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Full Hearings

Hearing: 25th November 2008, day 79

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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 Tuesday, 25 November 2008
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



1 Tuesday, 25 November 2008

2 (10.15 am)

3 (Proceedings delayed)

4 (10.20 am)

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

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

7 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

9 screen closed?

10 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

12 and securely fastened?

13 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

15 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

16 of this chamber?

17 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr [name redacted], can you please confirm that the

19 two witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

20 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

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

22 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

24 Bring the witness in, please.

25 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

 

 

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1 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

2 switched back on.

3 Would the witness please take the oath.

4 B597 (sworn)

5 Questions by MR PHILLIPS

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

7 Yes, Mr Phillips?

8 MR PHILLIPS: I think you have provided a witness statement

9 to the Inquiry and we can see it at RNI-846-154

10 (displayed), and do we see your ciphered signature and

11 the date of 23 October last year at RNI-846-176

12 (displayed)?

13 A. That's correct.

14 Q. You have been granted anonymity and given the cipher

15 B597 in the Inquiry and I think you have got with you

16 a list of other ciphers. Is that correct?

17 A. I have, yes.

18 Q. I would be grateful if you would consult that as names

19 come up in your evidence so as to ensure that the

20 anonymity of those individuals and witnesses is also

21 preserved.

22 A. Okay.

23 Q. Just going to the beginning of your statement, can I ask

24 you to look, please, at paragraphs 2 and 3 on the next

25 page, RNI-846-155 (displayed), because it looks as

 

 

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1 though a little confusion may have crept in here about

2 some of the dates.

3 As I understand it, you became Deputy Head of

4 Special Branch in Belfast in February 1995. Is that

5 correct?

6 A. Yes, as far as I can remember, yes, thereabouts.

7 Q. You tell us that in May 1998, some three years later,

8 you became the Head of Special Branch in Belfast and

9 then in June you were promoted to detective chief

10 superintendent.

11 Now, you then say in paragraph 3 that you came to

12 the IMG, the Intelligence Management Group, in about

13 1997. Can I suggest to you that you took over as the

14 head, HIMG, in May or June 1998 after Mr Albiston, who

15 had been the first head, had moved on?

16 A. That's correct. The date that Chris left the department

17 was the date that I then took over.

18 Q. Yes. Now, the IMG, we heard about from Mr Albiston in

19 his evidence, was set up, wasn't it, as a result of the

20 recommendations made in the Warner Report?

21 A. That's correct.

22 Q. Which you also refer to in your statement, don't you?

23 A. Yes, indeed.

24 Q. You then tell us that you remained in that post until

25 2001 before becoming the Head of Special Branch and then

 

 

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1 retiring in September 2002. Is that correct?

2 A. That's correct.

3 Q. Thank you. Now, perhaps prompted by that little

4 confusion in those two paragraphs, I would like to take

5 you right to the end of your statement and paragraph 73,

6 please. That is RNI-846-176 (displayed). Can we have

7 73 enlarged, please?

8 There you say you have nothing to add other than to

9 say you have a poor memory for dates. It looks as

10 though you have just demonstrated that for us, haven't

11 you?

12 A. Yes, indeed.

13 Q. So far as your memory more generally is concerned, can

14 I ask you a question about that? In your statement you

15 deal with a number of documents. Is it fair to suggest

16 that, had you not been provided with the documents, you

17 wouldn't have had a very clear recollection of a lot of

18 the detail of what you talk about in your statement?

19 A. I think that's correct, yes.

20 Q. Does it also follow that on occasions when in your

21 statement you make comments about events without

22 reference to the documents, you are probably on rather

23 shakier ground?

24 A. Yes, I think certainly having read through the statement

25 again, there are certain areas that I now believe were

 

 

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1 inaccurate at the time of making the statement.

2 Q. Thank you. I hope we will pick some of them up at least

3 as we go through. If there are any others which we

4 haven't touched on perhaps you can draw my attention to

5 them at the end?

6 A. Sure, I can.

7 Q. Thank you. I would now like to look at the structure of

8 Special Branch at the time you became the Head of the

9 IMG. Can we have the Special Branch post-Warner chart,

10 please (displayed)?

11 This is a chart which we have been updating as

12 witnesses have given evidence and we hope that it is now

13 reasonably accurate. Do we see you on the right-hand

14 side of the chart in your position as the Head of IMG?

15 A. Yes, that's correct.

16 Q. And the IMG itself is put beneath you with the various

17 subdivisions or desks underneath that, E3 and E9. Can

18 I ask you first, to whom did you report as the Head of

19 IMG?

20 A. I reported to the Assistant Chief Constable, Head of

21 Special Branch and in his absence his deputy.

22 Q. Thank you. So as I think Mr Albiston expressed it to

23 us, although the chart has you and the deputy on the

24 same line, in fact he was slightly above you in the

25 hierarchy. Is that fair?

 

 

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1 A. Yes, that's correct.

2 Q. Thank you. Just again picking up the business of

3 memory, do you see there the E3 desks, Republican at E3A

4 and Loyalist at E3B?

5 A. Hm-mm.

6 Q. In your statement -- I'm not going to show you the

7 passages; you've probably spotted it already -- you get

8 them the other way round?

9 A. That's correct. That was one of the areas I picked up

10 on on re-reading the statement.

11 Q. Thank you. The other point on this chart that we will

12 look at now, if we may, and then come back to is that

13 you tell us that when you were dealing with a threat

14 assessment of Rosemary Nelson in August 1998, there was

15 something called the threat assessment unit. Was that

16 part of the IMG?

17 A. Yes, it was indeed the -- I think it came under the

18 chief Inspector E3B, and indeed cipher -- I have it as

19 P583 -- was the person in charge of that unit on

20 a day-to-day basis.

21 Q. I am afraid we get into rather complicated trouble about

22 ciphers here, but is that the same as P226?

23 A. That's correct, yes.

24 Q. Thank you very much. We will come back to that in due

25 course, but as far as you are concerned, you think he

 

 

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1 was in charge of that unit, do you?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Do you think that might have been E3C?

4 A. No, my recollection -- and I can be corrected on this by

5 someone who has a better memory, but I understood that

6 that come under the Chief inspector in E3B.

7 Q. Well, you see, P226 has also given evidence to us and

8 explained that he was based in E3C and, indeed, in

9 charge of it.

10 A. Okay.

11 Q. Is that a more reliable recollection, do you think?

12 A. I would have thought so, yes.

13 Q. Yes. So far as the function of the IMG is concerned,

14 again, as I have said, Mr Albiston, your predecessor,

15 has already given evidence to the Inquiry and we heard

16 a good deal about the IMG from him. So I'm going to

17 deal with just a few of the points that you make in your

18 statement and I think it might be helpful to you to have

19 on the screen RNI-846-157, which is paragraphs 10 and 11

20 of your statement (displayed). Thank you.

21 Mr Albiston said that the establishment of IMG did

22 not in fact bring about a great change in the day-to-day

23 work of the E3 desks. Is that a fair assessment, in

24 your view?

25 A. Yes, certainly there was a little bit of restructuring.

 

 

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1 I think perhaps the main change was -- up until then

2 there was a superintendent who looked after E3 and that

3 was then given the post of chief superintendent, and I

4 think the idea behind that was to give a sort of equal

5 status to the regional heads. So that perhaps was one

6 of the major changes.

7 Q. And that was one of the themes that came out of the

8 Warner Report, wasn't it?

9 A. Correct, yes.

10 Q. And so this was an attempt, was it, in your view, to

11 make sure that Headquarters and the senior officers

12 there had the same status as the regional heads of

13 Special Branch?

14 A. Yes, that's my understanding.

15 Q. And as you explain in your statement, with the

16 new structures came an increasing emphasis on political

17 intelligence, if I can put it that way. This is

18 something you talk about in paragraph 42. Perhaps we

19 could have a look at that, please, at RNI-846-166

20 (displayed), and you date that development originally to

21 the 1994 ceasefires. But can I take it that this was

22 a continuing development during the time that you were

23 there, from the middle of 1998?

24 A. Yes, after the ceasefires then there was a greater

25 desire and, indeed, the intelligence requirements

 

 

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1 set, you know, the business that we actually done,

2 concentrated more towards obtaining strategic and

3 political intelligence. There certainly was still

4 a need to collect the operational intelligence, but the

5 focus was -- of Special Branch towards that area was to

6 find out what the organisations were doing and what

7 their sort of political objectives were. So certainly

8 there was a bigger emphasis towards that way.

9 Q. And so far as the analytical reporting in that area that

10 the IMG did, that came in the form, did it, of the

11 IMAGIRs?

12 A. That's right.

13 Q. Which you again refer to in your statement?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Amongst the developments from Warner that you mention in

16 paragraph 70, RNI 846-175 (displayed), is the

17 secondment, if I can put it that way, of two Security

18 Service to the desks, and it looks as though that was

19 still going on when you arrived but didn't continue for

20 that long. Is that a fair way of putting it?

21 A. Yes, certainly towards the end I think the service had

22 difficulty getting personnel to actually make the

23 commitment. It tended to be a two-year commitment, so

24 ...

25 Q. So far as the strength of IMG is concerned, you say in

 

 

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1 paragraph 12 that it was quite a big organisation at

2 first -- this is RNI-846-1257 (displayed) -- and you

3 suggest there would have been about a hundred or more

4 employees.

5 A. Yes, and again that is an impression I have but

6 I certainly would stand to be corrected in relation to

7 the exact numbers.

8 Q. So that, breaking it down a little bit, is the people in

9 E3 and the various desks --

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. -- and in E9. The total number being something over

12 a hundred, do you think?

13 A. Yes, and including the personnel in registry.

14 Q. Yes. You then say in the third sentence of this

15 paragraph:

16 "However, this number quickly reduced because of the

17 need to reduce the number of people overall in

18 Special Branch."

19 Did the reduction begin whilst you were in post as

20 head of IMG?

21 A. It did, yes.

22 Q. What were the reasons for that, please?

23 A. Basically the force was reducing in numbers as a result

24 of the recommendations made within the review of police

25 by Chris Patten, and Special Branch was not immune from

 

 

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1 that reduction. So there was a general shrinking where

2 people moved on, they were not replaced and the numbers

3 then started to contract.

4 Q. So in terms of timing then, this followed the

5 publication of the Patten Report?

6 A. Correct.

7 Q. Thank you. Now, so far as the role of the IMG is

8 concerned, again Mr Albiston dealt with this in some

9 detail. One of the things which emerged from his

10 evidence was that the IMG was the central collection

11 point for all Northern Ireland-related intelligence

12 generated in Northern Ireland but also from outside. Is

13 that correct, in your view?

14 A. Yes, indeed, that's correct.

15 Q. You say in paragraph 11 of your statement, just before

16 the one we have on the screen at RNI-846-157

17 (displayed):

18 "The IMG looked at all the intelligence received

19 globally before disseminating it."

20 Do you see that?

21 A. Yes, I do.

22 Q. It was your job, was it, as the head of that group to

23 take a broad, a global view of intelligence?

24 A. Yes, that was part of the role, yes.

25 Q. And you presumably were another man, as Mr Albiston said

 

 

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1 he was, with the big picture?

2 A. Yes, certainly that was a responsibility that was made

3 within the Head of IMG, yes.

4 Q. And it fell to IMG also, as I understand it, to control

5 the dissemination of intelligence. Now, is that both

6 within and outside the RUC?

7 A. Certainly the intelligence that came to the Head of IMG

8 and IMG in particular, it was to provide those

9 assessments to meet the intelligence requirements, and

10 that was both internally and externally.

11 Q. Thank you. Now, in order to form your big picture, you

12 say that it was not in general necessary for you and for

13 the officers in the IMG to have access to raw

14 intelligence, for example, to know details of sources.

15 Is that a fair way of putting it?

16 A. Yes, and certainly the need to know principle which

17 operated within Special Branch was applicable to the IMG

18 as well as any other particular unit or sub-branch

19 within Special Branch.

20 Q. And so the vast bulk of the material you received, by

21 the time it got to you had already been in some way

22 sanitised or edited. Is that right?

23 A. Yes, indeed, that's correct, in such a way as to ensure

24 that the source of the intelligence was protected.

25 Q. Yes. Now, you deal with this in paragraph 18 at

 

 

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1 RNI-846-159 (displayed), where you say:

2 "IMG did not need to know who the sources were, it

3 just needed the intelligence product and to know whether

4 the source was reliable and credible and the basis for

5 that assessment."

6 In other words, if you are going to factor something

7 in your big picture assessment, you have to be confident

8 that it is trustworthy?

9 A. Absolutely, yes.

10 Q. How in practice was it possible for you to assess that

11 from your position within Headquarters?

12 A. In relation to each individual report, it was given

13 a grading, which assessed the reliability and the

14 credibility of the source and that was based on his or

15 her access and previous reporting.

16 Q. Yes. Now, you deal with that at various parts of your

17 statement, including paragraph 47, RNI-846-168

18 (displayed), where you talk about this grading system

19 for reliability, and you say there that it was very

20 heavily supervised. Can I ask you, please, what you

21 mean by that?

22 A. I mean that when handlers went out to meet sources, they

23 would come back into the source unit and debrief.

24 Once -- the handlers had an input as to how they felt

25 the reliability -- of course handlers being very close

 

 

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1 to that intelligence initially would perhaps have a more

2 positive view in relation to the intelligence than

3 perhaps someone else might. So it required that

4 supervision both by the source unit and indeed by their

5 own management structures, their sergeants, inspectors,

6 chief inspectors, concur with that assessment.

7 Q. But these officers, the little hierarchy you've

8 described there of the original handlers and their

9 supervisors, these were all based locally, weren't they?

10 A. Correct, yes.

11 Q. Where you say that from time to time a superintendent

12 might get involved in the process -- do you see the last

13 sentence?

14 A. Yes, indeed.

15 Q. Would he also be a senior officer based in the region?

16 A. Yes, indeed. The supervision of agents was something

17 that was built into the standing orders. Indeed, it was

18 preferred, at least on a monthly basis, an inspector would

19 meet with the source, not only to give encouragement to

20 that individual but to check on their welfare, to check

21 on their intelligence, to check on the briefing. And,

22 indeed, part of it was to check on any finances that was

23 allocated to him, that they were properly received.

24 On a six-monthly basis, a chief inspector would have

25 that meeting and it was preferred at least once a year

 

 

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1 the Superintendent would do that and, indeed, may have

2 done so more often depending on how active that

3 individual was and, indeed, the nature of the

4 intelligence he was reporting.

5 Q. Yes, but the effect of all of those mechanisms that you

6 describe is that the question of assessment of

7 reliability was something that was dealt with on the

8 ground, locally, even by this structure of officers you

9 have described?

10 A. Yes, indeed. They were best based to do that because

11 they had the local knowledge and they had the contacts

12 and the background and, indeed, the knowledge of that

13 individual, their access and whether -- what they were

14 reporting was actually credible.

15 Q. Thank you. Can I show you just another paragraph on

16 this topic your statement, RNI-846-160 (displayed),

17 paragraph 20, because here you deal with the question of

18 reliability again. You say it was done at the regional

19 level, the five by five system. That's the grading

20 system, isn't it?

21 A. Yes, indeed.

22 Q. Now, the net effect of that presumably, so far as your

23 work was concerned, is that you were very dependent on

24 this assessment conducted at local or regional level?

25 A. Correct.

 

 

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1 Q. And in practice it was presumably very difficult indeed

2 for you to form an independent view from the centre in

3 order to second guess the local or regional assessment?

4 A. Difficult but not impossible because human sources were

5 not the only source of intelligence that was coming in

6 to Special Branch. So if there was intelligence that

7 came from a source, there were other means of

8 endeavouring to back that up, so that other intelligence

9 may well have shown it to be correct or that the general

10 theme was correct. So, yes, you could make an

11 assessment, but certainly the local individuals were the

12 best people to make that first grading.

13 Q. Would it be fair to say that it was a rare instance

14 where you found yourself in a position of being able to

15 second guess or challenge the local or regional

16 assessment?

17 A. Yes, I think that's probably correct.

18 Q. And presumably your position in general was that you

19 were reliant upon and happy to rely upon the expertise

20 of the local and regional officers?

21 A. Yes, indeed. There was confidence both of the regions

22 and hopefully of the regions of IMG.

23 Q. Thank you. Just looking at paragraph 20 again, you say,

24 having told us about the five by five system and some of

25 the examples of grading within it, that after RIPA, more

 

 

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1 formal systems and structure was put in place. When was

2 that roughly?

3 A. RIPA came in in 2000.

4 Q. Yes. You say:

5 "Pre-RIPA, most reports were classified as B2."

6 Is that right?

7 A. Yes, that's correct, but there is a reason for that

8 insomuch as the reports that actually would have gone on

9 to the system would have been the higher grade reports,

10 the reports that had credibility. So there was a desire

11 to ensure that the reports that were reported up to the

12 centre were accurate. Hence they would be B2.

13 I think within IMG we wanted to have a view right

14 across the board of perhaps those reports that were

15 considered less reliable.

16 Q. But did you ever see any of those?

17 A. Sorry?

18 Q. Did you ever see any of the reports that were considered

19 less reliable?

20 A. Yes, indeed.

21 Q. So although you say -- I thought you said the most --

22 most of the reports were the higher level, did you on

23 occasion see reports with a classification lower than

24 B2?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

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1 Q. It sounds as though pre-RIPA, pre-2000, although there

2 was a five by five system, most of the time only one of

3 the relevant grades was actually used. Is that fair?

4 A. Yes, that's correct.

5 Q. Now, so far as this question of being able to second

6 guess or assess reliability from your position in the

7 Headquarters, presumably the same would apply to even

8 greater extent when intelligence reporting was

9 disseminated outside Special Branch, for example, in the

10 course of a murder investigation to CID officers?

11 A. That dissemination occurred at the regional level.

12 Q. Yes.

13 A. So, yes, again in relation to investigation of a murder,

14 certainly one would not have wished to place inaccurate

15 intelligence into the investigation so that it ended up

16 with an investigation into areas which were unlikely to

17 produce results. So they would have been careful to

18 ensure that the intelligence that was disseminated to

19 CID was as far as possible considered to be accurate and

20 relevant.

21 Q. But the SIO of this hypothetical murder investigation

22 would have been very much reliant, would he not, upon

23 the assessment of the local or regional Special Branch

24 officers as to the reliability of the intelligence they

25 were disseminating to him?

 

 

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1 A. Yes, indeed.

2 Q. And in practice it would have been extremely difficult,

3 wouldn't it, for him to form an independent or different

4 view of that intelligence?

5 A. Yes, I think they were certainly very reliant upon

6 Special Branch and the grading that the intelligence was

7 given.

8 Q. Can I ask you this question, which was a point that came

9 up on the Warner Report, and it is about the

10 relationship between CID and Special Branch. There is

11 a suggestion that from time to time CID officers felt

12 that Special Branch was not being open enough with them

13 in sharing intelligence of relevance to the CID's work.

14 Now, was that a complaint that you ever encountered in

15 your time as HIMG?

16 A. Certainly I think there was a perception that

17 Special Branch were -- held back intelligence, didn't

18 pass on the intelligence that was relevant, but I think

19 that's quite a natural assumption to make with

20 a department, you know, sitting outside that didn't have

21 the full picture, that didn't see how, you know, the

22 methods of operation. And, you know, those suspicions,

23 I think, were quite a natural thing to have, simply

24 because they didn't have that overall picture and they

25 were reliant -- clearly anyone would wish to have the

 

 

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1 whole picture, but because of the desire to maintain

2 sources' anonymisation, to ensure that not only were

3 they supplying whatever the relevant intelligence was on

4 the day, but that they would actually be able to produce

5 that intelligence the day after, the week after and the

6 year after. It was necessary to ensure that their

7 intelligence was properly passed on.

8 The big picture, who they were, what the context of

9 filling the intelligence, could not be passed on for

10 those reasons I have stated.

11 Q. So those were occasions, weren't they, where essentially

12 there was a conflict between the need to procure

13 evidence for a criminal process and the preservation of

14 intelligence and particularly of sources of

15 intelligence?

16 A. I don't think there was a conflict. I think there was

17 certainly a perception within some officers of CID

18 that there was a conflict.

19 It was part of the skills of Special Branch to

20 receive the intelligence and then to pass that on in

21 such a way that it did not in any way jeopardise the

22 source of that intelligence. So that was something that

23 was just -- that was part of the craft of being

24 a Special Branch officer: ensuring that the intelligence

25 you collect was passed on, because at the end of the day

 

 

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1 the reason that we collected the intelligence was to

2 ensure that intelligence was put into a manner that

3 could be exploited and, indeed, moved from the basis of

4 intelligence through to evidence.

5 Q. Can I just ask you about dissemination within

6 Special Branch? In the Warner Report, the point is made

7 that the structure of Special Branch as it was then in

8 1996/1997 gave a large degree of operational autonomy to

9 the regional heads. Now, was that something of which

10 you were aware when you took up office as the Head of

11 the new IMG?

12 A. I think it was absolutely necessary that the regional

13 heads had a large degree of operational autonomy because

14 they had the intelligence, the background, the history

15 to know how to operate, how to go about endeavouring to

16 recruit sources. So, yes, it was necessary that they

17 had them.

18 However, they only responded to those intelligence

19 requirements that were passed down to them and which IMG

20 had a formal and quite a large role in setting the

21 intelligence --

22 Q. Was this through the mechanism of the intelligence

23 review committee?

24 A. That's correct.

25 Q. Yes, thank you. But as you say, it was in the regions,

 

 

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1 in the local offices, that intelligence was gathered,

2 the sources were recruited and they were tasked. Is

3 that right?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. As you've said already, by the time the material reached

6 you it had been sanitised to a greater or lesser extent.

7 Were you ever concerned that significant or relevant

8 intelligence had fallen through the cracks as a result

9 of that; in other words, that what reached you wasn't

10 enough for you to form your big picture view?

11 A. No, I don't think I was. If at any time I had seen

12 a report and I felt that I required to know more of the

13 background to actually put it in a context, then I quite

14 properly contacted the regional head and asked those

15 questions, and they would oblige.

16 Q. Now, so far as your contact with the regional heads is

17 concerned, you say in paragraph 45 -- and this is at

18 RNI-846-168 (displayed) -- you saw the then Head of

19 South Region, B629, weekly, spoke to him over the

20 telephone maybe two or three times a week as well. Can

21 I take it that that was the case also with the other

22 regional heads while you were HIMG?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. Thank you. Did you have regular contact or meetings

25 with other officers within South Region?

 

 

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1 A. Yes, I would have spoken to the deputy on a regular

2 basis as well.

3 Q. Thank you. Now, within Headquarters can I ask you about

4 the briefings that you talk about in the next sentence:

5 "The heads of each desk ..."

6 Can I take it that that is within E3?

7 A. That's correct.

8 Q. "... took part in the morning briefings."

9 Presumably chaired by you?

10 A. That's correct.

11 Q. You then tell us that following those briefings you

12 would brief the Head of Special Branch?

13 A. That's correct.

14 Q. And he in turn would brief the Chief Constable?

15 A. That's correct, yes.

16 Q. Can I ask you whether the Deputy Head of Special Branch

17 was also involved in this process?

18 A. Yes, indeed. During that morning briefing, if he was on

19 duty, then he would have been present during the

20 briefing.

21 Q. Can I also take it from the last sentence of paragraph 45

22 there that, as far as you were aware, the Head of

23 Special Branch briefed the Chief Constable every day?

24 A. Yes, or in his absence, the deputy.

25 Q. Thank you. Now, what about you? Did you on occasions

 

 

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1 brief the Chief Constable yourself when you were the

2 head of IMG?

3 A. I do not have any recollection of briefing the

4 Chief Constable myself when I was Head of IMG. I may

5 have done on a few occasions, but I really don't have

6 any clear recollection of that.

7 Q. Mr Albiston certainly told us that he remembered doing

8 so from time to time, but that's not something you can

9 recall?

10 A. No, and again, my memory is slightly confused insomuch

11 as after that post I was then Head of Special Branch and

12 I briefed the Chief Constable on a morning -- daily

13 basis. So it is difficult to separate the two times

14 areas, you know, when -- Head of IMG and Head of

15 Special Branch.

16 Q. So on the structure you have put forward, presumably if

17 there were matters that you regarded as significant,

18 your role would be to brief your head, the Head of

19 Special Branch?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And then it would be for him, as it were, to take them

22 up still further to the head of the organisation?

23 A. Certainly if the Head of Special Branch or the deputy

24 wasn't available, then I would have taken on the role of

25 briefing the Chief Constable, but I haven't got a clear

 

 

25


1 recollection of -- I'm not saying I never done that,

2 I just can't remember having done that. Clearly if both

3 were not available on the day, then I would have

4 done it.

5 Q. Now, Mr Albiston also told us that there was a daily

6 intelligence report prepared for the Chief Constable in

7 E3. Is that something you can remember?

8 A. That's correct, yes.

9 Q. And would that come out of the briefing meeting that you

10 describe?

11 A. Yes, the daily intelligence briefing was something that

12 we -- I discussed with the desk heads each morning.

13 That really formed the briefing, and my enquiries were

14 into the background and why those assessments were being

15 made, et cetera. So I could then more properly brief

16 the Head of Special Branch.

17 Q. And Mr Albiston told us, in talking about his contact

18 with the Chief Constable, that his impression was that

19 the Chief Constable was very well informed, if I can put

20 it that way, and often, when he went to tell him

21 something, to brief him on something, he discovered that

22 the Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanaga in this case,

23 knew it already. Was that your experience and your view

24 of him?

25 A. Certainly the view I had was that the Chief Constable,

 

 

26


1 yes, was very properly briefed, yes.

2 Q. Now, so far as the question of timing and dates of

3 material you deal with in your statement is concerned,

4 what I would like to look at with you, please, is some

5 of the reports you mention, which in fact date from

6 before the time you arrived as Head of IMG in May or

7 perhaps June 1998.

8 If you look, please, at paragraph 40 of your

9 statement, RNI-846-166 (displayed), you will see there

10 that you are dealing with an intelligence report

11 from April 1996. I don't think we need to look at it.

12 We can see the date you give in the third line there.

13 Now, that is the first of the reports that you look

14 at and you continue in the subsequent ten or so

15 paragraphs to comment on intelligence reports, most, if

16 not all of which date from the time before you took your

17 post as the Head of IMG.

18 With that in mind, can I ask you, please, to look at

19 the section of your statement on Rosemary Nelson? That

20 begins at paragraph 21, RNI-846-160 (displayed). As I

21 understand it, what you are telling us in those three

22 paragraphs is that you first knew about Rosemary Nelson

23 when you became the Head of IMG?

24 A. That's correct.

25 Q. In other words, in the previous work, which you describe

 

 

27


1 in paragraphs 22 and 23, you didn't come across her in

2 the course of that work?

3 A. No, I didn't.

4 Q. And can I take it, therefore, that these early reports

5 that you comment upon in your statement are reports that

6 you would not have seen before your arrival as Head of

7 IMG?

8 A. That's correct.

9 Q. To take an example, given that the reporting comes from

10 the South Region, when you were Head of Special Branch

11 in Belfast you wouldn't have had access, would you, to

12 the reporting coming into Headquarters from the South

13 Region?

14 A. In relation to not having access, I actually couldn't

15 give an opinion. I may well have had access through the

16 computer system, but because Belfast in itself was an

17 extremely busy region, to be quite honest with you,

18 activities outside Belfast Region really were of

19 ancillary interest to me. My main focus was dealing

20 with the quite substantial workload that was already in

21 Belfast.

22 Q. Just remembering the earlier reports, earlier than your

23 date of arrival in May/June 1998, is it likely then that

24 you were made aware of those reports in looking through

25 files that you came across for the first time when you

 

 

28


1 became the Head of IMG?

2 A. Yes, that's correct. And, indeed, in the daily

3 briefings and that sort of natural acquisition of

4 knowledge in relation to the whole of the Province

5 rather than concentrating on Belfast.

6 Q. Can I just ask you a few questions about records then

7 and start by looking with you at paragraph 30 of your

8 statement at RNI-847-163 (displayed)? Here you say that

9 any person on whom intelligence was obtained would, over

10 a period of time, be allocated a Special Branch number.

11 Do you see that?

12 A. That's correct, yes.

13 Q. And we have heard other evidence from witnesses,

14 including witnesses within the E3 desks, that in general

15 once an individual had received four or five white

16 slips, SB50s, referring to them, a number would be

17 allocated and a file created?

18 A. Correct.

19 Q. Although it was also said that if an individual was

20 thought to be sufficiently interesting or important,

21 a file could be created, a number allocated, more or

22 less immediately?

23 A. Yes, it depended very much on the circumstances of the

24 intelligence and the accuracy, et cetera.

25 Q. But in general, would it be fair to say then that we can

 

 

29


1 judge when a person first became of real interest to

2 Special Branch by the date on which they were allocated

3 a Special Branch number?

4 A. I think you can probably draw some conclusion from that,

5 but there was almost, you know, a procedure.

6 My recollection was that it was after three reports

7 were received, but you know, it could have been four or

8 five. But there was certainly a number -- if those

9 reports had been received, then that was sufficient to

10 say, right, okay, here is someone that requires --

11 I suppose as much as for anything else, an

12 administration point of view -- a file so that those

13 reports could be collected.

14 Q. You then go on to say later in your paragraph:

15 "If an individual had a Special Branch number, then

16 there would have been a Special Branch file on them.

17 There would, therefore, have been a Special Branch file

18 on Rosemary Nelson somewhere."

19 And so far as that is concerned, what I wanted to

20 ask you is where? Where would a file on her be

21 maintained?

22 A. Okay, the file would have been maintained within the

23 registry. It would have been within the MACER system

24 and within the PRISM system.

25 Q. Yes. So there would be a paper file in the registry.

 

 

30


1 Is that correct?

2 A. That's my understanding, yes.

3 Q. So at the period we are dealing with, you have the paper

4 files but also the new computer systems coming in,

5 working in parallel?

6 A. That's correct, yes.

7 Q. And you tell us somewhere in your statement that by the

8 time you were leaving in 2001, they were beginning to

9 junk, if I can put it that way, some of the paper files,

10 but obviously the process took some years to complete?

11 A. Yes. I think certainly at that point there was moves

12 towards coming up with a formal destruction policy

13 within Special Branch as to how we would actually

14 deal -- and it was, to be honest with you, motivated as

15 much by a lack of space than it was by any other

16 reason.

17 Q. But certainly from the period you arrived until the

18 period you left, there were paper files as well as the

19 computer files?

20 A. Certainly that's my recollection.

21 Q. Yes. So a paper file in the registry in E3 and a file

22 on MACER and on PRISM?

23 A. Yes. It is difficult to, you know, visualise a file on

24 those computer systems. They simply had -- there was

25 independent pieces of information which were retained

 

 

31


1 within the computer system and would be linked together

2 whenever you actually done a search. So if you wanted

3 to search in relation to intelligence held by an

4 individual, that individual's name was put in and then

5 all the documents relating to the individual -- there

6 would be a list of numbers produced and you could then

7 go through those reports.

8 Q. But for those who were less computer friendly -- and I

9 think Mr Albiston put himself in that category -- there

10 was the comfort of the paper files to consult in any

11 event?

12 A. That's correct.

13 Q. What about other places that files could be stored?

14 Would there have been a file, so far as you were aware,

15 for individuals in the regions?

16 A. There could well have been files in relation to

17 individuals held within the TCG to give, again, sort of

18 the background knowledge in relation to mounting

19 operations.

20 Q. Yes, but was there a formal system, for example, of

21 duplicating files to make sure that everybody had the

22 same up-to-date material in the various Special Branch

23 locations?

24 A. No, the regions, if they wanted to read a Special Branch

25 file, provided they -- they would come to Headquarters,

 

 

32


1 receive an authorisation, they could then go to registry

2 and view that particular file. So there wasn't, you

3 know, four sets of files sitting within the regions; the

4 main file was sitting at Headquarters. There may well

5 have been some local arrangements whereby they

6 maintained the intelligence reports in relation to

7 individuals, people that were currently under

8 investigation.

9 Q. So some local records as well as the central files?

10 A. Yes, I would suppose so.

11 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can I just ask for one point of

12 clarification: Once SB records started to be

13 computerised, if new intelligence came in on an

14 individual, would there be any updating of the manual

15 file or would it merely go on to the computer system

16 until such time as the manual file was --

17 A. I understand. To be honest with you, I'm not sure.

18 I know that we started to do this back record

19 conversion. Now -- probably the best people to answer

20 that question is someone who worked in registry at that

21 time.

22 I believe for a time, if someone was in the process

23 of back record conversion, then the paper file existed

24 until the whole file was then converted. At that point,

25 any new intelligence come in went on to the computer

 

 

33


1 rather than maintaining a paper system.

2 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So for a certain period of time, as far

3 as you can recall, the paper system was updated as well

4 as going on to the computer system?

5 A. Yes, until the whole file was converted.

6 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Put on and then destroyed?

7 A. Yes.

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Thank you.

9 MR PHILLIPS: Can I just show you the paragraph? It is on

10 the screen now, paragraph 31, where you talk about what

11 was going on when you left.

12 You say when you left, the registry was in the

13 process of going through the paper files. We know that

14 that was 2001. So can I take it then that at that

15 stage, 2001, they were processing the existing paper

16 files and throwing out those they felt were not

17 required?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Yes, thank you. So far as Rosemary Nelson's case and

20 her file is concerned, in terms of the paper file, there

21 is no reason, is there, to think that there was not

22 a paper file on Rosemary Nelson at the time of her

23 murder in March 1999?

24 A. There is nothing in my mind. If she had an SB record, I

25 would have expected there to have been a paper file.

 

 

34


1 Having said that, I have no recollection of actually

2 ever having read that file, but I would have expected

3 that there should have been one.

4 Q. Yes. In paragraph 59 of your statement at RNI-846-172

5 (displayed), you say in connection with the murder

6 investigation -- I'm jumping on a bit now:

7 "Special Branch would have supplied as much

8 information as possible to CID for its investigation."

9 Presumably you would have expected that to include

10 the disclosure to the Murder Investigation Team of the

11 existence of the file on Rosemary Nelson?

12 A. I would have expected them to pass on any relevant

13 intelligence in relation to the ongoing murder

14 investigation.

15 I'm not sure that I would have expected them to have

16 passed on the file on Rosemary Nelson to the murder

17 team. Certainly it would have been -- the intelligence

18 that the CID would have been interested in would have

19 been, you know, who was suspected of carrying out the

20 murder, et cetera, et cetera, that background. So I

21 wouldn't have expected the file to have been handed

22 over, no.

23 Q. But consistent with the idea of supplying as much

24 information as possible, at the very least presumably if

25 the question had been posed by the CID, the Murder

 

 

35


1 Investigation Team, "Is there a file?" you would have

2 expected the truthful answer, "Yes", to be provided?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Thank you. Can I take it that you have no recollection

5 of this particular point ever arising yourself?

6 A. No, I have no recollection.

7 Q. Now, going back to the question of timing and the

8 Special Branch number of Rosemary Nelson, could I ask

9 you to look at paragraph 40 of your statement,

10 RNI-846-166 (displayed)?

11 A. Sorry, could I just go back to that last question --

12 Q. Yes.

13 A. -- and say that I would have suspected that the CID

14 investigating the murder would have been aware that

15 Rosemary Nelson would have had a Special Branch file

16 simply because of her profile. So, you know, I think

17 that would not have been a surprise to the Murder

18 Investigation Team.

19 Q. But if they had wanted confirmation, you would have

20 expected them to be given the straightforward answer,

21 "Yes, there is"?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. And presumably it would then be for them to raise

24 whatever questions they thought were appropriate as to

25 getting access to the whole of or parts of the file?

 

 

36


1 A. Yes, certainly in relation to any murder investigation

2 or serious incident, a Special Branch officer was

3 allocated to the investigation team and they carried out

4 all Special Branch enquiries on their behalf.

5 So if the investigating officer had a request,

6 "Look, could you look at the file to see if there is

7 anything in that file that would be relevant to the

8 ongoing investigation", that person would have come up

9 to Headquarters, received the authorisation, went

10 through the file and then took back anything that was

11 considered relevant.

12 Q. And it would be his responsibility then to take a view

13 on what was relevant to the ongoing investigation?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Thank you. Now, just going back to timing, can we look

16 at the reference there to the first of the reports you

17 deal with in your statement?

18 As I say, it dates from April 1996 and I would like

19 you to have a quick look at that, please, on the screen,

20 RNI-548-070 (displayed) and the relevant page, I think,

21 is the next one, RNI-548-071 (displayed). Thank you

22 very much.

23 The short point there:

24 "Rosemary Nelson is using her position as

25 a solicitor to gather information for PIRA in Lurgan."

 

 

37


1 Now, turning back to RNI-548-070 (displayed), we can

2 see under the date section there, although the specific

3 day has been redacted, it dates from April 1996. What I

4 would like to do is to show you the original, if I can

5 put it that way, PRISM document, which lies behind this

6 SIR and we can see that at RNI-541-013 (displayed):

7 "Rosemary Nelson gathers information [misspelt] for

8 PIRA, Lurgan."

9 You can see it is the same date, April 1996. If we

10 turn over to RNI-541-014 (displayed), we can see

11 essentially the same intelligence which finds its way

12 into the secret intelligence report. Is that correct?

13 A. Yes, hm-mm.

14 Q. If you look down at the bottom of the page, which we

15 have enlarged on the screen, you will see by this stage,

16 1996, Rosemary Nelson has a Special Branch number?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. So going back to what we were discussing before, it

19 follows, doesn't it, that by this stage, April 1996,

20 a sufficient number of the white slips have come in for

21 her to be allocated a number and, therefore, a file?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Thank you. I would just like to ask you one or two

24 questions, please, about liaison with outside agencies; in

25 other words, agencies outside the RUC. You deal with

 

 

38


1 this in your statement at paragraph 17 and that's

2 RNI-846-159 (displayed). I should say there are various

3 other passages where you touch on this, but let's start

4 with that.

5 Again, we have heard evidence from Mr Albiston about

6 this and I don't want to go over it in any great detail,

7 but in summary you tell us here and elsewhere in your

8 statement that there was liaison between you and your

9 colleagues in IMG and officers in the Army, and indeed

10 the Security Service, on a reasonably regular basis. Is

11 that correct?

12 A. Yes, indeed.

13 Q. And we discussed earlier the intelligence review

14 committee which I think was chaired by the DCI, was it

15 not?

16 A. That's correct.

17 Q. And you were an attendee of that, were you, as the HIMG?

18 A. Yes, indeed.

19 Q. And it was in that committee, was it not, that the

20 monthly intelligence requirements were set?

21 A. That's correct.

22 Q. Thank you. What were the other forums or meetings in

23 which you would meet Army officers and the Security

24 Service personnel, please?

25 A. There was meetings in relation to PEC, the Province

 

 

39


1 Executive Committee.

2 Q. PEC, yes.

3 A. Then there was a range of other informal meetings where

4 any of the members could have, you know, sat down and

5 discussed any particular concerns they had. There

6 wasn't a formal weekly meeting with these individuals,

7 but the meetings that did occur perhaps were more than

8 once weekly with opposite numbers within the Army and

9 within the Security Service.

10 I would have met quite regularly with the Head of D2

11 and, indeed, the DCI's rep, a representative in Knock,

12 [Redacted]

13 And I certainly would have perhaps had liaison with the

14 DCI Rep or possibly daily with the Army, two or three

15 times a week; if not physical meetings, certainly

16 telephone conversations. So it was quite frequent.

17 Q. Now, can I just ask you some questions about your

18 perception of the RUC's position vis-a-vis the Security

19 Service? Because, as we know, in formal terms at least

20 the RUC had primacy in relation to intelligence in

21 Northern Ireland?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Now, so far as the Security Service was concerned -- and

24 they of course had, through the DCI, access to

25 ministers, didn't they, not only in Northern Ireland but

 

 

40


1 in Whitehall?

2 A. Sure, of course.

3 Q. They had a UK-wide remit, unlike you, and the DCI was in

4 a position, wasn't he, to influence, if not to direct,

5 general intelligence matters within Northern Ireland?

6 A. Correct, yes.

7 Q. He was also in a powerful position in terms of

8 controlling RUC payments to sources, wasn't he?

9 A. Yes, he was the paymaster general, so to speak.

10 Q. Yes, and he was also in charge, wasn't he, of all

11 warrantry matters?

12 A. Correct.

13 Q. And he was the interface in those important matters

14 between the intelligence agencies and the Secretary of

15 State?

16 A. Correct.

17 Q. Now, those are just some aspects of the way the

18 relationship worked on the ground. Can I ask you this:

19 was it your personal view that although the RUC had

20 formal primacy, in fact it was the Security Service

21 which was pulling the strings in Northern Ireland?

22 A. I think the relationship between the Security Service

23 and the RUC and, indeed, Special Branch in particular,

24 before the ceasefires was probably a much easier

25 relationship insomuch as that the Security Service, once

 

 

41


1 they had retained that oversight capacity, were very

2 comfortable with the RUC, collecting the operational

3 intelligence, mounting the operation and taking it right

4 through to the courts.

5 I think then after the ceasefires, the Security

6 Service, with their sort of, for want of a better term,

7 political remit -- the relationship perhaps became

8 a little bit more difficult.

9 Now, I have to say the relationship was quite

10 workmanlike. It depended, as many of -- relationships

11 with outside organisations -- depended most on

12 personalities, so it would depend on who the individuals

13 were, the relationship went from, you know, good to very

14 good to maybe perhaps not so good.

15 But in relation to them actually pulling the

16 strings, yes, there was always a tension, perhaps

17 a creative tension, to ensure that we met the

18 intelligence requirements, that they were, like

19 ourselves, wanting to ensure that if we set the

20 intelligence, that we could actually achieve them, that

21 we could fulfil the requirements right across the whole

22 spectrum of that document that was set on a monthly

23 basis.

24 Certainly in relation to the finances, the

25 direction, they certainly had a major role to play and

 

 

42


1 I always believed that it was reasonably equal role,

2 sometimes more equal than others, of course, depending

3 on the subject that was being discussed. Certainly I

4 never had any difficulty with that relationship and

5 whilst there certainly were some very sort of animated

6 discussions on occasions in relation to various issues,

7 I think we always came to a conclusion that both

8 organisations could live with.

9 Q. Thank you very much. Can I just ask you a few questions

10 about the NIO? Did you regard them, to use an

11 expression that Mr Albiston didn't like, as one of your

12 customers?

13 A. Yes. I can understand why he wouldn't like that term,

14 but, yes, you know, for want of a better term, we had

15 a range of customers and we endeavoured, as we possibly

16 could, to fulfil their particular needs.

17 Q. Yes. Now, there is an aspect of this which I would like

18 to take up with you and you deal with it in paragraph 42

19 of your statement at RNI-846-166 (displayed). Because

20 there, in talking about a particular IMAGIR -- I don't

21 think it is necessary to look at it -- you talk about

22 the intelligence requirements of its customers and then

23 right at the bottom of the page, do you see, you say:

24 "This IMAGIR would have been given ..."

25 Then over the page is says:

 

 

43


1 "... to the NIO. At the time, the NIO was asking

2 for intelligence on residents groups ..."

3 Et cetera. This is new evidence as far as the

4 Inquiry is concerned. Are you saying that IMAGIRs of

5 the example here were given direct to the NIO by IMG?

6 A. No, I'm perhaps not clear in the statement. It

7 eventually went to the NIO via the DCI's office, the

8 Assessments Group. So IMAGIRs didn't go to the NIO

9 directly; they went via the assessments groups and

10 the DCI.

11 Q. So I have got this right then, the IMAGIRs would go to,

12 amongst others, the Assessments Group who would turn

13 them into what we know as the NIIRs, ie the

14 Northern Ireland intelligence reports, and it is in that

15 form that they would reach the NIO and other customers?

16 A. Yes, indeed.

17 Q. Thank you very much. Returning to the topic of

18 Rosemary Nelson, I would like to remind you of some

19 early paragraphs in your statement, beginning at

20 paragraph 4 at RNI-846-155 (displayed), because here you

21 talk about terrorist organisations and you make some

22 quite general remarks about them.

23 First, you talk about them being essentially local

24 and then in paragraph 6 on the next page, you seek to

25 draw some general distinctions -- if we can have that

 

 

44


1 enlarged, please, RNI-846-156 (displayed) -- between

2 PIRA and other Republican terrorist organisations on the

3 one hand and Loyalists on the other. Do you see at the

4 very last sentence of the paragraph, you say:

5 "Loyalists were what I would call recreational

6 terrorists."

7 In summary, if I can suggest what you are saying

8 there, as I understand it, is that Loyalists were

9 essentially criminals with a terrorist sideline, if I

10 can put it that way?

11 A. Yes, that's quite correct. It was something they used

12 to benefit their criminal activities.

13 Q. Would it be fair to say, to suggest that, as with all

14 generalisations, there would inevitably be exceptions in

15 some particular cases?

16 A. Yes, and certainly I -- by saying recreational

17 terrorists, I don't in any way wish to convey that they

18 were any less lethal or ruthless than any of the other

19 terrorist organisations. Indeed, on some occasions

20 perhaps more lethal, more ruthless individuals.

21 Q. Yes.

22 A. But certainly the main purpose of their existence was to

23 benefit the individual.

24 Q. Yes. Now, just turning back to paragraph 4, where we

25 started just a little while ago, which is on RNI-846-155

 

 

45


1 (displayed) -- if we could enlarge that, please -- here,

2 as I understand it, you are not drawing a distinction

3 between Republican organisations on the one hand and

4 Loyalists on the other; the point you are making about

5 the local nature of the organisations is general,

6 applies across the board. Is that right?

7 A. Yes, certainly, there was a suspicion of people who were

8 outside the area.

9 Q. So although you give a particular example about PIRA in

10 West Belfast, as I understand it the comments you are

11 making apply across the board?

12 A. Absolutely.

13 Q. Thank you. Now, just moving on to where you begin to

14 talk about Rosemary Nelson -- and it is the paragraphs

15 we looked at a little earlier, RNI-846-160 (displayed),

16 paragraphs 21 to 23 -- you explain that you didn't come

17 across her in your earlier roles, and in particular in

18 23 you say that when you were:

19 "... Head of Special Branch in the Belfast Region,

20 Rosemary Nelson would not have come across my radar then

21 unless she had some role in Belfast."

22 And then these words:

23 "As stated, terrorist units tended to stay in their

24 own areas."

25 Now, where you say "as stated", I assume you are

 

 

46


1 referring back to that paragraph 4 we have just looked

2 at. Is that right?

3 A. Correct, yes.

4 Q. So just to be clear here, are you suggesting by making

5 that reference that Rosemary Nelson was herself

6 a terrorist?

7 A. I certainly think the position that we held was that she

8 had a very close association with terrorists in the

9 Lurgan area and that she helped them to achieve their

10 objectives. And if one can sort of make the conclusion

11 that by those actions she then makes herself

12 a terrorist, then perhaps, yes, that's the conclusion

13 one would come to.

14 Q. Do you think that's a view of her you held in 1998 when

15 you became the Head of IMG?

16 A. I think that's difficult to say from the passage of

17 time, but certainly, yes, I think that's probably an

18 opinion I would have held at that point.

19 Q. Let's look at the next paragraph, 24, of your statement.

20 Could we enlarge that, please? Here you make a number

21 of comments about her. You say, for example, about

22 eight lines down, your perception of her was that she

23 was very sympathetic to PIRA and would have compromised

24 her responsibilities as a solicitor to assist PIRA. And

25 then at the end of the paragraph:

 

 

47


1 "There was a feeling within Special Branch that

2 Mrs Nelson abused her role as a solicitor by assisting

3 PIRA members with false alibis."

4 Obviously those are serious comments to make, but

5 can I take it that in fact your view of her was, as it

6 were, even starker than that, namely that by the

7 behaviour that you talk about there, she had, in your

8 view at any rate, made herself in effect a terrorist?

9 A. Yes, I think she had crossed that line.

10 Q. Sir, would that be a convenient moment?

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, we will have a break until quarter

12 to 12.

13 Mr [name redacted], before the witness leaves, would you

14 please confirm that all the cameras have been

15 switched off?

16 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Would you please,

18 escort the witness out.

19 A. Thank you.

20 (11.30 am)

21 (Short break)

22 (11.46 am)

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

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

25 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

 

 

48


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

2 screen closed?

3 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

5 and securely fastened?

6 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

8 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

9 of this chamber?

10 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr [name redacted], can you please confirm that

12 the two witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

13 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

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

15 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

17 Bring the witness in, please.

18 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

19 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

20 switched back on.

21 Yes, Mr Phillips?

22 MR PHILLIPS: Just before the break we were looking at

23 paragraph 24 of your statement at RNI-846-161

24 (displayed) and discussing the views that you explained

25 in your evidence you held about Rosemary Nelson. Can

 

 

49


1 I take it from your earlier answers that those views

2 were formed in the light of information you received

3 after becoming the Head of the IMG?

4 A. Yes, that's correct.

5 Q. Would that include the sort of intelligence reporting

6 that you referred to and deal with in your statement?

7 A. Yes, it would have been formed as a result of

8 intelligence reports and verbal briefings.

9 Q. So the written reports on the one hand and briefings on

10 the other?

11 A. Correct.

12 Q. And it follows, does it, that after taking up your

13 position there, you would have been briefed verbally

14 about Rosemary Nelson and the various intelligence

15 reports about her and her activities?

16 A. Yes, that's correct.

17 Q. Thank you. Now, I would just like to look at a couple

18 of those so we can test that. I'm not going to take you

19 to all of the reports you deal with in your statement by

20 any means, but RNI-542-063 is the first I would like to

21 look at with you, please (displayed). The substance is

22 on the next page, RNI-542-064 (displayed). The date

23 here is March 1998:

24 "Rosemary Nelson continues to have a close

25 association with the Lurgan PIRA, in particular

 

 

50


1 Colin Duffy."

2 Then:

3 "She regularly briefs Colin Duffy on the CID

4 investigation ..."

5 This is in relation to the murder of Kevin Conway:

6 "... and actively assists him in creating alibis for

7 PIRA members."

8 The next document I want to show you, please, is at

9 RNI-548-210 (displayed). Thank you very much. This is

10 in April 1998, just a month later. It is a PRISM

11 document this time. If we can look at the next page,

12 RNI-548-211, please (displayed):

13 "PIRA have briefed Rosemary Nelson, who is acting as

14 their solicitor, to instruct ..."

15 Then a name has been redacted:

16 "... to take responsibility for the weapons that had

17 been found."

18 I think, as you point out in your statement, it is

19 copied to the IMG. Can you see that?

20 Can I take it from the earlier answers you gave me

21 that in relation to the intelligence coming in from the

22 regions, you would have been content to rely on the

23 regions, on the local officers, for their assessment of

24 the reliability of the intelligence?

25 A. Yes, I would.

 

 

51


1 Q. And presumably it is, therefore, as a result of this

2 material as well as the briefings you have mentioned

3 that you form your own views about Rosemary Nelson?

4 A. Correct.

5 Q. They aren't, as I think is clear from your statement,

6 based on any first-hand observation or knowledge of your

7 own?

8 A. No, not at all. Indeed, most of my opinions in the role

9 of Head of IMG would have been formed on foot of the

10 information that was supplied to me.

11 Q. Yes. So taking those two as an example then, you were

12 satisfied from your position in Headquarters as to the

13 reliability of the information coming in to you?

14 A. Correct, yes.

15 Q. But you didn't have any independent way of verifying it

16 yourself?

17 A. No, if I had any concerns or doubt in relation to that,

18 I always had the right to go back and refer that back to

19 the region to -- and make enquiries in relation to that.

20 But that fitted into the overall picture.

21 Q. Yes. So far as the briefings were concerned, would they

22 have been briefings given to you by desk officers or

23 from officers from the regions?

24 A. I think it would probably have been a combination of

25 both: both from desk officers and, indeed, listening to

 

 

52


1 briefings from the regional head at senior management

2 groups which were held on a monthly basis at

3 Headquarters, which I attended.

4 Q. Could we look at paragraph 24 of your statement at

5 RNI-846-161 (displayed)? Can I take it, therefore, that

6 the comments you make about Rosemary Nelson in that

7 paragraph are consistent with the sort of information

8 you were being given at the briefings that you have just

9 described?

10 A. That's correct.

11 Q. So these were, as far as you were aware, generally held

12 views?

13 A. Correct.

14 Q. Thank you. So far as Mr Albiston is concerned, he

15 expressed the view to the Inquiry in his evidence that

16 the intelligence, for example, in relation to what was

17 said to be the involvement in creating false alibis,

18 disclosed criminal behaviour?

19 A. Yes, indeed.

20 Q. Was that your view as well?

21 A. Yes, that would have been my view, yes.

22 Q. So that not only was the behaviour unethical in terms of

23 unprofessional for a solicitor, but also prima facie it

24 disclosed criminal activity?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

53


1 Q. And presumably that was part of the considerations which

2 led you to regard Rosemary Nelson herself as a

3 terrorist?

4 A. Correct.

5 Q. Thank you. Now, when faced with the material of this

6 kind, did you consider whether it ought to be referred

7 to the relevant authorities, for example, her

8 professional body, the Law Society, or CID for criminal

9 investigation?

10 A. I think certainly in relation to information, one has to

11 take it in the context of the overall investigation into

12 Lurgan PIRA.

13 Q. Yes.

14 A. And whilst, as it sat, it sat as intelligence, which is

15 completely different to evidence, and if one was going

16 to go along to a professional body, I think one would

17 need to have evidence. So there is quite a journey to

18 convert intelligence into evidence. So I don't think

19 that would have been a consideration at that point.

20 Q. Well, as you say, there is a great difference between

21 intelligence on the one hand and evidence for criminal

22 purposes and prosecutions on the other, but it was often

23 the case, presumably in Northern Ireland and elsewhere,

24 that criminal investigations leading to criminal

25 prosecutions were prompted or sparked by the receipt of

 

 

54


1 intelligence?

2 A. Yes, indeed.

3 Q. And it must have been a very familiar business for you

4 as a Special Branch officer of longstanding to be aware

5 of investigations eventually taken forward by CID which

6 had originally been prompted by intelligence passing

7 through Special Branch?

8 A. Certainly in relation to intelligence, I think the

9 intelligence that would have been passed to CID to allow

10 them to carry out the investigation would have been

11 a lot fuller than the intelligence that was available

12 simply because to have actually converted what was

13 available in relation to Rosemary Nelson to evidence

14 would have created -- demanded quite a lot of resources,

15 et cetera.

16 So one had to take a balanced view that here was an

17 individual who, yes, was involved in criminal activity,

18 but one had to look at the proper deployment of

19 resources. And, of course, the primary concern of

20 Special Branch was the very first principle of policing

21 and that's the preservation of life. So to have

22 diverted resources to concentrate on this one aspect of

23 a criminal investigation, then perhaps those resources

24 would not have been available to actually carry out

25 those other operations which would have preserved life.

 

 

55


1 That's really the balance that one can make.

2 Resources were finite and it was something that --

3 certainly from a regional point of view and, indeed,

4 from a Headquarters point of view -- one had to make

5 a balanced decision on. There were many aspects and

6 many people involved in criminal activities that we had

7 intelligence on and, yes, in ideal world, of course we

8 would have dedicated resources. But one had to come up

9 with a balanced view and look at where the greater

10 good lay.

11 Q. Was one of the considerations operating in that debate,

12 from a Special Branch point of view, the need in

13 operational terms to preserve sources and to maintain

14 what might be long-running intelligence operations?

15 A. Absolutely. Sources and, indeed, intelligence

16 operations were not two-a-penny. They were very

17 difficult resources to obtain, and one had to make the

18 balance between the effort that went into acquiring

19 those sources of intelligence and the -- you know, the

20 benefits that would have been had in sacrificing those.

21 And, indeed, one had to remember in relation to human

22 intelligence resources, the compromise of those

23 individuals would almost certainly in these

24 circumstances have resulted in their death.

25 Q. Yes. Now, what you have been describing for us a little

 

 

56


1 earlier was, as it were, a debate between, as it were,

2 the pros of starting a criminal investigation and the

3 cons. Is that a debate that, as you can recall,

4 actually took place before the murder of

5 Rosemary Nelson?

6 A. In relation to carrying out an operation specifically to

7 take the intelligence we had --

8 Q. Yes.

9 A. I certainly have no recollection of that.

10 Q. No. But in relation to the information coming in the

11 various reports that you have described, the briefings

12 and so on you have told us about, can I take it that

13 these reports and the information they set out would

14 have been known not only to you but to your superior

15 officers within the Special Branch chain, to the deputy

16 and then the Head of Special Branch?

17 A. Yes, I would have expected so.

18 Q. And you would have assumed also, presumably, to the

19 Chief Constable himself?

20 A. I would have expected so.

21 Q. Yes. Can we just look briefly at paragraph 25, where

22 you deal with another aspect of Rosemary Nelson's work,

23 which is the work for the Residents Coalition. You say

24 there that her acting as a solicitor for the GRRC, fifth

25 line:

 

 

57


1 "... could be on a legitimate and proper level.

2 However, I think there were suspicions that her

3 involvement in the GRRC went beyond that because of her

4 associations with Colin Duffy and PIRA."

5 So as I understand it, the Special Branch view of

6 her work for the Residents Coalition was coloured, if I

7 can put it that way, by the broader intelligence picture

8 that you perceived. Is that fair?

9 A. Yes, I think that would have been a reasonable

10 assessment we would have taken at that time.

11 Q. Yes. Had there not been the other intelligence in

12 relation to Mr Duffy and PIRA, you would perhaps have

13 been prepared to accept that her work was genuinely that

14 of a solicitor acting for the Residents Coalition?

15 A. Yes, certainly I think the intelligence that we had and

16 her association with Colin Duffy would have influenced

17 our assessment in relation to her role within the GRRC.

18 Q. Yes. Now, so far as the GRRC is concerned, you explain

19 in paragraph 42 at RNI-846-166 (displayed) that the GRRC

20 was -- it reads over the page actually to RNI-846-167,

21 please (displayed) -- one of the areas of interest for

22 your political customers:

23 "At the time [you say], the NIO were asking us for

24 intelligence on residents groups such as GRRC and the

25 Ormeau Road. The GRRC were holding themselves out as

 

 

58


1 being a peaceful group. However, this IMAGIR ..."

2 You were referring to a particular report there:

3 "... shows there was some subversion."

4 So this was an aspect of the political work you were

5 doing by 1997/1998?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. At the time you assumed your role as the Head of IMG,

8 the Drumcree dispute, stand-off, was still a very

9 important feature in political life in Northern Ireland,

10 was it not?

11 A. Absolutely, yes.

12 Q. And in particular after the Good Friday Agreement and,

13 indeed, the march that year, there was a major stand-off

14 between the two sides at Drumcree, was there not?

15 A. There was, yes.

16 Q. And that was a focus of very considerable political

17 interest and of demands for intelligence from your

18 political customers?

19 A. Yes, indeed.

20 Q. Now, in paragraph 50 of your statement at RNI-846-169

21 (displayed), you deal with a slightly later report on

22 this, dated June. Do you see there, RNI-542-145?

23 Again, I don't think we need to look at it. Essentially

24 the report was about the politicisation of the GRRC, you

25 say. Do you see that in the third line?

 

 

59


1 A. Yes.

2 Q. So the issue here presumably was the extent to which the

3 GRRC was not just a peaceful residents group, but

4 something rather more sinister, if I can put it that

5 way?

6 A. I think our assessment at that time was that this was

7 a group that wished to exploit the current situation at

8 Drumcree for the maximum political gain to the

9 Republican movement.

10 Q. Yes. Now, it is right, isn't it, that Drumcree at this

11 point was being exploited by both sides?

12 A. Oh, yes, absolutely.

13 Q. And both sides were working on the divisions created by

14 the dispute in order to advance their own ends?

15 A. Absolutely, yes.

16 Q. And it was in that sense, wasn't it, a focus of

17 particular effort by dissident or extremist factions on

18 both sides?

19 A. It was.

20 Q. So the question you were asked to advise the politicians

21 about was whether the GRRC fell into that category. Is

22 that right?

23 A. That's correct.

24 Q. And so presumably as an addition to the picture you had

25 of Rosemary Nelson at this stage, the summer of 1998,

 

 

60


1 the connection between her and the Residents Coalition,

2 as you saw it, was also significant?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. And when you take all these various aspects together,

5 the points you made in your paragraph 24, the connection

6 with Colin Duffy, the broader connection with PIRA, that

7 was enough, wasn't it, to make her a person of interest

8 to Special Branch in her own right?

9 A. Yes, indeed.

10 Q. So she wasn't just of interest because of her

11 associations with particular individuals but rather

12 because of her perceived conduct herself?

13 A. Correct, yes.

14 Q. Thank you. Now, you say in this same paragraph:

15 "The connection between him ..."

16 That is Breandan Mac Cionnaith:

17 "... and Rosemary Nelson, whilst not as sinister as

18 the connection between Rosemary Nelson and Colin Duffy,

19 completed the picture of where Rosemary Nelson's

20 loyalties lay."

21 Can I ask you this question: how sinister in your

22 view was her connection with Colin Duffy?

23 A. I think the intelligence that we had previously received

24 in relation to her providing sort of intelligence back

25 to Duffy in relation to ongoing investigations, to

 

 

61


1 assisting him in relation to his furtherance of his own

2 objectives, really that was the sort of -- the main

3 aspect that gave us the view that Rosemary Nelson was

4 involved in these criminal matters.

5 Q. Yes. Can we look back to paragraph 24, RNI-846-161

6 (displayed) because at the beginning of that

7 paragraph -- and we haven't looked at it specifically

8 yet -- you deal with this relationship and you say you

9 recall either reading some intelligence or being told

10 verbally that they had a close romantic relationship; in

11 other words, a relationship that went beyond that of

12 solicitor and client?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Can I take it that at this stage you can't remember

15 whether it was on the basis of reporting, such as

16 reports we have been looking at, or whether it was

17 a verbal briefing?

18 A. My recollection is in relation to a verbal briefing

19 specifically in relation to a particular intelligence

20 source.

21 Q. Are you able to say or are you able to recollect

22 a particular moment then when you were told

23 face-to-face, I assume, about the existence of this

24 relationship?

25 A. I can't recollect the particular moment. I certainly

 

 

62


1 can recollect receiving specific information in relation

2 to their relationship.

3 Q. Yes. Now, you say in the third line:

4 "I can't remember if I heard about this before or

5 after her murder."

6 Can I just suggest this: Mr Albiston told us that by

7 the time he left, which was obviously before you joined,

8 he was aware of these allegations. Doesn't it seem very

9 likely that you heard about it before her murder?

10 A. Yes, I think I did, and certainly in reading my

11 statements before coming to the Inquiry today, that has

12 actually triggered sort of various memories that I have

13 in relation to an incident where I was briefed in

14 relation to that close relationship.

15 Q. Can you remember now roughly when that took place?

16 A. It would have been before the murder, but in relation to

17 dates and times, I'm sorry, I just couldn't tell.

18 Q. Might it have been, for example, shortly after your

19 arrival in the IMG in June 1998?

20 A. Yes, I would have imagined it was some time -- it

21 certainly was some time after that. Again, whether it

22 was June, July, August, November, I really cannot say.

23 Q. Yes.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Can you remember now -- I don't want you to

25 mention a name, but can you recollect who told you this?

 

 

63


1 A. I believe it may have been my deputy or someone from the

2 desks, but again I can't be 100 per cent certain in

3 relation to that.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

5 A. I can add in relation to the source of that

6 intelligence, that would have been a source that I would

7 have had absolute faith in.

8 MR PHILLIPS: Thank you. Now, in your statement -- just to

9 see whether this helps you -- at RNI-846-167,

10 paragraph 44, when you refer to Operation Indus, which

11 is something about which the Inquiry has heard a deal of

12 evidence, you say you have no recollection of that, but

13 you also say:

14 "If there had been any operations against

15 Rosemary Nelson, they would have come through the IMG."

16 That is the way the system worked, was it?

17 A. That's correct. It came from the region making the

18 intelligence case. That was then assessed by IMG before

19 it then was passed on to the DCI's rep.

20 Q. Thank you. But might it have been in the context of

21 that operation, do you think, that you received the

22 briefing of the kind you have just described?

23 A. It may well have been.

24 Q. Because that, we know, took place -- the processing of

25 that -- in August and early September 1998. Does it

 

 

64


1 sound likely?

2 A. It is -- yes, it is absolutely likely.

3 Q. Thank you. And again, in relation to this particular

4 aspect of your view of Rosemary Nelson, was it, as far

5 as you were aware, something known about, a view shared,

6 by the officers, the colleagues you worked with in IMG?

7 A. Yes, certainly within the Republican desk, yes.

8 Q. Yes. And again, was it something about which, as far as

9 you were aware, the Deputy Head of Special Branch, the

10 Head of Special Branch and presumably also the

11 Chief Constable were also aware?

12 A. I would believe so, yes.

13 Q. Yes. Now, I have just one or two extra questions in

14 relation to this matter.

15 Did you ever hear it suggested that these

16 allegations, the suggestions being made, that there was

17 this relationship between Colin Duffy and

18 Rosemary Nelson, that those allegations were themselves

19 deliberately fabricated by Special Branch or the police

20 in order to discredit Rosemary Nelson?

21 A. Certainly not, and indeed the relationship between

22 Rosemary Nelson and Colin Duffy was really, from an

23 intelligence point of view, a matter of background. It

24 placed their meetings in context. It wasn't a -- you

25 know, a main aspect of any intelligence operation or

 

 

65


1 source-gathering to prove that this relationship

2 existed; it provided simply a context, no more than

3 that.

4 Q. Yes. But can I take it that if a suggestion of that

5 kind, namely that it was, as it were, made up, had been

6 made to you at the time, what would your reaction have

7 been?

8 A. I think it would have been that -- ridiculous.

9 Q. Because you were satisfied about the material on which

10 you had formed your own view. Is that right?

11 A. Yes, I would -- as I have said before in relation to

12 that, I would have had complete faith in the source of

13 that intelligence.

14 Q. Thank you. Can we move to the subject of the threat

15 assessment in August 1998? You deal with it in

16 paragraph 26 of your statement and the next paragraphs

17 to 38. It begins at RNI-846-161 (displayed) at the very

18 bottom of the page.

19 Before we look at any of the detail of that, the

20 intelligence reports you have -- you deal with in your

21 statement up to paragraph 51 -- and we have looked at

22 some of them together now -- take us from April 1996

23 to July 1998. Obviously we have been discussing

24 together the way in which your view of Rosemary Nelson

25 was formed. I would like you to move on with me now to

 

 

66


1 just slightly later in August 1998, and you will see the

2 reference there at the very beginning of paragraph 26 at

3 the bottom of the page.

4 Now, again, the Inquiry has heard a good deal of

5 evidence about this so I shall try to keep my questions

6 to those matters you raise specifically in your

7 statement. But to put it all in context, can I ask you

8 to look at the August 1998 threat assessment chart

9 because I think that will save a lot of time. Or

10 possibly not.

11 Can we have the August 1998 threat assessment chart,

12 please (displayed)? Thank you very much.

13 Now, I'm going to do a bit of explanatory commentary

14 on this because this is where we get into the rather

15 delicate territory of people having more than one

16 cipher.

17 There are two lines of communication: bottom left;

18 bottom right. Your one is the E Department line, for

19 obvious reasons -- that's Special Branch -- and we can

20 see the chain here takes us from Command Secretariat in

21 the middle to your ultimate boss, the Head of

22 Special Branch, down to you -- that's you, although you

23 have for these purposes another cipher -- down to the

24 Chief inspector you deal with in your statement and whom

25 you have mentioned earlier, and then down to P226, whom

 

 

67


1 we talked about also a little while ago.

2 Now, in paragraph 38 of your statement, having shown

3 you the diagram, you say at RNI-846-165:

4 "I do not recall any of the papers about this threat

5 assessment. Nor do I recall any other threat assessment

6 on Rosemary Nelson."

7 Can I take it, therefore, that at the time of your

8 interview you had forgotten all about this and were

9 reminded about what had happened simply by looking at

10 the documents you were shown?

11 A. Yes, indeed. And my signature was clearly on some of

12 the documents.

13 Q. Yes, but without the documents you wouldn't have had

14 a recollection of these events?

15 A. No.

16 Q. Thank you. Going back to paragraph 26 and taking it in

17 stages, at the top of RNI-846-162 (displayed), you tell

18 us how the matter came to you. And we can see the

19 process starting at RNI-101-329, if we could have that

20 on the screen on the left-hand side, please

21 (displayed) -- thank you -- and on the right,

22 RNI-106-289 (displayed). There is the leaflet that

23 prompted the request from Command Secretariat, do you

24 see on the left? It is sent to two

25 assistant chief constables, one of which is yours, if I

 

 

68


1 can put it that way, and the request there is passed on

2 from the NIO. And the concern Rosemary Nelson had is

3 expressed in the quotation there in the second

4 paragraph.

5 Looking at the leaflet, as you say in your

6 statement, it refers to her as a former bomber and

7 associates her in the terms of the leaflet with various

8 individuals said to be leading members of PIRA, and

9 gives her work address and telephone number and says

10 that she is one of a "motley crew" whose aim is to:

11 "... destroy the religious rights and freedoms of

12 ..."

13 And I think we have to miss out the word

14 "Hungarian":

15 "... Protestants."

16 Just pausing there and remembering the answer you

17 gave earlier, presumably when you saw this leaflet you

18 weren't surprised to see her name associated with

19 leading figures in PIRA?

20 A. The first recollection of actually seeing that leaflet

21 was at the time of making my statement. I do not have

22 any recollection of seeing it previously.

23 Q. Yes, so you can't remember your reaction?

24 A. No.

25 Q. Thank you. But it looks then from the documents in the

 

 

69


1 chain, if we just follow them together, at RNI-101-331

2 on the left-hand side, please (displayed), as you were

3 asked -- you are under the cipher B242, for these

4 purposes, Detective Chief Superintendent HIMG -- for

5 report by your boss. And you send it to your deputy --

6 we can see that at RNI-101-333 on the left-hand side,

7 please (displayed) -- and he, reading down the page,

8 appears to send it to the DCI in E3A.

9 Now, that, as we know having looked at the chart

10 together, was the Republican desk, wasn't it?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Who made the decision, please, to ask for the report

13 here to be dealt with by the Republican desk?

14 A. That would -- from looking at the correspondence was

15 a decision made by my deputy.

16 Now, certainly, as you have explained earlier on,

17 people who carried out the threat assessments and

18 actually done the research in relation to that was E3C

19 and they were under the control of a chief inspector --

20 so I make then the assumption that that was the

21 inspector who was in charge of that little unit -- for

22 him then to -- there was no significance that it would

23 have either went to the Loyalist desk or whether it

24 would have went to the Republican desk. It was him who

25 was the chief inspector in charge of E3C.

 

 

70


1 Q. The evidence we have heard from the Chief Inspector and

2 the Sergeant, it was in fact, who was in charge of E3C

3 was certainly to the effect that it came down from the

4 Chief Inspector to E3C because they were the outfit, if

5 I can put it that way, who were in the business of

6 preparing these intelligence reports?

7 A. That's right, it just simply went down the chain to the

8 unit that actually dealt with it.

9 Q. And in his evidence, P226 at E3C explained that a great

10 deal of their time was spent preparing intelligence

11 reports or records, as he called them, for

12 Security Branch or D Branch as part of the KPPS system?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And you refer to them, don't you, in your own statement?

15 A. That's correct, and certainly that unit's role would

16 have been to search all of the Special Branch's

17 databases to see if there was any intelligence that

18 indicated there was any organisation offering a threat

19 to the individual who the threat assessment was carried

20 out on.

21 Q. Yes. So when you talked earlier about the threat

22 assessment unit, do you think it is right that the unit

23 you are talking about is E3C, from whom we have heard

24 the evidence?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

71


1 Q. Thank you very much. Now, as I understand it, all of

2 the work in this case was done at that level, at E3C.

3 Your own role was, frankly, to pass the pieces of paper

4 down and then back up the chain to your boss and then --

5 A. Back to Command Secretariat.

6 Q. Is that correct?

7 A. That's correct.

8 Q. You didn't make any contribution of your own to the

9 process?

10 A. No. Indeed, our role in this was to look at the

11 databases to see if there was any intelligence that

12 indicated there was a threat. So it was a search that

13 we carried out to see if there was anything there that

14 indicated a threat and then it went back to

15 Command Secretariat.

16 Q. Now, so far as what E3C did when they did their report,

17 what we have understood from the evidence is that the

18 officers who worked there were not intelligence

19 analysts, they were not specialists in that sense.

20 Their role was to deal with the vast amount of paper

21 that was coming in?

22 A. Correct.

23 Q. And neither were they -- and I hope you accept this --

24 qualified to conduct detailed threat assessments; they

25 were simply the people who checked the records of one

 

 

72


1 kind or another and reported if there was anything

2 there?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. Yes. And that's what you mean presumably when you said

5 in paragraph 37 of your statement that:

6 "The Sergeant's work would have just been

7 double-checking to see if there was anything we had

8 missed to make sure we had a complete picture, including

9 the view at local level."

10 Because we can see he sought local input:

11 "It would have been no more than that"?

12 A. Correct.

13 Q. That's what you expected when the paperwork took it down

14 to E3C?

15 A. That's correct, yes.

16 Q. Now, you tell us in your statement in paragraph 34, I

17 think it is -- let's have a look at that -- RNI-846-164,

18 please (displayed). Do you see, this is now the

19 penultimate sentence: you had no discussion with the

20 Sergeant. You think you would have read it, the report,

21 that is, and passed it up the line?

22 A. Correct.

23 Q. Now, just pausing there, we know from the documents we

24 have seen -- and you can see it on the screen indeed at

25 paragraph 34 -- that by late in August the material was

 

 

73


1 going back in answer to the original question from

2 Command Secretariat.

3 Just pausing there, from what you have been saying,

4 by this stage you were aware of all of the intelligence

5 we have been discussing in relation to Rosemary Nelson.

6 That's right, isn't it?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Now, is that something that you thought was appropriate

9 to take into account when reading P226's report?

10 A. In relation to the term "threat assessment", that

11 probably gives a wrong view of the actions that were

12 carried out. This was a search, a threat search,

13 perhaps is a better and a more accurate term to use.

14 Q. It was search of the intelligence records?

15 A. Correct.

16 Q. To see whether there was a specific threat?

17 A. Exactly. And after the search was carried out, there

18 was nothing found and that then went back to

19 Command Secretariat. So there was nothing to add to the

20 document that had come through the -- from

21 Command Secretariat.

22 Q. That was the task that was going on here and that was

23 the task which, as P226 told us, he undertook on a very

24 regular basis for the Security Branch?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

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1 Q. Now, was there any mechanism that you were aware of

2 within Special Branch at this time for a real threat

3 assessment to be undertaken in a case such as this?

4 A. In relation to -- no, I suppose the threat assessment

5 was probably more accurately dealt with within

6 D Department. We simply done the search. We had seen

7 whether there was any additional intelligence that

8 showed there was a specific threat and that intelligence

9 then would have been sent off to D Department for their

10 action.

11 Q. Now, if somebody had asked you about the matter on

12 a much more general basis, do you think you would have

13 regarded -- given what you were being told about

14 Rosemary Nelson and the way you regarded her, do you

15 think that you would have assessed her as being at

16 greater risk than the average lawyer, for example,

17 because of her perceived role in PIRA or in connection

18 with PIRA?

19 A. I think that would impossible to say at this time

20 because it would have depended upon the assessments, not

21 of me but of other terrorists who were looking at, you

22 know, targeting the individuals.

23 Q. Yes.

24 A. So no, I certainly wouldn't have made a different

25 assessment.

 

 

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1 Q. But was there any sense, if you had been asked the

2 question, in which you would have regarded her as being

3 likely to be viewed by Loyalists as not so much a lawyer

4 as an active member of a terrorist organisation?

5 A. I think that would be true right across individuals who

6 were members, or were believed to be members of

7 terrorist organisations. So the view wouldn't have been

8 different to Mrs Nelson as it would have been to

9 Colin Duffy, as it would have been to any other member

10 of any other terrorist organisations.

11 Q. Indeed, later on in your statement you cite an

12 intelligence report after the murder which suggested

13 that the original plan had been to target

14 Breandan Mac Cionnaith. The second option, as it were,

15 was Colin Duffy, but in the end Rosemary Nelson was

16 regarded as the easiest of the three targets?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. But it didn't surprise you, presumably, then, to hear of

19 them spoken in the same way, as a group together?

20 A. No, certainly the intelligence indicated the close

21 association of the three.

22 Q. And so far as Loyalist terrorist organisations were

23 concerned, therefore, that would put her at a pretty

24 considerable degree of risk?

25 A. No more than any other individual who was involved in

 

 

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1 terrorist activity.

2 Q. But in a very different position to any other solicitor,

3 for example?

4 A. Oh, yes, but no more different than -- you know -- an

5 individual who was involved in terrorist activity to

6 a normal person who wasn't involved in terrorist

7 activity.

8 Q. Indeed. So the fallacy in a sense is starting from the

9 point of looking at her as an ordinary individual, or an

10 ordinary solicitor, because the way you saw it was to

11 look at her on the basis of the material you had, which

12 was as an active member of a terrorist organisation?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Now, in the light of that, can I just ask you to look at

15 paragraph 52 of your statement, RNI-846-170

16 (displayed) -- if we could have that enlarged, please --

17 because this is one of the comments you make about her

18 murder. And as I understand it, what you are saying in

19 the fourth line there about her murder was that it did

20 come as a surprise to you. Is that right?

21 A. Yes, it did.

22 Q. So despite what you have just been saying to me about

23 the way she was likely to be perceived by organisations

24 on the other side, if I can put it that way, it was

25 nevertheless a surprise?

 

 

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1 A. Yes, indeed.

2 Q. Are you saying that, given the comments you make rather

3 later in this paragraph -- are you saying that as much

4 because the attack succeeded as because it took place at

5 all?

6 A. I think actually a mixture of both. That the attack

7 took place and, indeed, it was successful.

8 Q. But was there also a surprise that you in Special Branch

9 had had no warning, no intelligence, to suggest that the

10 attack was being planned?

11 A. Certainly I think Special Branch would have been making

12 every effort to cover any of the Loyalist groups in the

13 area to get any pre-emptive intelligence, and certainly

14 there would have been a disappointment that we hadn't

15 received that pre-emptive intelligence.

16 Q. That's precisely what I wanted to touch on. This was on

17 any view a major attack on a significant figure, was it

18 not?

19 A. Yes, indeed. It was a major incident.

20 Q. And it had immediately obvious political repercussions,

21 for example?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. So there must have been a sense within Special Branch

24 presumably, therefore, that this was something that you

25 should, if things had been working properly, have

 

 

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1 received warning of?

2 A. I think that tends to indicate there was a sort of major

3 failure on behalf of Special Branch. What I can say is

4 that, whilst one would have wished to have received

5 intelligence, pre-emptive intelligence and be able to do

6 something about it, it wasn't that there was any

7 reduction of our effort to receive that intelligence.

8 The effort was to infiltrate all of the terrorist groups

9 to the best extent and to the fullest extent so that we

10 received pre-emptive intelligence in relation to any

11 terrorist activity. And certainly had any incident

12 happened without that pre-emptive intelligence, then,

13 yes, that was a shortcoming, a failure on our behalf.

14 Q. Now, just looking at various aspects of what you have

15 said, in the aftermath of her murder was there, as it

16 were, some form of internal questioning about how this

17 had happened without any warning, without any

18 intelligence?

19 A. Absolutely. In relation to any incident of that nature

20 that was always the case and that would have started off

21 at the region. You know, where -- you know, first of

22 all one would have tried to have identified who actually

23 carried out the murder.

24 Q. Indeed.

25 A. And then from that we would have looked to see what our

 

 

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1 coverage was in that particular area, had there been

2 failures in that coverage and then action then decided

3 upon to try and actually fill that gap.

4 Q. Yes. Were you involved in that exercise yourself?

5 A. In relation to that? No, that would have been conducted

6 at regional level.

7 Q. So in the South Region?

8 A. Correct.

9 Q. But was this particular occasion, happening as it did at

10 a time when, mercifully, terrorist murders were much

11 less frequent in Northern Ireland, was there a request

12 or indeed a demand for answers to these sort of

13 questions from higher up, either from your boss, the

14 Head of Special Branch, or indeed from the

15 Chief Constable?

16 A. I certainly, you know, think there would have been

17 a concern expressed right from the highest ranks down as

18 to who actually carried out this attack, how was it

19 carried out and, you know, where was the intelligence

20 gaps in relation to that and how could we then go about

21 filling those gaps so that we could prevent a similar

22 sort of incident in the future.

23 Q. That's looking to the future, which is obviously

24 terribly important, but what about looking to the past?

25 Were firm questions not being asked of you and other

 

 

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1 colleagues as to how this had happened without any

2 warning?

3 A. Certainly that would have been part of that assessment

4 as to, you know, what was our previous coverage. And I

5 think our motivation around it at the very beginning

6 would have been to try to discover who actually carried

7 out the attack, and only at that point could we then

8 have carried out a fuller assessment as to where the gap

9 had occurred and how we go about, you know, filling

10 them.

11 Q. Yes. One of the things that you deal with in the latter

12 part of your statement is the various theories or

13 suggestions as to who might have carried out the murder.

14 It includes a consideration of, if I can put it this

15 way, dissident or renegade Loyalist groups, and

16 specifically you mention the LVF.

17 In terms of your political intelligence work, it is

18 right, isn't it, that in the period, certainly the

19 summer/autumn of 1998 into early 1999, one of the areas

20 in which the politicians were demanding more

21 information, intelligence, was precisely that of the

22 dissident groupings?

23 A. Yes, indeed.

24 Q. So if it is correct that the perpetrators came from

25 a Loyalist grouping of that kind, then presumably the

 

 

81


1 politicians were displeased that this area in which they

2 had asked that effort be concentrated had not yielded

3 intelligence by way of warning of this particular

4 attack?

5 A. I think you have to put it into context in relation to

6 how these groups operated.

7 Q. Yes.

8 A. Technically, the Loyalist groups were very difficult to

9 infiltrate, particularly the small units that were

10 formed, and it tended to be at that time sort of

11 Loyalist groupings were on ceasefire, so the groups that

12 were active at that time would have been the extreme of

13 the extreme and these would have been individuals that

14 had been very difficult to infiltrate. And, indeed,

15 their whole ethos of planning would have been very

16 short-term. It would not -- you know, developed over

17 a long period of time using a larger number of people,

18 et cetera.

19 So it would have been very difficult to actually

20 look at those individuals and endeavour to recruit

21 against them. And certainly that was always the

22 difficulty in carrying out any investigation into

23 Loyalist terrorists.

24 Q. Yes. Well, now, can we have a look, please, by going

25 back to the full page, at both paragraph 52, which we

 

 

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1 had on the screen, but also 53 because it is certainly

2 relevant here, because this is the part of your

3 statement when you make very much the comment you have

4 just been making.

5 As I understand it, in there -- please tell me if

6 you accept this as a summary -- you are drawing, in 52

7 first of all, a contrast between PIRA operations on the

8 one hand, well planned and executed, and the short term,

9 very quick Loyalist operations. Is that a fair way of

10 putting it?

11 A. Yes, I think so, and certainly from that it was

12 probably -- it certainly wasn't simple, but it was

13 easier to investigate and, indeed, to make an

14 interpretation of what occurred, with the benefit of

15 hindsight after an operation was completed, in relation

16 to the Provisional IRA than it would have been in

17 relation to a Loyalist operation.

18 Q. Yes. Now, you also say in this same paragraph, 52, that

19 the ruthlessness of the attack -- this is three lines

20 from the end:

21 "... and disregard for human life was of no

22 surprise."

23 In other words, that Loyalists were quite capable of

24 that sort of ruthlessness and that sort of disregard for

25 human life in their operations?

 

 

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1 A. Absolutely, yes.

2 Q. Now, in dealing with specific organisations on the next

3 page, RNI-846-171, paragraph 55 and 56 (displayed), you

4 deal with the LVF. As I understand it, here in

5 particular you are drawing a contrast between the LVF,

6 which, as you say, had a rogue element to it, and the

7 UVF, who you describe as being more motivated by money.

8 That's paragraph 57, which is on the page but we don't

9 have it on the screen.

10 A. Yes, certainly -- and I don't take away from the LVF's

11 criminal activities because they were heavily involved

12 in criminal activities and, again, were largely

13 motivated in relation to line their own pockets. But

14 certainly there was a ruthless aspect in relation to

15 what they saw as their way of -- you know, following

16 their objectives and certainly they were a very ruthless

17 group of individuals.

18 Q. But would it be fair to say -- and, again, remembering

19 what time we are talking about here, March 1999 -- that

20 your perception then was that the LVF was a more

21 extreme, a more radical organisation at that point than,

22 for example, the UVF?

23 A. Yes, I think that's a fair assessment.

24 Q. And no doubt the sort of sectarianism which motivated

25 their operations was encouraged or stirred up by the

 

 

84


1 continuing Drumcree dispute?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Because, as you say, they had a nucleus or a base in

4 that area, did they not?

5 A. Indeed.

6 Q. Would it be fair, therefore, to suggest that

7 Rosemary Nelson, with her role locally in relation to

8 the Residents Coalition as well as all the other matters

9 that have been discussed, was likely to be a hated

10 figure and a likely target for an organisation such as

11 that?

12 A. Amongst many others.

13 Q. Amongst many others. So presumably you would say that

14 she was a potential target for a wide range of terrorist

15 organisations?

16 A. Amongst many others.

17 Q. Thank you. Now, is it true in relation to the LVF in

18 particular that they selected many of their victims on

19 the basis of their religion or their presence in

20 premises used by Catholics or Nationalists, for example?

21 A. Yes, indeed, and I think that goes to sort of lend

22 support to the idea that their operations were not

23 particularly on the whole well planned, that they didn't

24 require a lot of planning, that they were quite prepared

25 to go into what was considered to be a Nationalist

 

 

85


1 Republican area and then to murder an individual who

2 merely was there and would have been perceived to have

3 been either a Nationalist or a Republican.

4 Q. Yes. Now, just going back to a comment you made about

5 the likelihood of Rosemary Nelson being seen as a target

6 by the LVF, you were very careful to say "and other

7 organisations" in answer to my question. Which are the

8 organisations you have in mind, please?

9 A. I think it would have been the whole group of Loyalist

10 organisations, including Red Hand Defenders, Orange

11 Volunteers, UDA, UVF, et cetera, et cetera.

12 Q. Now, can I just ask you to look back at 52,

13 paragraph 52, at RNI-846-170 (displayed) and to focus

14 with me on the question of the ceasefire, because here

15 you say right at the beginning that at the time of the

16 murder, March 1999, the Loyalists paramilitaries were on

17 ceasefire. Do you mean by that that they all were

18 signed up to a ceasefire at this stage, March 1999?

19 A. I can't remember exactly. I certainly was aware that

20 the LVF were at that point.

21 Q. But as far as you were concerned anyway, the fact that

22 an attack had taken place was no surprise because, as

23 you express it here, they aren't very heavily committed

24 to their ceasefire?

25 A. No, if they'd seen an advantage to be had from that,

 

 

86


1 then yes, they would quite easily have breached their

2 ceasefire without, I think, much thought on their part.

3 Q. But presumably also for political reasons, given the

4 ongoing negotiations at this stage, they would be keen,

5 would they not, for it not to be established that they

6 had been in breach of the ceasefire?

7 A. Absolutely, and on this and, indeed, occasions when they

8 would have claimed the incident and, you know, another

9 group's name.

10 Q. Can we look at that in particular, please, paragraph 63

11 at RNI-846-173 (displayed) because here you say, in

12 relation to the name the Red Hand Defenders, that it was

13 a name of convenience used by other Loyalist

14 paramilitary organisations so that they did not have to

15 say that they had broken the ceasefire. That's the

16 point you are making, as I understand it?

17 A. Certainly at that time, the Red Hand Defenders as

18 a group and as a name had been used historically by

19 various Loyalist organisations to claim incidents that

20 they didn't want to be directly connected with.

21 However, during that Drumcree period, the Red Hand

22 Defenders or people purporting to be the Red Hand

23 Defenders, and Orange Volunteers started to emerge, and

24 I think perhaps at that time this was a convenient

25 vehicle for, as I said earlier on, the extreme of the

 

 

87


1 extremes to sort of give loyalty to and carry out

2 operations on its behalf. Certainly there was an

3 ongoing investigation into that group at that time to

4 establish who they were and exactly what they were doing

5 and what threat, indeed, they posed.

6 Q. But this takes us back, doesn't it, to the point I made

7 to you about the political interest because the

8 politicians were concerned with any dissident group who

9 had the potential to undo all the progress of the peace

10 process?

11 A. Yes, and we also would have had that interest --

12 Q. Indeed.

13 A. -- to carry out that investigation, to establish who

14 they were and what their capabilities were and how could

15 we go about collecting pre-emptive intelligence in

16 relation to those individuals, what indeed were their

17 objectives, et cetera.

18 Q. So in terms of these convenience flags or convenience

19 names, is it fair then to summarise that, one, they were

20 used presumably just to distance themselves from the

21 actual commission of an offence to avoid detection --

22 first point -- and secondly, so that their political

23 position in relation to the ceasefires was not

24 prejudiced?

25 A. That is correct, and, indeed, during that time of -- if

 

 

88


1 my memory serves me right, there were, incidents

2 occurred where in fact they were claimed both by Red

3 Hand Defenders and Orange Volunteers just, again, to

4 cause more confusion in the interpretation.

5 Q. Can I just ask you to look at the issue of links between

6 organisations? This you touch on in paragraph 56,

7 RNI-846-171 (displayed) -- if we could enlarge that,

8 please. You told us of course, right at the outset of

9 your evidence, or your statement rather in paragraph 4,

10 about organisations being local. But here, as I

11 understand it, what you are talking about is

12 a cooperation between organisations which may have in

13 fact been based in different places. Is that right?

14 A. Yes, there was to a degree an interdependence, but that

15 didn't in any way reduce the suspicion that one held in

16 relation to the organisation.

17 Q. Yes, but as I understand it, you were aware of

18 cooperation between organisations -- the example here

19 you give is the LVF and the UVF in Belfast -- in

20 relation to the supply of weaponry?

21 A. And certainly that wasn't something that was occurring

22 just at that particular time. There was a crossover,

23 you know, right throughout the organisations' history,

24 and sometimes the relationships were better than others

25 certainly and on occasions the relationships got to such

 

 

89


1 a point where they would actually shoot each other and

2 at other times the relationship got to the point where

3 they would give mutual assistance.

4 Q. Yes. Now, can I just turn finally to the question of

5 the murder investigation itself? You make a number of

6 points about this in your statement. I would like to

7 ask you first to look at paragraph 65 at RNI-846-173

8 (displayed). At the very bottom of the page, you say:

9 "I have been asked what the role of IMG was in the

10 Colin Port investigation in to the murder. I had no

11 role in the murder inquiry."

12 So that is a simple way of putting it, is it, that

13 you yourself had no direct involvement in the murder

14 investigation?

15 A. That's correct.

16 Q. So when you, as you do in the rest of your statement,

17 make a series of comments about how the investigation

18 was proceeding, who the suspects were, whether or not

19 the investigation was getting anywhere, all of that is

20 from your position of being in some way removed from the

21 actual work in the investigation. Is that fair?

22 A. Yes, that's fair. And, indeed, during the taking of the

23 statement I was asked my opinion and I expressed those

24 opinions.

25 Q. I just want to ask you about a couple of points with

 

 

90


1 that specifically in mind. When you say, for instance

2 in paragraph 64, who made the bomb, et cetera, and you

3 say:

4 "It would not have surprised me if in fact the

5 murder of Mrs Nelson was a Republican bombing posing as

6 a Loyalist bombing to destabilise the peace process."

7 Was that a suggestion put to you by the interviewers

8 or was that a view that you genuinely held?

9 A. No, I think I was trying to express the view that at

10 that time we were actually struggling to get

11 intelligence to say who actually carried out the

12 bombing. And, indeed, lots of theories would have been

13 explored, even that theory which may seem quite extreme

14 at this point, but because there was really very little

15 intelligence coming in in the aftermath which, to be

16 honest with you, in relation to Loyalist attacks, one

17 would have expected a limited flow of intelligence to

18 come in afterwards because they were quite a boastful

19 group of individuals.

20 Q. Well, it is the point you make at the very top of this

21 same page, isn't it, where you say you would have

22 expected whoever had carried out the attack to be

23 boasting of it?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So the absence of any significant intelligence in the

 

 

91


1 aftermath of the murder was significant in your view,

2 was it?

3 A. I believe so, yes.

4 Q. What did it suggest?

5 A. It suggested that it was carried out by a very small

6 group of individuals who clearly did not share what they

7 had done with others. That was the -- I think the

8 conclusion that it was a small group.

9 Q. But the fact that there wasn't any significant

10 intelligence after the murder, did that form part of the

11 suggestion you make in this paragraph that it may indeed

12 have been a Republican bomb?

13 A. I think, yes. Again, I think I was trying to show that,

14 you know, every possibility, every theory had to be

15 explored.

16 Q. But when you say that, just to be clear, you have told

17 us you didn't get involved in the murder investigation.

18 Are you telling us that nonetheless you and your

19 colleagues were exploring these possibilities in IMG?

20 A. No, that was an opinion that I voiced in response to

21 questions by the interviewers.

22 Q. So presumably, had any relevant intelligence come up to

23 your position in IMG, you would have taken steps to

24 ensure that it was shared with the investigating

25 officers?

 

 

92


1 A. Absolutely, yes, that would -- any intelligence that

2 would have come to the IMG that was felt -- that would

3 have assisted the investigation, that would have been

4 passed down to Southern Region to carry out

5 a dissemination.

6 Q. Yes. In relation to Mr Port, who headed the

7 investigation, as we know, you say in paragraph 65 that:

8 "He didn't come to the IMG for any intelligence or

9 help on how to access the intelligence held on computer.

10 The main thrust of the investigation centred on South

11 Region."

12 Were you expecting him to approach you for help?

13 A. No, I don't think so. I would have believed that his

14 sort of line in to Special Branch would have been via

15 Special Branch -- Special Branch in Southern Region, so

16 that it didn't come as any sort of surprise.

17 Q. Yes. Now, you then also comment:

18 "I recall there were some discussions about

19 collusion, but I don't know what actions were taken to

20 bottom it out."

21 Can I take it that as far as you were aware, you saw

22 no evidence to suggest that the murder had been caused

23 or occasioned by collusion with the police, with

24 Special Branch or other security forces?

25 A. Absolutely not. Certainly there was no intelligence and

 

 

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1 I did not have any belief that that was the case either.

2 Q. Now, in relation to events after the murder, you talk

3 about Operation Fagotto in paragraph 72, RNI-846-155,

4 and continuing over the page to RNI-846-176 (displayed).

5 Now, you say first of all you weren't aware of the

6 operation at the time it was taking place. Is that

7 correct?

8 A. Yes, certainly by that name, yes.

9 Q. But it looks from the comments you make in the paragraph

10 we now have on the screen that you became aware of it

11 after the murder. Is that right?

12 A. Yes, indeed. Certainly I became aware that there was an

13 operation in place that evening. I didn't know it

14 Operation Fagotto.

15 Q. How did you become aware of it?

16 A. As I have said, I remember a conversation in the sort of

17 few days after the murder that a team had been deployed

18 in the Lurgan area that night and, indeed, one of the

19 operators had carried out a pass in the area and that

20 anyone looking at that with a sort of unsympathetic view

21 could come to the conclusion that this was part of an

22 overall conspiracy, an overall sort of involvement of

23 Special Branch in that particular operation.

24 Q. But by this time were allegations of collusion already

25 being made?

 

 

94


1 A. No, I think that was a concern and I suppose it really

2 highlights the sensitivity that Special Branch had in

3 relation to any such allegation.

4 Q. But was the conversation essentially a conversation

5 about what should be disclosed concerning this operation

6 to the Murder Investigation Team?

7 A. No, certainly there was -- I was never involved in any

8 discussion to say, "Right, okay, this is what we will

9 tell the murder inquiry team and that is what we will

10 not". This was a conversation, a casual conversation, I

11 had with someone. I cannot remember who it was, but

12 there was a concern that there would be a -- you know,

13 an unfair -- an improper interpretation placed on that

14 one pass. And what I would say is -- and I have some

15 knowledge and background in relation to surveillance --

16 it would be virtually impossible to go and pick out

17 a surveillance log without any surveillance operator

18 actually doing some ancillary work because periods of

19 surveillance tend to be quite long, quite boring. And

20 as part of that, operators, simply to give them a reason

21 to move through an area, to provide that sort of cover,

22 would have carried out passes on individuals' homes and

23 places they frequented as, you know, something else to

24 do and to provide some additional background to

25 a particular (inaudible) reasoning.

 

 

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1 It was not necessary that if you were deployed on

2 Loyalists you simply carry out activity in relation to

3 them. If you were in the area and there were other

4 targets in the area that had been ongoing as part of

5 a long-term operation, one would check their home to see

6 if they were there, was there any other vehicles there,

7 so that you could build up that sort of lifestyle

8 picture.

9 Q. Just moving on from that rather specific topic to a more

10 general topic, do you recall any conversations within

11 Special Branch, either with your colleagues in

12 Headquarters or with the South Region officers, in which

13 concern was expressed about the risk to Special Branch

14 assets, intelligence operations, sources, in disclosing

15 information to Colin Port and his team?

16 A. Yes, I certainly was aware that there were discussions

17 in relation to that, and within Special Branch we seen

18 ourselves as having a duty of care in relation to the

19 assets that we used and that we wanted to make sure that

20 any such dissemination would not in fact actually cause

21 a compromise to those individuals because, as I have

22 said earlier on, compromise of those individuals would

23 mean certain death.

24 So as an organisation who felt responsible for that

25 duty of care, I think it was only fair and proper that

 

 

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1 we, as an organisation, would have that discussion.

2 Q. But can you remember in particular -- using their

3 ciphers if they are available to you -- who the

4 colleagues were who were expressing those concerns?

5 Would it have been B629, for example?

6 A. B629.

7 Q. Yes.

8 A. B542.

9 Q. Yes. The Head of Special Branch?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Yes. B629 is the Head of South Region?

12 A. Yes, that's correct.

13 Q. Anybody else that you can recall?

14 A. I think the Head of Special Branch's deputy was involved

15 in the discussions.

16 Q. That is 542's deputy?

17 A. 542's deputy, that is correct.

18 Q. Sorry, or do you mean the Deputy Head of the region?

19 A. Both actually. Both the Deputy Head and the Deputy Head

20 of the region.

21 Q. Thank you. Now, just a few questions about the murder

22 investigation before we close, please, with the caveat

23 obviously that you have explained you didn't have any

24 direct involvement.

25 Looking back to your supposition about a Republican

 

 

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1 bombing posing as a Loyalist bombing -- this is

2 paragraph 64 at RNI-846-173 (displayed) -- it is right

3 to say, isn't it, although you have put the point out

4 there, if I can put it that way, that you don't recall

5 any intelligence to support that theory?

6 A. That's correct.

7 Q. Now, so far as Loyalist operations are concerned, in

8 paragraph 52 at RNI-846-170 (displayed), when expressing

9 your surprise in the sense that the operation was

10 successful, you say:

11 "Loyalists had a limited history of success with

12 undercar booby trap devices."

13 Do you see that?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. So that was part of the reaction that you had, was it,

16 to the fact that this murder had been accomplished in

17 that way?

18 A. Correct.

19 Q. Now, so far as the other intelligence you deal with in

20 your statement is concerned, if we look at paragraph 69,

21 RNI-548-067 (displayed) and the report you refer to

22 there -- if we can have that on the screen, please --

23 the next page, RNI-548-068 (displayed), do you see this

24 is a report that in fact has its origin in May 1999? We

25 can see at the very bottom line. Do you see that,

 

 

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1 26 May 1999? At the very bottom, the last line?

2 A. Yes, sorry.

3 Q. So it is shortly after the murder although it seems to

4 emerge many years after that. But if we look at

5 RNI-548-069, please (displayed), we see at the top of

6 the next page -- and this is an IMAGIR:

7 "Since the murder of Rosemary Nelson by the LVF,

8 there has been little ..."

9 Then a part is redacted:

10 "... operational activity by the group."

11 So you were aware, weren't you, at the time that

12 there was a view being held, indeed being pursued by the

13 Murder Investigation Team themselves, that the LVF was

14 in fact responsible?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Were you aware of there being some intelligence

17 suggested that an identified Loyalist had himself

18 constructed the device?

19 A. I certainly was aware that there was a belief that it

20 was actually constructed by -- within sort of Loyalist

21 groupings, but I don't know -- and I have no

22 recollection of -- that individual.

23 Q. No. Those are the questions I have for you. Before

24 I close, I always ask witnesses whether there is

25 anything you wished we had covered because, if so, this

 

 

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1 is your opportunity to say it?

2 A. Yes. There has been mention made of collusion and,

3 indeed, there's a long history within Special Branch of

4 allegations of conspiracy and collusion and the

5 organisation sort of wishing to be sort of cloaked in

6 this aspect of secrecy.

7 What I can say is that those -- those allegations

8 primarily come from the organisations in which we

9 investigated. Those organisations felt it was quite

10 legitimate for them to actually murder individuals. So

11 it doesn't take much of a leap for them to make the

12 allegations, and false allegations, to endeavour to

13 destabilise an organisation that they would regard as

14 being very successful and actually recovering their

15 weapons and arresting their individuals. So I think you

16 have to have that as a background.

17 In relation to this whole aspect of collusion and

18 conspiracy, I came into Special Branch in the

19 early 1980s and I very quickly became aware of a debate

20 that continued on for almost 20 years after that in

21 relation to the guidance that was available from Central

22 Government in relation to conducting operations

23 involving sources of intelligence. And at that time,

24 the guidance ran to two pages of a Home Office Circular,

25 which was wholly inadequate. And certainly there were

 

 

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1 many occasions when senior Special Branch officers

2 lobbied Central Government to ensure that there would in

3 fact be better guidance and, indeed, a legislative

4 framework to provide us with oversight and, indeed, help

5 in relation to that investigation.

6 I am certainly aware that in the early 1980s the

7 then Prime Minister was indeed briefed and a request

8 made to the Prime Minister to have that sort of brought

9 to the very top of the agenda. Unfortunately, that

10 didn't take place and certainly I was aware of other

11 incidents where lobbying was taking place to actually

12 provide that. And the opportunity only came in the

13 run-up to 2000 when the European Convention of Human

14 Rights was being adopted into UK law, and at that time I

15 was aware that ACPO had lobbied again central Government

16 to provide sufficient finances and Parliamentary time to

17 provide a legislative framework for the investigation

18 and use of sources, et cetera.

19 Unfortunately, the Government did not think that

20 that was appropriate and was not able to find the time

21 or, indeed, the finances. As a result, ACPO compiled

22 guidelines, which were a major improvement in the Home

23 Office guidelines but, again, were sadly lacking.

24 I was aware that at that time and, indeed, I am very

25 conscious of the fact that the then Chief Constable,

 

 

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1 Sir Ronnie Flanagan, it was his personal intervention

2 and lobbying that bought about and helped to convince

3 the Government that they could allocate Parliamentary

4 time and, indeed, finances. And I personally was

5 involved in both the steering and the working group that

6 eventually produced the Regulation of Investigatory

7 Powers Act. And that piece of legislation was actually

8 greatly informed by the practices and standing orders

9 that came about through Special Branch in the Royal

10 Ulster Constabulary.

11 I don't know whether the Inquiry has already had

12 access to it, but if the Inquiry were to seek the

13 submission that Special Branch made to the Chris Patten

14 Inquiry, you will see within that document a long list

15 of standing orders and procedures that Special Branch

16 adopted to ensure that we acted in a proper manner and

17 that we were properly supervised.

18 As I say, really with the advent of RIPA being

19 brought on to the statute books, in year one I am aware

20 that the RUC was the only police force in the UK to

21 receive a positive report from the investigatory powers

22 in relation to our compliance with the legislation.

23 And, again, in the second year there was a positive

24 report. I can't say we had an exclusive positive report

25 at that time. My memory just doesn't go back that far.

 

 

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1 In relation to the remaining reports, I don't know.

2 I retired then at that point.

3 But I would submit to the Inquiry that that 20-year

4 requirement and debate and lobbying by Special Branch

5 within the RUC is not the actions of an organisation

6 involved in conspiracy, it is not the action of an

7 organisation that was involved in collusion. In fact we

8 demanded and wanted a legislative framework. We wanted

9 oversight and, indeed, the Regulation of Investigatory

10 Powers Act was the product of a lot of work, very hard

11 work, done which by RUC.

12 MR PHILLIPS: Thank you.

13 Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN

14 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: If the stenographer doesn't mind

15 just a couple more minutes, I just wanted to go back to

16 the question of the threat assessment that was done

17 in August. You have explained that you didn't regard

18 Rosemary Nelson as being under any more risk than any

19 other terrorist -- I am paraphrasing slightly --

20 A. Yes.

21 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: -- but would you agree that she

22 would have been at more risk than an ordinary person?

23 A. Yes, I think that's reasonable.

24 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Right. What I am wondering is

25 wasn't this a point which should have been drawn to the

 

 

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1 attention of the NIO, which had asked for any

2 information and comments?

3 A. In relation to the threat that existed against

4 Rosemary Nelson, it was no greater or no less than it

5 would have been to a wide range of individuals involved

6 in terrorist activity. So it wasn't something that

7 highlighted itself, it wasn't something that was unique

8 or specific to her; it was the situation right across

9 the board in relation to those persons who involved

10 themselves in terrorist activity --

11 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: I'm sorry to interrupt. Do you

12 think that the NIO was aware of the view that she was

13 involved in terrorist activity?

14 A. I would believe that they were aware, yes.

15 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: I see. Thank you.

16 Questions by THE CHAIRMAN

17 THE CHAIRMAN: What is the basis of that belief?

18 A. That the NIO --

19 THE CHAIRMAN: The NIO were aware --

20 A. In relation to the IMAGIRs that we would then comprise

21 and send up to assessments groups, and then the NIIRs

22 that would have flowed from them.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. Thank you very much for your help.

24 Before the witness leaves, Mr [name redacted], would

25 you please confirm that all the cameras have been

 

 

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1 switched off?

2 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: We shall adjourn until ten past two. Please

4 escort the witness out.

5 (1.09 pm)

6 (The short adjournment)

7 (2.10 pm)

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

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

10 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

12 screen closed?

13 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

15 and securely fastened?

16 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

18 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

19 of this chamber?

20 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

22 Mr [name redacted], can you please confirm that the

23 two witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

24 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

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

 

 

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1 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

3 Bring the witness in, please.

4 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

5 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

6 switched back on.

7 Would you please take the oath.

8 B625 (sworn)

9 Questions by MR SKELTON

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

11 Yes, Mr Skelton?

12 MR SKELTON: Sir, earlier this week and last week you

13 indicated that there may be a closed session to this

14 witness's evidence. In fact a decision was made earlier

15 today not to have a closed session for this witness

16 because there are certain aspects of his evidence which

17 should properly be aired first in interview with him and

18 lead to a supplementary statement before a decision is

19 made.

20 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

21 MR SKELTON: May I get on screen, please, document

22 RNI-846-001, please (displayed)?

23 Now, for the purpose of this Inquiry, you are known

24 as witness B625 and that is a copy of your statement on

25 screen. If we go to the final page at page RNI-846-010

 

 

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1 (displayed), we can see there the date of 23 October

2 last year, and your signature has been replaced with

3 your cipher. Is that correct.

4 A. That is correct.

5 Q. May we go back, please, to the first page (displayed)?

6 Now, you say there that you joined the RUC in 1983 and I

7 think you joined Special Branch about six years later in

8 about 1989/1990. Is that correct?

9 A. That is correct.

10 Q. And you moved to work in Special Branch in Antrim in

11 about 1991/1992?

12 A. That is correct.

13 Q. And I think you remained there for about four or five

14 years, did you?

15 A. No, I remained there for 16 years.

16 Q. Sorry, 16 years?

17 A. That's correct.

18 Q. You stopped work in Antrim I think in 2006, but you are

19 still in the PSNI. Is that correct?

20 A. That's correct.

21 Q. And you work in Headquarters. Is that correct?

22 A. That's correct.

23 Q. Thank you. While you were in Special Branch in Antrim

24 was your principal role as a handler of sources?

25 A. It was.

 

 

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1 Q. And is it right that Antrim Special Branch is part of

2 the Belfast Region?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. So you were reporting primarily to the regional source

5 unit for the Belfast Region?

6 A. That's correct.

7 Q. Where was that based, please?

8 A. That's based in Castlereagh.

9 Q. Thank you. Some questions first about the intelligence

10 process generally, given that you are the first handler

11 that this Inquiry has heard from. Who determined what

12 kind of issues you would look to gather intelligence on?

13 A. Normally you would look at the area that you work in

14 primarily. That is, if there is any terrorism involved

15 in that area, that's where your primary report would be.

16 Q. The period that you started, I think, was pre- what is

17 known as the IMG. Prior to that was there a sort of

18 central direction to your intelligence gathering? Did

19 you get sort of tasking from Headquarters or the

20 regional source unit?

21 A. At times you would have got -- central were the source

22 unit asking you to ask your agents certain questions

23 about terrorist activity, but again, primarily in the

24 Antrim subdivision.

25 Q. So who in the subdivision would you look towards for

 

 

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1 direction, without naming a name, but a rank would be

2 helpful?

3 A. Detective inspector.

4 Q. So your local detective inspector?

5 A. For Special Branch, yes.

6 Q. Would you in turn receive, through subdivisional action

7 committees and other meetings like that, direction about

8 globally what kind of interests and issues there were?

9 A. Yes, he would attend meetings generally at Castlereagh,

10 the Headquarters. They would ask him certain questions

11 or certain requirements. He would also speak to the

12 local subdivisional commander and he would often have

13 asked him certain questions as well. And in the end,

14 those would be passed down to the handlers to ask the

15 agents.

16 Q. Did you have regular meetings within your team of

17 handlers with your inspector and your sergeants to

18 determine the requirements?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. How often would those sorts of meetings have been?

21 A. Usually it would happen weekly or sometimes earlier than

22 that. it just depended, if an incident happened, for

23 example, on a Wednesday, you would be tasked to speak to

24 an agent probably on the Thursday to enquire about any

25 information he may or may not have on that activity.

 

 

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1 Q. Would there be occasions where you knew off your own

2 bat, as it were, that you needed to go and seek some

3 information or did you always seek direction from your

4 superior officers?

5 A. No, you could work yourself as well. If you thought

6 there was some reason why you had to speak to the agent

7 or you thought that tensions at the time were

8 heightened, you would have made attempts to speak to the

9 agent and to provide information on possible attacks.

10 Q. The weekly meeting you have talked about, would that be,

11 as it were, chaired by your inspector?

12 A. Normally. Sometimes the detective sergeant would take

13 it as well. It depended if the inspector wasn't

14 available on that occasion.

15 Q. And the inspector presumably covered other patches as

16 well as yours, did he?

17 A. The inspector would have been based in the Castlereagh

18 police station, but he would have travelled out usually

19 for a meeting with us in the office. But there was

20 occasions where he didn't make it, so the detective

21 sergeant would take the meeting.

22 Q. What did you consider to be the purpose of your work, if

23 I put it in simple terms?

24 A. To prevent terrorism, basically. To break that down to

25 prevent people getting killed, people getting injured,

 

 

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1 bombs going off and anything to the detriment of the

2 people of -- basically the subdivision you worked on and

3 primarily and over Northern Ireland.

4 Q. So the focus of your work was to gather information?

5 A. Correct.

6 Q. To allow either Special Branch or other people within

7 the RUC to prevent terrorist acts from occurring?

8 A. That's correct.

9 Q. And in the period with which we are concerned, which is

10 the late 1990s, principally 1998 to 1999, had there been

11 a change in the focus of interest as far as you were

12 concerned in relation to the paramilitaries that you

13 were looking into?

14 A. Well, there was and there wasn't. In fact that we

15 concentrated on all the paramilitary groupings within

16 the subdivision and at any particular time any of them

17 could be causing more problems than the other.

18 Whichever was causing the major problems was the one

19 that you concentrated on. At that time it was probably

20 Loyalism.

21 Q. You say that because the ceasefires would have been in

22 place and therefore the mainstream paramilitary groups,

23 including the IRA, would have been on ceasefire?

24 A. That's correct.

25 Q. Whereas there were a lot of dissident groups, which we

 

 

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1 will look at in a moment, who had grown up within the

2 Loyalist side of things that were still volatile,

3 let's put it that way?

4 A. That's correct.

5 Q. As far as the reporting process went, first of all you

6 would meet with your sources. Would you then come back

7 and input that on to a computer system?

8 A. That's correct. We would do that, yes.

9 Q. And primarily I think that would be the PRISM system,

10 would it?

11 A. No, I hadn't access to it. It was a MACER system -- I

12 think it was the MACER system we called it, or maybe the

13 CHISM system. There are a number of computers in the

14 police and at that time I'm not sure exact the name of

15 the one. However, the PRISM system was a system used by

16 the source unit which was based in Castlereagh and they

17 input that to the computer. I did not have access to

18 PRISM.

19 Q. As we understood it, the PRISM system, which I think

20 gradually became obsolete in the late 1990s and became

21 replaced by a system called CHISM, the PRISM system was

22 really the first point at which data was input. So

23 would that occur by a telephone call from you to the

24 regional source unit?

25 A. Prior to Chism being involve, what we did, we hand wrote

 

 

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1 out the intelligence and that would have been passed to

2 the source unit by ourselves by driving to Castlereagh,

3 unless there was something urgent that required

4 immediate attention. Then a phone call would be made

5 outlining the intelligence so it could be submitted out

6 to the regions as fast as possible.

7 Q. What was the type of document called that you hand

8 wrote?

9 A. It would be known as an intelligence document.

10 Q. And that's different from the SB50 document, is it?

11 A. It is, yes.

12 Q. What was an SB50?

13 A. An SB50 was a -- the intelligence, slightly sanitised,

14 which went into the records at registry.

15 Q. And going back to the intelligence document, was that

16 something which you kept on file for all time, as it

17 were, or was that a temporary document while the

18 computer version was created?

19 A. That document would have been retained by the source

20 unit. So they would have retained that for a period of

21 time. I'm not sure how long that would be.

22 Q. And would that single document contain all of the

23 information, the intelligence information you had

24 gathered during that particular meeting?

25 A. It would, yes.

 

 

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1 Q. Which may then for various reasons have been broken up

2 into different components for different reports?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. And were you still writing those sorts of things in the

5 period 1998 to 1999?

6 A. I believe I was, but I'm not completely sure that I was.

7 The time we changed over from handwritten to the

8 computer, I'm just not exactly sure of the period of

9 time, but that was the system. The one previous was

10 handwritten and then we moved on to the computer.

11 Q. Once you moved on to computer, were you then responsible

12 for the input?

13 A. That's correct, we were.

14 Q. And which computer system are we talking about?

15 A. The Chism, I think it is.

16 Q. And then, as we understand it, the MACER system was used

17 more for dissemination beyond the locality, ie from

18 Headquarters to the regions, to the military, for

19 example?

20 A. The MACER system would be a research tool as opposed to

21 being used for passing down information.

22 Q. So you would have access to MACER in order to do your

23 own research, would you?

24 A. Correct.

25 Q. And that would be level 19, which we understand is the

 

 

114


1 standard Special Branch level?

2 A. That's correct.

3 Q. As far as dissemination goes, who took the decision

4 about where the intelligence should go?

5 A. It was the source unit's decision. We gathered the

6 intelligence, submitted it to the source unit and then

7 the decision was made by them to disseminate as they

8 saw fit.

9 Q. Did they do that in consultation with you?

10 A. On occasions there would be a meeting held about the

11 information because some of it could be very explicit

12 and there may be an operation that ran on the

13 information. And, therefore, it was -- things had to be

14 decided before it could actually go anywhere.

15 Q. Were the regional source units in a position to assess

16 the sensitivity that could attach to a piece of

17 intelligence which, for example, was highly source

18 sensitive, or did they necessarily have to rely on your

19 advice to make that decision?

20 A. They could rely on themselves, but they usually asked

21 for advice from the handlers.

22 Q. Again without naming particular people, can you give us

23 an idea of how many people within the regional source

24 unit would have been making that decision as to

25 dissemination?

 

 

115


1 A. I would imagine somewhere in the region of perhaps three

2 or four people.

3 Q. What rank would they have been?

4 A. I imagine from the detective sergeant upwards.

5 Q. Is it fair to say that you would have been in regular

6 contact with those individuals and would know them

7 fairly well?

8 A. Yes, I would, yes.

9 Q. And those three or four individuals would receive

10 intelligence from throughout the region, would they, and

11 make a decision about dissemination for a variety of

12 subdivisions?

13 A. That's correct, except on occasions where there was

14 a threat to life -- an immediate threat on life and then

15 the constables within the source unit would make that

16 decision without having to go to any higher authority

17 simply because of the threat to life.

18 Q. Because of the urgency, in other words, there wasn't

19 time for consultation with the higher ranks and so

20 things had to be sent out very quickly?

21 A. That's correct.

22 Q. There are different documents that we have seen called

23 SIRs, reports, and SIDDs, dissemination documents.

24 Again, that presumably was a decision that was made by

25 the regional source unit as to what type of document is

 

 

116


1 created and its readership?

2 A. That's correct.

3 Q. Did you think there was a danger sometimes that the

4 right information didn't always get to the right people;

5 in other words, there may have been sometimes an

6 overcaution, a sense of overcaution not to send out

7 things in case it could compromise operations or

8 sources?

9 A. In respect to life are you speaking?

10 Q. If you receive some intelligence and you send it to your

11 regional source unit, it is for them to make a decision

12 about who within the region and who outside the region

13 should receive it. Was there sometimes a sense of

14 overcaution in sending out information beyond the region

15 which could compromise a Special Branch operation, for

16 example?

17 A. I don't think so. I think if the source unit believed

18 that intelligence had to go, it would have went out.

19 There would be certainly caveats on trying to disguise

20 where the intelligence came from and so on, but if there

21 was intelligence that was required or was needed by the

22 subdivision it would have went out, in my opinion.

23 Q. Within your office were you aware of your colleagues'

24 sources and did you discuss the intelligence you

25 received from them in order to understand what was going

 

 

117


1 on in your area?

2 A. I would -- the senior constable would have been fairly

3 aware of all the agents in the office and usually at the

4 Monday meeting it would have been discussed generally in

5 terms, unless there was something exceptionally

6 sensitive where it would be discussed in a smaller

7 group.

8 Q. Were you in a position to handle each other's sources to

9 cover leave and so on?

10 A. What normally happened was there was two main handlers

11 with a third handler brought in to the equation. Sort

12 of if handler 1 or 2 was off on holidays or on annual

13 leave or on sickness, the third handler could fill in

14 the slot required.

15 Q. As far as technical devices went, was there similar

16 discussion within the handler group or was that a more

17 restricted form of intelligence gathering?

18 A. That was more restricted, [Redacted]

19 [Redacted]

20 Q. [Redacted]

21 A. [Redacted]

22 Q. If you received intelligence, for example, that related

23 to individuals that were outside of your area, for

24 example, in Lurgan or somewhere like that, would you

25 automatically have made contact with colleagues in

 

 

118


1 Lurgan to alert them to that form of intelligence, or

2 was that, again, something which would have been decided

3 by the regional source unit or your superior officers?

4 A. If there was an immediate threat to life, immediate

5 contact would have been made by the handlers to South

6 Regional source unit. But had it not been an immediate

7 threat to life, it would have been through the source

8 unit as normal.

9 Q. So, for example, something like intelligence about the

10 transportation of munitions from Antrim to North Armagh,

11 that wouldn't have constituted an immediate threat to

12 life so the decision would have been for the regional

13 source unit, would it, to convey that information to

14 North Armagh if necessary?

15 A. It would, bearing in mind, of course, that this sequence

16 of events would be a very fast sequence of events. It

17 would go immediately to the source unit and the source

18 unit to all intents and purposes would notify the South

19 Region source unit, so they'd be aware of it within

20 minutes, I would think.

21 Q. How did notification take place?

22 A. I'm not aware of the exact methods that the source unit

23 used, but I would imagine with immediate information it

24 was probably done by secure form.

25 Q. Presumably you yourself were the recipient of immediate

 

 

119


1 information from other regions coming in that was

2 relevant to you, weren't you?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. So did you receive -- or your sergeant or inspector

5 receive such --

6 A. There were two methods. If it was immediate and urgent,

7 you would have got it by secure phone. Otherwise you

8 would have picked up a document that would be sent out

9 to you.

10 Q. And would that be in hard copy --

11 A. It would be in hard copy.

12 Q. In the form of a SIR or a SIDD?

13 A. It would be in the form of an action sheet.

14 Q. Which we will be looking at in the context of the

15 specific reporting that you had. Was that the only form

16 of warning that you would receive: either an action

17 sheet or a telephone call? What was a force-wide

18 warning, if I may put it that way?

19 A. A force-wide warning, again, would be basically an

20 action sheet. It would just be going out to every

21 region within the Province warning about some suspected

22 terrorist activity.

23 Q. And the difference is the wideness of the dissemination,

24 is it?

25 A. It is, yes.

 

 

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1 Q. So an action sheet would be focused on a particular

2 area?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. How large an area was covered by your office?

5 A. It was fairly substantial. It covered -- do you want me

6 to mention the town?

7 Q. If you can give us an idea of, broadly speaking, the

8 region without listing every single one, yes, that would

9 be helpful.

10 A. Basically from Crumlin to Toomebridge. So it is an

11 arc-shaped subdivision.

12 Q. Other witnesses have told us that Antrim was part of the

13 old D Division which covered from Belfast upwards across

14 the county. Is that roughly correct?

15 A. That's correct.

16 Q. So it was, relatively speaking, a large division?

17 A. It was, but there was other Special Branch offices

18 covered the areas within that D Division.

19 Q. Which offices were those?

20 A. There was one in Newtownabbey, one in Carrickfergus, one

21 on Antrim Road.

22 Q. Would you have had fairly regular liaison with those

23 other offices?

24 A. Not really because those offices were more Belfast-based

25 and concentrated on intelligence gathering within those

 

 

121


1 areas.

2 The fact that Antrim was more -- almost countryside

3 as opposed to townside, there was relatively little

4 interchange between the different various terrorist

5 groups. So there was really not much need for

6 communication between the four offices, although

7 occasionally there was of course.

8 Q. The impression one gains in your statement is that most

9 of the activity on the paramilitary side of things was

10 Loyalist in your area. Is that correct as a broad

11 conclusion?

12 A. That would be correct, yes.

13 Q. I think you mention that there was one Provisional IRA

14 group in Toomebridge. Does that represent the sum of

15 the Republican activity in your area?

16 A. There was an estate in Antrim which would have

17 been fairly Republican, but more Republican political as

18 opposed to military.

19 Q. Were most of the main paramilitary groups covered or

20 represented in your area in some form or other, ie from

21 the Loyalist side, all the mainstream groups such as the

22 UDA, UVF and so on down to the smaller splinter groups?

23 A. They would have been, yes.

24 Q. Before we look in detail at each of those groups, can

25 you give us an overview about how active those groups

 

 

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1 were perceived to be in 1998/1999?

2 A. All the Loyalist groups were fairly active. Probably

3 the UVF were the most active in terms of size and

4 personnel. Smaller groupings like the LVF, et cetera,

5 were smaller in nature but more ruthless perhaps is the

6 way to put it.

7 Q. May I start first with the UDA before we move on to the

8 other groups? It is obviously one of the mainstream

9 groupings. Is it right that it existed throughout the

10 Province or was there a particular area which it had

11 a focus on?

12 A. It existed throughout most of the Province, yes.

13 Q. Including your area?

14 A. Correct.

15 Q. How dominant was it as a group within Antrim?

16 A. It was a fairly substantial sized grouping.

17 Q. And I think you say in your statement that they appear

18 to have had -- the UVF and the UDA -- about similar

19 sorts of numbers, about 50 or 60 or so. Is that about

20 right?

21 A. That's about right, yes.

22 Q. What was the connection between the UDA and the UFF?

23 A. Both of them were the same organisation in the sense

24 that the UDA was the parent organisation. The UFF was a

25 smaller, more militant organisation with fewer members,

 

 

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1 but more ruthless.

2 Q. Was the UDA on ceasefire by 1998/1999?

3 A. I'm not sure.

4 Q. Was it your perception that they were not as active as

5 they may previously have been prior to the peace

6 process?

7 A. I think that's fair to say, yes.

8 Q. Where was their leadership based?

9 A. The leadership was based in Belfast.

10 Q. So did you have reporting on that or were you reliant on

11 the Belfast Special Branch officers to report on

12 leadership movements?

13 A. We had a certain amount of reporting mainly because

14 individuals may have to attend meetings in Belfast, so

15 some reporting on that.

16 Q. Did you have a brigade of the UDA within your area which

17 you looked at particularly?

18 A. We did, yes.

19 Q. How active were they, as far as you can remember?

20 A. They were active for a number of years, but I couldn't

21 really give specifics.

22 Q. Were they, for example, engaged with making bombs, as

23 far as you can remember?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. And you were gathering intelligence on that, were you?

 

 

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1 A. We were, yes.

2 Q. And, again, without naming any particular individuals,

3 how many bomb makers were you cognisant of?

4 A. I really couldn't say. I really can't remember just the

5 exact details of it.

6 Q. From what the Inquiry has gathered, there don't seem to

7 be very many Loyalist paramilitaries that were capable

8 of making UCBTs, for example. There were relatively few

9 individuals who had that skill. Can you recollect if it

10 was a handful of individuals or was the capability more

11 widespread than that?

12 A. To be quite honest, I don't think anyone in the UDA in

13 Antrim were capable of making an undercar booby trap. I

14 may be corrected, but I believe that of the devices that

15 did come in, there were a substantial nature were made

16 elsewhere.

17 Q. Can you tell us where they may have been made?

18 A. I can't, but I would guess probably Belfast.

19 Q. So as far as your interest in the UDA in this period

20 went, what were you looking at? Were you trying to

21 assess whether violence was likely or whether there were

22 particular individuals that were likely to become

23 dissident?

24 A. Well, both issues. They were interested or they were

25 involved in continuing terrorism. They were involved in

 

 

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1 extortion and threats to kill, threats to people within

2 the area, phone calls are made and so forth on behalf of

3 their organisation, making threats. So it was -- again,

4 just continuing to gather intelligence on them as far as

5 their activities.

6 Q. Was it the case that some disaffected members of the UDA

7 may have kept up liaisons with dissident groups such as

8 the LVF or the Red Hand Defenders and so on, which we

9 will look at momentarily?

10 A. Because they lived in basically the same areas, there

11 would have been some cross contamination, but to what

12 degree I couldn't really say.

13 Q. Wasn't this something that you were concerned to assess

14 at this period, whether or not the UDA, who I think were

15 on ceasefire during this period of time, were looking to

16 continue their paramilitary activities through the means

17 of other groups?

18 A. I have no doubt that those questions were asked. I just

19 can't recall them at the moment.

20 Q. You mentioned the UVF as being the other main

21 paramilitary grouping and I think you are saying that

22 they were effectively the more dangerous group at this

23 particular time?

24 A. That's correct.

25 Q. Why is that?

 

 

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1 A. Because if I recall correctly they were more active in

2 the area because they were involved in criminal

3 activities including drug taking, drug supplying,

4 extortion, threats and so forth.

5 Q. Was that something which Special Branch had a particular

6 interest in looking at?

7 A. Anything that would fund an illegal organisation we

8 always had an interest in. Anything to do with possible

9 threat to lives we certainly were interested in.

10 Q. Did the fact that the UVF were concerned with those

11 sorts of activities detract from their interest in

12 attacking the Nationalist community?

13 A. No, I think if it suited their interest to attack some

14 on a Nationalist estate or whatever, I think they would

15 go ahead and do it, yes.

16 Q. Does it follow from that that they still presented

17 a real risk to the community at this period?

18 A. I believe so. I believe all the terrorist organisations

19 at that time still presented a threat.

20 Q. How much autonomy did the UVF in your area have from its

21 bases in Belfast?

22 A. Its bases in Belfast ... but they basically reported to

23 the Rathcoole area and even though they were under the

24 Rathcoole area, they still had their own autonomy. They

25 could do basically as and what they wanted to do. I am

 

 

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1 quite sure if they were going to carry out a major

2 operation, they would have had to seek approval from

3 probably the Shankhill area.

4 Q. In late 1990s, as we understand it, a number of

5 individuals in the UVF, including obviously

6 Billy Wright, formed the LVF. Did the LVF comprise any

7 individuals that had been originally from Antrim?

8 A. It did, yes.

9 Q. Did you continue to monitor their activities during this

10 period?

11 A. We did, yes.

12 Q. How many individuals -- again, without naming any of

13 them specifically -- are we talking about here?

14 A. I would imagine somewhere in the region of possibly five

15 or six.

16 Q. And were they the more dangerous of the local

17 paramilitaries then, the ones that had hived off from

18 the mainstream groups that were on ceasefire?

19 A. In my opinion, yes.

20 Q. Did those individuals have a bomb making capability?

21 A. I don't believe so.

22 Q. Why do you say that?

23 A. Because the individuals involved were more involved in

24 shooting attacks as opposed to anything to do with

25 bombing attacks.

 

 

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1 Q. So the individuals that may have previously been in the

2 UVF and had joined the LVF under Billy Wright's command,

3 initially would not to your mind have been the kind of

4 people that would engage in a bombing campaign; they

5 would be more at the level of random street attacks?

6 A. Yes, that is what our intelligence would suggest.

7 Q. Was it the case that you may have had some difficulty

8 getting intelligence on the kind of attacks which they

9 carried out because they occurred at short notice

10 without a great deal of pre-planning?

11 A. Very much so, yes.

12 Q. Did that cause some frustration to Special Branch in

13 looking at these groups?

14 A. It is always very frustrating if you know people are

15 involved in terrorism and unfortunately you can't bring

16 them before the courts to have a conviction. We may

17 have had some intelligence on them, but intelligence is

18 not evidence.

19 Q. Now, although the individuals that may have made up, so

20 far as you were aware, the LVF may not have had the bomb

21 making capability themselves, would they still have had

22 access to individuals from other groups who did, for

23 example, the UDA people in Belfast that you were

24 describing earlier?

25 A. It is rare that you would cross contamination like that,

 

 

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1 that one group would supply the other group with that

2 type of knowledge. So I would be surprised if that was

3 the case.

4 Q. But isn't this a period where, because the main group is

5 on ceasefire, there may still be some hardliners within

6 the mainstream groups who would form ad hoc dissident

7 groups for the very reason of coming together to keep

8 the struggle up, as it were?

9 A. That's certainly possible, yes.

10 Q. Was that something which you were looking at?

11 A. Undoubtedly so, yes. You would always be asking those

12 types of questions and trying to seek intelligence. I

13 don't recall ever receiving any to suggest it.

14 Q. What was the relationship like between those members of

15 the LVF whom you were aware of and those members of the

16 UVF who were in your area?

17 A. I suppose one would call it tense at times.

18 Q. By which you mean what?

19 A. The fact that the individuals left the UVF to form the

20 LVF would have caused some tension between the two

21 groups.

22 Q. And did that mean there was a degree of fighting between

23 them?

24 A. There was certainly incidents between the two groups.

25 Though in saying that, I think that the LVF would have

 

 

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1 held the upper hand even though they were a very small

2 band of people.

3 Q. Were the LVF crime oriented as well, like the UVF?

4 A. I would have thought they were even more crime oriented,

5 especially on the drugs side.

6 Q. So the principal players had a sideline in drug dealing?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Which you were looking into?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Was it the case that sometimes it was difficult to tell

11 whether you were looking at intelligence about drugs

12 being moved around or munitions being moved around, to

13 take a crude example?

14 A. No, you usually had fairly reasonable intelligence to

15 suggest which they were involved in although their

16 criminality did take up a fair proportion of their time.

17 Q. You mention in your statement at paragraph 5, which is

18 on page RNI-846-002 (displayed), the Red Hand

19 Commanders -- you can see that? --

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Or Commando, as being still active but less so than the

22 UVF. Could you describe that a bit further, please?

23 A. Again, the UVF were the parent organisation. The Red

24 Hand Commandos were a small offshoot of that

25 organisation who had their own leadership, their own

 

 

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1 structures, their own weapons and their own funding.

2 But they worked in tandem with the UVF. There was

3 a smaller unit in Antrim as well.

4 Q. What was the difference between the two then?

5 A. Basically none, other than the name, but -- they were

6 basically an offshoot of the UVF. Some people who

7 preferred not the join the UVF would join the Red Hand

8 Commandos, sometimes for family reasons. Others would

9 want to join the UVF as opposed to the Red Hand. It was

10 just a personal choice they made.

11 Q. Was there any difference between the type of activities

12 that they engaged in, for example, in targeting

13 individuals?

14 A. No.

15 Q. And they shared a leadership, did they, with Belfast?

16 A. Yes, they had their own leader, who sat with the UVF

17 leadership.

18 Q. Did you say sat with?

19 A. Yes, at a meeting or so forth he would be the

20 representative of the Red Hand. They were all on an

21 equal footing in that sense.

22 Q. How widespread was the Commando group?

23 A. As far as I recall, there were groups in the Rathcoole

24 area, Newtownabbey, Bangor, South Down area and Antrim.

25 I am quite sure there were other groupings but I'm not

 

 

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1 sure where.

2 Q. The question I asked earlier about their bomb making

3 capability, what was your view of the Red Hand

4 Commandos' bomb making capability?

5 A. There was none in Antrim.

6 Q. You say that with certainty, do you?

7 A. I would be reasonably happy saying that, yes.

8 Q. What leads you to that conclusion?

9 A. The intelligence would suggest that.

10 Q. In other words, you never came across any intelligence

11 to support the conclusion that they may have been able

12 to create a UCBT device?

13 A. No, plus the fact there was never any devices left by

14 the Red Hand Commandos in the Antrim subdivision.

15 Q. Now, the other groups which I would like to ask you

16 about are firstly the Justice for Protestants group and

17 the two other groups that seem to be associated with it,

18 the Orange Volunteers and the Red Hand Defenders.

19 First of all, was Justice for Protestants a group

20 which you came across in your work?

21 A. It was, yes.

22 Q. And is it right that it was based in North Belfast?

23 A. That's correct.

24 Q. And we have heard from another witness, who is

25 a Security Service Assessments Group desk officer, that

 

 

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1 the group was in effect a protest group whose focus was

2 getting what it perceived to be justice in respect of

3 the parades issue, which would include Drumcree.

4 Is that in simple terms how you perceived them

5 to be?

6 A. It would be, yes.

7 Q. Was there a particular individual who masterminded its

8 activities?

9 A. Yes, there would have been, yes.

10 Q. Were you aware of whether that group had -- and in

11 particular through its perceived leader -- contacts with

12 any members of the RUC?

13 A. Not that I'm aware of.

14 Q. So in your intelligence gathering on that group, you

15 didn't come across any intelligence to suggest that they

16 may have had any connections with police officers?

17 A. No.

18 Q. What sort of intelligence did you gather on their

19 activities?

20 A. Basically they were a politically motivated group and

21 they held various demonstrations and parades at certain

22 times around -- particularly in North Belfast, Antrim

23 and Larne, I believe.

24 Q. Did they themselves engage with activities such as

25 targeting and shooting and so on?

 

 

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1 A. Not that I'm aware of, no.

2 Q. What was their connection with the Orange Volunteers and

3 the Red Hand Defenders?

4 A. Initially they started off as what I would call

5 a political grouping, and from them developed the Orange

6 Volunteers and the Red Hand Defenders, which were

7 splinter groups from them.

8 Q. And were the Red Hand Defenders and Orange Volunteers

9 effectively the sort of military arm of Justice for

10 Protestants, or is that putting it too highly?

11 A. I think that's too strong. I don't think that's the

12 case.

13 Q. Focusing first on the Orange Volunteers, would that have

14 been a discrete group of individuals or is it an ad hoc

15 flag of convenience?

16 A. I think the Red Hand Defenders and the Orange Volunteers

17 were both flags of convenience in some sense. There was

18 a number of attacks took place which the Orange

19 Volunteers, which were a small grouping, claimed. And

20 as time went on -- well, I'm sure you will speak of the

21 Red Hand Defenders in a moment.

22 Q. You mentioned the Orange Volunteers in paragraph 4 of

23 your statement and you say that they were quite a small

24 group. Are we then talking about less than ten

25 individuals?

 

 

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1 A. I would say so, yes.

2 Q. And as far as you were aware, prior to the late 1990s,

3 had they existed in Antrim?

4 A. No, I think there was an original organisation called

5 that some number of years ago and they picked up on that

6 and used the name for the current one in 1997.

7 Q. What was the difference between them and the Red Hand

8 Defenders?

9 A. Basically I didn't see a lot of difference in them. If

10 anything, the Red Hand Defenders were a flag of

11 convenience more so than anything. Whenever a device,

12 generally a pipe bomb or something along that nature,

13 was left in a pub or a church or whatever, the Red Hand

14 Defenders would claim it. By the same token, the Orange

15 Volunteers would claim it. By the same token, a number

16 of the other groups would claim it.

17 So for all intents and purposes, they were near

18 enough same organisation, though the Red Hand Defenders'

19 name was used as a flag of convenience for absolutely

20 everybody.

21 Q. Were they the same individuals then that were

22 participating in those two groups?

23 A. In my opinion, yes.

24 Q. When there was a claim of responsibility, did you have

25 to ask your sources who in fact was actually responsible

 

 

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1 because the claims were not necessarily precise?

2 A. We would have, yes, and on occasions that couldn't be

3 confirmed one way or the other because there were that

4 many people making claims.

5 Q. When we use the term "flag of convenience", does that

6 mean effectively it is individuals that don't want to be

7 identified as part of the mainstream groups that were on

8 ceasefire and had associated prisoner release rights?

9 A. I would certainly say yes to that, yes.

10 Q. Was that really the driving force about why these groups

11 sort of arose, as an ad hoc group of individuals wanting

12 to perpetuate violence but without losing the status

13 which the mainstream groups had got?

14 A. I think initially that wasn't the case, but it certainly

15 proved to be the case as it grew bigger. Initially

16 there was only that small group in the Orange Volunteers

17 and their capabilities were very, very limited in what

18 they could do in regards to terrorism. And as time went

19 on then, when they planted some devices, they would

20 claim them and so forth. But the other groups then, as

21 you say, didn't want to be named or didn't want to be

22 involved or didn't want to be seen to be involved, then

23 used that as a flag of convenience by calling them the

24 Red Hand Defenders claims.

25 Q. Where were these individuals from? Which groups did

 

 

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1 they derive from?

2 A. I would say there was some UDA and probably some UVF as

3 well.

4 Q. Might it also have included members of the LVF?

5 A. Yes, I would include them as well.

6 Q. Were you aware of the individuals who may have formed

7 these groups?

8 A. Yes, the majority of them, yes.

9 Q. And was it something you were trying to keep a close eye

10 on during this period?

11 A. Absolutely.

12 Q. You mentioned a little bit earlier that they were or had

13 been engaged in some form of pipe bombing activities.

14 Had they also been engaged with proper bomb making

15 activities, as in creating a bomb, for example, out of

16 explosives like Powergel or Semtex?

17 A. I wasn't aware of any intelligence which would suggest

18 that.

19 Q. Did you think, so far as you are aware -- and we will

20 look in detail when we come on to the specific

21 reporting -- but generally in this period prior to

22 Rosemary Nelson's death, that the Red Hand Defenders,

23 Orange Volunteers or the Justice for Protestants group

24 were capable of a UCBT attack?

25 A. No.

 

 

138


1 Q. Why do you say that?

2 A. Because we had intelligence outlining the individuals

3 involved. Prior to that attack certainly we were not

4 aware of anybody with the capability on the Loyalist

5 side to make an undercar booby trap of sophistication.

6 Q. Is it fair to say that the disaffected individuals who

7 made up those groups may have had contact with bomb

8 makers that did have that capability or could have, for

9 example, purchased or been given a bomb?

10 A. That's certainly possible, yes.

11 Q. The first report I would like to show you and discuss is

12 at RNI-544-037, please (displayed). Thank you.

13 This is a PRISM document and it is

14 from February 1999. The exact date has been redacted

15 and the title you can see there is "RHD", Red Hand

16 Defenders, and the originating officers are yourself and

17 your colleague, B506, who I think was another person

18 that you worked with in Antrim. Is that correct?

19 A. That's correct.

20 Q. Does it follow from this document -- this is a PRISM

21 document -- that you wouldn't have necessarily completed

22 it yourself; it would have been something that may have

23 been completed by the regional source unit?

24 A. That's correct.

25 Q. If we go overleaf, we can see the substance of the PRISM

 

 

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1 document. It says simply:

2 "It is the intention of the Red Hand Defenders and

3 Orange Volunteers to step up their campaign against RCs

4 [ie Roman Catholics] within the next two weeks. The

5 group are attempting to cause disruption in a number of

6 areas over one or two days."

7 Then under the comment, it says:

8 "NFD ..."

9 Which I think means "no further details". Is that

10 correct?

11 A. That's correct, yes.

12 Q. "... are known at this time."

13 And then goes on to say:

14 "Members of RHD and OV are targeting leading

15 Republicans."

16 First of all, can one assume from this document that

17 this was all you were able to glean from your source as

18 to this proposed targeting activity?

19 A. That's correct.

20 Q. Would it have been the case that you will have tried to

21 get some more information out of him, but this was the

22 limit that you could get?

23 A. That's correct.

24 Q. And hence the NFD comment?

25 A. That's correct.

 

 

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1 Q. Is that a comment that effectively you have made based

2 on your meeting or is it a comment that the source

3 makes?

4 A. Well, it was a combination -- you extract the

5 intelligence that he has and if that's the only

6 intelligence he can give you, that's it basically. So

7 it is basically coming from him that he knows nothing

8 further.

9 Q. You see on this document there are two comments

10 sections. One we can see there which I have already

11 read out, and the other is:

12 "ID possible targets."

13 Is there a difference between those two types of

14 comment section?

15 A. The first piece there, that was specific intelligence

16 that they were definitely going to do that. The second

17 bit would have been general chit chat with the agent in

18 regard to what else they may be doing. So it wasn't

19 hard and fast that the comments -- that's why it was

20 just put in like that.

21 Q. It appears in the comment that I read out that there is

22 a bit more information which one might have expected to

23 have been included in the body of the text above, ie the

24 fact that they were targeting leading Republicans?

25 A. That wasn't actually hard intelligence as such. It was

 

 

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1 a general consensus from the CHIS or from the agent in

2 regard to what he was thinking. You know, whenever we

3 were discussing, for example, a campaign against Roman

4 Catholics in the next two weeks, you went into it in

5 (inaudible) depth and trying to exactly find out the

6 exact detail of what he was saying. However, he

7 couldn't really say exactly what they were saying, but

8 that was his thoughts on it, which was slightly

9 different from intelligence.

10 Q. You are flagging up the fact that this was a bit more

11 speculative?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. When you received this intelligence, how do you respond

14 to it? It is set quite vaguely, albeit that the

15 individuals are few in number. It doesn't give you any

16 idea where they are planning on perpetrating these

17 attacks. What then do you do?

18 A. Immediately information was in, it goes to the source

19 unit, which was based at Castlereagh. The source unit

20 then disseminated that intelligence. It could be to

21 a selected area, a selected region or the entire

22 Province, but that's their decision, so it is outside my

23 remit.

24 Q. So effectively your job is over once you submit it to

25 the intelligence unit?

 

 

142


1 A. That's correct.

2 Q. You can see at the bottom there it says "shared with

3 E3". Did you share it with E3?

4 A. No, that would be the source unit's part in the system.

5 Q. And likewise "sent to MRPR2P and BKPR2P."

6 Is that something which the source unit did?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Who are those groups?

9 A. I'm assuming they are possibly source units in the North

10 and South Regions.

11 Q. This type of threat, which is set, as I say, quite sort

12 of vaguely, a plan to step up a campaign against Roman

13 Catholics, is that the sort of thing which you regularly

14 received as reporting as part of your work?

15 A. It would be, yes.

16 Q. So it is quite often the case that you would meet

17 particular sources and they would say such and such

18 a group are just planning doing something in the next

19 few days; I don't know quite what, but you may want to

20 take notice of it and do something about it?

21 A. That's correct.

22 Q. You agreed with me saying it was something that you came

23 across quite often. Can you give me an idea of the

24 frequency of this kind of reporting at this fairly low

25 level?

 

 

143


1 A. I really couldn't, but in general terms they are agents

2 of different degrees within organisations and it depends

3 on the agent how intense the intelligence is. Someone

4 like that, I couldn't say offhand how many or how often.

5 It is impossible to say.

6 Q. In relation to this individual report that we have

7 looked at, without going into any sensitive details can

8 you tell us how credible you believe this threat to have

9 been?

10 A. I believe the intelligence was reasonably accurate.

11 Q. And was it the case that having received this, you would

12 send it to Headquarters, but at the same time you would

13 try and get more information about specifics?

14 A. You certainly would do, yes.

15 Q. So you would arrange to go back to your source to get

16 more information from him if he were able to gather such

17 information?

18 A. Yes, he would have been given instruction that we would

19 see him fairly soon after that, or the person after

20 that, and if any intelligence was obtained by the agent,

21 he would certainly contact us in regard to it.

22 Q. Do you remember -- and I appreciate this is almost ten

23 years ago -- whether this proposed campaign of attacks

24 materialised in that period of time?

25 A. I do recall there was an attack on a Catholic church in

 

 

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1 Antrim around that time. It was around that time. I

2 couldn't say exactly, but there may have been other

3 attacks on pubs and clubs at that time, but I know there

4 was a concerted attack by the Orange Volunteers, Red

5 Hand Defenders around that time in the Antrim area.

6 Q. When that attack occurred, you would probably think

7 that's the realisation of this proposed plan that you

8 have seen?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. It says at the bottom there "action sheet 45/99 refers"

11 and I think we will come on in a moment to the action

12 sheets. But before we do that, I would like to show you

13 another couple of documents which must have been

14 produced by the source units. The first of those is at

15 page RNI-544-039, please, (displayed) and this is

16 a MACER document, which is a SIR, a Secret Intelligence

17 Report. And the location is Antrim and you are there,

18 you can see your Inquiry cipher, and that of your

19 colleague are noted there. But I think as you described

20 it earlier, this would have been produced by the

21 regional source unit and not you yourself?

22 A. That's correct.

23 Q. Can we go overleaf, please (displayed)?

24 A. Sorry, just on that point, can I just go back to that?

25 Q. Of course, yes.

 

 

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1 A. Actually that document would be input by our office,

2 submitted from the original intelligence on to the MACER

3 system.

4 Q. Who in your office would have input that?

5 A. We would generally have a typist would do that.

6 Q. And I had understood earlier in fact that you sent in

7 your handwritten forms to the regional source unit and

8 they were responsible for dealing with the MACER side of

9 things. So was it the case that you did --

10 A. We originally -- I'm not just sure when the MACER and

11 CHISM systems come in, and you will have to forgive me

12 for that. What happened was we originally hand wrote

13 the document. It went to the source unit, they input it

14 in the PRISM computer and then that would have been

15 forwarded up to registry as a typed document.

16 However, as time progressed when we were inputting

17 on CHISM, then we would also put the intelligence on

18 a MACER document --

19 Q. And --

20 A. -- at a later date.

21 Q. At a later date?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. That would be as a SIR, would it?

24 A. That's correct.

25 Q. Would you also have created the SIDD, which I think is

 

 

146


1 a sort of lesser document which goes to a wider

2 readership?

3 A. That would be created at Headquarters.

4 Q. You would have had access to this SIR through the

5 terminal?

6 A. They would, yes.

7 Q. So someone in your office would have created this

8 document from the previous document we have seen?

9 A. That's correct.

10 Q. Thank you. If we go overleaf then to see the text of

11 it, it says quite simply that:

12 "Members of the RHD and OCs [sic] intend to step up

13 their campaign against Roman Catholics within the next

14 two weeks and both groups are targeting leading

15 Republicans."

16 What has happened here is that the details section

17 and the comments section have been amalgamated. Is that

18 something which generally occurred in this kind of

19 report, a SIR?

20 A. Yes, generally because you are putting the two into the

21 one and I suppose in some aspects that's an error there

22 really.

23 Q. I was going to ask you that because there is a danger

24 here that you have included specifics and speculation?

25 A. Yes, it is an error, that.

 

 

147


1 Q. So ordinarily you may not necessarily have included that

2 latter bit because it was not quite as reliable?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. And again, you can see "comment action sheet issued",

5 which we will come on to in a moment.

6 There is another SIR which appears to have been

7 produced around this time and that we can find at

8 document RNI-544-049 (displayed). This is another SIR,

9 if I can put it that way. Again, we can see the

10 originating officers are just you this time and not your

11 colleague. It is February 1999, so roughly the same

12 date although we can't see the specific date.

13 If we go overleaf, please, we can see the substance

14 of that. In fact this, I think, is the action sheet

15 itself. I thought it was the SIR, but in fact this is

16 number 45/99 which has been previously referred to.

17 Would you have produced this?

18 A. No, that would be the source unit would have issued the

19 action sheet.

20 Q. And they would have done that on the MACER system, would

21 they?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. There are quite a few things in this document which I

24 would like to just ask you about so that we can

25 understand its components; first of all, the issuing

 

 

148


1 officer. Is the issuing officer the person that would

2 have written this? You can see his name is redacted,

3 but it is a detective sergeant?

4 A. I would assume so, yes, or would have given authority to

5 do it, would have given a constable authority to do it.

6 Q. It would normally be the sergeant with the authority of

7 a superior that would issue such a document?

8 A. I would assume so, but again, this is based on the

9 source unit and I hadn't really any comment -- I never

10 worked on the source unit so I'm not quite sure of their

11 systems.

12 Q. Are you happier trying to explain to the best of your

13 ability some of what's said in here?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. We can see that the title is "Red Hand Defenders, Orange

16 Volunteers intimidate Roman Catholics" and then you can

17 see the intelligence that supports that, which is in the

18 box there, which is of the same kind that we have seen

19 in the original reporting from the PRISM document.

20 It then says in form "specific recipients" and then

21 there are a number of abbreviations there. First of

22 all, SDCs. Can you remember who that is?

23 A. Not really.

24 Q. Or MSU?

25 A. The mobile support unit. Basically, what they are

 

 

149


1 saying there is that's been shared with basically

2 everybody in Belfast.

3 I think the source unit in S and North passed it to

4 the source unit in North and I'd assume it was passed to

5 the source unit in Mahon Road. It has probably been

6 passed to the military and mobile support units as well.

7 Q. Might SDCs be subdivisional commanders?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. And the SMRU I think is the military --

10 A. The military, yes.

11 Q. And that decision is made by the regional source unit?

12 A. That's correct.

13 Q. Then there is a section which is filled out in quite

14 some detail, which is "action taken". And first of all,

15 there is "shared with E3", which we have already seen, I

16 think, from the earlier document that I have shown you.

17 Then there is a long list of various officers. Who

18 would have decided who and where this document would

19 have gone to?

20 A. Well, the source unit would have decided, but probably

21 because there is no particular area identified and the

22 fact was disruption could have happened anywhere, the

23 entire Province would have had to be told in regard

24 to it.

25 Q. Would this document have gone to uniformed officers as

 

 

150


1 well as to Special Branch colleagues?

2 A. It would, yes.

3 Q. And what action would you expect to be taken as

4 a result?

5 A. Well, everyone in the stations would have been made

6 aware of it and I would imagine some sort of

7 a heightened profile would be induced.

8 Q. The grading of the document you can see at the sort of

9 the centre, towards the top third of the document. It

10 says "high".

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. What does that mean?

13 A. It means that it is assessed to be high grade

14 intelligence.

15 Q. So that's not in fact the nature of the threat; it is

16 the nature of the intelligence that is being assessed as

17 reliable, credible, therefore, something that should be

18 acted upon?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. How quickly would this then have been produced?

21 A. Immediately upon receiving the intelligence documents

22 from ourselves, the source unit would instigate that

23 document and deliver it.

24 Q. Now, there is another document I would like to show you,

25 please, which we think relates to this issue, which we

 

 

151


1 can find at RNI-512-013 (displayed).

2 Now, to clarify, this is not a document that you

3 were shown when you gave your statement, but it is

4 a document that is in the Inquiry bundle, the MOD or

5 military section of the Inquiry bundle. And albeit it

6 is not redacted, in fact the title of the document

7 should be "action sheet".

8 Now, as we understand it, this would be a military

9 document produced possibly in response to the action

10 sheet, the printed action sheet that we have seen

11 earlier. Does that accord with your understanding of

12 this type of document?

13 A. I couldn't comment on it. I have no knowledge at all of

14 that document, but the intelligence looks very similar

15 to what would be passed to them.

16 Q. It looks, doesn't it, like HQNI, which is the military,

17 would have produced this in response to your

18 intelligence which is passed through the regional source

19 unit to them via the action sheet, and then we can see

20 the distribution list within the Army at the bottom

21 there?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. And you would expect the Army to take their own action

24 it to alert their own groups as to this threat?

25 A. That's correct.

 

 

152


1 Q. Thank you, that's very helpful. The next document I

2 would like you to look at, please, is at RNI-544-075

3 (displayed).

4 Now, this is another PRISM document and the

5 originating officers are you and your colleague again,

6 B506. And this, again, can I assume, would have been

7 produced within your office?

8 A. The original document?

9 Q. The original PRISM document, yes.

10 A. No, we didn't -- the original document was, but that's

11 a PRISM document put on by the source unit.

12 Q. It may be that I have misunderstood, but as I understood

13 it when we described the last document, you said that

14 you had somebody in your office that would have --

15 A. For a SIR, which is not a PRISM document.

16 Q. So you would have separately produced your own SIR?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. And the PRISM document would have been produced based on

19 the handwritten intelligence report?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Thank you. That's clear. This has gone to the TCG

22 Belfast?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. So is that a decision which has been made by the

25 regional source unit?

 

 

153


1 A. It would. It would be yes.

2 Q. Would you have had any input in making that decision

3 about the recipient?

4 A. No.

5 Q. May we go overleaf and look at the detail (displayed)?

6 It says:

7 "Members of the RHD intend to carry out a number of

8 undefined attacks on persons/places which have links

9 within the Roman Catholic community within the next

10 48 hours."

11 Then underneath it says:

12 "E3 to issue force-wide warning."

13 Now, can I take it again from this text that this

14 was the limits of what you knew about what was about to

15 go on?

16 A. That's correct.

17 Q. And you would be presumably interested and, indeed, keen

18 to get further details of exactly who was going to be

19 targeted?

20 A. Absolutely.

21 Q. The regional source then, having produced this document,

22 have made the decision, have they, that this goes to the

23 level of force-wide warning; in other words, it is

24 a wider warning than the one we have seen on the

25 previous intelligence?

 

 

154


1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Because the threat could be anywhere within Ulster?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. It appears that there are two SIRs that are produced as

5 a result of this and I would like to show you them both,

6 please. One is at RNI-544-068 (displayed) and the title

7 is "Red Hand Defenders", and as with the previous SIR we

8 have seen it has got the name of yourself and

9 a colleague on. Can we look at the detail, please?

10 Again, this reflects the detail of what we have

11 previously seen and the comment as we have seen on

12 a previous -- "no further details are known, action

13 sheet issued."

14 Now, that's slightly different from the PRISM

15 document in that he is talking about an action sheet.

16 Do action sheets go out as well as the region-wide

17 warnings?

18 A. That region-wide warning would be an action sheet.

19 Q. Right. So if we go to the next SIR, I would just like

20 to work out if there is any difference and why we have

21 two different SIRs for the same intelligence. That's at

22 page RNI-544-069, please (displayed), and the heading is

23 the same, as you can see, and the date is February 1999.

24 The title is "Red Hand Defenders" and the text, please.

25 You can see the text albeit that the wording is very

 

 

155


1 slightly different, in fact the substance of it is the

2 same. But the comment is:

3 "Force-wide warning issued."

4 What I'm trying to understand really is the fact

5 that there are two different SIRs saying slightly

6 different things, and I wonder if you can assist us with

7 that?

8 A. I really couldn't. All I can say is that there was

9 a force-wide warning, which is an action sheet, was

10 issued. That's basically what force-wide warning means.

11 Q. So it may be in fact just a minor clerical error that

12 has produced two SIRs?

13 A. It may be two different people just have two different

14 wordings for it.

15 Q. We think the force-wide warning can be found at

16 RNI-544-066 (displayed). Now, what sort of document is

17 this? It is produced on a system which presumably is

18 networked across the regions, is it? Does it take the

19 form of a telegram or email?

20 A. I couldn't comment. I don't know.

21 Q. Did you ever receive such warnings yourself?

22 A. We did, yes, but it basically looks to me like an action

23 sheet. Now, it may be passed in some form, I'm not

24 sure, if it -- I assume it has been sent on a secure fax

25 machine or some other piece of equipment.

 

 

156


1 Q. And it says without quite the same detail that:

2 "Militant Loyalist organisation intends to carry out

3 a number of undefined attacks on persons or places which

4 have links to the Roman Catholic community within the

5 next 48 hours."

6 Then it says:

7 "It is directed that appropriate action be

8 immediately taken to prevent such attacks Province-wide

9 by implementing established subdivisional VCP and other

10 related plans."

11 So it seems to imply, doesn't it, that this is

12 a force-wide warning?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And that the action would be setting up vehicle

15 checkpoints to stop the paramilitary groups from moving

16 around and carrying out what they were intending to do?

17 A. I believe that to be correct, yes.

18 Q. And the authorising officer we can see there is an

19 inspector whose name has been redacted from

20 F Department. What is F Department?

21 A. I don't know.

22 Q. Is there anything else about this document that you can

23 help us with, particularly the section at the top, where

24 we can see the originator, SDA, whether that means

25 anything to you?

 

 

157


1 A. It doesn't mean anything to me.

2 Q. Thank you. Sir, would that be an appropriate moment to

3 have a break?

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. We will have a break until 25 to

5 four.

6 Mr [name redacted], before the witness leaves, would you

7 please confirm that all cameras have been switched off?

8 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out.

10 (3.20 pm)

11 (Short break)

12 (3.35 pm)

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

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

15 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

17 screen closed?

18 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

20 and securely fastened?

21 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

22 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

23 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

24 of this chamber?

25 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

 

 

158


1 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

2 Mr [name redacted], can you please confirm that the

3 two witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

4 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

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

6 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

8 Bring the witnesses in, please.

9 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

10 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

11 switched back on.

12 Yes, Mr Skelton?

13 MR SKELTON: Before the break we were looking at what were

14 essentially two difference areas of reporting about the

15 Red Hand Defenders' and Orange Volunteers' activities

16 in February 1999.

17 Can you remember if during that period prior to

18 Rosemary Nelson's death there was any other reporting on

19 their intentions to target Roman Catholics or anyone

20 else during that period?

21 A. Not that I'm aware of.

22 Q. Did you receive any reporting from any of your sources

23 that Justice for Protestants, the Orange Volunteers or

24 the Red Hand Defenders would be targeting a high profile

25 Nationalist or Republican in North Armagh?

 

 

159


1 A. No.

2 Q. Did you receive any intelligence from your sources that

3 any targeting would occur of Rosemary Nelson?

4 A. No.

5 Q. Did you receive any intelligence outside of those groups

6 that such targeting might take place?

7 A. No.

8 Q. When Rosemary Nelson was murdered on 15 March, what was

9 your reaction?

10 A. Shock.

11 Q. Could you describe that a bit more, please?

12 A. Well, I initially heard it on the radio or the TV and it

13 was such a shock for basically a solicitor, a lawyer,

14 whatever, to get killed in those circumstances.

15 Q. Were you aware that the claim of responsibility was by

16 the Red Hand Defenders?

17 A. I was aware of that, yes.

18 Q. And did that start you to think that your sources may

19 have known about it in advance and not told you?

20 A. No, I don't believe that.

21 Q. Why not?

22 A. I was reasonably confident with all the intelligence

23 I received from the agent and that it was fairly

24 truthful.

25 Q. Might there be some reason why they might not want to

 

 

160


1 tell you about such an operation which could potentially

2 jeopardise their own safety if they knew the murderers?

3 A. There is always the danger with that with any agent.

4 However, I had full trust in the agent that I was

5 dealing with.

6 Q. If you had reporting about the Red Hand Defenders and

7 Orange Volunteers and the Red Hand Defenders claim

8 responsibility, if that claim of responsibility was

9 correct, does it not follow that you would have been

10 able to gain reporting on who did it?

11 A. Not really. It depends really on how tight the grouping

12 that actually were involved in the planting of the

13 device were known. For example, if it was a small

14 grouping, as previously, like the LVF, a small, very

15 tight knitted unit, the chance of getting anything is

16 fairly remote.

17 Q. The Red Hand Defenders I think you described earlier as

18 being a pretty small grouping. Does it follow from that

19 then that you weren't able to gain any reporting after

20 Rosemary Nelson's death as to who specifically was

21 responsible?

22 A. That's correct.

23 Q. Did you task your sources to find out?

24 A. Yes, that would always be the case in those

25 circumstances, but there was no intelligence in regard

 

 

161


1 to who carried out the attack.

2 Q. Well, there is intelligence that comes from outside of

3 your region that I think --

4 A. Yes, that's fair enough. Not from within our region,

5 that's what I was implying.

6 Q. But you did have lines of reporting around the Red Hand

7 Defenders and Orange Volunteers, so would you have

8 specifically gone back to your sources to say to them,

9 "Please find out"?

10 A. Absolutely.

11 Q. Do you remember doing that?

12 A. Absolutely.

13 Q. What was the response?

14 A. There was no intelligence come in in regard to it.

15 Q. Do you find that surprising?

16 A. No.

17 Q. And that's because the particular membership of the Red

18 Hand Defenders for this particular operation may not

19 have been the same as the membership that you were

20 looking at previously on the attacks that we saw before

21 the break?

22 A. As I said before, the Red Hand Defenders in my opinion

23 were a flag of convenience, and therefore whatever

24 grouping may or may not have carried out that attack, it

25 basically could have been any grouping, as far as I was

 

 

162


1 concerned.

2 Q. Now, the intelligence that we saw earlier about plans to

3 attack Roman Catholics within a certain period of time,

4 did you understand when you received that intelligence

5 that there were specific individuals that it was

6 referring to who would be using the Red Hand Defenders

7 as a cover name?

8 A. No.

9 Q. So when you were told by your source or sources that it

10 was the Red Hand Defenders and OV planning an attack, in

11 effect that could have been anyone, could it?

12 A. Basically, the information and intelligence came in not

13 as the internal piece of the group. It would have came

14 from slightly outside that. So, therefore, we couldn't

15 identify exactly who the possible targets may or may not

16 have been.

17 Q. But presumably what one thinks in that situation is,

18 well, my source has various connections to certain

19 people and somebody within that group must know what is

20 about to happen. Therefore, there must be an

21 identifiable number of individuals that at least have

22 some awareness about it.

23 A. Not necessarily. There could be a discussion between,

24 for example, seven or eight people, ten people, about

25 the possibility of attacking Roman Catholics. However,

 

 

163


1 perhaps within that grouping, two or three people

2 actually knew of the possible target. It does not

3 necessarily mean that other people would have known the

4 target.

5 Q. Were you concerned that this attack had been missed in

6 terms of the advance planning of it? Did it surprise

7 you?

8 A. It did surprise me, yes.

9 Q. Were there discussions amongst your colleagues about why

10 there had been no advance warning of it apparently?

11 A. With all intelligence groups, it's difficult. Nobody

12 can cover all their activities. Your best hope is to

13 try and grab as much intelligence as you can to try and

14 pass it on. But in this case there wasn't sufficient

15 intelligence to thwart the attack.

16 Q. When you said you tasked your sources and didn't receive

17 any substantial information back in relation to the

18 murder, would if not have been an important thing to

19 report the absence of intelligence on it post-murder in

20 your area?

21 A. In those days we certainly didn't keep negative

22 intelligence or describe negative intelligence. This

23 wasn't done.

24 Q. Can I infer from what you said that the situation has

25 changed in relation to that negative reporting, if I may

 

 

164


1 put it that way?

2 A. Nowadays we probably would report it, that there was no

3 intelligence there, but in those days that was not the case.

4 Q. Now, Mr Port became the Head of the Murder Investigation

5 Team and his focus at least in part was on some of the

6 people about whom you were reporting prior to

7 Rosemary Nelson's death; in other words, people to do

8 with Justice for Protestants. Were you aware of that?

9 A. I was aware of that, yes.

10 Q. Did you have any liaison yourself with the Murder

11 Investigation Team or any of the Special Branch officers

12 associated with it?

13 A. No.

14 Q. Did you make yourself available to them in any form,

15 given that you did have some line of reporting on to

16 Justice for Protestants?

17 A. I would have been available, but I was never asked to be

18 available.

19 Q. Was it the case then that you, having heard about the

20 murder, having heard that the claim was by the Red Hand

21 Defenders and being aware that particular individuals

22 who you had previously reported on were involved or

23 thought to be involved in the murder, that it wasn't

24 your role to take any further action in relation to

25 that; it was for others to determine whether or not you

 

 

165


1 should be engaged with the murder investigation?

2 A. I would have imagined that, had the Port team wanted to

3 speak to me, they will certainly have asked for me to be

4 made available, but that wasn't the case.

5 Q. Do you think you could have provided some helpful

6 information to them, given the sources that you had

7 reporting on those organisations that we discussed

8 earlier?

9 A. I don't think I could have given them any information

10 regarding the actual attack, maybe some periphery

11 information, but other than that.

12 Q. There are a number of reports, two specifically, that I

13 would like to show you, that occurred post

14 Rosemary Nelson's murder. The first is at RNI-544-172

15 (displayed). Now, this is a SIR, a MACER SIR, the title

16 "The Red Hand Defenders". The date is March 1999 and

17 you can see there your cipher and your colleague's

18 cipher is on that document. So we can assume that the

19 originating officers were you and him?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. If we go overleaf, we can see the detail of that and it

22 has been heavily redacted so it is quite hard to

23 understand, but it appears that one person is saying to

24 somebody he was very happy with the murder of

25 Rosemary Nelson?

 

 

166


1 A. Yes.

2 Q. So you did get some reporting or pick up some comments

3 about the Rosemary Nelson murder?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. What's the value of that comment?

6 A. Well, the reason it was put in was it maybe gave an

7 indication that the person or persons may have some

8 knowledge or prior knowledge of the attack, and it was

9 to help the investigation team into the murder.

10 Q. So when you put this in, you would have an expectation,

11 would you, that this would have come to their attention?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. And there is a comment there:

14 "[Blank] has previously been supplied with munitions

15 by Ulster Resistance. No other details are known re the

16 munitions:"

17 Who were Ulster Resistance?

18 A. Ulster Resistance were initially a political

19 organisation in which a number of leading people in

20 Northern Ireland were members of. Initially it was, as

21 I say, a political organisation that held various

22 protests and demonstrations. It latterly became a more

23 militant organisation, which resulted in the initial

24 people who were involved in it dropping away and it

25 eventually just petered out.

 

 

167


1 Q. And at this stage, which is early 1999, what kind of

2 munitions were they thought to be supplying?

3 A. Well, it was believed that they were involved in

4 importation of a large quantity of munitions and

5 possibly explosives, which were divided between the

6 three groups; that's the Ulster Resistance, the UDA and

7 the UVF.

8 Q. And was it the case then that Ulster Resistance supplied

9 munitions to other groups that would deploy them on

10 attacks?

11 A. Very selectively, yes.

12 Q. Is it your view that Ulster Resistance may have had some

13 role in supplying the device that killed

14 Rosemary Nelson?

15 A. I have no idea.

16 Q. And you say that because --

17 A. No intelligence to suggest that or otherwise.

18 Q. Well, the kind of explosives that they were supplying,

19 could they have found their way into an undercar booby

20 trap?

21 A. I couldn't comment. I'm not quite sure what explosives

22 were actually brought into the country.

23 Q. As far as you were aware, was this report in fact passed

24 on to the Murder Investigation Team?

25 A. I would imagine so. I couldn't definitely confirm, but

 

 

168


1 I would imagine it would have been, yes.

2 Q. The next document I would like to show you, please, is

3 RNI-545-148 (displayed).

4 The title of this is "Orange Volunteers". The date

5 is October 2000 and you are one of the originating

6 officers of it, and it is a PRISM document. Now, if we

7 go overleaf, please, we can see the substance of it.

8 Again, the text has been heavily redacted but the

9 subject matter is "The murder of Rosemary Nelson" and it

10 says that:

11 "Some weeks following Rosemary Nelson's murder ..."

12 And then there is a passage that's redacted:

13 "... the bomb used had been made in Belfast."

14 Then it goes on to say that the bomb was escorted

15 ultimately to Lurgan. This is quite detailed

16 intelligence about the transportation of the bomb. How

17 confident are you that it is accurate?

18 A. I don't think I'm the handler on that document.

19 Q. It is a document which is -- I think I wrongly

20 identified it as being one of yours. It is your

21 colleague, I think, from your office, whose intelligence

22 it is?

23 A. That's correct.

24 Q. You comment on it in your statement.

25 A. Yes.

 

 

169


1 Q. And I can show you the passage if that would assist you.

2 I think we can find that at page RNI-846-009,

3 paragraph 37 of your statement (displayed).

4 Now, as you say, you weren't the handler of this

5 particular source but were you aware of his or her

6 reporting?

7 A. I was, yes.

8 Q. And in light of that awareness, how confident are you

9 that this is an accurate reflection of how the bomb was

10 transported?

11 A. I don't give any credence to the report.

12 Q. Without betraying any sensitivities, can you describe or

13 tell us why that might be the case?

14 A. I basically think that the intelligence is unreliable.

15 Q. The difficulty for us, of course, is that it is quite

16 detailed intelligence. Now, I appreciate it is hard for

17 you to discuss it in any detail given its sensitivity,

18 but was it the case that a source that might be

19 reporting to Special Branch could produce reporting

20 which isn't accurate but is nevertheless quite detailed

21 like this?

22 A. It is possible. It is possible, yes, because on

23 occasions you do get agents who imagine things or

24 perhaps read newspapers or articles and then will try

25 and formulate an intelligence document from it. In this

 

 

170


1 case, I believe that the intelligence was not

2 substantiated and that the originator, the original

3 agent, was unreliable.

4 Q. We can see if we go back to the document itself on

5 page RNI-545-149 (displayed), it says:

6 "Copy to Port team. Action sheet completed."

7 Now, this is the PRISM document. Can we assume from

8 this that that action did indeed take place?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. So far as you were aware, did your office produce any

11 other intelligence of this nature about the

12 Rosemary Nelson bomb after the murder?

13 A. No.

14 Q. Just before we leave this document, can you recall

15 discussing it with your colleague, who I think was

16 a co-handler of yours in other areas, to discuss whether

17 or not it was accurate?

18 A. I can't recall discussing it with him but I am quite

19 sure we did discuss it.

20 Q. Did you receive any other intelligence which might, with

21 hindsight, have had any bearing upon Rosemary Nelson's

22 murder?

23 A. No, the -- Rosemary Nelson was never mentioned in any

24 intelligence report we ever had.

25 Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?

 

 

171


1 A. No.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for coming to give evidence

3 before us.

4 Mr [name redacted], before the witness leaves, would you,

5 please, confirm that all the cameras have been switched

6 off?

7 MR [name redacted]: Yes, sir, they have.

8 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out.

9 Mr Griffin, have you any submission you wish to make

10 to us this afternoon?

11 Application by MR GRIFFIN

12 MR GRIFFIN: Sir, yes. We have lodged with the Inquiry --

13 and I understand it to be circulated to the Full

14 Participants -- an application to be present in the

15 evidence tomorrow of B511, part of which will be in

16 closed hearing.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

18 MR GRIFFIN: There is a fairly detailed written application

19 and I don't think it is helpful for me to go into that

20 level of detail today.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: No.

22 MR GRIFFIN: But may I give you the main points arising from

23 that written application?

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

25 MR GRIFFIN: The main significance of the witness tomorrow,

 

 

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1 B511, is the information he had access to through

2 a source, particularly in relation to a Loyalist bomb

3 maker, and that bomb maker may be the bomb maker in whom

4 the MIT were particularly interested. He also comments

5 on the LVF and redacted personnel within the LVF and he

6 also deals in parts with the MIT itself. And there is

7 a suggestion, for example, that the involvement of the

8 MIT at one stage in a Special Branch operation snipped

9 off that operation. So there is implicit criticism in

10 certain respects of the Murder Investigation Team. But

11 I should say, although there are a number of matters of

12 interest to us, it is particularly the bomb maker.

13 That's the background against which I make this

14 application on behalf of the senior management team.

15 Sir, the ruling in relation to closed hearings from

16 Day 63 is that the witness and his representatives may

17 be present in a hearing and also representatives of the

18 people who own the relevant information. Following the

19 submissions on closed hearings, you and your colleagues

20 decided that the appropriate stance is to remain

21 flexible about allowing other people into closed

22 hearings if they have an interest in those hearings, and

23 subject obviously to this type of application.

24 So we do, for the reasons I have already adverted to

25 and for other reasons I'm about to give, suggest we have

 

 

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1 a keen interest in the evidence of B511 and quite

2 possibly to matters that will be dealt with in closed

3 hearing. Although at the moment there is no indication

4 of precisely what will be covered in the closed hearing,

5 it is probably possible from the nature of the

6 redactions to have a pretty good guess about those

7 areas.

8 The application is that we be allowed to be

9 represented in the closed hearing tomorrow in the form

10 of a barrister and/or solicitor and one member of the

11 senior management team, and we would pick someone with

12 particular knowledge of the bomb maker and of issues

13 surrounding the bomb maker.

14 And the reasons we suggest it is appropriate that we

15 be allowed to be present during the hearing are those

16 reasons that have already been aired when we made the

17 original application in relation to closed hearings and,

18 sir, you have our submissions of 26 September and I'm

19 not going to rehash what I went into already in writing

20 and orally, but in essence it is that the SMT are in

21 a particularly strong position because of the detailed

22 knowledge that they have, to assist the Inquiry with

23 a number of issues in relation to the murder

24 investigation. And we have also suggested that where

25 matters going to the heart of the investigation are

 

 

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1 being discussed, that it would be unfair to exclude the

2 SMT from those discussions.

3 It is on the second page of the application that we

4 have set out in some detail the various areas that we

5 say are highly relevant from the point of view of the

6 Murder Investigation Team. May I say this: we are in

7 real difficulties at the moment because of the nature of

8 the redactions. We don't in any way criticise the

9 redactions, but it is very difficult to formulate

10 questions as we have done on the basis of text from

11 which the primary person's names have been redacted.

12 But we believe that the various matters,

13 particularly of interest to us that will be discussed

14 and may be discussed in closed hearing, relate, as

15 I say, to the bomb maker, to key personalities within

16 the LVF and it is possible that the discussions that are

17 taking place underneath the redactions relate to whether

18 or not certain people were actually involved in the

19 murder or not.

20 I have mentioned criticism of the MIT in relation to

21 a particular Special Branch operation and it may be that

22 in the closed hearing further details will be given

23 about that.

24 And we see in the statement reference to

25 intelligence in which there is an allusion to the

 

 

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1 possibility that members of the Royal Irish Regiment may

2 have been involved in some way -- unspecified way -- in

3 relation to the murder, and the MIT are interested in

4 that evidence as well. Again, it goes to the heart of

5 the investigation. And there is also the question of

6 whether relevant intelligence has been passed on to the

7 Murder Investigation Team.

8 That's my summary really of all of those matters

9 that are listed there.

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Presumably you can help us on this,

11 Mr Griffin.

12 MR GRIFFIN: Yes.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Did the SMT, and those members of the SMT who

14 were given intelligence, keep a register of the

15 intelligence that was provided?

16 MR GRIFFIN: There is a review of all pieces of intelligence

17 that were provided. The manner in which the SMT and MIT

18 received intelligence -- it wouldn't receive

19 intelligence in the form of the documents that you and

20 all of us have now seen within the bundles; it might be

21 conveyed to the MIT in a number of different ways. And

22 it is a question of reviewing the various different ways

23 in which the intelligence was received, and that review

24 is underway and is now incorporating the various

25 documents that have been disclosed as part of the

 

 

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1 Inquiry.

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Was a contemporary record made of the

3 intelligence that was divulged to Mr Port's team

4 contemporaneously with the supply of the intelligence?

5 MR GRIFFIN: Within a few months of the commencement of the

6 investigation, the intelligence cell was up and running

7 and intelligence would have been received there.

8 In relation to a specific register or some log in

9 which intelligence would have been documented, as far as

10 it came in, I would have to take instructions about

11 that.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: I see, yes.

13 MR GRIFFIN: There is no central log of the type that

14 perhaps you were discussing, but there is certainly

15 a record of each piece of intelligence that was received

16 by the investigation team.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Yes?

18 MR GRIFFIN: What I have done then, I hope, is to summarise

19 the various ways in which the MIT have an interest in

20 the evidence of B511 and particularly the matters that

21 might be raised in closed hearing tomorrow. And it is

22 for all of those reasons that we would ask that we be

23 permitted access.

24 Is there anything else I can assist with? I am

25 happy to.

 

 

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1 THE CHAIRMAN: No. Thank you, Mr Griffin.

2 MR GRIFFIN: Thank you.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Is there any other counsel for the Full

4 Participants who wish to say anything?

5 MR DORAN: Can I just say that I wasn't anticipating that

6 the application would be made orally at this point in

7 time.

8 What I will say is that it may well be that the PSNI

9 would wish to make a response to the application. Now,

10 I understand that time is tight, sir, given that the

11 witness is scheduled to give evidence tomorrow. I

12 would, however, ask for the opportunity of submitting

13 written submissions to the Panel this evening and I

14 would, therefore, ask the Panel to wait until the

15 morning before making any final decision in the matter.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: When were you supplied with Mr Griffin's

17 submission?

18 MR DORAN: As I recall, I was supplied with his submission

19 yesterday, sir.

20 THE CHAIRMAN: I see.

21 MR DORAN: But as far as I am aware, this is the first time

22 we are in this territory, so to speak, and certainly it

23 would be unfortunate if there are points to be made to

24 the Panel, if those points weren't effectively made

25 prior to the Panel arriving at its decision. And I

 

 

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1 would hope that the Panel wouldn't be greatly

2 inconvenienced if those were passed through this

3 evening.

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank Mr Doran.

5 Anything you wish to say?

6 MR ROBINSON: No, sir.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr O'Hare?

8 MR O'HARE: Sir, basically I think I indicated on a previous

9 occasion that we are very much with the MIT in this

10 application and these applications generally.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr Harvey?

12 MR HARVEY: I have nothing.

13 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Anything you wish to

14 say, Mr Skelton?

15 MR SKELTON: No, sir.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. We will adjourn and consider the

17 application.

18 Mr Doran, we don't propose to hear any more oral

19 submissions, but if you have any written submission to

20 us, the sooner you could get it to us, the better. We

21 will not leave this building before, I will say, half

22 past five. That should give you some time to prepare

23 heads of submission if not pages and pages of argument.

24 MR DORAN: Yes, indeed, sir. I am obliged to the Panel for

25 affording me that opportunity.

 

 

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1 THE CHAIRMAN: And we will give our decision in the morning.

2 MR DORAN: Yes, sir. Sir, if it is not possible to put in

3 the full submissions by that time, I will ensure that

4 they are conveyed by email this evening at some juncture

5 so that at least the Panel will have the opportunity of

6 considering them.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

8 We will adjourn until 10.15 in the morning.

9 (4.10 pm)

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

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1 I N D E X

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B597 (sworn) ..................................... 2
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Questions by MR PHILLIPS ..................... 2
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Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN ........... 102
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Questions by THE CHAIRMAN .................... 103
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B625 (sworn) ..................................... 105
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Questions by MR SKELTON ...................... 105
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Application by MR GRIFFIN ........................ 171
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