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Full Hearings

Hearing: 26th November 2008, day 80

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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, 26 November 2008
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

1 Wednesday, 26 November 2008

2 (10.15 am)

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

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

5 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

7 screen closed?

8 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

10 and securely fastened?

11 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

13 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

14 of this chamber?

15 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

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

18 witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

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

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

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

22 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

23 I didn't ask the witness to come in. Would you go

24 out for a moment, please? Sorry.

25

 

 

2

 

1 Ruling

2 THE CHAIRMAN: We have considered carefully the application

3 of the murder investigation senior management team that

4 they be represented by a barrister and/or solicitor and

5 a member of their team be present during the closed

6 sessions of the evidence of witness B511. The

7 application is supported by Mr O'Hare on behalf of

8 Mrs Magee and her family. It is opposed by the PSNI.

9 Each member of the Panel has read the redacted version

10 of B511's witness statement.

11 The following matters are material to the

12 application:

13 The redacted version of B511's witness statement

14 and exhibits has been distributed to the Full

15 Participants.

16 Thus the Full Participants, including the MIT,

17 have been able and have taken the opportunity to provide

18 detailed questions and lines of enquiry to our counsel,

19 Mr Peter Skelton.

20 Mr Griffin in his submission on behalf of the

21 MIT informed us that although there is no central log,

22 there is certainly a record of each piece of

23 intelligence that was received by the investigation

24 team.

25 Mr Skelton will ask thorough and probing

 

 

3

 

1 questions of B511 in both the open and closed sessions

2 of his evidence.

3 A substantial proportion of B511's evidence will

4 be heard in open session.

5 The evidence that will be given by B511 in

6 closed sessions is particularly sensitive, and thus

7 there is a compelling need to ensure that the security

8 of such evidence is preserved and that B511 is

9 encouraged to give his evidence candidly and without

10 reservation.

11 Having considered the submissions presented to us,

12 we have concluded that we do not require the assistance

13 of the MIT in closed sessions of B511's evidence in

14 order to discharge our responsibilities within our Terms

15 of Reference. Nor do we consider that it would be

16 unfair to the MIT or to members of its SMT if their

17 participation were restricted to the evidence of B511

18 given in open session.

19 The application is therefore refused.

20 In our decision of 15 October 2008 we indicated that

21 the Inquiry would consider retrospectively whether it

22 would be appropriate for any evidence given in a closed

23 hearing to be conveyed to the Full Participants and

24 others in summary form. After the conclusion of the

25 closed sessions of B511's evidence, Mr Skelton will

 

 

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1 assess what evidence, if any, should be disclosed so

2 that the MIT and members of its SMT can be in a position

3 fairly to deal with the issues of obstruction and due

4 diligence.

5 Mr Griffin, we shall be grateful if the MIT will

6 provide us without delay -- I quote your words --

7 "a record of each piece of intelligence received by the

8 investigation team", which you referred to in your oral

9 submission.

10 MR GRIFFIN: I certainly will do and I have actually already

11 started to talk to Mr Skelton about doing exactly that.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much indeed.

13 MR DONALDSON: Mr Chairman, may I enquire if that

14 information to be provided will be provided to

15 ourselves?

16 THE CHAIRMAN: That is what I have asked Mr Griffin to

17 provide to the Inquiry team.

18 MR DONALDSON: Yes.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, I would have thought certainly the

20 answer will be yes in due course, of course. Hopefully

21 as soon as possible.

22 MR DONALDSON: Thank you, sir.

23 MR GRIFFIN: May I just say that what we will do is discuss

24 matters with Mr Skelton and the Inquiry counsel team and

25 then perhaps decisions as to circulation of the document

 

 

5

 

1 can follow from that discussion.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Thank you.

3 Please bring the witness in. Sorry that we have

4 been a bit of a jack-in-the-box.

5 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

6 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

7 switched back on.

8 Please take the oath.

9 B511 (sworn)

10 Questions by MR SKELTON

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

12 Yes, Mr Skelton?

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

14 as witness B511. Your statement we can find at

15 RNI-846-026. Can we have that on the screen, please

16 (displayed)? If we go through to the final page --

17 there we are, page RNI-846-060 (displayed) -- your

18 signature has been covered by your cipher, but the date

19 there is 18 December 2007. I think that is your

20 statement?

21 A. That's correct.

22 Q. Thank you. May I start by asking you a little bit about

23 your background, building upon what you say in

24 paragraph 1 of your statement. I think you say you

25 joined Special Branch in March 1990, covering East

 

 

6

 

1 Belfast and North Down, but prior to that you worked in

2 CID?

3 A. That's correct, and I was in CID in Strandtown in East

4 Belfast prior to going into Special Branch.

5 Q. How many years have you worked in CID?

6 A. Three.

7 Q. Had you joined in about 1987?

8 A. I joined the police in about 1980 and had spent a number

9 of years in uniform and then went into CID for three

10 years and then transferred into Special Branch.

11 Q. So most of your work prior to going becoming

12 a Special Branch officer was spent in the same sort of

13 area?

14 A. From 1983, 1984 when I transferred up from the country

15 to East Belfast and was in uniform and then gone into

16 CID there, and then subsequently Special Branch.

17 Q. Did you find it helpful to have had a CID background?

18 A. Yes, a lot of the Loyalist terrorist groups had criminal

19 interests as well, so there was a crossover between CID

20 work and Special Branch work in relation to some of the

21 individuals. So it seemed like a natural progression to

22 move into Special Branch.

23 Q. So far as you were concerned, did you perceive there to

24 be a tension between CID and Special Branch in the RUC

25 at this stage, for instance in relation to the

 

 

7

 

1 dissemination of intelligence to them?

2 A. Sometimes there was -- obviously people felt that

3 Special Branch weren't assisting as much as they could,

4 but I think that was down to personal ideas on what we

5 actually did. It probably helped me, the fact that I

6 had been in CID for three years prior to going into

7 Special Branch, that it was easier to get on with the

8 CID colleagues.

9 Q. What was the general approach that you had in

10 Special Branch towards assisting a CID investigation,

11 for example, into a murder? Would you have looked at

12 your intelligence and thought, "We have got a few bits

13 and pieces that we could pass to them if we do that

14 sensitively"?

15 A. Yes, it happened fairly frequently in those days. There

16 were a lot of big enquiries going on, bombings,

17 shootings and stuff, and loads of intelligence was

18 passed on to CID for investigation.

19 Q. And was that a policy that applied across your region or

20 did you get the impression it applied across the whole

21 of Special Branch in Northern Ireland?

22 A. There were set guidelines obviously on how sensitive the

23 intelligence was and the degree of danger that the

24 source of the intelligence may be under, that could be

25 passed on. But if it was -- if it could be passed, it

 

 

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1 was passed.

2 Q. The period that we are most concerned with is really

3 1998 to early 1999, which is the period gearing up to

4 the death of Rosemary Nelson. I appreciate it is ten

5 years ago now, but can you assist us on what was going

6 on in your area in terms of mainstream paramilitary

7 groups?

8 A. Yes, there was a lot of infighting going on at that

9 stage. Groups that had been friendly were turning

10 against each other. A lot of it was to do with those

11 who agreed with the ceasefires, those who agreed with

12 the political way -- strategy forward, those who didn't.

13 There were three main Loyalist groups -- the UVF,

14 the UDA and the Red Hand Commandos -- based in East

15 Belfast and then later there was the formation of an LVF

16 element. Some of the UVF, Red Hand groups would have

17 had connections to the mid-Ulster area and would have

18 been friendly with Billy Wright and Mark Fulton. They

19 subsequently didn't agree with the mainstream UVF's

20 approach to the political way forward and seemed to side

21 more with Wright and Fulton.

22 Q. Was it the case then that the LVF formed and took

23 a number of people away from the UVF towards the

24 Portadown region where they continued to be active

25 there?

 

 

9

 

1 A. Not so much moved down to Portadown. There was an

2 element who had been friendly with him who stayed in

3 their own areas in East Belfast and formed small

4 groupings within that area.

5 Q. You mentioned the Red Hand Commando. The witness

6 yesterday told us that that was in effect a sister

7 organisation to the UVF and they shared a leadership and

8 similar sort of goals and strategies?

9 A. Yes, that would be correct. The Red Hand and UVF

10 negotiated together on the political strategy. They

11 both had representatives involved with the PUP, in the

12 release of prisoners, the use of the ceasefire, things

13 like that. They would have worked together.

14 Q. As far as the ceasefires went, the principal groups were

15 on ceasefire during this period, were they?

16 A. Yes, they were. There were breaches of the ceasefire,

17 but officially the UDA, UVF, Red Hand were trying to

18 negotiate political release of prisoners, funding for

19 their relevant different areas, things like that, yes.

20 Q. And while the ceasefires were going on, as you say,

21 there were still breaches of it, but did those occur

22 under what we have heard of as flags of convenience,

23 i.e. other names of dissident groups which just arise to

24 cover a particular operation?

25 A. Yes, there would have been -- specifically, I can

 

 

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1 remember after the murder of Billy Wright in prison,

2 there were a number of sectarian murders carried out

3 throughout the Province. In East Belfast, there was one

4 that was carried out by elements of the LVF and I think

5 it was claimed under the Red Hand Defenders.

6 Q. Now, I think he was murdered in December 1997, so we are

7 talking now, are we, 1998 where these sorts of issues

8 arose?

9 A. Yes, it would have been after the Wright murder, there

10 was a number of incidents carried out throughout the

11 Province, I think, and we believed UDA involvement in

12 some of those attacks and they were using the flag of

13 convenience, the Red Hand Defenders.

14 Q. Now, some witnesses have told us that there was

15 a relationship between a group we have heard of as

16 Justice for Protestants, which had a base in North

17 Belfast and had a religious flavour to its dealings, the

18 Red Hand Defenders and the Orange Volunteers. Was that

19 your perception?

20 A. Not really. I didn't really have any -- the first group

21 you talk about, I don't even remember any reporting on

22 them. The Orange Volunteers I heard of, but again,

23 I believed it to be based more down in the country.

24 My own specific experience was that the Red Hand

25 Defenders was linked more to the UDA, elements within

 

 

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1 the UDA and the LVF. The other two I had no real

2 dealings with.

3 Q. Was it the case then that the Red Hand Defenders arose

4 as a name for quite often quite disparate individuals

5 from different organisations at different times?

6 A. Yes, it was the more militant elements of the UDA and

7 the LVF that seemed to have come up with this cover name

8 for attacks that they seemed to be carrying out, as

9 opposed to an actual grouping of Red Hand Defenders. We

10 obviously were trying to assess if this was a specific

11 group or elements of other groups that was using this

12 name as a flag of convenience.

13 Q. When you say the LVF, you mentioned Billy Wright and

14 Mark Fulton, both of whom have died. They obviously had

15 associates within the Portadown region. Are you talking

16 about some of those people?

17 A. Yes, I believe so. Some of the elements within the East

18 Belfast area had links to Wright and Fulton and we were

19 getting a certain amount of reporting on their

20 associates in the East Belfast area.

21 Q. What were those links for?

22 A. Again, the elements that would have been linked to

23 Fulton and Wright in East Belfast were the more militant

24 elements of -- some of them were mainstream groups.

25 Ex-Red Hand Commandos in particular, historically, had

 

 

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1 been linked to the UVF and mid-Ulster. On the formation

2 of the LVF some of those elements then decided that they

3 would side with Wright in particular and their

4 allegiance was for him as opposed to the UVF/Red Hand

5 Commando.

6 Q. Does that mean there is a degree of sharing of munitions

7 and so on between groups from Belfast and people from

8 North Armagh?

9 A. Yes, there would have been. In my experience in East

10 Belfast, the element in particular that had links to

11 Wright would have had access to munitions and bomb

12 making equipment. They seemed to be in a position to

13 assist the LVF in the mid-Ulster area should they

14 require munitions. It didn't happen that frequently,

15 but it happened on at least two occasions that I would

16 be aware of.

17 Q. Throughout your statement you do mention a particular

18 bomb maker, albeit his name is redacted. Is that the

19 link you are talking about or are you talking about

20 other people here?

21 A. That would have been the link. That would have been the

22 link to the munitions and explosives.

23 Q. As far as you were aware, had the Red Hand Defenders or

24 indeed the LVF deployed UCBTs prior to Rosemary Nelson's

25 death?

 

 

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1 A. There had been a number of UCB attacks on both Loyalist

2 and Nationalist Republican targets. I wouldn't be aware

3 of the claims of responsibility for those attacks.

4 I believe in one case the Red Hand Defenders was used on

5 a bomb attack in Bangor on a Loyalist, but again, it is

6 about ten years ago so I would be -- hard to remember

7 specific details for all the claims of responsibility.

8 Q. Drumcree appears to have been a particularly volatile

9 issue at this period of time?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. The peace process was obviously in flow, but Drumcree

12 became emblematic of the problems between the two

13 communities. Was that, as far as you saw it, a focus

14 for some of these groups' thinking?

15 A. Yes. I mean, the LVF in Portadown appeared to be

16 strongly involved in the Drumcree disputes. They used

17 it as a recruiting thing for elements within Belfast to

18 come down to support them.

19 There was a lot of tension surrounding the parades

20 issue and Wright in particular appeared to use this as

21 one of his causes for recruiting people to the LVF, in

22 that he was supporting the rights of the marchers to

23 parade down the Garvaghy Road.

24 Q. Now, the way you are discussing the LVF and the

25 activities in that area implies that you had some

 

 

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1 knowledge of it. How would you have picked that up from

2 your work in Belfast?

3 A. We had -- the LVF had formed within East Belfast. We

4 had sources within the mainstream Loyalist groups. [Redacted]

5 [Redacted] --

6 Q. Can I just stop you there? If you could refrain from

7 saying exactly where you did or didn't have sources that

8 would be helpful, but if you could carry on talking

9 without giving that information, that would be good?

10 A. Yes, sorry. The elements within East Belfast that would

11 have associated with Wright and the LVF we were getting

12 reporting on some of their activities, even travelling

13 to Drumcree for parades and LVF-type functions.

14 Q. Given the sort of crossover from your region to the

15 South Region, was it the case that you had to keep up

16 liaison with the Special Branch there?

17 A. Not really. Basically, when we submitted the

18 intelligence, it went to our source unit and then it

19 was -- it would have been disseminated through,

20 I believe, the Loyalist desk in Headquarters to South

21 Region for their appraisal to look at. So we never

22 really had any contact with the actual handlers,

23 Special Branch officers, within the Lurgan/South Region

24 area.

25 Q. To take a hypothetical example, if an attack had been

 

 

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1 planned by the LVF in Portadown to take place in East

2 Belfast, you might have heard about the attack but you

3 wouldn't necessarily have had contact with the officers

4 who had received the information and possibly knew more

5 about it?

6 A. Yes, that would be correct. It was just more that an

7 attack was about to take place, but we wouldn't have

8 contact with the specific Special Branch office in South

9 Region.

10 Q. That may have been historical that such contact wasn't

11 made. Was there also an issue about sensitivity and

12 that you talking to them might compromise sources, lead

13 you to gain bits of information which you could then

14 inadvertently reveal to your sources and thereby

15 compromise other people and so on?

16 A. That was the main idea, that intelligence that we

17 supplied wasn't based on something that came from

18 outside our area. We would have been unaware of sources

19 from other areas. Even with the district that I worked

20 in in my office, source protection was the most

21 important thing that we had to look after. So,

22 therefore, we would have been unaware of who their

23 sources of intelligence in South Region, or in fact in

24 other offices in Belfast, would be.

25 Q. Now, in relation to Drumcree, Rosemary Nelson was the

 

 

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1 legal representative of the Garvaghy Road Residents

2 Coalition, which was the Nationalist group, the local

3 group, which opposed the march. Would you have been

4 aware of that from either conversations with your

5 colleagues or from the media reporting on it?

6 A. No, I didn't know Rosemary Nelson until, obviously, the

7 attack on her car.

8 Q. And what about one of her clients, Mr Duffy, who was, as

9 we have seen, considered to be a leading Republican

10 figure in the area? Would you have heard of them?

11 A. I had heard of Colin Duffy as a senior PIRA figure. He

12 was believed to have been responsible for the murder of

13 the two police officers in Lurgan, in --

14 Q. Which occurred in June 1997?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. How would you have come by information to do with him?

17 A. I think he was charged -- I think he was actually

18 charged at one stage with the murders. I had a friend,

19 a colleague, from CID who was based down around there

20 and had mentioned that Mr Duffy was the main suspect in

21 that --

22 Q. Again, that's correct. He was arrested not that long

23 after the murder and eventually released without

24 a prosecution, I think in October 1997. Rosemary Nelson

25 was involved with that case and it appears from the

 

 

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1 reporting we have seen from South Region that there was

2 some questions about whether or not she was pressuring

3 witnesses in relation to that. Was that something that

4 your CID contact may have mentioned to you?

5 A. No, there was no -- as I say, Rosemary Nelson was

6 unknown to me until after the murder. I had never heard

7 of her.

8 Q. Now, the reporting that we have seen from your sources,

9 most of it appears post-murder, certainly that that

10 relates to Rosemary Nelson. Can you tell us whether you

11 received any advance reporting, i.e. pre-March 1999, which

12 may have indicated that some form of UCBT attack was due

13 to take place in Lurgan?

14 A. No, there was no intelligence to indicate any attack.

15 Q. As far as you are concerned, would you have expected to

16 have received advance intelligence of that kind of

17 murder?

18 A. It would have been difficult, given that the groups that

19 were militant at that stage were small in number and

20 hard to infiltrate. There had been a number of previous

21 UCB attacks which, again, we had been unaware of.

22 Q. Was it also the case that those that are perpetrating

23 this kind of crime tend to keep it to themselves, given

24 the concerns about sources and leakage of information?

25 A. Yes, they would have been very concerned about the

 

 

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1 knowledge of who carried out specific events. As I say,

2 they were a very small number, a tight knit group.

3 Q. Likewise, was it the case that these groups continued to

4 act at short notice and to kill people without

5 necessarily a big build-up and planning operation?

6 A. The Loyalists from my own knowledge appeared to be less

7 structured and organised than some of the Republican

8 groups. They could be quite hot-headed and act very

9 quickly, without consulting even some of their own

10 leaders or other members within their own specific

11 organisation.

12 Q. After Rosemary Nelson died, I think you had some contact

13 with Mr Port's investigation?

14 A. That's correct.

15 Q. He was the head of the investigation after a period of

16 time?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. How did that contact come about?

19 A. We had a source of intelligence that started to report

20 on the activities of the bomb manger, who we believed to

21 be the maker of the bomb that was used in the car -- on

22 Mrs Nelson's car.

23 Our superintendent, detective superintendent, who

24 was my boss at the time, felt that this intelligence was

25 relevant to the murder investigation. He agreed -- it

 

 

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1 was agreed at a high level that this should be shared

2 with the Port team to assist them in their

3 investigation.

4 Q. Now, just taking it back a stage, after she died, did

5 you go out and ask your sources if they knew anything

6 about it?

7 A. Yes, I mean, it was a very high profile murder. It was

8 a fairly delicate period in the peace process.

9 Everybody was under pressure to try and find out

10 anything about the murder. There were concerns from

11 East Belfast that the bomb that was used in Ms Nelson's

12 attack may have been made by the individual from our

13 area. There was a lot of pressure to try and establish

14 patterns of life for him, associates, vehicles that he

15 was using or his associates were using, to try and get

16 coverage in and around that individual.

17 Q. You identified him as being someone that may have

18 produced that device. Were you aware that from the

19 beginning the Port team were interested in him

20 specifically or did you make that assumption yourself?

21 A. Any intelligence relating to the bomb maker seemed to be

22 very topical. Everybody wanted -- you know, from

23 a senior level -- to try and get as much details as we

24 could. Because it appeared -- the bomb maker, who was

25 from East Belfast, had links to the mid-Ulster area, it

 

 

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1 seemed to tie in with their investigation, so it was

2 agreed that this intelligence should be shared with the

3 Port Inquiry team.

4 Q. Were there other bomb makers that could have produced

5 this device?

6 A. On the Loyalist side the capability to make UCBTs was

7 limited. Historically there were bomb makers that could

8 make such devices. However, the recent attacks and the

9 UCBTs that had been used, we believed came from this one

10 individual from the East Belfast area.

11 Q. And may I ask you a little bit about him? As you say,

12 you had some intelligence on him -- and I appreciate

13 there are some sensitivities about the nature of that

14 intelligence, which we will have to deal with in closed

15 session -- but he had produced, I think, a variety of

16 bombs at a certain point in the 1990s. How was it

17 determined where those bombs went and who they ended up

18 being used upon?

19 A. We believe that the bomb maker concerned made a batch of

20 what we believed to be -- initially it was three, but

21 then we believed maybe up to six devices, UCBTs. The

22 intelligence that we had indicated that these devices

23 had been passed to a militant element within the UDA

24 from the Shankill area. Where they went from there, I'm

25 not really sure; it is speculative. We believe maybe

 

 

21

 

1 the UDA had shared these devices to different brigade

2 areas under their control.

3 Q. I'm going to look at the documents in a moment, but

4 I just want to clarify that. You had mentioned

5 originally that this bomb maker had a direct contact

6 with the LVF in Portadown?

7 A. That's correct.

8 Q. And yet the bombs that you are discussing now appear to

9 have been passed to the UDA/UFF in Belfast?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Aren't those contradictory?

12 A. The bomb makers had links to what would be classified as

13 C company, UDA, in West Belfast. This grouping had also

14 close links with the LVF. Its leader had close links to

15 the LVF, a number of figures within the LVF. The

16 time -- the time the devices were made, the LVF was only

17 in its formation. There were still -- it really was

18 based within the mid-Ulster area around Wright. It was

19 only the following couple of years that LVF pockets

20 started to spring up in different areas.

21 So at that stage, the bomb maker would have been

22 closer to the UFF in the Shankill, his stepbrother and

23 father were linked to that grouping over in West

24 Belfast.

25 Q. Was it the case that this particular person then had

 

 

22

 

1 links with a variety of people?

2 A. He had links with UFF individuals, UVF individuals and

3 LVF individuals, that's correct, yes.

4 Q. And I appreciate that you may not be able to discuss all

5 of the details of this, but when he produces a bomb,

6 would he necessarily know where it is going to be

7 deployed or would he just pass it to an organisation

8 that would take that decision?

9 A. I believe that the batch of bombs he made, he would have

10 been unaware of where they would have been used. He

11 believed that they should have been used on Republican

12 targets. From memory, I think two of the devices were

13 used on Loyalist targets and he was unhappy that they

14 had been used on those individuals.

15 But from my perspective and the intelligence that

16 was gleaned, I don't believe he was aware of where these

17 devices were going to be used.

18 Q. So far as you were aware, did he have a personal animus

19 against somebody like Rosemary Nelson or Colin Duffy?

20 A. As far as I am aware, no. I don't think so.

21 Colin Duffy was known within Loyalist circles as being

22 a senior figure within PIRA. It wouldn't have surprised

23 me had [name] known that the device would be used.

24 Q. I think you said a name there.

25 A. Sorry.

 

 

23

 

1 Q. If you could just refer to him as a bomb maker that

2 would be helpful.

3 A. Had he been consulted that the device was going to be

4 used on somebody like Mr Duffy, then I couldn't see him

5 having a problem with that because of Mr Duffy's

6 Republican views.

7 Q. In relation to the bomb maker, I think you say in your

8 statement that he was one of those that was still

9 committed to the cause, or the war. You gained that

10 impression from reporting on him, did you?

11 A. Yes, he would have been militant. He didn't believe

12 that the ceasefire was going to work. He was

13 a Loyalist, he was brought up in a Loyalist area, all

14 his associates were Loyalists. By siding with the

15 Wright faction, he put himself out on a limb to

16 a certain degree within East Belfast because there were

17 two mainstream Loyalist organisations that were

18 pro-ceasefire, namely the UVF and the -- Red Hand.

19 The UDA in East Belfast was coming round to that way

20 of thinking, but he took a stand in siding with Wright.

21 He was a respected figure within the Loyalist community

22 because of his abilities to create devices and in the

23 fact that he had been a military figure in the past.

24 Q. Now, in your answer earlier you said that he wouldn't

25 necessarily have had directed the devices to be used in

 

 

24

 

1 any particular attack. Would he then at least have

2 followed their use and discussed it with the individuals

3 that did use them, even retrospectively?

4 A. There was no intelligence to indicate that he did that.

5 It would be unusual for him to ask questions about

6 a specific attack if it was one of his devices that had

7 been used. To do so would have asked questions as why

8 was he asking why were they used. Was he asking to try

9 and establish who was responsible for a certain attack?

10 When you start to ask questions like that, then you

11 yourself become under suspicion.

12 Q. Might there also have been an element of self-protection

13 from the legal process and the legal investigations or

14 police investigations?

15 A. Yes, he was very security conscious. The individual

16 concerned was very security conscious. In relation even

17 to the making of the devices, he would have been -- as

18 [Redacted]

19 [Redacted] He was very

20 aware of forensics used to tie him to a specific device.

21 Q. Now, as I say, we will come on to some of the reports

22 that you do have specifically relating to this

23 individual, but in light of the answers that you have

24 given, wouldn't it be fair to say that he wouldn't

25 necessarily have been able to come to any firm

 

 

25

 

1 conclusion that one of his devices had been used in the

2 attack on Rosemary Nelson? It would really be

3 speculation on his part?

4 A. I think it was speculation on his part that the device

5 was used. He believed that it was one of his devices

6 that had been used. He himself believed it was one of

7 the devices that had been used on the attack, but as far

8 as we are aware, nobody ever confirmed that with him.

9 Q. May I look at the first document that you mention in

10 your statement? It is RNI-545-001 (displayed) and the

11 date of it is after Rosemary Nelson's murder. You can

12 see there that you are one of the originating officers?

13 A. That's correct, yes.

14 Q. If we go overleaf we can see the text of it. As with

15 many of these documents, I am afraid it is heavily

16 redacted so it is difficult for us to understand exactly

17 the import of what is being said, but it is to do with

18 a gathering in which Rosemary Nelson's murder is clearly

19 being mentioned by various individuals, and a particular

20 person appears to have made a comment about having been

21 involved in the murder?

22 A. That's correct.

23 Q. Now, this is just a sort of snippet of a conversation.

24 When you produce a report like this, well, first of all,

25 why did you produce it and what value do you think it

 

 

26

 

1 would have had?

2 A. As stated, there was a lot of intelligence required on

3 the Nelson murder. Any intelligence that was coming in

4 in relation to the Nelson murder was a priority. [Redacted]

5 [Redacted]

6 [Redacted] The bomb maker was present at this

7 gathering.

8 Q. I think it is probably best if you don't explain in any

9 detail exactly where it took place because you will see

10 from your statement that we have removed a lot of the

11 details of that. But really I really wanted to know how

12 reliable this kind of information is and what value

13 it is?

14 A. We believed it to be relevant to the investigation in

15 that it was strengthening our belief that the bomb maker

16 may have made the device that was used in the attack on

17 Rosemary Nelson.

18 Q. Now, as I understand it, this intelligence may not have

19 been passed to the murder investigation. Would you have

20 been personally involved in the liaison with their team?

21 A. At that stage, no. We were just collate -- go out,

22 collect the intelligence, bring it in, submit it through

23 the source unit, share it with E3, the Loyalist desk

24 officers, and it would have been for them to establish

25 whether it was shared with the Murder Investigation

 

 

27

 

1 Team.

2 Q. Did you have any direct contact with the officers

3 yourself?

4 A. No.

5 Q. You mentioned in your statement Mr Sam Kinkaid who was

6 an RUC officer. I think at this time he may well have

7 been a superintendent, but he eventually became

8 Assistant Chief Constable with responsibility for

9 Special Branch as well as crime, I think. Did you have

10 contact with him in this period, which is the early

11 stage of the investigation?

12 A. I don't think so. Again, you will have to bear with me,

13 it is ten years ago. But at the early stage of the

14 investigation, no, I think the Port Inquiry team was

15 created in April of 1999. Again, that could be a guess

16 on my part. It only became relevant when we developed

17 another source of reporting, [Redacted]

18 [Redacted], that it was deemed that

19 that intelligence should be shared with the Port team.

20 Q. So it may be the case that this intelligence in fact

21 didn't go to them?

22 A. Again, I don't know if it went to them or not.

23 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can I just raise a point?

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, maybe the same point. Looking at

25 RNI-545-002 (displayed), what does the last typed line

 

 

28

 

1 mean:

2 "Sent to Mr PR on [blank] April 1999 at 10.35"?

3 What does that mean? Can you interpret that?

4 MR SKELTON: I am afraid I can't, no.

5 A. Again, I can't confirm that either. "Shared with E3"

6 would be the normal one. E3 would be the Loyalist desk

7 in Headquarters but "sent to --

8 Q. We are speculating from the sidelines that this is

9 Mahon Road which would be ...?

10 A. South Region.

11 Q. Yes, regional source unit?

12 A. That would be relevant because, as I say, the

13 incident -- well, the attack took place in South

14 Region's area so it probably would have been shared with

15 them.

16 Q. It may be the PSNI representatives can assist us on that

17 point after the break.

18 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: On this same point, you were an officer

19 at the coalface doing the very important work that you

20 were doing. Isn't fair to say, before we get into this

21 area of asking on every document whether you passed it

22 to the MIT, these sorts of decisions were made further

23 up the structure?

24 A. Yes --

25 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: And the communication would have been

 

 

29

 

1 further up the structure?

2 A. That would be correct.

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Thank you very much.

4 MR SKELTON: We will move on to the next document, if we

5 may. But before we do, can I ask you one question? One

6 of the points you make in paragraph 72 of your

7 statement, which is on page RNI-846-047 -- can we have

8 that on the screen (displayed)? -- in relation to this

9 document is that some of the people that you are

10 discussing had taken drugs?

11 A. That's correct, yes.

12 Q. Now, when you write your report, it doesn't mention that

13 and that may be because you want to protect the nature

14 of the meeting and who was there and what was happening,

15 but isn't that the kind of thing which affects

16 reliability and credibility?

17 A. It is. [Redacted]

18 [Redacted]

19 [Redacted]
20 [Redacted]

21 [Redacted]
22 [Redacted]

23 [Redacted]

24 [Redacted] But the fact that

25 individuals were there specifically taking drugs,

 

 

30

 

1 a number of the Loyalist groups were claiming to be

2 anti-drugs at that time so they would only have done it

3 within a small grouping of people that they could trust.

4 Q. Thank you. If we look at document RNI-545-064, please

5 (displayed), again, this is one of your documents. We

6 only need to pause to look at the date of that, which

7 is June 1999, and you are one of the originating

8 officers.

9 If we go overleaf to the text of it, please. This

10 is relating to the UDA document. So it is roughly three

11 months after Rosemary Nelson's murder, and the key bit

12 really is that the organisation will deny any

13 responsibility for recent events such as the murder of

14 Rosemary Nelson?

15 A. That's correct.

16 Q. Now, there are two aspects of this I would like to ask

17 you about. First of all, just in relation to

18 Rosemary Nelson, you can see there that she has an SB

19 number, 306132?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. From your knowledge of how Special Branch worked at this

22 period, would that have meant that she had a paper file

23 on her?

24 A. Not necessarily. What it would mean is that she had

25 been mentioned previously in some form of reporting, and

 

 

31

 

1 once an individual has been identified, a number is

2 created to link her to that same person. But as to

3 whether she would have had a file, I would -- I am

4 unaware.

5 Q. So a researcher using -- I think this is a document that

6 comes on the PRISM system --

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. -- would be able to use that number as a sort of way in

9 to finding more about her?

10 A. Yes, any individual who is mentioned. It means that if

11 you were to type in that number in to the computer

12 system, you would get hits on the number of times that

13 individual had been reported on. You may not have been

14 able to see the intelligence in relation to the

15 individual, but you would know that somebody else had

16 been reporting on her.

17 Q. That was my follow-up question. Much of the

18 intelligence that we have seen on Rosemary Nelson prior

19 to her death emanates from South Region, and it is not

20 entirely clear who outside of South Region would have

21 known about that intelligence. Would you have expected,

22 if you had typed in her number or her name, to have been

23 able to see reporting from South Region on her?

24 A. No, it would be very rare that you would do that. It

25 could be done at a higher level, management, senior

 

 

32

 

1 management level, but at our level, no. It would have

2 been to protect the individual. It would have been

3 really like a firewall that you could go in and look at

4 intelligence supplied by somebody else and then use it

5 to produce an intelligence document from your own area.

6 It just wouldn't happen.

7 Q. Now, turning to the substance of the document, it is

8 relating to a denial of responsibility by the UDA.

9 A lot is going on in this period. The peace process

10 is still underway and is still functioning, but this

11 murder is a very high profile murder and it has a very

12 high profile murder investigation. So the political

13 tensions within the groups about who did it and who is

14 going to claim responsibility must have been quite

15 complex, mustn't they?

16 A. It was. The UDA, like the UVF, had created sort of

17 splinter political thinking groupings that they wished

18 to use to negotiate with the NIO, the Irish Government,

19 the Americans, anybody who could make a stake in the

20 peace process.

21 The UDP, which, as it was then, was the Ulster

22 Democratic Party, was the political wing of the UDA.

23 They were coming under a lot of pressure politically to

24 cease attacks -- there were a number of attacks going

25 on -- by saying that funding for groups would be cut,

 

 

33

 

1 prisoners' releases could be halted. So obviously the

2 political wings of all the Loyalist paramilitary groups

3 were under a lot of pressure at that time.

4 Q. So in relation to this issue, the claim of

5 responsibility for Rosemary Nelson's murder, can one

6 necessarily infer that they aren't responsible?

7 A. Not necessarily. As I say, the UDA in particular was

8 made up of six brigade areas. They were independent of

9 each other. What one told the other was not necessarily

10 what happened. Even at a leadership level, there were

11 militant elements within the UDA who would have been

12 prepared to carry out attacks without the knowledge of

13 the leadership.

14 Q. And outside of the reporting specifically that you had

15 in relation to the bomb maker and the bomb, did you pick

16 up gossip about the Rosemary Nelson murder? Was there

17 a case of people in your locality gossiping about

18 who may have done it, possibly bragging that they did

19 it, but implausibly and so on?

20 A. The problem with the Nelson murder was because it was

21 such a high profile murder, a number of people were

22 claiming it. A number of people on the Loyalist side

23 wanted to claim it because they deemed it to be such

24 a successful operation.

25 Everybody was claiming it: UDA -- well, not UVF --

 

 

34

 

1 LVF, Red Hand. It was basically -- which created

2 problems in trying to establish who actually had carried

3 out the attack.

4 Q. On the previous report that we looked at, we did appear

5 to see an individual who did claim it, albeit that that

6 claim wasn't necessarily as reliable in the light of

7 what you have told us about the nature of that

8 intelligence.

9 Could that have been one such claim, where you have

10 an individual trying to sort of big himself up by saying

11 that he was involved?

12 A. Yes, there was a lot of, "We did Rosemary Nelson", "We

13 were involved in the helping of Rosemary Nelson". There

14 was a lot of that speculation going around at the time.

15 Q. Now, we can see from that document that this was shared

16 with E3, and I think it follows in relation to all of

17 these documents and from Sir Anthony Burden's questions

18 that it wasn't a decision for you to share this?

19 A. No.

20 Q. Were you reporting this type of thing because of the

21 Rosemary Nelson murder or was this something that you

22 would ordinarily have reported anyway?

23 A. In relation to this specific one, it would have been

24 reported anyway. There was obviously a lot of

25 reporting. Politically people were keen to see if the

 

 

35

 

1 UDA were making changes, were prepared to move in a more

2 political way. So any reporting relating to the UDA at

3 that level would have been reported.

4 Q. The next document I would like to show you is at

5 page RNI-545-094 (displayed) and this is a month later.

6 It is July 1999. Again, you are one of the originating

7 officers and the PRISM cover sheet is in the same format

8 that we have seen before. May we look at the second

9 page, please?

10 This is specifically about the Rosemary Nelson

11 murder and, again, because of the redactions we can't

12 really talk about the individuals that are being

13 mentioned there, but in summary, it appears to be to do

14 with an LVF show of strength in Portadown in which

15 somebody said that members of the RIR, the military, had

16 some form of involvement in the murder of

17 Rosemary Nelson. Then one can see there that there

18 isn't any further details about that.

19 Again, a tantalising snippet of information which

20 appears to involve potentially collusive activity by the

21 Army. Did you find anything out about that?

22 A. No. As I say, there was a lot of speculation about who

23 were involved in the attacks. The media at the time had

24 indicated that there were a number of RIR patrols in the

25 area of Portadown and may have played some role in the

 

 

36

 

1 attack. The reason that this specific intelligence was

2 submitted was because of who said it and who was present

3 when it was said [Redacted]

4 [Redacted].

5 Q. How reliable did you think that piece of intelligence

6 was?

7 A. I couldn't comment on how reliable it was because of the

8 individual who made the comment, and at that stage he

9 was a senior figure, I believe, within the LVF. But

10 there was a lot of speculation that he in fact wasn't

11 aware of who had carried out the attack and had tried to

12 find out himself who carried it out.

13 Q. Now, as far as you were aware, was there contact between

14 LVF members and soldiers?

15 A. In the past there had been investigations that I would

16 have been involved in where Loyalist elements from the

17 mid-Ulster area had been in contact with -- it would

18 have been then the UVF, as opposed to the LVF because

19 this is dating back way before the split. In relation

20 to those investigations, we would have supplied

21 intelligence to CID of the individuals concerned, and on

22 a couple of cases they were prosecuted for serious

23 terrorist offences.

24 Q. Can you give us a little bit more detail about that?

25 First of all, from what you say it is pre the formation

 

 

37

 

1 of the LVF, which is mid to late 1990s. So are we

2 talking --

3 A. We are talking before the ceasefires. So we could be

4 going back to 1992/1993, in or around that time. But I

5 couldn't give you actual details of the names of the

6 individual who was prosecuted. I am sure it could be

7 researched and established.

8 Q. What sort of contact had there been between these UVF

9 members and RIR soldiers?

10 A. Again, where we would have been concerned, we would have

11 had source intelligence on that specific case --

12 a source identified a car leaving a senior Loyalist

13 house within East Belfast and took details of the car.

14 Subsequent enquiries indicated that the car belonged to

15 a member of the RIR from, I believe, Armagh but, again,

16 it is a long, long time ago. That was passed to --

17 again, through E3 -- to the CID and military for

18 investigation. I believe he was the -- subsequently put

19 under surveillance and eventually arrested and

20 prosecuted for --

21 Q. Now, by the time period we are looking at, which I said

22 earlier was principally 1998/1999, were you aware of

23 contacts at that stage between LVF members, or the kind

24 of people that used the Red Hand Defenders as a flag of

25 convenience, and members of the military?

 

 

38

 

1 A. No, there was no intelligence in and around that time to

2 indicate.

3 Q. So when you received something like this, which does

4 appear to be that kind of intelligence, do you start to

5 reassess whether or not you should be looking into an

6 issue?

7 A. Yes, you would have had to, you know, try -- you would

8 have tasked the source of -- did he say anything more,

9 did he indicate who it was. But with a blank statement

10 like that, it is hard to work on, you know, without

11 specific details of who the individual was or any

12 details surrounding him, telephone numbers, car details;

13 it is impossible to establish who the individual

14 could be.

15 Q. I think it is right in saying that there aren't any

16 follow-up reports to this to, as it were, flesh out the

17 detail. Does it follow from that that this issue faded

18 away --

19 A. It was never mentioned again.

20 Q. And therefore was probably not true?

21 A. The source believed it not to be true. The source

22 believed that the individual concerned, again, was

23 trying to boast about maybe connections that he had that

24 he didn't have.

25 Q. Thank you. May I look at document RNI-545-138, please

 

 

39

 

1 (displayed)? For those who have read the exhibits to

2 your statement, this is similar in kind to RNI-545-140,

3 which I won't necessarily need to take you to, so we

4 will focus on this one. Again, it's a PRISM document in

5 the same form that we have seen, but this time it is

6 quite a long time after the murder, in September 2000.

7 You, again, are an originating officer.

8 If we go overleaf to the substance of it, please?

9 Now, here, I think we are now back to the issues which

10 we started to discuss at the start of your evidence,

11 which are to do with the bomb maker and his involvement

12 with the murder, and this is intelligence which goes to

13 that issue.

14 First of all, a denial of involvement?

15 A. That's correct.

16 Q. A denial of involvement doesn't mean that he didn't

17 produce the bomb, it just means that he wasn't involved

18 in the attack itself?

19 A. That's correct. The bomb maker concerned was coming

20 under a lot of surveillance, security force attention.

21 Q. I don't necessarily want to talk in great detail about

22 what was being done, but it is fair to say that he was

23 being investigated during this period and I think that

24 was probably widely known?

25 A. Yes, it was widely known that he was suspected of making

 

 

40

 

1 the bomb. [Redacted]

2 Q. [Redacted]

3 [Redacted]

4 [Redacted]

5 [Redacted]

6 [Redacted]

7 A. Okay. As I say, it was right -- within Loyalist circles

8 it was believed that this individual had made the bomb.

9 He was making the denial, stating that he may have made

10 the bomb but he definitely took no part in the actual

11 targeting or planting of the device on Mrs Nelson's car.

12 Q. Earlier, when we were discussing this issue, you

13 appeared to be a bit firmer in your recollection of his

14 view of the Nelson bomb. Here it just seems that he

15 said, "I may have made it" without any firm conclusion

16 that he actually did?

17 A. [Redacted], nobody is going to

18 claim, "I definitely did this, I definitely made that".

19 So it would be unusual for him to say, "Yes,

20 I definitely made that device" to anybody, especially

21 given the suspicion that he was under for making it.

22 Q. With the caveats of him being under considerable

23 pressure, can one necessarily take this intelligence as

24 being accurate or could there be an element of caution,

25 [Redacted]

 

 

41

 

1 [Redacted]

2 A. Could I take that up in the closed session?

3 Q. You may indeed. You can see there that the information

4 was shared with E3 on a day in September 2000. Again,

5 the bald point is that it was for E3 to take up any

6 liaison with the murder investigation in relation to

7 this intelligence?

8 A. That would be correct.

9 Q. Did you get feedback from E3 about this sort of issue,

10 as in, "We have read your report, it is very

11 interesting, please would you try and find some more

12 information"?

13 A. Not necessarily from E3. It would come more through the

14 detective superintendent within the area who would

15 liaise directly with E3 and senior officers within

16 Special Branch.

17 Q. Did there come a time where any officers from the murder

18 investigation came to chat to you and say, "Can I have

19 access to intelligence from this source or this type of

20 reporting"?

21 A. They didn't speak to myself, but -- my detective

22 superintendent informed me that intelligence from the

23 specific source would be shared with the Port team

24 because they felt it was relevant to the murder

25 investigation.

 

 

42

 

1 Q. Now, there are a number of further reports which deal

2 with this type of issue, but one I will like to you look

3 at, please, is at RNI-545-167 (displayed). This, again,

4 is an even later timeframe. So in fact this

5 intelligence is coming very, very infrequently and only

6 in fairly small snippets. Is that your recollection --

7 A. Yes, I mean, as time went by and the Rosemary Nelson

8 murder faded in the history, so to speak, within

9 Loyalist circles, there was less and less reporting

10 about it because it was being proceeded by other

11 attacks, other murders, other political developments

12 within the peace process. So the reporting on the

13 actual murder itself would have diminished.

14 Q. Now, the full detail of this document is overleaf and it

15 appears to have been prompted at least by the arrest of

16 a particular person. You can see that there?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Now, the detail is actually very similar to the type of

19 detail that we have seen before, isn't it?

20 A. It is, yes.

21 Q. In other words, he is concluding he may have supplied

22 the device but he wasn't necessarily involved in the

23 attack?

24 A. That's correct.

25 Q. And then he goes on to discuss the LVF?

 

 

43

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Or it appears that there is intelligence about that

3 discussion. You can see there that it may have been

4 passed to the LVF personalities without his knowledge

5 and I think that's what you were discussing at the

6 start, was it, that these devices may have gone to the

7 UDA element in Belfast and then been passed on?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. As we understand it, there was intelligence from South

10 Region that there was contact between the LVF and the

11 bomb maker in February 1999 --

12 A. Okay.

13 Q. -- in order for a meeting to take place, and indeed it

14 had led to an operation termed Operation Shubr where the

15 LVF were under surveillance around that period. Were

16 you aware of contact preceding Rosemary Nelson's death

17 between your bomb maker and the LVF?

18 A. I would have been aware of meetings between figures

19 within the LVF in mid-Ulster and the bomb maker, yes. I

20 would not have been aware that the LVF elements were

21 under surveillance.

22 Q. So back in February 1999, i.e. pre-Mrs Nelson's murder,

23 you would have been aware of contact, would you?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. I don't think we have seen any reporting from you in

 

 

44

 

1 relation to that, have we?

2 A. I don't think so.

3 Q. Did you produce any reporting --

4 A. No, there may have been reports produced by other

5 officers within my office in relation to that. As

6 I say, it is ten years ago, it is hard to remember.

7 Q. Now, this appears to be the bomb maker himself casting

8 some scepticism over the LVF's involvement. Can you

9 assist us, again treading carefully, as to how that may

10 have been the case, that he was less than convinced that

11 they were involved?

12 A. The bomb maker has main contacts within the LVF and how

13 he had become linked to the LVF had been through his

14 associations with Billy Wright and Mark Fulton.

15 Wright was -- at this period, Wright was dead, I

16 think Fulton was in custody and the other individuals

17 had been arrested on the UK mainland involved in some

18 form of drugs transaction. So the leadership of the LVF

19 in Portadown had been sort of decimated.

20 Two individuals appeared to be looking after what

21 was left of it. The bomb maker concerned was less than

22 impressed with the two individuals who had been running

23 the LVF at the time.

24 Q. Just stopping you there, we have heard a lot of evidence

25 during the course of this Inquiry about those

 

 

45

 

1 individuals and about their competence and capability to

2 do the kind of attack that killed Rosemary Nelson. Your

3 conclusions about the bomb maker's views about their

4 capability don't appear in reporting. So is that not

5 something that would have been reported, and if it

6 isn't, how did you pick it up?

7 A. Realistic -- [Redacted] basically indicated that he, the

8 bomb maker, did not believe that the individuals

9 concerned would have had the ability to do -- mount an

10 attack like that, but I think it is in documents that we

11 have supplied to the Inquiry.

12 Q. Well, I will leave it there because I think we are

13 treading on delicate water.

14 Is there anything else that you can tell us about

15 the bomb maker or the bomb before we take a break?

16 A. Not really, that hasn't already been touched on. As

17 I say, he was a very careful individual. He had a small

18 number of close associates and he was very surveillance

19 conscious and conscious of security force investigation.

20 Q. Sir, may I propose we have a break?

21 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Could I just clear up one point, if

22 I may. Just in general terms, the sharing of

23 information with the Port team, when your supervisors

24 spoke to you about the intention to do that, was part of

25 the process to seek your view as to whether there was

 

 

46

 

1 any potential compromise of your source?

2 A. No, we were basically just informed that the Port team

3 would be -- have access to the written -- handwritten

4 notes --

5 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: It was never part of the process, any

6 expectation on your part to go to the source and either

7 inform them of the intention to share the information or

8 to seek their views as to whether that would compromise

9 them?

10 A. No, we wouldn't.

11 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay, thank you very much.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: The witness will be returning in open

13 session, will he?

14 MR SKELTON: Yes, I have a few more questions in open

15 session.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: If we have a quarter of an hour break, would

17 that be appropriate?

18 MR SKELTON: Yes.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr (name redacted), before the witness leaves, will

20 you please confirm that all the cameras have been

21 switched off?

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

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out.

24 We will resume at quarter to.

25 (11.28 am)

 

 

47

 

1 (Short break)

2 (12.20 pm)

3 (Closed session)

4 (1.28 pm)

5 (The short adjournment)

6 (2.40 pm)

7 SIR JOSEPH PILLING (sworn)

8 Questions by MR PHILLIPS

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Phillips?

10 MR PHILLIPS: Can you give the Tribunal your full names,

11 please?

12 A. Joseph Grant Pilling.

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

14 made two statements to the Inquiry?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Can we look at them together, please, in order, the

17 first one at RNI-817-108 (displayed)? Do we see your

18 signature and the date of 10 November last year?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. And the second statement, RNI-846-001 (displayed), and

21 again, your signature and the date at RNI-846-003

22 (displayed) of 26 June 2008?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. I would like to start at the beginning, please. You

25 tell us in paragraph 1 of your first statement at

 

 

48

 

1 RNI-817-108, that you became the Permanent

2 Undersecretary at the NIO on 1 December 1997. Can you

3 help me with this, please? What was your background in

4 Whitehall before arriving at the NIO at the beginning

5 of December that year?

6 A. My career was divided between the Home Office, the

7 Department of Health and the Northern Ireland Office. I

8 had been in the Northern Ireland Office, I think, three

9 times before that, beginning in 1972. I had had a hand

10 in the Home Office in preparing contingency plans which

11 led to the creation of the Northern Ireland Office, and

12 was involved with it on and off throughout its history

13 until I retired.

14 Q. Thank you. Now, you tell us that in that post -- which

15 was the senior civil servant post in the department, was

16 it not?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. You remained in post until 30 November 2005, and in the

19 next paragraph, as we see on the screen there, you

20 outline your role as a permanent secretary.

21 Now, what I would like to do is to look with you,

22 please, at the NIO slide in relation to the NIO

23 structure which we have prepared. Can we have that on

24 the screen, please?

25 Now, this has gone through a number of refinements

 

 

49

 

1 due to witnesses' evidence, but I hope we are getting

2 something near to accuracy. We see there the Secretary

3 of State obviously at the top with the private office

4 officials. On this slide there are two ministers. I

5 think in fact there may have been four ministers during

6 the period with which we are concerned. Is that

7 correct?

8 A. Yes, there were. There were two junior ministers active

9 in the Northern Ireland Office as such.

10 Q. Yes.

11 A. And four junior ministers in the

12 Northern Ireland Office, two of whom I think would have

13 worked exclusively in various of the Northern Ireland

14 departments.

15 Q. The local departments, if I can put it that way?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Thank you. But we see you there in the box in the

18 centre at the bottom of the screen, and what I would

19 like to do if we can, please, is to turn over to the

20 next page.

21 Now, I am afraid some of the writing isn't quite as

22 clear as it might be here, but again, on this page you

23 appear at the very top and what I wanted to ask you was

24 which officials reported directly to you?

25 A. Well, several who are not on this screen at all. The

 

 

50

 

1 two people on this screen who would have reported direct

2 to me are the Political Director and the person whose

3 title it is difficult to read, but the most senior

4 person in the security and policing area.

5 Q. Yes, I think it says "Senior Director Belfast, Security

6 Policing Director"?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. So those two officials of the ones on the screen would

9 have reported directly to you?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Thank you. Now, when Mr Steele, who was in that post,

12 the Security and Policing Director, until, I think, the

13 summer of 1998, was giving evidence to the Tribunal, he

14 said that he would raise issues with you where he

15 thought they would have a repercussion in Whitehall.

16 So was that part of your role, to be, as it were,

17 the interface between your department and the rest of

18 Whitehall?

19 A. Not exclusively. I mean, it was one of my

20 responsibilities at the level at which I worked.

21 Q. Yes.

22 A. I'm quite certain that a lot of my colleagues were

23 interfacing with other parts of Whitehall at other

24 levels, the whole time. I would interpret what

25 John Steele said to you as meaning anything that in his

 

 

51

 

1 judgment had wider repercussions beyond his own specific

2 responsibilities.

3 Q. And he also mentioned that he would take things to you

4 which were of strategic importance or which, as he put

5 it, would be politically difficult. Is that the sort of

6 matter you would expect to be referred up to you?

7 A. To be discussed with me, yes --

8 Q. Yes.

9 A. -- is I think the language I would choose, and they are

10 the sort of matters I might choose to discuss with him.

11 I mean, this wasn't one-way traffic. He was

12 explaining to you what he might have mentioned to me.

13 We might have taken slightly different views about what

14 it was worth discussing at any given meeting. We both

15 had opportunities to raise things.

16 Q. So there were occasions on which you took the initiative

17 and took matters up with him?

18 A. There must have been. I'm not saying that from memory,

19 it was a long time ago.

20 Q. Dealing with that sort of issue, in your statement one

21 of the things you say -- and again, I'm paraphrasing --

22 is that a great deal of paper crossed your desk as

23 a copyee, often amongst many, and on occasions you

24 yourself would decide to intervene to take an interest

25 in a matter and to become at some level involved?

 

 

52

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. But by contrast, a great deal of the papers, as I

3 understand it, which crossed your desk, you would at

4 most note and leave your more junior officials to deal

5 with substantively?

6 A. I should say somewhere over 99 per cent, otherwise life

7 would have been insupportable.

8 Q. Indeed. Can I ask you about your contacts with

9 ministers and in particular with the Secretary of State,

10 and the Secretary of State with whom the Inquiry is

11 particularly concerned is Mo Mowlam. She was in office

12 when you took up your post as Permanent Secretary, was

13 she not?

14 A. She was.

15 Q. How was your working relationship with her?

16 A. Well, with all the secretaries of state, including

17 Mo Mowlam, in the Northern Ireland Office, the oddity --

18 an oddity in the relationship was created by the office

19 operating in two different cities, and there was a small

20 group of people who traditionally followed the Secretary

21 of State wherever the Secretary of State went and there

22 was a small plane that took the Secretary of State

23 backwards and forwards, and it could hold a handful of

24 accompanying people and those people tended to be used

25 to moving when she or he moved. I was not one of them.

 

 

53

 

1 I think there may have been times when my

2 predecessors had opted for that role. I didn't opt for

3 that role and wasn't pressed by Mo Mowlam or, indeed,

4 any secretary of state, to dance attendance on them the

5 whole time at the expense of the diary that I had got to

6 fulfil, which would have involved from time to time

7 meetings with her of course, but not the whole time.

8 So I saw a fair amount of all the secretaries of

9 state, including Mo Mowlam, but not on a daily basis, I

10 would say.

11 Q. No. That deals with the question of the regularity of

12 your contact with her. How was your working

13 relationship with her? Was it a good one? Was it

14 a professional one?

15 A. It was perfectly professional. I think that she had

16 doubts about the department and the way it served her,

17 and those doubts were reflected in exchanges that we had

18 and arrangements that were made.

19 I think I refer -- no doubt you will be coming on to

20 this later -- to the creation of the sort of weekly

21 meeting. I don't refer to its creation, I refer to its

22 existence. It was created, I think, in

23 about February 1998 in response to Mo Mowlam's

24 unhappiness that the office wasn't being coordinated as

25 effectively as she wanted it to be coordinated, and

 

 

54

 

1 I took the responsibility for meeting that unhappiness

2 by creating that group and chairing it.

3 Q. Which met weekly?

4 A. We met weekly until I retired.

5 Q. Yes. What other doubts did she have about the operation

6 of the department?

7 A. Well, I mean, I don't recall a catalogue of doubts that

8 she had. I mean, that's the one that's uppermost in my

9 mind.

10 Q. And the concern, therefore, was that all parts of the

11 machine weren't working effectively together?

12 A. Yes, that did -- certainly was something I was very

13 concerned with because I had seen it as, you know, part

14 of my role to try to make sure that -- to use a bit of

15 sort of jargon, the Northern Ireland Office didn't

16 operate in silos. But the various parts of it did

17 connect together, and I think -- I would say that she

18 was entirely right to be uneasy and that there was an

19 institutional tendency in the Northern Ireland Office

20 for anybody who wasn't in the political directorate to

21 want to keep the political directorate out of the

22 business if they possibly could because, you know, they

23 were the sort of privileged group who were really able

24 to call the shots on everything, and people were very

25 irritated when they barged in and interfered with work

 

 

55

 

1 that wasn't theirs.

2 A natural response to that, for example, was to

3 leave them off the copy list of a piece of paper that

4 you just thought they might mess up if they could get

5 their little hands on it. And as with all secretaries

6 of state, I mean, Mo thought the political project, if I

7 can use that term, was the overriding task for her and

8 for the office. So if she thought that people in other

9 parts of the organisation didn't really understand the

10 political project and were pursuing causes of their own

11 that positively undermined that project, I mean, she

12 naturally would be unhappy. And the coordinating group

13 was, at least in part, intended to deal with that. My

14 own scrutiny of bits of paper was very much to do with

15 checking that.

16 I must say although it was human nature for people

17 to react in that way, generally people were pretty good

18 about it and, of course, it was a small organisation --

19 is a small organisation, and many people outside the

20 political directorate had at one time or another served

21 there, and that helps to overcome the natural jealousy

22 that would arise if you thought greater power resided

23 somewhere else in the organisation.

24 Q. Just picking up a few things that from answer, in

25 summary then some of the tensions you have described --

 

 

56

 

1 using our diagram -- are between or were between, were

2 they, as it were, the box on the left and the box on the

3 right?

4 A. Yes, although -- I mean, they were so closely involved

5 with each other that it was probably less likely that it

6 would manifest itself in a really serious way there.

7 I mean, the Prison Service, for example, would have

8 less to do with the political directorate than security

9 and policing would have, but from time to time, as

10 anybody familiar with the history of Northern Ireland

11 knows, prisons entered sort of the centre stage of the

12 politics and that was a risk -- I mean, that could

13 happen at any moment and there might be people there who

14 wouldn't be so tuned in to the politics as people in the

15 security and policing directorate.

16 Q. You also mentioned Mo Mowlam's approach, which was of

17 course to accord importance to the political side.

18 In terms of the period with which we are concerned,

19 your starting in your post at the beginning

20 of December 1997, of course Northern Ireland affairs

21 were very high at the top of the Government's agenda

22 quite generally, were they not?

23 A. Certainly high on the Prime Minister's agenda.

24 Q. Exactly, and a great deal of Prime Ministerial time and

25 effort and that of his staff was devoted to these

 

 

57

 

1 affairs during this very period, 1997 to 1998, for

2 example?

3 A. Yes, more or less true to when I retired at the end

4 of December 2005.

5 Q. Finally, I wanted to ask you, the establishment of the

6 coordination meeting or -- I don't know what the correct

7 title was --

8 A. I think it was called the coordinating group on the

9 political settlement or on a political settlement, CGPS.

10 One never spelt it out after the first couple of weeks.

11 Q. Was that in your view effective in addressing the

12 concern she had expressed about the coordination?

13 A. I don't think what she was asking for was something that

14 was going to be achieved by a single measure. I think

15 it was a useful contribution to bringing about what she

16 and I both wanted, but what she saw possibly more

17 dramatically than I did at the time.

18 Q. We have heard from other witnesses, other civil

19 servants, who worked with her, that she had her likes

20 and dislikes, if I can put it that way, amongst

21 officials. And Mr Steele, for instance, was in the

22 favoured group and I think Mr Lindsay also, and

23 Mr Watkins was content to say that he was not. Can

24 I ask you: where did you feature in the picture?

25 A. Well, definitely not in the favoured group, I think, but

 

 

58

 

1 I didn't -- she didn't make me think that she regarded

2 me as, you know, deeply undesirable. I think she

3 probably regarded me as an unavoidable necessity,

4 which -- I mean, a position I tried to achieve with

5 a number of leading politicians.

6 Q. With success?

7 A. Yes, reasonably.

8 Q. And is it fair also to say that she preferred to work

9 through discussion rather than through careful reading

10 of her papers?

11 A. Yes, I think I say that in probably the second witness

12 statement, and certainly she wasn't one of the diligent

13 readers amongst ministers I have known.

14 Q. Can I ask you about the Security Minister at the time,

15 Adam Ingram? How frequent was your contact with him?

16 A. Well, less frequent than with Mo, except sort of, you

17 know -- the Secretary of State lived at Hillsborough

18 Castle; the junior ministers lived in the same building

19 that I lived in when we were both in Northern Ireland.

20 So we would meet, as it were, in passing there and

21 sometimes be at the same meetings with the Secretary of

22 State. But it would have been pretty unusual for me to

23 have a meeting with any of the junior ministers.

24 Q. Can I ask you about officials and individuals outside

25 the NIO, starting with the RUC? How regularly did you

 

 

59

 

1 meet the Chief Constable?

2 A. Well, I mean, the security police meeting, I think, SPM,

3 met once a month.

4 Q. Yes.

5 A. And I would have seen him there.

6 Q. Yes.

7 A. A few times a year, I would say, not more than that, we

8 might have done business together about one matter or

9 another, and maybe somewhere between two and four times

10 a year I would try to have a meal with him.

11 Q. Now, you tell us in paragraph 8 of your first statement,

12 RNI-817-110 (displayed), that when tensions rose between

13 him on the one hand and the Secretary of State on the

14 other, you would often act as a go between. Then you

15 say this:

16 "My involvement would signify to the Chief

17 Constable, who was used to dealing with the Security and

18 Policing Director ..."

19 Who, certainly at one stage, was John Steele and

20 then Mr Watkins:

21 "... the matter was being treated particularly

22 seriously by the Secretary of State."

23 Can I take it therefore that you would play that

24 particular role when there were points of political

25 importance, of importance to the Secretary of State

 

 

60

 

1 herself, which needed to be signalled to him?

2 A. Yes, I wouldn't use the word "political" in that

3 sentence if I were agreeing to it. There could be

4 matters of political significance, but it could be

5 matters of personal significance, I mean of a quite

6 trivial kind, to do with, you know, the provision of

7 police officers as protection officers to the Secretary

8 of State. I mean that sort of thing.

9 Q. So you would find yourself acting as go between in those

10 circumstances, would you?

11 A. Much more tense than other matters. These are matters

12 of real personal moment to individuals and -- I mean --

13 and I'm not talking about Mo Mowlam particularly. I'm

14 talking about a range of secretaries of state, and I'm

15 not talking about something that happened all the time,

16 but it is something that stuck in my mind and I just

17 thought I would explain why I didn't want to just go

18 with the word "political" in the question as you

19 formulated it.

20 Q. I understand. Can I ask you about your relationship

21 with Sir Ronnie Flanagan? Was it one which enabled you

22 to speak frankly to each other?

23 A. Yes, I believe so. I think we did speak frankly to each

24 other. These things are difficult to assess. I mean, I

25 can't assess his view of the relationship, but

 

 

61

 

1 I regarded him as a good colleague and helpful.

2 Q. Did you have any form of regular contact with other

3 senior RUC officers?

4 A. No, no, not at all really. I mean, I would meet them

5 occasionally, but no sort of regular contact.

6 Q. Can I ask you next about the Security Service? Did you

7 have regular contact with the DCI?

8 A. Yes. I mean, more regular than with the

9 Chief Constable. I would say generally at least once

10 a week.

11 Q. Now, in your second statement you deal with the question

12 of warrantry applications. Were your meetings or

13 conversations with the DCI limited to discussions of

14 that kind?

15 A. They weren't limited to it. I would say that if they

16 were in my office, they were about warrantry, if they

17 were in the DCI's office, they were about any number of

18 things that I wanted to discuss with the DCI. I would

19 normally go and see people if I wanted to raise

20 something, and if it wasn't a regular programmed

21 occasion.

22 Q. Thank you. Can I just ask you a few questions about the

23 department itself? First of all, about its size in

24 terms of the numbers of civil servants employed. Am

25 I right in thinking it was a relatively small department

 

 

62

 

1 by Whitehall standards?

2 A. Well, at the beginning of my time there and the period

3 that I think this Inquiry is interested in, it was

4 considerably larger than it is today, or was at the

5 point that I retired.

6 Not -- it was always small by the standards of the

7 seriously large Whitehall departments, but because it

8 had the Prison Service, including the Maze, and an awful

9 lot of prison officers, I mean, the numbers, I think,

10 were probably of the order of 5,000 when I started --

11 the Prison Service was halved in size after the

12 Good Friday Agreement releases were completed and the

13 Maze was closed; certainly reduced by 40 per cent. And

14 the numbers fell to something like 3,000, I think, which

15 would have made it bigger than the Treasury is today by

16 quite a size.

17 But the part of the department that was more akin to

18 a Government department like the Treasury, which tends

19 not to run anything, the -- what you might call the core

20 of the Northern Ireland Office, criminal justice,

21 policing, security, PR, finance, HR, IT, those sorts of

22 functions, they would have been a bit smaller than

23 I recall the Treasury as being. So maybe 700 or 800,

24 that sort of number.

25 Q. At the time with which we are concerned, 1997/1998/1999,

 

 

63

 

1 the impression one gets from the evidence is that those

2 officials, particularly in some of the departments you

3 have just been mentioning, were very busy indeed. There

4 were a whole series of very big issues having to be

5 dealt with one after the other?

6 A. Yes. I mean, a range of business flowed out of the

7 Good Friday Agreement. So anybody who thought the

8 months leading up to it was the sort of peak of their

9 official business became sadly disillusioned more or

10 less straight afterwards. The prisons had to be

11 released, the criminal justice system had to be

12 reviewed, the Patten Commission had to be set up and

13 supported to the extent that the office needed to do

14 that, and of course then later received and considered

15 and implemented. So there was a major agenda to keep

16 many, many people busy.

17 Q. Did that and the fast moving pace of some of these

18 political events mean that a substantial proportion of

19 people's time was being spent in fire fighting of one

20 kind and another?

21 A. Well, I think the -- fire fighting in

22 a Northern Ireland Office context had a lot to do with

23 people's deaths and the -- you know, the blowing up of

24 buildings. And I think at the time that we are talking

25 about, those sorts of troubles were not at their peak.

 

 

64

 

1 They certainly existed and they produced a very strong

2 response from everybody and a need to be reacted to as

3 effectively as possible because they were jeopardising

4 what seemed like an important moment -- an important

5 opportunity to make progress with a political

6 settlement.

7 But I think if my predecessors were sitting here,

8 they would pour scorn on the thought that this was

9 a time of particularly peak fire fighting activity.

10 Q. The reason I asked you that question is because a number

11 of witnesses have come along and said there was a great

12 press of business, constant heavy matters to be

13 processed, huge amounts of correspondence. And so the

14 question I really wanted to ask you is, from your

15 perspective at the top of the organisation, did it seem

16 that people were in danger of getting overwhelmed by

17 their workloads at this point?

18 A. Well, I don't remember that sensation as compared with

19 earlier periods when I was in the NIO or later in my

20 time as Permanent Secretary.

21 I would say that across the Government departments

22 I have worked in, there have been areas of each

23 department that have been conspicuously under more

24 pressure than other areas, where it is sometimes right

25 to try to produce reinforcements, and sometimes you can

 

 

65

 

1 see that it is short-term and the reinforcements may

2 make life more difficult rather than easier in the short

3 run, so you don't intervene.

4 In this case, I think it would be fair to say there

5 was a consistently high workload against a -- across an

6 unusually high proportion of the department. But

7 I perhaps wouldn't have used the term "fire fighting" to

8 describe that, and that is where we were maybe not quite

9 understanding each other.

10 Q. I understand, thank you. Can I ask you about the

11 make-up of the department and of the individuals? What

12 proportion, are you able to say, of your senior team of

13 officials were from the Northern Ireland Civil Service

14 and what proportion from, if I can put it that way,

15 Whitehall?

16 A. I think there were 200 members of the home Civil Service

17 in the NIO, roughly anyway, 200. But they would be at

18 all levels, not exclusively at the senior levels. We

19 had the London office to staff and there were quite

20 a lot of home civil servants in the London office.

21 There may have been at its peak up to 100 people working

22 there, some of them Northern Ireland civil servants, but

23 probably the majority from the home Civil Service.

24 In Belfast, and thinking of the people working

25 direct to me, it was probably something like 50/50 at

 

 

66

 

1 the top level.

2 Q. Thank you. Now, so far as the backgrounds of staff are

3 concerned, Mr Steele touched on the question of the

4 extent to which the civil servants working in your

5 department were representative of both sides of the

6 community. Can I ask you this question: Did the NIO,

7 as far as you were aware, have any difficulty recruiting

8 from the Catholic or Nationalist side of the community

9 in Northern Ireland?

10 A. I believe it did consistently have difficulty. I gave

11 at various points quite a lot of thought to how to

12 remedy that difficulty and didn't ever succeed in

13 finding a very effective way of remedying it.

14 Q. So a substantial proportion of your colleagues were from

15 the other side of the community, if I can put it

16 that way?

17 A. Well, they were from one side rather than the other,

18 yes.

19 Q. Indeed.

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Yes. Now, in the material the Inquiry has gathered in

22 and in the evidence, a great deal of attention has been

23 directed to what I'm going to describe as correspondence

24 and correspondence management. I would like to ask you

25 now something about policy. Can you help us with how it

 

 

67

 

1 was that policy was formed within the department?

2 A. One is tempted to say how long have you got. That's

3 a very wide-ranging question. As soon as I have

4 succeeded in describing how policy is -- was formed --

5 I mean, probably I would be able to think of very

6 important exceptions to what I just said.

7 So it was formed in a variety of ways. Sometimes

8 policy would be formed as a result of leadership from

9 ministerial level. I guess that particularly after the

10 1997 election, ministers came in with an agenda. I

11 wasn't in the Northern Ireland Office then, but the

12 people who were subsequently worked for me and I know

13 that the election period was used to think about what an

14 incoming Labour Government might want to do.

15 So an agenda developed by officials, as it were, met

16 up with an agenda brought in by ministers, and the

17 process by which the eventual sort of set of policies

18 emerged that one saw publicly pursued in the following

19 years, I mean, was a complicated process of papers being

20 written, discussions taking place, sometimes in an

21 orderly way and sometimes, I'm sure, in a pretty

22 disorderly way, sometimes involving 10 Downing Street

23 and, again, depending on the gravity of the subject,

24 sometimes not involving.

25 But it was -- policy was being formulated in

 

 

68

 

1 different parts of the organisation, and policy is

2 a much abused word by civil servants, I mean, to cover

3 a range of business that isn't casework of individual

4 people. So handling an MP's interest in a particular

5 matter might be described by some people casually as

6 policy work, but it is not exactly ground-breaking,

7 fresh thinking about a new initiative that the

8 Government might take. But it is policy work as opposed

9 to being in a benefits office and administering a claim

10 to a -- so, you know, the whole Parliamentary business

11 area is often confused with the word "policy".

12 Q. Thank you. Now, what I would like to do, please, in the

13 light of the comments you made in your statement about

14 the extent to which you were involved in the various

15 matters which the Inquiry has been considering in this

16 period in relation to Rosemary Nelson, is take you to as

17 few documents as I can and use the documents in order to

18 find out from you to what extent you were involved in or

19 aware of the issues raised.

20 Now, the first of those is a document relating to

21 the threat assessment, which the Inquiry has discovered

22 was undertaken on Rosemary Nelson between February and

23 the beginning of April 1998. So the first document,

24 please, is RNI-106-078 (displayed).

25 So you see there 23 February to the Chief

 

 

69

 

1 Superintendent in Command Secretariat, from

2 Simon Rogers, an official in the Police Division,

3 heading "Rosemary Nelson security" and referring to

4 a meeting between him and his then head of division,

5 Christine Collins and an organisation called the

6 US Lawyers Alliance.

7 Now, this, as the Inquiry has heard, led to

8 consideration within the RUC of the question of whether

9 there was a threat to Rosemary Nelson. Is this an

10 issue, a matter, that you were aware of at the time; in

11 other words, February to April 1998?

12 A. I mean, I simply don't remember.

13 Q. No.

14 A. I have read this letter before this moment --

15 Q. Yes.

16 A. -- and I simply don't remember whether I -- when I knew

17 what I knew. I mean, I think if there is a document

18 with my name on it and it is the first document of that

19 sort, it is pretty likely that I would have known what

20 was in it when it passed my desk. If it was the

21 fifteenth letter of a rather similar sort, I might well

22 not have noticed much of the contents.

23 Q. But by this stage, so several months after you had

24 started in your post, do you think you were aware, as

25 a result perhaps of conversations with colleagues, that

 

 

70

 

1 concerns were being expressed about the safety of

2 Rosemary Nelson?

3 A. Well, I think I said the answer to that question

4 a moment ago. I said I didn't remember.

5 Q. You don't remember?

6 A. No, that's what I said.

7 Q. Do you think that at any point before Rosemary Nelson's

8 murder you were aware that concerns had been expressed

9 about her safety?

10 A. I'm sure I was.

11 Q. Yes. Were you also aware that over a number of years

12 concerns or allegations had been expressed at a much

13 more general level about what was said to be the

14 harassment of defence lawyers by the RUC?

15 A. Well, I was acutely aware of the murder of Pat Finucane.

16 Q. Yes.

17 A. And a lot of what was said around that, and probably

18 that's how I would have described it at that time,

19 rather than the way that you have just described it.

20 But I would have been aware of it in that context

21 particularly.

22 Q. Can I take you to an example of many letters we have

23 seen on this theme? It is RNI-106-114 (displayed). It

24 is 5 March 1998 to the minister, the Security Minister,

25 Adam Ingram, and this example is from the Committee on

 

 

71

 

1 the Administration of Justice, the CAJ, and it is, as

2 you see, a letter in relation to Rosemary Nelson but it

3 refers in the very first paragraph to the, as it were,

4 corpus of earlier literature on the question of alleged

5 harassment of defence lawyers.

6 Now, again just doing what you can with your memory,

7 were you aware of letters of this kind, letters from

8 NGOs raising concerns about her safety, coming into your

9 department?

10 A. Well, I can't tell you from memory. I would have said

11 on the balance of probabilities I would have been aware.

12 Q. You would?

13 A. I would have been aware on the balance of probabilities

14 because there were a sufficient number of them for it to

15 be very, very unlikely that I wouldn't have registered

16 that that was going on.

17 Q. Yes. And was it also likely because, by the stage with

18 which we are now dealing, March 1998, it had become an

19 issue of some significance in the political context of

20 Northern Ireland?

21 A. Well, could you ask that question again?

22 Q. Well, you made a suggestion that it is likely, or more

23 probable than not, I think you said, that you would have

24 been aware of letters of this kind because there were so

25 many of them.

 

 

72

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. I'm suggesting to you that you might have been had the

3 matter drawn to your attention because by this stage in

4 the political process in Northern Ireland it had become

5 a matter of some importance?

6 A. Yes, I don't think that I did see it as a matter of

7 importance in the political process, if that's what you

8 are asking me, compared with, you know, scores of other

9 matters that were being handled day by day.

10 Q. You see, the allegations of this kind were obviously

11 perceived by a very large number of people, a lot of

12 whom have given evidence to this Inquiry, as being part

13 of the broader political campaigning, looked at in one

14 way, and on the other hand the necessary impetus for

15 change in relation to the RUC. That was all going on,

16 was it not, at this time, 1997/1998? Did it not have

17 political significance in that context?

18 A. Well, it wasn't insignificant. I mean, I'm not meaning

19 to imply that it was insignificant. I think what I'm

20 saying is that it wasn't of an order of significance

21 that was likely to lead to my discussing it with people

22 who were responsible for the various areas of progress

23 across the broadest political front.

24 Q. Can I ask you this question, therefore, rather more

25 specifically about Rosemary Nelson? Can you remember

 

 

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1 now when the question of her safety specifically was

2 drawn to your attention?

3 A. No.

4 Q. Now, before you took up your post at the beginning

5 of December 1997, the Special Rapporteur, the UN Special

6 Rapporteur, visited the United Kingdom and in particular

7 Northern Ireland. And we have heard a great deal of

8 evidence about what happened when his draft report was

9 sent to the NIO, amongst others, in February 1998.

10 Now, did you at the time have any involvement in

11 dealing with the question of his draft report?

12 A. Not that I can remember.

13 Q. No. It is not something that you discussed, as far as

14 you can remember, with Mr Steele, for example?

15 A. I could perfectly well have done, but I don't remember.

16 Q. Yes. Now, one of the recommendations he made in his

17 draft report was:

18 "Where there is a threat to the physical integrity

19 of a solicitor or barrister, irrespective of from whom

20 the threat emanates, the Government should provide the

21 necessary protection and should vigorously investigated

22 the threats and bring to justice the guilty party."

23 That recommendation, involving Government acting,

24 offering protection to lawyers in those circumstances,

25 was that something of which you were aware?

 

 

74

 

1 A. No, I have become aware of it reading papers for this

2 Inquiry. I mean, I wouldn't have remembered it

3 previously and I can see why it gave rise to

4 difficulties for my colleagues at the time, as we didn't

5 have resources to discharge those responsibilities and

6 under our traditional constitutional arrangements there

7 were other features of the public sector with

8 responsibilities more pertinent to that particular

9 recommendation.

10 Q. You mean the question of protection?

11 A. And investigation.

12 Q. Yes. In other words, these were police matters and not

13 matters for Government?

14 A. That's precisely what I mean, yes.

15 Q. Yes. But do you have any recollection of discussing

16 those recommendations, for example, with the Secretary

17 of State?

18 A. No.

19 Q. And with the Chief Constable?

20 A. No.

21 Q. Now, one of the matters that the Rapporteur raised in

22 rather stark form, not least because of his office and

23 his authority, was the issue of what might be described

24 as police misbehaviour; in other words, their

25 unprofessional conduct towards lawyers. I would like to

 

 

75

 

1 ask you some questions, please, about a particular

2 paragraph of your first statement, paragraph 12. It is

3 at RNI-817-111 (displayed).

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. Now, the first thing you say is this:

6 "I have been asked if I have any recollection of

7 Ronnie Flanagan expressing any views in relation to

8 Rosemary Nelson personally or in relation to the

9 allegations of intimidation of defence lawyers by the

10 RUC."

11 Then you go on to say:

12 "When Ronnie Flanagan was speaking about police

13 misbehaviour generally, he could be illuminating when he

14 was speaking to me about his experiences as a much

15 younger officer."

16 Et cetera. In this paragraph you don't actually

17 answer the question about whether you have any

18 recollection of Ronnie Flanagan expressing any views in

19 relation to Rosemary Nelson personally. We will come on

20 to that in a moment. But as I understand it, these two

21 sentences, the first beginning "when Ronnie Flanagan"

22 and the next "when it came" are your answers to that

23 part of the question which relates to intimidation of

24 defence lawyers. Is that right?

25 A. Well, misbehaviour by the police, yes.

 

 

76

 

1 Q. Yes. So it is obviously a matter that you discussed

2 with him, is it not?

3 A. I don't remember discussing it with him. The reason

4 that's couched in the way that it is is that it is

5 a general account of the sorts of conversations that he

6 and I had, and it would have been -- it would have been

7 a fairly short conversation in my experience.

8 If we had got into the sort of area -- we may have

9 done -- but what -- I mean, he was very committed to the

10 force that he was leading. It is a uniformed

11 organisation. I think the point that I'm making is that

12 in private, as well as in public, he was inclined to be

13 very, very supportive of his officers.

14 Q. And to reject any suggestion of impropriety on their

15 part?

16 A. And --

17 Q. Sorry, could I have a yes or no answer to that question?

18 A. Sorry. Well, I do not think I would go so far as to say

19 that he wanted to assert that it was unthinkable that

20 any member of his force would do anything untoward, but

21 I think he would -- in fact I believe he would take it

22 very, very seriously if he thought anybody had done

23 anything untoward and would be pretty unforgiving if

24 that were demonstrated to be so.

25 But, you know, he wouldn't lightly discuss the sort

 

 

77

 

1 of pros and cons of whether somebody might or might not

2 have done something. It would be much more serious for

3 him than that would allow. Whereas if he was

4 reminiscing about 25 years ago -- that is the contrast

5 I'm making really. The immediate modern era was not

6 something one had a light conversation with him about.

7 Q. I understand. But just to be clear then, in relation to

8 the question of whether you recall discussing with him

9 intimidation of defence lawyers, I think your answer is

10 you have no specific recollection?

11 A. That's so, so I don't remember doing it.

12 Q. So the rest of the paragraph, where you offer these

13 other observations, is a much more general recollection

14 of conversations with him about the police, of which he

15 was the Chief Constable?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Thank you. Now, you say in the last sentence:

18 "There was no difference between his stance, as it

19 were, publicly and privately."

20 And you go on in the next paragraph -- if we could

21 have that on the screen, please, RNI-817-112

22 (displayed) -- to say you do not recall him ever

23 accepting that his officers were involved in any kind of

24 harassment during his time as Chief Constable, either in

25 public or in private. That is somewhat at odds with what

 

 

78

 

1 you have just said, which is that he was willing to

2 investigate and, if he found misbehaviour, to deal with

3 it rather firmly. It sounds as though his basic

4 position, publicly and privately, with you was flat

5 denial?

6 A. I don't think I said that. And I didn't mean to say it,

7 and if paragraph 13 means that, I apologise for the

8 careless expression in it.

9 I think what I'm saying is that he was defensive of

10 his officers. But I'm perfectly satisfied from his

11 whole course of conduct and conversation that if he

12 believed that misbehaviour had been demonstrated,

13 I mean, he would be extremely -- he would treat it very

14 seriously and he would be extremely upset about it. But

15 I don't recall him accepting that that had been shown to

16 be so.

17 Q. No. But you see, the next sentence you put in this

18 paragraph is:

19 "I have certainly never proceeded on the basis that

20 those of authority can do no wrong. All human beings

21 are fallible."

22 It may be my misunderstanding, but I took you there

23 to be drawing some sort of contrast between your

24 attitude and his?

25 A. No, I think I'm going on generally to discuss my own

 

 

79

 

1 position, my own reaction, I think, to the constant

2 repetition of these claims.

3 Q. Yes.

4 A. I mean, which -- I wasn't the Chief Constable of the

5 force. I felt less emotional attachment to them. It

6 was easier for me, I think, to take the view that it

7 would be bound to include fallible people.

8 Q. Yes.

9 A. But equally, I go on to say -- I mean, I was inhibited

10 about drawing the conclusion that it therefore meant,

11 you know, that some people must have been doing some

12 pretty terrible and indefensible things -- in other

13 words, that there was no smoke without fire -- because

14 it was my experience over a good number of years in

15 Northern Ireland that people who were prepared to

16 murder, for example, were quite prepared to commit

17 rather lesser actions like telling lies and, therefore,

18 it would be rash to jump to either conclusion.

19 And as I think an endless amount of evidence for

20 this Inquiry may have already demonstrated, I mean, the

21 Northern Ireland Office was trying to do something about

22 the difficulty of getting to the bottom of these

23 matters, but it was difficult to do that

24 retrospectively. One could only do it prospectively.

25 Q. But in this sentence then, the one I think you are

 

 

80

 

1 referring to which is:

2 "I'm also aware it was a commonplace technique in

3 Northern Ireland to undermine bodies such as the

4 police."

5 As I understand it, what you have just been saying

6 is a suggestion that there was some form of campaign to

7 undermine the RUC conducted by or with encouragement

8 from organisations that were in fact terrorist

9 organisations?

10 A. There had been, yes. What I wasn't saying was that this

11 was an example of such a campaign.

12 What I was saying was that on the one hand, in

13 assessing this sort of thing one was aware of the

14 fallibility of human beings and the possibility of

15 people doing things wrong; on the other, one couldn't be

16 naive about it. There were examples of propaganda

17 against the police which, you know, wouldn't have paid

18 too much regard to whether the story was true or not in

19 pushing the propaganda. And making sense of this mass

20 of correspondence against that within that sort of range

21 of possibilities was not very easy.

22 Q. But it sounds as though it may not have been easy, but

23 it was something with which you had to deal, not least,

24 as you say, because of its impact, not necessarily in

25 Northern Ireland but abroad and, in particular, in the

 

 

81

 

1 United States?

2 A. Yes. I certainly heard quite a lot about it when I went

3 to the United States, which I did once each year.

4 Q. And you refer in your statement, I think, to unhappy

5 breakfasts with American lawyers in which you had to set

6 out your department's position knowing that you were

7 unlikely to get a contented reaction?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. And can I take it, therefore, that this issue, the issue

10 of the alleged harassment, police misbehaviour, was one

11 of the topics that came up on those occasions?

12 A. Actually I don't remember it coming up in the way that

13 you have just described it, and have repeatedly

14 described it. It came up much, much more, as I think

15 I said a few minutes ago, linked to the murder of

16 Pat Finucane. That is what people wanted to talk to me

17 about pre-eminently. And rarely do I recall general

18 discussions about the harass -- in fact, I don't recall

19 general discussions about the harassment of defence

20 lawyers. I recall early mornings talking at some length

21 about what the Government were or were not doing about

22 the murder of --

23 Q. Pat Finucane.

24 A. -- Pat Finucane.

25 Q. That may be true of the breakfasts, but the point you

 

 

82

 

1 are making here in paragraph 13 that we are looking at

2 together is a more general point because the topic you

3 discuss is a more general point, and the concern that

4 you describe in relation to such accusations of

5 misbehaviour is a more general point, is it not?

6 A. Yes. I'm not talking there about my personal

7 experience, but --

8 Q. But your concern in your role of Permanent

9 Undersecretary is what effect, as you say, such

10 accusations of behaviour would have on the reactions of

11 hearts and minds elsewhere?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. And we see repeatedly in our documentation, for example,

14 at the time of the furore about the ICPC in relation to

15 Mr Cumaraswamy's report, concern being expressed that

16 sufficient briefing will have to be given in relation to

17 the Irish, in relation to the Americans. Presumably

18 that was all part of the same thing, in order to ensure

19 that these interested foreign constituencies could be

20 briefed in relation to matters in which they had an

21 interest?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Now, can I ask you in relation to the Cumaraswamy Report

24 just a couple of questions?

25 We looked together very briefly at one of the

 

 

83

 

1 recommendations, and you gave your response to that, in

2 relation to protection. Can you remember now any policy

3 discussions being held at the NIO in relation to the

4 recommendations contained in his final report?

5 A. I don't remember any discussions.

6 Q. No. Now, at the end of March 1998, if we look at

7 RNI-106-173 (displayed), we see a memorandum copied to

8 you -- the second copyee there on the right -- in

9 relation to the report. At this point it was on the

10 point of being issued as a final report. I think it was

11 issued at the very beginning of April, and the

12 difficulty here was that the amendments which had been

13 made to the report following its receipt in draft had

14 been -- and the fact that they had been made -- had been

15 leaked to the newspapers. Do you see that? It is in

16 the first sentence:

17 "The Guardian had got hold of the information"?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Now, we have heard evidence about this.

20 Christine Collins has told us about discussing the draft

21 report with the Chief Constable. Can I ask you this:

22 did you have any personal involvement in the matter at

23 this stage? So the second stage, at the end

24 of March 1998?

25 A. I don't recall having any involvement, which -- I mean,

 

 

84

 

1 whenever I have said that, it means, I'm sure, as you

2 would understand, that I don't know that I didn't. I

3 don't know that I did, I don't know that I didn't.

4 Q. And you don't have any recollection of discussing this

5 with the Secretary of State or the Chief Constable at

6 this stage, the end of March 1998?

7 A. No.

8 Q. Can I just look at the document on the screen again and

9 see you there as one of the copyees (displayed)? Thank

10 you.

11 Now, in terms of the reason why you might have been

12 copied in to this matter at this stage, was it, do you

13 think, based on a judgment as to its importance, as to

14 the fact that there was publicity being given to it?

15 What do you think it was?

16 A. I think you would be hard put to find papers of any

17 significance going to ministers that weren't copied to

18 me. I don't think it was on any basis other than that.

19 That accounts for the rather large volume of paper that

20 came.

21 Q. Indeed.

22 A. And it wasn't my practice to discourage people from

23 copying things to me because I could decide not to read

24 them if they had sent them to me. But I couldn't decide

25 to read them if they hadn't sent them to me.

 

 

85

 

1 Q. Yes. Now, as I am sure you have learnt since, even if

2 you didn't know this then, one of the controversies here

3 was the suggestion that the Chief Constable had asserted

4 that some defence solicitors were working for

5 paramilitaries.

6 Was that issue -- in other words, whether or not he

7 had made that remark in the meeting he had with the

8 Rapporteur -- a matter you ever discussed with the

9 Chief Constable?

10 A. I think almost certainly not at the time, but I have --

11 I think I have heard him refer to it since.

12 Q. When you say "since", do you mean before the murder of

13 Rosemary Nelson?

14 A. No, much later.

15 Q. But you don't think it is a matter you discussed with

16 him before her murder?

17 A. Well, I don't remember doing so.

18 Q. Did he ever express such a view to you on any other

19 occasion, i.e. quite separately from whether or not he had

20 said it to Mr Cumaraswamy?

21 A. No, I don't recall him saying that to me.

22 Q. Yes.

23 A. And certainly he and I would both have been aware of the

24 sensitivity of that sort of statement because of the

25 case that I have mentioned repeatedly and won't mention

 

 

86

 

1 again.

2 Q. So the sensitivity, in other words, that it was a very

3 serious matter to make an allegation of that kind?

4 A. Yes, and that if you make it, it tends to stick to you

5 for a long time to come.

6 Q. So presumably you don't make it unless you believe you

7 have got something to back it up with?

8 A. Or you are careless.

9 Q. Or you are careless, indeed.

10 Now, you may or may not have heard that in recent

11 days the Inquiry has received evidence from senior

12 Special Branch officers to the effect that they and

13 their colleagues regarded Rosemary Nelson in one case as

14 a terrorist, or in another case as someone who had been

15 involved in the commission of a number of criminal

16 offences. Were you aware that the Inquiry had received

17 evidence of that kind?

18 A. I wasn't. I saw a document in the last sort of

19 24 hours, I think -- or anyway very recently -- that the

20 Inquiry team had provided, much of which was redacted so

21 it was quite difficult to make sense of it, but it had

22 some word against the name of Rosemary Nelson that

23 surprised me when I read it. It wasn't as specific as

24 you have just been in asking that question, but I was

25 quite taken aback to see that there.

 

 

87

 

1 Q. Was that view about her ever expressed to you during her

2 lifetime?

3 A. Well, not until I read that statement. And what you

4 have just said to me now is news to me, as you said it.

5 Q. Did you at any stage in your dealings with

6 Sir Ronnie Flanagan or any other police officer get the

7 impression from him or anyone else that that was in fact

8 the way in which she was regarded?

9 A. No.

10 Q. Now, we are going to look in a minute at the later

11 circumstances in which you did become involved in

12 dealing with Rosemary Nelson-related issues. But I want

13 to ask you this: do you think you should have been made

14 aware by the RUC of their view of her?

15 A. Well, that raises very big questions about the

16 relationship between the intelligence organisation,

17 which is, as it were, in the lead on intelligence of

18 a particular type in part of the United Kingdom. And

19 Government. And I think that it would be true to say

20 that a police force -- whether the Metropolitan Police,

21 which for a long time were in the lead on intelligence

22 in relation to Irish Republican terrorism in

23 Great Britain, or the RUC, which until much more

24 recently were responsible for being in the lead on

25 terrorism in Northern Ireland -- the relationship

 

 

88

 

1 between the police force and Government is

2 understandably different from and, I would say, in my

3 experience, more distant from Government than that of

4 the intelligence agencies that Government is more

5 directly responsible for.

6 I wouldn't -- to answer the question is -- as put is

7 quite difficult because the judgment as to what it is

8 appropriate to share with Government, whether you are in

9 a police force or an intelligence agency, depends very

10 much on the context and the specific needs. And

11 operational intelligence ought to be shared with as few

12 people as possible. But there are circumstances where

13 it is right, notwithstanding that inhibition to share it

14 because of the difference that it could make to

15 important responsibilities that other agencies, like the

16 Government, are discharging.

17 I don't -- I think I would need to reflect for quite

18 a long time to work out whether there was any point in

19 the course of these events where it would have been

20 helpful to have had that view shared with me.

21 I suspect, off the top of my head and on oath but not

22 really wanting to be held to account for the rightness

23 or wrongness of my answer, I would say it would have

24 made -- I can't think of any responsibilities we had

25 that would have led us to do things differently if we

 

 

89

 

1 had been told that.

2 Q. Can you look with me, please, at paragraph 17 of your

3 first statement, RNI-817-113 (displayed)? I'm coming to

4 it now because of the answer you have just given,

5 although it comes in fact in a part of your statement

6 which follows the paragraphs where you talk about the

7 disclosure of the alleged relationship between

8 Colin Duffy and Rosemary Nelson.

9 You begin by positing an argument that the NIO

10 should have done more to provide protection, et cetera:

11 "I am confident she was not denied protection by us

12 because of her alleged relationship with Colin Duffy.

13 However, with hindsight, I suppose an important

14 question, which we did not know the answer to at the

15 time and I do not know the answer to now, is whether the

16 police judgment that Rosemary Nelson was not at risk was

17 influenced by any knowledge of an alleged relationship

18 between Rosemary Nelson and one of her clients."

19 Then you go on to say that the decision would have

20 been based on intelligence in relation to specific

21 threat.

22 Now, we will come back to all of this, but here then

23 the question you pose for yourself in the fourth line

24 relates to whether the police judgment was influenced by

25 knowledge of the alleged relationship. Can I take it

 

 

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1 first of all that that was a question in your mind at

2 the time?

3 A. It was clearly in my mind over the whole course of these

4 events. I doubt if it was in my mind at the time that I

5 was told this, and as I think my statement shows, I

6 can't remember exactly when that was, though it was

7 before she was murdered.

8 Q. Yes.

9 A. I think it must have been in my mind within 24 hours of

10 that conversation because the conclusion I came to,

11 which was I couldn't see any point in sharing that

12 information with anybody in the Northern Ireland Office,

13 and quite a lot of point in not sharing it with anybody

14 in the Northern Ireland Office, can have only arisen as

15 a result of a course of thought that would have included

16 that particular issue.

17 Q. Well, because the police were responsible for assessing

18 security, as you say, based on intelligence, the

19 question had arisen in your mind whether that judgment

20 would be influenced by what you had been told?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Can I suggest to you that if you had been told that she

23 was regarded as a terrorist or somebody committing

24 criminal activities, that would also have been a very

25 substantial question in your mind in relation to their

 

 

91

 

1 assessment of her safety?

2 A. Well, it would have been rather different, I think. I'm

3 not the world's expert on the Key Persons Protection

4 Scheme and I think you have, or you are seeing, people

5 who know much more about it than I do. But I have

6 a feeling that through most of its history we were -- we

7 had a sort of policy not to protect people who had

8 committed or were committing terrorist offences. And

9 the reliability or otherwise of that judgment would have

10 been in my mind, but not its relevance to the decision.

11 An extramarital relationship of whatever sort with

12 anybody, Colin Duffy or anybody else, would not have

13 seemed to me to be in and of itself germane to the

14 issues that we had to consider, and to that extent the

15 two matters are not analogous.

16 Q. No. And the latter point, about the view of her as

17 a terrorist, the view of her as somebody committing

18 criminal actions is much more germane, is it not?

19 A. It certainly is.

20 Q. I come back to the question I asked: is this not

21 something that, with hindsight, you believe you should

22 have been told?

23 A. Well, it wouldn't have led to a different outcome, I

24 think.

25 Q. That's not quite an answer to the question, though,

 

 

92

 

1 is it?

2 A. Well, it is relevant to the question that you asked, to

3 this extent: that if the starting point is that

4 operational intelligence about specific individuals is

5 kept to a very, very small number of people and that was

6 the practice, and it was very important that it should

7 be the practice for all sorts of reasons, the question

8 whether sharing this information could make

9 a significant difference or not is very -- is very

10 important to the decision whether or not it should be

11 shared.

12 In a way, the question you are asking is: should the

13 one-line or one-sentence communications from the police

14 about whether she was under a specific threat have been

15 amplified with much more information. I think that

16 would be another way of formulating your question.

17 They obviously had got, from what you have told me

18 this afternoon, much more information, not just

19 information about the absence of a threat. One doesn't

20 know about the reliability of that information. I'm

21 making no judgment about it.

22 Q. No.

23 A. But they had information that they presumably believed

24 justified them coming to the views that you have

25 attributed to them today. And the police were never in

 

 

93

 

1 the habit of amplifying what they said, as I think some

2 of my colleagues have said from this chair.

3 And in this particular case, I don't think that they

4 would have -- it would have made a difference. We would

5 have rushed to provide protection, is really what I'm

6 saying, on being told that information. I dare say from

7 their point of view what was at stake was where the

8 information would end up, who would get to know about it

9 and whether people's lives would be put at risk as

10 a result. That's the usual sort of consideration. You

11 probably know much more about this than I do myself in

12 this particular case, I mean. I'm only speculating.

13 MR PHILLIPS: Sir, would that be a convenient moment?

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. We are going to have a quarter of an

15 hour break.

16 (3.55 pm)

17 (Short break)

18 (4.15 pm)

19 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Phillips?

20 MR PHILLIPS: Now, can we look, please, at paragraph 8 of

21 your statement, RNI-817-110 (displayed)? We looked at

22 it briefly earlier in relation to your role as go

23 between. You say at the bottom of this page:

24 "In terms of my particular recollection the

25 Nelson/Duffy complaint, my recollection is that the

 

 

94

 

1 Secretary of State and the Chief Constable didn't see

2 eye to eye on this matter."

3 What do you mean by that, please?

4 A. I think that I had in mind, I mean, arrangements for

5 conducting investigations and their supervision,

6 specifically, because calling in people from other

7 police forces is always something I think that a chief

8 executive officer of police is reluctant to do, wherever

9 the police force is situated.

10 And the balance of advantage and disadvantage is

11 always likely to be struck rather differently, I think,

12 by a politician than by the person leading the

13 organisation that is being investigated.

14 Q. So this relates to the involvement of

15 Commander Mulvihill?

16 A. Not just his involvement, but everything associated with

17 his involvement, yes.

18 Q. Yes. Just to remind you that the way the issue arose

19 was that in June 1998, the ICPC, the Chairman, wrote to

20 the Secretary of State and, indeed, the Chief Constable

21 and said that the Commission was considering for the

22 first time, in fact, not issuing a certificate of

23 satisfaction about the RUC investigation of the

24 Rosemary Nelson/Colin Duffy complaints.

25 We have heard a number of witnesses -- from your

 

 

95

 

1 colleagues -- that this caused a great stir within the

2 department. Do you remember the impact of the

3 Chairman's letter?

4 A. No. I mean, I have read a lot of the papers surrounding

5 it recently and that's had the effect of almost

6 confusing my recollection of what I would have

7 remembered if nobody had shown me a piece of paper and

8 what I now think I might possibly remember.

9 I think this paragraph says more or less what I

10 would have remembered about the period: that they didn't

11 see eye to eye entirely for the sorts of reasons I have

12 described. But I do not have a very clear recollection

13 of it. In fact, I remember being quite surprised on

14 looking at some papers that showed what a serious matter

15 it was from the Chief Constable's own point of view.

16 Q. You mean surprised to see how firm his reaction was?

17 A. Yes, I had forgotten that there was an episode when

18 Paul Donnelly said something that he thought was, as it

19 were, out of order because he thought procedurally it

20 had been dealt with in the wrong way by the ICPC.

21 Q. Yes. Can I just take you to one or two documents from

22 that period? The first is at RNI-106-218 (displayed).

23 It is the letter of the Secretary of State to the

24 Chief Constable of 28 June. You see you appear as one

25 of the copyees at the top of that little handwritten

 

 

96

 

1 list?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. "I know that John Steele and Christine Collins discussed

4 with you on Wednesday the letter you and I have received

5 from Paul Donnelly."

6 That is the letter I mentioned to you a little while

7 ago:

8 "I know we both regard the allegations as serious

9 ones ..."

10 Et cetera. In what some witnesses, I think, have

11 described as an unusual way, the Secretary of State's

12 lines to take were enclosed and we can see them at

13 RNI-106-219 and RNI-106-220, if we can have both of

14 those pages on the screen, please (displayed). Thank

15 you.

16 The line or question and answer I wanted to direct

17 your attention to is on the right-hand side. The

18 question:

19 "This shows Mr Cumaraswamy, the UN Special

20 Rapporteur, was right: the RUC do harass, threaten,

21 intimidate defence lawyers."

22 And the answer:

23 "It does not show this. The ICPC's concerns are

24 about the quality of an investigation carried out under

25 their supervision. Complaints themselves are still the

 

 

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1 subject of investigation. When the independent DPP

2 receives the file, he may of course request that further

3 enquiries are conducted and the Chief Constable must

4 ..."

5 I don't know whether that is the right word when it

6 says:

7 "... must do these"?

8 A. Poor drafting, I think.

9 Q. Indeed it looks like it, doesn't it? Was that a concern,

10 then, as far as you were aware, namely that the people

11 would take the ICPC dissatisfaction as showing that the

12 Rapporteur had indeed been right all along, that this

13 harassment, this misbehaviour we discussed earlier was

14 in fact taking place?

15 A. I have explained that I do not have a very clear

16 recollection of this period and these lines to take --

17 I mean, it is an art form that I think you may be

18 investing with slightly more significance than it really

19 has.

20 You see, these are produced by relatively junior

21 people doing their best to anticipate the sorts of

22 questions that other people might ask. On the face of

23 it, knowing what I have seen in the last few days, that

24 looks like a rather sensible question to have included

25 in these lines to take and a rather sensible answer to

 

 

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1 suggest that the Secretary of State might use if she

2 were asked to do so.

3 Q. They may be produced by junior officials, but of course

4 in this case they are being sent by the Secretary of

5 State on the one hand to the Chief Constable on the

6 other, presumably for his consideration?

7 A. No, I think it may be, if I read the letter that you

8 showed me a moment ago correctly, rather in the spirit

9 of, "Look, I'm going it show you what I'm going to say.

10 Will you show me what you are going to say?" rather than

11 sending them for his approval. I think this was

12 inviting him to respond in kind.

13 Q. At the very least the Secretary of State was saying,

14 "This may have been drafted by a junior official,

15 Sir Ronnie, but I'm intending to follow this line"?

16 A. She may not have read them. There is no reason at all

17 to believe she would have read them. Nor is there any

18 reason to believe she would have taken the slightest

19 notice of them if she had received questions. She

20 didn't proceed in that sort of way.

21 Q. In other words, the civil servants diligently went about

22 their business, whether they were very junior or

23 somebody like you, having no idea whether in fact the

24 Minister would follow their advice?

25 A. It happened all the time, not just with her but with

 

 

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1 lots of ministers.

2 Q. Indeed. Looking at his response, which is at

3 RNI-106-232 (displayed) and dated 7 July, one of the

4 points he makes in his numbered paragraphs at the end,

5 you see, is:

6 "I see no real role for your office while

7 investigations are extant."

8 And it looks very much as though in this letter

9 Sir Ronnie was effectively saying, "Back off",

10 doesn't it?

11 A. I think that's pretty close to nuclear in relations

12 between secretaries of state and chief constables. I

13 wouldn't say unprecedented, but I think that is quite

14 a strong form of words.

15 Q. Was that an area of concern amongst officials at the

16 NIO, i.e. the extent to which you could lean on or attempt

17 to influence the Chief Constable in his operational

18 control of the RUC?

19 A. I think it is bound to have been an issue from 1972

20 until the end of Op Banner, when the Army ceased having

21 an operational role in Northern Ireland because the Army

22 was something that the Government were accountable for.

23 The police, who were in the lead supported by the Army,

24 were an organisation that the Government were not

25 accountable for.

 

 

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1 The Government invested a huge importance in the

2 operational independence of the police. I think that's

3 something that the British Government probably took very

4 seriously from 1969 onwards when they began to get more

5 than a little bit interested in what was going on in

6 this part of the world.

7 So there was always this tension there and it was

8 something that everybody involved, I think, from the

9 most senior levels to the most junior, thought about

10 most days. And working it through, I mean, was

11 always -- was always tricky and could give rise to the

12 sort of exchange that you see here, which wouldn't, as

13 I say, be unique, but is the Chief Constable saying,

14 "You have gone a bit too far on this".

15 Q. When I was discussing this with Mr Steele, John Steele,

16 when he gave evidence, he said in relation to his

17 dealings with the Chief Constable that there came

18 a moment in relation to this general problem of the

19 harassment of defence lawyers, of the alleged harassment

20 of defence lawyers, that he believes that there was

21 a conversation between him and Sir Ronnie Flanagan in

22 which he said, "We have got to get to the bottom of it,

23 find out whether it is going on. If it is happening,

24 get a grip on it and tell your people to stop it."

25 Now, that obviously takes us very much to this

 

 

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1 question of operational independence and, as some would

2 see it anyway, at the very least influencing or possibly

3 interfering. Were you aware that John Steele had had

4 a conversation of that kind with Sir Ronnie Flanagan on

5 that topic?

6 A. If I was, I had forgotten. But I have read the

7 material.

8 Q. But are you surprised to hear that such a frank exchange

9 in which Mr Steele spoke to the Chief Constable in those

10 terms had in fact taken place?

11 A. No, I think the context of conversations is very

12 important and the pre-existing relationship is very

13 important.

14 If people believe that you mean well, it is possible

15 to give them advice to the best of your ability and for

16 it to be received in good faith, and ignored, if it is

17 thought to be inappropriate advice, without necessarily

18 giving rise to any damage to the relationship. And I

19 would have been amazed and disappointed if John Steele

20 hadn't had a relationship with the Chief Constable that

21 would have allowed him to say that sort of thing.

22 There have been Chief Constables, I think, in the

23 United Kingdom with whom it might not have been so easy

24 to have that sort of relationship. But I think

25 Ronnie Flanagan was in that category where that was

 

 

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1 possible.

2 Q. Where there can be this sort of straight talking?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. But can I take it from the answers you have been giving

5 that you have no recollection of such a straight talking

6 conversation about any of the issues concerning

7 Rosemary Nelson?

8 A. I do not have any recollection of it.

9 Q. You mentioned earlier in your evidence the concern on

10 the part of Americans about the Pat Finucane case and

11 how that had come up in your breakfast meetings.

12 Were you aware at this stage, certainly before

13 Rosemary Nelson was murdered, of parallels being drawn

14 between that case and the ongoing allegations of

15 harassment, including those being made about

16 Rosemary Nelson?

17 A. Yes, I'm sure I was. What I simply can't remember is

18 whether the references to Rosemary Nelson, which

19 certainly did take place in those meetings -- and the

20 reason I'm investing them with some importance is that

21 they were meetings I was present at, whereas the

22 generality of meetings of that sort, I wouldn't normally

23 have been present at. So they stick in my mind for that

24 reason, not because they were of intrinsically greater

25 importance than meetings that ministers were having with

 

 

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1 other people and with the same people.

2 What I simply don't remember is whether the

3 references to Rosemary Nelson were calls for us to

4 provide protection before she was murdered or complaints

5 after she had been murdered about the way she had been

6 treated before she was murdered and the nature that the

7 police investigation was taking.

8 I'm sure that the latter featured at, as it were,

9 breakfasts after her death, but what I can't remember is

10 whether there were also references in 1998. I tended to

11 go in the fall of each year, as they would have said,

12 and therefore there would have been one visit, I think,

13 before she was murdered.

14 Q. But you think it is possible then, do you, that on those

15 occasions with, as you say, breakfasts with human rights

16 lawyers in New York, is the way you put it, the question

17 of her safety was raised with you before she was

18 murdered?

19 A. It is possible. As I say, I just cannot remember

20 whether it was before and after.

21 Q. So far as the human rights lawyers are concerned, for

22 example, did they include the LAJI group, the Lawyers

23 Alliance for Justice in Ireland group?

24 A. I don't know about overlapping membership. I think it

25 was called something like the Bar Association of

 

 

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1 New York, but it was a particular group within that

2 broader umbrella.

3 Q. Yes. Now, can I just ask you about the way in which

4 Rosemary Nelson was regarded? In her autobiography,

5 Mo Mowlam suggests that she was disliked by many in the

6 establishment, including civil servants, the legal

7 profession and the police. Were you aware of that

8 dislike in discussing her case, issues relating to her

9 before her murder?

10 A. I wasn't aware of anybody in the Northern Ireland Office

11 that had met her. I mean, that's not to say there

12 weren't people who hadn't met her, but I didn't know of

13 people. I don't remember people discussing her

14 personality or whether she was liked or disliked at all.

15 Q. Did you get any sense before she was murdered as to how

16 she was viewed or regarded by your colleagues?

17 A. No.

18 Q. No.

19 A. Well, I mean, neither in one direction nor another. She

20 was the source of serious work and attention, but

21 I don't remember any sort of personal observations.

22 Q. No expression of that kind at all?

23 A. No, or, as I say, any basis on which personal

24 observations could have been expressed.

25 Q. No. Now, can I just ask you to look at a memorandum

 

 

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1 which comes slightly later than this, slightly later

2 in July 1998, during the ICPC saga, if I can put it that

3 way. It is RNI-106-250.500 (displayed).

4 Now, if we can have on the screen RNI-106-250.501 as

5 well, please, on the right (displayed).

6 So this is a memorandum from Mr Lindsay, who was at

7 that point, I think, the Principal Private Secretary to

8 the Secretary of State, 14 July 1998, and it refers to

9 a meeting between the Secretary of State on the one hand

10 and the Chief Constable on the other in the middle of

11 the ICPC events. And we can see from the third

12 paragraph that you were also present.

13 A. I don't think we can, can we? Can you see that?

14 Q. Well, are you referred to in the third line of the third

15 paragraph or not?

16 A. I am, and it is not clear to me whether that means that

17 I suggested it in the midst of the meeting or suggested

18 it subsequently.

19 Q. I see.

20 A. I may well have been at the meeting. I mean, this is

21 not set out in a way that allows one to work out who was

22 present other than the Secretary of State and the

23 Chief Constable. A much more conventional way of

24 beginning this, if I were there, would have been, "the

25 Secretary of State, accompanied by the PUS," or

 

 

106

 

1 something of that sort. And I think it is not

2 a completely unreasonable inference, but I wouldn't

3 regard it as dead certain that I was at the meeting.

4 I have no recollection.

5 Q. You have no recollection of this meeting?

6 A. I have no recollection even of saying what I said,

7 though it is an almost classic example of the sort of

8 thing that I would have said. So I'm sure it is true.

9 Q. But you can't be certain then, reading this, whether you

10 were there at all?

11 A. No.

12 Q. Can you be certain that Mr Lindsay was there?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And that's simply because he signed it and purports --

15 A. Sorry, I can't be certain, but I think it would be

16 unusual if he weren't there.

17 Q. Because he doesn't introduce himself in the first

18 paragraph either?

19 A. No, he doesn't.

20 Q. So it might all be based on an account given by the

21 Secretary of State?

22 A. That is possible.

23 Q. Is it at least admitted to be possible that you were

24 present on 14 July?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

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1 Q. Now, just moving on gradually through the material here,

2 RNI-106-262 (displayed) is the next matter and that's

3 a letter from the Secretary of State, again of 27 July,

4 to the Chief Constable. It is a response in fact to the

5 one we looked at together. It begins in the second

6 paragraph with this:

7 "I understand that you have since discussed the

8 issue with Joe Pilling and John Steele."

9 So there are references there to you on the one hand

10 and to John Steele on the other, aren't there?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Is it possible for you to discern from the terms of this

13 paragraph whether the discussions you had were in a

14 meeting or on the telephone?

15 A. I would be surprised if they are on the telephone.

16 Q. So it is likely, isn't it, at any rate, that you met the

17 Chief Constable to discuss these issues under the

18 heading "Rosemary Nelson, Allegations of Harassment"?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. What was the extent of your involvement in the matter?

21 Was it to deal with the ongoing discussions about

22 Commander Mulvihill or was it a wider discussion about

23 the allegations of harassment made by Rosemary Nelson,

24 which is the heading of the letter?

25 A. I don't think it would -- it probably wasn't either of

 

 

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1 those, but probably to do with the nature of any

2 supervision of Commander Mulvihill's inquiry into how

3 the previous investigation, which Paul Donnelly's letter

4 had referred to, had been conducted.

5 But, I mean, I don't know, I am afraid. I mean,

6 I do wish I could respond to more of these questions by

7 saying I have a terrific recollection of everything that

8 went on.

9 Q. But you don't?

10 A. But I don't, and it's no use pretending I do. That's

11 not helpful to you in the end.

12 Q. No.

13 A. But I'm asking myself what's the sort of nub of the

14 trouble here. Why would I have been there? I think it

15 is probably around that issue.

16 Q. The element of independent supervision, about which

17 Christine Collins and John Steele were minuting at this

18 stage?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Yes. Can I take it, therefore, by the fact that you

21 were involved in whatever way, that this is an issue

22 that fell in to the category you set out in your

23 statement; in other words, where your involvement

24 dealing with the Chief Constable was signalling to him

25 that the matter was being treated particularly seriously

 

 

109

 

1 by the Secretary of State?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Now, in relation to this question of independence and

4 supervision, what was the Secretary of State's interest

5 and concern? Can you remember?

6 A. I can't be certain what the specific concern was and I

7 can't be certain whether it came from her or was

8 a reaction to the advice that she had been receiving

9 from officials. But I think she would have been

10 certainly keen to see that the arrangements were

11 copper-fastened, to be incapable of being questioned

12 subsequently as to their integrity. And -- I mean,

13 thinking about it since I re-read this correspondence,

14 it occurred to me for the first time that the person who

15 might have been -- the people who might have been most

16 upset by the idea of swearing in somebody from the

17 Police Complaints Authority as a member of the ICPC

18 might have been the ICPC themselves.

19 Q. Indeed.

20 A. I mean, that doesn't -- it doesn't say so in any of the

21 papers that I have read, but I'm not quite sure why

22 Ronnie Flanagan might have been concerned about it. And

23 actually the occasion of this meeting may have been,

24 rather than it being an example of serious conflict

25 between the Chief Constable and the NIO on behalf of the

 

 

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1 Secretary of State, it may be an example of both sides

2 scratching their heads with a pretty well unprecedented

3 problem that none of us had come across before and

4 trying to decide, you know, what was the best way

5 forward. And I may have been involved in this just

6 because everybody, including me, thought it was rather

7 difficult.

8 Q. But as I understand it, the issue of getting

9 an independent element of supervision, perhaps by

10 appointing a new member of the Commission, as you say,

11 in fact simply went away?

12 A. It did seem to go away, yes.

13 Q. Now, can I ask you some questions about paragraph 14 of

14 your first statement, which is at RNI-817-112

15 (displayed) because there you say, in the second

16 sentence:

17 "The first person actually to tell [you] that

18 Rosemary Nelson had a closer than professional

19 relationship with one of her clients, Colin Duffy, was

20 Ronnie Flanagan. I don't recall when he told me this,

21 although it was before her death, or where. But I do

22 recall that when he told me, I was slightly taken aback.

23 It was a topic we didn't return to. I think we were on

24 our own at the time. Ronnie Flanagan was a very

25 hands-on Chief Constable, especially on the intelligence

 

 

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1 front."

2 Now, as you have been saying on occasions during

3 your evidence this afternoon, clearly matters have come

4 back to you or you have realised things as a result of

5 reading a lot more paper in your preparation for giving

6 evidence. So before I ask you any detailed questions

7 about this, has anything come back to you as a result of

8 reading the papers which will shed greater light on the

9 circumstances in which this disclosure took place?

10 A. No.

11 Q. Are you sure in your own mind that no one else was

12 present when the disclosure was made?

13 A. I'm pretty certain because I rarely met him. Despite

14 the example to the contrary that we have just been

15 discussing, I rarely met him with anybody else. It

16 would have been most unusual. I didn't on the whole

17 have private secretaries with me when I saw most people,

18 and certainly not with him. I wouldn't -- he was not

19 accompanied by anybody, if I went to see him at Police

20 Headquarters. And the other main location would have

21 been the small flat that I had in Stormont House where

22 we might have eaten together.

23 Q. Yes.

24 A. And there, again, I can never remember anybody else

25 being present at one of those occasions, so it is pretty

 

 

112

 

1 certain that I would have been the only person there.

2 Q. And are you able to assist the Panel in any way about

3 the circumstances in which the matter came up?

4 A. I am afraid not, no, no. The fact of the communication

5 of the information, as explained here, is all I can

6 remember.

7 Q. Is it likely, do you think, that the disclosure was made

8 to you during the summer of 1998?

9 A. I don't know when it was made.

10 Q. Other than saying that it was before her murder?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Now, David Watkins, who gave evidence to the Inquiry on

13 Monday, said in his evidence that at the security and

14 policy meeting on 10 July 1998, Sir Ronnie Flanagan

15 expressed the view that Rosemary Nelson was an immoral

16 woman. Presumably in the ordinary course of things you

17 would be present at that meeting?

18 A. Yes, I would.

19 Q. Yes. Do you think that was the occasion on which the

20 comments you refer to in your statement were made?

21 A. No.

22 Q. Why is that, please?

23 A. Well, I have got no recollection of that occasion

24 at all.

25 Q. But presumably that policy meeting involved a number of

 

 

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1 other individuals, including Mr Watkins, you,

2 Sir Ronnie, the Secretary of State and others?

3 A. And the remark is very significant, but not as detailed

4 as the information that I mention in paragraph 14 and

5 which I recall being given by the Chief Constable.

6 Q. Well, you don't give very much detail in paragraph 14.

7 What is the detail that you were given, as you recall

8 it, by the Chief Constable?

9 A. Well, the language is coy. I think he probably said

10 that she had a sexual relationship with Colin Duffy.

11 Q. Did he say anything else that you can remember?

12 A. Nothing else that I can remember.

13 Q. So you are drawing a contrast, are you, between that

14 remark and the remark Mr Watkins said was made, namely

15 that she was an immoral woman?

16 A. What do you mean by "drawing a contrast"? I mean, I'm

17 not trying to be clever about it; I'm trying to say that

18 one piece of information is rather more specific than

19 the other, and as I can remember this amount of

20 specificity, detailed in paragraph 14, I think it

21 corroborates my sense that that wasn't the occasion that

22 I was recalling when I wrote paragraph 14.

23 Q. Yes. And in the course of that conversation, what did

24 you learn about Sir Ronnie Flanagan's attitude towards

25 Rosemary Nelson?

 

 

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1 A. In the course of which conversation?

2 Q. The conversation that you refer to in paragraph 14 of

3 your witness statement.

4 A. I don't recall him mentioning it in a way, you know,

5 that was particularly condemnatory. I remember it as

6 a sort of factual piece of information.

7 Q. Was he saying, "You ought to know, by the way, that this

8 lawyer is having an affair with somebody we regard as a

9 prominent member of the IRA"?

10 A. My recollection of it is that it was more "by the way"

11 than "you ought to know, by the way".

12 Q. But you knew who Colin Duffy was?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And you knew by this stage who Rosemary Nelson was?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. And you knew that she represented him?

17 A. I think I must have done.

18 Q. And knew that they had made complaints together through

19 the ICPC, which were the subject of the row that we have

20 just been discussing?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. So you would have appreciated immediately that this was,

23 at least potentially, a significant piece of

24 information?

25 A. I think I took the view that it was a piece of

 

 

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1 information not significant for the responsibilities of

2 the Northern Ireland Office in the matter.

3 Q. And is that why, as you said earlier, you decided not to

4 disclose it to any of your colleagues?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. Did you disclose it to the Secretary of State?

7 A. I don't think I did.

8 Q. Are you not sure?

9 A. I'm not sure.

10 Q. No. Do you think you might have done?

11 A. I think it is unlikely that I did, but I couldn't rule

12 it out. There are occasions in the eight years that

13 I might have shared information with the Secretary of

14 State and no one else.

15 Q. And presumably you would have done so on the basis that

16 you thought she ought to know?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. And why was that?

19 A. Well, that's a hypothetical question about

20 a hypothetical circumstance. I'm not sure that it is

21 fruitful to sort of speculate on why I might have done

22 something that I think, on balance, I didn't do.

23 Q. Were you aware that Rosemary Nelson was somebody in whom

24 the Secretary of State had taken an interest?

25 A. Not more than a vast array of other people and other

 

 

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1 business. I mean, she didn't stand out in my mind as

2 a person that the Secretary of State was more concerned

3 about than lots and lots of other people.

4 Q. Did you know, for example, at one stage she had spoken

5 to Rosemary Nelson about one of her cases, in fact the

6 Colin Duffy case?

7 A. I didn't, no.

8 Q. Mr Steele, I think it was, told her that she, the

9 Secretary of State, had various contacts and they tended

10 to be on the Nationalist side of the community. Was

11 that something of which you were aware?

12 A. I saw that he had said that.

13 Q. Yes.

14 A. And I -- I wouldn't have put it that way. I would have

15 said that she had contacts going beyond those of most

16 civil servants in Northern Ireland, in particular to

17 people who at one time or another had been thought to be

18 active terrorists, whether or not they were at the point

19 that -- in question here. And that they -- they were on

20 both sides of the community.

21 It wouldn't be unfair to say that she was regarded

22 by lots of people as, you know, finding Nationalists and

23 Republicans rather more sympathetic than Loyalists, but

24 she certainly didn't lack contacts on both sides of the

25 community. And I thought her ability to be in dialogue

 

 

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1 with people that nobody else found it very easy to be in

2 dialogue with was one of the several great assets that

3 she brought, not just to the Northern Ireland Office,

4 but to the whole process that the Prime Minister and the

5 Northern Ireland Office and others were involved in at

6 the time.

7 Q. Can we just go back to your paragraph 14, which we still

8 have on the screen? You say that you do recall -- three

9 lines from the end -- that when he told you, you were

10 slightly taken aback. So can I take it that this was

11 information you weren't already aware of?

12 A. You can.

13 Q. Yes. And you told us earlier in your evidence that you

14 obviously thought about it and came to a view about it,

15 I think you said, possibly 24 hours later?

16 A. That's not from memory, but it is the sort of thing that

17 I would be likely to have done.

18 Q. And then that it was a topic you didn't return to; in

19 other words, neither of you brought it up in your

20 subsequent conversations before her murder. Is that

21 correct?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. And then at the very end of this paragraph, you make

24 this comment:

25 "Ronnie Flanagan was a very hands-on

 

 

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1 Chief Constable, especially on the intelligence front."

2 Now, on the face of it that doesn't appear to have

3 very much to do with anything you have said previously,

4 but can I take it that you understood in the

5 conversation the basis for his suggestion was

6 intelligence received?

7 A. Yes, I think it is probably an observation I made at the

8 time that I was -- that came into my head at the time

9 that I was writing this report, to be fair -- this

10 statement, rather than something that was in my mind

11 absolutely during the conversation.

12 And I think probably what I was failing to say but

13 sort of getting close to saying is that there were --

14 I have known chief officers of police who would not have

15 known in detail that sort of information and if they had

16 told it to me, I might have evaluated it in a rather

17 different way than that sort of piece of information

18 coming from a Chief Constable who I considered to be

19 particularly on top of a lot of detail in this area, not

20 that he always displayed it, but that he always

21 displayed a capacity to -- I mean, to have remembered it

22 when occasion seemed to require it. And for that

23 reason, I think I might have been inclined to assume

24 that, you know, it was just something that popped into

25 his head as we were having conversation. I wish I could

 

 

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1 remember the context, which might explain why he said

2 it, but I can't.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Didn't you ask him and say why? "Ronnie,

4 what are you telling me this for? What's the purpose of

5 telling me this?"

6 A. I didn't, I am afraid, no. I certainly could have done,

7 but I didn't. And you know, I can't remember what else

8 we were talking about. It may have been just off the

9 topic. I may have had something else that I was

10 pursuing at the time. I just don't know.

11 MR PHILLIPS: And have you no recollection of asking him

12 what the basis for this assertion was?

13 A. No, and I was very cautious about asking any police

14 officer at any level information that might have led to

15 embarrassment over the way intelligence was gathered,

16 which they wouldn't wish to share with somebody in my

17 position.

18 Q. But as I understand it, reading the rest of your

19 statement -- and perhaps we should have paragraph 16 on

20 the screen now, RNI-817-113 (displayed) -- what you

21 decided to do in relation to this information was keep

22 it to yourself and compartmentalise it so that, as I

23 understand it, what you are saying is that it played no

24 part whatsoever in your dealing with matters relating to

25 Rosemary Nelson in the period between the disclosure and

 

 

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1 her murder?

2 A. Yes, that was the view I took of the information, that

3 it ought not to be influential in our -- exercising the

4 responsibilities that we had as a department and,

5 therefore, not influencing my own responsibilities, such

6 as they were. I have been at pains to explain that they

7 weren't extensive. And I suppose in a way I was

8 protecting my staff against any allegation that they

9 might have been affected by this sort of information by

10 not passing it on to them.

11 Q. But you also went on, as you explained a little

12 earlier -- and you mention in paragraph 17 -- to

13 consider the question, as I understand it, as to whether

14 the police's judgment had been influenced by that

15 information. And as I think you said earlier, that was

16 a matter which went through your mind at the time?

17 A. Yes, I think it must have done. I think I said it would

18 be pretty odd if I'd gone through the intellectual

19 process I described to come to the conclusion I wasn't

20 going to share it with my colleagues if the fact that it

21 had come from the police didn't even occur to me and the

22 implications of that didn't occur to me. So I think

23 I must have wondered about that, yes.

24 Q. Now, as we have discussed already in relation to

25 a slightly earlier period, one of the areas in which the

 

 

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1 police were concerned with Rosemary Nelson was in this

2 business of the assessment of her security, as to

3 whether there was a threat. And you mention this in

4 this same paragraph.

5 Now, presumably if you hadn't been aware of what had

6 been going on on that front in February/March/April, you

7 were aware of the later threat assessment that took

8 place in August and September 1998?

9 A. I imagine I was, yes.

10 Q. Now --

11 A. I certainly knew -- I mean, as a general proposition,

12 over that whole period -- the importance for us of the

13 fact that the police were telling us that there wasn't

14 a threat to justify her inclusion in the KPPS.

15 Q. Yes. Well, the question was posed by your officials on

16 three occasions in fact -- two in 1998 -- and the answer

17 came back consistently, "no".

18 Of course, at the heart of the concerns being

19 expressed on her behalf was the allegation that she was

20 being threatened by police officers. That's correct,

21 isn't it?

22 A. It was an important feature. I mean, the term "at the

23 heart" suggests that it was the beginning and end of the

24 matter. I would have judged that the most important

25 thing to know was whether Loyalist terrorists with

 

 

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1 a capacity to kill her were thought to have some

2 inclination to do so, and I would have seen that as the

3 heart of the matter.

4 Q. But the reason this was a particularly controversial

5 case was precisely because the threats were allegedly

6 coming not from Loyalist terrorists but from police

7 officers. That's right, isn't it?

8 A. That's the reason it was a well publicised case, yes.

9 Q. And those that had responsibility for investigating it

10 under the existing system were also police officers, the

11 Complaints and Discipline Department. That's correct,

12 isn't it?

13 A. They weren't the people responsible for the judgment as

14 to whether she was under threat.

15 Q. I'm so sorry, what did you say?

16 A. The Complaints and Discipline Department weren't the

17 people responsible for the letters that you have been

18 referring to that came back to the NIO on three

19 occasions.

20 Q. No. They were responsible, as I think I said, for

21 investigating the complaints that had been made. Is

22 that correct?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. Thank you.

25 A. But we have just been talking about the --

 

 

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1 Q. Then further police officers were responsible for

2 assessing the threat, were they not?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. So the police were at the heart of all of these

5 judgments, investigations and assessments being made,

6 and you knew, didn't you, in August and September of

7 1998 that, again, they had come back and said, "There is

8 no threat to this woman"?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Did it not occur to you at that point that for those

11 precise reasons this was a matter that ought to be taken

12 out of the police hands, that the NIO themselves should

13 take a stronger, more active role, so as to ensure that

14 something was done independently to assess the safety or

15 security of Rosemary Nelson?

16 A. Well, it didn't and probably one of reasons it didn't is

17 that I think it is very far from easy to see how that

18 could have been done and quite difficult to see how

19 relationships with the police and the NIO's support of

20 what the police were trying to do in what was still

21 a very difficult situation could have been sustained,

22 because as votes of no confidence go, that comes quite

23 high up the Richter scale.

24 Q. Indeed. Therefore, wasn't it something that you perhaps

25 could have raised with Sir Ronnie Flanagan yourself in

 

 

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1 order to express in a straight talking way your own

2 concerns about the position?

3 A. If I had had reason to believe that the judgment was

4 wrong, I hope I would have done so. But I didn't

5 believe that there was reason to doubt the truthfulness

6 of the advice that we were being given.

7 Q. Now, Mr Watkins explained to us that because of

8 Rosemary Nelson's political importance, the way she was

9 regarded within the Nationalist community, it was clear

10 before she was murdered that if indeed she was attacked

11 or murdered, there would be potentially damage both to

12 the RUC and to the peace process. Was that something of

13 which you were aware and conscious at the time before

14 she was murdered?

15 A. At the time she was murdered?

16 Q. Before she was murdered.

17 A. Before she was murdered. I don't recall evaluating it

18 in that particular way. I don't dispute the -- the

19 assessment that you have just attributed to

20 David Watkins at all, and I may or may not have thought

21 about it in that way.

22 Q. You have no recollection of discussing it with him, for

23 example?

24 A. No.

25 Q. Now, he was of course John Steele's successor,

 

 

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1 wasn't he?

2 A. He was.

3 Q. So as from August 1998, he was in post there. And so

4 you are saying, are you, that it didn't occur to you to

5 draw to Sir Ronnie Flanagan's attention, as John Steele

6 had in relation to the question of harassment more

7 generally, this particular problem and the likely damage

8 and fallout if something went wrong?

9 A. Erm, I'm saying that I don't recall thinking about it in

10 that way. I'm not saying that I didn't.

11 Q. But you certainly are not saying that you had such

12 a conversation with Sir Ronnie Flanagan?

13 A. I'm sure I did not have such a conversation with him.

14 Q. Yes. Can I turn to the quite separate topic of

15 warrantry applications, which you touch on briefly in

16 your second statement? The DCI in post at the relevant

17 time told us in his evidence that he went through all

18 the applications with you, either before or after he

19 took them to the Secretary of State. Does that accord

20 with your recollection?

21 A. I think I say so.

22 Q. Yes. And he said to us that he -- that's you in this

23 case, the Permanent Undersecretary:

24 "... primarily wished to confirm his trust in me to

25 give the Secretary of State sensible advice."

 

 

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1 Is that the way you would characterise it?

2 A. I think that's pretty fair, yes.

3 Q. Now, so far as your receipt of intelligence generally

4 was concerned, before we return to the specific

5 application in relation to Operation Indus, did you, as

6 other witnesses have told us, receive the NIIRs?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Some confusion has entered into the evidential picture

9 on the NIIR front because, I think, largely of the

10 various colours that people have used in their

11 descriptions. Were the NIIRs, as you recall it, on pink

12 paper?

13 A. They varied.

14 Q. Ah, and thus we enter into a whole new area of evidence.

15 Is it right that some of the NIIRs were printed on pink

16 paper.

17 A. Absolutely true.

18 Q. Did you receive written intelligence, intelligence in

19 written form other than in NIIRs?

20 A. It would be quite exceptional to do so. The people who

21 provided assessments and generally, I think, were the

22 authors of the NIIRs, very occasionally may have drawn

23 up a rather more substantial, more reflective and

24 analytical piece of paper, not drawing on specific,

25 recent items of intelligence but trying to stand back

 

 

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1 and provide a sort of wider overview.

2 I don't recall that happening, you know, more than

3 once or twice a year, whereas NIIRs came through every

4 day. So it would be perfectly understandable, I think,

5 for people to forget ever receiving anything, other than

6 in the shape of pink, green and white papers.

7 Q. Thank you. As far as you can recall then, NIIRs were

8 relatively brief documents, were they?

9 A. Generally, although they included, for the record,

10 documents that sort of, for instance, described the

11 events of the previous month and that might turn out to

12 be quite a lot of pages, and as it was exceptionally

13 boring I can guarantee that I never read them.

14 Q. So that you didn't even get to the stage that

15 John Steele described of reading them and describing

16 them as rather unhelpful?

17 A. I'm talking specifically about the retrospective long

18 documents, not about the whole course of NIIRs. I don't

19 think I had anything like the excellent context that

20 John Steele laid claim to. So I think I read them with

21 greater interest than he did.

22 Q. So there was at least something that was new to you in

23 the NIIRs?

24 A. From time to time quite a bit.

25 Q. Thank you. Now, so far as the particular application is

 

 

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1 concerned, what I would like to do is just to find out

2 from you whether the material that the Inquiry has

3 obtained on disclosure is the sort of material that you

4 would have seen that would have been presented to you as

5 part of your work on the warrantry applications.

6 Now, so far as that's concerned, can I ask you to

7 look first at RNI-543-012 (displayed)? This is the

8 detailed application from the RUC Special Branch and it

9 is indeed very detailed. It runs in fact to dozens of

10 pages, but I'm not going to weary you with that. When

11 you received warranty applications -- again, I'm asking

12 you to speak generally -- did they consist of huge

13 amounts of paper?

14 A. No, I have never seen anything like that, other than in

15 the last day or two in connection with this Inquiry.

16 Q. Thank you. So, so far as the sort of document you did

17 see is concerned, can I ask you to look, please, at

18 RNI-531-031 (displayed), which is a three-page document.

19 Of course, I am afraid I can only show you two pages

20 at a time and, as you will see if we flick over to

21 RNI-531-033 (displayed), it is signed by a much more

22 senior officer within Special Branch -- in fact, it is

23 the Head of Special Branch. And going back to

24 RNI-531-031, we will see the way the document is set

25 out, which is in a quite different form to the one we

 

 

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1 first looked at. Is this the sort of document you would

2 have seen?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Thank you very much. Now, in your second statement you

5 didn't refer in any detail to this or, indeed, any other

6 application. Do you have any recollection of dealing

7 with this application?

8 A. I mean, when I read this some time ago, it came back to

9 me. If I had been asked without seeing it, I would have

10 struggled to remember very much about it at all.

11 Q. Yes. But now you have read it ...?

12 A. This refreshed my memory.

13 Q. And what has come back to you?

14 A. Well, I think that I was -- it stood out because of the

15 importance of protecting the lawyer/client relationship.

16 Q. Yes.

17 A. And there may have been cases of that sort from time to

18 time that I have forgotten, but it was pretty

19 exceptional and possibly unique. I couldn't tell you of

20 another case in eight years.

21 Q. Can we look at the relevant paragraph of this shorter

22 document, please, at RNI-531-033 (displayed) because

23 there in paragraph 9, it says:

24 "Duffy is renting this property from his solicitor,

25 Rosemary Nelson."

 

 

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1 Then there is reference, do you see, to the question

2 of legally privileged material being obtained and how

3 that would be dealt with.

4 When you looked at this material, did you recall the

5 Secretary of State expressing concern about this

6 specific aspect, i.e. the aspect of lawyer/client

7 privilege?

8 A. No, I didn't remember. I mean, generally speaking, I

9 did not have very many conversations, if any, with

10 Mo Mowlam about warrantry. The DCI of the day was with

11 her every week and had those conversations. And I would

12 have asked him not only about the group of warrants that

13 we were looking at then, but also about any meeting he

14 had had with her since he and I had last met, and I --

15 so -- you know, I had some sense of how she was

16 approaching things.

17 And by and large, I would say that I was, to begin

18 with, slightly surprised and of course gradually got

19 used to it and lost any sense of surprise at her

20 readiness to support the whole intelligence work. It

21 wasn't something I disagreed with, but it wasn't

22 altogether consistent with the image that she took some

23 trouble to project. And one of the things it meant,

24 particularly because of other things I have said

25 earlier, is that I thought it was incumbent on the DCI

 

 

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1 to make trouble for himself, if I can put it that way,

2 by making sure that if there was something in the

3 application that, if she read it, she might want to ask

4 about, he made sure that she knew about it even though

5 she wouldn't have stopped to read it.

6 Q. So you were ensuring that he, as it were, drew potential

7 wrinkles to her attention?

8 A. Yes, and it was his task in the first instance to

9 satisfy her that he had thought of all of that and why

10 he had balanced the factors in the way he had and why

11 she was being presented with a document to sign. And

12 she knew, I'm sure, that if she was unhappy, I mean, she

13 could bring me into the matter.

14 Q. Well, we know on this occasion that she expressed

15 considerable concern about various aspects of it, and

16 you have seen the papers, I know, recently -- I don't

17 want to take you through all of them in detail -- about

18 that, and is described in the Security Service's own,

19 and, indeed, the DCI's own, minute as signing, but with

20 considerable anxiety, and that she asked specifically to

21 be kept updated as to developments in the case, as he

22 says:

23 "... as the Secretary of State should ask at future

24 signings."

25 Now, isn't that the sort of issue that she might

 

 

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1 well have raised with you: her concern about

2 a particular case?

3 A. She could have done.

4 Q. It is quite possible, is it?

5 A. Yes, but I -- as I say, it wasn't a subject that she did

6 get agitated about with me. I say very often, I mean, I

7 couldn't think of an example. This is as likely an

8 example as one could find in the long day's march, I'm

9 sure.

10 Q. Do you think by this stage -- which is, as you see,

11 early September 1998 -- that you had received the

12 disclosure from Sir Ronnie Flanagan?

13 A. I think I can only give you the same answer that I gave

14 you earlier, which was that I can't remember when that

15 came.

16 Q. No. Because obviously if you had received that

17 information, looking again at paragraph 9, you would

18 have known that the statement, on his view, that the

19 relationship between the two was solicitor and client,

20 was only part of the story so far as he was concerned?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Could I just jump in there, Mr Phillips, without

23 disturbing you on anything?

24 MR PHILLIPS: Of course, yes.

25 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: At the outset, Mr Phillips referred to

 

 

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1 the Special Branch evidence that we have received

2 suggesting that Mrs Nelson was a terrorist and was

3 taking part in criminal activity.

4 If that information was available at the time that

5 this report was submitted, wouldn't it have been

6 reasonable for that to have been part of the briefing?

7 A. In this context?

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Either in written form or from the DCI

9 as supporting evidence for the application to be put

10 there to be signed?

11 A. Well, I'm not sure that it would. I mean, it is

12 a subject one could take different views on. I'm not

13 wanting to be dogmatic about it, but the application

14 didn't relate to her; the application related to him.

15 And the sort of statements that were relevant were

16 statements relevant to her. And if I had been critical

17 of the generality of applications of this sort, it might

18 have been for their tendency to bring in extraneous

19 matters that didn't have a direct bearing on the subject

20 of the application for a warrant, rather than their

21 failure to bring in matters to do with third parties.

22 So I don't think I would want to be critical of

23 anybody for, as it were, not drawing attention to that

24 in this application.

25 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: He draws people's notice to the fact,

 

 

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1 under paragraph 9, that there is a possible difficulty

2 that Rosemary Nelson, as a solicitor, is an issue in

3 relation to solicitor/client confidentiality. Wouldn't

4 it be reasonable to expect the briefing to include the

5 fact: however, the intelligence we have on

6 Rosemary Nelson suggests that she is a terrorist and

7 a criminal, and therefore her role as a solicitor should

8 be weighed in that light?

9 A. I'm not sure that would have been sound in law. I might

10 need to adjourn and ask a lawyer for advice about it,

11 but I'm not sure that the personal conduct of the

12 solicitor excuses anybody from the normal restraints on

13 lawyer/client confidentiality when the lawyer in

14 question is acting as a lawyer. And it is

15 Rosemary Nelson's conversations with Colin Duffy as her

16 client that are being specifically addressed in this

17 paragraph as the issue relevant to this application

18 because of the danger of prejudicing that.

19 I think, so far as I recall, there were no

20 applications in relation to Rosemary Nelson as

21 a terrorist.

22 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So in support of this application, the

23 fact that Special Branch held the view that

24 Rosemary Nelson was a terrorist and a criminal was not

25 information passed in as part of the application?

 

 

135

 

1 A. It wasn't passed in, no.

2 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: No.

3 MR PHILLIPS: Now, looking back at your statement --

4 paragraph 18, please, RNI-817-113 (displayed) -- there

5 you answer a question, I assume, put to you about

6 whether you can help on who within the RUC had knowledge

7 of her alleged relationship with Colin Duffy. That's

8 certainly not something I need to ask you anything about

9 at all. You then say:

10 "Undoubtedly the RUC would not have felt kindly

11 disposed towards Colin Duffy. I don't doubt that

12 Mr Duffy was not a terribly popular figure in the

13 Republican movement at the time either. I had the

14 impression he was seen as a wild card, an unpredictable

15 character."

16 What is the basis for the comment that he wasn't

17 a terribly popular figure within the Republican

18 movement?

19 A. I think I did anticipate that somebody would ask me that

20 question some time, and I wish I knew a better answer to

21 it than that it is an impression I formed over a period

22 of time from a number of references probably as much as

23 anything on the political side in relation to tensions

24 within the Republican movement about their involvement

25 in the talks process and then the implementation process

 

 

136

 

1 after the Good Friday Agreement on 10 April 1998. And I

2 think I must have become aware in that sort of context

3 that, you know, he might not have been seen as

4 a conformist figure within the movement. But I don't

5 know how, I am afraid.

6 Q. So you have a recollection, do you, of perceiving him as

7 in some way allied with the dissident Republican

8 elements at that stage?

9 A. Well, dissident Republican elements is a very specific

10 term these days and I wasn't saying anything as specific

11 as that. I was seeing him as somebody within the

12 Provisional movement who might not have been as much on

13 message as some other members of the movement.

14 Q. I understand. Now, in the sentence before, you say:

15 "Undoubtedly the RUC would not have felt kindly

16 disposed towards Colin Duffy."

17 Do you think that they felt kindly disposed towards

18 Rosemary Nelson?

19 A. Well, there were the allegations. I had no reason

20 beyond those allegations and the things that we've spent

21 time talking about earlier today and the pros and cons

22 of that to believe that there was any general animus

23 towards her.

24 Q. You never heard derogatory or adverse remarks about her

25 being made?

 

 

137

 

1 A. I certainly didn't, no.

2 Q. Just moving forward but on the same topic: The alleged

3 relationship between the two of them. This was a matter

4 that came into your mind, didn't it, immediately after

5 her murder. Is that correct?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Thank you very much. Now, can I ask you, before looking

8 at the specific document which I know you have seen on

9 this topic, presumably her murder came as a surprise and

10 a shock to you?

11 A. It certainly did.

12 Q. And presumably you and your colleagues were aware

13 immediately of its potential implications?

14 A. That's a bold claim. We would have thought very

15 seriously about it immediately and whether we got in

16 order all the potential implications, you know, in the

17 first hour or two I don't know, but we would certainly

18 have been thinking about it as a --

19 Q. But it was certainly something being discussed and

20 commented upon publicly by politicians at the very

21 highest level, wasn't it?

22 A. Yes, within hours, within minutes, yes.

23 Q. And you presumably realised, given your knowledge of

24 what had been going on in relation to her over the

25 previous year or so, that there was the potential here

 

 

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1 for allegations, for example, of collusion, allegations

2 that not enough had been done to protect her, in other

3 words for further criticism of the police and, indeed,

4 of your department?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. That was very obvious to you, wasn't it? And we have

7 seen the briefing papers addressing the likely comments,

8 questions, allegations which were generated certainly

9 within a day of the murder?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. And they were directed to dealing with what you knew was

12 coming, weren't they?

13 A. Hm-mm.

14 Q. Because within hours of the murder, political parties,

15 individuals, in Northern Ireland had made allegations of

16 collusion, had they not?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. And they were drawing parallels immediately, weren't

19 they, with the murder of Pat Finucane?

20 A. I'm sure.

21 Q. So that presumably one of the things you were doing in

22 these hours and days after the murder was considering

23 the potential implications and being concerned to ensure

24 that all the right matters were considered and that

25 proper advice on those issues was given to your

 

 

139

 

1 ministers?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Now, I would like to look with you, please, at

4 RNI-532-012 (displayed). This is a Security Service

5 minute. It is dated 19 March. It is from the Head of

6 the Assessments Group to the DCI and it relates in the

7 first paragraph that you had contacted him at home on

8 17 March, two days after the murder, to say that you

9 were concerned about the possibility of the allegation

10 that Nelson had had a sexual relationship with

11 Colin Duffy breaking publicly.

12 Can you help us, please: what were the circumstances

13 which led you to make this telephone call to the Head of

14 the Assessments Group at home?

15 A. Well, I don't remember now making the telephone call.

16 I have no doubt that I made it. It was on St Patrick's

17 Day when everybody in Northern Ireland is on holiday,

18 but I wasn't on holiday, which is no doubt why I spoke

19 to the Head of the Assessments Group at home rather than

20 anywhere else.

21 I don't know why I didn't speak to the DCI, but

22 possibly I had tried to speak to the DCI and failed. My

23 first recourse would have been to speak to the DCI, I'm

24 sure, rather than to the Head of the Assessments Group.

25 I think the context for it is that in the area of

 

 

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1 intelligence, where there was an interface between

2 intelligence and what the rest of the office were doing,

3 I was in a privileged position in being able to discuss

4 things with -- with the DCI and his staff, where it

5 would have been more difficult for my colleagues to do

6 it. And in this particular case, it must have occurred

7 to me, I think, that I knew something which I had

8 consciously decided not to tell anybody else and,

9 therefore, it was rather unlikely that they would have

10 been able to take it up because they didn't know

11 about it.

12 So I was filling a gap in the work that they were

13 doing in support of ministers by making this phone call,

14 I think. I think that's what was going on.

15 Q. So are you saying first of all that at this point you

16 hadn't disclosed to any of your colleagues what

17 Sir Ronnie Flanagan had told you?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Are you saying that at this point, which is the

20 aftermath of the murder, you had not made that

21 disclosure to the Secretary of State?

22 A. Well, I don't recall phoning her in America, which is

23 where she was. I don't recall doing that. I can't say

24 that I didn't, but I don't recall it. But, I mean, the

25 whole purpose of this was to be able to brief her

 

 

141

 

1 properly about the position.

2 Q. Now, the information had come to you from the

3 Chief Constable?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. Why did you not get in touch with him about this issue?

6 A. My normal contact on intelligence matters was with the

7 DCI and, in the DCI's absence, the Head of Assessments

8 Group.

9 Q. Were you aware by this stage that the DCI knew about the

10 relationship?

11 A. No, and I doubt if this conversation began in quite the

12 way that is reported in this note. It probably began

13 with me establishing what the Head of the Assessments

14 Group knew but, I mean, I don't know that.

15 Q. And you made no note of the conversation?

16 A. No.

17 Q. And you said earlier that the purpose of it was so that

18 you could brief the Secretary of State. Did you make

19 a note of briefing the Secretary of State subsequent to

20 this?

21 A. I didn't.

22 Q. No. Now, it looks from the second paragraph as though

23 you made it clear in asking for enquiries to be made,

24 that the Service -- this the Security Service -- should

25 not consult the RUC. Do you see that? In the second

 

 

142

 

1 paragraph, in the bracket?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Why was that?

4 A. I think I probably wanted to know what was known in the

5 first instance without going so far as to speak to the

6 RUC about it and would have seen that as a second stage

7 in the matter.

8 Q. Now, before that, in the second sentence of the first

9 paragraph, the record says:

10 "This could exacerbate the difficulties of the

11 current situation and heap even more opprobrium on the

12 RUC."

13 Do you think that's a point you made to the HAG?

14 A. Possibly not in that language, but it probably -- I was

15 probably saying that this could make a bad situation

16 worse, yes.

17 Q. Why was that?

18 A. I think it might have occurred to people that the police

19 may have behaved less professionally if they thought

20 this.

21 Q. Indeed. It is the very point you and I discussed

22 earlier, isn't it?

23 A. It is.

24 Q. So was the reason that you specifically said that you

25 didn't want the RUC to be consulted that you perceived

 

 

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1 the RUC to be at the heart of the problem?

2 A. No, I think it was -- as I said, I think it was

3 a caution, wanting to go one step at a time.

4 Q. Why were you so particularly concerned as to whether

5 this information you had been given by the

6 Chief Constable was more widely known?

7 A. I think I felt that the more widely known it was,

8 I mean, the more it would raise questions as to the

9 professionalism of -- I mean, a wider number of

10 officers.

11 Q. Do you think that by this stage you were beginning to

12 question that professionalism?

13 A. I think I probably was in the position that I was in

14 right at the beginning, which I described earlier: open

15 to the possibility that there were human failings.

16 Q. Now, we see what happens next recorded in paragraph 3.

17 No written reply to your questions is given, but

18 a conversation is recorded, and do you see at the bottom

19 of the page, the second bullet point is the Indus

20 application that you and I looked at a little earlier.

21 Do you see that?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. The third bullet point:

24 "Knowledge of the relationship between Nelson and

25 Duffy was known pretty widely within those parts of the

 

 

144

 

1 intelligence community with which we most often come

2 into contact, RUCHQ and HQNI."

3 That's the Army, isn't it?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. "We [the Service] could not comment on those beyond this

6 circle."

7 This minute continues, just to show you for

8 completeness, at RNI-532-013 (displayed) with the

9 reference to news coverage, but in fact it is after the

10 event, do you see, on 16 March?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Now, was that information sufficient for your purposes?

13 A. I think I got sucked probably into the whole business of

14 the setting up of a murder investigation and how that

15 was going to be supervised. And, I mean, as I say, I

16 don't recall having this conversation and I certainly

17 don't recall anything that followed it up.

18 Q. Is it possible that you decided to keep this information

19 to yourself as well?

20 A. It is possible, but I think it is -- in this context it

21 is much less likely that I did that.

22 Q. So, as I think you said earlier, you believe that you

23 would have taken the information and given it to your

24 minister, the Secretary of State?

25 A. Orally, I think.

 

 

145

 

1 Q. Orally.

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Now, so far as the murder and its impact is concerned,

4 did you, in your position as Permanent Undersecretary,

5 decide to review the way in which the NIO had handled

6 Rosemary Nelson and the issues relating to her in the

7 preceding years?

8 A. No, I didn't.

9 Q. Why was that, please?

10 A. I didn't believe there was prima facie evidence to

11 justify that sort of investigation.

12 Q. So was your attitude then, after the murder, as it is in

13 your statement, where you said, having reminded yourself

14 of the papers:

15 "I have looked through those papers again in order

16 to prepare this statement and I can see nothing that

17 would have caused me to intervene in pursuit of the

18 objectives identified in the previous paragraph ..."

19 That is the one you've set out, your role or

20 otherwise:

21 "My colleagues were applying established policy

22 conscientiously and I saw nothing to make me think that

23 the established policy should be questioned."

24 That was your view, was it, of the way the NIO had

25 handled Rosemary Nelson and the issues concerning her?

 

 

146

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. We know in relation to the question of handling threat

3 material that changes were indeed instituted after the

4 event. So are you saying that that had nothing to do

5 with you?

6 A. It didn't. And -- yes. Sorry, yes, it didn't.

7 Q. But were you made aware of the changes when they took

8 place?

9 A. I must have been, but I don't remember.

10 Q. Did you think, for example, that it might be necessary

11 to review the parameters and operation of the KPPS?

12 A. All the time, but not specifically because of this case.

13 Q. Well, now you have when an opportunity many years later

14 probably to see more papers than you have ever seen

15 before in relation to these issues, and with the benefit

16 of hindsight that comes with that, is there anything

17 that you think should have been done by the NIO in her

18 case which was not done?

19 A. I haven't asked myself that question in that way and it

20 would be surprising if there were nothing that couldn't

21 have been improved on, but I don't believe there to be

22 a pattern or a course of events that was properly open

23 to us then that we neglected and that would have made

24 a difference.

25 Q. Thank you very much.

 

 

147

 

1 Now, as you have gathered no doubt from reading the

2 transcript, if there is something that you and I haven't

3 covered but which you would like to say to the Tribunal,

4 this is your opportunity.

5 A. Yes. There is nothing further I wish to say.

6 MR PHILLIPS: Thank you.

7 Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN

8 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Could I just ask a little bit more

9 about the threat assessment and all that?

10 If I have understood correctly, you were aware only

11 of an allegation of a sexual relationship. You were not

12 aware of any suggestion that Rosemary Nelson was

13 involved in terrorism in any form or criminal activity

14 in any form. Have I got that right?

15 A. That is right.

16 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Right. Looking again at the

17 question of her vulnerability, there was a threat

18 assessment which said there was no specific threat

19 against her, but if what she was doing was getting

20 dangerously close to a dangerous man, did not that put

21 her at greater risk? And your comments about the

22 applicability of KPPS to terrorists and criminals are

23 not relevant of course. Did that not suggest that

24 possibly at least some sort of advice ought to be given

25 to her?

 

 

148

 

1 A. I think -- I don't think I believed that Rosemary Nelson

2 was a person who, as it were, was pretty unaware of the

3 world that she was operating in, and I think I probably

4 assumed from her position in Northern Ireland and from

5 the fact that she had lived here all her life that she

6 was pretty familiar with this society. And I didn't

7 actually know the truth or otherwise of the -- what I

8 was told about her relationship with Colin Duffy, but I

9 would have seen it very much as her business, not our

10 business, and capable of making her own mind up about

11 any risks that that might give rise to, I mean, across

12 the whole of her life; her responsibility, not ours, I

13 think.

14 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Thank you.

15 Questions by THE CHAIRMAN

16 THE CHAIRMAN: No Article 2 obligation, or something akin to

17 that, owed by the State to her?

18 A. Certainly an Article 2 obligation owed to everybody, but

19 I wouldn't have seen a sexual relationship with somebody

20 as giving rise to an Article 2 obligation, even if I had

21 known that the relationship for sure happened rather

22 than that it was, you know, something that the police

23 believed happened.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Colin Duffy wasn't a somebody, was he?

25 A. No, but people who commit terrorist offences have lives.

 

 

149

 

1 I mean, ordinary lives, you know. They are fathers,

2 they are husbands, they are sons. A network of

3 relationships is there for all of them.

4 Questions by SIR ANTHONY BURDEN

5 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Mr Phillips, would it be possible to

6 have the organisational chart for the NIO put up again?

7 It would be very helpful for us if you could just

8 give a description of your previous positions held,

9 before you assumed the role of Permanent Secretary

10 during your career. Were you, for example, at any time

11 in any positions in the security policing directorate?

12 A. No. The only post on this chart that I held was the

13 Political Director, London Base, as it says.

14 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay, thank you.

15 A. And on an earlier chart I was the Private Secretary to

16 the Secretary of State at another time in my career.

17 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Thank you. Just one further point from

18 me. You mentioned that you had meetings with the DCI at

19 least once a week, sometimes in relation to warrantry.

20 That took place in your office, but you did visit him in

21 his office.

22 Would it be right to assume that during those visits

23 you were party to intelligence not sanitised in the way

24 that NIIRs were sanitised?

25 A. Not -- no, not at all. The nature of the sort of

 

 

150

 

1 conversations would have been about -- often about the

2 network of relationships at the top of the sort of

3 security structure in Northern Ireland, which the DCI

4 would have had a view of quite distinct from my own

5 view. And I always relied on DCIs to tell me

6 reasonably -- well, knowing it would go no further, how

7 they believed relationships were. And another typical

8 topic would have been to discuss what the priorities

9 were for the intelligence effort from the

10 Northern Ireland Office point of view, as distinct from

11 a police operational point of view.

12 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So policy and structure, not

13 operational?

14 A. Yes.

15 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay. Thank you very much.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Sir Joseph, we are very grateful for you

17 coming to give evidence before us. We are sorry we

18 couldn't start with you at 2 o'clock, but at least you

19 are in time to catch your aeroplane.

20 A. I am very grateful.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

22 We will adjourn until quarter past ten.

23 (5.47 pm)

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

25

 

 


 

1 I N D E X

2
Ruling ........................................... 2
3
B511 (sworn) ..................................... 5
4
Questions by MR SKELTON ...................... 5
5
SIR JOSEPH PILLING (sworn) ....................... 47
6
Questions by MR PHILLIPS ..................... 47
7
Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN ........... 147
8
Questions by THE CHAIRMAN .................... 148
9
Questions by SIR ANTHONY BURDEN .............. 149
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