUC said. However, I was also

24 anxious to move forward with the further round of

25 proximity talks and this clearly looked like being an

 

 

31

 

1 obstacle. So I would have -- I think I did raise that

2 with the police at one point just to double-check,

3 particularly, actually, when I saw the leaflet. I think

4 I wanted to check whether they had taken that leaflet

5 into account in saying that Mac Cionnaith was only at

6 level 4.

7 Q. Just looking at the first point you made, if you weren't

8 surprised, were you disappointed from the point of view

9 of moving on the talks?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Yes. And as far as we can tell from the material the

12 Inquiry has seen, you were involved, weren't you, in

13 ensuring that they were asked to reconsider the position

14 in the light of the pamphlet, the "Man Without a Future"

15 pamphlet?

16 A. Yes, I think I did ask that that should be checked back

17 with them that they had taken that into account, yes.

18 Q. Yes. And presumably you and your colleagues who were

19 involved in the political side of things were very much

20 hoping that the answer would come back that they were at

21 level 3 and, therefore, within the discretionary scheme?

22 A. That's right.

23 Q. Because it was by this stage something of an obstacle to

24 progress in the talks?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

32

 

1 Q. And so a political solution had to be found for

2 a political difficulty and you were hoping that that

3 difficulty would be overcome on reconsideration of the

4 threat assessment?

5 A. Yes. Well, had they fallen -- had they got the threat

6 assessment at level 3, it wouldn't exactly have been

7 a political solution; it would have meant that in the

8 terms of KPPS, they could have been admitted to it. So

9 I had hoped that would happen.

10 Q. Now, it didn't happen because it came back again at

11 level 4, didn't it?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. And that meant that you and your colleagues presumably

14 had to do some creative thinking?

15 A. Yes, yes, indeed. I discussed it with Ken Lindsay and

16 in the end put advice to the Secretary of State

17 recommending that they should be given protection

18 outwith the KPPS even though they hadn't come to the

19 right threat level.

20 Q. Yes. Well, let's have a look at the passage of your

21 statement where you deal with this, please, because you

22 pick it up in paragraph 42, RNI-841-316 (displayed), and

23 I can take it, I assume, that again you must have been

24 disappointed with the outcome of the second threat

25 assessment?

 

 

33

 

1 A. Yes, I was, yes.

2 Q. And discussed the issue with Ken Lindsay who, by this

3 time, had become the Head of Police Division in

4 succession to Christine Collins?

5 A. Hm-mm.

6 Q. Now, between you and Ken Lindsay there was something of

7 a disagreement on this issue, was there not?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. What was his position?

10 A. Well, I think his position, coming at it from the

11 perspective of being responsible for the KPPS, was that

12 the normal terms of the KPPS should be maintained and

13 that if we were to deviate from them, it ran the risk of

14 setting a major precedent which could be used by others.

15 And I could see the strength of that because it could

16 have been said by the Orangemen, for example, that,

17 well, you know, "You are protecting them. Why can't you

18 protect us?" And there could have been lots of other

19 people.

20 The problem with the KPPS was that there were lots

21 of people at risk in Northern Ireland and it was never

22 our intention under the KPPS to protect all of them. It

23 wasn't possible. It was designed to protect key people.

24 But it did seem to me that we had to move forward --

25 find a way forward to proximity talks and that's clearly

 

 

34

 

1 what the Prime Minister wanted. So I recommended that

2 we should move forward with protection for them, but

3 outside the scheme.

4 Q. Yes. So that, so far as possible, his concern about the

5 floodgates could be addressed, whilst at the same time

6 delivering what was politically important; in other

7 words, to keep the momentum going in the talks?

8 A. Yes, there was still a slight risk in it, of course,

9 because other people would say, "Deal with me outside

10 the scheme", but it seemed to me worth it.

11 Q. We can see your submission at RNI-305-352 (displayed)

12 and I'm not taking you to the earlier version. This is

13 your amended version of Mr Lindsay's original minute

14 where you propose an exceptional measure -- do you see

15 at the bottom of the page, reading over to RNI-305-253

16 (displayed) -- and it is conditional, as I understand

17 it, on the talks coming to fruition. Is that right?

18 A. Yes, that was my proposal at that point, but we thought

19 better of that in the end and just did it.

20 Q. Yes. So it was no longer -- by the time push came to

21 shove, as it were, the conditionality was removed?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Now, going back to the first passage of this, you record

24 there that he had asked for permission for himself and

25 other members of the Coalition. So as at this stage,

 

 

35

 

1 the end of October 1998, you were aware that that issue

2 hadn't completely gone away?

3 A. Yes, yes.

4 Q. Is that right?

5 A. It is, yes.

6 Q. Yes. But as I understand it, the solution that you

7 propose was a solution limited to the request in

8 relation to the two councillors?

9 A. Well, I think I -- I mean, the position in respect of

10 the rest of the Coalition I would have become aware of

11 after August because I had other contact with him. I

12 think it was raised in some of those talks. And I think

13 my position was that I was aware that an application for

14 him and Duffy was going through the machinery and I

15 wanted to see what would come of that because clearly he

16 and Duffy -- and Mac Cionnaith in particular -- were the

17 most prominent members of the Coalition and they had

18 qualifying jobs. So I wanted to see if we could get

19 them into the KPPS and then perhaps consider the other

20 Coalition members on their coattails, as it were.

21 Q. To what extent do you think was your proposal tailored

22 to meet what you thought would be enough for

23 Breandan Mac Cionnaith to keep the talks going?

24 A. Well, it was entirely associated to that because my

25 objective was to restart the talks and, therefore,

 

 

36

 

1 whatever he described as the problem I tried to address.

2 Q. In other words, you thought you were providing with this

3 proposal a solution to the problem as he had expressed

4 it, namely to provide protection to him and Joe Duffy?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. So presumably, if he by this stage had been asking for

7 protection for other people, you would have had to

8 address that point in your thinking and, indeed, in your

9 note to ministers?

10 A. Yes, that's right. I mean, I guess I would have thought

11 if he had been -- if this had been a really serious

12 issue for him, he would have provided the details of the

13 other members of the Coalition he was talking about

14 because clearly unless you have the names of the people

15 who are at issue and you know their addresses, there is

16 no point asking the police what risk they are at.

17 Q. No, and presumably asking for this exceptional measure

18 from ministers, you were pretty confident that if agreed

19 to, it would be enough to keep the thing going?

20 A. Yes, I believed so. I mean, once we had got agreement

21 to this, I went and saw him with others and we asked

22 that question.

23 Q. Now, we have heard evidence as to what happened; in

24 other words, it was, first, this proposal, refused on

25 consideration by the Secretary of State, and then I

 

 

37

 

1 think after intervention by Mr McCusker, the Secretary

2 of State accepted it. Is that how it went, as far as

3 you can recall it?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. So he was the persuading voice?

6 A. Well, I think that is right and I have seen from his

7 statement that he did intervene with that. I have

8 a feeling I asked -- I was a little surprised that she

9 didn't agree and I think I did mention it to Tony to ask

10 him to intervene. I think he said that David Watkins --

11 we may both have asked.

12 Q. So far as your next involvement in this matter is

13 concerned, we can see that in paragraph 48 because here

14 you describe a meeting in a bar in Lurgan between you,

15 David Watkins, Tony McCusker and Breandan Mac Cionnaith.

16 That's RNI-841-318 (displayed), and it reads over to

17 RNI-841-319, please (displayed), because it looks as

18 though you, having delivered what he had asked for, he

19 then asked for more. Do you see that? The first full

20 sentence at the top of the page?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Was Rosemary Nelson's name mentioned in this meeting, as

23 far as you can recall?

24 A. No.

25 Q. It was not?

 

 

38

 

1 A. No, it wasn't, no. He never, ever, as far as I can

2 recall, mentioned the name of anyone he actually had in

3 mind.

4 Q. Given the basis on which you put up the proposal, which

5 you and I discussed a minute ago, what was your reaction

6 when you discovered that in fact he was still raising

7 the question of the security of the Coalition members?

8 A. Well, I wondered if it was a little bit of a tactic on

9 his part really, to defer the talks further because he

10 had been invited back in July to provide their details

11 and hadn't done so.

12 But at the same time, since he was raising it as an

13 issue, it is one we had to address, and it was quite

14 a difficult issue because clearly if it hadn't been

15 possible to get Mac Cionnaith and Duffy admitted to the

16 KPPS, it was most unlikely that his Coalition partners,

17 who were much less prominent and, indeed, were never

18 identified, would have got into it as key persons.

19 Q. And to be clear then again at this stage, when you say

20 about his Coalition partners, you are not including

21 Rosemary Nelson?

22 A. No, Rosemary Nelson never came into my mind as being in

23 the Coalition. Now, if he had said to me,

24 "Rosemary Nelson is a key figure for me. She has to

25 have protection", then that would have been different.

 

 

39

 

1 I would have addressed that.

2 Q. And you presumably would have regarded her as being at

3 least as prominent as, for instance, Joe Duffy?

4 A. Yes, because --

5 Q. She had a much higher profile than Joe Duffy, did

6 she not?

7 A. She did. I mean, the difficulty would have been that

8 Joe Duffy had applied to the scheme.

9 Q. Yes.

10 A. But, I mean, if she had been willing to apply to the

11 scheme -- well, it is hypothetical.

12 Q. We will come back to that in a minute, if we may. But

13 as far as you were concerned then, she was not one of

14 the people about whom he was speaking in the bar in

15 Lurgan?

16 A. No.

17 Q. Now, we know what happened after that, which is the

18 decisions between Mr McCusker and the Rowntree Trust,

19 but I would next like to look with you at a letter which

20 came in from Mr Mac Cionnaith to Jonathan Powell at the

21 end of November, a month later, and that's at

22 RNI-305-295 (displayed). He says:

23 "Just to inform you of a number of concerns which

24 members of the Coalition have requested that I raise

25 with you:

 

 

40

 

1 "(i) the issue of security for members of the

2 Coalition still has not been satisfactorily resolved."

3 He then goes on to explain that he is not talking

4 about his position or Joe Duffy's position; he is

5 talking about the other members of the Coalition and, as

6 he says:

7 "... whom we deem to be equally at risk."

8 Now, we know -- and you explain in your statement --

9 that this came to you, and you and David Watkins

10 together prepared a draft response for Jonathan Powell

11 to send.

12 You must have been dismayed, however, presumably,

13 that this was being taken up with Jonathan Powell when

14 you thought you had achieved a solution in relation to

15 the two councillors?

16 A. Yes. Well, I regarded it as an extremely disingenuous

17 letter. It is worth going back a little bit here to the

18 discussions with Rowntree because what we achieved with

19 Rowntree through Tony McCusker's creative suggestion

20 that they should be involved was that mechanism through

21 which protection could have been provided for anyone he

22 cared to nominate among the Coalition, including

23 Rosemary Nelson, if he had wanted to nominate her,

24 without actually any involvement by the RUC, if there

25 was a concern among these people about having contact

 

 

41

 

1 with the RUC.

2 So we had actually achieved that and the action, the

3 onus, as Tony said to me -- I mean, he wrote me

4 a minute, I think, after the meeting he had in November,

5 the one I wasn't at, but the one with the Rowntree

6 representative, Mac Cionnaith and him, at which he said

7 that this agreement in principle had been reached, the

8 action lay with Breandan Mac Cionnaith and if he acted

9 promptly then there could a solution by early December.

10 Q. Yes.

11 A. So we had actually sorted this out and I, therefore,

12 thought this comment about, you know, we are not

13 treating the issue with the seriousness it deserves was

14 a bit disingenuousness because we had actually provided

15 him with exactly what he wanted.

16 On the table was an offer of personal security --

17 funding for personal security for his Coalition partners

18 if he simply pursued it. To say, "Well, that is for the

19 third party, it's a matter for the NIO, they shouldn't

20 be remitting it", was slightly hypocritical because

21 right at the start in July he had been invited to tell

22 his Coalition partners to apply to the NIO or to pass on

23 their details himself, and hadn't done so.

24 So, you know, either way, you know, we had met his

25 request here, you know. If it was the NIO he wanted

 

 

42

 

1 involved, they he knew what the route was and he hadn't

2 acted, but, you know, if there was a problem in going

3 down the KPPS route, then we had provided the

4 alternative Rowntree route.

5 Q. So what do you think was going on with this letter then?

6 What was he seeking to achieve, in your view?

7 A. It was tactical. I mean, the Orangemen had put a great

8 deal of store on having a parade by the end of the year,

9 the calendar year.

10 Mac Cionnaith was concerned to try and prevent that

11 and, therefore, he was concerned to throw up obstacles

12 to any proximity talks which would have been necessary

13 to produce the sort of agreement which might have led to

14 a Parades Commission determination permitting the march.

15 So we sent back a fairly brisk reply.

16 Q. Yes. Let's look at the reply as drafted and that's at

17 RNI-305-297 (displayed). I think what I would like to

18 do is get that on the left-hand side of the screen,

19 please, and your statement, paragraph 51, where you

20 comment on it, on the right-hand side, RNI-841-320.

21 (displayed). Just to ask you, please, in the third

22 sentence of (i) on the left, the draft says:

23 "The NIO have no power or authority to offer

24 assistance to your committee members, but I believe they

25 have pointed to other possible sources of help."

 

 

43

 

1 Can you just explain that comment, please:

2 "... no power or authority to offer assistance ..."?

3 A. Well, I think, as is clear from the -- there is an

4 earlier draft of this with manuscript on it. This is

5 a David Watkins addition to the draft and I would not

6 myself have said the NIO has no power or authority to

7 officer assistance because in principle, of course, had

8 they applied for the KPPS, had they been accepted, we

9 did have such a power. But as I say in my statement,

10 what David was doing was, as it were, expressing

11 a number of thoughts which were that although in theory

12 we had the power to protect them, it is actually most

13 unlikely that they would have been accepted into the

14 KPPS given that Mac Cionnaith and Duffy weren't.

15 Q. So it is back to the point you made early about the

16 prominence of those two individuals compared to

17 everybody else?

18 A. That's right.

19 Q. And again, it is all on the basis, is it, that as you

20 understood it, Rosemary Nelson's case was not being

21 raised by Breandan Mac Cionnaith?

22 A. Yes, she wasn't in my mind at all in this context.

23 Q. Now, so far as the history and your involvement is

24 concerned, we look next, please, at RNI-305-300

25 (displayed). This is 1 December, and here you are

 

 

44

 

1 telling the Secretary of State, the Private Secretary,

2 about the initiative to resume the proximity talks. And

3 the relevant paragraph is paragraph 4 at RNI-305-301

4 (displayed) and it says:

5 "On the residents' side, there are good grounds for

6 thinking that Mac Cionnaith is indeed looking for a

7 pretext to avoid early engagement to remove any risk

8 that he might be asked to concede a march in this

9 calendar year. He has raised a number of diversionary

10 issues, including RUC effectiveness, policing Loyalist

11 demonstrations on the fringes of the estate and, more

12 recently, personal protection."

13 Now, presumably that's a reference to the letter to

14 Jonathan Powell we looked at together. Is that right?

15 A. Yes, that's right.

16 Q. And so you regarded it at the time, did you, as

17 a diversionary issue?

18 A. Yes. I mean, I did regard it -- well, he was certainly

19 handling if in a diversionary way. If he had been

20 serious about it as an issue, he would have provided the

21 information, for example, back in July when he had been

22 asked for it.

23 Q. May I ask you this question: how significant an issue do

24 you think it really was for him by this stage?

25 A. Well, I think his own and possibly Joe Duffy's security

 

 

45

 

1 was a significant issue for him. I think it was

2 reasonable for him to think he might be at some personal

3 risk. So I certainly wouldn't criticise him for that.

4 But I felt that he -- that the issue of the security

5 of -- personal security of the Coalition. It sort of

6 came in and out of things. You know, sometimes things

7 would be going well and he wouldn't mention it, but if

8 we were getting to point where he could see we were --

9 you know, he was running out of reasons not to have

10 proximity talks, it would come in again. So I did feel

11 it was being used rather tactically.

12 Q. Did you have any involvement in these subsequent

13 discussions with the Rowntree Trust?

14 A. No, I didn't, no. I believe they want to deal

15 bilaterally with Mac Cionnaith because they were

16 a charity and they wanted to be independent of

17 Government.

18 Q. Were you aware even from your position, not directly

19 concerned, but from reports from Mr McCusker and others,

20 that there came a moment where the Trust was expecting

21 a proposal from the Coalition as to what they required

22 in this area; in other words, in relation to personal

23 security?

24 A. Well, I had become aware of that subsequently in looking

25 at the papers for this event, but no, I don't think I

 

 

46

 

1 was -- I mean, Tony McCusker sent me a note after the

2 20 November meeting say that, as I have said, that, you

3 know, the conversation had gone well and the onus was

4 with Breandan Mac Cionnaith to send a proposal, but it

5 should be plain sailing. And then I think after

6 Rosemary Nelson was killed and Mac Cionnaith was saying,

7 you know, she should have been protected, I then

8 clarified with Tony what had happened and it appeared

9 that nothing had happened because the information had

10 not been given to the Rowntree Trust. But certainly at

11 this point I wouldn't have been aware of that, no.

12 Q. As I understand it, there were some talks before

13 Christmas this year, 1998, is that right?

14 A. Yes, we did force the issue in the end because he said

15 he wasn't going to the talks. So we said, "Well, we are

16 going to summon the talks and if you don't turn up, we

17 will make that public."

18 Q. So the outstanding question of the security of the other

19 Coalition members was not a block to those talks taking

20 place at the end of 1998?

21 A. That's right.

22 Q. Thank you. Now, you have referred already to the

23 aftermath of the murder and the allegation that was made

24 which you picked up on the day after the murder in

25 a memorandum at RNI-107-021 (displayed), paragraph 2,

 

 

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1 which shows that by this stage it had already been

2 raised.

3 Given what you have told about your understanding of

4 matters with the Rowntree Trust, were you surprised when

5 this allegation surfaced so shortly after the murder?

6 A. Yes, I was, yes.

7 Q. And you then go on and set out the NIO's position at

8 least at this initial stage, and attached to the

9 document which we find starting at RNI-107-026

10 (displayed), is a very detailed chronology. Am I right

11 in thinking that this was something prepared for you by

12 officials in the Police Division?

13 A. Yes, that's right.

14 Q. But it didn't deal with issues with which you were

15 familiar; in other words, the various ways in which over

16 the years the question of Rosemary Nelson's safety had

17 come to the attention of the NIO?

18 A. Well, I was familiar with them in a general sense, in

19 that there was a stream of work related to her

20 complaints against the RUC, the investigation,

21 Cumaraswamy, and so on. But I wasn't myself directly

22 involved in that, but it was -- I was aware of it in the

23 background because the papers would have crossed my

24 desk.

25 Q. Yes.

 

 

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1 A. So I wouldn't have had first hand knowledge of a number

2 of issues mentioned in the chronology.

3 Q. No. Now, the next day, on 17 March, the Irish Joint

4 Secretary of the Anglo-Irish Secretariat produced his

5 own memo, which referred to a briefing given to him by

6 you very shortly after the murder. I would like to look

7 at that with you, please, at RNI-111-108 (displayed).

8 Obviously this is not something you would have seen

9 other than in the context of the Inquiry. Is that

10 right?

11 A. That's right.

12 Q. Yes. Now, as you see from paragraph 1, it not only

13 notes a conversation with you, but also one with the

14 Chief Constable. Just dealing with your part of it

15 insofar as is relevant to the issue we have been

16 discussing, can we look, please, at RNI-111-111

17 (displayed) under the heading "Personal Protection",

18 paragraph 16? You will see you are recorded there as

19 passing on something from Jonathan Powell:

20 "He recalls having been asked by

21 Breandan Mac Cionnaith about protection for the

22 Residents Coalition. When this was processed, a

23 decision was taken by the NIO and RUC to provide home

24 protection for Mac Cionnaith, Joe Duffy, but not for

25 Rosemary Nelson, on the grounds that she was not

 

 

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1 a member of the Coalition, was not pressing the matter

2 herself and was not an elected councillor."

3 Now, of course, you are not responsible for this

4 note, but that rather suggests that her case was

5 considered in the context of the Coalition and was

6 rejected, which is rather different to the evidence you

7 have been giving, namely that you didn't even think of

8 her in this context.

9 Was her case considered in this context and rejected

10 on those grounds, so far as you can recall?

11 A. No, no, I wouldn't have said that.

12 Q. Right.

13 A. I mean, it's just possible here -- clearly there were

14 two -- as it were, there two streams of issues about

15 Rosemary Nelson. There was, on the one hand, the

16 Coalition, was she mentioned in the Coalition context.

17 And I am clear that she wasn't in my hearing. And then

18 there was the issue about the possible potential alleged

19 threats to her, Cumaraswamy, the CAJ. And in that

20 context, I think consideration was given to her

21 protection but nothing came of it because she never

22 actually applied.

23 She was invited, I think, through third parties to

24 apply to the KPPS, but she never did. So nothing came

25 of that. They may be conflating those two things. You

 

 

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1 are doubtless going to come on to it, but there is of

2 course a British side note of this meeting, which does

3 not record me as saying that.

4 Q. No. So far as the next paragraph is concerned though:

5 "The NIO line continues to be that Ms Nelson did not

6 make any direct approaches on this matter herself though

7 they accept that concerns were raised with third

8 parties."

9 Now, that's a fair summary of the NIO line, is

10 it not?

11 A. Yes. I might well have said that because this relates

12 to the -- yes, the approaches from human rights

13 organisations, et cetera.

14 Q. Yes.

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Then it continues:

17 "They suggest ..."

18 And one assumes this is you:

19 "... that when she contacted them directly her case

20 would have received favourable conversation."

21 Now, is that something you think you may have said

22 to the Irish side?

23 A. No, I don't think so. And it doesn't actually say

24 "Leach said ..." does it? It says "the NIO line ..." so

25 it may be someone else said it. It is hypothetical

 

 

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1 really what would have happened had she applied.

2 Q. Presumably it is one of the questions that you realised

3 might well have been asked in the immediate aftermath of

4 the murder?

5 A. Hm-mm.

6 Q. In other words, to consider that it might not be enough

7 simply to repeat, well, she didn't apply, she didn't

8 apply, but to go on to consider, okay, well, what would

9 have happened had she applied?

10 A. Hm-mm.

11 Q. That's likely to have been something in people's minds

12 in the aftermath, is it not?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And is that not a fair summary of the NIO's position as

15 at that stage: her case would have received favourable

16 consideration?

17 A. Well, I suppose that the issue of her personal security

18 was raised with the police and they had said that she

19 was not at significant threat.

20 I think the police had said she was not at the

21 relevant threat level. Sometimes it was level 3,

22 sometimes it was significant threat. There was a sort

23 of different terminology. So -- now, it is possible, of

24 course, that had she applied to the KPPS, the police

25 would have interviewed her, she might have been able to

 

 

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1 give further information about the degree of threat she

2 thought she was under and that could have influenced the

3 assessment. So it is possible, had that been the case

4 and had she obviously -- discretion been exercised in

5 her favour, that she might have been admitted. But I

6 don't think I would have gone quite so far as to say, as

7 a definite matter, that had she applied, she would have

8 been accepted because there are a number of sort of

9 variables in that.

10 Q. Well, it is a little lower key than that, isn't it,

11 receive favourable consideration? You see, the Inquiry

12 has heard evidence from a number of officials with

13 different views on this hypothetical question, but

14 amongst them Christine Collins has said she believes,

15 had it happened, then irrespective of the details of the

16 threat assessment, she thinks it is likely that she

17 would have been admitted. Do you agree with that

18 assessment by her?

19 A. I think that's a little stronger than that I would put

20 it myself. I mean, it would have been a case, I think,

21 in which a fair degree of discretion would have had to

22 be exercised in her favour. Whether the Secretary of

23 State would have done that or not, I don't know.

24 Q. Let's look at a couple of passages in your statement,

25 where you touch on this. RNI-841-314, and paragraph 36

 

 

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1 is the first (displayed) -- you talk there, again

2 hypothetically, about this situation: would she have

3 been regarded as a key person. Then you say at the end:

4 "Some lawyers had higher public profiles than

5 others. Perhaps Ms Nelson was one of them."

6 And she certainly was one of them, wasn't she, in

7 the years before her murder? She was a very high

8 profile lawyer in Northern Ireland?

9 A. Yes, she was quite well-known, yes.

10 Q. Now, in paragraph 37, you say:

11 "It was always open to Ms Nelson to apply to the

12 KPPS. I believe this was made clear on a number of

13 occasions."

14 Now, you have talked in your statement -- I don't

15 want to look at the documents -- about one occasion,

16 which is the letter, I think, of 24 September, which you

17 got a copy of, sent out by Mr Ingram's Private

18 Secretary, raising the question of KPPS after

19 the August 1998 threat assessments.

20 Do you have any other occasions in mind when you

21 make the comment that you believe it was made clear to

22 her on a number of occasions?

23 A. I had the feeling that there was an earlier exchange

24 with an organisation which -- was it British Irish

25 Rights Watch? -- at which they had been told that, you

 

 

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1 know, she would be -- she could apply. But I am

2 afraid -- because I wasn't particularly directly focused

3 on this -- I do not have the details to hand, no.

4 Q. Now, just looking back to the document we were looking

5 at together earlier, the Anglo-Irish Secretariat

6 document, the Irish side, can we have that up on the

7 screen, please, at RNI-111-111 (displayed),

8 paragraph 18?

9 It records a further conversation between the writer

10 and the Permanent Undersecretary, reflecting that:

11 "With the benefit of hindsight, the NIO ought

12 perhaps to have actively sought her out on this.

13 However, they suspected she would not have welcomed,

14 eg an RUC visit to suspect her home for this purpose."

15 Now, was that something that you discussed with

16 colleagues, including the Permanent Under Secretary, the

17 fact that with the benefit of hindsight, the NIO ought

18 perhaps to have actively sought her out in relation to

19 her own protection?

20 A. No, I don't recall discussing it with anyone, including

21 Joe Pilling, and I don't think he expressed that view to

22 me. Of course, this is an account of his view.

23 Q. Indeed.

24 A. It is not his direct statement.

25 Q. No, but it wasn't something that you thought on

 

 

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1 reflection and with the benefit of hindsight in the

2 aftermath of her murder?

3 A. No, I suppose I would have thought, given the fact that

4 Breandan Mac Cionnaith -- in fact, I think I did think

5 this -- was saying that he had asked for protection for

6 her and it hadn't been granted, that actually had he

7 been concerned about her personal security, he could

8 have put her on the list which he'd been invited to send

9 to the Rowntree Trust but didn't. And had he done that,

10 some security could have been provided, which would

11 actually have got over this issue about -- which I think

12 is rightly recorded there, that she would have been --

13 she would not have welcomed or would have been highly

14 suspicious indeed if the RUC had turned up to her house

15 uninvited.

16 Q. That's what is recorded there, but was there anything

17 that you learned in the course of your dealing with this

18 matter which suggested that she would not welcome

19 a visit that of kind?

20 A. Well, I suppose just that the general fact that she was

21 perceived to be at loggerheads with the RUC on a number

22 of issues, in particular the fact that, you know, she

23 had made complaints against them, there had been the

24 ICPC sort of saga and all that.

25 Q. But you have told us that you didn't consider her at all

 

 

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1 in this context and it is unlikely, isn't it, that you

2 would have not only considered her, but then considered

3 exactly why it was that she wouldn't welcome an RUC

4 visit to her house?

5 A. Well, I think I was saying that -- clearly I did think

6 about her position after her murder and what

7 Mac Cionnaith was saying. What I was saying was that we

8 had, as it were, provided a route which could possibly

9 have addressed the issue, addressed the concern in a way

10 which she would not have objected to on the assumption

11 that she would have objected to having the RUC turn up

12 to her house uninvited to inspect it, which I think she

13 probably would have.

14 Q. But you are not saying, to be clear, that you gave

15 consideration to the possibility before her murder and

16 rejected it on the basis that you didn't think she would

17 welcome a police visit?

18 A. Oh, no, no, no.

19 Q. No. Those are the only questions I have for you, but as

20 you have probably gathered from looking at the

21 transcript, if there are any other matters that you want

22 to raise with the Tribunal, this is your opportunity.

23 A. No, there is nothing I want to raise.

24 MR PHILLIPS: Thank you.

25 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Leach, thank you very much for coming to

 

 

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1 give evidence before us. We are very grateful, thank

2 you.

3 We will adjourn now until tomorrow morning at

4 quarter past ten.

5 (4.44 pm)

6 (The Inquiry adjourned until 10.15 am the following day)

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