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Full Hearings

Hearing: 6th November 2008, day 72

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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 Thursday, 6 November 2008
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



1 Thursday, 6 November 2008

2 (10.15 am)

3 (Proceedings delayed)

4 (10.30 am)

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

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

7 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

9 screen closed?

10 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

12 and securely fastened?

13 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

15 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

16 of this chamber?

17 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

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

19 two witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

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

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

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

23 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

24 Bring the witness in, please.

25 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

 

 

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1 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

2 switched back on.

3 Please affirm.

4 S966 (affirmed)

5 Questions by MR SKELTON

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Skelton?

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

8 as witness S966. Your statement will shortly come up on

9 the screen, RNI-844-033 (displayed). If we go through

10 to the final page of that statement, you can see there

11 at RNI-844-059 (displayed), the date is 19 February 2008

12 and your signature has been replaced by your cipher.

13 But do you recollect signing that?

14 A. Yes, I do.

15 Q. May I start with your background, please? You say in

16 your statement, paragraph 1, that you joined the

17 Security Service in 1989?

18 A. That's correct.

19 Q. You go on to say that you held a range of posts relating

20 to Northern Ireland and those included investigative

21 desk officer and agent runner in London and

22 Northern Ireland and in an office, the name of which has

23 been redacted. Then you go on to say that

24 from November 1996 to December 1999, you worked as an

25 agent handler.

 

 

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1 Are you still a member of the Security Service?

2 A. I am, yes.

3 Q. For the purposes of the record, I would like to clarify

4 that there are a number of documents in the Inquiry

5 bundle which relate to the period outside of your tenure

6 as an agent runner, but which at the moment bear your

7 cipher.

8 I will give those for the record. These are three

9 source reports, and they can be found at RNI-532-188,

10 RNI-532-141 and RNI-532-124, and the two notes for file

11 which are at RNI-532-145, and there is one final

12 document which bears your cipher, which is not one of

13 yours, and that can be found at RNI-532-157.

14 To clarify, all of those documents relate to the

15 period in 2000 when I think you had left your post?

16 A. I had, yes.

17 Q. Can you tell us something, please, about the role of an

18 agent runner and in particular the difference between

19 a Security Service agent and what we have heard of as

20 an RUC source?

21 A. The Security Service agent runner, agent handler, based

22 in Northern Ireland at the time -- my role was to

23 recruit sometimes but certainly run agents, sometimes

24 known as CHIS, covert human intelligence sources, or,

25 indeed, sources, against Republican, Irish Republican,

 

 

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1 Irish Loyalist individuals, personalities and groups.

2 I think the difference between a service handler and

3 an RUC police or, indeed, military handler at the time

4 was we were focused against a more strategic set of

5 requirements than the police or the military. I think

6 that the course of history had meant that at this point

7 in 1996, that our -- that the threat that was being

8 posed by Loyalist and Republican groups against the

9 uniformed personnel of the military and the police meant

10 that they had a requirement, unsurprisingly, to protect

11 their own people, and that led to a tactical more lower

12 level, eyes and ears requirement for intelligence,

13 whereas the Security Service was in a more fortunate

14 position in that it didn't have uniformed personnel on

15 the ground, and therefore we could concentrate on more

16 of a higher level strategic intelligence requirement.

17 Q. That definition or identification of what tactical means

18 has not previously been raised with us. Are you then

19 saying that the RUC's focus on tactical issues is in

20 fact to focus on the protection of the security forces

21 through gathering intelligence that may be to do with

22 targeting of them?

23 A. What I mean is that the -- unsurprisingly, the police

24 and the military had a duty to protect their own people,

25 and therefore would seek out actively the tactical

 

 

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1 information that might suggest whether there was an IED

2 round the next corner if a patrol was walking down the

3 road, whereas the Security Service didn't actively seek

4 that intelligence.

5 Of course, if we came across it, it would have been

6 dealt with in the appropriate manner, but we actively

7 sought higher level strategic intelligence, where --

8 looking at where the course and where the Republican and

9 Loyalist extremist groups were heading.

10 Q. And you use the word "extremists". Are you focusing

11 then on this being an issue for the late 1990s?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Whereas prior to that it may not have been the

14 extremists which the Security Service or the RUC

15 necessarily had a particular interest in?

16 A. I'm sorry, I don't quite understand.

17 Q. You said that the focus was on gathering strategic

18 intelligence on extremists. Do you mean by that the

19 fringe paramilitary organisations?

20 A. Paramilitary organisations, yes.

21 Q. Was it often the case that your agents would have

22 knowledge of both the strategic and tactical issues?

23 A. Occasionally, yes.

24 Q. And when you are examining particularly small splinter

25 groups, presumably their intentions and capabilities are

 

 

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1 both tactical and strategic?

2 A. Indeed.

3 Q. And would you consider an attack on a prominent person

4 within Northern Ireland to be a strategic matter because

5 it has strategic consequences, or would that fall into

6 the tactical category?

7 A. I think we have to look at this in two separate ways. I

8 think strategic intelligence and strategic intelligence

9 requirement is, in my view, where a group is heading,

10 what its policies, what its plans, are, where it intends

11 to go, what its leadership is thinking.

12 What you are talking about, in my view, is a -- yes,

13 it is tactical, but that would be a threat to life-type

14 of intelligence, which is, you know, a separate matter

15 altogether.

16 Q. Well, the response of the police might be a tactical

17 response -- in other words, to warn the person of the

18 threat -- but if the organisations were targeting a high

19 level person, for example, if there was targeting of the

20 Prime Minister by a Provisional movement, would you

21 consider that to be a strategic consequence of their

22 intentions?

23 A. A tactical consequence of their intentions.

24 Q. The strategy would presumably be a large scale

25 destabilisation of the peace process, wouldn't it?

 

 

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1 A. And the tactic would be to assassinate the Prime

2 Minister.

3 Q. That is an example of where the two are synonymous,

4 effectively?

5 A. There is a linkage, of course.

6 Q. You said earlier that there were occasions when your

7 agents would have been aware of both tactical and

8 strategic issues. Did you only note, when you came to

9 write your contact notes and source reports, the

10 strategic side of things or did you generally include

11 tactical reporting that could get fed back to the RUC?

12 A. All intelligence was reported in source report format

13 and fed back to either the assessment staff, Assessments

14 Group, or -- and if it was of a timely nature, then it

15 would be passed directly to the RUC.

16 Q. So you were reporting on tactical intelligence to the

17 RUC and strategic intelligence to the Security Service?

18 A. All reporting would go to the Security Service, but

19 clearly if there was a timeliness issue, then it would

20 be telephoned directly. So threat to life reporting

21 would have been telephoned directly to the RUC.

22 Q. So far as you were aware, were there any occasions where

23 a threat to life, information about targeting of

24 specific individuals, would not have been reported

25 albeit that it had been mentioned in an agent meeting?

 

 

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1 A. No, not in my recollection, no.

2 Q. And if such matters were reported, ie information to do

3 with specific targeting of individuals, what was the

4 protocol for passing that to the RUC and for action to

5 be taken?

6 A. A lot of the agents being run by the Security Service in

7 Northern Ireland at that time were jointly run and there

8 may indeed have been an RUC handler present with the

9 Security Service handler during the debrief.

10 In that situation, obviously the RUC were party to

11 the intelligence coming out and would have dealt with it

12 on their own channels immediately. If the Security

13 Service handler was -- obtained intelligence from source

14 about a threat to life, then as soon as the handler had

15 returned back to the office, he/she would have phoned

16 that into the relevant RUC region.

17 Q. And who in the region would be contacted?

18 A. It would depend on -- I can only speak for the region

19 that I had responsibility for at the time, which was

20 South Region, and I would have probably -- I would have

21 phoned -- it is not on my list, but I would have phoned

22 the Head of Special Branch.

23 Q. Who would have been a chief superintendent?

24 A. Indeed.

25 Q. Did you have occasion to do that during your time as an

 

 

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1 agent runner?

2 A. I don't recall whether I did, but it wouldn't surprise

3 me if that was the case.

4 Q. Was there a wish in the Security Service to avoid

5 getting involved in tactical issues and to try and keep

6 your agents focused on the strategic side of things?

7 A. There was certainly a -- I mean, the agents were tasked

8 according to the requirements set down by assessments

9 staff. So as an agent handler, there is, yes, of course

10 a requirement for the agent handler to be knowledgeable

11 about the area in which he or she was working, but his

12 focus would have been on the requirements set by the

13 customer section. There was no, in my view, particular

14 desire to avoid tactical information, but the focus was

15 on strategic.

16 Q. To put it in criminal terms, when you were asking your

17 questions then, you weren't saying, "Please tell me who

18 you are thinking of targeting or who you know these

19 groups are targeting", but you're saying, "What are

20 their intentions", for example, in relation to

21 decommissioning and those sorts of issues?

22 A. Yes, but the individuals -- the agents were perhaps on

23 the whole not the sort of people who would have been

24 party to that tactical information.

25 Q. Now, you have mentioned the RUC and their occasional

 

 

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1 co-handling of your agents. Did they also report

2 independently on meet?

3 A. Sorry, could you repeat the question?

4 Q. Some of your agents, it appears, would be co-handled by

5 the RUC. Would they be producing their own source

6 reports of those meetings?

7 A. Again, I can only speak for the agents that I was

8 responsible for and on those situations, more often than

9 not, I would produce the source reports and they would

10 be faxed securely to the RUC, who would use the text in

11 their own -- on their own system.

12 So the text would be the same, the source reports

13 would be the same, but -- so there was only one set of

14 source reports that came out of the meeting -- the

15 debrief.

16 Q. And the source report would not ordinarily mention the

17 RUC co-handler. There are a number of source reports

18 which we will come on to in relation to you, and one

19 doesn't pick up that it is obvious from the text of

20 those reports that there is somebody else from

21 a different agency there. It might just be because

22 those particular sources were not co-handled, but as

23 a matter of general procedure would that person's

24 designation appear?

25 A. Not necessarily. It may be in the handler comment of

 

 

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1 the source report that the agent handler would note that

2 the information was passed to the RUC or the RUC had

3 access to the information by virtue of the fact that it

4 was a joint case, but that was not always the case.

5 Q. Now, after a murder by a paramilitary group, would you

6 ordinarily have been expected to be tasked to find out

7 anything about it?

8 A. It very much depends on the incident.

9 Q. What kind of incidents might have led to (inaudible)?

10 A. As I said, it is a requirement that we would work to.

11 So if there was a requirement from assessments staff,

12 then, yes, of course, we would have asked the questions.

13 Q. So if assessments staff had thought for whatever reason

14 there was a strategic need to find out who had committed

15 a particular act, then you would go and try and find

16 intelligence about that?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. If they didn't find that or make that requirement known

19 to you, would you necessarily report on those sorts of

20 things?

21 A. If the agent had said it during the course of a debrief,

22 then, yes, of course. But we worked to a set of

23 requirements, as I said, and that's the important thing:

24 that the nature of this work is very time consuming.

25 You have very little time with an agent because of the

 

 

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1 nature of the security that goes around and surrounds a

2 meeting. So the time that you do have has to be used in

3 the most economical way, and you would stick to the

4 requirements that you have been asked to go through.

5 Q. Did Assessments Group assess the reliability of the

6 agents or was that something left to you as an agent

7 runner, or your management?

8 A. Indirectly, because by providing consumer comments on

9 the reporting, then one can make an assessment of the

10 veracity of the intelligence that the agent is

11 producing.

12 So if the consumer valued the intelligence and there

13 was corroborative intelligence coming out from other

14 sources, perhaps, that suggested that the intelligence

15 that that particular agent produced was good, then

16 clearly the requirement, the veracity of the

17 intelligence coming out of that agent would have been

18 seen as good also.

19 Q. And I think it is the case, isn't it, that as you were

20 recruiting an agent, there is a period of trying them

21 out before they, as it were, get signed up? Is that

22 a period in which you tend to assess how reliable they

23 are, how useful they are likely to be, before you sign

24 them up?

25 A. Assessment is an ongoing process.

 

 

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1 Q. So it follows from that that all the way through, even

2 while you have an agent who has got a designation, you

3 are still assessing whether or not they are providing

4 valuable and reliable intelligence to you?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. In your statement you mention that there was a firewall

7 between -- it may be worth looking at the passage;

8 paragraph 2 of your statement -- between Assessments

9 Group and yourselves, and you can see this on the second

10 part of paragraph 2, if we go overleaf to RNI-844-054

11 (displayed). You state:

12 "In Northern Ireland at that time, the assessment of

13 intelligence by the Service was undertaken by

14 Assessments Group based in Belfast. This

15 compartmentalisation ensured I did not receive

16 information from other sources which could unwittingly

17 put either me or an agent in danger. I would

18 therefore receive information on what is known as the

19 'need to know' basis, and I would receive briefings from

20 Assessments Group on what to ask agents."

21 Could you explain that in a bit more detail, please?

22 A. Perhaps by way of a hypothetical example, if man A was

23 talking to man B on a telephone and said that he was

24 planning to go to Dublin the next weekend, and that

25 telephone was being intercepted, and the intelligence

 

 

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1 was aware and made aware to Assessments Group, if they

2 inadvertently then passed that information to me as an

3 agent handler when asking an agent that perhaps had

4 access to man B, if I had said to that agent, "Well, we

5 think man B is going to Dublin at the weekend, can you

6 find out about it", that puts him and me, by virtue of

7 my association with him, in potential danger because he

8 could have only made that conversation -- only had that

9 conversation with man A. And if the agent then goes up

10 to him and says, "Well, I understand you are going to

11 Dublin at the weekend, what is all that about", then

12 clearly there is a breach of the sort of firewall that

13 exists between what I should know and certainly what the

14 agent should know and what is known.

15 So it was important, and it still is important, in

16 agent work to ensure that there is only a need to know

17 basis on what the agent handler, and especially the

18 agent, knows about the individuals he is in contact with

19 and reporting on.

20 Q. Within the agent running unit, would you know each

21 other's agents?

22 A. Sometimes, yes. If an agent handler was a back-up

23 officer to another agent, then clearly he would have

24 known and have met the agent. Certainly I wouldn't have

25 been aware of all the agents being run.

 

 

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1 Q. When you met an agent, you mention that you didn't have

2 much time. Did you tend to take manuscript notes of

3 what was said?

4 A. Yes, I would have taken notes of what was said, yes.

5 Q. And you converted those into a contact note afterwards,

6 presumably --

7 A. The notes would have been -- yes, they would have been

8 quite sketchy and they would have gone back and

9 immediately I would have made a contemporaneous note of

10 the meeting, contact note, and then -- and had written

11 source reports as a result of the debrief.

12 Q. So the note might be a sort of aide-memoire and you

13 would record back at base the substance of the

14 conversation and record it in more detail?

15 A. The contemporaneous note would have been the contact

16 note, yes.

17 Q. And how did the process work in converting the contact

18 note to a source report?

19 A. Well, there were two separate documents. A contact note

20 is about the nature of the meeting, including the

21 security arrangements, the nature of the meeting,

22 whether the agent was -- had any issues. A source

23 report was purely the intelligence for the customer's

24 eyes.

25 Q. Sorry, the single contact note might produce a flurry of

 

 

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1 different source reports?

2 A. As I said, there were two separate issues. The contact

3 note does not produce the source report. The debrief

4 produces the source report. The contact note is

5 a stand-alone document which outlines the nature of the

6 meeting.

7 Q. Would it contain the same information, though, albeit in

8 a different form and with more personal details which

9 you have adverted to?

10 A. It may contain a gist of some of the intelligence, yes.

11 Q. So you wrote source reports separately about the

12 particular bits of intelligence which you had assessed

13 were important?

14 A. You would have written source reports based on the

15 requirements set by the customers and you would have

16 asked the agent if he or she knew the answers to the

17 questions. You would have turned those answers into

18 source reports.

19 Q. You were handling agents, I think, in the South Region,

20 which mirrors the RUC South Region?

21 A. I had an area of responsibility for liaison purposes for

22 South Region. I was handling agents in

23 Northern Ireland, yes.

24 Q. What does that mean in practice, "the area of

25 responsibility", re South Region?

 

 

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1 A. In the Security Service agent running section we, for

2 ease of liaison with the police, divided up our

3 responsibility or responsibilities for liaison with the

4 police into the different police regions. So I had

5 responsibility for liaising with South Region, which

6 meant that if there were any issues, cases, potential

7 recruitment leads that came up relating to South Region,

8 then it would have been me as the point of contact with

9 the region, and London would have gone through me to

10 perhaps speak to South Region on an issue.

11 Q. Does it follow from that that you would have to keep

12 abreast of what was happening in South Region and what

13 Special Branch are doing?

14 A. By virtue of the liaison and irregular trips to South

15 Region, I would have been aware of some of their work,

16 yes.

17 Q. Did you have access to RUC intelligence yourself?

18 A. No.

19 Q. So you wouldn't have had access to a computer terminal,

20 for example, that would allow you to look at

21 intelligence about the kind of issues you were

22 interested in?

23 A. No. I go back to the firewall issue: that as an agent

24 handler, it was important only to know what your agent,

25 agents, had reported so that any cross contamination was

 

 

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1 minimised.

2 Q. The Inquiry has heard a lot of evidence that South

3 Region Special Branch were interested in the Provisional

4 IRA in, for example, North Armagh and in particular,

5 given the focus on Rosemary Nelson, interested in the

6 IRA as they manifested themselves in Lurgan, where

7 Rosemary Nelson lived, and that there are a number of

8 individuals who were said to be part of that group that

9 the Inquiry has come across, and one of those is

10 Colin Duffy whom Rosemary Nelson represented.

11 Were you aware that Colin Duffy was considered to be

12 a senior Provisional member within that region?

13 A. You see, this isn't a memory test, so from what I knew

14 and what I know now, the name Colin Duffy certainly

15 sounds familiar, but I wouldn't be able to tell you

16 exactly what his role, if any, was in the Republican

17 movement.

18 Q. You say he sounds familiar. I think in your statement

19 you make the point that there are lots of people called

20 Colin Duffy?

21 A. Lots of people called Duffy, I think I said.

22 Q. You received at some point, you were a copyee on a loose

23 minute and may I look at that at RNI-531-043, please

24 (displayed)?

25 The date of this is 26 October 1998 and we can see

 

 

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1 it is from an S848, who is an officer of the Security

2 Service. And the name of the recipient has been

3 redacted for sensitivity and you are one of the copyees,

4 and you can see your cipher there.

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. Now, the subject matter is specifically Colin Duffy and

7 it appears from the text of this document that some

8 consideration was being given by the Security Service to

9 attempting to recruit him as an agent, and the text of

10 this document appears to indicate what was known about

11 him by the Security Service and to go on to say, on the

12 second part of it, in summary: with his history and

13 involvement, it is difficult to think of any way in

14 which he could consciously be attracted to work for the

15 authorities. And it gives various reasons why it is

16 probably not a good idea to even try to recruit him to

17 be one of the your agents.

18 Focusing first of all on the first page where you

19 see his name, and then in the first paragraph it

20 describes briefly what are said to be his paramilitary

21 activities, was this all news to you when you received

22 this loose minute?

23 A. Back in 1998?

24 Q. Yes.

25 A. I honestly can't remember. I would have thought not,

 

 

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1 given the profile, but I can't remember.

2 Q. When you say that, do you mean given his apparent

3 involvement in a very considerable number of activities,

4 that you would have thought it likely that in fact you

5 must have known more about him in 1998 that you can now

6 recall?

7 A. That's entirely possible.

8 Q. And having read this loose minute for the purposes of

9 giving evidence, is it now starting to jog your memory

10 about the interest that Special Branch may have had in

11 him and, indeed, that the Security Service may have had

12 in him?

13 A. No.

14 Q. Why were you copied in on this?

15 A. Because, if we could -- if we can scroll back to the --

16 Q. Sorry, could we?

17 A. That's it, thanks. Because if Mr Duffy was based in

18 South Region, then, as I said earlier, if there was

19 a potential recruitment opportunity for an individual

20 who is based in South Region and the Security Service

21 was involved, then London would have copied it to me or

22 sent it to me as the South Region liaison person within

23 the Security Service agent running team in

24 Northern Ireland.

25 Q. And what would your role have been in that process?

 

 

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1 A. Well, as I said on the -- as written on the manuscript

2 on the side, on the right-hand side of the loose minute,

3 it would have been to raise the individual's name and

4 get a view from the police as to whether or not the

5 person should be considered as a target for recruitment.

6 Don't forget that the Security Service was very much

7 in the passenger seat or even the back seat in terms of

8 responsibility and primacy in Northern Ireland in 1998,

9 and so nothing would have happened without the RUC's

10 approval.

11 Q. And how often would one receive these types of loose

12 minute in order to consider these types of issues?

13 A. Not that often.

14 Q. Can you give us an idea of how many issues like this

15 came up?

16 A. I can't, no.

17 Q. Is it an example where the firewall, at least

18 temporarily, has been broken down and that you are being

19 given an awful amount of intelligence about an

20 individual and his activities over quite a long period?

21 A. No, not at all. Again, I'm not sure you quite

22 understood what I meant by the firewall. The firewall

23 is to protect me and the agent and the agents with whom

24 I had contact so that I didn't inadvertently tell them

25 too much, which might put their life or, indeed, my life

 

 

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1 in danger as a result when I went to meet them.

2 We didn't want the agent or the agents to be

3 suspected of being a source, and therefore they had to

4 only know what they would know in real life, through

5 their identity. That was the purpose of the firewall:

6 to make sure that they didn't know too much as a result

7 of a slip of the tongue from me, the handler.

8 This is something entirely different. It is

9 a proposal or a -- albeit at an early stage perhaps, but

10 a proposal to look at somebody as a potential source,

11 and therefore it would be a -- there would have to be

12 quite a bit of background and detail in order for that

13 assessment to be made.

14 Q. But that background and detail, as we can see from the

15 way it is worded, is based on intelligence, isn't it?

16 A. Yes, but this information wasn't going to be used to

17 brief a source.

18 Q. But it was in your head and, therefore, you may have

19 inadvertently mentioned this type of information

20 conceivably?

21 A. I think, again, as a professional agent handler there is

22 compartmentalisation in your mind about what you are

23 dealing with with the sources and what you are dealing

24 with in a recruitment situation scenario like this.

25 So the firewall was there to protect me in order

 

 

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1 to -- that, as part the requirements, the debriefing,

2 the briefing process, that information didn't end up in

3 the list of requirements questions that I was going to

4 ask a source -- that I only had information there that

5 would have been either as a result of that source's

6 previous debriefs or that was openly known. So that is

7 the source briefing and debriefing process.

8 This is an entirely separate process, which is

9 looking at the recruitment potential of somebody as

10 a potential source.

11 Q. In the document, you can see the reference to the

12 conversation it appears you had with South Region

13 Special Branch chief, the regional head of

14 Special Branch, who was a chief superintendent. And in

15 that note -- which is not made by you, I think. It is

16 a conversation in which Mrs Nelson and Colin Duffy are

17 referred to in inverted commas as "the nightmare team",

18 and it would appear from that that that is the phrase

19 which the regional head of Special Branch used in

20 conversation with you. Do you remember that?

21 A. I don't recall the conversation, no.

22 Q. Can you recall what you knew about Mrs Nelson during

23 this period? This is late 1998?

24 A. I can't, but by virtue of the documents that I have read

25 over the last few weeks I would imagine that her role as

 

 

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1 a high profile solicitor at the time would have been --

2 it would have been known to me, and certainly her

3 association with the Nationalist community. But more

4 than that, I don't know.

5 Q. On page RNI-531-044 (displayed), overleaf at paragraph C

6 it says:

7 "The attached RUC report ..."

8 Which I am afraid we do not have:

9 "... suggests that Duffy's partner is

10 Rosemary Nelson, whom they describe as a solicitor with

11 strong Republican sympathies. In combination with B

12 above, this suggests that the downside of any approach

13 might well outweigh the potential upside."

14 And for clarification, B refers to evidence on file

15 that Duffy has recently made a number of complaints

16 about RUC harassment:

17 "No evidence of this on file, but Duffy has recently

18 made a number of complaints about RUC harassment."

19 Now, did you discuss this issue, the complaints of

20 RUC harassment, with any officer within the Security

21 Service?

22 A. Not to my recollection, no.

23 Q. Did you discuss with any officer within the Security

24 Service the portrayal of Rosemary Nelson as a solicitor

25 with strong Republican sympathies?

 

 

25


1 A. I don't recall doing so.

2 Q. When you discussed Rosemary Nelson and Colin Duffy with

3 the regional head of Special Branch, did he express the

4 view that that was what Special Branch thought based on

5 the intelligence they have gathered in relation to her?

6 A. As I said, I don't recall the conversation with Head of

7 Special Branch in South Region, so truthfully I cannot

8 answer the question.

9 Q. Did you subsequently have a conversation with the

10 regional head of Special Branch about Colin Duffy and

11 Rosemary Nelson outside of the one that we see noted

12 here?

13 A. I don't recall.

14 Q. The suggestion in the note is that you, or the Security

15 Service through you, were advised not to go near them in

16 relation to recruitment. Can you remember reaching the

17 view that that was what should occur?

18 A. I don't recall the incident at all.

19 Q. May I look, please, at a number of source reports which

20 it appears that you were involved in during this period?

21 The first is at RNI-531-046 (displayed) and the title of

22 that is "New breakaway Loyalist extremist group formed".

23 The date is 26 October 1996 and we can see it is from

24 you, S966, to S703, who is a desk officer in the

25 Assessments Group. Is that correct?

 

 

26


1 A. Yes, it is.

2 Q. And I think you said in your answers towards the

3 beginning of your evidence that there was an interest in

4 extremists. You didn't specifically say Loyalists, I

5 don't think, but you said extremists generally. Can you

6 describe what that was, please?

7 A. I think I said Republican and Loyalist extremist groups.

8 Well, the interest in Loyalist and Republican

9 paramilitary groups is, I think, unsurprising. Could

10 you be a bit more specific?

11 Q. Well, this report is about a Loyalist extremist group.

12 Can you remember being tasked by Assessments Group to

13 find out more about that sort of issue?

14 A. I can't remember being tasked, but clearly I was tasked,

15 otherwise I wouldn't have asked the agent the question.

16 Q. Was it a particular issue during this period? We are

17 looking at late 1998, so this is the middle of the peace

18 process in effect, which is being geared up. Was there

19 a particular issue which you can remember about

20 monitoring these groups in order to make sure that the

21 peace process was maintained and not destabilised by

22 them?

23 A. I don't recall any specific issues, but it wouldn't

24 surprise me if that was the case.

25 Q. Is it not a little surprising that you can't remember

 

 

27


1 these sorts of issues, given that your role was

2 a strategic agents runner during the middle of the peace

3 process, to find out intelligence about these sorts of

4 groups, but you don't remember being asked about them?

5 A. This was ten years ago and I have done five different

6 jobs since then. As a professional intelligence

7 officer, I don't try and remember names of sources,

8 names of agents, specifics about my previous jobs within

9 the Service. So, no, I don't think it is.

10 Q. In relation to this particular document, you can see

11 there that you have identified what are considered to be

12 the main points:

13 "Firstly, a new secret breakaway group formed by LVF

14 members, and the group is to defend Loyalist communities

15 in the event of a return to war."

16 Just so people understand, part of this document has

17 been redacted, several parts in fact, so we are only

18 looking at the bits which we can see openly. Can you

19 remember this information being imparted to you?

20 A. No.

21 Q. Can you tell us anything about the conversation you may

22 have had with Assessments Group subsequently about this

23 intelligence, which may have led to further tasking?

24 A. No, but the consumer comment --

25 Q. Which we can find on page RNI-531-049 (displayed).

 

 

28


1 A. -- indicates that there was interest in the sources

2 report, and the last sentence says, I think:

3 "Any damage reporting on this subject would be

4 appreciated."

5 Q. It does. In full, it says:

6 "Not NIIRs as we cannot evaluate the veracity of the

7 existence of this new group. RUC Special Branch are

8 aware of the contents of this report but do not have any

9 collateral for claims. This certainly represents

10 a worrying development which we will monitor closely.

11 Any additional reporting on this subject would be

12 appreciated."

13 Now, that consumer comment, I think, is directed

14 towards you, isn't it?

15 A. Yes, I was the author of the report.

16 Q. Can you just describe the process by which you would

17 produce a report and then get feedback?

18 A. Yes. As I said, after an agent debrief, I would return

19 to the office and I would do two things: I would write

20 the contemporaneous note that recorded the meeting and

21 any security issues that may have arisen, whether the

22 agent was in good health, both mentally and physically;

23 and separately I would have written any source reports

24 that would have come out of the debrief. And the source

25 reports were based on requirements from the -- from the

 

 

29


1 consumer, the customer, in this case Assessments Group,

2 and those reports would have been written up in the

3 format that you see in front of you on the screen.

4 The way I did mine certainly was with a short

5 executive summary, if you like, with the main points,

6 the title, then the detail of the intelligence. And the

7 detail of intelligence was specifically the facts that

8 the agent provided, and what I mean by that is that if

9 an agent thought something was going to happen, then

10 that would have been regarded as a source comment,

11 which, on the next page -- you can see on the one in

12 front of you -- comes under heading "B Source Comment".

13 So the facts were purely the information that the

14 agent had obtained from speaking to another individual

15 person who had been -- the person who would have --

16 would have knowledge of whatever it was that was being

17 reported.

18 Then if there were any other situational issues

19 about whether the -- whether the agent had to -- had

20 been away or didn't perhaps have a greater -- as great

21 an access to the individual that he was reporting on, or

22 if, for example, the reporting had already been passed

23 to the RUC, that may have been put under "Field Comment"

24 which is item C, which then leaves D for consumer

25 comments, as you have seen, and that would have then

 

 

30


1 been faxed securely to the consumer.

2 Q. And those distinctions allow the Assessments Group to

3 draw conclusions based on the different types of

4 information that you are including, some of which may be

5 factual, some of which may be opinion, and they may

6 therefore have to be assessed in a slightly different

7 way?

8 A. Indeed.

9 Q. May we look at another source report, please? This one

10 can be found at RNI-531-084 (displayed), and again, we

11 can see that this is written by you and sent to S703,

12 who is an officer charged with assessing Loyalist

13 intelligence.

14 The title, which has been partly redacted, says "The

15 Red Hand Defenders", and then in the same style as we

16 have been seen last time, it says:

17 "The Red Hand Defenders consist of LVF, Ulster

18 Resistance and DUP elements."

19 Can you remember now who the Red Hand Defenders were

20 and their relationships with these groups?

21 A. I don't recall.

22 Q. And overleaf we can see in the detail section further

23 intelligence relating to what is said to be the main

24 body of personnel within RHD being from the LVF.

25 Was there an issue at this period that the LVF --

 

 

31


1 a so-called mainstream paramilitary group albeit that it

2 had formed as an offshoot of the UVF -- were trying to

3 engage with the peace process, but there were still

4 individual members who were forming smaller splinter

5 groups who may not feel so minded?

6 A. Perhaps I should add for clarity, my knowledge of the

7 Loyalist paramilitary extremist groups is quite slim.

8 The source reports and the period that I was covering

9 this reporting that we see in front of us was only a few

10 months and that was in the interregnum between one case

11 officer leaving and another case officer arriving.

12 So I mainly was involved with Irish Republican

13 agents and Irish Republican extremist groups,

14 paramilitary groups, so I am afraid I can't answer the

15 question. I don't know the details of the LVF, as you

16 put it there.

17 Q. When you took over for this interregnum period, as you

18 put it, did you read in to the agents that you were

19 about to handle; in other words, did you read their

20 files?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. And, therefore, you would be familiar with their

23 reporting presumably on Loyalist groups? Certainly the

24 two reports we have seen are both on Loyalists?

25 A. Yes, but because it was for a short period of time,

 

 

32


1 whereas the agents that I was running for a longer

2 period of time, you experience and get to know the

3 information as it comes in and the twists and turns of

4 their reporting over a long period, here it was, as you

5 have just said, a reading of a file prior to handling

6 the agent for a period of, I think, two to three months.

7 So it is a different relationship, and therefore my

8 recollection of the background, not only background to

9 the Loyalist groups but the background to this

10 reporting, is more limited.

11 Q. I will ask you about another report now, please, and

12 that can be found at RNI-531-118 (displayed). The title

13 of this is "Orange Volunteers future strategy and

14 current capability". The date is 3 March 1999, in other

15 words 12 days before Rosemary Nelson was murdered. It

16 is from you to the same person we have seen before, S703

17 in the Assessments Group. One of the main points which

18 we can see -- several of them are in fact redacted, but

19 one of them is:

20 "Orange Volunteer military campaign set to

21 continue."

22 If we go overleaf to the next page, please, we can

23 see again it is a heavily redacted document which to

24 some extent, of course, disadvantaged you in allowing

25 you to speak to it today, but you can see from there it

 

 

33


1 says:

2 "Orange Volunteers are in the process of

3 consolidating their position in Northern Ireland."

4 Then it describes the Orange Volunteers as:

5 "An organisation who are discontent with the current

6 political process and determined to continue with its

7 military campaign. To this end, a recruitment drive and

8 training programme were being pursued."

9 In paragraph 4, which, again, is partly redacted, it

10 says:

11 "The Orange Volunteers was very keen to carry out

12 attacks in the Republic of Ireland."

13 Now, there is detail there of intention to mount

14 attacks. Is that the kind of thing which would trigger

15 you and the RUC after you to take some action

16 tactically?

17 A. Well, I think you have to understand the distinction

18 between the Security Service and police, the RUC.

19 As I said, the primacy rested with the RUC and so

20 their decision to take action or not would be their

21 decision. You would have to ask them. This

22 intelligence would of course be sent to the RUC, as it

23 was to Assessments Group. So once the intelligence had

24 been sent, my role as an agent handler is over until the

25 consumer comments and further requirements come in or

 

 

34


1 not, as the case may be.

2 Q. So you would not necessarily know what action was taken

3 by the RUC in relation to warnings perhaps to the Gardai

4 and so on?

5 A. I wouldn't, no.

6 Q. This is a report, which, as I say, comes in within a few

7 days of Rosemary Nelson's death, and this is a group

8 which are of interest to the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

9 because they may be associated with her death.

10 Can you remember being told by the agent that you

11 spoke to on this occasion whether the Orange Volunteers

12 were targeting Rosemary Nelson specifically or

13 a solicitor more generally?

14 A. Any intelligence of that kind would have been reported

15 in this format and if -- and also of a specific nature

16 like that would have been passed by telephone to the

17 RUC. So the question -- the answer is no. Threat to

18 life intelligence was taken, and is taken, very, very

19 seriously. Any reporting from an agent of a potential

20 threat to life would have been passed immediately to the

21 police.

22 Q. You're reporting here on the Orange Volunteers. Would

23 you have read any RUC intelligence on the Orange

24 Volunteers to assist with your understanding of these

25 issues and to assist with the questions you might ask,

 

 

35


1 or is that a point about the firewall which you made

2 earlier?

3 A. It is. The only thing that I could have read which may

4 have been RUC intelligence would have been -- and you

5 referred to them earlier -- the NIIRs, the

6 Northern Ireland intelligence reports. And I did see

7 some NIIRs, but of course I don't know the provenance of

8 the intelligence, so it may be that some of the

9 reporting in those NIIRs was from RUC reporting, but I

10 wouldn't have known that.

11 Q. The final source report I would like to look at, please,

12 is at RNI-531-121 (displayed) and the typing date of

13 this is 4 March 1999. Again, it is from you to S703 and

14 the title is "Red Hand Defenders". Part of it has been

15 redacted.

16 The detail we can see on the first page says that

17 the Red Hand Defenders did not exist as an organisation,

18 and it goes on to say that:

19 "The title was used as a flag of convenience by

20 Orange Volunteers and other dissident Loyalist groups to

21 claim attacks that ordinarily they would not want to own

22 up to."

23 At this remove, can you remember the distinctions

24 between the groups and the fact that they were used like

25 this as a flag of convenience, as you have noted here?

 

 

36


1 A. I can't remember any specifics, but certainly reading

2 that now -- and I have seen this again for the first

3 time only this morning -- that -- it does ring a bell,

4 yes.

5 Q. Could you describe in more detail your recollection of

6 the Red Hand Defenders specifically?

7 A. Other than there was a multitude at the time --

8 a multitude, it seemed to me, of different groups,

9 Loyalist groups, which were breakaway groups, small

10 groups, and the Red Hand Defenders was one of them.

11 Q. May I ask you again in relation to this report: did the

12 agent whom you met on this occasion give you any

13 intelligence that Rosemary Nelson specifically or

14 a solicitor generally would be targeted by the

15 Red Hand Defenders?

16 A. Any intelligence of that type would have been written up

17 and passed to the police. So, no.

18 Q. May we look, please, at the final page of this document,

19 which is at RNI-531-123 (displayed)? This, again, is

20 a manuscript feedback from the Assessment Group officer

21 whom you had sent your report to, and it states:

22 "This is further corroboration for our view that the

23 Red Hand Defenders is not an actual group (although the

24 Chief Constable takes a different view). The UDA has

25 used the RHD to claim a number of sectarian attacks."

 

 

37


1 The bit in brackets first of all, can you remember

2 there being some difference of opinion between the

3 Security Service Assessments Group and the

4 Chief Constable, the RUC, about the Red Hand Defenders

5 at this period?

6 A. No, I was an agent handler and I wouldn't have been

7 party to that sort of discussion.

8 Q. Why is this Assessment Group officer telling you this

9 then?

10 A. This is a comment on the report. The important thing

11 that, as an agent handler, I would take away from that

12 is that there is corroboration for the view that what

13 the -- that there is corroboration for what the agent is

14 saying. And as I said, the assessment process of an

15 agent's veracity is an ongoing one.

16 So for me that's a good sign that what the agent is

17 saying and the individuals with whom he is talking

18 clearly have -- are giving the sort of information that

19 is being corroborated elsewhere.

20 Q. Is he giving you an extra bit of information here that

21 you wouldn't necessarily know which may assist you in

22 your work, ie the last sentence to do with the UDA:

23 "The UDA has used the RHD to claim a number of

24 sectarian attacks"?

25 A. Yes, I mean -- I don't recall what I knew at the time,

 

 

38


1 whether that was known to me or not, but it is possible

2 that I didn't know it beforehand.

3 Q. But would it appear from this, or can we infer from this

4 that he would consider that that would be helpful for

5 you, the agent handler, to know about in your future

6 work?

7 A. Yes, it may have related to, for example, the

8 requirements list the customer had put out.

9 Q. How did the process of tasking work, physically or in

10 terms of meetings?

11 A. There were really two phases of it. As you have seen

12 from the reporting here, the customer would give a view

13 on specific intelligence as it was reported, so in the

14 consumer comment. And that would be an immediate, if

15 you like, an immediate view of the agent's intelligence.

16 Separately, there was a regular requirements list of

17 subjects of interest or particular individuals of

18 interest, and that would have been passed to me

19 separately by the customer.

20 So there is a dual process; there is the commenting

21 on the actual source reports as they are being produced

22 and there is also the sort of ongoing generic

23 requirements, which would be updated and changed during

24 the course of the months and years.

25 Q. Are you receiving a memo or report in writing to set

 

 

39


1 those requirements out?

2 A. Not necessarily. It could be telephoned through.

3 Q. Can you remember, in relation to the reports we have

4 seen which relate to the Red Hand Defenders, the Orange

5 Volunteers and more broadly extremist Loyalist groups,

6 receiving a report to direct you to ask for more

7 information about that?

8 A. I don't, but having, again, this morning read the

9 documents, the additional documents, that you have

10 passed to me, RNI-531-049, the comments there, as we

11 mentioned earlier, from the customer, talk about any

12 additional reporting on this subject would be

13 appreciated.

14 So although I don't recall it, clearly there was an

15 interest from the customer on the subject of the

16 breakaway Loyalist groups.

17 Q. So that is a form of tasking?

18 A. It is.

19 Q. And would you have had an ongoing dialogue with S703

20 about these sorts of issues?

21 A. Yes, there would have been a dialogue between us, yes.

22 Q. Can you recollect what issues he was interested in

23 during your brief period as a runner in this side of

24 things?

25 A. I don't recall.

 

 

40


1 MR SKELTON: Sir, might that be a convenient moment?

2 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, we will have a break of 20 minutes.

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

4 please confirm that all cameras have been switched off?

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

6 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Please escort the witness out.

7 Five to 12.

8 (11.34 am)

9 (Short break)

10 (12.00 pm)

11 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Currans, may we go through the checklist

12 with you, please, before the witness comes in?

13 Is the public area screen fully in place, locked and

14 the key secured?

15 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

17 screen closed?

18 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

20 and securely fastened?

21 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

22 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

23 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

24 of this chamber?

25 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

 

 

41


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: Bring the witness in, please.

7 Please sit down.

8 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

9 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

10 switched back on.

11 Yes, Mr Skelton?

12 MR SKELTON: When you were interviewed by Eversheds for the

13 purpose of this Inquiry, you were asked by them whether

14 or not you were tasked to provide intelligence on the

15 Orange Volunteers and the Red Hand Defenders, and in

16 your statement at paragraph 14 on page RNI-844-057 --

17 which we can have on the screen, please (displayed).

18 Thank you.

19 At this bottom of the page you say in your

20 statement:

21 "The Red Hand Defenders and Orange Volunteers ..."

22 And going overleaf, you say:

23 "... were splinter groups and the Loyalists were

24 renowned at the time for forming groups within groups.

25 I have no recollection of being asked to task my agents

 

 

42


1 to provide reporting on these groups."

2 In the light of what you have seen today, would you

3 like to revise that comment?

4 A. Yes, indeed. As we have already commented on

5 RNI-531-049 (displayed), clearly the comments on the --

6 the consumer comments on that report quite clearly

7 state:

8 "Any additional reporting on the subject would be

9 appreciated."

10 So that and the subject matter of the reporting

11 demonstrates that, while I don't recall and didn't

12 recall at the time, I obviously had tasking on those

13 groups.

14 Q. When you gave that answer in interview to the Inquiry's

15 solicitors, did you rack your brain as to whether or not

16 those groups were of interest to you during that period

17 in order to give that answer?

18 A. I answered the Eversheds questions truthfully.

19 Q. So the answer is yes, you did?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. You mentioned earlier in your evidence that part of your

22 role, indeed, the greater proportion of your role, was

23 to run agents on the Republican side, rather than the

24 Loyalist side?

25 A. That is correct.

 

 

43


1 Q. We focused at the start of our review of the documents

2 on a loose minute to do with Colin Duffy, which

3 identified him allegedly as a senior members of the IRA

4 in the south of Northern Ireland. Were you tasked with

5 finding any intelligence from your agents in relation to

6 North Armagh Provisional IRA?

7 A. I don't recall having been tasked, but it wouldn't

8 surprise me if I had been.

9 Q. In order to obtain that intelligence, presumably you

10 needed to know who was in North Armagh Provisional IRA

11 to understand what you were hearing?

12 A. That would be the case, yes.

13 Q. And during what period would you have been tasked to

14 provide such intelligence?

15 A. Well, during the course of my posting to

16 Northern Ireland, so late 1996 through to late 1999.

17 Q. So throughout that period you may have been running

18 agents who reported on the Provisional IRA in that

19 region?

20 A. The Provisional IRA generally, but my -- as we said

21 right at the start, we were looking -- and the Security

22 Service was tasked -- on more strategic issues. So

23 there, I think you are looking at -- perhaps your

24 question was more of a local level rather than

25 a strategic -- I mean strategic in the provisional

 

 

44


1 sense. I was thinking really of the Provisional Army

2 Council level.

3 Q. So your interest was at the very highest level of the

4 IRA, was it?

5 A. The strategic level, yes.

6 Q. And the document we looked at earlier seemed to

7 indicate -- and it may be worth having it back on the

8 screen -- it is at RNI-531-043 (displayed) -- and it is

9 the first paragraph, and I will read out the middle

10 section:

11 "He was released from HMP Maze in September 1996

12 having served two and a half years for murder and was

13 appointed OC Lurgan PIRA and then OC ..."

14 That is Officer Commanding:

15 "... North Armagh PIRA following his release. In

16 June 1997, he was one of the gunmen involved in the

17 murder of two RUC officers in Lurgan and was involved in

18 a further abduction and murder in February 1998. There

19 is conflicting reporting from mid-1998. Some suggest

20 that is Duffy defected to CIRA [the Continuity IRA].

21 Other reports that he was elected to the IRA Army

22 Executive in May 1998."

23 So it would appear from this reporting that

24 Mr Duffy, if this is correct, has appeared in the higher

25 echelons of the IRA. Do you recollect that?

 

 

45


1 A. From what is written there, that would appear to be the

2 case.

3 Q. Does it follow from that that he would have come across

4 your radar as you reported on strategic issues?

5 A. Again, if I may say so, you are conflating the tasking

6 for source requirement and source reporting, and this

7 loose minute, which was looking at Mr Duffy as

8 a potential agent, as a recruitment operation and they

9 are two distinct areas.

10 Q. All I'm doing actually is asking questions, I'm not

11 making any statements.

12 A. No, but your question is conflating the two issues. I

13 don't recall having had reporting or being asked to

14 provide reporting on Mr Duffy, but it may have been the

15 case, but I don't recall it.

16 Q. Can you recall anything about your agent running during

17 this period in terms of what issues you were being

18 tasked to find out about and the agents themselves?

19 A. My recollection is that foremost at the time was the

20 lead-up to the Good Friday Agreement and the reporting

21 or the strategic positioning of the Provisional IRA

22 leading up to and directly after that -- the signing of

23 the Good Friday Agreement.

24 Q. Rosemary Nelson was murdered on 15 March in 1999. Can

25 you remember when you first heard about that?

 

 

46


1 A. I don't recall, no.

2 Q. Would it have been something that would have been

3 discussed within the agent running section?

4 A. It is possible, but as I said in my statement, I do

5 recall the vivid photographs and pictures at the time of

6 her car, but I don't recall hearing about it for the

7 first time and I certainly don't recall discussing it.

8 Q. One may infer from your recollection of the photographs

9 that you picked those up from the media?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Around the time of the death?

12 A. Indeed.

13 Q. When you heard that she had died, did it trigger

14 a memory that you had had a discussion about her and

15 Colin Duffy with Special Branch a few months previously?

16 A. I don't recall that it did, no.

17 Q. Well, it is quite strong language that the regional head

18 of Special Branch used describing her as part of

19 a nightmare team with the person who was considered to

20 be one of the most senior members of the IRA in that

21 region. Did it occur to you that a member of the

22 nightmare team, so-called, had died?

23 A. You would have to ask him about the comment, the

24 nightmare team. I don't recall that conversation. I

25 don't recall that phrase.

 

 

47


1 Q. Now, the claim of responsibility for the murder, which

2 came, I think, fairly soon after it occurred, was by the

3 Red Hand Defenders which was a group which you had

4 provided some intelligence on and we have seen that

5 today.

6 When you heard about the claim of responsibility,

7 did it occur to you that the Red Hand Defenders were

8 someone that you had had some interest in?

9 A. I didn't recall that the RHD had claimed the

10 responsibility until this morning, when you mentioned it

11 in our meeting prior to this session.

12 Q. Are you surprised that your Assessments Group didn't

13 mention to you the fact that the Red Hand Defenders, on

14 whom you were being tasked to report, had been connected

15 with a prominent murder of this kind?

16 A. Well, I think -- sorry to sound like a stuck record, but

17 you have to go back to the requirements issue, and it

18 was not my place to be surprised or unsurprised about

19 what they were asking me to find out from the agents

20 that I was in contact with. So it may have been part of

21 the tasking process, I don't recall it being so.

22 Q. When Rosemary Nelson was killed, was there

23 a deliberation within the Security Service about whether

24 or not this was something we knew about in advance?

25 A. I don't recall that, no.

 

 

48


1 Q. Was there a deliberation about why didn't we know in

2 advance? Why wasn't our coverage good enough?

3 A. I don't recall that either. But I do have to emphasise

4 that, as I said earlier, before the break, that threat

5 to life reporting was regarded very, very highly in

6 terms of the importance of putting it through to the

7 proper channels. And if anything had been received on

8 a threat to life to Mrs Nelson or anybody else, it would

9 have been passed to the police immediately.

10 Q. Did you continue to have a role in handling the agents

11 whose reporting we have seen earlier after

12 Rosemary Nelson's murder?

13 A. I may have done in a back-up capacity. I don't recall

14 specifically.

15 Q. Do you remember being tasked to find out anything about

16 the murder from the agents who had previously reported

17 on the Red Hand Defenders?

18 A. I don't recall, but then I don't recall having been

19 tasked about the Red Hand Defenders prior to her murder

20 either. But clearly there was interest from the source

21 reports that have been produced here today.

22 Q. In your statement at paragraph 20 on page RNI-844-059

23 (displayed), you say:

24 "I don't recall any specific request to find out

25 information concerning Rosemary Nelson's death, but it

 

 

49


1 would not surprise me if it was on Assessment Group's

2 requirements list. I have no memory of tasking agents

3 to find out about Rosemary Nelson's death."

4 Why wouldn't it have surprised you if it was on

5 their list of tasking?

6 A. Well, clearly it was a very high profile murder, a very

7 high profile event, and it wouldn't surprise me if that

8 was something that Assessments Group wanted to find out

9 information.

10 Q. Why?

11 A. Because it could have an impact on the political peace

12 process at the time.

13 Q. Can you recall having a discussion with S703 or any of

14 his counterparts, including the Head of the Assessments

15 Group, about the strategic consequences of the Nelson

16 murder, and therefore the need to find out more

17 information about it?

18 A. I don't recall doing so, no.

19 Q. Did you discuss Rosemary Nelson's murder with either the

20 regional head of Special Branch or any other officers

21 within the RUC?

22 A. I don't recall doing so.

23 Q. There is reporting later, after the murder, from agents

24 whom you weren't handling because you, I think, left the

25 post in late 1998 --

 

 

50


1 A. 1999.

2 Q. 1999, I'm sorry -- to do with targeting of

3 Breandan Mac Cionnaith, who was the spokesperson for the

4 Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, and that specific

5 targeting about an individual.

6 Was there any sense within the Security Service

7 after Rosemary Nelson's murder that tactical

8 intelligence may be of more strategic interest, in other

9 words, intelligence about the targeting of individuals

10 may be of strategic interest because it could have

11 strategic consequences, and therefore should be

12 collected?

13 A. The role of the Security Service in Northern Ireland as

14 an intelligence collection in terms of human

15 intelligence collection was aimed at strategic level, as

16 we have already discussed.

17 Human agents are -- take a long time to recruit,

18 take a long time to get into a position where they can

19 report on the requirements set by the customer. If

20 there was such a discussion -- I have no recollection of

21 there being so -- it would have taken some time for that

22 sort of tactical type of reporting to be obtained from

23 the agents that were being run at that time, from my

24 recollection.

25 Q. During your evidence we haven't gone into a closed

 

 

51


1 session, in other words we haven't come across matters

2 of sufficient sensitivity to justify procedural

3 restrictions on the way in which we have taken your

4 evidence. Are there any matters which you have

5 considered, having received and answered these

6 questions, which you think can only be given in closed

7 session but which are pertinent to this Inquiry's Terms

8 of Reference?

9 A. No.

10 Q. When you give that answer, you are including aspects of

11 the information which you may have picked up from your

12 agents prior to Rosemary Nelson's death or after it and

13 any other aspects of conversations you may have had

14 about Colin Duffy or Rosemary Nelson in that same

15 period?

16 A. Absolutely.

17 Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?

18 A. No, not at all.

19 Q. Thank you. (Pause)

20 THE CHAIRMAN: While we appreciate the constraints you must

21 observe when giving evidence in open session, the Panel

22 has found your evidence not as helpful, nor as

23 forthcoming as we feel we have a right to expect. We

24 may consider recalling you to give evidence to us in

25 closed session.

 

 

52


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

2 please, confirm that all the cameras have been switched

3 off?

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

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out.

6 We will adjourn until 2 o'clock.

7 (12.19 pm)

8 (The short adjournment)

9 (2.00 pm)

10 THE CHAIRMAN: The checklist, Mr Currans. Is the public

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

12 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

14 screen closed?

15 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

17 and securely fastened?

18 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

19 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

20 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

21 of this chamber?

22 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

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

24 two witness cameras have been switched off and shrouded?

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

 

 

53


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

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

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Bring the witness in, please.

4 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

5 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

6 switched back on.

7 Would you please take the oath?

8 S255 (sworn)

9 Questions by MR SKELTON

10 THE CHAIRMAN: Please sit down.

11 Yes, Mr Skelton?

12 MR SKELTON: You have made a statement to this Inquiry. It

13 can be found at RNI-844-071 (displayed). If we go

14 through to the final page of that, we can see the date

15 of 27 March this year and your signature has been

16 redacted and replaced by your cipher, which is S255.

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. May I start by asking you a little about your background

19 and when you joined the Security Service?

20 A. Yes, I joined the Security Service in 1990.

21 Q. And you say in your statement at paragraph 1, which we

22 can see there, that for a period of time you were an

23 agent runner or handler?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. When was that?

 

 

54


1 A. I spent most of my career as an agent handler. For the

2 vast majority I have been an agent handler, really, for

3 about 90 per cent of the time that I have been in the

4 service.

5 Q. Did you handle agents primarily in Ireland during the

6 period with which we are concerned?

7 A. Specifically between June 1996 until February 2000, yes,

8 I ran exclusively agents in Northern Ireland.

9 Q. Are you still a member of the Security Service?

10 A. Yes, I am.

11 Q. In your work have you had other jobs? You mentioned you

12 were 90 per cent of the time an agent runner, but have

13 you worked, for example, in the Assessments Group or as

14 a technical officer in any capacity?

15 A. No, when I joined the Service, I was what is known as

16 a normal desk officer, as it were, because in those days

17 people didn't join the Service -- to be an agent

18 handler. You had to have some experience of desk work.

19 I did that and then I became an agent handler, and as

20 I said, that is the area of work in which I specialised.

21 Q. When you became a handler, how did you induct yourself

22 into the areas in which you were going to be targeting?

23 A. Routinely -- well, I did research the subject areas that

24 I was going to be working in. For example, if I was

25 dealing with agents who were, let's say, Middle Eastern

 

 

55


1 agents, I would obviously do some research on the

2 countries in which they were operating. So I would need

3 to build up, clearly, in order to establish credibility

4 in the agents, a level of knowledge about the subjects

5 that they were talking to me about. It would make

6 little sense if I hadn't have done that.

7 Q. The context of your evidence today is Loyalist reporting

8 in Northern Ireland?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. In order to perform effectively as a Loyalist agent

11 runner, did you read into local Loyalist activity during

12 the period we are looking at, which, as you say, is 1996

13 to 2000?

14 A. Yes, but I should say I wasn't just simply a Loyalist

15 agent runner. My job was to run agents in various areas

16 here, ie I was involved with Republican agents and also

17 Loyalist agents. So our work and the work of my

18 colleagues was split between looking at Republican work

19 and Loyalist work.

20 Q. Does it follow from that, then, that you read into both

21 sides of the paramilitary divide?

22 A. I would have done some -- I mean, I'm trying to remember

23 as we speak, but I would certainly have done some

24 research, yes. But clearly there is a limit to how much

25 time you can spend doing research. That wasn't the main

 

 

56


1 focus of my work.

2 Q. What kind of things did you need to get to know? Did

3 you, for example, need to know, obviously, who the

4 paramilitary groups were, who the leading individuals

5 were, et cetera?

6 A. Exactly that.

7 Q. Did you devolve into the sort of grass roots level to

8 find out, for example, in relation to Loyalist splinter

9 groups, who are the individuals thinking of hiving off

10 to make a splinter group or who are the individuals that

11 make up the leadership of the principal ones?

12 A. My interest was exclusively on the strategies of the

13 main groups, be they Loyalist or Republican. It would

14 have been impossible for myself or any of my colleagues

15 to go down into the nitty gritty or the grass roots, if

16 you like, of either the Republican terrorist groups or

17 the Loyalist terrorist groups. I know that it was clear

18 in our minds that our remit was to deal with strategic

19 agents who were reporting on the strategies of terrorist

20 groups here.

21 It was the police -- it was the job of the RUC at

22 the time to focus more on what we would call tactical

23 intelligence, and to do that you would have had to

24 become familiar with the grass roots of these

25 organisations. But you know, we didn't. It would have

 

 

57


1 been impossible for me as an individual to do that.

2 We had to focus on, you know, certain parts of these

3 organisations and clearly it made absolute sense for

4 us then because of our remit to focus on the leaderships

5 of Republican and Loyalist organisations. So we became

6 familiar with obviously the leading personalities in

7 these groupings.

8 Q. In relation to Loyalist groups, for example, the LVF, we

9 are talking about relatively small numbers of people who

10 would be members of that organisation, aren't we?

11 A. Relatively speaking, yes.

12 Q. How many?

13 A. In these days I can't remember, it is impossible to say.

14 Q. The leadership was initially Billy Wright and then, as

15 we understand it, it was Mark Fulton, who subsequently

16 died in prison, and he had a number of cohorts in the

17 locality which formed the core of the LVF, which was

18 relatively small in number?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Would you expect, when discussing the LVF with one of

21 your agents, to have known most of the individuals who

22 may have made up that core?

23 A. If we had been focused on the LVF then, yes, but we

24 weren't. Our priority on the Loyalist side of things

25 was the UVF and the UDA.

 

 

58


1 As far as we were concerned, the LVF was certainly,

2 you know, given that there were only three main Loyalist

3 paramilitary organisations at that time, it would have

4 been number 3 on our list and certainly well down the

5 list. We had, you know, more than enough work to do

6 focusing on the two main Loyalist paramilitary

7 organisations.

8 For us, the LVF was not a priority. Therefore,

9 whilst certainly I was very familiar with the name

10 Billy Wright and then subsequently I was aware that the

11 late Mark Fulton was a leading figure, that would have

12 been the limit to my personal knowledge of that

13 organisation.

14 Q. What was your interest in the groups which with you have

15 described?

16 A. The UVF and the UDA?

17 Q. Yes.

18 A. At that time, specifically around the time that we are

19 focused on today, it would have been their attitude to

20 the Northern Ireland peace process, their strategies, if

21 you like, where -- the questions we were interested in

22 were: were they fully signed up to the peace process? was

23 there any significant opposition within these groupings

24 to the peace process? were there any threats to the

25 peace process? And thinking further ahead because, as

 

 

59


1 I said, we were interested in strategy, thinking ahead,

2 we would be very interested in trying to glean

3 information on, to put it basically, the strategies of

4 these organisations, how they saw themselves, you know,

5 moving forward and transforming themselves away from

6 being simply paramilitary organisations.

7 Q. One of the things the Inquiry has heard is that the LVF

8 were formed in effect as a splinter from the UVF because

9 they were disagreeing with the peace process and unhappy

10 with particular issues like Drumcree and so on. Why was

11 that not of strategic interest to you, given that they

12 are specifically against the peace process, which you

13 are interested in?

14 A. Well, when you say to me -- I would also like to put a

15 caveat here just by saying I was -- as an agent handler,

16 I would have been driven by requirements, the

17 requirements set by other colleagues. So we would

18 interact with our agents following a brief set down by

19 colleagues in a different department, and clearly, as

20 far as I recall, certainly at that time, the LVF was not

21 a top priority because -- and, again, I'm -- it is

22 obviously ten years ago. I'm just making an assumption,

23 but I would have assumed that the assessment at that

24 time -- but, you know, I'm not the best person to ask

25 about that. But my best guess of the assessment at that

 

 

60


1 time was that the LVF did not pose a significant threat

2 to the peace process. But, as I say, that was

3 a decision that would have been made by people in

4 a different department. We, as agent handlers, simply

5 worked to the brief that we were given and, to the best

6 of my recollection, the LVF requirement for reporting on

7 the LVF, as far as we, the Security Service, was

8 concerned, was a low priority.

9 Q. Now, it would be helpful for the Inquiry to try and put

10 in context the work you were doing. We haven't called,

11 as part of our ordinary evidence-gathering exercise, for

12 all of the source reporting which you produced over this

13 period, and when we look at these documents in due

14 course, it is clear to us that it must be a small

15 section of the work which you did.

16 Without saying how many agents you were running, can

17 you give us an idea of the amount of source reports that

18 you would be producing daily over this period?

19 A. You know, almost impossible to say, but -- very hard to

20 say. There was no average week in, you know, the work

21 of an agent runner and it varied. And it varied if

22 there had been a particular -- like the peace process,

23 for example, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed,

24 I imagine if I were to go back to our files nowadays, I

25 would see a lot of source reports being produced across

 

 

61


1 the board on the attitudes of Republicans and Loyalists

2 to that clearly very important event. But, as far as --

3 I would just be guessing if I gave you a figure, and

4 impossible for me to say really.

5 Q. We have heard from a number of officers in the

6 Assessments Group, and the Inquiry has heard in

7 particular from one of the desk officers who was

8 particularly concerned with the Loyalist intelligence.

9 And I think some, if not all of your documents, were

10 directed towards his desk?

11 A. Hm-mm.

12 Q. He told us that there was a particular interest in the

13 extremist or dissident Loyalist groups, and this was

14 picked up by your colleague this morning when he gave

15 his evidence, that at this particular time in late 1998

16 there was a concern, which was developed by Assessments

17 Group, probably from indications given to them by the

18 politicians above them, that they wanted to know what

19 was going on there. Can you recollect that?

20 A. Yes, I can. But, again, going -- when looking through

21 the documents in recent months obviously, that has

22 jogged my memory. But, yes, I do know.

23 Q. What were the requirements that would have been conveyed

24 to you about those groups and the intelligence you

25 needed to gather on them?

 

 

62


1 A. The requirements would have been, again, as you say and

2 as I touched on, I think, would have been looking at --

3 our customers would have been interested in reporting on

4 any groups or individuals who were opposed to the --

5 violently opposed particularly, to the

6 Good Friday Agreement and individuals or groupings on

7 both sides of the divide, Republican and Loyalist, who

8 had the potential. Our customers would have been

9 interested in reporting on individuals who were opposed

10 to the Good Friday Agreement, of whom there were many,

11 but more significantly these individuals and groupings

12 who had the capacity or the potential to destabilise the

13 arrangements that had been agreed, and basically the

14 ceasefires of the main Republican and Loyalist

15 groupings.

16 Q. And by destabilisation, what do you mean? How would

17 they go about doing that?

18 A. If you had been violently opposed to the

19 Good Friday Agreement, I imagine that you would have

20 sought to carry out some sort of attack which would have

21 perhaps brought about tit for tat violence, as happened

22 on a regular basis throughout the Troubles. That's the

23 sort of thing I imagine that somebody who had been

24 opposed to the agreement might have done.

25 Q. That may appear, from an uninitiated outsider, to be

 

 

63


1 a strategic interest in tactics. Do you agree with

2 that?

3 A. I don't quite follow the point there?

4 Q. The tactics would maybe the murder of civilians or the

5 murder of other paramilitaries or prominent public

6 figures. The consequences would be strategic in that

7 they would have a deleterious effect on the peace

8 process?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Does it follow from that that the Security Service may

11 be interested in attacks which may have strategic

12 consequences; in other words, interested in the

13 specifics of what they were up to?

14 A. No, the agency which would have been far better placed

15 and focused on that would have been the RUC. The police

16 were in a far better position to glean intelligence on

17 the tactical incidents, or however you want to describe

18 them.

19 Yes, my colleagues in the Assessments Group of

20 course would have been interested in receiving that

21 intelligence, but as an agent handler, you know, I could

22 only deliver what other agents could deliver, and we

23 didn't have agents who were in a position to produce

24 intelligence on the -- in the smaller Loyalist groupings

25 to any great extent.

 

 

64


1 Q. But you were interested in their intentions and

2 capabilities?

3 A. As a service or me, as an agent handler?

4 Q. Perhaps it is easier if you answer both of those

5 questions?

6 A. I can answer for myself. No, I was focused on other

7 areas. As a service, I imagine there would have been

8 some interest certainly in anything that might have

9 been, you know, destabilised the situation at the time.

10 Q. When we look in due course -- which we will in

11 a moment -- to the documents that you did report on,

12 what was it, when you take an example like the

13 Red Hand Defenders, that you wanted to know?

14 A. If we look at a grouping like that, I would have asked

15 the agent what he knew about that grouping in response

16 to a requirement sent down by our customers in Stormont.

17 So I imagine I would have asked the general question

18 about his knowledge of or her knowledge of the, you

19 know, Red Hand Defenders.

20 Q. We are talking about groupings here, but is the reality

21 when you are talking to your agents that you are

22 discussing what is Mr X doing, and your agent will say,

23 "He is thinking of leaving the UVF and forming the

24 Orange Order Volunteers" or whatever it is the new

25 extremist group is, "and he is thinking of taking with

 

 

65


1 him Mr Y and Mr Z". Is that the kind of conversation

2 you would have and you would draw a conclusion from that

3 about the formation of that group?

4 A. In the particular cases I was running, my contacts and

5 the agents I was dealing with were not in a position to

6 report -- produce any significant intelligence on

7 breakaway or splinter groups. That wasn't their areas

8 of expertise. We didn't have any agents who could

9 report authoritatively on the small splinter groups, if

10 you like, or even larger ones like the LVF. We simply

11 didn't have assets who could glean significant

12 intelligence on these particular organisations.

13 Q. Would it be fair to characterise the documents -- which

14 we will look at then -- which do focus on those small

15 splinter groups as being, as it were, snippets of

16 intelligence by an agent who is concerned with other

17 issues primarily?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Were you interested in the capabilities of such groups;

20 in other words, their access to bombs and other

21 munitions?

22 A. Again, that's one -- really a question that is better

23 addressed to -- would be better answered, should I say,

24 by colleagues who worked in the Assessments Group and in

25 other departments because our customers knew -- they

 

 

66


1 didn't know who our agents were obviously, but they knew

2 the level of access of our agents. These customers and

3 the requirements they set, they would be wasting their

4 time if they asked about specific terrorist incidents

5 and details of these because they knew -- they would

6 have known that the agents that we were dealing with

7 wouldn't have been themselves privy to any details of

8 terrorist planning or bombs.

9 That's, again, would be -- any questions on these

10 issues would have been answered by tactical agents,

11 agents who could report on tactical intelligence. It

12 would have been -- as an agent handler, it would have

13 been, you know, unusual and life threatening for our

14 agents to start asking questions about specific

15 terrorist incidents because the people they were asking

16 the questions -- they were putting the questions to,

17 would have found it very unusual for them to be asking

18 these questions.

19 Q. I think that's a slightly different point that you have

20 moved on to at the end, which is about individual

21 incidents. What I was really interested in was whether

22 the Service had a strategic interest in the general

23 capabilities of Loyalist groups in this period?

24 A. I imagine they would have been, but, again, as an agent

25 handler, that wasn't for me to focus on.

 

 

67


1 Q. When you are answering that, implicitly you are saying

2 you yourself with your agents weren't interested in that

3 issue?

4 A. In the issue of ...?

5 Q. Capability.

6 A. We would have been interested in capability. We would

7 have sought to answer questions about the capabilities

8 of main Loyalist -- the organisations and the Republican

9 terrorist organisations certainly, yes.

10 Q. Did you ask questions of your agents in relation to the

11 capabilities of smaller extremist organisations; not

12 simply their intentions, but what they were actually

13 able to do?

14 A. I can't recall asking them that question, but I would

15 imagine that if there had been, you know, a requirement

16 or a set of questions from our customers about

17 capabilities of smaller organisations, then I would have

18 asked the question. But as I say, again, our customers

19 would have known that the agents we were dealing with

20 would not have known the answers. They would have their

21 own views, and certainly in discussion with the agents,

22 clearly we would, if we were discussing Republican or

23 Loyalist matters -- we would have almost certainly

24 touched upon just in general discussion, you know,

25 smaller groups, splinter groups.

 

 

68


1 But clearly -- you know, the agents themselves would

2 have had their own personal views, you know. But as far

3 as authoritative views and access to these groupings

4 were concerned, we didn't run agents who had that sort

5 of access. And our customers knew that.

6 Q. The witness earlier today drew a distinction between the

7 detail of the source report and the source comment.

8 Is that a distinction which applies to what you have

9 just said; in other words, the detailed section would be

10 facts of which the source was cognisant and the comments

11 section would be matters of opinion, which might cross

12 into areas which he didn't know specifically about but

13 may have a view on?

14 A. Yes. Clearly we designed the forms to be just that.

15 Source comment was just that.

16 Q. This morning's witness mentioned that he had a closer

17 relationship with South Region Special Branch than with

18 the other regions of Special Branch, and that led to

19 particular discussions with the Head of Special Branch.

20 Did you have a particular region which you had

21 a connection to?

22 A. During this period, when I was working in

23 Northern Ireland, my main dealings would have been with

24 Belfast, as far as the police were concerned, yes.

25 Q. And you were also running, I think, Republican agents,

 

 

69


1 as you said at the start?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Was more of your work on the Republican side or vice

4 versa?

5 A. It was split 50/50, almost 50/50.

6 Q. And did you, with your Republican hat, gather

7 intelligence about the South Region activities of the

8 Provisional IRA?

9 A. No.

10 Q. So would you have come across, in your role as an agent

11 runner, a Republican agent runner, names like

12 Colin Duffy?

13 A. No, because that individual was largely based outside

14 Belfast, to the best of my recollection.

15 Q. I think that's correct, but as we saw with a witness

16 this morning, it appears that during the late 1990s,

17 about 1998 towards 1999, there is some intelligence to

18 indicate that he reaches the higher echelons of the

19 Republican movement, the Army Executive, as it is

20 called?

21 A. Hm-mm.

22 Q. Would that thereby have brought him to your attention?

23 A. It didn't because the agents that I was involved with on

24 the Republican side were reporting on other parts of the

25 IRA and other organisations, and none of them, to the

 

 

70


1 best of my recollection, had any contact or dealings

2 with the individual you have just mentioned there.

3 Q. And leaving aside your specific role with your

4 particular agents, as part of your reading into the

5 Republican paramilitary groupings, would you have come

6 across him as being a player at this time?

7 A. You know, I'm trying to remember, but I don't think so.

8 But it is -- you know -- I can't recall exactly, but I

9 don't think so. He would not have been part of the top

10 echelon, to the best of my recollection, if you want to

11 call it that, as an echelon of the IRA at that time.

12 Q. But he was, I think, someone that had attracted

13 considerable media attention in that he had been

14 convicted for the murder of an ex-military person, he

15 had been arrested for the murders of two police officers

16 in Lurgan in 1997, which became a cause celebre at that

17 time because it was around the time of the ceasefires,

18 and it was perceived to be potentially an indication of

19 the wider movement not signing up to things and still

20 being militant, if I may put it that way.

21 Would those sorts of things have brought him to your

22 attention?

23 A. I remember, as you say, it certainly was a cause

24 celebre, that incident that you refer to. But, again,

25 from my recollection certainly the agents on the

 

 

71


1 Republican side with whom I was working had no access to

2 Colin Duffy or people around Colin Duffy. I certainly

3 cannot remember any discussion that I had with my

4 Republican agents about that individual.

5 Q. I appreciate the distinction you are drawing and really

6 you are focusing your answers on what you may have

7 picked up in your professional capacity as an agent

8 runner with access to particular agents who had

9 particular access to paramilitaries.

10 What I'm trying to establish really is your general

11 knowledge, your knowledge of the culture in Northern

12 Ireland, paramilitary culture, but your knowledge about

13 specific individual groups who may have come to your

14 attention simply because you work in the Security

15 Service and it is your job to be knowledgeable about

16 these things?

17 A. But there are levels of detailed knowledge, and as

18 I said earlier, one can really only spend so much time

19 researching and looking into details of members of

20 particular organisations. You can't be an expert on

21 everything. As an agent handler, you would be focused

22 on the particular agents you are running and their

23 levels of access and their range of contacts.

24 So, for example, you are asking at the moment about

25 my Republican contacts at that time. I would have

 

 

72


1 been -- I would have tried to build up my knowledge of

2 the people with whom they were having regular

3 interaction, and as far as they were concerned, they did

4 not have regular dealings or any significant dealings

5 with Colin Duffy.

6 Q. Now, you mentioned or agreed with my suggestion that the

7 murders were a cause celebre and that may have brought

8 him to your attention outside of your ordinary work.

9 Does it follow that you may have heard of

10 Rosemary Nelson prior to her death as being the

11 representative of Colin Duffy during these prominent

12 prosecutions?

13 A. I recall that I had heard of Rosemary Nelson at that

14 time, yes.

15 Q. What had you heard?

16 A. I had heard that she was a lawyer who was -- you know,

17 had come to notice in the media and in representing

18 a range of individuals, and I was aware of her as

19 a fairly prominent, at the time, lawyer.

20 Q. And from your perspective, were you aware that she

21 represented or was thought to represent a particular

22 section of the community, and by that I mean Republican

23 clients, suspected paramilitaries?

24 A. I recall that she used to represent clients from that

25 part of the community.

 

 

73


1 Q. Would you also have been aware that she was the legal

2 adviser to the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, which,

3 again, in 1998 was fairly prominent in the news, as I

4 understand it?

5 A. I don't recall that but -- I don't specifically recall

6 that.

7 Q. Did you pick up a flavour from your knowledge of her

8 that she was considered to be more than simply

9 a solicitor and that there was a sense, possibly

10 emanating from Special Branch reporting, that she was

11 acting untowardly?

12 A. No, I didn't.

13 Q. Did you have any contact with South Region

14 Special Branch such as via the Detective Chief

15 Superintendent or others?

16 A. Minimal dealings. In my section we were allocated

17 certain responsibilities and that wasn't an area where I

18 had -- you know, I had regular -- members of which I

19 had -- any officers in that area with whom I had any

20 regular dealings with. But clearly in the course of my

21 work I would have come across officers from across the

22 Province, but no substantive professional dealings with

23 South Region. There would have been the odd

24 conversation or meeting where they might have been

25 represented. My main focus, as I touched on, was the

 

 

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1 Belfast area.

2 Q. Did the Security Service have a strategic interest, to

3 your knowledge, in the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition

4 and its potential to cause any destabilisation to the

5 peace process through the Drumcree dispute?

6 A. I don't recall if there was any specific requirement

7 there. There may have been. It certainly wouldn't have

8 been inconceivable, but I don't recall specifically.

9 Q. May we look, please, at the first of these source

10 reports which have, we think, your designation?

11 RNI-531-087 (displayed). Now at present, the provenance

12 of this source report, ie who it is from, is redacted.

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Can you tell us if this is something which was written

15 by you, and this, I think, will require you to look at

16 the unredacted document which I hope you have in front

17 of you. Maybe we can furnish you with a copy of that

18 now.

19 A. Yes, I would be grateful.

20 Q. Thank you. (Handed)

21 A. Thanks.

22 Q. Now, I should say at the outset that this is not

23 a document which you have been asked about in detail

24 during your interview with the Inquiry solicitors, and

25 I'm grateful for you trying to assist us now in

 

 

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1 discussing it.

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Is that one of your source reports?

4 A. That would have been written by me. That was written by

5 me, just looking at the ...

6 Q. The date of that, we can see, is 19 November 1998 and

7 you are sending it to S073, who you can see from your

8 cipher list was the assessment desk officer?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Who has given evidence to the Inquiry and had

11 a particular concern with Loyalists?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Now, in reporting on this -- and you can see the title

14 there, which, partly redacted, is "Red Hand Defenders"?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Would you have been instructed by him to have produced

17 a report on a group such as this, or is this something

18 you would have picked up incidentally as part of your

19 discussions with your agent and thought to report

20 yourself?

21 A. I imagine -- but I can't recall in detail, but I imagine

22 that there would have been a general requirement set for

23 reporting or the activities of, you know, Loyalist

24 groupings, although I would say again that the

25 requirement would probably have been set by customers

 

 

76


1 with no great expectation, given the level of access of

2 our agent base to these smaller groupings, which was, as

3 I say, minimal; that we would have come up, you know,

4 produced specific and authoritative intelligence on

5 groupings like the Red Hand Defenders.

6 But, yes, in answer to your question, I imagine

7 there would have been a general requirement for anything

8 that our agents might have picked up on groupings like

9 this.

10 Q. Was all your tasking set to you by Assessments Group or

11 did you receive tasking from elsewhere, outside the

12 Security Service, for example?

13 A. No, the tasking would have been set -- the setting

14 I responded to would have been set by Assessments Group.

15 Q. And was it particular people in Assessments Group that

16 you would have had regular dialogue with about the kind

17 of things they were interested in, for example, S703?

18 A. Yes, they would have been people like him.

19 Q. And his managers and others who were interested in the

20 Loyalist side of things?

21 A. Occasionally his managers, yes. And he was the main

22 person who -- he was the -- the Loyalist desk officer at

23 the time. I would also have had interaction obviously

24 with the Republican desk officer, who would have been in

25 the same office as this individual.

 

 

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1 Q. Now, the substance of this report has been quite heavily

2 redacted and we can only see snippets of it, and that

3 makes it difficult to understand for those looking at

4 it. But it does say at least in part that the LVF

5 leadership will continue to condemn the activities of

6 the Red Hand Defenders, and then in the third paragraph

7 it describes in short terms who the Red Hand Defenders

8 are:

9 "Rather than being any type of formal organisation,

10 they comprised a small opportunist group of Loyalist

11 dissidents largely based in Belfast."

12 It goes on to say:

13 "Because of the nature of these individuals, it was

14 quite likely that they would carry out further attacks

15 on members of the Nationalist community."

16 There are two points in that that I would like to

17 ask you about. The first is the relationship between

18 the LVF and the Red Hand Defenders.

19 Now, when you received this kind of intelligence,

20 would you have been discussing individuals in the LVF

21 who you would have in this report identified just by the

22 group acronym?

23 A. Would we have been discussing specific individuals in

24 the LVF?

25 Q. You met with your agent?

 

 

78


1 A. Yes.

2 Q. And he provided the information which led to this

3 report?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. When you come to write it in this way --

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. -- would you be discussing individuals in the

8 organisations or would you be discussing it on the terms

9 in which we see here, where you are discussing LVF, RHD,

10 et cetera?

11 A. The latter. In this case, it wouldn't have been --

12 there would have been no discussion of individuals. It

13 was discussions of the groups' policy or strategy.

14 Q. In converting what you were told by your agent into at

15 source report, are you exercising a judgment about the

16 validity or reliability of what you are being told?

17 A. No, when we produced source reporting, obviously we

18 would have -- you will notice there is a section in the

19 first page there about social liability. You know,

20 that's a very important part obviously. We would report

21 intelligence produced by our sources without, you

22 know -- as intelligence, straight intelligence, but

23 obviously the credence that customers placed on the

24 intelligence would be largely, or influenced certainly

25 by the reliability of a particular agent.

 

 

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1 Clearly agents who had been working with us for

2 a long period and had produced intelligence of, you

3 know, high calibre would be regarded as more reliable

4 than someone, let's say, who had been recruited fairly

5 shortly before the report was produced, let's say.

6 That's a key issue, social liability. So ...

7 Q. I think my question was whether you would be exercising

8 a judgment, and I think perhaps if we focus on the bit

9 you have identified, sources reliability, we cannot see

10 behind the redaction, but who is writing that?

11 A. I would tick that box.

12 Q. You have formed a judgment of sorts in that report?

13 A. Not just me. It would have been the customers as well,

14 and obviously they would be assessing intelligence from

15 a variety of different sources and they would have been

16 assessing intelligence from, let's say, this particular

17 source over a period of time. And if this reporting had

18 been substantiated by a number of sources and had proven

19 to be of a particularly high calibre, then I would write

20 a particular -- yes, I would write on routinely, "This

21 is a trusted or long established or established source",

22 something like that.

23 Q. A formulation of standard words which you would use to

24 express some form of reliability?

25 A. Exactly.

 

 

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1 Q. The report itself mentions individuals being quite

2 likely to carry out further attacks on the Nationalist

3 community.

4 Now, can we assume from that that you, in writing

5 this report, would not have known any more than is

6 written; in other words, you wouldn't have known exactly

7 who in the Nationalist community they would have been

8 planning on attacking?

9 A. Exactly, yes.

10 Q. Would you have been concerned to ask the question?

11 A. It would have begged the question, yes, and although I

12 can't recall specifically here, I would have certainly

13 asked the agent if he had any information about

14 individuals who might be targets. And if there had

15 been -- if he had produced any details, then I would

16 certainly have included these in the report. But, as

17 I say, the sort of agents that we were dealing with very

18 rarely came up, certainly the ones I was dealing with

19 never came up with any detailed reporting on terrorist

20 attacks.

21 Q. Now, if you were going to ask that question, as you said

22 you would have done, how does that reflect the strategic

23 requirements which Assessments Group have given to you?

24 A. It is not a question of reflecting strategic

25 requirements, if the agent, which he did obviously on

 

 

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1 this occasion, or she did, would have -- talking about

2 attacks against members of the Nationalist community, I

3 would have felt it was incumbent upon me from an

4 actually, you know, protection of life perspective to

5 actually ask if there were more details which we might

6 be able to pass on, for example, to the police.

7 That would have been, you know -- forgetting

8 strategic requirements, that would have been at the

9 forefront of my thinking when I was passed information

10 of this type.

11 Q. So we can infer from this report that you asked the

12 question and were given the answer "don't know"?

13 A. That would have been -- yes, I would assume that would

14 be right. Again, I can't recall exactly, but I strongly

15 imagine that that would have been the case in this

16 instance.

17 Q. Is that not a pertinent answer to include within the

18 report, the negative?

19 A. Well, by not, you know -- it was certainly practice, if

20 there had been -- as I say again, if there had been any

21 personal details or details of individuals who might be

22 at risk, they would have certainly have been -- these

23 details would have been included in the reports.

24 So rather than just write on "There was no further

25 details", the very fact that there were no details on

 

 

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1 this report answers your question, really.

2 Q. So the convention would be for the person reading this

3 report, that if the detail is not there, the agent

4 doesn't know it?

5 A. Correct.

6 Q. And also in relation to particular attacks, not simply

7 the agent doesn't know it, but you have asked the

8 question to elicit that fact?

9 A. That would -- yes, that would be the correct assumption

10 to make.

11 Q. May we move to another source report? And this one is

12 at RNI-531-104 (displayed). This one, again, I am

13 afraid, the "from" section has been redacted. So I

14 would be grateful if you would look at the unredacted

15 copy, and can you confirm whether or not you are the

16 author of this report, please?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. You are?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. This time it is about the Orange Volunteers, another

21 so-called splinter group. The date of the report is

22 4 February 1999, and it states:

23 "Militant Loyalists, particularly members of the

24 Orange Volunteers, were keen to step up their campaign

25 of attacks against Nationalist and, if possible,

 

 

83


1 Republican targets."

2 Pausing there, what is the difference between those

3 words "Nationalist" and "Republican" in that context?

4 A. In that context, Nationalist targets would be members of

5 the Catholic community who were not necessarily -- who

6 weren't members of Republican groupings. And Republican

7 targets would be clearly members of the IRA or other

8 Republican groupings at that time.

9 Attacks against Nationalist targets would be against

10 so-called easy targets within the Nationalists, the

11 Catholic community, different to -- at the risk of using

12 jargon, so-called hard targets within the Republican

13 community.

14 Q. You have used capital R for the word "Republican".

15 Again, does that re-emphasise the paramilitary

16 description?

17 A. That was just a matter of course. I certainly would

18 have used capital R as a matter of course routine. Whether

19 that was, strictly speaking, right or wrong to do, I don't

20 know, but I would have, in writing the word

21 "Republican", I would always have used a capital R.

22 Q. Where were the Orange Volunteers based?

23 A. To the best of my recollection, Orange Volunteers were

24 to be found Province-wide, in various parts of the

25 Province.

 

 

84


1 Q. In speaking to your agent about this, did you draw any

2 conclusion about where these particular Orange

3 Volunteers were based? And if this puts you in

4 difficulty, please don't answer the question.

5 A. I'm just looking at the version I have here.

6 Again, no -- I'm happy to answer that. This

7 particular conversation with the agent, it would have

8 been clear to me that the Orange Volunteers could be

9 found in various parts of the Province, not one specific

10 area.

11 Q. So the targeting that is identified here, is it pretty

12 vague?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Overleaf we have another heavily redacted passage and

15 then we find the sentence, which unfortunately appears

16 to be a subclause of a sentence:

17 "A number of Orange Volunteers had security force

18 and Orange Order backgrounds."

19 Can you see that? It is on page RNI-531-105

20 (displayed).

21 A. Yes, I can actually.

22 Q. Was that something that you were interested in, the

23 connections between Loyalists and the security forces?

24 A. Not particularly, no.

25 Q. Would this report have been sent to the RUC?

 

 

85


1 A. This particular report wasn't sent directly to the RUC.

2 I don't know what the customer would have done with it,

3 but as far as I was concerned, this report from me was

4 sent directly to our colleague.

5 Now, what he did with it, I obviously don't know.

6 He may or may not have shown it to officers within the

7 RUC.

8 Q. Again, to an objective reader, that comment about the

9 Orange Order and its connection with the security forces

10 might ring alarm bells, in that one might to think that

11 the State or ex-members of the State forces were

12 engaging in paramilitary activity, and that's something

13 which ought to be investigated. But as far as you were

14 concerned, you pass on the information and it is for

15 others to take that judgment?

16 A. Exactly.

17 Q. The final section is to do with the Red Hand Defenders

18 being used as a flag of convenience for militants:

19 "Some of them, LVF sympathisers, who would claim

20 attacks without fear of embarrassing any of the Loyalist

21 groups currently on ceasefire."

22 So far as you can recall, does that accord with your

23 general understanding of the Red Hand Defenders being

24 not a group which had a particular leadership or

25 a particular ideology, but were just a number of

 

 

86


1 individuals that used that term whenever they wanted to

2 disown attacks?

3 A. To the best of my recollection, that was the case.

4 Q. Were you aware from your contact with your agents or

5 from your general knowledge of this, whether they had

6 any particular affiliation with paramilitary groups; in

7 other words, they were more connected with the LVF than

8 perhaps they would have been with the UDA, for example?

9 A. The Red Hand Defenders?

10 Q. Yes.

11 A. The bit I can't recall exactly, whether or not the

12 Red Hand Defenders -- I was never told if the

13 Red Hand Defenders were more closely connected with the

14 LVF or the UDA, but it would have been likely that the

15 Red Hand Defenders -- it would have been more logical

16 for them to have been connected with the LVF and

17 elements of the UDA, to the best of my recollection at

18 that time.

19 Q. Why do you say that?

20 A. Because, again, to the best of my recollection at that

21 time, the main Loyalist organisations, the UVF and the

22 UDA, had signed up to the -- or were content with the

23 Good Friday Agreement. The UDA, being a more fragmented

24 organisation than the UVF, had -- again, to the best of

25 my recollection because I was no expert, but they had

 

 

87


1 people within that organisation who had significant

2 disagreements with the strategy of the leadership, as

3 had the -- obviously people like Billy Wright clearly

4 broke away from the UVF to form the LVF. But the

5 mainstream Loyalist organisations were at that stage, at

6 that time, largely signed up to a peaceful strategy.

7 But elements within them clearly -- and the UDA

8 probably more so than the UVF had -- they were more

9 likely, I would suggest, to become, you know, so-called

10 Red Hand Defenders. But I'm certainly no expert on that

11 subject.

12 Q. May I look at another source report, and this is at

13 RNI-531-112 (displayed)? And, again, if you could

14 confirm that this is a report of yours, that would be

15 helpful for us?

16 A. Yes, that's me, yes.

17 Q. And the date is 10 February 1999, and I should clarify

18 that is the typing date of the document.

19 A. Correct.

20 Q. The intelligence, again, is heavily redacted but the

21 bits which we can see state:

22 "The militant Orange Volunteers had no direct links

23 with their moderate Belfast namesakes."

24 Now, is this a change from the previous

25 intelligence, which I think you couldn't necessarily

 

 

88


1 identify from the intelligence where the volunteers were

2 from that were being referred to, whereas this is now

3 starting to look more geographically specific?

4 A. I think -- looking at this, I think it was still very

5 unclear as to exactly who or what constituted the Orange

6 Volunteers. So there were pockets of individuals in

7 various parts of Province, some with more militant views

8 than others. But, again, it is all relative.

9 But, again, I would say that the access that our

10 agents had to detailed intelligence on the Orange

11 Volunteers -- well, they didn't have any. That was the

12 problem: we didn't have any detailed -- if you want to

13 call it -- a problem would be that they didn't have any

14 detailed access to these groupings, as I say, simply

15 because our agents couldn't spread themselves across

16 a wide range of groupings. If you were reporting on

17 a particular group, it would have been very unusual for

18 you to be able to produce detailed reporting on another

19 grouping, unless you actually left your original target

20 grouping. And obviously we didn't want to do that, to

21 refocus our agents, because our agents were reporting on

22 the mainstream paramilitary organisations, which for

23 us -- whose thinking and strategy, as I said at the

24 beginning of the session, that was a top priority

25 for us.

 

 

89


1 Q. So the person that you are talking to when you get this

2 information is not directly involved with these

3 organisations? He is a peripheral player that may have

4 picked up some snippets?

5 A. Correct.

6 Q. And the particular focus in here is the more radical

7 Orange Volunteer group that appears to have formed after

8 the Drumcree stand-offs had begun.

9 Can we infer from that that it had a geographical

10 connection to Portadown, or again, does that leave us

11 guessing that they may be from elsewhere but just

12 interested in the Drumcree parade?

13 A. Again, it is impossible to say from this. Looking at

14 the version I have in front of me here, it is impossible

15 to say. There is no more detail about where this more

16 militant grouping is actually focused. There is no

17 detail here --

18 Q. I think --

19 A. -- giving a town or any other geographical detail.

20 Q. -- that's correct. What I was hoping to elicit is

21 whether or not your agent may have identified that kind

22 of detail and it wouldn't necessarily have found its way

23 into the report, or whether you received other

24 intelligence from other agents which may have similarly

25 assisted you with that issue?

 

 

90


1 A. If there had been other intelligence, we would have

2 reported it.

3 Q. Now, page RNI-531-115 (displayed) of the document is the

4 final page of it, where we can see a handwritten comment

5 by S703?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. And that is, as we have seen, the officer, the Loyalist

8 officer who sent these reports to you previously. And

9 he says:

10 "Excellent reporting ... NIIRs ..."

11 As in "something NIIR":

12 "And sent to the PM."

13 Is he saying he sent this to the Prime Minister?

14 I appreciate this is not your note, but is that what he

15 is telling you?

16 A. It looks that way, yes. It would have been, certainly,

17 10 Downing Street, whether or not the Prime Minister --

18 who would have been at that time -- Tony Blair -- if the

19 Prime Minister himself had read it, I can't comment. He

20 may have done.

21 Q. This seems to us, looking at it now, a form of praise

22 for the quality of the reporting that you have got on

23 this kind of issue. Is that effectively what he is

24 saying, "Thank you for this, this is great stuff"?

25 A. Yes. I mean, again to the best of my recollection, the

 

 

91


1 reports which the customers like S703 found most useful

2 would have been sent to 10 Downing Street, but obviously

3 there were different thresholds. I can't comment on

4 where the thresholds -- or who set the thresholds, the

5 customers themselves set them obviously. But the best

6 reports from our agent base would have been sent to

7 10 Downing Street.

8 Q. Now, he goes on to say:

9 "Once again [blank] has left the RUC wanting."

10 Again, I think that's praise for the quality of the

11 intelligence in comparison to the RUC's intelligence.

12 He then says:

13 "There is a very high interest in militant Loyalist

14 activity. More reporting would be well received."

15 Is that an unequivocal instruction to go out and

16 find some more?

17 A. No, it is not an instruction, but I would have read that

18 comment. And I can't recall any specific conversation,

19 but I imagine that I would have -- when the next

20 occasion -- after receiving this report, I would have

21 spoken to him and said, "Thank you for your generous

22 comments, I'm pleased that you found the report

23 valuable." Something along these lines, but also to add

24 that our particular agent at that time is not in a

25 position to get any more detailed reporting. This was

 

 

92


1 more or less the only -- to the best of my recollection,

2 the only significant report about general Orange

3 Volunteer strategy, if you want to call it strategy,

4 that we were in a position to report, for various

5 reasons, as in mainly level of access.

6 I would have said to him any more information on

7 groupings like this, your best bet is to, you know,

8 consult the RUC because I would have imagined that they

9 would have had agents or assets who could have produced

10 more intelligence. But, again, I would not have been

11 privy. I did not have any knowledge of the RUC's agent

12 base. We obviously all had our own assumptions about

13 the sort of work the police were engaged in at that

14 time.

15 Q. Were there other agents within the Security Service who

16 were picking up activities about dissident Loyalist

17 groups, as far as you were aware?

18 A. To the best of my recollection, no. We ran a number of

19 Loyalist agents. I can't -- and obviously colleagues

20 were involved in -- we each were involved in different

21 cases and occasionally we might back up -- be so-called

22 back-up officer for someone's case if that officer was

23 on holiday or ill. So you would come into contact with

24 the other -- some of the other agents, let's say. But,

25 again, I really can't recall if any of our other agents

 

 

93


1 had -- or reported any intelligence on the Orange

2 Volunteers or the Red Hand Defenders. I would have

3 doubted it because, again, there is a point, if you will

4 excuse me, I will keep coming back to: our agents were

5 directed at, as far as we saw, the more important

6 paramilitary organisations at that time, Loyalist and

7 Republican.

8 Q. There is one report that I would like to show you just

9 to complete the picture, and I won't ask any questions

10 about it because at the moment it doesn't have your

11 designation on it. It has the designation of someone

12 else.

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. That's at RNI-531-121 (displayed).

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Can we have the full page, please? That was your

17 colleague who gave evidence this morning. This, again,

18 is about the Red Hand Defenders. I don't want to ask

19 you about the substance of it because it is self-evident

20 and I understand what you would say about that, but

21 would your colleague have shown you that source report

22 so that you would have been apprised about the latest

23 reporting on the Red Hand Defenders at this time, which

24 is 4 March 1999?

25 A. Certainly as a matter of course, if not -- I would have

 

 

94


1 spoken to him about his meeting with the agent I would

2 normally have been in contact with, and while I don't

3 recall this specific conversation, I would certainly

4 have gone through the file, the records, of any contacts

5 with that agent and any reports which that agent might

6 have produced before my next meeting with the agent

7 because clearly I would have wanted to -- I would have

8 been -- it would have been unprofessional of me to have

9 gone to the next meeting without knowing what the agent

10 had said at his previous meetings.

11 Q. That, as we understand it, is the totality of your

12 relevant reporting on these dissident groups which

13 I have taken you through. Can you recollect if there is

14 any other information about their intentions during this

15 period which may be pertinent to this Inquiry?

16 A. I can't recollect, but I would say certainly there

17 wouldn't have been because we were rigorous in our

18 record-keeping and anything that would have pertained to

19 any intelligence relating to the Orange Volunteers,

20 Red Hand Defenders or the LVF, et cetera, would have

21 been recorded and would have been brought to this

22 Inquiry, I'm sure. I'm certainly confident of that, but

23 I don't recall any other pertinent intelligence.

24 Q. And it follows from that, does it, that you were not, in

25 your capacity as an agent runner and the recipient of

 

 

95


1 the various intelligence that we have seen, ever privy

2 to intelligence that Rosemary Nelson was being targeted

3 or would be killed in this period?

4 A. Absolutely not.

5 Q. After Rosemary Nelson was murdered, which occurs a week

6 and a half after this, or at least after the early March

7 date that we have seen on that report, when did you

8 first become aware that she had been killed?

9 A. Again, I would have been -- when the news of the murder

10 was on the media, that would have been -- I think I was,

11 again, to the best of my recollection, in my office when

12 news came through of that murder.

13 Q. Your colleague in Assessments Group, S703, described --

14 I think he said either Ceefax or Teletext being

15 regularly looked at. I didn't know we were still that

16 primitive in those days, but can you remember whether

17 you had regular rolling reporting in your office back at

18 the base?

19 A. I can't remember, but we certainly would have had a TV

20 and a radio. But it was pretty basic in those days.

21 Q. Would that be kept on so that you could listen to any

22 particular news about what was going on in

23 Northern Ireland that may bear upon your work?

24 A. Yes, to the best of my recollection, there would be

25 someone who would be listening to radio or watching TV

 

 

96


1 for any pertinent, as you say, relevant matters.

2 Q. The claim of responsibility for Rosemary Nelson's murder

3 was by the Red Hand Defenders. Were you aware of that

4 at the time?

5 A. No, I don't recall that.

6 Q. Are you surprised to learn that or -- well, first of

7 all, when did you learn that fact?

8 A. I was unaware of that fact. Again, this happened ten

9 years ago. I may have been aware at the time, but if I

10 was, certainly I have forgotten that.

11 Q. You had provided an amount of intelligence in relation

12 to the Red Hand Defenders, albeit with the caveats which

13 you have explained to us today.

14 Would you have connected your intelligence, the

15 intelligence you had reported on, with the

16 Red Hand Defenders who claimed responsibility for the

17 murder?

18 A. I mean, you are saying at the time?

19 Q. Yes.

20 A. I can't recall them claiming responsibility, but at the

21 time, whether we heard -- when I heard about the murder,

22 my assumption would have been that clearly Loyalists

23 would have been responsible for that. But that's as far

24 as it would have gone in my -- I had no -- you know,

25 better knowledge or knowledge as to which particular

 

 

97


1 Loyalist grouping or group of individuals, whatever,

2 might have been responsible. I would simply have been

3 guessing. I would have been making an assumption. We

4 didn't know.

5 Q. Did you have the sense, when you found out about her

6 death, that it was something which you would have

7 expected to have received some advance warning of?

8 A. No, because as I said earlier, we very rarely came

9 across any intelligence which was detailed -- details of

10 terrorist attack planning. That wasn't the sort of --

11 the routine, if you want to call it routine, but routine

12 intelligence that we were dealing with. We were dealing

13 with the politics, if you like, the strategies. We --

14 and, again, I would have -- I assumed at the time that

15 the police would be dealing on a daily basis with

16 tactical intelligence and obviously intelligence

17 relating to major terrorist attacks.

18 Q. Well, we have seen, going through these reports, that an

19 organisation like the Orange Volunteers had an intention

20 to target Nationalist or Republicans and there is also

21 strong intelligence that the Orange Volunteers and

22 another group, Justice for Protestants, which has not

23 come up in this reporting -- there were certain

24 connections between the groups.

25 Does it not follow that you would have wanted to

 

 

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1 find out from your agents whether or not they had

2 received some information from one of these groups as to

3 who did it?

4 A. It would have followed if we had had agents who were in

5 a position to produce reporting of that kind, but we

6 didn't for -- you know, unfortunately -- I say

7 unfortunately because it would have been helpful for

8 everyone perhaps if we had had agents, but that wasn't

9 our remit. Our remit was to recruit and run agents who

10 were in a position to produce strategic reporting on

11 intentions, capabilities of the main organisations, both

12 Republican and Loyalist.

13 We were in no position to add any significant

14 intelligence on the small groupings. To do so, to

15 redeploy our agents against these groupings, would have

16 been dangerous for the agents themselves and just not

17 credible with the members of the small groupings.

18 Q. Is that something which you considered doing?

19 A. No.

20 Q. But you had received intelligence about those small

21 groupings that they were intending to target people. Is

22 it not just a simple thing to ask the same sources did

23 they target Rosemary Nelson? Those people we were

24 talking about a few weeks ago, and it really is a matter

25 of weeks in this case, did they in fact kill

 

 

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1 Rosemary Nelson, the people that we talked about?

2 A. Again, to the best of my recollection, when I met with

3 an agent who had reported, albeit in a limited way, on

4 the small groupings and we discussed the murder of

5 Rosemary Nelson, that agent certainly had nothing. He

6 had no knowledge of any details of the attack.

7 What he would have been able to tell me would have

8 been what Loyalists in general were saying about that

9 attack, but it would just have been hearsay and

10 assumptions. There was no detail. He wasn't in

11 a position to access information of that sort.

12 Q. There is a document in the bundle at RNI-532-009

13 (displayed).

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. It is a different type of document. The title is

16 "Contact Note". Can you explain to us what a contact

17 note is and what kind of information it would contain?

18 A. A contact note is a detailed record of a meeting with an

19 agent. As you can see from the documents in front of

20 me, it would -- a symbol of the agent, my details, the

21 details of anyone else at the meeting, time, et cetera,

22 et cetera, just everything that is on the front sheet

23 there.

24 The account of the meeting would have been my

25 detailed account of -- well, what was said at the

 

 

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1 meeting, talking about what the agent had been doing

2 since I had last seen him or her, talking about, you

3 know, people of interest he or she might have been

4 meeting or had met, should I say. As importantly,

5 talking about how the -- just on the human side of

6 things, how the agent him or herself was feeling and

7 domestic problems, the sort of normal conversations you

8 would have with your friends, I suppose, because all

9 these issues are relevant for us.

10 I would have reminded him of our key interests, I

11 would have told him that I was keen for him to go out

12 and get intelligence on particular, you know,

13 organisations or individuals. And we would have agreed

14 then about next meeting arrangements. We would have --

15 I would have routinely given him some money or expenses

16 or salary, if you like, fairly routine records of --

17 well, routine records of meetings with agents.

18 Q. And did the contact note or would contact notes

19 ordinarily have contained the information which

20 ultimately found its way into a source report?

21 A. No, that would have been -- that was separate. The

22 source report, as you saw, that document was separate

23 from this. It was written around the same time, it

24 would have been that night, after the meeting, I would

25 have written the intelligence -- any intelligence from

 

 

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1 a meeting, I would have written it up first because

2 obviously that's -- particularly if it was important

3 intelligence -- was a top priority.

4 My second priority would have been -- as soon as

5 possible after the meeting would have been to produce

6 a record of the meeting with the agent. So that was

7 a separate thing.

8 Q. The content of the note is entirely non-intelligence?

9 A. There is no intelligence -- specific intelligence in the

10 contact note routinely.

11 Q. We can see in this contact note that there is some

12 discussion of the Rosemary Nelson murder, which occurred

13 in March 1999. You can see that paragraph 3 on the

14 second page.

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. You say there:

17 "We talked at some length about the Nelson murder

18 and the death of Frankie Currie."

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Would you have been initiating that discussion?

21 A. I can't remember, but it may well have been him because

22 at that stage it would have been, you know, a major

23 incident, which clearly which would have been a normal

24 topic of conversation, if you like, for us to be

25 discussing. Again -- and I can't recall exactly, but I

 

 

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1 would probably have been the one who instigated it. But

2 routinely, if there had been something on -- well,

3 something, because on this particular occasion it was an

4 attack which one would have assumed would have been

5 perpetrated by Loyalists, given that I was meeting

6 a Loyalist agent, it would have been a natural topic of

7 conversation, an important one obviously, for us to

8 discuss.

9 Q. Can you remember whether Assessments Group tasked you to

10 find information about the murder?

11 A. I can't recall. Again, I would have assumed that they

12 would have done if, on that day -- I would have told

13 them that I was meeting a Loyalist agent, so I would

14 have thought that they would have certainly wanted me to

15 ask a question on the attack on Rosemary Nelson.

16 Q. Now, there isn't much in the way of content reflecting

17 that conversation, and you say you talked at length

18 about the Nelson murder and the Frankie Currie murder,

19 but in fact in this contact note there isn't much

20 discussion of that. Can you remember the conversation

21 and can you remember anything that may be pertinent to

22 this Inquiry about it?

23 A. No, I can't remember the conversation. What's clear

24 from my account of the meeting is that the agent I was

25 dealing with had no knowledge of the attack. He

 

 

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1 couldn't produce -- he was unable to produce any

2 information, any relevant intelligence.

3 Again, reading my account of it, clearly the attack

4 on Rosemary Nelson and the attack on Frankie Currie had

5 depressed him because he felt that these murders would

6 destabilise or could have a significant destabilising

7 effect on the ceasefires of the Loyalist organisations.

8 He was, to the best of my recollection, depressed about

9 both of these attacks.

10 Q. If we go back to the full page, please, you can see the

11 small snippet at paragraph 5:

12 "Most local Loyalists in Portadown had not been

13 surprised by the Nelson murder, mainly because of the

14 lawyer's friendship with Colin Duffy."

15 Can you remember that as an item of the discussion?

16 A. I can't remember specifically discussing that because --

17 clearly I had written it down that we certainly

18 discussed it, looking at the account.

19 Q. The perception that she was friendly or had a friendship

20 with Colin Duffy, does that simply mean she was friends

21 with him or does it mean there was some suspicion of

22 something more than that?

23 A. The way I have written it there, it would simply be just

24 that: the friendship with Colin Duffy.

25 Q. She was thought by your agent, who was on the Loyalist

 

 

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1 side of the divide, to be at least -- it is not

2 a solicitor/client relationship, it is something

3 different from that?

4 A. No, the way certainly it is recorded here, which would

5 have been exactly the way it was, is that he, in

6 conversations with Loyalists, the people with whom he

7 was speaking had suggested that the murder may have been

8 because of Rosemary Nelson's friendship with

9 Colin Duffy. It is not his own view. This is him

10 talking about conversations he had had with other

11 Loyalists.

12 Q. In your judgment, in what way would that friendship have

13 led to her death or could have incited Loyalists to want

14 to kill her?

15 A. In my own judgment, the natural assumption would be that

16 it's because of the very fact that the lawyer was --

17 Rosemary Nelson was friendly with a prominent Republican

18 in some Loyalist eyes would have made her a target for

19 them.

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

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. We will have a 20-minute break.

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

23 please confirm that all the cameras have been switched

24 off?

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

 

 

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1 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Would you please escort the

2 witness out.

3 (3.16 pm)

4 (Short break)

5 (3.40 pm)

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

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

8 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

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

10 screen closed?

11 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Are the technical support screens in place

13 and securely fastened?

14 MR CURRANS: Yes, sir.

15 THE CHAIRMAN: Is anyone other than Inquiry personnel and

16 Participants' legal representatives seated in the body

17 of this chamber?

18 MR CURRANS: No, sir.

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

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

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

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

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

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Bring the witness in, please.

25 Do sit down.

 

 

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1 The cameras on the Panel, Inquiry personnel and the

2 Full Participants' legal representatives may now be

3 switched back on.

4 Yes, Mr Skelton?

5 MR SKELTON: Before we leave this document, I just have

6 a few questions to ask you. The first is about contact

7 notes generally. You have --

8 A. Can I just say, there is nothing on the screen just now.

9 Q. It should still be there. There we are.

10 A. Thanks.

11 Q. Contact notes generally. Were they passed outside the

12 agent handling unit to Assessments Group?

13 A. No.

14 Q. So they just stayed within, as part of your housekeeping

15 records?

16 A. Yes, because clearly we are dealing with very sensitive

17 matters relating to agent operations which needed to be

18 kept very strictly and within the confines of our

19 office.

20 Q. Why would you be, in this note, recording details of

21 conversations about things like Rosemary Nelson's death?

22 A. Well, I didn't -- there were no details of any

23 significance to report, but I would have touched upon

24 the fact that we had a conversation about something like

25 that, which was obviously a major event at the time.

 

 

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1 I simply recorded what we talked about. I was rigorous

2 in recording, you know, anything that we talked about.

3 Q. So every distinct topic of conversation, you would have

4 at least made some specific reference to?

5 A. Exactly, yes.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: You might even talk about a local football

7 match?

8 A. Exactly, which we regularly did.

9 MR SKELTON: If you had received intelligence or information

10 that went into bit more detail, for example, saying that

11 your particular agent thought that it may have been

12 a particular person who had the capability to do this

13 act, would you have converted that into a source report

14 rather than recorded it in this contact note?

15 A. Yes, that would have been the right thing to do.

16 Q. That would have been considered a tactical piece of

17 intelligence, would it?

18 A. Impossible for me to say. The customer would have had

19 to make that assessment. If my agent had been in

20 a position to provide details, any relevant details or

21 any details at all, about the murder of Rosemary Nelson

22 or Frankie Currie, then I would have produced a source

23 report based on that.

24 But, you know, the judgment as to whether or not

25 that was tactical or strategic would have been for the

 

 

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1 customer to make.

2 Q. Again, hypothetically, had you received any information

3 about Rosemary Nelson's murder, would it be you who had

4 made a decision, as the handler, about whether or not that

5 should be expedited towards the RUC, or would that

6 decision be taken by either your management or by

7 another section of the Security Service?

8 A. That would have been -- the decision would have been

9 taken by the customer, the customers.

10 Q. It may be that I misunderstood the evidence a few days

11 ago from one of the customers in Assessments Group, but

12 I think he told us that the RUC would have had ordinary

13 access to your product to make that judgment themselves

14 because your source reporting was to some degree their

15 source reporting, their intelligence?

16 A. Well, I think, as I said earlier in the session, the

17 intelligence I was producing, my colleagues would have

18 gone straight to the customer. It would be then for the

19 customer to return to us to say, look, we think the RUC

20 would have a particular interest in this, we are going

21 to show them that intelligence. "Is that okay in the

22 form that you have produced it?" Then they would have

23 passed it.

24 But, you know, routinely the intelligence that I was

25 producing from the conversations with my agents would

 

 

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1 not have gone to the RUC because it was generally about

2 strategy, the politics, et cetera, et cetera, which were

3 subjects that the RUC at the time were not specifically

4 interested in.

5 There would have been, I imagine, certain customers

6 within the RUC who would have seen -- again, this is

7 where it gets slightly complicated -- but the NIIRs

8 which had been produced from the reporting from agents

9 like this one and others from our stable, their

10 information would have been incorporated into NIIRs and

11 the NIIRs would have a standard customer distribution

12 list and within -- and, again, I haven't got any NIIRs

13 to hand here, but I would imagine that, again, to the

14 best of my recollection, there would have been RUC

15 officers listed as -- you know, I mean, having access to

16 these NIIRs.

17 Q. I think ordinarily, is it right to say that the NIIRs

18 would say in very simple where the intelligence came

19 from? It would say RUC or Security Service?

20 A. Yes.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: When you refer to "customer",

22 could you put some flesh on that? What sort of person are you

23 speaking of? Not the named individual of course, but

24 what sort of people are you talking about?

25 A. Sorry, I'm using lazily [redacted], but I mean

 

 

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1 specifically the AS Group, the Assessment Group team,

2 our colleagues.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

4 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can I just refer you to paragraph 5,

5 please, what's on the screen there?

6 It talks about no surprise, local Loyalists:

7 "Motive. Maybe because of the lawyer's friendship

8 with Colin Duffy."

9 You said earlier that you knew of Colin Duffy's name

10 but you knew very little about him.

11 A. Yes.

12 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: I take it you didn't know of the

13 friendship with Rosemary Nelson?

14 A. Personally, I don't recall that.

15 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So you wouldn't be aware as to whether

16 the RUC knew of the friendship with Rosemary Nelson?

17 A. I wouldn't be aware, no. I can make an assumption, but

18 I wouldn't be aware, no.

19 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: So you didn't feel that this was

20 a piece of information formally or informally that ought

21 to be brought to the notice of the RUC?

22 A. That would have been the decision, you know, an

23 assessment made by -- for someone else to make, not me.

24 It would have been for the customer.

25 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Sorry, this is on the contact sheet, I

 

 

111


1 think, isn't it?

2 A. Sorry, yes. I'm with you.

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: The contact sheet doesn't go anywhere

4 else?

5 A. Yes, that's right. My assumption at the time would have

6 been that this would probably be information which was

7 already known, but I don't recall exactly.

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay.

9 A. It certainly wouldn't have struck me as intelligence

10 which was -- which would have met the threshold to

11 produce a separate source report.

12 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Or a phone call to the RUC?

13 A. No.

14 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: I appreciate the time lapse, but

15 looking at it as if it was today, I mean, what would

16 have been your rationale, do you think, for making that

17 decision?

18 A. The decision not to tell the RUC?

19 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Yes.

20 A. Because, again, I can't remember exactly, but I would

21 have assumed that the RUC would have been privy to that

22 information. Again, I can't recall exactly, you know,

23 how widely known this friendship with Colin Duffy was,

24 but I would have assumed -- again, thinking back ten

25 years ago -- I made the decision on the assumption that

 

 

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1 this actually would have been within the -- would have

2 been known to the RUC.

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: You don't think --

4 A. If I thought it hadn't have been, I would certainly have

5 called them, yes.

6 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: You don't think there was any

7 possibility that you were aware of the RUC's knowledge

8 of a relationship?

9 A. I can't say definitively yes or no, but looking at this

10 retrospectively, ten years on, the way it is written

11 there would have been I would have then -- I would have

12 been aware that this friendship would have been known

13 about by the police, but, again, I can't recall exactly

14 because it is obviously a long time ago.

15 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: You don't think it was possibly because

16 you and your Security Service colleagues knew as much

17 about Rosemary Nelson as the RUC?

18 A. Absolutely not. For us, Rosemary Nelson was of -- was

19 not a person or a subject with whom, I imagine, we had

20 been given tasking or were interested in. She was not

21 a Republican target, for want of a better word, or

22 someone who would have been of interest to the Security

23 Service.

24 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: In terms of these contact sheets, would

25 anyone else, other than another agent handler standing

 

 

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1 in for you, have read this?

2 A. Yes, we would -- our manager would have seen it, the

3 back-up officer would have read it. [....redacted.....

4 .......................redacted......................]

5 .......................redacted......................]

6 .......................redacted......................]

7 .......................redacted......................]

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay.

9 MR SKELTON: Just finally before we move on to one last

10 document, you mention that it was the decision for

11 Assessments Group or your customers to decide what the

12 RUC saw of your product.

13 Did it work in the same way if you were co-handling

14 with an RUC Special Branch handler?

15 A. I'm trying to recall if I was involved in any joint

16 work, as we would have called it, at the time. I was

17 involved in a joint case, I recall, but I don't recall

18 the exact procedures. You know, if it was a joint case,

19 it depends, you know, written product would almost

20 certainly have been written by the police at that stage.

21 It depends on the case. It varied on a case by case

22 basis.

23 I think I myself was only for a very short time

24 involved in a so-called joint case and I can't recall

25 exactly the mechanics of how the intelligence on that

 

 

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1 case was disseminated, whether or not I wrote it or the

2 police colleagues who would have been involved in the

3 case. I seem to recall that it was the police who used

4 to do the write-ups from that particular case because it

5 was mainly, I think, material of interest to them, but

6 again, it was a low priority case at that time. That's

7 my only recollection of that, joint working.

8 Q. Can we assume that none of the reports that we have seen

9 are based on co-handled agents reporting?

10 A. Absolutely. That's the correct assumption. The reports

11 we which have been discussing today were -- came from an

12 asset who was run exclusively by the Security Service.

13 Q. There is one final source report I would like to show

14 you, please. That's at RNI-532-027 (displayed) and the

15 date of that is 24 March 1999, and we can see your

16 cipher there, but if you would like to confirm your

17 designation beneath that, that would be helpful?

18 A. Yes, that's me.

19 Q. So this is written by you?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And it is going, again, to S703 in the Assessments

22 Group?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. The title of it is "Loyalist", and then a bit of it is

25 blanked out, but the end of it says:

 

 

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1 "Red Hand Defenders and Nelson murder."

2 A. Hm-mm.

3 Q. And the text of it is primarily about Rosemary Nelson's

4 murder. I will read out some of it and ask you to

5 comment on that:

6 "Loyalists with links to militant groupings believe

7 that the recent murder of Rosemary Nelson had been

8 carried out by militant activists using the RHD as a

9 flag of convenience for the operation."

10 Then it goes on to say:

11 "[Blank] suspected that former members of mainstream

12 Loyalist groups, such as the UDA, who had transferred

13 their allegiances to groups such as the LVF and Orange

14 Volunteers, were more likely candidates to have carried

15 out the attack on Nelson."

16 Now, this is all opinion evidence, it would appear,

17 opinion intelligence that you are writing down?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Is that a fair statement?

20 A. This would have been the opinions -- the opinion of

21 senior -- you know, people with views which we thought

22 would have been of relevance or of interest. So this

23 would have been our agent talking about something that

24 some of his contacts have been telling him.

25 Q. Do you think you had gone back to this particular

 

 

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1 agent -- I mean, it is only nine days after

2 Rosemary Nelson's death -- in order to get any

3 information about the murder that you could?

4 A. I think that's a logical assumption to make. I can't

5 recall exactly, but I would assume that following the

6 death of Rosemary Nelson, there would have been

7 a requirement from our AS Group customers to, you

8 know -- for us to try to glean anything at all which

9 might help the investigation into her murder.

10 Q. Is there anything you can help us in relation to the

11 substance of the attribution based on your perusal of

12 the document now, particularly the references to the Red

13 Hand Defenders which we have seen previously on

14 reporting prior to the murder?

15 A. No, because again this would have been, you know,

16 information which had been gleaned from probably various

17 sources about general assumptions that the -- just

18 looking at this report, there is nothing really

19 specific -- and this, I think, epitomises the fact that

20 we have come back to the point we have come back to on

21 a number of occasion.

22 Unfortunately, in this particular instance we did

23 not have any agents who could produce specific and

24 detailed intelligence on this particular murder or,

25 indeed, these particular groupings, Red Hand Defenders,

 

 

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1 Orange Volunteers.

2 We had agents or an agent who, in general

3 conversations with his normal contacts, let's say,

4 within the Loyalist community, could produce general

5 information for us about what people were saying within

6 these -- within the Loyalist community and the

7 assumptions that people were making within the Loyalist

8 community. But, as I say -- and this is typical of the

9 extent of our knowledge in the Security Service of these

10 small groupings like the Red Hand Defenders -- this

11 report really, to the best of my recollection,

12 encapsulates everything that we knew at that time about

13 these small groupings.

14 Q. Now, how closely does the text of this report -- and

15 this is a question I think I asked you in relation to an

16 earlier document -- reflect exactly the discussion that

17 you had, or were you again attributing groupings to

18 individuals that may have been discussed?

19 A. To the best of my knowledge, we never discussed any

20 individuals within either the Red Hand Defenders or the

21 Orange Volunteers because our agent didn't know who was

22 involved in -- or the leading figures in -- any leading

23 figures or members or activists, however you want to

24 describe them, in these groupings. He knew people who

25 were in the main groupings but he didn't have direct

 

 

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1 access to individuals who were prominent within these

2 organisations.

3 Q. So it is fairly second-hand, this, is it?

4 A. Essentially, yes.

5 Q. Now, there is a mention there of the possible motivation

6 for the murder and you can see:

7 "The Nationalist lawyer had become a hate figure for

8 many Loyalists in Portadown because of her close links

9 with Colin Duffy and involvement in the Drumcree affair

10 and Hamill murder."

11 Now, this goes beyond what we have seen previously

12 in discussion about the Nelson murder. This particular

13 agent is telling you in more specific detail about

14 Rosemary Nelson and her background.

15 Would you have known about her association with the

16 Drumcree affair, as it is put there, and the murder of

17 Robert Hamill, I think it would have been, earlier,

18 a few years previously?

19 A. I imagine I would have done, yes, but again, ten years

20 on -- I mean, these are the sort of subjects I imagine

21 that I would have been aware of, certainly. Again, to

22 put this in context, after the murder of Rosemary Nelson

23 we would have, as I said, had a -- you know, a brief or

24 instruction to try and find out anything about that

25 murder, and this report clearly is a result of us

 

 

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1 tasking our agents, you know, within reason, without,

2 you know, endangering his own life, to ask questions

3 within his range of contacts about this event, and this

4 report, clearly, is a result of the questions he would

5 have asked at that time.

6 Q. Did you think, in relation to the agent who is reporting

7 this particular incident, that there was an issue about

8 potential compromise to his safety if he pursued any

9 questions further with his contacts?

10 A. I can't recall exactly but I -- yes, certainly, in

11 any -- after any attack or murder it would have been

12 very odd for our agents, given their sort of -- given

13 their activities within the main paramilitary

14 organisations, to start asking questions about

15 particular terrorist incidents or -- actually, you have

16 to remember that -- one should remember, should I say,

17 that, you know, in these days, within the paramilitary

18 organisations themselves it was very much a need to

19 know -- for their own, obviously, personal security it

20 would have been a need to know basis when they were

21 carrying out various paramilitary activities.

22 So a very small group of people, I suggest, would

23 have been -- had any knowledge of specific terrorist

24 attacks. Someone outwith that circle, even if that

25 person, let's say, had some standing in whatever

 

 

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1 organisation that was -- to start asking questions would

2 have been very odd and very foolish for that person to

3 do.

4 So, clearly, we did not want to -- well, we would

5 not routinely have wanted to place our agents in

6 situations which would have endangered their lives. It

7 would have been the wrong thing for us to do.

8 Q. Can I just press you on that a little?

9 A. Hm-mm.

10 Q. Certainly, the perception that the Inquiry has built up

11 is that some of the Loyalist groups were considerably

12 more garrulous than the Republican side, who were, one

13 may term it, more professional in their need to know and

14 cell-like structure, and that the Loyalists tend to

15 gossip amongst each other, that this was a high profile

16 killing. There must have been an awful lot of

17 speculation with Loyalists about who'd manage to do it,

18 for example. Some of them were on ceasefire, some of

19 them weren't on ceasefire, some of them were capable of

20 planting UCBTs, some of them weren't. So one would have

21 expected there to have been considerable speculation.

22 That is a different issue as to whether there would

23 be a small number people who actually knew who did it.

24 Do you think your agent would have been putting himself

25 at risk if he had speculated in his conversation with

 

 

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1 suspects about who had done it?

2 A. That is why the product you see here is the result of

3 discussions which effectively are speculation

4 essentially about the perpetrators of that attack. You

5 are right, the sort of information that our assets could

6 produce on attacks like this essentially was sort of

7 general conversation about who might be responsible,

8 what do you think? Well, I think ... You know, that is

9 effectively or essentially speculation.

10 Q. So the point you are making is that it is a question of

11 how far he goes. If your agent is proactive and

12 probing, as in, "Who really did it? Go on. Do you

13 really, really know?" to whoever his contacts are,

14 that's what would put him at risk rather than going, in

15 a more gossipy way, "Do you have any idea?"

16 A. Exactly, yes.

17 Q. Now, the details I have showed you about Rosemary Nelson

18 are a bit more specific, and one thing it says in

19 particular is that she had become a hate figure, which

20 is a pretty powerful term. Were you aware of the

21 perception from your discussions with your agents that

22 she was seen to be a hate figure within the locality?

23 A. I don't recall that, but reading the intelligence which

24 is in front of us, during this meeting, which resulted

25 in this intelligence, clearly he would have passed that

 

 

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1 intelligence which said that for many Loyalists she had

2 become a hate figure. That would have been -- yes,

3 obviously I would have become aware of that then.

4 Q. Now, was she also a hate figure for members of the

5 security forces and the Security Service for her role,

6 for example, in representing Colin Duffy and other

7 Nationalists?

8 A. I can only speak for myself and the Security Service,

9 certainly not. Not at all.

10 Q. In relation to this particular bit of intelligence, with

11 the caveats that you have given us about its detail and

12 reliability and the source's access to those who may

13 have perpetrated the murder, did you still not think it

14 might be a relevant piece of information or a relevant

15 piece of intelligence to pass on to those investigating

16 the murder?

17 A. This particular source report?

18 Q. Yes.

19 A. Again, I would have assumed that our colleagues within

20 AS Group, if they felt it was relevant, if they had felt

21 it was relevant, would have passed it on to our police

22 colleagues. Similarly, if this -- and I don't know --

23 obviously I can't tell from this report here, whether or

24 not this information would have been produced -- would

25 have met their threshold for reporting as a NIIR, the

 

 

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1 police, the senior police customers of NIIRs might have

2 asked if they could pass this more widely to, you know,

3 police colleagues. That was the decision outwith my

4 remit.

5 Q. So the decision, to clarify, is either by Assessments

6 Group who received this as your customer?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Or by one of their customers, who could be RUC or RUC

9 Special Branch?

10 A. Yes. I mean, again, to the best of my recollection,

11 and -- my modus operandi would have been, if you like,

12 if I had received intelligence on a subject from any of

13 our agents which give -- threat intelligence, which

14 said, "Individual A is under threat from Republicans or

15 Loyalists" and they named that individual, I would have

16 immediately sent that directly to the police or phoned

17 the police first of all and then sent it.

18 These are the only circumstances that I personally

19 would have sent information directly to the police: If

20 an individual was under threat and they would have

21 warned that individual of a threat to him or her.

22 Otherwise, I would have routinely sent all my

23 intelligence reporting on the AS Group customer.

24 Q. In taking that decision, Assessments Group must take

25 a view on whether or not to pass on that information

 

 

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1 could in any way compromise its origin, a particular

2 agent who provided it. Is that a decision or that

3 consideration, does that have to be done in consultation

4 with T Branch or with your unit in particular?

5 A. If AS Group customers wanted to pass a specific report

6 to police colleagues, they would routinely have adverted

7 to us to say are you content. Is there anything in this

8 report about which you are not happy for us to pass to

9 police, and the answer would almost certainly have been

10 please pass it.

11 I can't envisage and I can't recall any

12 circumstances where we would have said no, you can't

13 pass that to the police because, of course, at that time

14 we were -- we did not have the primacy, if you like, on

15 intelligence work in the Province. The RUC did. But I

16 can't recall any occasion in my own particular area of

17 working where I was asked if we could share information

18 with the police and I said no, because that just -- that

19 would have been, you know, unthinkable at that time.

20 Q. In relation to this particular report, which is about

21 the murder, can you remember having that discussion with

22 Assessments Group about whether or not it should be

23 passed on?

24 A. I can't remember having any discussion on that. There

25 may have been, but I'm sorry, I can't recall any

 

 

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1 specific conversations that long ago.

2 Q. And the passing on may have been to RUC Special Branch.

3 In a report like this, which is about a murder, which is

4 being investigated by CID or, in this case, an English

5 policeman, would you know that that was being passed

6 across to CID by Special Branch? Would your involvement

7 have ended by then?

8 A. I wouldn't have known. Yes, my involvement would have

9 ended really after this report was produced and then, as

10 I say, as we have been discussing, had there been any

11 discussion about dissemination of the report then I

12 would have had a view on it. But otherwise my

13 involvement would have ended after producing the report.

14 Q. Now, as the Port investigation geared up, did you have

15 any occasion to consider the issue of whether the

16 reports which you had produced should be passed to that

17 investigation in some form or another?

18 A. I don't recall anything about the Port investigation.

19 I mean, remind me when that began because I may have

20 left the Province by that stage.

21 Q. That's 6 April, I think is the answer to that question.

22 A. 1999?

23 Q. Indeed.

24 A. No, I was still around, but I don't recall having any

25 contact or involvement with the Port requirement at

 

 

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1 all -- the Port Inquiry at all.

2 Q. Can you confirm to us that there is no other source

3 reporting, as far as you were aware, or any other

4 information which may be contained in contact notes or

5 retained in your memory that could assist this Inquiry

6 in determining who killed Rosemary Nelson?

7 A. Absolutely not. Clearly I thought long and hard about

8 this, but absolutely not. Everything that is relevant

9 is contained in the documents that you have seen, to

10 the -- well, to my knowledge.

11 Q. Thank you. Is there anything you would like to add?

12 A. No, thank you. I would just like to say that I hope

13 that what I have had to say has been helpful.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Well, thank you very much for coming to give

15 evidence before us. Thank you.

16 A. Thank you.

17 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr [name redacted], before the witness leaves,

18 would you, please, confirm that all the cameras have been

19 switched off?

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

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Please escort the witness out.

22 We shall adjourn until 1.00 pm on Monday.

23 (4.11 pm)

24 (The Inquiry adjourned until 1.00 pm on Monday,

25 10 November 2008)

 

 



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