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Hearing: 12th November 2008, day 75

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ROSEMARY NELSON

PUBLIC INQUIRY

 

 

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


on Wednesday, 12 November 2008
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

1 Wednesday, 12 November 2008

2 (10.15 am)

3 MR TONY MCCUSKER (sworn)

4 Questions by MISS BROWN

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Miss Brown?

6 MS BROWN: Mr McCusker, can you just give the Panel your

7 full name, please?

8 A. My full name is Anthony McCusker, but I am more known as

9 Tony McCusker.

10 Q. Your statement appears at page RNI-813-462 of the bundle

11 (displayed). You will see it there. And if we can just

12 flick forward to the last page of that, which is

13 RNI-813-462 (displayed) -- I think the screen is already

14 ahead of me -- you'll see your signature there.

15 Can you just confirm that that statement is your

16 evidence and that it is true to the best of your

17 knowledge and belief?

18 A. Yes, that's correct.

19 Q. Now, just going through briefly a bit of your career

20 history, you commenced work for Mo Mowlam, I think,

21 in February 1998 just prior to the

22 Good Friday Agreement, and that was a result of her

23 personally headhunting you. Can you just explain

24 a little more detail about that, please?

25 A. I'm not sure of the background to her headhunting me. I

 

 

2

 

1 think she had found that it was difficult to get some

2 actions taken within the Civil Service generally and she

3 had wanted someone who would work close to her to try

4 and move things along quicker.

5 My understanding was that she had asked Maurice

6 Hayes, who was a former private secretary in one of the

7 Government departments, about someone and he had

8 suggested me. So she asked me at an event one evening

9 whether I would do this and I said I would, but it took

10 a little while for the Civil Service rules to work their

11 way through before I went to work for her.

12 I took up this post, which was given the title of

13 Director of Politics and Coordination, but as a broad

14 sweep it was really as a fixer for many of the issues

15 that Mo wanted to pursue both on the political side and

16 in terms of wider Government policy.

17 Q. So would it be fair -- I think in fact you use the term

18 that you were her fixer?

19 A. That's right.

20 Q. Would it be right that your remit didn't have very set

21 boundaries, but you were in fact her man on the ground?

22 A. That probably describes it fairly well. This was just

23 before the Good Friday Agreement in April 2008, so she

24 was heavily concentrating on the political work, but

25 there were a lot of other issues around in terms

 

 

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1 economic and social policy which she wanted me to make

2 sure that she wasn't losing out on in terms of

3 involvement.

4 Q. Would it be fair to say that in terms of the issues that

5 you were bringing to her attention, a fair amount of

6 discretion was left to you to bring to her attention the

7 issues that you thought were of importance?

8 A. Yes, there was a mixture of things that I brought to

9 her attention, but also issues that were on her desk but

10 she hadn't had an awful lot of time to devote to them.

11 And she would ask me to have a look at them and then

12 discuss them with her before she would make a decision

13 on them.

14 Q. What I'm trying to paint a picture of is, in effect, it

15 was a two-way situation where she was asking you to

16 research things, but you were also bringing to her

17 attention things that you were aware of that she, at

18 a higher level, may not have been aware of without your

19 assistance?

20 A. That's correct.

21 Q. And going back prior to February 1998, could you just

22 give the Panel some indication -- I don't need a full

23 CV, but just some indication of your prior experience

24 and the posts you held prior to working for Mo Mowlam?

25 A. Immediately prior to that I was the Undersecretary in

 

 

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1 the Department of the Environment covering utility

2 issues, water, roads, thing like that. Before 1997, I

3 was director of a major regeneration project in Belfast

4 called Making Belfast Work. That was from the early

5 1990s. And prior to that I was responsible for

6 community relations policy and equality policy. There

7 were a whole lot of other jobs before that, but that

8 takes us a fair way back.

9 Q. You mention in your statement about your background

10 being very local, incredibly local to the issues that we

11 are looking into, particularly, in relation to your

12 evidence, the proximity talks, in that you came from

13 Portadown. Was that something that you felt had any

14 influence in any aspect in your appointment? Was

15 Mo Mowlam aware of that? Was that part of reason she

16 thought you would be of particular assistance?

17 A. I think it was more generally a local person rather than

18 a Portadown person. The Portadown issue only became an

19 issue later on.

20 I think there were two issues: One, I was local

21 and, two, I was a Catholic. And I think she had wanted

22 someone within the wider senior Civil Service who had

23 a view on Catholic/Nationalist issues, and there weren't

24 that many in the Civil Service at that stage. And I was

25 one of the few that brought that background to her

 

 

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1 table.

2 Q. And she was fully aware of that, your background?

3 A. Absolutely.

4 Q. Now, just dealing with your statement of knowledge prior

5 to taking up the post for Mo Mowlam, what was your

6 knowledge of Rosemary Nelson prior to taking up the

7 role?

8 A. None.

9 Q. You had never heard of her name?

10 A. I couldn't be absolutely sure. I may have noted her

11 name in passing in newspapers, but that would have been

12 as much really. I had had no -- there was no business

13 issues that I ever came across her name. It may have

14 been just in generally reading papers, but I can't

15 recall absolutely that I was aware of it.

16 Q. So none of your previous posts had had any contact with

17 her or, in a personal contact, you'd never had any

18 dealings with her as a solicitor?

19 A. No.

20 Q. I think this follows, but just to be absolutely clear,

21 did you have any views of her political leanings or any

22 other assessment of Rosemary Nelson prior to taking up

23 this post?

24 A. No.

25 Q. Now, I want to move to the heart of your evidence as far

 

 

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1 as the Panel are concerned, which is the proximity

2 talks. You describe how they were headed up by

3 David Watkins and Jonathan Powell, and I think it was

4 David Watkins who asked you to become involved. Is that

5 correct?

6 A. That's right.

7 Q. And why did he ask for your involvement?

8 A. It was mainly because of my background in urban

9 regeneration. In the early discussions -- I understood

10 in the early discussions in the proximity talks, the

11 question of a socio-economic package for Portadown and

12 particularly for the Garvaghy Road issue became an issue

13 or was suggested could possibly be an issue and part of

14 any potential deal around the march. So I was invited

15 to join the talks to try and draw up a socio-economic

16 package that could be put to the residents as part of

17 the negotiations.

18 Q. And how did that fit in with your relationship with

19 Mo Mowlam? Presumably you discussed it with her?

20 A. Not immediately. What actually -- it virtually happened

21 overnight. I got a call on the Saturday night. They

22 had had one day of discussions in Armagh and I got

23 a call on the Saturday night from David Watkins asking

24 if I would join the discussions the following day, which

25 I did.

 

 

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1 The following week I was able to explain to Mo what

2 was happening and she had no difficulties with that.

3 Q. I appreciate this is some time ago, but just to try and

4 fix some precision in dates here, what was the date you

5 first became involved; if you can recall the date of

6 that telephone call from David Watkins and, more

7 importantly, the date of the meeting you first attended?

8 A. I can't honestly recall the date. I remember it was

9 some time around the summer of 1998, but I would have to

10 do a bit more research to get the precise date on that.

11 It was one of the early proximity talks that took place

12 in Armagh. I think it was maybe the first one that took

13 place in Armagh.

14 Q. We are not going to get there on a precise date, but in

15 terms of the talks they had already commenced before you

16 became involved?

17 A. Yes, that's right.

18 Q. Now, looking the dates of those meetings, one of the

19 particular areas we are looking at is, as you will be

20 aware, the raising of the security issues for the GRRC.

21 And what I'm interested in is what your knowledge is of

22 how much those issues had been debated prior to your

23 involvement?

24 A. I don't think I can honestly answer that question, but

25 my only comment would be that in the meetings I attended

 

 

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1 it tended to be raised sort of almost ritualistically by

2 the residents in terms of an issue and dealt with to

3 a certain extent ritualistically by the

4 Northern Ireland Office. And I assumed that that had

5 been going on in previous meetings as well, but there

6 was no discussion of the security issues -- when

7 I joined there was no discussions specifically about the

8 security issues.

9 Q. So you weren't given a briefing prior to becoming

10 involved -- were you given any briefing at all prior --

11 A. No.

12 Q. And no briefing on the security issues insofar as they

13 had been raised?

14 A. I think my involvement initially was on the

15 socio-economic side of it, but over time I gradually

16 migrated towards a wider involvement in the talks

17 because there was almost a team that developed around

18 the talks, so it became a wider issue than just the

19 development of a socio-economic package. But I don't

20 recall us having any specific discussion outside the

21 meetings about security issues.

22 Q. But just so I am clear and it is clear for the

23 transcript, your evidence is that your understanding was

24 security had been raised prior to your becoming

25 involved?

 

 

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1 A. Yes.

2 Q. You say in your statement as well that you were really

3 part of a group approach with David Watkins and

4 Stephen Leach. I take it from that that you worked

5 closely together as a team and shared ideas --

6 A. We had discussions about strategies for the talks and

7 then those were discussed initially with

8 Jonathan Powell, who was leading the talks, and then

9 subsequently with Adam Ingram. But they were

10 discussions mainly about the talks strategy and what the

11 potential was for a deal on the marching issue.

12 Q. And could you just help at all? You have told us a bit

13 about your background and the fact that you were very

14 local to the area. Did that have any impact on the

15 discussions? Were your views sought because of, if you

16 like, your personal background as opposed to your

17 professional background?

18 A. I think initially my background wasn't really known to

19 anyone. The initial reason for my coming on was because

20 of my knowledge of regeneration work.

21 On the day that I joined the talks in Armagh, I had

22 to tell David Watkins and Jonathan Powell that you need

23 to raise my background with both groups because clearly

24 they would find out very quickly that I not only came

25 from Portadown, but actually lived originally in

 

 

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1 a housing estate just off Garvaghy Road. So I would

2 either have been perceived as a close friend by the

3 residents or potentially a threat to the Orange Order.

4 Q. That perception that you were afraid of, were you aware

5 that that was a perception that was in fact taken as the

6 talks progressed or --

7 A. No. On the first day, Jonathan Powell actually raised

8 my involvement with both groups and both groups

9 expressed themselves happy for my involvement.

10 I suspect for completely different reasons, but they

11 both were happy for my involvement to go ahead.

12 Q. And your view was that was a genuine acceptance?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Now, turning to Rosemary Nelson's particular role, could

15 you just expand on how prominent or otherwise

16 Rosemary Nelson was in the talks, as far as you were

17 concerned?

18 A. In the small number of meetings where she was present --

19 and I'm not sure just how many she was present at -- she

20 rarely spoke. In fact, I don't actually remember her

21 speaking at any of the meetings I attended. She was

22 just there as a presence in support of the group and

23 I assume was there to offer them legal advice as and

24 when it was needed.

25 Q. Now, you will probably be aware there has been quite

 

 

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1 a range of evidence as to where she fell within the

2 group. At one extreme, one has a very clearly defined

3 legal adviser, quite separate from the group. You have

4 just used the term "supporter" of the group. Another

5 extreme is that she was very much within the group,

6 bound up very much with their ideology and beliefs, as

7 well as the fact that she was also obviously a lawyer.

8 Where would you have pitched her along that

9 spectrum?

10 A. In most of the discussions, the group would have talked

11 about her in terms of being part the group, but in

12 reality if you look across the range of discussions and

13 meetings that took place with the Residents Coalition,

14 there were very few occasions where she was actually

15 present. So my presumption -- although at that time I

16 didn't really think too much about it, but my

17 presumption was she was there mainly as a legal adviser

18 to the group, but not really a part of the group that

19 was strategising about the march.

20 Q. I'm just going to put to you what Peter Quinn says. He

21 was obviously, you will be aware, the facilitator that I

22 think you recruited to the talks. That's correct,

23 isn't it?

24 A. That's right, yes.

25 Q. And he says in his statement that Rosemary Nelson was

 

 

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1 a main player in the GRRC. She was treated as part of

2 the group, not distinguished from the residents of the

3 Garvaghy Road themselves.

4 A. I think you have to --

5 Q. Did you understand that?

6 A. I think Peter Quinn was working quite close and

7 intimately with the group, whereas our discussions with

8 the group were formal, semi-formal, so we never were

9 able to view her involvement with the group from the

10 same angle.

11 All I can say, in the discussions we had she played

12 a very limited role, wasn't there very much in the

13 formal discussions. But Peter, I would accept, was

14 involved in much more in discussions with the group and

15 probably saw a different role for her there.

16 Q. In effect, if I can just paraphrase your evidence,

17 you're not challenging what Peter Quinn said; you're

18 saying you saw a different aspect because you sat in the

19 more formal meetings?

20 A. That's right.

21 Q. And given that the limited amount Rosemary Nelson

22 contributed -- this may be a difficult question, but I

23 would like you, if you may, to give the opinion you can

24 that you formed of Rosemary Nelson over the course of

25 the proximity talks. And I'm imagining that that

 

 

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1 opinion would be formed not purely by what you directly

2 saw of her in meetings, but any surrounding

3 conversations, briefings, debriefings outside the

4 meetings?

5 A. There really weren't any of those. In the discussions

6 we had with the residents group, they were dominated

7 almost totally by Breandan Mac Cionnaith and there was

8 little or no sort of side bar conversations either

9 before or after the meetings. So it was impossible, you

10 know, to arrive at an opinion about her, her role, and

11 what impact she was having on the group itself.

12 Q. Did you ever have cause to speak to her specifically on

13 legal issues or to have any involvement with her

14 directly?

15 A. No.

16 Q. Now, in some of the evidence this Inquiry has been

17 hearing, there has been suggestions of Rosemary Nelson

18 overstepping the mark in terms of involvement with her

19 client; that is, becoming too involved with her clients,

20 too bound up in their causes, if you like.

21 Is that something you can comment on in respect of

22 what you saw of Rosemary Nelson and her dealings with

23 the GRRC?

24 A. It is difficult to say. Given the nature of what is

25 happening in relation to the march, I hadn't really

 

 

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1 thought it unusual that a prominent lawyer would

2 associate themselves with something like that. It

3 happened in other circumstances where lawyers would

4 attach themselves to particular issues and particular

5 causes. It wasn't something that I found that

6 remarkable.

7 Q. Did you, for example, know what Rosemary Nelson's

8 religious background was, whether she was Catholic or

9 Protestant?

10 A. I probably made an assumption she might have been

11 a Catholic, but I didn't know and I had no cause to

12 think about it at that stage anyway.

13 Q. The Inquiry have also heard evidence about rumours or

14 suggestions both of suggestions of paramilitary links or

15 of a relationship that she had, a non-professional

16 relationship, with Colin Duffy. Were those rumours that

17 had ever reached your ears?

18 A. I think as I said earlier in relation to general

19 knowledge, I may have been aware of things that were

20 being said in the newspapers, but beyond that, no. And

21 there had certainly been no discussions around the

22 fringes of any of these meetings about her or her

23 background.

24 Q. Can I just press you on that? You may have been aware

25 from press reports. What I want to know is what in fact

 

 

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1 you were aware of and the source of that information,

2 albeit newspapers. But where there had been things

3 being said in the press and what was your knowledge, or

4 what impression you had formed from reading articles and

5 such like?

6 A. To be honest, I'm not sure I can. It is so far back,

7 all I can recollect -- you would have seen some

8 references in newspapers about Rosemary, but to the

9 extent of what they covered and what the impression was

10 on me at that stage, I find it just difficult to say, to

11 be honest.

12 Q. Now, turning to the GRRC and their concerns regarding

13 security. You have mentioned already that the issue of

14 protection came up at the talks. We don't need this on

15 the screen, but if you will just take it from me what

16 Joseph Duffy says in his statement -- and for the

17 transcriber's note, it is RNI-804-038, is the reference.

18 He says that the GRRC:

19 "... asked many times for protection and we were

20 asking Tony McCusker for this constantly."

21 Is that an accurate portrayal of the situation?

22 A. No, it's inaccurate. As I said earlier, in the talks

23 that I was involved in, they were raised in virtually

24 every meeting about security issues to the NIO. And I

25 think, as I said somewhere in my statement, the

 

 

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1 Residents Coalition and Breandan Mac Cionnaith in

2 particular were fully aware that I was not part of the

3 NIO, that I sort of existed in this central ground

4 between the Northern Ireland Civil Service and

5 Northern Ireland Office and had no responsibility for

6 security issues.

7 In fact, I have to say that Joe Duffy rarely, if

8 ever, contributed to any of the discussions in any of

9 the meetings. So whether he was saying that that was an

10 issue raised by other people at the meeting, but

11 certainly he never did it.

12 Q. Just in answer to your question, you're exposing things

13 that I should have covered in the background section,

14 you have spoken about and, in fact, you mention in your

15 statement this middle ground, that you were in effect

16 the interface, I think is the word you use, between the

17 NIO and the local Civil Service. Can you just explain

18 that a bit more to the uninitiated?

19 A. Well, the Northern Ireland Office exists as --

20 essentially as a Whitehall department, but the

21 Northern Ireland Civil Service and the departments

22 retained a separate identity following the promulgation

23 of the Stormont Parliament in 1972.

24 What used to be the old Cabinet Office of the

25 Stormont regime became what known as Central

 

 

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1 Secretariat, and its responsibilities were working to

2 the Head of the Civil Service to coordinate the work of

3 the six Government departments at that stage, but also

4 to act as the intermediary between the

5 Northern Ireland Office and essentially the civilian

6 departments. So although we had lot of contact with the

7 Northern Ireland Office, our position was very clearly

8 within the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

9 But when I went to work for Mo Mowlam, although I

10 was technically attached to Central Secretariat, in

11 effect I was working very, very closely with the

12 Northern Ireland Office on both this issue and on the

13 development of the political institutions.

14 Q. And have you ever in fact worked for the

15 Northern Ireland Office?

16 A. No.

17 Q. And again, a question I should have really set out at

18 the beginning: what is your position now?

19 A. I retired earlier from the Civil Service in 2005 and I

20 had a range of -- I chair a number of public bodies and

21 do occasional work that people ask me to do that pays me

22 something, but it is mainly voluntary and public sector.

23 For example, I chair the Community Relations Council and

24 a large community endowment organisation called the

25 Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.

 

 

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1 Q. So you have never, either prior to or subsequent to

2 Rosemary Nelson's death, actually been an employee of

3 the NIO?

4 A. That's right.

5 Q. Thank you. Now, turning back to where we were on the

6 issue of protection for the GRRC, you disagree, I think,

7 that it was something that was specifically raised with

8 you or raised with you constantly, as Joe Duffy puts it?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Now, at paragraph 11 -- and maybe we can have this up on

11 the screen -- RNI-813-444 (displayed) of your

12 statement -- it is at the bottom of that page -- it says

13 that you recall concerns regarding the security of the

14 members being raised from an early stage.

15 I just want to ask you who it was that you recall

16 raising that issue. You recall it being raised. How do

17 you recall raised it?

18 A. As I said in that particular paragraph, typically it

19 would be Breandan Mac Cionnaith who would raise the

20 issue at the meetings. To have been honest, at

21 virtually all meetings we had with the residents,

22 Breandan Mac Cionnaith was the only speaker. Most of

23 the other residents essentially were just there, but

24 didn't actually contribute to the discussions. So

25 Breandan Mac Cionnaith would normally raise the issue of

 

 

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1 security at meetings.

2 Q. And it has a phrase we have heard a great deal about,

3 "security concerns were raised". In layman's terms,

4 what were the concerns? What were the security

5 concerns? What were people actually afraid of?

6 A. There were a number of issues raised. There was

7 a general fear that because of their prominence in the

8 talks around Drumcree, that they were so well known that

9 they were open to attack from a variety of sources.

10 I mean, Breandan Mac Cionnaith would talk at times,

11 for example, that none of the residents group felt safe

12 walking anywhere in the centre of Portadown, that they

13 couldn't walk the centre of Portadown at any time, day

14 or night, and also at various times during the meetings

15 he did raise the issue of Rosemary Nelson's security, as

16 an exemplar of the sorts of things that were happening

17 in terms of threats that were being articulated

18 against her.

19 Q. Just break that down before we come on to

20 Rosemary Nelson, which obviously you will appreciate I'm

21 going to go through in quite a lot more detail. But

22 just in terms of Breandan Mac Cionnaith expressing the

23 concerns of the GRRC, I want to break it down into,

24 first of all, the risk of walking home at night and so

25 on, that was to all members of the GRRC coalition?

 

 

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1 A. He would have expressed it in those terms, but I suspect

2 that not all of the members of the Coalition would have

3 been well known and would have been recognised visually

4 as they were walking around the town. But certainly

5 people like Breandan Mac Cionnaith, Rosemary Nelson,

6 probably to a lesser extent Joe Duffy, would have been

7 the key people who would have been recognised if they

8 had walked anywhere around Portadown. And I think in

9 discussions with Breandan Mac Cionnaith from time to

10 time he had articulated that quite a lot of the group

11 did their socialising, shopping and so forth in other

12 towns close to Portadown rather than Portadown itself.

13 Q. I appreciate it is not a scientific art, but there you

14 are putting, if one's going in a one, two, three basis,

15 Breandan Mac Cionnaith at the top, Rosemary Nelson

16 second and then Joe Duffy shortly after?

17 A. That would be right.

18 Q. And the threats, again just to be clear, those are

19 threats from Loyalist paramilitaries or were there

20 concerns in terms of the security forces?

21 A. It was never raised specifically where the threats would

22 emanate from and certainly there was nothing raised in

23 terms of specific threats by the security forces. I

24 think it tended to be either the -- a general reaction

25 from people in Portadown to Mac Cionnaith and people

 

 

21

 

1 associated with the group and more specifically Loyalist

2 organisations.

3 Q. Because, as I say, my assumption reading that, security

4 concerns, is that the concerns were coming from the

5 threat from Loyalist paramilitaries. I just want to be

6 correct that I'm reading that in the right way, that

7 that is where they perceived the threat to be coming

8 from?

9 A. I think that is the main threat that they perceived,

10 yes.

11 Q. Now, I just want to go back through the history a little

12 bit about the security concerns which had been raised,

13 and on my analysis I think this was previous to your

14 involvement. And what I want to know is whether you

15 were aware of these concerns being raised.

16 Now, on the 11 July 1998, which our understanding is

17 this is the first time security was raised by the GRRC

18 and that was in relation to the fact that they wanted an

19 Army escort home on 11 July 1998 -- now, my

20 understanding is you weren't involved in the proximity

21 talks at that time, on 11 July?

22 A. I think that's right.

23 Q. Can you confirm that.? Were you aware about that

24 request for an Army escort home?

25 A. No, it is the first time I heard about that one.

 

 

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1 Q. Now, moving forward to 18 July 1998, our understanding

2 is that's when Breandan Mac Cionnaith asked the RUC to

3 meet him to discuss personal protection, and I don't

4 think we need to go to this, but the reference for those

5 taking a note is RNI-305-132, which is a memo concerning

6 that. And there was a view that he was asking about his

7 personal protection, the RUC's advice, and there was

8 a thought that that may evolve into an application for

9 KPPS. This is just concerning Breandan Mac Cionnaith.

10 Again, my question is were you aware of that?

11 A. No.

12 Q. And as I say, my understanding is you weren't actually

13 involved with the talks of 18 July, but can you confirm

14 that?

15 A. I think that's probably right, but I would need to check

16 back on the dates and confirm that later, if I may.

17 Q. Could you just confirm to us by letter following up the

18 date that you became involved?

19 Then moving forward to 21 July, this was an occasion

20 when Breandan Mac Cionnaith -- again, our understanding

21 is -- raised the issue of security for members. GRRC

22 with Jonathan Powell, and again the reference for those

23 taking a note, without any need to bring it up on the

24 screen, I think, is RNI-305-136 and RNI-305-140.

25 He wanted -- Breandan Mac Cionnaith, this is -- to

 

 

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1 meet with the NIO, and it was this request that in fact

2 led to a meeting with Steven McCourt, meeting

3 Breandan Mac Cionnaith on 23 July 1998. My next

4 question is whether you were aware of that meeting, that

5 a meeting had gone on --

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. -- between Steven McCourt and Breandan Mac Cionnaith?

8 A. No.

9 Q. May I take it that this is the first you are aware of it

10 now?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Going back to where I cut you off rather relating to the

13 threats and you said Breandan Mac Cionnaith did speak

14 about Rosemary Nelson as an exemplar of the type of

15 threats received, I think is the phrase you use in your

16 statement, I would like to know in as much detail as you

17 can give in what ways she was raising an example,

18 i.e. what the examples were and, as much as you can

19 recall, the words he was using to describe the threats

20 that she had received?

21 A. Okay. My recollection is that he raised two issues by

22 way of example with Rosemary Nelson, one being reference

23 to a leaflet that was in circulation, which apparently

24 contained a threat. I don't think I ever actually saw

25 this leaflet, but he had referenced this in meetings and

 

 

24

 

1 he had also referenced something that was said to him by

2 security forces at some of the protests as issues around

3 her security.

4 Q. Now, just going back to what you said about the security

5 forces. Any more detail on that? Did you subsequently

6 investigate what those threats were?

7 A. No, I think -- my position in a sense on those parts of

8 the discussions was I was at the meeting, but I was

9 there for a specific purpose, initially in relation to

10 the socio-economic package. That dialogue was

11 essentially one between Breandan Mac Cionnaith and the

12 Northern Ireland Office officials, David Watkins and

13 Stephen Leach. So my understanding would be that they

14 would note -- and I think I have said this in my

15 statement -- they would note what was actually said,

16 offer to raise it with the police and get back to the --

17 to Mac Cionnaith at a subsequent meeting.

18 What happened after the meeting in terms of

19 discussions or memos between the NIO officials and the

20 police and the security forces, I was totally unaware

21 of. I wasn't involved in any of that. I didn't hear of

22 any of the discussions or see any of the correspondence.

23 Q. I think you have answered my next two questions, but I

24 have been asked to put them to you specifically so I

25 will, if only to record a negative. The question is

 

 

25

 

1 whether you were aware that Steven McCourt, after his

2 visit on 23 July that I was talking to you about, that

3 was at the request of Breandan Mac Cionnaith, our

4 understanding is Breandan Mac Cionnaith undertook to fax

5 the details of the Coalition partners whom he considered

6 to be at risk, and that was a fax that was never sent by

7 Breandan Mac Cionnaith.

8 I'm assuming from your last answer that you had no

9 knowledge of either the request, failure to fax or any

10 of that background?

11 A. No, first time I have heard of that.

12 Q. I suspect your answer will be the same, but I will ask

13 it for the record: were you aware that Steven McCourt,

14 subsequent to the meeting, this meeting on 23 July,

15 asked RUC Security Branch for a threat assessment

16 concerning Mac Cionnaith and Duffy on 24 July? And the

17 reference, for those taking a note, without any need to

18 put it on the screen, is RNI-305-152.

19 So the question is were you aware that a threat

20 assessment was requested by McCourt in relation to

21 Mac Cionnaith and Duffy?

22 A. No.

23 Q. Now, going back to the security requests for members of

24 the GRRC, who did you consider to be the members that

25 security was being requested for? Obviously at one

 

 

26

 

1 extreme one would have just Breandan Mac Cionnaith; at

2 the other, one would have every member of the GRRC

3 coalition.

4 You have mentioned in your top three: Mac Cionnaith,

5 Nelson and Duffy, in that order. I appreciate you are

6 saying you were really observing on these points, but

7 where did you perceive the request to be being made for?

8 The top man, the top three, all of them or something in

9 between?

10 A. It was usually in relation to all of them, and the

11 pattern through those meetings and even in the

12 discussions that you probably will come on to later in

13 terms of the meetings that I had with them, it was in

14 relation to the whole Coalition. But the exemplar that

15 was always raised as -- for discussion was

16 Rosemary Nelson. There was no other examples raised in

17 relation to other individuals about specific threats.

18 Q. And so when we are talking about the whole lot of them,

19 we are talking about what number of people?

20 A. This was always something which was open for discussion,

21 as to what or who was a member of the Coalition because

22 at different meetings, different people appeared.

23 But we, I think, estimated probably there were about

24 12 people who from time to time would appear at the

25 meetings.

 

 

27

 

1 Q. Now, paragraph 12, RNI-813-445. Maybe we could have

2 that on the screen (displayed)? You say that the

3 standard response to security being raised was that

4 David Watkins and/or Stephen Leach would make a note of

5 the issues raised and ask the RUC to advise.

6 Now, that use of a standard response rather suggests

7 that it wasn't looked into as an individual issue, but

8 it was in effect sidelined -- I don't know. Use your

9 own words as to how it was dealt with by Watkins and

10 Leach?

11 A. I think that would be taking it too far. All I could

12 observe was what actually happened at the meetings.

13 What happened subsequent to the meetings, I don't know

14 whether, after each meeting, the NIO, Watkins or

15 Stephen Leach, would again refer the discussions to the

16 security forces for comment. I just don't know what

17 happened subsequent to each meeting.

18 But in general conversation or observing what was

19 said at subsequent meetings, there seemed to me

20 a standard response was that the response from the

21 security forces was that there was no specific threat to

22 any member of the Coalition, including the three that

23 I have mentioned.

24 Q. Because the phrase you use, that their standard response

25 was they would make a note of the issues raised and ask

 

 

28

 

1 the RUC to advise, suggests that the NIO response was

2 really to say, "This is an RUC issue, we will have speak

3 to them". Is that a fair characterisation of what you

4 were observing?

5 A. That's fair.

6 Q. And I think there is no doubt about this, but from what

7 you are saying about Rosemary Nelson being used as, I

8 think you said, the only example that there could have

9 been no in your mind or anyone, frankly, at that meeting

10 that whoever was or was not included in the group,

11 Rosemary Nelson certainly was included in the group of

12 those for whom security was being requested?

13 A. That's right.

14 Q. In terms of that protection, again the answer may be

15 that it wasn't gone into detail in the meetings that you

16 were at, but what was your impression as to what was

17 being requested because we are using phrases like

18 "security concerns", "requests for protection", but I'm

19 trying to get at what is meant by those phrases. What

20 were they requesting and what protection were they

21 aiming to get? What was your impression?

22 A. My impression was always that they were aiming to

23 achieve protection in relation to their own homes and

24 security measures around their homes, although not

25 specifically dealt with, but that was always the

 

 

29

 

1 impression.

2 It wasn't to any great extent in terms of having

3 security people police their homes or provide escorts

4 for them going to and from meetings and so forth. It

5 always seemed to be in the area of home protection.

6 Q. And how technical, if I can put it, was

7 Breandan Mac Cionnaith's approach? Was he talking very

8 technically in terms of using expressions like KPPS,

9 showing an awareness of exactly how the organs of

10 Government would work or the RUC to provide that

11 protection, or was he just speaking in terms of

12 protection in a rather general sense?

13 A. I think KPPS would have been mentioned, but the

14 discussion was fairly general. I mean, there wasn't

15 detail about what KPPS involved or what it included. So

16 there might have been mentioning that they wanted

17 something similar to KPPS, but not actually specifying

18 which parts of the deal they particularly wanted.

19 Q. You say as well in your statement -- and this is

20 paragraph 13, which is RNI-813-445 (displayed) -- that

21 the RUC always took the view that there was no threat.

22 Now, your use of "always took the view" suggests

23 that there was a fairly regular dialogue going on

24 between the NIO and the RUC. Is that a fair

25 characterisation --

 

 

30

 

1 A. I think it was -- at each time it was reported back to

2 the meetings, the response, that that was the standard

3 response from the Northern Ireland Office on behalf of

4 the RUC.

5 Q. And what was your actual knowledge of that? Were you

6 ever involved in those discussions with the RUC? Did

7 you see --

8 A. No.

9 Q. -- papers coming from the RUC?

10 A. No.

11 Q. So I take it from that -- maybe if you can just

12 confirm -- that you never saw the threat risk analysis

13 that was completed in relation to Mac Cionnaith and

14 Duffy?

15 A. No, I didn't see it.

16 Q. Maybe we could just have it up on the screen just to

17 confirm your answer there. It is RNI-305-184

18 (displayed). I'm just really putting this document to

19 you to you confirm your negative, but that's not

20 a document you are familiar with, I take it?

21 A. No, I have never seen that document.

22 Q. And you say in paragraph 12 of your statement that you

23 recall that on the basis of RUC assessments, the NIO

24 were dismissive of calls from the members of the GRRC.

25 So I take it from your evidence that you are making

 

 

31

 

1 there a general statement without knowledge specifically

2 of what the RUC assessments were?

3 A. That's right.

4 Q. Now, I think we have established that this is a fairly

5 broad brush understanding rather than based on

6 specifics, but your suggestion is that the NIO had

7 a dismissive attitude towards the security and that that

8 dismissive attitude was based on the police's view, on

9 the RUC view.

10 Now, my question is: what was your assessment of the

11 NIO view, their own view, as to the risk to the GRRC

12 members? And I include, of course, Rosemary Nelson

13 within that. They must have had an independent view.

14 They may have relied on other people's advice, but

15 David Watkins and Leach, who you worked closely with,

16 must have had a view independently, and what I'm asking

17 is if you knew what that view was?

18 A. They never expressed an independent view, and in any

19 discussions I had with them they always took the formal

20 line that that was the position in relation to security

21 advice, and as such there wouldn't be any KPPS cover.

22 So they took quite a formal position on it. And I

23 don't recall David Watkins or Stephen Leach moving

24 beyond that at any stage, even though I might have from

25 time to time added a bit of provocation and said can

 

 

32

 

1 anybody realistically assess that these people aren't

2 under threat, given the nature of Portadown as it was at

3 that particular time.

4 Q. Did you not consider that your role as you outlined at

5 the beginning, as really sort of Mo Mowlam's man on the

6 ground was to press them to see if the NIO did consider

7 if there was a real security threat there?

8 A. The only threat -- the only conversation I can recall was

9 trying to indicate to them what the nature of society

10 was like around Portadown at that particular time and

11 that no one realistically could have said that they

12 aren't under threat within that society.

13 Q. Because you say -- and I think we are coming to the same

14 point, and this is paragraph 13 at RNI-813-445

15 (displayed) -- that:

16 "Common sense would have dictated that due to their

17 public profiles, Mac Cionnaith and Rosemary Nelson were

18 both under threat, and this would have been the view of

19 the man in the street."

20 That's what you are talking about, is it?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. And you, I think it is known, and we have seen from the

23 fact that Mo Mowlam wanted specifically to recruit you,

24 were known as an independent thinker, if I can put it

25 like that, and also had the advantage of local

 

 

33

 

1 understanding, which I suspect was better than most.

2 What, if you could help the Panel -- and this would

3 assist them -- was your personal view of the risk to

4 Rosemary Nelson?

5 A. I have to say I didn't specifically think about the risk

6 to Rosemary. To be honest, I would have viewed the risk

7 to Breandan Mac Cionnaith as being higher than

8 Rosemary Nelson because of Mac Cionnaith's very public

9 profile. I mean, he had a huge public profile around

10 there. So I would have argued the case that there was

11 bound to be a threat. Even though there might not have

12 been a specific threat, I can't believe that a Loyalist

13 organisation or even people within the Portadown

14 district, if they had seen Mac Cionnaith, would have

15 endangered him and I suspect the same would have been

16 true of Rosemary Nelson.

17 Q. Now, I think you said you were aware of the pamphlet

18 that we have been referring to in this Inquiry as the

19 "Man Without a Future" pamphlet, but that you didn't see

20 it.

21 Can we just have it up on the screen, just to see if

22 that does spark anything in your memory? It is

23 RNI-106-289 (displayed). That's not a document that you

24 recall seeing at the time.

25 Can I just go to paragraph 15 of your statement?

 

 

34

 

1 Sorry to jump around, to those on the technology side.

2 This is RNI-813-446 (displayed). Paragraph 15, the last

3 line of that. This is talking about this leaflet:

4 "I was not shown the leaflets."

5 Looking at the last sentence:

6 "However, I would have thought that there is a world

7 of difference between the distribution of a leaflet and

8 specific threats being directed at someone."

9 And I have just been asked if you could expand

10 a little on what you mean by that, the difference

11 between the leaflet and a specific threat?

12 A. I think this is probably not a great way of expressing

13 what I think I was trying to get at in that. I think

14 the discussion in relation to the affidavit, it was

15 around whether -- this distinction between a general

16 threat to people and a very specific one. And I think I

17 was simply making the point that the existence of the

18 leaflet -- because there were a lot of leaflets in

19 circulation about a variety of things around that

20 particular time, whether it was in Portadown or Belfast

21 or wherever. I wouldn't have taken that as a specific

22 or dedicated threat being directed at someone and it was

23 simply an explanation of the difference. I don't think

24 it was any more than that.

25 Q. Whilst we are dealing with specific threats, did you

 

 

35

 

1 have any knowledge of any specific threat notes to

2 Rosemary Nelson, threats along the line of that she

3 personally was going to be attacked, killed?

4 A. No.

5 Q. No knowledge because you had never seen them or because

6 they were never raised in any discussion at all?

7 A. They were never raised in any discussion at all. As

8 I said before, the examples that were raised were in

9 relation to the leaflets in circulation rather than the

10 existence of a specific threat.

11 Q. And I think you said as well the threats that were

12 coming from the security forces?

13 A. Yes, those were referenced, yes.

14 Q. And we have heard some evidence previously in this

15 Inquiry about an alleged assault of Rosemary Nelson at

16 Garvaghy Road in 1997. That was by police officers who

17 were on duty forming one of the cordons at the protest.

18 Was that something that you were aware of or was ever

19 raised?

20 A. I don't think it was raised specifically in the

21 meetings, but I had been aware of it, okay.

22 Q. And how did that awareness ...?

23 A. I think probably just in terms of general media

24 coverage.

25 Q. But not something you discussed with David Watkins or

 

 

36

 

1 Stephen Leach?

2 A. No.

3 Q. So if I can just summarise where your knowledge is at

4 this stage in relation to the threat of Rosemary Nelson,

5 you have talked about your, if you like, common sense

6 overview, you have talked about the knowledge of a

7 leaflet although you don't recall ever having specific

8 sight of that, but the knowledge that there was

9 a leaflet circulating that at least referred to

10 Rosemary Nelson in derogatory terms?

11 A. That's right.

12 Q. Is that the best characterisation? And you were aware

13 that there had been media coverage that she had been

14 allegedly assaulted in 1997?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. By police, by the RUC?

17 A. Hm-mm.

18 Q. And I'm not sure I am quite clear in what you thought to

19 be the risk that she faced or was alleged to have faced

20 from the security forces. What was that?

21 A. I'm not sure I sort of assessed it in my own mind. All

22 I can reference is that it was mentioned in terms of

23 when the security issues were raised as a concern, an

24 example of the type of issue that she was contending

25 with and that, effectively, constituted a threat to her.

 

 

37

 

1 Q. And security forces obviously -- it comes as a wider --

2 threat from whom in particular? Are we talking the Army

3 or the RUC here?

4 A. It was used as a broad term, but I would have taken it

5 more specifically to mean the police rather than the

6 Army.

7 Q. Because I don't know if you are aware, but we have heard

8 quite a lot evidence in this Inquiry about threats to

9 Rosemary Nelson allegedly coming through her clients,

10 that is RUC officers saying to her clients that their

11 solicitor would soon be dead and comments that of ilk.

12 Now, is that what you understood? Did you have that

13 level of detail?

14 A. Not in the context of those discussions, those issues

15 were never raised in those discussions. I mean, I

16 think -- I can't remember specifically, but I think I

17 can recall media references to some of that and I have

18 also seen in Peter Quinn's statement his references to

19 it in relation to a particular client. But beyond that,

20 there was no discussion about threats issued in relation

21 to particular clients in the context of the Drumcree

22 discussions.

23 Q. So just getting back to your state of knowledge, is it

24 fair to say that you had an awareness that there was an

25 allegation of threats being made to Rosemary Nelson by

 

 

38

 

1 the RUC through her clients?

2 A. I would probably have been aware -- at what point in

3 time I was aware, I couldn't guarantee, but I would

4 probably have been aware of it from media coverage.

5 Q. And just to make it absolutely clear for the note, we

6 are talking about pre-murder here?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Now, given that state of knowledge -- and, as I say,

9 maybe most powerfully what you describe as your common

10 sense view of Rosemary Nelson -- was that anything that

11 you thought you ought to raise with Stephen Leach or

12 David Watkins or, indeed, directly with the RUC for that

13 matter? That when this issue of security was being

14 raised, you should put forward your view that in fact

15 her risk was maybe not as great as Mac Cionnaith, as you

16 saw it, but followed after Mac Cionnaith?

17 A. Not specifically in relation to Rosemary Nelson. I

18 think, as I said earlier, in side discussions with

19 Stephen Leach and David Watkins, I would have

20 articulated the view that it was difficult to perceive

21 there being absolutely no threat to these people.

22 Q. And in relation to trying to look at the whole picture

23 here, the Inquiry is aware that there was also

24 a separate strand of concern about Rosemary Nelson

25 outside her role as the lawyer to the GRRC that was

 

 

39

 

1 being raised by NGOs, an organisation called LAJI. Are

2 you aware of that organisation?

3 A. No.

4 Q. Well, they and an American senator called Torricelli

5 had, in 1997, written letters and I think these have

6 been sent to you in advance to look at?

7 A. Yes, I have seen it.

8 Q. Suggesting that Rosemary Nelson was subject to death

9 threats, that those threats emanated from the RUC, that

10 they were communicated through clients, that they were

11 becoming more ominous and that the suggestion was -- at

12 least from these Americans -- that this was something

13 which should go as high as the Attorney General. That

14 was in 1997. And that also in 1998 the RUC were

15 independently looking at a threat assessment of

16 Rosemary Nelson.

17 Now, you have seen those documents, so we don't need

18 to look at them again, but was that, if you like, strand

19 of threat against Rosemary Nelson coming through the

20 NGOs and through her role as a defence lawyer, was that

21 something you were aware of any more than you just said,

22 this vague media awareness of threats from the RUC?

23 A. No, and it didn't emerge in the context of the

24 discussions, any discussions there were about security

25 concerns. Those issues weren't raised or those

 

 

40

 

1 representations weren't raised.

2 Q. Because I appreciate that we now stand with the vast

3 advantage of hindsight, but it does appear that in the

4 Government levels, these two strands -- the strand of

5 Rosemary Nelson at risk in her role with the GRRC, and

6 the at risk as a defence lawyer and concerns that were

7 being separately raised about her -- were never, as it

8 seems, married together by those in the NIO and by those

9 that you were working with close to in the proximity

10 talks.

11 Now you have the advantage of standing somewhat

12 outside that and what would be useful is your

13 explanation, if you have one, or your theories on why

14 that marrying up of those two strands was never made?

15 A. I find it hard to offer an explanation other than it can

16 be the case within governments and government

17 departments that different considerations run in

18 parallel and sometimes don't actually jump across to

19 form a sort of more synergistic view about what is

20 actually happening.

21 All I can say is that the focus in relation to these

22 discussions -- and I was primarily focused on those

23 discussions -- I should say that the discussions in

24 relation to Drumcree were sort of a very small part of

25 what was actually going on politically at that time. So

 

 

41

 

1 there was -- you know, it was -- it was almost -- as

2 well as being a specific issue around solving Drumcree,

3 it was also playing itself into the wider political

4 landscape of, you know, this was something that needed

5 to be sorted out as part of the wider political

6 landscape.

7 I certainly didn't draw any connections -- I wasn't

8 aware of the ongoing debate in relation to her status as

9 a lawyer under threat and the specific threats relating

10 to the Residents Coalition. I just simply didn't draw

11 those across. The reasons why others within the

12 Northern Ireland Office who may or may not have known of

13 the parallel considerations and why they weren't drawn

14 together, I have no real view as to why that didn't

15 happen.

16 Q. Because one view of it could be that it was never, at

17 the proximity talks, really grasped as a serious issue,

18 that is the security of the GRRC -- and I include

19 Rosemary Nelson within that -- was never really looked

20 into in depth as an issue because had it been, it is

21 difficult to see how one wouldn't have unearthed the

22 fact that one of -- and, as you see it, one of the top

23 three members or the top three targets, as you would

24 have perceived it, from the GRRC also had this

25 independent threat, and that could point to the fact

 

 

42

 

1 that no one at proximity talks really had their eye on

2 the security issue. It was simply seen as an obstacle

3 to get over to keep the talks on track.

4 Now, I appreciate you can't see exactly into the

5 mind of the NIO because you are outside it, but you were

6 in the proximity talks and is that a fair

7 characterisation, that no one really ever addressed

8 their mind fully to the actual issue of security of the

9 GRRC?

10 A. I think that's fair.

11 Q. Now, coming on to the KPPS. You had, I think, personal

12 experience of the KPPS as you yourself were covered by

13 the scheme. So that's one aspect of your knowledge of

14 the KPPS, and you deal at paragraph 23, RNI-813-448

15 (displayed), of your statement with the issue of whether

16 Joe Duffy and Breandan Mac Cionnaith should be covered

17 by the KPPS. You refer to a submission by Stephen Leach

18 that was sent to Mo Mowlam. And I think if we can here

19 go to the document -- it is RNI-305-252 (displayed) --

20 which is a memo from Stephen Leach and if we go to the

21 last phrase under the heading "Issue":

22 "The issue is whether ministers are willing to agree

23 expenditure on limited physical security measures at the

24 homes of both councillors outside the scope of the

25 KPPS."

 

 

43

 

1 Now, you were extremely influential in fact in

2 relation to this memo because I think it was you who was

3 instrumental in persuading, ultimately, Mo Mowlam to

4 agree to this despite her initial refusal?

5 A. That's right.

6 Q. The issue, I suppose, at the heart of this group of

7 questions for you is why was it that at that point

8 when -- as I say, I don't want to go back over what you

9 knew about the threat to Rosemary Nelson and where you

10 positioned her as a risk, which, as you said, you put as

11 higher than Joe Duffy -- why was it that at this stage,

12 you, or if not you, then someone else, raised the issue

13 that Rosemary Nelson should be considered amongst this

14 group.

15 As I say, you were instrumental in getting the

16 security for Duffy and Mac Cionnaith. Why did you not

17 raise the fact that, in your view, Rosemary Nelson

18 should be included within that memo?

19 A. At the time when this emerged, I wasn't actually aware

20 that this submission was being made to the Secretary of

21 State. I wasn't copied in on the actual submission.

22 And the Northern Ireland Office -- my understanding of

23 their position in a sense is that they were drawing

24 a distinction between elected representatives and other

25 members of the Coalition, or protest groups. And there

 

 

44

 

1 were quite a few protest groups around Northern Ireland

2 at that particular point.

3 So they essentially were categorising

4 Rosemary Nelson within the context of others, rather

5 than distinguishing. And -- I suppose in fairness to

6 them, in the discussions that we had with the Coalition,

7 Rosemary Nelson was never drawn out as someone who

8 should get protection over and above other members of

9 the Coalition. So she wasn't drawn out of that

10 particular grouping of people. And in the context of

11 this, the only issue that was -- came to me at this

12 particular point in time was the impact -- you have

13 mentioned earlier the impact this would have on the

14 ongoing discussions around Drumcree. And I would have

15 been fairly sure that the refusal of this would

16 eventually wend its way back to the two councillors.

17 David Watkins spoke to me about it and I think you

18 see a note at the top of the paper, and he mentioned it

19 to me and I asked to see a copy of the submission. Then

20 I spoke briefly to Mo after the meeting and said, "Look,

21 I thought this wasn't a good decision", that the issue

22 of security had been raised quite a lot and to turn down

23 these two people would probably have a major impact on

24 the discussions.

25 She then, I think I have said in my statement,

 

 

45

 

1 discussed it again with Adam Ingram, who was the

2 Security Minister. I think they disagreed on the issue,

3 but Mo decided she would go ahead and agree the

4 submission and do that. The issue of Rosemary came up

5 then in the context of the wider protection for the

6 Coalition, not as a specific individual.

7 I mean, I think it could be argued -- and British

8 Irish Rights Watch, you know, have argued that whether

9 we either collectively or individually should have

10 isolated Rosemary Nelson and specific threats to her and

11 done something about it, it is something I have thought

12 long and hard about and I think it is a reasonable point

13 to put to me and others.

14 At that particular time, we were consumed with the

15 talks not only because of the talks themselves but their

16 impact on the wider political assessment. That became

17 sort of the driving issue for resolving issues like

18 this, not the specific threat to an individual.

19 Q. Thank you for that answer. If I can just break it down

20 a little bit, you say Rosemary Nelson, her security was

21 not specifically drawn out, but I think you accept that

22 she was the example used, in fact the only example used.

23 You have put her at number 2. I don't want to keep

24 repeating the points, but that's our starting point.

25 The other factor here is that, as you say, you have

 

 

46

 

1 described the sort of informal relationship you had with

2 Mo Mowlam, as you being her fixer. And, of course, in

3 fact, as it happened, Mac Cionnaith and Joe Duffy were

4 given protection, as the last line of the summary issue

5 states, outside the protection of the KPPS.

6 So we are in a situation where Rosemary Nelson is

7 perceived -- is used as an example. We are outside the

8 formalities of the KPPS and you have, to use

9 a colloquialism, the ear of the Minister. Now, one

10 characteristics of that -- and I appreciate we have the

11 card of hindsight -- this was an opportunity missed

12 because at that point Rosemary Nelson's security could

13 have been put on the table. One will not know what the

14 answer would have been, but should it not have been at

15 least put on the table for consideration by Mo Mowlam?

16 A. That's a fair point to put and in hindsight, you know, I

17 could say that that is the case. But if you recollect,

18 the Coalition itself was not highlighting

19 Rosemary Nelson above any other members of the

20 Coalition. So in terms of the pressure that was coming

21 in to either me or to anyone else involved in the talks,

22 it wasn't very directed. Although she was used as an

23 example, it wasn't directed specifically that her

24 security was paramount above everybody else. So it

25 didn't have that focus by anyone, to be honest, either

 

 

47

 

1 within the Coalition or within those participating in

2 the talks.

3 But you know, it is fair to say that in hindsight it

4 was an opportunity missed. Whether, if I raised it at

5 that particular point in time, you would have got her

6 within that framework is debatable because the

7 difference between this situation and, as I understood

8 it, Rosemary's situation was that both

9 Breandan Mac Cionnaith and Joe Duffy eventually allowed

10 an RUC assessment of their threat assessment. Whereas

11 Rosemary Nelson was adamantly opposed to that.

12 Q. Yes. Thank you. Can I just go then to paragraph 22? I

13 think this is going to then draw to a conclusion this

14 section before I move on to the Joseph Rowntree

15 Foundation, which is paragraph 22 of your statement. It

16 is RNI-813-448 (displayed). Again, this is a point I

17 have been asked to put to you, and the point, I think,

18 relates to really the last sentence in paragraph 22:

19 "I understand that the NIO were concerned not to set

20 a precedent of affording protection to resident groups

21 as a matter of course."

22 And maybe one should just really read the sentence

23 before that as well:

24 "There was, however, a determination from the NIO

25 that nobody else within the GRRC would be afforded

 

 

48

 

1 protection, including Rosemary Nelson."

2 Bearing in mind with Duffy and Mac Cionnaith we have

3 managed to break out of the strictures of the KPPS, that

4 suggests, on one view anyway, a rather inflexible

5 approach and a failure to consider security in relation

6 to an individual, which presumably security always comes

7 down to, the situation of the individual. And I just

8 wondered if you could expand on your words there?

9 A. I think it was -- the cloak for the NIO on this was the

10 elected representative part of it as being a justifiable

11 rationale for giving them protection because there were

12 a number of -- clearly a number of politicians who had

13 protection without there being a specific threat or

14 knowledge of a specific threat.

15 I think the position was taken probably taken

16 here -- although I'm making an assumption here -- that

17 because Rosemary Nelson was bracketed with all the

18 others within the Coalition and not specifically put

19 forward as a specific case by the Coalition, she fell

20 within that broader approach of not actually bringing in

21 the wider Coalition on the basis that if you did it in

22 relation to Garvaghy Road, you would do it in relation

23 to other protest groups, Ormeau Road and other places as

24 well, and there was a determination that that shouldn't

25 happen.

 

 

49

 

1 Q. And again, I appreciate I'm rather straying into the

2 area of speculation here, but in relation to

3 Rosemary Nelson I think what you are saying is that she

4 came into the other category. There was elected

5 councillors and there was others, of which she was the

6 example?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. But presumably, had, as I say, this tying up been done

9 of the fact that in fact there was a whole separate

10 standard of risk to Rosemary Nelson and had you been

11 aware of that, would that, do you think now, if you can

12 speculate, have affected your judgment if you had been

13 briefed on that?

14 Your approach when you went to Mo Mowlam, would you

15 have felt that that was something that you ought to, as

16 her ear on the ground, bring to her attention, that one

17 of the other members, Rosemary Nelson, had, if you like,

18 a double aspect to her security?

19 A. I think that might have been the case. I think the

20 situation might have been totally different if the

21 Coalition had been saying to us that here are three

22 people who absolutely must get security protection over

23 everyone else.

24 That wasn't the position that was being taken, and

25 as I said earlier, I was focused more on moving the

 

 

50

 

1 talks along rather than anything else. So you were

2 trying to deal with the issues that we perceived to be

3 inhibiting the talks and the Coalition didn't

4 specifically raise Rosemary as an individual issue that

5 had to be resolved in terms of protection as

6 a pre-condition for the talks continuing.

7 Q. Thank you.

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can I just clarify my thinking around

9 what you have told us?

10 You were asked whether security was ever really

11 addressed, and it was suggested to you that no one ever

12 had really addressed their minds fully to security

13 within the talks, and your response was, "I think that

14 that's fair".

15 That leaves with me feeling that the emphasis was on

16 the political agenda here, moving things along, and that

17 the constant reference to security by Mac Cionnaith and

18 the perceived failure to respond to that was a block.

19 Is that fair? A block to the talks continuing?

20 A. That's probably fair, yes.

21 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: In a positive way. So would it be fair

22 to say that had Rosemary Nelson's name been included

23 with the other two for security, it would have been for

24 political reasons, not for security reasons?

25 A. I think it is more likely that the reason why she wasn't

 

 

51

 

1 included in that particular submission was more that

2 they could articulate a case around the political

3 position of Mac Cionnaith and Duffy. Once you strayed

4 into other territories, whether it was lawyers

5 representing groups or groups themselves, then it was

6 very hard to define objective criteria for their

7 inclusion in the schemes or schemes -- special

8 approaches that they were talking about here. So I

9 think in reality everybody was focused on the talks.

10 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: On the talks, yes.

11 A. And the perception, I think, of the NIO at that stage

12 was that if Mac Cionnaith and Duffy were included in

13 a protection scheme, that that would unblock all the

14 discussions around the security issues.

15 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So in terms of the talks, Mac Cionnaith

16 and Duffy distinguished themselves out as being the main

17 movers, the main --

18 A. No, I think to be honest that wasn't the case. I think

19 what actually happened was Mac Cionnaith was clearly the

20 main mover; Duffy was only really a side player in the

21 issues and rarely, if ever, spoke at any of the

22 discussions. But he was one of two elected officials on

23 the group. And if your rationale was to cover elected

24 politicians, as I think was driving this, then it would

25 be difficult to include Mac Cionnaith and exclude Duffy.

 

 

52

 

1 So if you boxed it that way, that arrives at

2 Mac Cionnaith and Duffy but not the others, and

3 Rosemary Nelson was at that point in time still

4 perceived in this box of the others.

5 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: The others. Thank you very much.

6 MS BROWN: I'm moving on to a separate topic now, so I don't

7 know if that's a convenient point to break?

8 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr McCusker, we will have a quarter of an

9 hour break to give the stenographer a break. We will

10 say quarter to 12.

11 (11.31 am)

12 (Short break)

13 (11.50 am)

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Miss Brown?

15 MS BROWN: Yes, thank you.

16 Mr McCusker, I'm going to move on to a new topic,

17 but inevitably in the break I have realised there are

18 a few matters I want just to sweep up before we move on

19 to a topic, which is the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

20 Just regarding what we were discussing before the

21 break in terms of the security request for

22 Rosemary Nelson, were you aware as to whether

23 Rosemary Nelson herself had actually personally made any

24 requests to be included, either within or out the KPPS,

25 but personal requests for her security?

 

 

53

 

1 I think you weren't aware, but we know from

2 documents that Breandan Mac Cionnaith, for example, had

3 personally requested to speak to the RUC about

4 protection. But did you know one way or the other

5 whether Rosemary Nelson had herself made any similar

6 requests?

7 A. No.

8 Q. You didn't know one way or the other?

9 A. I just didn't know that she had made that request.

10 Q. I don't think she did, but I'm asking you whether you

11 knew one way or the other?

12 A. No.

13 Q. Just, as well, to sweep up on the KPPS, I'm

14 understanding from your evidence that you didn't have

15 a detailed knowledge of the working of the KPPS because

16 that was in the NIO camp. Is that right?

17 A. Hm-mm.

18 Q. I take it, but if you could confirm, were you aware of

19 the actual guidelines for entry to the KPPS?

20 A. Not in detail. I'd very broad knowledge in terms of

21 threats or whatever, but not in detail, no.

22 Q. And in terms of people being included outside the KPPS,

23 as we saw from that briefing note, it was in fact the

24 case for Duffy and Mac Cionnaith, were you aware of any

25 others that that mechanism was used for, that they, if

 

 

54

 

1 you like, made a request under the KPPS and a provision

2 was found for them outside the KPPS whereby the NIO

3 would fund the security but outside the KPPS scheme?

4 A. No, I wasn't aware of any others. I should say briefly

5 that because of my own admission to the scheme, I knew

6 the detail around my own particular circumstances of how

7 it worked, but I did not know the detail of how the NIO

8 dealt with it.

9 Q. Fine. Thank you very much.

10 Can we move on now to the next part of your

11 statement that deals with the Joseph Rowntree

12 Foundation, and you deal with your input in getting the

13 Joseph Rowntree Foundation involved and the fact that

14 you had a meeting with Mac Cionnaith first to sound out,

15 in effect, as I understand it, whether security measures

16 funded by such an organisation might be acceptable.

17 And just to set the parameters, I think we are

18 looking here now beyond Duffy and Mac Cionnaith to the

19 others and, as we discussed before the break,

20 Rosemary Nelson being part of the others group. Am

21 I correct in my understanding?

22 A. That's right. But it has emerged essentially that

23 Mo Mowlam had cleared Duffy and Mac Cionnaith's

24 inclusion. Mac Cionnaith was then approached about this

25 but then raised the issue of that they wouldn't accept

 

 

55

 

1 it and the talks wouldn't continue unless everybody else

2 was dealt with as well.

3 Q. So in effect, in terms of the block that

4 Sir Anthony Burden was talking about, you had removed

5 the block that was being presented by Duffy and

6 Mac Cionnaith, but you still had the rest and you were

7 seeking to solve that problem?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. And I think you have accepted, but again, just so I'm

10 clear on the transcript, that your overriding concern at

11 this point was to find a way to appease Mac Cionnaith's

12 security concerns, Mac Cionnaith's concerns on behalf of

13 the GRRC, so that the proximity talks could go ahead?

14 A. That's right.

15 Q. Again, I'm rather repeating maybe what Sir Anthony was

16 asking you before the break, but is it a fair

17 characterisation that what was motivating the

18 involvement of the Rowntree Trust or your bringing in of

19 the Rowntree Trust was the continuation of the proximity

20 talks, rather than the perceived risk to the members

21 per se? It was the desire to drive the talks that was

22 the drive factor?

23 A. That's right.

24 Q. And I think in effect you accept that, as you do fairly

25 now in your statement, and it is RNI-813-454, if we

 

 

56

 

1 could have on screen paragraph 40 (displayed), and you

2 say fairly in your statement there:

3 "My main concern had been to ensure the residents'

4 continued involvement in the proximity talks."

5 And again, if you could just confirm that it was

6 yourself who was instrumental in the introduction of the

7 Rowntree Trust providing funding for security; that came

8 from you, did it?

9 A. That's right.

10 Q. Now, you would have been aware, I presume, that the

11 Rowntree Trust was a charitable foundation and couldn't

12 fund political work. I think there are two branches,

13 but the Joseph Rowntree Trust is the charitable side.

14 A. That's right, and at various times I had had connection

15 with the different Joseph Rowntree charities for

16 different purposes, both on the political side and on

17 the charitable side.

18 Q. Again, you deal with this in paragraph 37 of your

19 statement, which is at RNI-813-452 (displayed), that the

20 Rowntree Trust had indicated a willingness to invest in

21 Portadown generally, in both Protestant and Catholic

22 communities?

23 A. That's right.

24 Q. The idea was that in relation to the Catholic community,

25 part of the money would be used for the protection of

 

 

57

 

1 the members --

2 A. That's right.

3 Q. -- of the GRRC. Now, to what extent at this point --

4 and I appreciate I'm asking you to cast your mind back

5 to what your view was at the time -- but to what extent

6 at this point did you consider that there was a genuine

7 security risk to the Coalition members, so

8 Rosemary Nelson and the others?

9 You have accepted, I think, that your motivating

10 force was to move the talks forward, but to what extent

11 was actually what you were doing not simply unblocking a

12 problem, but actually solving what was a genuine

13 security issue?

14 A. I think I had a general impression that there was

15 a security issue for the Coalition and that there were

16 security issues for them and -- I mean, I acknowledge

17 that, but I think you are right in saying that my main

18 focus was getting the talks back on stream by getting

19 that particular block removed, getting the concerns

20 dealt with.

21 Q. And the basis of your conclusion that there was

22 a genuine security risk to Coalition members, as I say,

23 including Rosemary Nelson, what was the basis? What did

24 you form that assessment upon?

25 A. I think it was back to what I said previously in terms

 

 

58

 

1 of just my knowledge of the area, their position in the

2 area, that you couldn't realistically say that they

3 weren't under some threat within the area if they were

4 seen in particular parts of the area.

5 Q. And again, I accept the caveat that we look at this from

6 the advantage point of hindsight, but it doesn't appear

7 that at this stage there was any thorough briefing note,

8 for example, done on what in fact the security risk

9 posed to this group of others was, prior to going to the

10 Rowntree Trust and asking for their financial commitment

11 to security. And that, looking at it now, seems

12 surprising because there was no, as I say, briefing

13 paper or notes on what in fact the risk was that you

14 were asking a charity to fund?

15 A. I think both in my statement and I think probably in

16 Stephen Pittam's statement as well there was an

17 acceptance that, whilst the response from the security

18 forces in relation to a specific threat may well have

19 been right, that no one realistically could say that

20 there wasn't some sort of general threat, depending on

21 the circumstances in which they would have found

22 themselves, whether it was in Portadown or somewhere

23 else, or that someone wasn't actually thinking about

24 doing them harm, either the main people or parts of the

25 Coalition.

 

 

59

 

1 So, you know, I think we had a general understanding

2 that there were security issues for members of the

3 Coalition, as would have been the case in a whole lot of

4 other circumstances in which I might have been involved

5 with from time to time in terms of politicians or

6 community organisations in other parts. But within that

7 context the prime issue for us was getting the talks

8 reconvened, and that was clearly the issue in which

9 I invited Steve Pittam to become involved.

10 Q. Because the question that inevitably arises out of that

11 is that whether that was really a sufficient basis to

12 seek a charity's input. What I'm saying is that no

13 analysis had been done on what the threat really was,

14 and again one is -- I'm back into the territory of

15 opportunity missed because, had there been a briefing

16 note looking at the security of Rosemary Nelson and the

17 others, it is likely -- and I appreciate one is in the

18 realm of speculation but it is likely a briefing note

19 would have drawn together, or would have thrown up, the

20 fact that there were all these strands, in the case of

21 Rosemary Nelson these two strands, the risk to her as

22 a defence lawyer, and it would have then been brought

23 together. What -- one doesn't know what the result

24 would have been but the aspects of the risk to

25 Rosemary Nelson would have been put together in

 

 

60

 

1 a briefing paper, and in fact should have been put

2 together before asking a charity to come in and fund

3 security. Isn't that, when one looks at it now, the --

4 a fair statement.

5 A. I don't actually agree that that's a fair statement. I

6 think if -- my history of involvement with Rowntree goes

7 way back beyond the issue of the Residents Coalition

8 into a time when there was significant problems over the

9 involvement of members of Sinn Fein with community

10 organisations in Belfast, and at that particular time

11 community organisations -- particular community

12 organisations were not funded by Government because they

13 had people within them who were members of Sinn Fein.

14 And I had been approached by Rowntree at various

15 points in time to discuss particular groups, and we had

16 agreed informal arrangements around the funding of

17 particular groups that the Government couldn't actually

18 fund but which we thought, from a regeneration or

19 socio-economic perspective, were well worthwhile

20 funding.

21 So we had a track record of doing things that you

22 could argue were not, you know, formal in the terms of

23 the relationship between Government and NGOs. In this

24 particular case you had reached the situation where the

25 NIO were saying specifically that it was Duffy and

 

 

61

 

1 Mac Cionnaith but nobody else, period. And the issue we

2 were then confronted with was Mac Cionnaith was

3 basically saying he wasn't going to continue with the

4 talks unless the security of the rest of the Coalition

5 were dealt with.

6 So we were brought into very sharp focus on that

7 particular issue. I think, you know, possibly ten years

8 later, looking back, you say, well, you know, we wish we

9 had brought everything together, but I'm not actually

10 even sure that, had we even brought it all together in

11 terms of a briefing note, that it either would have

12 changed the position of the Northern Ireland Office in

13 relation to the wider inclusion of members of the

14 Coalition or that it would necessarily have changed the

15 position of Rowntree in relation to this specific issue.

16 Rowntree, I don't think, at any point felt that they

17 had a lack of information about what was actually

18 happening.

19 Q. I take your point that one is speculating on what the

20 end result would have been and maybe no difference,

21 something we will never know, but I think that the point

22 I'm putting to you, that, before one goes to a charity

23 and says, "We think this is something to put your money

24 into, protection of these individuals," that a full

25 analysis should have been made as to what risk those

 

 

62

 

1 individuals were at, i.e. the view of the RUC, the view of

2 the NIO and the threats, insofar as there were any,

3 against these individuals, because you are asking

4 a charity to put money into something of which you held

5 the key to saying at what level that risk was pitched.

6 A. And, in fairness to me, this is a very strong charity,

7 who would take their position, their public position and

8 their community position, very seriously, so would not

9 have entered into either the discussions in the

10 first place or the eventual offer of some sort of scheme

11 without carefully thinking about all of that.

12 So I'm not sure that, even if it had been drawn

13 together in a formal way, the way you describe it, it

14 would necessarily have made a significant difference,

15 either to the NIO's position in relation to security

16 offered or the Rowntree Trust's position in relation to

17 considering the issues involved.

18 Q. And I think, just following on that, in fairness to you,

19 Mr McCusker, we do see from Stephen Pittam's statement

20 that he is aware and acknowledges that the security

21 services had advised Mo Mowlam that Mac Cionnaith and

22 Joe Duffy were not at risk. So he, it appears, which I

23 think is what you are saying, was aware of, if you like,

24 the political aspect that the security protection had,

25 that it was in large part to move along the talks.

 

 

63

 

1 A. Yes. I think in Steve Pittam's case he is very

2 thorough, and you can see it, from his notes of the

3 discussions and his submission to his board of trustees,

4 that he took careful note of what the NIO position was

5 and what I was saying about that, but also wanted to

6 hear in detail what the Coalition was concerned about

7 and where they wanted to get to, and I think his note

8 points out very clearly that in those discussions it

9 wasn't about -- again about Rosemary Nelson's security

10 in particular; it was about the security around all the

11 Coalition -- and they have stressed that in their own

12 notes -- and that Rosemary Nelson's position was, as in

13 other discussions, used as the example of the threat

14 that existed.

15 Q. And just turning then -- taking from what Pittam said

16 about the Security Service's advice to Mo Mowlam about

17 Mac Cionnaith and Duffy, were you ever aware that the

18 security services actually briefed Mo Mowlam in relation

19 to Rosemary Nelson specifically?

20 A. No.

21 Q. Did Mo Mowlam ever raise with you Rosemary Nelson? Was

22 that an issue that she asked about?

23 A. No.

24 Q. And did you ever raise Rosemary Nelson with her, just to

25 be clear?

 

 

64

 

1 A. No.

2 Q. So Rosemary Nelson simply didn't ever come up as a topic

3 of conversation between you and Mo Mowlam?

4 A. No.

5 Q. Now, obviously we know that historically the Rowntree

6 Trust's involvement came to nothing in the end. Could

7 you just explain a little more as to why your

8 understanding is that that all came to nothing, these

9 negotiations?

10 A. Well, I think at the meeting we had with the Coalition

11 and Rowntree, at the end that of meeting there was

12 a broad framework agreed as to how Rowntree could assist

13 the group within the context of a wider support

14 mechanism for community capacity building in Portadown,

15 but within that framework, as you said earlier, there

16 would be something provided in relation to the specific

17 security needs of the Coalition.

18 At the end of that Mac Cionnaith had indicated --

19 Breandan Mac Cionnaith had indicated that he would get

20 details of costs and so forth and also provide some

21 papers to Rowntree about community needs and what was

22 required.

23 After that particular meeting I took a very limited

24 role in relation to the dialogue going on between the

25 Coalition and Rowntree, except that occasionally

 

 

65

 

1 Steve Pittam would have telephoned me or -- we would

2 have spoken at various times but he would have mentioned

3 that things hadn't progressed. It actually was only

4 when I reviewed the papers that I had seen -- that were

5 sent to me that I realised that there was some

6 correspondence between the Coalition and Rowntree around

7 specific support costs. I actually was under the

8 impression that there had been no real submission from

9 Mac Cionnaith on that but that Mac Cionnaith had been

10 asked to further clarify what had been submitted but

11 didn't actually get round to doing that before

12 Rosemary Nelson was killed.

13 So it wasn't the case that it fizzled out; I think

14 it was the case that there was some ongoing dialogue and

15 Breandan Mac Cionnaith didn't get around to providing

16 all the detail that Rowntree needed to make a decision

17 by their board of trustees and provide resources, and

18 then Rosemary Nelson was killed before that was

19 finalised.

20 Q. Following the meeting did you take any measures to

21 progress it, or after this meeting did you in a sense

22 withdraw and leave it to the two parties,

23 Mac Cionnaith and --

24 A. By and large, yes. As I think I have said in my

25 statement, a number of things happened in sequence.

 

 

66

 

1 Once we finalised that meeting, the Coalition --

2 Mac Cionnaith agreed to restart the talks. He and Duffy

3 agreed to join the protection scheme -- take the

4 protection measures and to have RUC assessments of their

5 homes.

6 So all of that happened in sequence. And we had the

7 discussions before Christmas. In some of the

8 discussions around the talks after Christmas I, I think

9 in the presence of Peter Quinn, raised the issue of

10 advancing the Rowntree offer and getting the protection

11 measures in place, funded by Rowntree. And

12 Breandan Mac Cionnaith's response was that they were

13 being dealt with, he was getting the papers together.

14 But beyond that there was no further dialogue about it.

15 Q. And I think came in fact of the Rowntree offer, either

16 in terms of protection or the investment in the

17 socio-economic side?

18 A. No, primarily because -- there was an initial response,

19 as I understood, from the Coalition to Rowntree that set

20 out some proposals which Steve Pittam had argued weren't

21 really in line with what had been discussed at the

22 meeting and he had asked for further clarification of

23 that, and that didn't happen by the time that

24 Rosemary Nelson was killed. But that was within

25 a short -- we're talking about a three-month period

 

 

67

 

1 really that that was happening in. And I think I made

2 the point in my statement that, given the many things

3 that Mac Cionnaith was doing at that particular point in

4 time, whether it was the talks, his community work in

5 Portadown and his high profile -- political role,

6 I suppose, it is not surprising that getting all the

7 detail of that sorted out took a bit of time. But it

8 didn't exactly fall, it was just the bureaucracy of it

9 didn't get completed in time to get the measures in

10 place.

11 Q. Because one way of viewing this is that one had to

12 a position where there was assessed to be a genuine

13 security risk, sufficiently genuine anyway to suggest to

14 Joseph Rowntree that it was a worthy use of their

15 charitable monies. And that that then, despite making

16 that assessment and bringing Rowntree in, nothing was

17 done from the Government side -- I put you into

18 that box -- to progress it; it was simply allowed to

19 drop.

20 So you were in a position of having made an

21 assessment of there being a security risk and really

22 doing nothing to ensure that security measures -- and I

23 think one -- in the discussions, you were discussing

24 security lighting and so on. It had got down to

25 a reasonable level of detail about what was needed. So

 

 

68

 

1 one had made the assessment of risk, one had identified

2 the sort of measures that were being asked for and then

3 it wasn't followed through.

4 Now, didn't you or the Government have an obligation

5 to follow that through, frankly, regardless of what

6 Mr Mac Cionnaith was or was not doing?

7 A. No, I don't agree. You had a situation where the

8 Government's position in terms of the NIO in relation to

9 security measures on the Coalition was quite clear: that

10 they weren't going to fund it.

11 What I would done mainly, as I have said, to refocus

12 the talks and get the talks started was to try and

13 unblock that particular situation and I found a way of

14 trying to do that and bringing both the Rowntree

15 together with the Coalition.

16 The Coalition reluctantly, if you cast over the

17 notes of the meeting and other notes, accepted that that

18 was sufficient to unblock it and would pursue that

19 directly with Rowntree, and it was clear in the

20 discussions that at that particular point I would leave

21 it to Rowntree and the Coalition to put that in place.

22 My involvement subsequently was at various times to

23 try and chivvy Mac Cionnaith along to get that done.

24 But -- I mean -- I had left it between Rowntree and him

25 to sort that out and, you know, in retrospect you could

 

 

69

 

1 argue that I should have done more, but in terms of my

2 core objective at that particular time, which was to get

3 the talks started as part of the wider political

4 discussions ongoing, that was the main focus of my

5 agenda at that particular point in time.

6 Q. Because you see the point I'm making, I think, which is

7 that one has to reach a point of a genuine security risk

8 in order to justify bringing in a charity to help with

9 that, and one then doesn't pursue it and that's where it

10 seems to me --

11 A. I think you are overstating that point. I think the

12 primary issue of bringing the Rowntree into it was to

13 try and unblock the issue around the talks.

14 Now, the Coalition were making the issue of the

15 security of all members of the Coalition an issue around

16 the talks. Now, I think it would have been fair to say

17 at that particular point in time there might have been

18 a view that that was being used as a stalling issue. I

19 can't argue that one way or the other, but there might

20 have been a view -- there would have been a view in some

21 quarters that that would have been a stalling mechanism.

22 What we were trying to do was remove any issues that

23 would actually have stalled the talks. It wasn't

24 organised primarily from a security perspective; it was

25 organised primarily from the political need to unblock

 

 

70

 

1 the delay on talks in Drumcree.

2 Q. To summarise, I think what you are saying is because the

3 driving force was political, once the political

4 imperative went, no one then pursued the security

5 objective independently, so to speak?

6 A. Well --

7 Q. We know they didn't.

8 A. No, that's not fair. At the end of the meeting there

9 was a clear agreement as to what would happen in terms

10 of the relationship between Joseph Rowntree and the

11 Coalition. And that was left as a matter for them to

12 resolve to try and get that in place. The role we had

13 taken or I had taken was expressed I think in subsequent

14 letters as facilitating that.

15 Now, whether you argue that that was sufficient is

16 a moot point, you know, thinking back on it now. But at

17 that particular point in time, as I said, I was focused

18 on trying to get the talks going forward. I have

19 facilitated that discussion and our perception was that

20 that was being addressed, and we did follow it up in

21 terms of subsequent discussions each time we would have

22 met Breandan Mac Cionnaith subsequently to that, we

23 raised the issue.

24 I think it is also fair to say that at no point

25 after that in the discussions was the security issue

 

 

71

 

1 raised as a blocking issue in any of the discussions

2 after Christmas. So our perception was that the

3 security issue had been dealt with.

4 Q. Can you just explain that?

5 A. Well, after that meeting the Coalition decided to come

6 into the talks, to restart the talks. Mac Cionnaith and

7 Duffy agreed to take security protection and police

8 assessment. Talks continued -- started before Christmas

9 and discussions continued after Christmas with degrees

10 of delay and so forth. So -- and in those talks

11 subsequent to that, the security issue wasn't raised

12 again.

13 Q. So your understanding was that the security was no

14 longer being pursued by Breandan Mac Cionnaith?

15 A. That's right.

16 Q. But it wasn't your understanding that security lighting

17 had been installed in any Coalition member's house, for

18 example?

19 A. I know that it hadn't because I knew from Steven Pittam

20 that they hadn't come back with all the details that he

21 required. But the view had, or I had, was that because

22 it was no longer raised as an issues, either at the

23 talks or no longer raised as an issue in relation to the

24 ongoing status of the talks, that it had been dealt

25 with. Although, as Mac Cionnaith said in his letter to

 

 

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1 Jonathan Powell, it wasn't dealt with properly by the

2 Government, but he accepted it was being dealt with.

3 Q. This rather leads into the debacle of the newspaper

4 article, which is the last topic really I want to deal

5 with.

6 This was the article -- and it is RNI-401-518

7 (displayed) -- that claims that Duffy and Mac Cionnaith

8 were admitted to the KPPS without making formal

9 applications. That's technically wrong because, as we

10 have seen, they were in fact admitted to the KPPS; they

11 were specifically dealt with outside the KPPS, and the

12 article refers to the BIRW report. For the note --

13 although not to turn to now -- that's RNI-306-173. And

14 that refers to the fact that at the Rowntree meeting

15 a request was made to place Rosemary Nelson on the KPPS.

16 That, I think, the Inquiry have looked into and isn't

17 borne out by Steve Pittam's note, and again the

18 reference there is RNI-305-265, paragraph 17. No need

19 to turn to it though.

20 A. The Coalition's note?

21 Q. Yes. And you made it clear in that note -- we see from

22 Steve Pittam's note, in fairness to you, that you:

23 "... made it clear the NIO cannot deliver directly

24 to extend offers of security beyond the elected

25 councillors."

 

 

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1 Now, I just want to give you an opportunity to

2 reiterate your views on the suggestion in that article

3 and, indeed, by implication the BIRW report, that

4 a request was made to you at that meeting to place

5 Rosemary Nelson on the KPPS.

6 A. It wasn't.

7 Q. But I think what the minutes do show -- and I think you

8 accept -- is that the security of the Coalition members

9 was discussed, including security of Rosemary Nelson,

10 and that, just to descend into a little bit of detail,

11 that the Rowntree Trust would consider measures such as

12 installing security lighting at the back and front of

13 houses?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Now, paragraph 64 of your statement -- I am afraid I

16 haven't got the page numbers for this, but maybe those

17 on the IT side will find it for me. Back to your

18 statement. It is RNI-813-460 (displayed). Thank you.

19 You say there, paragraph 64, that:

20 "The BIRW report seeks to lift the blame from

21 Breandan Mac Cionnaith and his inactivity in obtaining

22 the information required by the Rowntree Trust to move

23 the issue of security ... members of the GRRC."

24 I have been asked to ask you if you can just explain

25 that a little further, what your point is there?

 

 

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1 A. I was confused there, different paragraph.

2 Q. Oh, wait a minute. I have got my reference wrong, I

3 think. It is RNI-813-461, I'm being told. Yes, the top

4 of page RNI-813-461 (displayed). It is paragraph 64,

5 but it is just later on in the paragraph:

6 "The BIRW seem designed to try and lift the blame."

7 Would you read that to yourself?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. I'm asked to ask you if you could just explain what you

10 mean there?

11 A. If you read the Irish News report, and this was

12 a report -- as I understood, it was based on what

13 Breandan Mac Cionnaith said to the Irish News rather

14 than the Irish News haven't actually seen the report at

15 that stage, because what the Irish News said happened

16 clearly didn't happen.

17 But it seemed to me that what was happening at that

18 particular stage was that the blame was being focused on

19 that particular meeting between me and the Coalition and

20 with Rowntree, and that that was the core meeting that

21 discussed the security of Rosemary Nelson specifically,

22 and that because of my inactivity at that meeting, that

23 her security wasn't dealt with, when in reality, as the

24 notes both of the Coalition and Steve Pittam show, that

25 wasn't the case at all.

 

 

75

 

1 In both cases, the BIRW report and the Irish News,

2 none of them approached me for a comment about any of

3 the things that were being said.

4 Two other things about the report as well. I was

5 the only person named in the report, for some obscure

6 reason. Neither David Watkins nor Stephen Leach were

7 named in the report and nor was Rowntree named in the

8 report. It appeared that I was probably the only one at

9 that and there was a third party there who was just

10 a minor player, when in reality the core reason for the

11 meeting was to bring that third party into a discussion

12 with the Coalition.

13 Q. And again, a question I'm asked to put to you is how

14 the Irish News and your dealings with Ms Winter -- or

15 what view you formed of the methodology of the BIRW as

16 a result of the fact, for example, that they didn't

17 speak to you and so on?

18 A. I think my correspondence was -- the BIRW sets out --

19 I thought it was astonishing that an organisation which

20 prided itself in human rights could not afford me the

21 basic human right of responding to what were quite

22 serious allegations being made about me.

23 Q. And you are -- and as I say, and I have put to you,

24 I hope fairly, but I think is borne out by the notes

25 particularly of Steve Pittam -- but you are entirely

 

 

76

 

1 confident, are you, that at the meeting with

2 Breandan Mac Cionnaith and the Rowntree Trust at no

3 point was a request made that Rosemary Nelson should be

4 placed on the KPPS?

5 A. That's right, no request was made.

6 Q. Mr McCusker, as I have discussed with you before you

7 came in, sometimes other lawyers just want me to ask

8 questions and I just need a moment, if you could, so

9 that I can consider that and see if I have covered

10 everything I ought to have covered. I will just take

11 a moment to check. (Pause)

12 Right, I am afraid I am exposing my human

13 fallibility because there is a question I have missed.

14 This is to refer you -- and I'm sorry to take it

15 entirely out of order, but this is paragraph 36 of your

16 statement, which is page RNI-813-452 (displayed). You

17 say there:

18 "I recall mentioning that I would be crucified if

19 any of what were discussed were to be published."

20 A. I think I said I would be crucified if ministers found

21 out --

22 Q. I think it is towards the bottom of the screen you have

23 got now, and this is the fact that I think you deal with

24 in your statement that, if you like, this was an

25 unofficial meeting that you were having with

 

 

77

 

1 Breandan Mac Cionnaith, although I know you subsequently

2 obviously briefed others about it. And the question I'm

3 asked is as to whether you can just expand upon that?

4 A. I suspect it is one of those off-the-cuff remarks. I

5 had mentioned what I was doing to both David Watkins and

6 Stephen Leach, but I hadn't mentioned it to ministers.

7 I think more -- it was partly because of the timing.

8 If we had entered into long discussions, it might have

9 taken a bit of time to get it sorted out, but I think it

10 was just an off-the-cuff remark that ministers just

11 simply didn't know and might not be happy if they found

12 out that I was doing this.

13 As it happened, because the thing had gone well,

14 I did actually tell ministers about it before we did

15 anything further.

16 Q. So you suffered no adverse consequences of this meeting,

17 and the meeting, as far as Mo Mowlam and others, those

18 senior to you, they became aware of the meeting?

19 A. I think it is more likely that people who know me might

20 have probably expected me to say something like that, to

21 be honest. There was nothing sinister in it other than

22 the meeting took place without ministerial cover.

23 Q. But subsequently it was open that the meeting had taken

24 place?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

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1 Q. And I think we can see in the documents notes to that

2 effect?

3 A. That's right.

4 Q. Thank you very much, Mr McCusker. I don't see any other

5 questions flashing up at me, so those were the questions

6 I have, but the Panel may have some questions for you.

7 Questions by THE CHAIRMAN

8 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr McCusker, during the time you were

9 Dr Mowlam's fixer, did you never, on any occasion that

10 you can remember, have any casual conversation about

11 Rosemary Nelson? Not about her security, but about her

12 as a person?

13 A. No, I can honestly say I don't recall any conversation

14 with Mo about that.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Not even after her murder?

16 A. I can't -- I mean, I think there would have been a broad

17 "how awful is this" discussion.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, but nothing that stuck in your memory

19 at all?

20 A. Nothing that stuck in my memory. At that particular

21 point in time I was very heavily involved in the

22 implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and this was

23 happening in parallel. So the main focus of my work was

24 Mo, and discussions with Mo were around the politics of

25 Northern Ireland, not the Drumcree discussions, which

 

 

79

 

1 she -- Mo had more or less put the discussions were

2 being taken forward by Number 10 and Jonathan Powell,

3 and they were looking after that. She was concentrating

4 on the political outcomes.

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Thank you very much for coming to give

6 evidence before us. We will adjourn now until half past

7 one.

8 A. Thank you.

9 (12.25 pm)

10 (The short adjournment)

11 (1.30 pm)

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Currans, may we go through the checklist?

13 Is the public area screen fully in place, locked and the

14 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.

 

 

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1 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr (name redacted), can you please confirm that the

2 two witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

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

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

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

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

7 Bring the witness many, please.

8 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

9 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

10 switched back on.

11 Please take the oath.

12 B662 (sworn)

13 Questions by MR SKELTON

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please sit down.

15 Yes, Mr Skelton?

16 MR SKELTON: Now, for the purpose of this Inquiry, you are

17 known as witness B662. That is your cipher. You will

18 find your statement momentarily on the screen at

19 page RNI-846-018 (displayed), and if we scroll through

20 to the final page, RNI-846-097 (displayed), your

21 signature, I think, has been redacted and replaced by

22 your cipher number, and the date is 18 December 2007.

23 Do you remember signing that is statement?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Thank you. Sir, we indicated to the Full Participants

 

 

81

 

1 on Monday that this witness was likely to have a closed

2 session element to his evidence. In your ruling on

3 15 October, you stated that the Inquiry, through its

4 counsel, would indicate during the course of the

5 hearings the areas which would be covered in those

6 closed sessions. May I now do so in outline?

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

8 MR SKELTON: There are three issues in summary. The first

9 is related to surveillance of Colin Duffy, and

10 secondarily on Rosemary Nelson, during the period in

11 which this witness was head of what is known as the TCG.

12 I will be asking him in some detail about the purpose of

13 that surveillance, which is a sensitive issue.

14 Secondly, Operation Fagotto. Mr Phillips opened

15 that issue in June this year. In summary, it is

16 an operation which was ongoing at the time of

17 Rosemary Nelson's murder. I will be exploring with this

18 witness the exact nature of that operation and its

19 purpose and how it was being carried out.

20 There is then a particular aspect of the operation

21 which occurs on the night before Rosemary Nelson's

22 murder, and I will be exploring with this witness the

23 urgency for that aspect of the operation and exactly

24 what precipitated it and his involvement with it. I

25 will also be asking him how in practice it was carried

 

 

82

 

1 out and his involvement with or knowledge of the

2 officers who were engaged with that process. And I will

3 finally be probing whether in any way the operation was

4 connected directly or indirectly with Rosemary Nelson's

5 murder itself.

6 The third issue is Operation Shubr. Again,

7 Mr Phillips opened this issue in June this year. In

8 summary, it was an ongoing operation carried out by

9 a covert military unit. It was ongoing at the time of

10 Rosemary Nelson's murder and it appears to have been

11 directed at people who were, at least to the Murder

12 Investigation Team, possibly responsible for the murder.

13 I will be asking this witness more detail about

14 which Army unit conducted it, which is a sensitive

15 matter. I will be asking him how the TCG and South

16 Region Special Branch interrelated with that unit, and I

17 will be asking some questions about some of the

18 documents which arise in the bundle in relation to that

19 operation, which can be asked openly.

20 I should emphasise, though, sir, that each of those

21 issues I will try and deal with in open session insofar

22 as I can with this witness, and he is aware of the

23 limitation of what he can and cannot say. And I will

24 hopefully guide him through that process carefully.

25 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

 

 

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1 MR SKELTON: May I start by asking you something about your

2 background in the RUC and in particular when you joined?

3 A. Yes, that's okay.

4 Q. When did you join?

5 A. Sorry, you want details of it? I joined in July 1977.

6 Q. And I think you say in your statement at paragraph 1

7 that you were part of the HMSU from 1983

8 to December 1991?

9 A. That's correct, yes.

10 Q. And from April 1993, you were in the HMSU in Belfast --

11 A. Sorry, the HMSU was in South Region in 1983.

12 Q. And you were in the post of inspector there, were you?

13 A. No, sergeant in the HMSU.

14 Q. When did you become an inspector?

15 A. I became an inspector in 1991 and went to uniform.

16 Q. And what was your role in uniform?

17 A. I was just in charge of a -- what is now known as the

18 TSGs, but it was the DMSU at that time.

19 Q. TSGs?

20 A. They are a tactical support group. That's what they are

21 known as now, but they were DMSUs at the time.

22 Q. What did you do after that?

23 A. Then I went to the TCG in Belfast in 1993.

24 Q. At that point you were in fact an inspector?

25 A. That's correct, yes.

 

 

84

 

1 Q. And after that?

2 A. Well, after that I moved to South TCG for a period of

3 time, as an inspector, and I was promoted then to Chief

4 Inspector.

5 Q. You worked within E4, did you, at that point?

6 A. Yes, I went to a different department, a new department,

7 yes.

8 Q. When were you promoted to be Superintendent?

9 A. Well, I became Acting Superintendent when I got moved

10 back to South Region to cover a superintendent who was

11 off on the sick. I was actually a chief inspector at

12 that time and I would have been Acting Superintendent

13 rather than promoted at that stage, and that was in

14 1998. And I believe it was probably in or around

15 the June time -- I'm not sure exactly, I can't remember

16 exactly the date.

17 Q. So South Region TCG as Chief Inspector acting as

18 Superintendent?

19 A. That's correct, yes.

20 Q. How long did you stay in that post for?

21 A. I think I was in that post to somewhere in or around

22 2002.

23 Q. Did there come a time when you were promoted to

24 superintendent?

25 A. Yes, April of 2002.

 

 

85

 

1 Q. Did you stay in that rank until your retirement?

2 A. Yes, I stayed as superintendent until I retired, yes.

3 Q. When was that?

4 A. A year ago.

5 Q. Thank you. The first area I would like to ask you some

6 questions about is really about the TCG generally. What

7 was its role?

8 A. Well, just as it says, a tasking coordinating group.

9 I suppose the TCG really was a clearing house for covert

10 operations. Its function was to make sure that if any

11 covert operation was running in the particular area that

12 you were responsible for, that it was cleared through

13 TCG so that we didn't have several or -- conflicting

14 covert operations running at the one time.

15 So it was a matter of coordinating that and making

16 sure that each agency knew what was going on and we

17 could manage that and control it and coordinate it.

18 Q. In paragraph 3 of your statement, which we find on

19 page RNI-846-082 (displayed), you have said, I think,

20 that the first TCG had started in 1978. Had there been

21 a need recognised by the RUC for coordination of this to

22 prevent a blue-on-blue problem which --

23 A. Yes, I think the difficulty was obviously at that time

24 with the Army taking quite a lead in responsibility for

25 operations and the police. They both were running

 

 

86

 

1 covert operations and even different departments within

2 the police as well, within the RUC at that time were

3 running different covert operations, and obviously you

4 had the difficulty -- you could have had what we would

5 have termed a blue-on-blue, which obviously could have

6 caused difficulties and serious injury to people if they

7 came across each other.

8 Q. Now, are the officers in the TCG all detectives or does

9 it --

10 A. No, they are all detectives.

11 Q. Would you have come from Special Branch or from CID?

12 A. Well, you could have come from either, but it was

13 probably -- mostly at that time it would have been

14 mostly from Special Branch would have been in the TCGs

15 at that time.

16 Q. In terms of its structure, does it have an independent

17 structure outside of Special Branch or are you

18 answerable ultimately to the Special Branch ACC?

19 A. No, we would have been under the ACC Special Branch at

20 that time.

21 Q. And you say in your statement at paragraph 4 what the

22 structure was broadly. Could you explain that for us,

23 please?

24 A. Yes, at each TCG, it probably was slightly different

25 obviously, as I said. There was one in Mahon Road,

 

 

87

 

1 Ballykelly and in Belfast. You had a superintendent who

2 was in charge, a chief inspector under him. And the

3 like of Ballykelly and Mahon probably were on the

4 strength of three inspectors, four sergeants, probably

5 four, maybe five, six constables depending on the period

6 of time, you know.

7 Q. And the name implies the coordination role?

8 A. That's correct.

9 Q. What was your tasking role? Were you coming up with the

10 operations themselves or were you directing --

11 A. Tasking goes down to tasking both the covert agencies

12 and the uniformed agencies that you are required to

13 support, any operations on the tasking -- tasking

14 a surveillance team or tasking a uniformed support, or

15 even tasking the Army or whatever. You are required to

16 assist in the operation.

17 Q. So who was it in the South Region who determined what

18 operations would be tasked?

19 A. It would have been the Regional Head.

20 Q. B629, I think?

21 A. That's correct, yes.

22 Q. Does he sign off on every type of operation which the

23 TCG does, or is there access to your management at

24 a lower level, for example, from one of the local

25 officers of Special Branch?

 

 

88

 

1 A. No, ultimately it would have come through the regional

2 head and through that end. There is nobody would have

3 come tasking unless we had cleared through regional

4 head.

5 Q. In due course we are going to look at the particular

6 operations, as I said at the start of your evidence.

7 But broadly speaking, how do you first hear of an

8 operation and how do you start to formulate the plan for

9 its application?

10 A. As I mentioned, the first I would hear of it is probably

11 through the Regional Head. He has been given

12 intelligence up through to him and is of the opinion

13 that some sort of covert operation could be mounted to

14 assist in that operation, either to gather intelligence

15 or whatever was required. And I would have been brought

16 along to have a meeting with him and discuss it and

17 discuss availability of resources and give an idea of

18 whether it was possible or not.

19 Q. In making at that evaluation, were you privy to the

20 underlying intelligence that could justify the

21 operation?

22 A. The Regional Head would give you whatever intelligence

23 obviously you needed to run that operation. He would

24 obviously have made you aware of -- and very much

25 probably on a need to know basis -- what intelligence

 

 

89

 

1 you needed to mount whatever he thought was necessary.

2 If it was, for example, to carry out surveillance on

3 someone, he would have been giving you the background

4 intelligence on that person and why he thought it would

5 have been beneficial to gather intelligence.

6 Q. And would that be done in discussion or did you also get

7 to see, for example, the Prism or MACER reports which

8 contained that intelligence?

9 A. It would be mostly in discussion with it.

10 Q. So, for example, he may say, "We have intelligence that

11 an attack is being planned by such and such a group" and

12 then you would say, "Well, which area is that?"

13 A. Yes, I wouldn't necessarily have been shown, like, an

14 original document of intelligence coming in or where it

15 came from or anything like that. But it would have been

16 through him that he would have said, you know, "Here is

17 the intelligence we have", telling me what areas,

18 personalities and things like that.

19 Q. And when you formulated the plan for how the operation

20 would be carried out, did you do that using a sort of

21 pre-printed form which you filled in in manuscript?

22 A. No, no forms.

23 Q. In due course we will come on to see some forms.

24 A. Yes, but that's for the tasking. Whenever the

25 intelligence would have come in and I would have had

 

 

90

 

1 a discussion with the Regional Head really of, well,

2 whether an operation was viable and that. And I would have

3 been back into TCG really and discussed with my own

4 people really within that office of what agency and who

5 we could get to assist us in that. Then a tasking sheet

6 would have been drawn up which outlined the intelligence

7 and the aims of the operation and obviously the agency

8 that we were sending the tasking to.

9 Q. And would you then send that tasking sheet to the

10 agency --

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. -- in hard copy?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Would that be all they had?

15 A. Yes, that would have been all they had. On that, they

16 would have outlined the aims of the operation and

17 intelligence background on it and, you know, what we

18 were hoping to achieve, the aims of the operation.

19 Q. Presumably it was open to those being tasked to call you

20 or one of your junior officers in and ask them a bit

21 more about it, was it?

22 A. That's correct, yes.

23 Q. Was that how it normally worked?

24 A. Yes. We would have tasked the agency, got in contact

25 with the agency and they would have probably come into

 

 

91

 

1 our offices. And we discussed it with them and, you

2 know, obviously the aims that we had in mind, whether,

3 you know, we thought that was achievable and that, and

4 really worked through it. And if they had any questions

5 on it, then I went back through the normal channels,

6 through the Regional Head, and said, you know, "Do you

7 have anything more on this? Is there anything else that

8 can point us in certain directions?" or, "Have we any

9 further intelligence that I can pass on to the

10 surveillance agency or whoever?"

11 Q. And you have talked about agencies. Specifically, are

12 we talking about E4A, which was the surveillance unit

13 within Special Branch?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. And we are also talking about --

16 A. The Army.

17 Q. The Army.

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. What is the role of the HMSU?

20 A. The HMSU is really the uniformed back-up to the covert

21 and the like of E4A and that, who are obviously in plain

22 clothes in a covert capacity.

23 The HMSU's role really was to provide a quick

24 reaction force. Obviously if they get into difficulties

25 while they are carrying out surveillance and needed

 

 

92

 

1 uniformed support, they were there within a very short

2 time and would have went along with the surveillance.

3 Q. Did they provide such support on every operation

4 conducted by E4A?

5 A. Yes, I would say most operations. I would say there was

6 very few, if any. And particularly at that time because

7 of the threat, and because of the threat there would

8 have been to covert operations that all operations at

9 that time had HMSU support.

10 Q. And was that only for E4A or did the Army --

11 A. It was exactly the same -- the Army were really just

12 another surveillance capability and they were treated

13 exactly the same. They had the same uniformed support.

14 Q. In paragraph 7 of your statement on page RNI-846-083

15 (displayed), you talk about, as it were, the speed of

16 the deployment.

17 You mention that a lot of operations were conducted

18 on several days' or weeks' notice and others were

19 mounted on a few hours' notice?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. So at any one time, you would have had a series of

22 long-term operations running, but you were available to

23 South Region Special Branch to conduct something based

24 on short-term intelligence?

25 A. Absolutely. We had obviously, as you regularly point

 

 

93

 

1 out, we had long-term operations running which were

2 possibly just purely intelligence-gathering operations

3 and trying to get as much intelligence together as we

4 could for what the terrorists -- and then we would have

5 had operations developed very quickly where intelligence

6 would have come in which needed a quick response, and we

7 had to be available.

8 So that was our responsibility too, and mine too, to

9 coordinate and that, prioritise on the operations we had

10 running and run -- work with the intelligence that was

11 being supplied.

12 Q. You were based, I think, at Mahon Road?

13 A. That's correct.

14 Q. Who were your principal points of contact in addition to

15 the Regional Head of Special Branch, B629, whom you have

16 already mentioned?

17 A. The basic contact was the surveillance. The sergeants

18 or that out of the surveillance team, obviously for

19 tasking purposes, and the Regional Head really was --

20 Q. Did you, yourself, have general contact with his deputies,

21 who would have been at superintendent level?

22 A. Yes, we would have had contact with them -- probably if

23 there was -- the like of those operations -- there was

24 intelligence to be passed in and the operation had

25 already been cleared by the Regional Head, it might have

 

 

94

 

1 been in a position for the Superintendent who'd give you

2 any further details or intelligence at that stage.

3 Q. Would you have had any direct liaison with lower ranks,

4 for example, the DIs from in the region?

5 A. Not really. They would have mostly worked through their

6 command structure really to come through to us to bring

7 any intelligence in. We wouldn't have really worked

8 directly with them.

9 Q. In paragraph 10, which is on page RNI-846-084

10 (displayed), you describe the chain of action as it

11 worked in practice. Can I take you through each of

12 those steps and see if we can understand it?

13 A. Yes, okay.

14 Q. The first step may be that a handler receives some

15 intelligence, which he would pass up to the regional

16 source unit?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Is it then up to the regional source unit to decide

19 whether or not to tell the Superintendent or the

20 Detective Inspector?

21 A. No, I think that the regional support unit was more

22 a method of recording and having a record of debriefs

23 and things from source, and then it was a matter really

24 for the inspector in charge of that office in particular

25 to bring that forward to the Chief Inspector,

 

 

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1 Superintendent, who was in charge of that region on the

2 Special Branch side.

3 Q. So when you say in your statement that they disseminated

4 it to the DI or the Detective Superintendent --

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. -- in fact, they would have already been apprised of it

7 from the handlers possibly directly, would they?

8 A. The handlers probably just would have talked, more than

9 likely, to their department, whether it was a constable

10 or a sergeant, and talked directly to their inspector,

11 and the Inspector would have been talking to the

12 Superintendent and that about intelligence coming in.

13 The regional source unit would have had a record of it

14 and then disseminated it by supplying the hard copy of

15 that or putting it on to computer systems.

16 Q. And the South Region in particular, was there a sense in

17 which the Detective Inspector -- and there is one in

18 particular whom we will talk about in relation to the

19 operations we will look at -- may have had a contact

20 directly with his chief superintendent, as opposed to

21 going through the Superintendent?

22 A. His normal procedure probably would have been to go

23 through the Superintendent, but I mean, you know, if he

24 wasn't available or if -- there would been -- he could

25 have had direct contact with the Chief Super, yes.

 

 

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1 There would have been no real issue with it.

2 Q. And the Chief Superintendent would then contact you to

3 discuss what he wanted to do in response?

4 A. If it was something that he thought I could have

5 assisted with by supplying resources on the covert side

6 of surveillance and that, or some sort of arrest

7 reaction or whatever, he would see have contacted me but

8 only on those occasions.

9 Q. To what extent did he give you the plan fully formed?

10 Or did you create a plan for him?

11 A. Well, I think that was a matter for discussion with us.

12 I mean, obviously as the TCG we were the experts in

13 providing the surveillance and knowing their capability,

14 knowing the capabilities of the HMSU. And obviously we

15 would be in a position to advise him, and whether we

16 thought a successful operation could have been mounted

17 and taken advice from us on that. And there would have

18 been discussion with him that we'd have forwarded on that.

19 But obviously as a head, it was ultimately his decision.

20 Q. And who determined which agency to use, either E4A or

21 the Army agency?

22 A. That probably would have been down to ourselves and

23 myself in TCG that, depending on what area it was and

24 particularly, you know, what terrorist organisation we

25 were looking at, we would decide maybe which of the

 

 

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1 agencies was the best one to look at and which one had

2 the expertise.

3 Q. Is that something which is sensitive to discuss in more

4 detail or can you tell us a bit more about what may

5 inform that decision?

6 A. I don't think there is really a lot more to tell. There

7 are a few issues on that that probably would be better

8 discussed further in closed session, but it is, you

9 know, a decision really made on the organisation that

10 you were looking at. But there are a few issues round

11 that that -- you know, certainly I could go into detail

12 of why exactly that would happen, you know.

13 Q. Let us come back to that issue in closed hearing. May

14 I ask you more generally about the Republican groups in

15 your area? Who were the key groups for you, which the

16 TCG was tasked to look at?

17 A. At that time the Provisional IRA were the main

18 organisation on the Republican side that we would have

19 looked at, and they were the major threat to national

20 security at that time.

21 Q. Would you have been aware of the active service units

22 that were active in your area?

23 A. Yes, we would have been aware of them and obviously,

24 especially if we were mounting covert operations on

25 them, yes.

 

 

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1 Q. One such unit is, as far as the evidence we have been

2 given, thought to have been headed by Colin Duffy and to

3 be based in Lurgan as part of the North Armagh brigade.

4 Is that something you would have been aware of?

5 A. Yes, that is something I would have been aware of.

6 Q. Is it fair to say that Mr Duffy would have been a key

7 target in this period for Special Branch and the TCG

8 surveillance?

9 A. Yes, absolutely. He was well known obviously for his

10 involvement in terrorist operations at that time and

11 there was a lot of intelligence surrounding him and

12 other contacts of his that were involved in terrorist

13 operations.

14 Q. Was there a perception that he had murdered the two

15 police officers in June 1997, which I appreciate is

16 a year or so before you took up your post?

17 A. Yes, I'm aware of that, yes.

18 Q. And did that lead to a certain degree of hostility

19 towards him, as far as you were aware?

20 A. I'm not sure if it led to any more hostility towards him

21 as an individual. Obviously the -- it was felt that

22 that, and him and that unit were a major threat to

23 members of the RUC at that time, and he certainly was of

24 interest to us and concern, and it was our role to try

25 and gather intelligence and try and make an arrest.

 

 

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1 Q. Did you know that Rosemary Nelson represented him?

2 A. I wouldn't have been aware of that at that time, you

3 know. I can't remember or recall that she was part

4 of his ...

5 Q. Several witnesses have said that the media publicised

6 her representation of him because some of his cases were

7 a cause celebre in the locality?

8 A. Obviously I am aware of that now. Whether I was aware

9 of that at that time, I just couldn't honestly be sure

10 at that time.

11 Q. She was also, at this period in 1998, representing the

12 Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, which was also an

13 organisation which had a pretty high media profile

14 because they were associated with Drumcree. Were you

15 aware of that?

16 A. Yes, I think it has probably been a bit like the

17 representation of Colin Duffy. I think that probably

18 was publicised in media as well.

19 Q. The Inquiry has seen a number of Special Branch reports

20 that indicate that Mrs Nelson was suspected of assisting

21 with providing false alibis to members of the IRA at

22 this time and had pressurised a prosecution witness in

23 relation to the case against Mr Duffy for the two

24 murders.

25 Did you pick up from your dealings with

 

 

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1 Special Branch a sense that there was intelligence on

2 her which indicated she was up to no good?

3 A. I hadn't got briefed on intelligence of her providing

4 any alibis, no.

5 Q. And what about the witness issue, the pressurising the

6 witness?

7 A. No, I wasn't aware of that.

8 Q. Were you aware of any sense in which she was considered

9 to be, as it were, a sympathiser of the Republican

10 movement?

11 A. The only issue I was aware of was she had a very close

12 association with Colin Duffy and Colin Duffy was part of

13 the unit that we were investigating and carrying out

14 surveillance on. And that from time to time, she would

15 have come under notice while we were carrying out

16 surveillance on Colin Duffy.

17 Q. What do you mean by "close association"?

18 A. Well, we would have carried out surveillance on

19 Colin Duffy. She would have met up with him at various

20 locations in the Lurgan area.

21 Q. And the inference you drew there, that was what?

22 A. The inference we drew from that was that they had a very

23 close relationship, and from what we could see of

24 where -- the locations they were meeting and where they

25 were meeting and -- countryside, all I can say is that,

 

 

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1 you know, whether it was professional or what her

2 counsel was at that time, but it was a very close

3 relationship.

4 Q. Do you actually mean by that that they were having an

5 affair?

6 A. I would have understood that, yes, as having an affair,

7 yes. That's what it appeared.

8 Q. I would like to look, if I may, in exploring this issue

9 at one particular document, which is at RNI-548-212

10 (displayed).

11 We can see this document is headed "TCG tasking

12 request form" and it is a pre-printed form which is then

13 filled in in manuscript, and the office of origin is

14 Lurgan and the date is 19 May 1998. We can see that the

15 subject or target is Colin Duffy and part that of has

16 been redacted. Then the objectives again, which have

17 been partly redacted, are:

18 "To target the location where Duffy [blank]."

19 Then it continues:

20 "... meeting Rosemary Nelson."

21 Then the intelligence case is set out there, and it

22 says:

23 "Colin Duffy and Rosemary Nelson are having an

24 extramarital affair and regularly travel in their own

25 vehicles to pre-arranged meeting points in the greater

 

 

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1 Craigavon area."

2 If we continue overleaf, please, to the next page,

3 we can see a page there which effectively summarises

4 some background about Mr Duffy, what's known about him,

5 his employment status and, indeed, his physical

6 appearance in some detail.

7 I would like to continue through the form, please,

8 to page RNI-548-214 (displayed), and this page

9 summarises some details about Mrs Nelson herself,

10 including again her occupation, her nationality, her age

11 and a description of her physical appearance. And then

12 page RNI-548-215, please (displayed).

13 Although we cannot see the title of each individual

14 paragraph, I will read out some of the sections:

15 "Duffy and Nelson have been having an affair for the

16 past year. Duffy uses her to glean information on local

17 issues, including police procedures, interviewing

18 techniques and general legal matters, to keep him

19 abreast of current systems. Both he and Nelson would be

20 surveillance aware."

21 So this is an indication, I think, that the TCG were

22 aware at this stage -- and I appreciate it appears it

23 might be slightly prior to your arrival as Acting

24 Superintendent -- of a close association between the

25 two. Do you recollect this?

 

 

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1 A. I mean, all I can say is that, you know, we carried out

2 surveillance on Colin Duffy and that Rosemary Nelson, as

3 I said before, appeared from time to time to meet up

4 with him at various locations. And obviously that

5 intelligence has come from Special Branch, that there

6 was an affair going on there, and that's really all I

7 would say on that.

8 Q. The final point it says in the paragraph on that page,

9 is:

10 "Identify meeting point of Duffy and Nelson and

11 subsequent location where they travel for the purpose of

12 their affair. If possible record activities for use by

13 SB."

14 I appreciate this is something we can discuss in

15 more detail in closed session, but had anyone during the

16 course of the surveillance on Mr Duffy and

17 Rosemary Nelson seen what they considered to be untoward

18 physical contact between them?

19 A. I'm not aware of it, no.

20 Q. When you say you are not aware of it, do you mean that

21 as far as you were aware --

22 A. Yes, I can't recall any -- an occasion of that, where

23 that was the case. I don't know if there is -- I mean,

24 after each surveillance, when the surveillance unit had

25 finished that day, they would have drew up a précis of

 

 

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1 whatever happened and whatever their sightings were of

2 that particular occasion and of the meeting, and what

3 they had seen taking place.

4 Q. None of the documents that the Inquiry has seen actually

5 say in explicit terms, as it were, that their liaison on

6 those occasions was sexual?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. It is quite clear from the documents we have seen that

9 some of the liaisons were late at night and some of them

10 were in areas that weren't conventional or in derelict

11 areas or elsewhere. Nothing goes beyond that. Are you

12 aware of anything that does say that?

13 A. No, I'm not.

14 Q. Who do you think drew the inference that the contact

15 they were having at those points was extramarital, as it

16 were, and not simply --

17 A. I believe, as I say, that that intelligence came from

18 Special Branch.

19 Q. Can you see how an inference may have been incorrectly

20 drawn about that, that they could have been having

21 either a meeting, if she was a Republican sympathiser,

22 about PIRA activities or a meeting about his legal cases

23 outside the confines of Lurgan?

24 A. It was our job to carry out surveillance on Colin Duffy

25 and to identify his associates and identify movements of

 

 

105

 

1 Rosemary Nelson with him, as we said, and as outlined in

2 that document about where they met and things like that.

3 You know, we could only report on what we seen and

4 as the surveillance it was our job to report what we

5 seen and what was observed by the surveillance team, and

6 it wasn't really our job to carry out an inference on

7 it. Intelligence and analysis was really for

8 Special Branch really.

9 Q. So you would simply have reported the timings of their

10 meetings and location of their meetings, but you

11 wouldn't, in your report back to the originators of the

12 tasking, have said they were having sex or the meeting

13 appears --

14 A. We would only have reported that if we had seen that.

15 If there was evidence of that and it was supported from

16 the surveillance to the ground that there was evidence

17 of physical contact or whatever, yes, that would have

18 been reported back on the précis. If it wasn't, we

19 would not have drawn any inference from it.

20 Q. May I show you one such précis, at least I think it is

21 a précis for that type of operation? This is at

22 RNI-542-227 (displayed). The title of this is "E4A

23 South". So it is the agency which you were tasking from

24 your TCG. The date is July 1998 and the operation is

25 given the name "Repugnance".

 

 

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1 First of all, can I ask you whether you can

2 recollect whether this was a surveillance operation on

3 Colin Duffy?

4 A. Yes, it is an operation against Colin Duffy, that's

5 right.

6 Q. And you can see his name is on there plus what one can

7 assume is his vehicle, a blue Vauxhall Cavalier?

8 A. That's correct.

9 Q. Then if we look at the substance of the document, we can

10 see that it states when the team was deployed and then

11 it goes through various items of what Mr Duffy appears

12 to be doing, including him arriving at Mrs Nelson's

13 office and then getting back on his own, it appears, in

14 the car and travelling around.

15 Can I just look at the next page, please

16 (displayed)? Then you can see there at 18.08 that

17 Mrs Nelson's car is being looked at as well, her silver

18 BMW. Would the surveillance teams have been aware of

19 her specific vehicle as part of this surveillance

20 operation?

21 A. I would think initially they probably weren't.

22 Initially, obviously, it was carrying out surveillance

23 on Colin Duffy and it was like any other vehicle, and

24 you see there were other vehicles mentioned there as

25 well, that any other vehicle that came into contact or

 

 

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1 had associations with Colin Duffy would have been noted

2 and checked.

3 Q. Was she a joint target or subject of this operation

4 herself, given that it appears to be involving her to

5 a significant degree?

6 A. Absolutely not. There was never, ever a tasking on --

7 for surveillance against Rosemary Nelson.

8 Q. You are certain of that for the entire period in which

9 you were responsible, are you?

10 A. Yes, I am positive about that.

11 Q. Now, if we go through to what I think is the final page

12 of the document, which is at RNI-542-231 (displayed),

13 and this is, I think, the end of the surveillance on

14 them. The first noted item is at 21.57, so just before

15 ten o'clock in the evening:

16 "Nelson driving, Duffy front seat passenger."

17 Then it says where they were travelling to:

18 "... via Derrymacash Road and Ardmore Road and

19 turned left on to Church Road.

20 "... eventually parked convenient to a derelict

21 building off Church Road at grid reference ..."

22 And then it has been redacted and then there is

23 various other bits and pieces there until it says:

24 "The team lifted off."

25 And it doesn't give a time there, but the time of

 

 

108

 

1 this surveillance goes up to shortly before midnight.

2 Is that the type of document which you are talking

3 about when you gave your answer earlier about their

4 being parked in unusual areas, and you can see it is

5 a derelict building?

6 A. That's correct, yes.

7 Q. Is this, in simple terms, the kind of report that would

8 have been sent to Special Branch for them to draw

9 inferences from it as to what was going on?

10 A. Yes, a précis probably was made. That looks like a log,

11 a complete log of the events of that, and a précis of

12 that would have been forwarded to Special Branch of

13 those details, that obviously during surveillance of

14 Duffy, that Mrs Nelson obviously has come in contact

15 with him there. And looking, according to that,

16 obviously she was driving the vehicle and he was

17 a passenger and that.

18 Q. I don't at my fingertips have a précis I can show you to

19 compare to this, but could you give us an idea of the

20 kind of items or information it may contain?

21 A. It will contain that information, the timings just -- it

22 is more condensed in that paragraph that it is probably

23 easier to read and just giving a more condensed synopsis

24 really of the full serial that was carried out, the full

25 surveillance serial that would have been carried out

 

 

109

 

1 during that time.

2 I mean, if you had a log where you had covered two

3 or three hours where there were no sightings of

4 Colin Duffy and that, it probably wouldn't have that on

5 it. It would have had the period of time they started

6 surveillance, then the important picture of obviously

7 when Duffy was spotted and then who his associates were

8 and what vehicles and things like that.

9 Q. This document appears to have been compiled by B651, the

10 Detective Sergeant. I think he is one of your

11 sergeants, isn't he?

12 A. B651 would have been a sergeant in the surveillance

13 team.

14 Q. Who does he send this summary to? Where does it go?

15 A. He would have sent the précis through to TCG, through to

16 us, after the termination of the surveillance.

17 Q. Does this document that we are looking at here then go

18 to Special Branch, back to possibly Lurgan

19 Special Branch who asked for the surveillance in the

20 first place?

21 A. A document like that -- it normally was the practice

22 that the like of that document would have been put on to

23 Prism and linked it on to the computer system. And the

24 précis, you know, the details of that would have been

25 sent through to Special Branch.

 

 

110

 

1 Q. Now, if your surveillance officers or the E4A officers

2 had seen sexual conduct between Mr Duffy and Mrs Nelson,

3 would you have expected that to have been reported in

4 their précis or in the document we are looking at?

5 A. Yes, it would have been reported.

6 Q. Why would it have been written down?

7 A. Sorry?

8 Q. Why?

9 A. It is like all observations, they would have wrote down

10 exactly what was happening. He was a front seat

11 passenger, whatever was happening at that time they

12 would have put that down. I mean, initial tasking and

13 initial intelligence was that they were having an affair

14 and that would have supported that intelligence, if that

15 would have been noted.

16 Q. So may we infer from the fact that there isn't mention

17 of any sexual contact here that either they couldn't see

18 what was going on in the car or they could see and it

19 wasn't sexual?

20 A. Well, you could take that -- there is no doubt you could

21 take that either way. I mean, surveillance team -- if

22 they would have seen it, they would have reported it.

23 I'm quite sure of that.

24 So obviously they didn't see it. I mean, quite

25 honestly, if they were sitting and they were in

 

 

111

 

1 a position that the surveillance team would have

2 reported that they were in deep conversation, they

3 probably would have put something like that on it.

4 Q. Mr Duffy was a prime target for you during this period,

5 I think it is right to say?

6 A. That's correct.

7 Q. Did you task the military surveillance unit to look at

8 him also?

9 A. I'm not aware of having tasked them on any occasion to

10 look at him, but I'm not sure. I don't believe we did.

11 I think this was -- the Provisional IRA and that unit

12 were the responsibility really of the E4A teams.

13 Q. Would the product of military surveillance have come to

14 you in a similar form, either précis or --

15 A. Exactly the same. There were exactly the same operating

16 methods for that, for providing intelligence through to

17 TCG for onward transmission to Special Branch for

18 analysis.

19 Q. Similarly to this document and others, would we expect

20 the military surveillance unit to have written down

21 whether or not there was some form of sexual activity

22 going on in the car, as far as they were aware?

23 A. Yes, I would. Obviously you go back to the tasking and

24 what the aims of the tasking were and what the

25 intelligence was and whether the surveillance supported

 

 

112

 

1 that intelligence and whether you could gather some

2 further intelligence.

3 Q. I would like to move on, if I may, to the issue of

4 Operation Fagotto. And as I said at the outset, there

5 are considerable sensitivities about this issue which

6 means I can't really ask you in open session the detail

7 of the operation in the way which I would like. But is

8 it fair to say that Operation Fagotto was a long-term

9 operation relating to a major IRA personality in the

10 locality?

11 A. That's correct, yes.

12 Q. By which I mean Lurgan and North Armagh?

13 A. Lurgan and North Armagh PIRA, yes.

14 Q. And it involved surveillance and, therefore, involved

15 the TCG?

16 A. That's correct, yes.

17 Q. Am I right in asking that it was running on the night of

18 the murder?

19 A. That's correct.

20 Q. So the night before the murder, I should say?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Can you recollect how long it had been running prior to

23 that?

24 A. I can't recollect the exact starting date for Operation

25 Fagotto, when exactly it started, because it was, as you

 

 

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1 said, a long-term operation. Whether it started before

2 I arrived or whether it started after, I -- but it was

3 ongoing. It was an ongoing intelligence-gathering

4 operation.

5 Q. And it was running during your tenure?

6 A. It was, yes.

7 Q. Was it also running after the murder?

8 A. Yes, I would have thought so, yes.

9 Q. And it would have been initiated, would it, in its

10 original form by the Regional Head of Special Branch

11 South?

12 A. Yes. As I explained before, what you had was

13 intelligence coming in about, obviously, the North

14 Armagh PIRA unit and the particular operation, you

15 know -- it would have been set up and you would have

16 been speaking to the Regional Head and he would have

17 been sending names off, and what he wanted achieved on

18 the intelligence-gathering side of it. And each

19 operation, you know, different -- had been given

20 different op names, and this obviously is part of this

21 and this particular person had been given the op name of

22 Fagotto.

23 Q. There was a particular issue that arose over the weekend

24 prior to Rosemary Nelson's death which required an

25 urgent response?

 

 

114

 

1 A. That's correct, yes.

2 Q. Now, in your statement you discuss this in some detail,

3 although a lot of it is redacted. But I think is it

4 fair to say that you were contacted about this issue

5 directly at home over that weekend?

6 A. Yes, the Regional Head contacted me at home and made me

7 aware of the intelligence and the situation he had, and

8 obviously it was up to me then in discussion with him to

9 decide what action I would take and whether I needed to

10 deploy a surveillance team or not on that occasion.

11 Q. When you were contacted at home that weekend, which I

12 think was on the Sunday --

13 A. That's correct, yes.

14 Q. -- was that the first you had heard of the fact that an

15 urgent operation or sub-operation needed to be conducted?

16 A. Yes, that was the first I was made aware of this

17 particular set of circumstances that required us to

18 deploy a surveillance team into an area.

19 Q. Were you already on call that weekend even though you

20 weren't working?

21 A. Yes, I was on call.

22 Q. So it would have been a matter of routine to contact you

23 as the Acting Superintendent in order to initiate that

24 process, would it?

25 A. That would have been the way. The Regional Head would

 

 

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1 have obviously been made aware of this intelligence, and

2 his immediate reaction, if he thought there was a

3 necessity for a surveillance team deployment or some

4 sort of covert operation, he would have automatically

5 contacted me.

6 Q. Now, in discussion with him, would you have probed him

7 on precisely why you needed to send out your officers?

8 A. Yes, and there are details within that that would

9 explain -- that I could explain to you, as a said

10 before, in the closed session.

11 Q. What I'm interested in trying to explore now, though, is

12 whether or not you would have tested the need to send

13 somebody out as a matter of urgency?

14 A. Absolutely. A Sunday on this occasion and where there

15 was no officers maybe deployed at that time and maybe

16 no one else working at that particular time, it would

17 have been a matter of trying to recall people, maybe

18 some people on rest days or whatever. So you wouldn't

19 have been bringing people in unnecessarily.

20 Q. And was it up to you as the Head of the TCG to then

21 determine how the deployment would work, or is that

22 something which you would have discussed with him?

23 A. Given the set of circumstances that he explained to me,

24 and the intelligence, it was up to me then to deploy the

25 surveillance team and, you know, put the requirement to

 

 

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1 them and give them the aim that I required that evening.

2 Q. And you then, I think, contacted --

3 A. The Detective Sergeant.

4 Q. Whose cipher we have already seen, in fact, I think in

5 the context of the document still on the screen. I

6 think it is B --

7 A. 656.

8 Q. Not the same sergeant in fact, 656?

9 A. No, B656 is a sergeant I would have contacted to

10 organise this. He was the sergeant that worked in TCG

11 with myself.

12 Q. And was it then up to him to formulate the operation, to

13 liaise with the teams who were going to do it?

14 A. Yes, I would have contacted him, told him that basically

15 it was necessary to deploy the surveillance team, given

16 the set of circumstances and the aim and, you know, what

17 we had hoped to achieve. Then it would have been up to

18 him to organise getting the surveillance team in,

19 getting the HMSU in and the other things that were

20 necessary around running an operation.

21 Q. What would have informed which particular team of

22 surveillance officers he would have chosen?

23 A. With that being Op Fagotto, there was a team already

24 assigned to that and that would have been the same team

25 would have been brought into that. You wouldn't have

 

 

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1 brought in a different surveillance team to carry that

2 out.

3 Q. They would already have been familiar with what exactly

4 the operation was about and what its potential problems

5 might be?

6 A. Yes, they would have been already aware of the

7 personalities involved and the area that it would be

8 required to work in.

9 Q. Once you had given the direction to the sergeant, did

10 you have any further involvement on the ground

11 management of the operation that night?

12 A. No, I mean, it was -- the set of circumstances, as

13 I said, would have been explained to me. I basically,

14 obviously, in agreement with the Regional Head, decided,

15 yes, it was necessary to deploy surveillance. I would

16 have passed that on, that it was necessary, and give the

17 directive to the sergeant to deploy the surveillance and

18 give him the aim of the operation for that evening. And

19 then it really would have been up to him to manage it

20 and carry out the operation from that end.

21 It was probably fairly routine for him to be able to

22 to do that, and he would have understood exactly -- when

23 I explained to him what was to be achieved and what we

24 wanted, he would have understood what to do at that

25 stage.

 

 

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1 Q. Did you have any further involvement with the issue that

2 evening?

3 A. No, I wouldn't have expected to have had any further

4 involvement with that unless there was some sort of

5 media issue arose during it or leading up to it that

6 there was something else needed clarifying or whatever.

7 Q. Were you satisfied that the operation was in fact urgent

8 and needed to be carried out that night, as opposed to

9 over the forthcoming days at some point?

10 A. No, I was satisfied. As I said, the set of

11 circumstances were explained to me that it was necessary

12 to deploy that evening.

13 Q. As far as you were aware, was an out of bounds order

14 made in relation to the area in which the surveillance

15 team were due to operate?

16 A. Yes. As far as I am aware, yes, that was it, yes.

17 There was an out of bounds for that area.

18 Q. Is that a routine aspect of the deployment of

19 surveillance teams?

20 A. No, I wouldn't say it is in total routine for every

21 surveillance serial that goes out that it requires an

22 out of bounds, but because of the set of circumstances

23 involved that we were required surveillance personnel

24 out on foot or whatever into a particular area that

25 would have been hostile to them and certainly would have

 

 

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1 been of a risk to them. Yes, the areas would have been

2 put out of bounds on those occasions where we might have

3 to put people out on, you know, on foot.

4 Q. Who determined the out of bounds area?

5 A. Well, it would have been in consultation with the

6 sergeant from -- that would have been B651 probably in

7 contact with B656, who would have determined and agreed

8 the out of bounds. The surveillance team would have

9 explained their plan, the sergeant from that would have

10 explained their plan, what they intended to do, and it

11 was an agreement that an out of bounds would have been

12 required on that occasion. Then the area would have

13 been placed out of bounds.

14 Q. Are you clear in your mind that the operation was not

15 a cover for Special Branch officers to plant a bomb on

16 Rosemary Nelson's car?

17 A. I certainly refute that and I am absolutely clear that

18 it was not that.

19 Q. Likewise, are you satisfied that the operation was not

20 instigated in order to create an out of bounds area to

21 allow the bombers to put the bomb on the car?

22 A. As I said, this operation started from intelligence from

23 Special Branch and came up through, I imagine, up

24 through -- went through to the Regional Head and then

25 through to myself for discussion.

 

 

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1 It required each one of us at each point to agree

2 a certain set of circumstances to take the operation

3 forward. So at any stage it could have been stopped and

4 no operation went ahead. So it certainly wasn't built

5 round trying to create an out of bounds.

6 Q. So far as you were aware, did any members of the TCG in

7 your region or of the E45 surveillance team who were

8 involved in this operation, have any contact with

9 Loyalist paramilitaries?

10 A. Certainly not as far as I am aware.

11 Q. And you are certain of that, are you?

12 A. Yes, I am certainly aware that there was no contact with

13 Loyalist paramilitaries from any of the personnel that I

14 was working with.

15 Q. After Rosemary Nelson died, Superintendent Kincaid

16 became one of the senior officers on the Murder

17 Investigation Team and he met with the Regional Head of

18 Special Branch, B629, who we have discussed earlier?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. And a meeting took place on 16 March in which he

21 requested information in relation to all covert military

22 operations in the days preceding Rosemary Nelson's

23 murder, which would have included necessarily the night

24 before the murder?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

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1 Q. And at that point during that meeting, he was not given

2 any indication that Operation Fagotto or, indeed, any

3 other operation of that kind had taken place that night.

4 Do you know why that indication was not given?

5 A. That was between the Regional Head and Mr Kincaid?

6 Q. Indeed.

7 A. I have no idea. It was obviously between the Regional

8 Head and Mr Kincaid, and I have no idea why or what was

9 discussed at that.

10 Q. Now, it is fair to say that he was told about it some

11 three days later on 19 March, so a relatively small

12 period of time had elapsed.

13 Can you remember, after Rosemary Nelson's murder,

14 being contacted to discuss whether or not the operation

15 should be disclosed to Mr Port and his officers?

16 A. I can't remember about whether it should have been

17 disclosed. The ultimate decision on disclosing the

18 operations would have been down to the Regional Head and

19 the contact with him, and any contact with the

20 Port Inquiry and with Mr Kincaid would have been through

21 the Regional Head. And it obviously would have been his

22 decision to disclose and at what time to disclose and

23 what had to be disclosed.

24 As soon as a request would have come to me asking

25 for the details of that, I would have supplied them on

 

 

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1 directions from the Regional Head.

2 Q. So it wasn't your decision to make, it was his?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. Before we move on to Operation Shubr, may I ask you one

5 last question about TCG operations generally in this

6 period?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. So far as you are aware, are there any other operations,

9 other than Shubr and Fagotto, which may bear upon

10 Rosemary Nelson's death, either because they are

11 connected with her directly or because they are

12 connected with her killers?

13 A. I can't recall any operations that would have been

14 linked into personally. I mean, Fagotto was probably

15 covered the main Provisional threat, and Shubr, that

16 you're going to come on to, obviously covered the

17 Loyalist side of things. I am sure there were other

18 operations running, but maybe not linked into the Lurgan

19 side of things, but would have been run through South

20 TCG, but weren't necessarily linked into the Lurgan side

21 of things.

22 Q. May I look, please, at document RNI-546-001 (displayed)?

23 Now, this is the first document in bundle 546, which

24 deals with Operation Shubr, and we can see there that

25 the date of this is April 1998. The title is "Operation

 

 

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1 Shubr 98/63". Does that mean it is the sixty-third

2 operation in 1998 which TCG were involved with?

3 A. That's correct. It is for TCG (South).

4 Q. It would retain that number, would it, throughout its

5 operation?

6 A. Yes, it would, under that operation name, yes.

7 Q. You can see the officer, a detective inspector, and then

8 the name has been blanked out. But I think you are

9 aware of the name behind that redaction and I think that

10 officer was part of TCG. Is that correct?

11 A. That's correct. At the time of the launch of that

12 operation and on that date, I was not the superintendent

13 in charge.

14 Q. But you came on the scene, I think, some two months

15 later, if you are correct about the date you started?

16 A. Yes, that's correct, yes.

17 Q. So I think, as we will go on to, this operation was

18 running throughout this period. Would you then have

19 been aware of it?

20 A. Yes, I would have been made aware of it, yes.

21 Obviously, as I was in charge of the TCG, I would have

22 been aware of all operations reasoning at that time.

23 Q. Can you give us an idea before we look in more detail at

24 Operation Shubr of roughly how many operations are

25 running at this period at any one time, not necessarily

 

 

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1 on the ground but just generally that are on the books?

2 A. It's very difficult. I mean, you have got there that

3 that is dated April and there are 63 operations already

4 running that year. Now, some of them being short-term

5 operations that maybe lasted a day, maybe lasted two

6 days, three days; other ones, they would run on for

7 weeks and months. So I mean, at any one time, we

8 probably had at least a dozen operations that were

9 hitting the priority list at that particular time.

10 Q. Is it fair to say that your team, the TCG, and your

11 surveillance teams were working flat out?

12 A. The terrorist threat at that time was very high and we

13 were working as hard as we could to try and thwart the

14 terrorist actions, yes.

15 Q. May I turn on two pages, please, to page RNI-546-003 of

16 that document (displayed)? Now, the operation name is

17 there stated as Shubr and the intelligence case in the

18 printed form is:

19 "Mid-Ulster LVF have some form of terrorist activity

20 planned for the near future."

21 Is that the limit of what you would have been told

22 about the justification for this operation or would

23 there have been an intelligence case which was more

24 detailed which you would have got in discussion?

25 A. That, to be quite honest with you, was typical of a lot

 

 

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1 of occasions and the type of intelligence you would have

2 received to mount an operation on. Obviously, on

3 looking at that, there was no further intelligence

4 available either on timings or targets.

5 Q. And the surveillance is said to be to identify the

6 individuals involved and their possible targets?

7 A. Yes, I see that, yes.

8 Q. How do you think that could have occurred?

9 A. Sorry?

10 Q. How in practice would surveillance on the individuals

11 have led to the identification of their possible

12 targets?

13 A. If you carried out surveillance on a particular named

14 target on this occasion -- obviously, it is down as the

15 Mid-Ulster LVF. If you had carried out surveillance on

16 them, you may have been in a position to observe them

17 carrying out some form of actions that would have led

18 you to believe they were carrying out targeting of

19 particular people if they routinely went in particular

20 areas that they normally wouldn't have been associated

21 with or whatever. Something unusual in their behaviour

22 that would have led you to -- they could have been

23 looking at certain individuals or targeting certain

24 individuals or properties or whatever it was at that

25 occasion.

 

 

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1 Q. So the unit who are doing the surveillance will simply

2 watch what they are up to, but it is actually for the

3 people receiving the information to draw an inference

4 about the actual targets, is it?

5 A. As I explained before really, the surveillance team

6 report exactly what they see. They report who they see

7 these people associating with, the vehicles they use,

8 the number of people involved, what type of actions they

9 take, whether they think it is suspicious or what

10 exactly they are doing. Then that is passed on to

11 Special Branch, which is obviously formulated along with

12 any other intelligence they have. They would have the

13 bigger picture and they would analyse that and see if

14 anything further can be gained from that.

15 Q. The targets and location are "Mid-Ulster LVF, greater

16 Craigavon area". Does that mean Mark Fulton and his

17 associates in reality?

18 A. In reality, yes.

19 Q. And that would have been obvious to the surveillance

20 unit, E4A, or the military surveillance unit in this

21 case who were reading this?

22 A. That's correct, yes.

23 Q. The timescale anticipated is from April and then I think

24 it says "TFN"?

25 A. ‘Till further notice.

 

 

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1 Q. So open-ended?

2 A. It is open-ended. I think the intelligence case in

3 that -- the only thing is that it said in the near

4 future. There are no dates, no times, no targets. So it

5 is open-ended that this unit was, you know, carrying out

6 obviously operations and we are in a position to carry

7 out intelligence-led operations against them and carry

8 out surveillance of them to see if we could identify

9 what they were in.

10 Q. Who determined the frequency of surveillance on the

11 ground?

12 A. There is a number of things would have dictated to the

13 frequency on the ground. But most likely was

14 intelligence -- most of these operations were

15 intelligence-driven. The like of this case, where, you

16 know, you have been asked -- when they're planning some

17 sort of operation, you would have been, you know,

18 focusing quite a lot on them at that stage to see if you

19 were in a position to identify what they were up to.

20 Q. But what I'm interested in really is whether the

21 discretion was left to, in this case, the military unit

22 to decide when they went out?

23 A. No, the decision would have been with myself and the

24 Regional Head, obviously, who was providing the

25 intelligence, and myself on whether we had the resources

 

 

128

 

1 and the capability to carry out that surveillance.

2 Q. What would determine your decision in that regard?

3 Would you receive from Special Branch particular bits of

4 intelligence which gave a sense of urgency within

5 a short period of time, and then you would contact the

6 military surveillance unit to get them out on the

7 ground?

8 A. Exactly. As I said, most of these operations are

9 intelligence-driven, and if you got further intelligence

10 that would have give you any further indications of what

11 this unit were at, you would obviously put surveillance

12 out on those occasions.

13 On other occasions, if you had the resources

14 available and, you know, you were of opinion that

15 further surveillance on that day would have gained you

16 further intelligence, then you would have deployed them.

17 Q. Now, it appears from the documents which the Inquiry has

18 seen -- and I hope they are all the documents that

19 relate to this operation -- that the operation is, to

20 say the least, intermittent in its deployment.

21 Can you provide us, without breaching any

22 sensitivity, with an explanation as to why that may have

23 been the case?

24 A. Really, as far as I would like to go in here really is

25 that it is intelligence-driven. And as I said before,

 

 

129

 

1 if there was further intelligence, you would have

2 carried out more operations and, you know,

3 prioritisation and resourcing were other issues that

4 came in to carrying out surveillance on these, and

5 obviously the nature of the threat to national security

6 by these teams.

7 Q. So is it the case that all the time you and TCG, in

8 consultation with Special Branch and with the

9 surveillance units, are calibrating the urgency and the

10 need of particular operations to be active at particular

11 times? That's what you do on a daily or weekly basis?

12 A. On a daily basis, yes. And to be quite honest with you,

13 on a daily basis and on a hourly basis depending on what

14 information comes in to you and what is happening and

15 what your surveillance is reporting back to you.

16 Q. And once you have set an operation like this running,

17 i.e. you have left an open-ended order for it to occur,

18 can it be deployed by a telephone call from Regional

19 Head of Special Branch to you and another phone call

20 from you to your contact at military surveillance?

21 A. Yes, it is the same sort of thing. This here, if there

22 was further intelligence come in or some set of

23 circumstances come in from the Regional Head and made

24 contact with me either during your working day or while

25 you are off and explained the circumstances, it was up

 

 

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1 to you then -- myself, then to make sure we could

2 organise the resources to deploy surveillance as

3 necessary.

4 Q. Can we be certain from the fact that there are gaps in

5 this reporting that during those gaps, operations

6 weren't going ahead on the ground? In other words,

7 firstly would every operation have led to a written

8 record?

9 A. Absolutely, there would have been a written record of

10 deployment and there would be a précis produced even if

11 it was a précis to say that no activity was noted or

12 whatever on the personalities.

13 The TCG was the controlling mechanism that

14 controlled who carried out surveillance and when they

15 carried it out. And, as I said before, we were the

16 clearing house for all covert operations, so no covert

17 operations were taking place in South Region without

18 coming through the TCG.

19 MR SKELTON: Sir, I'm about to ask a few questions about the

20 open material in relation to Shubr before we move on to

21 closed, but I think it may be appropriate to have

22 a short break before I do that.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. A short break?

24 MR SKELTON: Indeed.

25 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Mr (name redacted), before the witness leaves,

 

 

131

 

1 would you please confirm that all the cameras have been

2 switched off?

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

4 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out. As I

5 understand it, we will resume in open session.

6 MR SKELTON: We will, sir. I would suggest ten or 15

7 minutes at your discretion.

8 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. Should we say five to three.

9 (2.43 pm)

10 (Short break)

11 (2.55 pm)

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

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

14 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

16 screen closed?

17 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

19 and securely fastened?

20 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

22 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

23 of this chamber?

24 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

25 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr (name redacted), can you please confirm that the

 

 

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1 two witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

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

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

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

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

6 Bring the witness in, please. Please sit down.

7 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

8 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

9 switched back on.

10 Yes, Mr Skelton?

11 MR SKELTON: Now, before we return to Operation Shubr, there

12 is one issue I would like to clarify in relation to

13 Operation Fagotto which we discussed earlier.

14 You mentioned that you were contacted at home by the

15 Regional Head of Special Branch, and you were told,

16 I believe, that there was a need for an urgent operation

17 to take place that night in relation to Fagotto.

18 Were you told that specific reporting had been

19 received which led to that conclusion?

20 A. Yes, it was explained to me that there was a set of

21 circumstances and obviously intelligence behind the set

22 of circumstances that would have required me to deploy

23 the surveillance team, and it was necessary to have them

24 out that night to do that.

25 Q. Did those set of circumstances eventually find

 

 

133

 

1 themselves within a formal report that you were

2 aware of?

3 A. I'm sure -- I mean, if it was -- it obviously would have

4 depended, but the intelligence would have come in and

5 a debrief created on it. I have no doubt there would

6 have been intelligence put in if that was the case, but

7 I'm not aware of it and I'm not sure -- I never seen

8 a document on that.

9 Q. Well, to assist you, I can help that such reporting was

10 in fact received. I was more interested in whether or

11 not you were aware of it.

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Thank you. Turning back to Shubr, may we look, please,

14 at page RNI-564-532 (displayed)? Now, it is a Prism

15 document printout from February 1999 and it relates to

16 Operation Shubr, which we can see there in both the

17 written form and its number, 98/63. And the destination

18 is TCG (South). And its originating officers are

19 redacted there, but we can take it that that's the

20 military surveillance unit which conducted the operation

21 behind that redaction.

22 As I understand it, the military didn't themselves

23 have access to the Prism system; they had access to the

24 MACER system. So can you help us on how this document

25 would have been produced and who would have written it?

 

 

134

 

1 A. The constables within TCG would have created a document

2 on Prism with reference to any précis or any details and

3 that that came from Army surveillance.

4 Q. So let's turn overleaf. This is the detail of the

5 operation as it was deployed on the ground.

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. That would have been based on the précis that would have

8 been received by one of the constables in TCG who would

9 have converted it into a Prism document?

10 A. That's correct, yes.

11 Q. And would that conversion have been a word for word

12 transcription, or there have been some element of

13 further précising?

14 A. No, that would have been a direct copy basically.

15 Obviously there was no facility, as you might have, to

16 scan the document in and put it directly into Prism. It

17 had to be typed in a separate document. So they would

18 have copied it directly in and fully from the précis.

19 Q. We can see from that that the background -- although

20 albeit again heavily redacted -- is to do with Portadown

21 LVF and a meeting which is said to be taking place in

22 Belfast, and the aim is to monitor the pair's movements

23 from Portadown to the outskirts of Belfast before

24 handing over. And "the pair" I think are two

25 personalities that featured within Portadown and

 

 

135

 

1 Mid-Ulster LVF?

2 A. LVF, yes.

3 Q. And we can see there that the timing is redacted, but it

4 is clearly a specific time where the operation begins

5 and they appear to have been followed around for

6 a period of time, and then the operation stops. So this

7 is the full content of what the surveillance team on the

8 ground would have seen during that period?

9 A. That's correct, yes.

10 Q. Can you recollect whether this operation was deployed as

11 a result of a specific piece of intelligence at that

12 period, i.e. late --

13 A. What I can take from that is as outlined in the aim of

14 the operation, the aim as being -- and tasked to monitor

15 the pair's movement from Portadown to the outskirts of

16 Belfast and that there was a meeting. The

17 intelligence -- you can't see it on this, but the

18 intelligence obviously suggesting there was a meeting.

19 And that would have been the objectives: to confirm the

20 intelligence that these two people were, or whatever --

21 were heading to a meeting and an action meeting took

22 place between them and where the meeting took place.

23 Q. So this is an example of how the long-term operation

24 could be activated for a specific purpose, to find

25 a specific bit of information?

 

 

136

 

1 A. Exactly. That covers it. If you have a -- if, you

2 know, an update on the intelligence that there is

3 a meeting on tonight, certain personalities were

4 involved in it and deploying a surveillance team to

5 cover that, to cover the personalities and identify any

6 other personalities that come to that meeting would have

7 been a prime example of how you got a successful

8 completion to that operation within the longer term

9 objectives of the operation.

10 Q. Now, back on the cover sheet on page 052, there were

11 two dates there. One is date obtained, which we can see

12 is February 1999, and one is date registered,

13 March 1999. Now, it is a matter of days

14 between these two points but why is there a difference

15 between the two?

16 A. Obviously I would imagine the date obtained is the day

17 the surveillance was carried out. I'm not sure exactly,

18 but I imagine that's what it refers to, and register is

19 when it was registered on the computer. I'm not sure.

20 To be quite honest, I couldn't ...

21 Q. Is it ordinarily the case that there is a time lag,

22 albeit of only a few days, between information being

23 obtained and then registered while the DCs convert the

24 documents into the Prism system?

25 A. In certain circumstances like that, it could be that it

 

 

137

 

1 could have taken a day or so, yes, when documents come

2 in to getting it on the system. But that doesn't mean

3 that Special Branch hadn't been made aware or other

4 people hadn't been made aware of the intelligence that

5 would have come back. For example, if that was

6 a meeting, they may well have been briefed on it.

7 Q. Would you have received the précis -- by "you", I mean

8 the TCG -- immediately after the operation?

9 A. Immediately or very shortly afterwards, yes.

10 Q. So that night or early in the morning, that sort of

11 thing?

12 A. That's right.

13 Q. Once you received that précis, it ultimately finds its

14 way on to the Prism system. Are you saying that you

15 could make a phone call to Special Branch with the

16 result?

17 A. I mean, Special Branch or probably, in our

18 circumstances, up through the Superintendent or the

19 Chief Superintendent, the Regional Head or the

20 Superintendent in charge of that particular area. Made

21 him aware of the details and basically saying yes,

22 a meeting did take place, two people were involved or

23 three people or whatever, and the details of it.

24 Q. May we look at document RNI-546-057, which I think is

25 the next Shubr document in the bundle (displayed).

 

 

138

 

1 Now, this is dated, again, March 1999 and that's

2 where the date is obtained. So we can assume that the

3 operation took place in March. And I can explain that

4 this aspect of the operation took place prior to

5 Rosemary Nelson's murder.

6 A. Okay.

7 Q. The cover sheet is in the same form as we previously

8 saw. If we go overleaf, please, to RNI-546-058 and,

9 again, I think we can see the background is the same or

10 very similar?

11 A. Okay, yes.

12 Q. In its text. It is to do with a possible meeting

13 between or attended by those individuals that we

14 identified before. Can you see that?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. I appreciate that a lot of it is redacted, but you can

17 see that the main thrust of it is a similar type of

18 request?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. And again, the target and location is similar and we

21 then have the text, which there is no need to take you

22 through. But, again, they are being followed around at

23 various points during that particular day?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. The short point, I think, is that it is for

 

 

139

 

1 Special Branch really to draw the inference about

2 whether or not what can be seen on this in the text, the

3 substantive text, has got any meaning for them. Is that

4 right?

5 A. That's right. I mean, the idea -- these were

6 intelligence-driven operations on behalf of

7 Special Branch and it was our job, you know, from the

8 TCG point of view to organise and coordinate the

9 surveillance, and the results of that surveillance then

10 would have been passed to Special Branch.

11 Q. Within the text there, you can see that there are

12 references to sort of little comments, as it were, in

13 brackets about the individuals and also comments like:

14 "This address is used for the distribution of drugs

15 and LVF meeting place. Comment end".

16 Whose comment is that?

17 A. That would have been the surveillance team's comment.

18 Q. So when they were writing this, they would have had

19 a fairly good idea about who they were watching, where

20 they generally went, what kind of activities they were

21 routinely up to?

22 A. Especially if it was a long-term operation, if they had

23 been out on them before. And this is 1999, this

24 operation has gone on since 1998, well aware of

25 personalities involved and their activities.

 

 

140

 

1 Q. So it is more than simply a record in this case; it is

2 actually -- there is a little bit of thought that has

3 gone into what the meaning of the surveillance is?

4 A. Sometimes it is just putting it into context. You know,

5 if you are carrying out surveillance and people have

6 been -- get very well used to the pattern of life of

7 people in doing this, then you can add some context to

8 that if that is found to be useful.

9 Q. The next report I would like to show you is RNI-546-059

10 (displayed) and the cover sheet, as we have seen before,

11 is in the same format. The date is March 1999. But I

12 can explain that this is one that occurs after

13 Rosemary Nelson's murder this time.

14 If we go overleaf, we can see a little bit more

15 detail. Again, the top part of it is the same as in

16 previous documents, but the background is slightly

17 different. You can see that it refers to the leading

18 personalities in the LVF, albeit that their names have

19 been redacted. But the aim, specifically, is to monitor

20 the pair's movements around Portadown. So in this case,

21 it is a bit vaguer, in fact, about why the operation

22 should take place.

23 Now, can you recall what the purpose of the

24 monitoring was at this stage because it doesn't appear

25 to be written down in this document?

 

 

141

 

1 A. No, I can only go by what the aim was set out in the

2 operational aim, obviously to monitor the movement while

3 there is intelligence that they were involved in

4 something that particular day, whether this was the

5 ongoing monitoring of their activities under Op Shubr or

6 whatever. Obviously the results may go some way to

7 explaining it, I'm not sure at this stage.

8 Q. Now, from the documents I have shown you, it appears

9 that surveillance was being carried out by the military

10 surveillance unit some days before Rosemary Nelson's

11 murder and then some days after Rosemary Nelson's

12 murder. Who made the decision when to deploy the unit?

13 A. As I said before, it would have come through from myself

14 on deployments, but that was intelligence-led, and as

15 you explained there, it is quite obvious, if you got

16 intelligence in to say there was a meeting, then you

17 would have deployed the surveillance team without

18 question. And on this one here, where it says task

19 (inaudible) to the movements around Portadown, obviously

20 an intelligence update there that there is some sort of

21 movement or some sort of suspicious activity around the

22 Portadown area, and there is no indication on heading to

23 meetings or heading to Belfast on that occasion. So you

24 would be deploying the team into Portadown area to cover

25 that.

 

 

142

 

1 Q. So far as you can recall, was there intelligence that

2 you were privy to or the TCG was privy to that indicated

3 that the LVF, and particularly these two individuals

4 that are mentioned in this report, were targeting

5 Rosemary Nelson or any other person at that time?

6 A. I'm not aware of any intelligence where the LVF were

7 targeting Rosemary Nelson. I think this can be seen as

8 some of these vague aims on some of these taskings, the

9 intelligence round them and trying to identify who their

10 targets were and identify what the LVF and other

11 terrorist organisations were at.

12 Q. That's correct. I think the document I showed you at

13 the start indicated that there was an aim. One of the

14 early objectives was to find out who they were

15 targeting, but the documents we have seen more recently

16 appear to be about meeting places and so on and general

17 activities?

18 A. That's probably normal, as the intelligence moves on and

19 as the picture changes, as something happens or

20 occurrences -- you know, the aims change and what is

21 happening. You know, you can get further intelligence

22 in the next day to say, you know, they have another

23 operation on where they are targeting someone. And that

24 is exactly what you would be out doing, looking to see

25 who they were targeting.

 

 

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1 Q. One thing that we do know occurred was that Mark Fulton,

2 who was the head of the LVF during this period but was

3 also in prison, was let out for the day on the Friday

4 before Rosemary Nelson died, and that was the 12th.

5 Would you have been aware of that and, if so, would

6 you have initiated an operation to see what he was

7 doing?

8 A. I certainly can't recall that being the situation, but I

9 would have only deployed surveillance against him if

10 there was intelligence on that. If it had been supplied

11 to me that intelligence was that Mark Fulton had been

12 released from prison and there was an indication that we

13 should be covering him on directions from the Regional

14 Head, you know, we would have done that. But, you know,

15 I'm not aware of any tasking that come in from

16 Special Branch or anyone else to do that.

17 Q. Would you have needed intelligence to precipitate such

18 an operation? It would have been open knowledge within

19 the security forces that he was being released, or at

20 least potentially open knowledge. Wouldn't it then be

21 an obvious corollary of that that you would want to see

22 who he was going to meet and whether or not he was

23 following a legitimate purpose when he left prison?

24 A. I think there would probably have to have been

25 circumstances around it as to why you would have wanted

 

 

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1 to cover him and further intelligence that he was going

2 to be up to something.

3 Obviously, you know, at that time with -- looking at

4 all these organisations and looking at the LVF

5 probably -- I'm not sure, to be quite honest, on that

6 day what the priority was for TCG. Was the priority

7 Provisional IRA on that day that we were tasked on teams

8 working on that that they were carrying out some sort of

9 terrorist operation and we may not have had the

10 resources to cover the LVF and -- I can't say.

11 Q. Now, after Rosemary Nelson's death on 15 March, the two

12 individuals that we have seen named in these Shubr

13 documents became principal suspects and were

14 investigated by the Murder Investigation Team. Were you

15 aware of that at the time?

16 A. I am sure there was intelligence that would have made us

17 aware of it afterwards, yes, of the personalities. If

18 we were running a long-term operation like Op Shubr on

19 those personalities and there was an update on their

20 intelligence that they are in some way involved, I have

21 no doubt that we would have been made aware of that,

22 yes.

23 Q. Would you have expected to have become aware of it, that

24 some targets of TCG operations were alleged to have

25 carried out a murder while that TCG operation was

 

 

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1 active?

2 A. We would have been, yes, because the LVF -- if they were

3 the organisation and were running about and there was

4 some intelligence that came in to say that, yes, I have no

5 doubt that somebody would have briefed about that fact.

6 Q. Can you remember, for example, discussing within TCG or

7 with South Region Special Branch, the fact that you may

8 have missed the actual targeting, the actual act by the

9 LVF during this period?

10 A. Well, as you can see and as the documents you have in

11 front of you -- you know, we covered those LVF through

12 surveillance on those occasions that you have the

13 documents. If you missed them targeting or doing

14 anything else, any other acts of terrorism, you know,

15 there are obviously occasions when we weren't carrying

16 out surveillance on them.

17 Q. Did this sometimes occur with other murders that you

18 have encountered during your period in TCG, that you may

19 have been watching them, but in fact you weren't

20 necessarily watching them at around the time the acts

21 were committed?

22 A. The way we were set up, that if we were watching them

23 and they were targeting and it was quite obvious they

24 were carrying out acts of terrorism, then we would have

25 been in a position to arrest them. And if they hadn't

 

 

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1 been arrested and were still running around and we were

2 still putting surveillance on them, then we hadn't

3 caught them in the act.

4 Q. There may be a suggestion that a decision was taken not

5 to watch, not to deploy a surveillance operation against

6 the individuals we have seen during the period

7 immediately preceding Rosemary Nelson's murder in order

8 for that murder to take place. What do you say to that?

9 A. Again, I totally refute that. I never received any

10 directions not to cover the LVF at any particular

11 occasion.

12 Q. Did you discuss after the murder whether or not you or

13 South Region Special Branch should tell the Murder

14 Investigation Team that you had previously had some LVF

15 members under surveillance?

16 A. I think that would have come in from -- again, from the

17 Special Branch side in their discussions with the

18 investigators. And if there would have been something

19 to disclose, they would have then approached us and

20 asked for the documentation or asked for it. It

21 wouldn't have come directly to me at that stage.

22 Q. Now, as far as the Inquiry is aware, the Murder

23 Investigation Team weren't told that LVF members had

24 been under surveillance. Does that accord with your

25 recollection that the point never came when you were

 

 

147

 

1 asked to provide information about it to Special Branch

2 to pass on to them?

3 A. Well, I am aware that the investigators round that had

4 access to Prism. All these documents were on Prism and

5 all the documents relating to Shubr and every other

6 operation that TCG were involved in are all on the

7 Prism.

8 Q. You think they may have had free access to the Prism

9 system --

10 A. I can't actually comment on actually how free it was,

11 but if they had access to the Prism, which is

12 a database -- you know, if you put in -- if you ask

13 a question of LVF, you are going to get linked to Shubr

14 and any other operation that was carried out against the

15 LVF.

16 Q. Had you been asked about the relation of this operation,

17 Operation Shubr, to the murder investigation at the

18 time, what would your response have been?

19 A. Well, I mean, I could only work on what intelligence was

20 provided at that time, and as you can see, none of those

21 operations ever provided intelligence that the LVF were

22 targeting Rosemary Nelson or were about to carry out any

23 sort of operation against Rosemary Nelson. So from my

24 point of view, in any of the observations we had of

25 them, we couldn't confirm or deny it.

 

 

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1 Q. Might it be relevant, even as a negative, if those

2 things are right, that this operation didn't prove that

3 the LVF were targeting Rosemary Nelson, it may have

4 assisted the Murder Investigation Team into thinking

5 that they weren't targeting Rosemary Nelson?

6 A. I think the only way you could have done that is if you

7 were on them 24/7, and you could have accounted for

8 every movement of them, and you were in a position to

9 say where they were at any given time.

10 That was the only way that you could have said that

11 they definitely were involved or they definitely weren't

12 involved.

13 Q. I have reached the end of the questions that I would

14 like to ask in open session. Before I end, may I ask

15 you if you have anything to say and then I will ask if

16 the Panel would like to ask anything in open session?

17 A. I have nothing further to add.

18 Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN

19 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Can I just go back to the beginning,

20 and I'm not sure how far you will be able to answer it

21 in open session, but you mentioned the HMSU which would,

22 as I understand it, accompany just about every operation

23 and that that was uniformed staff. Can you tell me from

24 which sort of locations those uniformed people would

25 come?

 

 

149

 

1 A. They were based in the same three resources: Mahon Road,

2 Ballykelly and Belfast.

3 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Right. Would any have come from the

4 locality; Lurgan, say?

5 A. There was no HMSU based in Lurgan.

6 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Right, okay. Thank you.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: We will now break and then go into closed

8 session.

9 Anyone in the public area and any legal

10 representatives not entitled to be in the closed session

11 should please leave the chamber. The chamber, including

12 the public area, will be closed to you for the closed

13 hearing.

14 Those legal representatives entitled to be in the

15 closed hearing should return here in 20 minutes, please.

16 Mr (name redacted), before the witness leaves, would you

17 please confirm that all the cameras have been

18 switched off?

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

20 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out. We will

21 resume in closed session at a quarter to four.

22 (3.24 pm)

23 (Closed hearing)

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

25

 

 


 

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MR TONY MCCUSKER (sworn) ......................... 1
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Questions by MISS BROWN ...................... 1
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Questions by THE CHAIRMAN .................... 78
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B662 (sworn) ..................................... 80
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Questions by MR SKELTON ...................... 80
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Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN ........... 148
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