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Hearing: 28th October 2008, day 66

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ROSEMARY NELSON

PUBLIC INQUIRY

 

 

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


on Tuesday, 28 October 2008
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

1 Tuesday, 28 October 2008

2 (10.15 am)

3 MR ADAM INGRAM (affirmed)

4 Questions by MR PHILLIPS

5 MR PHILLIPS: Mr Ingram, could you give us your full names,

6 please?

7 A. My name is Adam Paterson Ingram.

8 Q. I think it is right that you have made a single

9 statement to the Inquiry; is that correct?

10 A. That's correct.

11 Q. Can we have it on the screen now, please, at RNI-809-001

12 (displayed)? 21 May 2007. If we turn over to

13 RNI-809-026 (displayed), do we see your signature and

14 that date?

15 A. That's correct.

16 Q. Can we turn now to the first page and the beginning of

17 your statement. You tell us that in 1997 you became

18 Minister of State for Northern Ireland. Can I ask you,

19 was that your first ministerial position?

20 A. It was, yes.

21 Q. Before that, presumably you had been an MP?

22 A. Before that I had been an opposition spokesperson, yes.

23 Q. On Northern Ireland?

24 A. No.

25 Q. No. Before that, in 1997 what was your knowledge or

 

 

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1 experience of Northern Ireland?

2 A. Well, I wouldn't have thought it was any more than

3 anyone from the west of Scotland, being brought up in

4 the culture of the west of Scotland, would have had.

5 I would have followed with great interest the

6 political developments that were taking place. It would

7 have been something of importance to me politically, but

8 not something which I became engaged in. But, I mean, I

9 would have done and I know I read extensively into the

10 history of it because I was interested in the history of

11 Northern Ireland, the whole Irish question.

12 Q. Yes. Now, as Minister of State you tell us -- do you

13 see the second line -- that your responsibilities

14 included security and economic development. Just so we

15 have a feel for that, how did that turn out in practice?

16 What was the balance between those two rather different

17 aspects of your role?

18 A. Well, the background to it was I was appointed as

19 Minister of State responsible for security. The title

20 would be the security minister, but of course that was

21 the NIO side of it. Alongside that, we had the direct

22 rule and responsibility for all the departments that --

23 that fell under the Northern Ireland civil service, the

24 home service. And the decision was taken primarily to

25 split up the various portfolios on the basis of what

 

 

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1 could best be delivered and hope would have best effect.

2 I made the case to Mo Mowlam at the time that it

3 seemed to me sensible that economic development and

4 security should be married together. It hadn't been

5 done for the previous decades. The last time it

6 happened was when there was a previous Labour

7 administration in government. And I thought it was

8 important that if we were going to convince inward

9 investors into Ireland, also economic development from

10 internal growth within Northern Ireland, then the best

11 person who could give assurances, reassurances and the

12 truth about what was happening would be the security

13 minister.

14 Mo agreed to that, as a result of which I took on

15 what would have been then quite a big other area of

16 responsibility. Without looking at diaries I couldn't

17 say how much one dominated the other. It was all driven

18 by events, but it was clearly multi-hatted and it was

19 a marrying up of the breadth of what was going on.

20 There was all the security developments taking place,

21 the drive towards the Good Friday Agreement and also the

22 tremendous progress we were making on the back of

23 previous years' progress and economic development.

24 Alongside that, of course, would have been the other

25 departments which I would have had responsibility for,

 

 

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1 and that changed over time. When the Northern Ireland

2 Assembly was established, we lost that direct rule

3 responsibility. When that collapsed, by that time there

4 were ten departments of which I then took on five while

5 I was still security minister. I don't know if this

6 precisely answers your question, but the diaries would

7 probably scare me now to go back and see just how busy I

8 was at the time.

9 Q. That was very helpful, thank you.

10 Can I get you to look at the chart we have got of

11 the NIO structure? Can we have that on the screen,

12 please? We see you, do we, on the left-hand side, do

13 we, security minister?

14 A. That's correct.

15 Q. With your two private offices, one in London and one in

16 Belfast?

17 A. Correct.

18 Q. And the private secretary working to you. Can I just

19 ask you to look at the right-hand side of the screen to

20 the other minister, which I think at this time was

21 Paul Murphy; is that correct?

22 A. That's correct, yes.

23 Q. So what was were his responsibilities, given what you

24 have told us about your own?

25 A. Well, Paul would have been really the leg man for Mo in

 

 

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1 terms of the political development. He would have been

2 doing all that interface on the political points of

3 contact, getting the credibility of what we were trying

4 to do lifted and people being made aware of all of that.

5 And also he would have had responsibility for other

6 departments as well; primarily he was the finance

7 minister at that time.

8 But the amount of activity we would have been

9 involved in would have been largely on the political --

10 on the political side, doing the various meetings with

11 the political parties.

12 Q. As you said, acting in a sense as a number 2 to the

13 Secretary of State in that context?

14 A. He was a designated deputy.

15 Q. Yes. Now, if we can look at the next part of the chart,

16 as it were -- that is the second page -- does it follow

17 from what you have said that the big box on the left was

18 very much your part of the NIO; in other words, security

19 and policing?

20 A. Yes, I would have had a lot of interface with the people

21 in that area and -- but there would have been an

22 overlap. Part of the nature of the dynamic of the

23 situation, officials within that area would also be

24 reporting on occasion directly to the Secretary of

25 State, sometimes at which I would be present, sometimes

 

 

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1 not.

2 Q. I think in your statement at one point you give a list

3 from memory of the officials who worked here. Could we

4 just look at that? It is RNI-809-005, paragraph 11

5 (displayed). It is the last sentence of that paragraph.

6 You say:

7 "From memory, my officials included John Steele ..."

8 Et cetera, the various names. Those are people who

9 had posts, didn't they, within the security and policing

10 part of the NIO?

11 A. That's correct, yes.

12 Q. So would it be right to say that your principal

13 day-to-day dealing with civil servants would be in that

14 part of the structure?

15 A. Well, when I wasn't doing the other --

16 Q. The economics?

17 A. -- the other side of what I had the responsibility for,

18 yes, those would be the people whom I would see on

19 a fairly regular basis.

20 Q. Thank you. The next thing I would like to turn to,

21 please, is the political situation which you found on

22 taking office after the election in May. What I wanted

23 to ask is this: what were the principal issues facing

24 the incoming administration in Northern Ireland?

25 A. Well, I suppose the volatility of the situation,

 

 

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1 remembering that we had had the murder of two police

2 officers just as we had come into office in Lurgan, and

3 that, of course, was not what you would have expected

4 given the language which was around from the Republican

5 community and Sinn Fein who were claiming to be on

6 ceasefire.

7 Q. That was a surprise, the murder of the two police

8 officers?

9 A. Unquestionably, because again, from memory, they had

10 taken on a soft posture. I don't know whether they were

11 wearing body armour, but certainly they didn't have hats

12 on. And the nature of the murder was -- all murders are

13 terrible, but the way in which they were killed by being

14 shot in the back of head, if I remember the incident

15 correctly, brought it home to us that we had a long way

16 to go.

17 As well, we had Drumcree out there. Drumcree was

18 very much -- we were only in office a short time when we

19 had to deal with the first Drumcree issue in 1997, and

20 also the big drive towards the political development to

21 try and get people round the table. And the scale of it

22 and the intensity of the language and the depth of the

23 animosity, which -- sort of when you sit round a table

24 and hear it first hand -- you can read about it, watch

25 it -- then you realise just how far we had to go.

 

 

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1 Q. So you were taking over in a situation where progress

2 had already been made, work had already been done over

3 a number of years and you took it on then, presumably,

4 until what became the Good Friday Agreement was signed

5 in April 1998?

6 A. Correct, yes.

7 Q. And would it be right to say -- you have mentioned two

8 matters already -- that both the murder of the police

9 officers in Lurgan at the end of June and, indeed, the

10 violence at Drumcree in early July, those would have

11 been seen by Government as potential blocks or problems

12 along that difficult path, which eventually led to the

13 Good Friday Agreement?

14 A. Well, I wouldn't have mentioned the murder of the two

15 policemen, but I think that murder was a regular feature

16 of Northern Ireland, and the loss of two RUC officers

17 would have been very dramatic and clearly was an

18 indication of, as I say, the depth of the problem.

19 But in many ways a bigger issue would have been

20 something like Drumcree because of the major stand-off

21 that was beginning to develop, the potential for that

22 violence, as it did, spilling over into the wider

23 community not just that year but subsequent years, but

24 also very much so in 1998. And that became one of the

25 big issues that then had to be tackled because of -- it

 

 

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1 was a real testing point of trying to get some canvass

2 and rationality into the process.

3 Q. Well, you deal with this in your statement, and we will

4 come back to it, but it is obvious that an enormous

5 amount of Government time and energy went into the

6 negotiations concerning Drumcree, not only this year,

7 1997, but in the following year, 1998?

8 A. That's correct, yes.

9 Q. It was a very high priority for the incoming Government?

10 A. Well, in the sense the whole marching season was part --

11 was something that had to be (inaudible). It wasn't

12 just Drumcree, although Drumcree was writ large, there

13 was the Ormeau Road, there was the march of the North;

14 everything was disputed. And of course with the Parades

15 Commission, and that was one -- depended on which side

16 of the community you came from -- a contentious or

17 highly contentious piece of legislation, and that was to

18 try and bring some arbitration mechanism into the

19 process. And getting that established was fiercely

20 resisted even by those who realised it had to be done,

21 and it was better that process was in place than not.

22 It was still hotly contested as I was putting that

23 legislation through the House of Commons.

24 I should have said earlier as well as doing all the

25 departmental responsibilities, there was a fair amount

 

 

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1 of legislation going through at that time and so it was

2 a constant to and fro between London and Belfast and

3 attending to matters in the House of Commons, taking

4 through the range of legislation at that time, the

5 Parades Commission, the Decommissioning Acts,

6 subsequently the Police Bill and other pieces of

7 legislation.

8 Q. So you were engaged in a process of change, including

9 bringing about change by legislation, and presumably you

10 were constantly coming across parts of the community who

11 were, for one reason or another, resistant to change?

12 A. Absolutely, yes. I mean, that was a flavour of it: that

13 everyone wanted the other person to change, and we had

14 to sit -- it would be wrong to say in the middle, but we

15 had to be the provider of the engine for change.

16 Fortunately, we had a Prime Minister who was totally

17 focused on it and was giving a huge amount of his time

18 to find resolution, and in many ways the very fact that

19 the Prime Minister was engaged early on meant that a lot

20 of the political drive then moved towards his office --

21 I'm not saying there wasn't a lot of activity still in

22 Northern Ireland, but the way in which the hierarchy of

23 the organisations would work would be that myself and

24 Paul Murphy would have been met initially as the first

25 ministers. They very quickly wanted to meet the

 

 

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1 Secretary of State, and Mo Mowlam was a very open, had

2 an open door policy.

3 The minute the top of those organisations met Mo

4 Mowlam, they would no longer talk to her juniors. And

5 the minute they met the Prime Minister, Mo began to feel

6 a bit sidelined as well because -- and then it was

7 a hierarchical structure, so you would meet second or

8 third level players within the organisation, but not

9 always; sometimes you would still meet some of the top

10 players if they wanted to make a political point.

11 Q. Did that on occasion cause difficulty where there was

12 negotiation really driven from London, from

13 10 Downing Street, but at the same time you and your

14 colleagues on the ground were trying to deal with it in

15 Northern Ireland?

16 A. No, I was quite -- it would be wrong to say relaxed. I

17 couldn't be relaxed at that time given the nature of the

18 pressures we were under, but I was realistic enough to

19 realise if it was going to work it had to work by those

20 means. And whatever part I had on the stage, I was only

21 very privileged to have been offered a chance to do it

22 and to be part of that process of change and to give

23 your all in trying to achieve that.

24 Q. And just to complete these general questions, clearly

25 a vast amount of energy and effort went into securing

 

 

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1 the agreement on 10 April 1998. But it is right, isn't

2 it, to say that that was the beginning of a whole round

3 of further changes, legislation and very, very hard work

4 during the next year, and so far as we are concerned

5 here, that continued up until the time of

6 Rosemary Nelson's murder in March 1999?

7 A. Yes. I mean, I always viewed the Belfast Agreement, the

8 Good Friday Agreement, as being like getting to the

9 foothills of Everest. Of itself, that is quite exacting

10 because you are at quite high altitude and you have to

11 be conditioned for it, but there was still a number of

12 base camps to reach before -- and we are still not at

13 the summit.

14 Q. Now, so far as the nature of your work is concerned, you

15 have made a number of references already to the sheer

16 amount of work that was going on and I would like to ask

17 you a few questions about that because one of the

18 difficulties for the Inquiry is to put, as it were,

19 Rosemary Nelson in a proper context, because we look at

20 all the documents concerning her and it is sometimes

21 hard to see above that to the broader picture.

22 There are obviously various ways of measuring how

23 busy you were during this period, let's say from taking

24 office in May 1997 to March 1999. I don't know how you

25 would characterise it, but, for example, were you taking

 

 

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1 home box after box of papers every evening?

2 A. I wasn't taking it home. I was here. I mean, I would

3 have been in my flat in Stormont and at the end of the

4 day, the boxes would appear and you would have probably

5 two or three, probably sometimes more, boxes of an

6 evening and some of it was just background reading, it

7 was to keep you, as best you could, up to speed with

8 developments that were taking place elsewhere, whether

9 it was London or elsewhere in terms of discussions that

10 were going on. A lot of signing off of documents.

11 So the volume was very heavy and sort -- it would

12 also be departmentalised or compartmentalised into the

13 different areas of the responsibility I had. So time

14 management was crucial. I would say, because I then

15 became a defence minister for six years after that, that

16 you get better at time management and different flows of

17 and different volumes of work to do. I would be

18 conscious as a defence minister of every five minutes I

19 would be doing something at my desk in London while I

20 was waiting for the next meeting.

21 I don't recollect having much spare time as the

22 Minister of Northern Ireland to deal with the flow of

23 paperwork because there was a constant flow of things to

24 attend to. So in the evening, a lot of work would be

25 done after a busy day.

 

 

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1 Q. And presumably with that pace of work, you were very

2 much reliant upon your team of officials and civil

3 servants working to you?

4 A. I think all ministers have to be, yes.

5 Q. And it is clear from your statement and the remarks that

6 you make there -- and perhaps if you just look at the

7 top of the page on the screen -- that you found them to

8 be, if I can put it this way, tried and tested in these

9 very difficult conditions?

10 A. Absolutely. I had no occasion ever to find myself being

11 highly critical or critical of staff. If anything, it

12 was -- you had to be wholly dependent upon their

13 commitment and dedication to the task in front of them,

14 knowing that they also were exceptionally busy people

15 (inaudible) of whom were your front office staff because

16 they were having to bring together the flow of

17 documentation to make sure that you were being best

18 served.

19 But you had to, as well as relying upon them, rely

20 upon those within the various divisions, and because you

21 had -- I had the personal interface, then you build up

22 a rapport, they begin to know your mind and you know

23 their qualities.

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

25 correspondence, of which we obviously have a huge amount

 

 

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1 in our files? You touch on how this was processed in

2 paragraph 9, so could we just flick over to the previous

3 page, please, RNI-809-004 (displayed). Do you see at

4 the bottom of the page there?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. So as I understand it, the letters would come in --

7 let's take a hypothetical example, a letter addressed to

8 you. What would then happen to it?

9 A. Well, I wouldn't see it initially unless it was handed

10 to me by, let's say, a Member of Parliament in the House

11 of Commons and then it would be immediately transmitted

12 on to an official to deal with. Any letters coming in

13 would be immediately seized by the responsible

14 officials.

15 Q. Sorry to interrupt you, is that within your private

16 office?

17 A. No.

18 Q. No.

19 A. Well, I couldn't give precise answers to all of that

20 process. Some would appear in the private office and

21 then it would be transmitted down. But even letters --

22 I mean, I mentioned -- if a Member of Parliament handed

23 me a letter in the House of Commons, then clearly I was

24 the post box. You would read it, but you wouldn't try

25 and answer it, you wouldn't try and attend to it because

 

 

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1 there were issues -- you had to make sure that there was

2 substance to the answer that would go back and it was

3 consistent with what the departmental view was. And

4 clearly your own view would be in all of that.

5 If an MP's letter would come in, then that would

6 have probably a higher ranking than from anybody else

7 just from the very nature of what happened. Some of

8 that would have come into the private office, but then

9 again they would pass it down.

10 I mean, I can recollect -- and it would happen over

11 the years I was a minister -- which you would get

12 a Member of Parliament saying, "I wrote to you on such

13 and such a date, I haven't heard from you". You would

14 have to say, "I haven't seen your letter" and they would

15 find it remiss or odd that you hadn't seen the letter.

16 I wouldn't, because -- in the sense that I needed to get

17 a quality response to that.

18 If I tried to extemporise on the back of what was in

19 then, then I may give wrong advice, wrong direction, may

20 give -- if it was a legal matter, may give a wrong

21 definition of what the legislation said. Everything had

22 to be accurately trawled over to make sure there was

23 precision in the answers. That didn't always happen of

24 course, but that was the intent of the process.

25 Q. So would it be right, therefore, to say that in the

 

 

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1 general run of cases you saw letters, incoming letters,

2 for the first time when you were being asked to consider

3 the outgoing reply?

4 A. That would be the normal process, yes.

5 Q. Can I just get you to look at an example of a letter and

6 see whether it fits in with that pattern? It is at

7 RNI-106-001 (displayed) and it is a letter to you from

8 Jane Winter. Perhaps we can get the second page on the

9 screen as well, please, RNI-106-002 (displayed)? Thank

10 you.

11 22 January. Now, do you see the handwriting? I

12 think in your statement you say that that's your

13 handwriting?

14 A. It is, yes.

15 Q. "Reply please, and answers why no reply sent to RN ..."

16 I think that says "on her complaint"?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Is that an example where it looks as though you looked

19 at the letter when it came in and directed that answers

20 to these specific points she raised in her letter should

21 be provided by officials so that you could reply?

22 A. Well, yes, that would be case here. And I wouldn't know

23 the paper trail as to why I would have seen that first

24 and -- it would have come up to me raw.

25 If this had come into the department, the normal

 

 

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1 process would have been there would have been some

2 response. Why I received that at that point, I don't

3 know. It may have been personally handed to me, it may

4 have been given to me. I just don't know. The paper

5 trail could have been anything in this. It may have

6 been handed to someone else who then hands to me. I am

7 then the post box and I need to do this.

8 It may have been brought to my attention, but

9 nonetheless that's the type of thing you would do --

10 even when you saw the letter with the response and you

11 would need -- we don't have all that background

12 material, but you would write things on it. "I'm not

13 clear with this, not happy with this" or whatever else.

14 Q. So in the general run of cases, are you saying that when

15 you received the draft to go out, you would at that

16 point, if not satisfied, say, "It doesn't deal with

17 this, what about that" and pose questions at that stage?

18 A. I wouldn't say that would happen in every item of

19 correspondence. There would be things which you would

20 be alert to. It may be something is immediately in

21 front, you have immediate knowledge of and, therefore,

22 you are focused on it and, therefore, you would say,

23 "I need a bit more clarity, a bit more information.

24 This doesn't answer the points", that type of thing.

25 So it would be no more than that side note on the

 

 

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1 document.

2 Q. But if we take this then, where you have written on it,

3 as it comes in, as an exception or an unusual case, who

4 would in the normal run of cases be responsible for

5 issuing instructions as to particular points that had to

6 be answered in preparing a reply?

7 A. That would have been back into the Police Division.

8 Q. Indeed.

9 A. The precise person I couldn't give necessarily a name

10 to, but somebody within the Police Division would take

11 responsibility for that.

12 Q. Yes. That's deal with providing the answers. What

13 I meant was this: imagine the case where the letter

14 comes in, you don't see it; somebody in your private

15 office does. Who was responsible for saying to the

16 various other bits of the NIO, Police Division or

17 whoever, "Right, we need answers on the following

18 points"?

19 A. I couldn't give you an answer to that. I wasn't a line

20 manager. In that sense I wouldn't be allocating the

21 work flow. And would it be a matter to me about that?

22 Not really, because as long as I was getting quality

23 feedback on it, then that was all I was concerned about.

24 The actual person who was dealing with it and the

25 allocation of that was a matter for the process and for

 

 

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1 the line managers.

2 Q. Were you ever told by your private office officials,

3 "Well, look, another letter has come in on this and

4 I have sent it down to Police Division to get answers on

5 these particular points"?

6 A. That's possible, but I couldn't recollect an incident.

7 Q. So in the process that you have described as the usual

8 process, when the minister's case comes back, there is

9 the draft with some advice from officials. That would

10 have been your first opportunity to assess the letter,

11 propose a draft, raise any further concerns that you had

12 before the letter went out?

13 A. That's correct, yes.

14 Q. And in that process, therefore, where the officials were

15 doing the vast bulk of the detailed work and, indeed,

16 all of the work up until the point of giving you the

17 advice with the draft letter, what were you bringing to

18 the process in dealing with the correspondence, at the

19 stage before it went out when you were considering it?

20 What were you bringing to it?

21 A. When I got the suggested draft back?

22 Q. Yes.

23 A. Well, what I would bring to it would be my views as to

24 whether there was completeness, as best as I could see

25 it, in the response. But I wouldn't be -- I wouldn't be

 

 

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1 doing the forensic analysis of all the background. I

2 wouldn't be talking to the RUC or whoever else was

3 engaged in it. I wouldn't be phoning people and saying,

4 "Right, is this response accurate?" I had to, correctly

5 so, depend upon the quality of the summation of the

6 response that was going out because usually it wouldn't

7 just be driven by the officials who would be dealing

8 with the letters, they would have to talk to others

9 because the allegations or assertions or comments would

10 reflect on others. They had or had not done something.

11 So, therefore, you had to await their response to that.

12 So it would go into their, if I use the phrase "into

13 their sausage machine" so that they could then analyse

14 it and that, of itself, would take time on occasion.

15 Q. So you weren't dealing with the detail, you were taking

16 a much broader view?

17 A. That would be my job.

18 Q. Yes, exactly. Being alive to the wider implications and

19 the political context?

20 A. Well, looking -- that's what ministers are for. You are

21 looking at the nuances. If you can identify something

22 that is going to cause a problem, can you be a step

23 ahead, can you give advice as to what should be done or

24 are you satisfied with the advice you are getting? If

25 you are satisfied, well, there is nothing more you can

 

 

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1 add.

2 That sums up precisely what the position is. So it

3 is a balance between have you something new to add that

4 improves the situation, or is it a case of assessing

5 what you are being told as being acceptable and giving

6 your authorisation to that.

7 Q. Thank you. Now, before we turn to some more specific

8 topics, can I just ask you another general question

9 about memory and recollection.

10 The way your statement works is by way of commentary

11 effectively on a series of documents which were

12 obviously shown to you in the interview process. Is

13 that correct?

14 A. That's correct, yes.

15 Q. And I know that since then you have been shown a number

16 of other documents and had a chance to look at them?

17 A. That's correct.

18 Q. Given the length of time since these events and the vast

19 amount of other business that you were involved in,

20 would it be fair to suggest to you that your

21 recollection without the help of the documents would be

22 pretty limited in relation to these events?

23 A. Yes, I think that would be accurate. I think to rely

24 upon memory is not the best way of arriving at

25 conclusions all the time. And I know from reading my

 

 

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1 statement, which was given 15 months ago, that I don't

2 even remember saying some of the things that I said

3 then. And in that sense, if someone said, "What did you

4 say 15 months ago", I couldn't have said everything

5 I said at that time. And it is clear that if other

6 documents had been provided to me, then for the

7 completeness of accuracy, of triggering memory, then it

8 would have helped me to, I think, conclude slightly

9 differently in some parts of the statement I gave.

10 Q. Thank you very much. We will come to some of those in

11 a moment.

12 I would like to ask you some questions about

13 policing, please, and it will help, I hope, for you to

14 have your statement and paragraph 5 on the screen.

15 That's RNI-809-002 (displayed). What you say there in

16 the fourth line of that paragraph is that one of your

17 priorities:

18 "... when we came to power in 1997 was to deal with

19 the police issue. We recognised that something needed

20 to be done to address the public's perception and

21 possibly the reality of the police and the justice

22 system in Northern Ireland."

23 So the question of policing was important to the

24 political changes that were taking place in

25 Northern Ireland at that time, wasn't it?

 

 

24

 

1 A. Absolutely. We had the Hayes Report which had been

2 produced, which had been an examination of various

3 things that needed to be done to improve the policing

4 interface with the rest of the community, to give

5 greater support and reliance across a wider section of

6 the community. Mo Mowlam was very clear that the Police

7 Bill was one of the prime pieces of legislation.

8 Indeed, my colleague, Tony Worthington, who was

9 a minister at that time, a junior minister,

10 Parliamentary Under-Secretary, he had been working on

11 policing matters in the run-up to the 1997 election and

12 saw there was a lot of work done within our approach,

13 based upon the Hayes recommendations as to what we

14 needed. But then we had a department to help us to

15 deliver on all of that. So it was uppermost as one of

16 the big issues.

17 Q. So I'm clear about that specific aspect, namely the

18 complaints system -- that is what you are talking about

19 now, isn't it, the Hayes Report?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. So when you were in opposition, you were working, or one

22 of your colleagues was working on the Hayes Report and

23 the question of implementing it and, of course, when you

24 came to power in May, you were able, as ministers, to

25 put all that into practice?

 

 

25

 

1 A. Well, of course, Mo Mowlam had had a lot of contact in

2 the run-up to the general election and so the officials,

3 I would guess, had been made only too well aware if we

4 came is as an administration, this would be one of our

5 priorities and it clearly was one of Mo's priority.

6 So work, I would guess -- from memory, would tell me

7 that they were mature in their thinking in their

8 department as to what needed to be done because the

9 Hayes recommendations were likely to be implemented no

10 matter who won the election.

11 Q. That was the question I was going to put. It is true,

12 isn't it, that the recommendations of the report

13 in January 1997 had already been accepted by the then

14 Conservative administration later that year, before the

15 election?

16 A. I wouldn't have been aware of that -- at that time

17 because it wasn't my focus in the run-up to 1997 on

18 Northern Ireland. But I think, again, it was quite

19 clear that the train had left the station.

20 Q. But it was an example, wasn't it, in this particular

21 policing area of complaints of where, when you came in,

22 changes had already been very much in the pipeline and

23 you then took them over and moved them on, in this case

24 through the Police Bill?

25 A. Let me explain this: it is easy for ministers to say,

 

 

26

 

1 "We accept the recommendation of whoever it is reporting

2 on the structure of Government" and say, "Yes, we

3 support this and we believe it is sensible", it is

4 actually putting it in place that becomes the issue.

5 You can either be very proactive or you can mark

6 time. I think the reality was that that would have been

7 something that would have been delivered no matter who

8 won the election. But it was very clear that Mo Mowlam

9 was focused on policing as a central issue, not just in

10 terms of the complaints, I think in terms of overall

11 about what she would have called the canteen culture and

12 attitudinal issues that perhaps needed to be addressed

13 and deal with the perceptions which were out there and,

14 as I say in my statement, in possibly reality.

15 If there was no reality about the need for change,

16 change would not have happened.

17 Q. So the specific question of complaints was simply one of

18 the policing issues with which you were involved

19 immediately on taking power in 1997?

20 A. Yes, but the great stimulus then came from the Patten --

21 came from the Good Friday Agreement and the

22 establishment of the Patten Commission.

23 Q. During this period -- let's take first the period from

24 May 1997 to the Good Friday Agreement -- the situation

25 on the ground in terms of operation policing was again

 

 

27

 

1 a time of change, wasn't it? There were the ceasefires,

2 but at various times they didn't appear to be

3 necessarily completely secure. Is that fair?

4 A. I think that's very fair. I mean, I think there was

5 a language of ceasefire, but a reality sitting somewhere

6 else.

7 Q. So the policing structures which had been established to

8 deal with the major terrorist threat could not be

9 diminished or stood down. That was too early. But

10 meanwhile, all the political initiative was going in,

11 leading up to the Good Friday Agreement, to bring about

12 change and, with a bit of luck, therefore a different

13 policing context?

14 A. My assessment of this at the time and since would have

15 been that the integrity of the security apparatus was

16 absolutely vital to the delivery of peace and normality

17 because we had to, as well as attending to those who

18 were critical of the security apparatus, the majority of

19 the people in Northern Ireland were comfortable with the

20 wrap-around that they were getting. And it was very

21 clear that to break the will of whoever, paramilitaries

22 or terrorists, you needed a very effective security

23 apparatus.

24 Q. And fundamental to that were the RUC?

25 A. Correct.

 

 

28

 

1 Q. Did you perceive it as one of your roles as security

2 minister to support the RUC in that important work?

3 A. Absolutely, but not without -- in terms of would you

4 lose any sense of critical analysis: no, you shouldn't

5 and you couldn't, or I couldn't because I was having to

6 put legislation through.

7 So I was doing things which, let's say, the Police

8 Federation and others would have been resistant to it.

9 And the wider political community on the Unionist side

10 resisted this fiercely. They thought that all these

11 things were concessions to the guys who were causing the

12 problems and it was walking that very difficult street

13 that change needed to happen, to convince those who

14 didn't want change that it was in their best interests

15 that it should happen and what we were doing had quality

16 and substance and depth to it. And those who were

17 critical, who were wanting more, who were saying we

18 should abandon Special Branch, we should remove the

19 military presence, that we should wind up effectively

20 the effectiveness of the RUC, that was just a no go

21 area. But we still had to convince them that what we

22 were doing was right and proper.

23 Meanwhile, it was the vast majority of people in

24 Northern Ireland whom we had to convince. That was

25 a wider community whom we are addressing as well as the

 

 

29

 

1 political leadership.

2 Q. Within that community there were large sections who had

3 no confidence in the police and who did not cooperate

4 with the police in their work?

5 A. Yes, I think some of that was based upon intimidation in

6 communities as well. It took a very brave person in

7 Northern Ireland to -- from a Nationalist community to

8 ally themselves with any policing initiative and there

9 were many brave people from that part of the community

10 who wanted to see a better Northern Ireland.

11 Q. So the particular political difficulty with which you

12 were dealing at this stage then, to summarise, was that

13 the RUC were fundamental to security and safety within

14 Northern Ireland, but you were at the same time

15 convinced as a Government of the need for change within

16 policing and within the RUC, and it was trying to keep

17 both of those in some sort of balance that presumably

18 took up a lot of your time and energy?

19 A. It did, but it was a whole security apparatus, it wasn't

20 just policing within Northern Ireland. Clearly there

21 was, from memory, something like 15,000 members of Her

22 Majesty's Armed Forces would have been dedicated to

23 Northern Ireland at that time in support of maintaining

24 the security profile.

25 But the police had primacy and the police -- in any

 

 

30

 

1 peace process -- there is a long lecture here, but to

2 shorten it: in any peace process the last thing that is

3 usually addressed is policing and you can find that

4 internationally. And it is because the forces of

5 reconciliation find it very hard to allocate resources

6 to it.

7 But we already had that here in Northern Ireland.

8 We had the policing as a very professional, well

9 established body, which had, in terms of both size and

10 quality and capability, all of the ingredients that were

11 required. But step changes needed to take place just to

12 reassure those who were still suspicious, who were not

13 supportive and hopefully those who were in the position

14 of condemning no matter what we did.

15 Q. Can I just turn briefly back to the question of the

16 Police Bill and the complaints system because you have

17 talked about the importance attached to that.

18 I think I'm right in saying that the bill got royal

19 assent in the summer, July, I think, of 1998. Is that

20 right?

21 A. That would be my memory, yes.

22 Q. By which time the Patten Commission, June 1998, had

23 already been established?

24 A. Correct.

25 Q. Now, so far as that was concerned, of course, it, the

 

 

31

 

1 bill, which became the Police (Northern Ireland) Act

2 1998, set up the Ombudsman's office or the machinery for

3 the Ombudsman's office. Is that correct?

4 A. That's correct.

5 Q. But I think it wasn't until 2000 that the office was

6 operational and fully effective?

7 A. Well, I would need to check back on that, but I will

8 take your timelines on that.

9 Q. Can I just ask you some questions about the ICPC system,

10 if I can put it that way, the police complaints system

11 that Dr Hayes reviewed and which was superseded

12 eventually by the Ombudsman's office? I think it would

13 help for you to have on the screen RNI-809-003

14 (displayed), which is where you deal with this in your

15 statement, paragraph 6.

16 Now, there was a problem with the existing

17 complaints system, wasn't there; in short because there

18 was a lack of confidence in it?

19 A. There was certainly a lot of criticism of it and that

20 would have been manifested -- that could have manifested

21 itself -- I mean, a lack of confidence -- it was

22 a system that had been put in place clearly to deal with

23 reasonable people, but that wasn't always the case that

24 prevailed in Northern Ireland.

25 Q. And a number of criticisms were voiced and considered by

 

 

32

 

1 Dr Hayes amongst others, and at the heart of them was

2 this suggestion that a system which involved the police

3 investigating themselves was by its very nature

4 inadequate?

5 A. That was part of the UK debate as well. It wasn't just

6 a Northern Ireland debate.

7 Q. No, it was a wider police complaints issue going on in

8 England as well, wasn't it?

9 A. It was, yes.

10 Q. And as I understand it from the correspondence,

11 Government accepted in moving through with the Police

12 Bill that a new system was required?

13 A. That's correct.

14 Q. A system in which the public would have confidence?

15 A. We would hope that would be their goal, yes.

16 Q. Yes. And the Ombudsman, of course, would be an

17 independent organisation able to investigate the police

18 independently and, indeed, to initiate their own

19 investigations if they saw fit?

20 A. That's correct, with their own investigating officers at

21 a fairly senior level.

22 Q. Yes. But in the meanwhile -- and it is the meanwhile

23 phase with which we are concerned in this Inquiry -- you

24 had the system as it was?

25 A. Correct.

 

 

33

 

1 Q. And as I understand it, Government's attitude was, "Yes,

2 we know that the system is not perfect, we are trying to

3 bring in a change and a new system, but in the meanwhile

4 please use the system we have got"?

5 A. There was nothing unusual with that in terms of public

6 policy. I mean, every piece of public policy that is

7 subject to change, you have to try and retain confidence

8 in the system which is there, and obviously this was

9 a great importance but there was nothing unique in that

10 type of language or description.

11 Q. Now, between passing the bill in the summer of 1998 and

12 the establishment of the effective office of the

13 Ombudsman in, I think, 2000, were any additional or

14 temporary, interim, measures put in place to strengthen

15 the existing ICPC system?

16 A. I would need to go back. Apart from perhaps the

17 Mulvihill Inquiry, the -- you know, the way in which the

18 Chief Constable would be prepared to look at things in

19 a much more radical way, if that's the right word, but

20 certainly to look at it in a different way, but we were

21 constrained by framework of law anyway. Anything that

22 was to be done had to be done within existing corpus of

23 law and -- so you couldn't just arbitrarily do things;

24 it had to conform to what the legislation said.

25 Q. And the Mulvihill legislation was something for which

 

 

34

 

1 there was already provision under the old system, wasn't

2 it, because that was simply calling in an independent

3 officer for which there was power already under the old

4 system?

5 A. Under the old system and under the supervision, yes, but

6 it would be -- I wouldn't recollect if at all that it

7 happened before in my time. I don't know how often it

8 happened. Just how unique that circumstance was.

9 Q. But in a sense that is more of a change on the ground;

10 in other words, a change in which the existing system

11 was operated rather than a change to the system itself?

12 A. Well, there was -- it is why I say that had it ever been

13 used before as a mechanism, I have no knowledge of that.

14 But it would strike me as something which was unusual.

15 And, therefore, if you were taking an implementation of

16 a piece of the legislation which had been put in place

17 to deal with other eventualities, then before you

18 triggered that, before it was triggered, then you would

19 have to look at what that effectively meant.

20 I mean, would it have created a reaction? Was there

21 a political overlay to that is perhaps what is in my

22 mind here. And everything that happened in

23 Northern Ireland had a political overlay. Would it

24 cause a reaction that could then give you a bigger

25 headache? It doesn't mean to say that you don't do it

 

 

35

 

1 if you believe it is right and you have to be bold on

2 occasion, but you had to look at the balance of the

3 argumentation that was being advanced and that is where

4 the officials were very good at articulating the pros

5 and cons of a particular action.

6 Q. Would it be fair to say that at this stage all policing

7 issues were politically sensitive issues?

8 A. I'm saying that everything was political. I'm not

9 making an easy point here. Everything had a political

10 overlay in Northern Ireland, even where you would locate

11 and where investment could have an implication. If it

12 went to West Belfast, as opposed to East Belfast, who is

13 making that determination.

14 So it is large and small. You had to bring

15 a political instinct and knowledge and awareness into

16 play.

17 Q. Can I just ask you some questions about the working

18 relationship between you and your officials and the RUC?

19 At what level was your contact with the RUC?

20 A. Well, I would -- I mean, I would visit police stations,

21 I would -- I would visit the headquarters, I would see

22 the Chief Constable, I would see other senior officers

23 as required. So I would have a fair amount of point of

24 contact.

25 It was important, clearly, that I established my --

 

 

36

 

1 if it was my credibility with the RUC as being

2 a minister who understood the dimensions of their

3 issues. So I would meet the Police Federation, the

4 Superintendents' Association, the senior officers. I

5 would visit, as I say, individual police stations,

6 especially if there had been a terrorist attack upon

7 them, in the aftermath of it, the aftermath of Drumcree,

8 to go and visit as many of the serving police officers

9 who had been on duty over that period of time. So they

10 knew who I was, and if they had problems they could tell

11 me.

12 Q. As far as you were aware, presumably there was regular

13 contact between your officials, particularly those

14 within the Police Division and the RUC?

15 A. Well, they couldn't function without that regular point

16 of contact and the structure of the RUC would have been

17 they would have senior officers dedicated to dealing

18 with the Police Division.

19 Q. Can I now ask you some specific questions about your

20 working relationship with the Chief Constable?

21 You deal with this in various parts of your

22 statement, but I would like to show you first

23 paragraph 20 at RNI-809-009 at the bottom of the page

24 (displayed). I think it would be sensible, in fact, if

25 we could have RNI-809-010 on the screen as well, please

 

 

37

 

1 (displayed). Thank you.

2 You say at the bottom of the first page you had

3 a good working relationship with the Chief Constable:

4 "He would keep us informed of everything that was

5 significant. However, it was not the case that we

6 instructed him or endorsed his actions in relation to

7 any of this."

8 That is the particular matter you are dealing with

9 in the statement. But generally, can I take it that the

10 Chief Constable was, so far as you and your colleagues

11 were concerned, in operational charge of the RUC?

12 A. Correct.

13 Q. It was operating in this highly political environment?

14 A. Correct.

15 Q. And you regarded him as being very astute politically?

16 A. And I still do.

17 Q. Yes. Now, so far as your encounters with him are

18 concerned -- we can see that at the top of the next

19 page, third line down:

20 "We had fairly regular meetings with the

21 Chief Constable. There would be minutes of those

22 meetings, there would also have been a number of

23 off-the-record discussions with him about issues. Our

24 diaries would reflect this."

25 Presumably they would simply reflect the fact that

 

 

38

 

1 you had met him?

2 A. Correct, yes.

3 Q. "He would discuss with us what we were proposing and he

4 would comment on them. He needed to absorb our concerns

5 and address them."

6 Because he was presumably very aware that what he

7 was doing, what his officers were doing, would always

8 have, or have the potential to have, a political impact?

9 A. Yes, and he was fiercely proud of the force he was

10 Chief Constable of and I think rightly so as well. And

11 he was as a Chief Constable, as all Chief Constables

12 are, very protective of their statutory functions and

13 their relationship with ministers or others who may be

14 trying to direct operational matters. It was not their

15 job; it was purely his. He had to stand and fall by

16 those judgments.

17 Q. So he would not tolerate interference with that

18 operational role?

19 A. I don't think that was ever tested, his point of

20 tolerance, to make that point. I think it was a case of

21 mature discussions, the what ifs and what about, and he

22 would have that capacity to explain why something should

23 or should not happen. At the end of the day it then had

24 to be his decision, but he was also very conscious

25 that -- who was accountable? Well, it was him in one

 

 

39

 

1 way. It would be the ministers answerable to the

2 Parliament who would have to then justify the actions he

3 had taken. So he was aware of all of that.

4 Q. Now, so far as the various types of meeting are

5 concerned, can I just ask you -- because this, for the

6 Inquiry, brings in a question of disclosure -- where you

7 say we had regular meetings with the Chief Constable,

8 there would be minutes of those meetings taken by whom,

9 may I ask?

10 A. Well, they would be taken by my private secretary or the

11 assistant private secretary. Well, in the main, if I

12 was the lead minister, it would be my private secretary.

13 If I was in attendance at a meeting with the Secretary

14 of State, it would be the Secretary of State's private

15 secretary. So there would be someone from the private

16 office who would be the minute-taker.

17 Q. Were those minutes ever produced afterwards for your

18 comment or checking?

19 A. Well, there are notes of meetings and, you know, you

20 wouldn't be authorising the notes of those -- minutes

21 is, again, the wrong description. It is notes of

22 meetings really. You would not then go back and say,

23 "Right, that's not how I would have written that

24 particular event up". We were not micromanaging to that

25 extent. But occasionally you would see the notes of the

 

 

40

 

1 meeting. If another meeting was coming up you would get

2 that in front of you to refresh your mind as to what

3 happened.

4 Q. Presumably whether there was another meeting or not, if

5 an issue came up which had been discussed in one of

6 these meetings and officials thought you should be

7 reminded of the fact it had been discussed and what had

8 been said, then the note of the meeting would be

9 produced for you?

10 A. Could be, but more likely it could also be the private

11 secretary would say, "Remember this was said at your

12 last meeting", to job your memory because they would

13 then look at the paper trail of it and say the minister

14 needs to be aware of it.

15 Q. So far as the off-the-record discussions, which is the

16 next category you mention, presumably there were no such

17 notes of those discussions?

18 A. They would have been on the record if they had been.

19 Q. Yes. Finally, the SPMs, the security policy meetings,

20 again, presumably they were formally minuted?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. And what you say there in the next part of your

23 evidence is:

24 "At those meetings we would analyse the current

25 security situation bearing in mind current intelligence

 

 

41

 

1 and discuss the general directions in response to

2 developments happening at the time. These meetings were

3 high level. Details were not discussed."

4 So to the extent that intelligence was discussed at

5 those meetings, it would be on that high level rather

6 than anything, as it were, nearer the ground?

7 A. Yes, you wouldn't deal with raw intelligence. That was

8 not the purpose of the SPM, security policy meeting.

9 Q. Now, in relation to what was discussed there, you were

10 clearly asked a question as to whether you could recall

11 any discussions with the Chief Constable regarding

12 Rosemary Nelson. Then you say:

13 "But I cannot recall the detail of any such

14 discussions."

15 Can I take it, therefore, that there were

16 discussions between you and the Chief Constable about

17 Rosemary Nelson?

18 A. I don't know. I mean, I would need to check back.

19 Again, I would need to go back and look to see if there

20 was anything minuted to that effect: Was this something

21 that was discussed. Then the (inaudible) thing: was it

22 ever raised in the off-the-record discussions.

23 Well, I do not have recall -- I genuinely don't have

24 recall of off-the-record discussions because those were

25 things that were maybe happening, that the press were

 

 

42

 

1 reporting, you know, events that were happening on the

2 ground and just to get a flavour of it. So it is

3 possible, but I couldn't say with any certainty.

4 Q. It is possible?

5 A. Well -- I think anything would have been possible in

6 terms of those discussions because it was about a mature

7 relationship.

8 Q. If there was such a free flow, and given all the

9 material you have now been reminded of showing how these

10 issues came up in the period we are looking at, doesn't

11 it seem likely, even if you can't remember the details,

12 that issues relating to Rosemary Nelson were discussed

13 at that level during that period?

14 A. I want to be helpful but I wouldn't want to use the word

15 "likely" because I have no recollection to say that that

16 was something that happened. But I stand by the

17 possibility of it. I don't know what is the difference

18 between the two words necessarily, but as I say,

19 anything would have been possible.

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

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. Mr Ingram, in order principally

22 to give the stenographer a break, we are going to have

23 a break of, I think, 20 minutes on this occasion.

24 A. Am I talking too quickly for her?

25 (11.18 am)

 

 

43

 

1 (Short break)

2 (11.40 am)

3 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Phillips?

4 MR PHILLIPS: Can we just look specifically at your views as

5 expressed to me a little earlier and in your statement

6 about the Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan?

7 It appears that you had, and do still have, a very

8 high regard for him?

9 A. That's correct.

10 Q. Can I ask you to look, please, at paragraph 23 of your

11 statement, RNI-809-011 (displayed)? Here, where you are

12 talking again about the Chief Constable at the bottom of

13 the page, the bottom of the paragraph, you say:

14 "I should say I had the highest regard for the RUC

15 and its Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan."

16 Then you say:

17 "He would not have wanted any preventable death to

18 occur."

19 That's where you make the comment about him being

20 politically astute. Do you see? You go on to say:

21 "He had lived and grown up through the RUC system

22 and was trying to make it better. Any criticism of the

23 RUC he took personally, and if it was found to be

24 accurate, he would have reacted strongly to address it."

25 Can I just take it that those various comments about

 

 

44

 

1 him are made on the basis of your experience of working

2 with him over the years?

3 A. That would be correct, yes.

4 Q. Now, can I ask you specifically about the last point

5 that you make, namely that:

6 "Any criticism of the RUC he took personally, and if

7 it was found to be accurate, he would have reacted

8 strongly to address it"?

9 Did you ever find that Ronnie Flanagan was hard to

10 persuade that there were problems or difficulties within

11 his ranks?

12 A. Well, I don't know what -- you would have to define what

13 you mean by "problems within his ranks" and, therefore,

14 would be, you know, by definition what was being

15 addressed; what was the criticism and then who was

16 trying to do the persuading. Would I have been

17 persuading him or would someone else have been

18 persuading him? So what was the problem, what problems

19 would have been alluded to.

20 Q. Let's take a specific example. You say that he was

21 trying to make the RUC better and presumably he was

22 working with you to bring in the reforms in relation to

23 policing that we discussed earlier?

24 A. Yes, I think -- the change -- in many ways, again,

25 I mentioned earlier that there was a number of things

 

 

45

 

1 happening across the UK about the policing and the

2 policing interface and the relationship of police

3 authorities to Chief Constables, and the relationship of

4 the Home Secretary to the Met Commissioner and so on.

5 That was all part of the climate of debate that was

6 going on, but it was probably in many way writ large in

7 Northern Ireland. And what we were doing, of course,

8 was ahead -- given the fact of the Ombudsman concept and

9 possibly other changes, was going to be ahead of

10 anything else that was happening elsewhere.

11 So -- but change couldn't occur if you had that

12 point of resistance. No matter how much it was pushed,

13 if a Chief Constable said, "I'm not for change", then

14 the only way in which you could effect change would have

15 been impose legislation, which was not the territory we

16 were in because there was a realisation that change had

17 to occur and there was willing agents of change. And it

18 was the pace of change that then had to be defined as to

19 what was required, how quickly it could be delivered,

20 what the impact of that delivery would be, what the

21 reaction would be not just within the RUC itself, the

22 police service itself, but within the wider community

23 that was strongly supportive of it.

24 And probably in many ways the political leadership

25 in the Unionist community was probably more resistant to

 

 

46

 

1 change than those who had responsibility for delivering

2 change within the RUC.

3 Q. But in that sense then, he found himself in a position

4 not dissimilar to your own -- is that right? -- where he

5 had to bring an organisation with him in this process of

6 change, some members of whom and their -- you know,

7 those who were interested politically in these issues --

8 were much more resistant to change than he was?

9 A. I had an easier job than he had, yes. I could define as

10 part of the process of change what was required; he was

11 a delivery agent in many ways.

12 Q. Yes. That's the broader process of change. But in

13 relation to specific criticisms of his officers,

14 allegations such as those which are at the heart of this

15 case, when you say he took criticisms personally, was it

16 your experience that his first reaction was to take the

17 position that those things had not happened?

18 A. No. When I'm using that phrase, what I'm saying is he

19 would take it on board. I'm not saying he would feel

20 threatened by it or insulted by it or criticised by it.

21 My use of the phrase "he took it personally", which

22 meant it was his responsibility that if criticisms would

23 have been made and they were stacked up and there was

24 substance to them and even, indeed, perhaps an

25 accumulation of perceptions, because they also had to be

 

 

47

 

1 addressed as well, that, yes, it was something that he

2 would then have to look at. So that was his job. He

3 was the senior manager of that organisation and

4 therefore it was his personal responsibility. That's

5 what I mean by that particular phrase.

6 Q. Thank you. You said a little earlier in talking about

7 change and his role within it that -- I think I heard

8 you correctly to be suggesting that there was only so

9 much that legislation could do to bring about change.

10 Now, do you mean by that that some of the changes

11 were attitudinal changes, cultural changes that needed

12 to take place which you simply couldn't achieve by

13 legislation?

14 A. I mentioned earlier the phrase that would have been used

15 was the "canteen culture": when people get together in

16 their own community, things may be said that shouldn't

17 be said or directions taken that shouldn't be taken.

18 But that was part of the canteen culture, and probably

19 all institutions, indeed perhaps even the legal

20 profession, experience that as well.

21 But it is a growing sense of maturity amongst those

22 who are serving within, in this case, the RUC realising

23 that they had other steps to take. And yes, there would

24 have been a ferment of discussion within the RUC over

25 what was happening because of Governmental direction,

 

 

48

 

1 because of societal demands, are we up for it, are we

2 not up for it. And the Federation and the

3 Superintendents' Association would have been the way in

4 which some of those issues would have been brought to

5 our attention: this a step too far.

6 But to answer your question directly, was there

7 a need for attitudinal change and cultural change, yes,

8 but I think that was true of a lot of institutions.

9 They were not unique in that.

10 Q. In relation to your opinion of Sir Ronnie Flanagan which

11 we talked about it little earlier, so far as you are

12 aware, was that opinion shared by your Secretary of

13 State, Mo Mowlam?

14 A. About the respect she had of him?

15 Q. Yes.

16 A. Yes, I think there was great mutual respect. They

17 sparked off each other in a different way, but, yes,

18 there was mutual respect.

19 Q. Can I ask you a specific question in relation to the

20 Chief Constable, which is raised by paragraph 30 of your

21 statement, RNI-809-014 (displayed)?

22 This is another part of your statement where you are

23 talking about your discussions with him. Do you see?

24 The passage I want to ask you about begins four lines

25 from the end:

 

 

49

 

1 "We operated on a professional basis ..."

2 Do you see that?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. "Serious issues such as this were dealt with

5 appropriately and properly. They would not have been

6 diminished or dismissed."

7 Can I take it that the "we" in that sentence refers

8 to you on the one hand and your ministerial colleagues,

9 and the Chief Constable on the other?

10 A. Yes, I would -- as I say, I made this statement

11 15 months ago, but -- I think it wrapped up the way in

12 which we had that interface with the Chief Constable.

13 We operated on a mutual professional basis. It wasn't

14 casual, it was very much directed to the issues at hand.

15 Q. The next sentence and the final sentence of the

16 paragraph takes us to the specific issue of

17 Pat Finucane, and clearly it is a comment you make in

18 this part of your statement as a result of the specific

19 issue you are dealing with. So that's important for me

20 to, you know, point out to you.

21 But in considering the issues of Rosemary Nelson,

22 issues of her safety specifically, did you have in the

23 back of your mind at all times the murder of

24 Pat Finucane some ten years before?

25 A. I never saw the papers relating to the Finucane case.

 

 

50

 

1 Mo Mowlam -- and I think it was the very nature of it

2 because it was an ongoing investigation, if I remember

3 correctly. So it was the Secretary of State who had all

4 of that being attended to. I was never asked at any

5 time to address the issue, to look at the raft of

6 information which was then around or even to deal with

7 representations about it, meeting the families or

8 representatives of family or whatever.

9 But the Pat Finucane case was always there as an

10 issue because the one thing that Sinn Fein would not let

11 happen was the disappearance of something which they

12 believed would support their criticisms of the RUC and

13 the security apparatus. So everything was kept current

14 if there was mileage in it, if that is the best way to

15 describe it.

16 So it would always have been around as part of the

17 atmosphere, part of the wallpaper of any room where

18 things of that nature were discussed.

19 Q. That I understand, but the specific point here you are

20 making is that you didn't want to repeat -- presumably

21 you mean there you didn't want another defence lawyer to

22 be murdered?

23 A. I didn't want anyone else murdered in Northern Ireland.

24 Q. Indeed. That's the question that I was asking you: was

25 that in the back of your mind when you were considering

 

 

51

 

1 the specific security questions raised in relation to

2 Rosemary Nelson?

3 A. Yes. I mean, I think realistically it would be that if

4 there was the potential for defence solicitors or anyone

5 in that community being killed by virtue of their

6 involvement at any level, then it was not going to be

7 something which would be easily explained or -- that's

8 why I say we could never be diminished or dismissed.

9 There had to be something which was -- we did not

10 want anyone being killed. I make that point again.

11 But -- either RUC officers or members of the security

12 forces or ordinary civilians, or anyone within any of

13 the mechanisms of the justice process. That's why

14 judges were so heavily protected here, why we had the

15 Diplock courts and all the other unusual aspects of what

16 was happening in Northern Ireland: because any death

17 could trigger a reaction if it was then exploited by

18 whichever side felt there was a grievance about it.

19 So anything could prove a tipping point and cause

20 further death.

21 Q. But presumably you were acutely aware that if another

22 defence lawyer was murdered, it might have a serious and

23 adverse impact on the criminal justice system itself?

24 A. I think realistically that would have been the case,

25 yes.

 

 

52

 

1 Q. Yes, because obviously if lawyers are murdered as they

2 go about their work, the system is itself, to some

3 degree at any rate, undermined?

4 A. Unquestionably, yes.

5 Q. So presumably there are two things here: there is the

6 potential impact to the system because, of course, if

7 one lawyer is murdered, then others will not be so

8 willing to come forward to represent clients, and thus

9 the system is in that sense undermined. But there is

10 also the political ramifications, which you have

11 described before, in relation to Finucane which you

12 obviously didn't want repeated?

13 A. Yes, but that eventuality or possibility didn't happen

14 after Pat Finucane's murder. I mean, the system still

15 prevailed and, as I say, the very layers of protection

16 that were on different parts of the whole judicial

17 process gave us -- gave a very good indication of how

18 seriously we took anything that could dislocate that and

19 cause something else that needed to be done, which was

20 not desirable as we were moving towards a more normal

21 type of environment. Because there was pressure on at

22 that time from campaigning organisations to dispose of

23 the Diplock courts, and that didn't -- that was not

24 something which you could set against the reality.

25 People would have probably never been brought to

 

 

53

 

1 justice if you were into a normal judicial process in

2 Northern Ireland at that time. So it was very important

3 to ensure that those who were being apprehended for

4 wrongdoing were being properly represented and were

5 being properly convicted. And the clear-up rate wasn't

6 great. It was actually quite substantial given the

7 difficulties that prevailed in the wider community.

8 Q. The difficulties in the forensic work, in policing,

9 investigations generally?

10 A. Well, absolutely. I mean, even the apprehension of

11 a suspect could put police officers at risk and

12 witnesses would be intimidated, witnesses would be

13 killed.

14 As I said, there were some very, very brave people

15 around who were prepared to stand up for what was right

16 and what was good within society and that was what we

17 were trying to then bolster and support, and clearly

18 defence solicitors would be an important part of all of

19 that.

20 Q. Now, with that by way of introduction, if I can put it

21 that way, can I just ask you some questions specifically

22 about Rosemary Nelson and your perception of her? Can

23 you remember now when you first became aware of her?

24 A. No, I can't remember now when I first became aware of

25 her.

 

 

54

 

1 Q. We know that she was involved in the representation of

2 Colin Duffy, who was accused of the murder of the two

3 police officers that you mentioned right at the outset

4 of your evidence.

5 Do you think that's something that you would have

6 been aware of at the time?

7 A. I couldn't say with any certainty on that, but again it

8 is within the realms of probability.

9 Q. It led to a considerable amount of outside interest from

10 NGOs, from international bodies, from politicians in

11 Westminster and others writing to your department,

12 raising concerns about that prosecution.

13 Were you aware of those issues, do you think, at the

14 time?

15 A. Well, if the documentation came in front of me, I would

16 have become aware of it and probably I was aware of it

17 in terms of -- if there was press reporting going on

18 about it, I would have been aware of it as a result of

19 that as well in terms of open source because I would

20 have read extensively every newspaper that was around to

21 keep alert of what the common currency of the arguments

22 were.

23 Q. One of the features about Rosemary Nelson, which we see

24 from these files of correspondence, is the extent to

25 which there was outside interest in her and in her

 

 

55

 

1 cases. Can I ask you some questions about that?

2 You said earlier in dealing with correspondence that

3 MPs' correspondence had a slightly higher priority given

4 to it?

5 A. That would be correct, yes.

6 Q. I would like to ask you some questions about priority,

7 using some of the types of individuals and bodies who

8 wrote about her issues into your department.

9 Where did correspondence from NGOs rate in the

10 priority ranking?

11 A. Oh, by talking about priorities, it doesn't mean to say

12 that something -- it was rank 1 down to rank 10. It was

13 a case of MPs' priority would be because a minister

14 could be captured in the lobbies or in the House of

15 Commons, "I wrote to you, you haven't replied", and

16 therefore a speedy response was important to protect the

17 minister against those whom he or she may come into

18 regular contact with.

19 So it is on that basis that MPs would get priority,

20 because of that interface between ministers who are MPs,

21 and other MPs. It wasn't to say that what they were

22 writing about was more important than someone else.

23 Q. But in the world of practical politics, a letter coming

24 in or a note coming in, for example, from the Irish

25 Government in the Anglo-Irish Secretariat, that

 

 

56

 

1 presumably had to be accorded some importance and

2 priority in dealing with it?

3 A. No question about that because the Secretariat was set

4 up for that purpose, to articulate the view of -- what

5 concerned the Irish Government, but also in terms of

6 capturing some of the concerns of -- probably all of the

7 concerns of the wider Nationalist community as well.

8 Q. Presumably you were also very alive politically to the

9 importance of these issues, the issues with which

10 Rosemary Nelson was concerned, with US groups, both

11 politicians and pressure groups over there?

12 A. Absolutely. The Irish American community is a very big

13 powerful force in American politics and Northern Ireland

14 is important to them.

15 Q. And it was important for you also to be aware of their

16 interests and where their pressure might be directed?

17 A. Yes, and there were occasions when I met senators and

18 went to the States to talk to various senators.

19 Q. Now, one of the other issues with which she was

20 concerned, which again you have already mentioned, was

21 Drumcree, the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition.

22 Were you aware, do you think, that in the summer of

23 1997 she alleged that she had been assaulted during the

24 course of the protests on the Garvaghy Road?

25 A. Was I aware -- do I recollect --

 

 

57

 

1 Q. Yes.

2 A. I don't recollect that now, but again the reality would,

3 again, have been, yes, that would probably have been

4 something that I was aware of it. But to what extent

5 and how I was made aware of it, I couldn't recollect.

6 Q. Although I think you weren't involved with it, you

7 presumably were aware of the visit of the United Nations

8 Special Rapporteur in the autumn of 1997?

9 A. Yes, I think there was a good knowledge that he was out

10 there doing his investigation and due to report.

11 Q. And presumably you were aware in 1997 on coming into

12 office, dealing with these matters, that various

13 complaints were being made about allegations where it

14 was said that police officers had made threatening or

15 abusive remarks to her in the course of their interviews

16 in the detention centres?

17 A. Are you asking when that would have been brought to my

18 attention first of all?

19 Q. Yes.

20 A. I would need to go back and look at just precisely when

21 that would have been formally advised to me. And I

22 would have no recollection of the timelines on that, but

23 I think it would have been within that -- those early

24 days.

25 Q. Well, I mean, for instance, if you look at paragraph 7

 

 

58

 

1 of your statement at RNI-809-003 (displayed), that, I

2 think I'm right in saying, is the first piece of

3 correspondence that you talk about. And as I said

4 earlier, your statement then continues to deal with

5 pieces of paper to the end of the statement.

6 That's November 1997 and we can look at that at

7 RNI-105-176 (displayed).

8 It is a letter to the Secretary of State, which you

9 responded to the next month in fact. But when you had

10 a letter like this, which was part of a long chain of

11 correspondence, presumably your officials made you aware

12 of the background to it, what the original allegations

13 or concerns were, so that you would understand the

14 context for their proposed reply?

15 A. Absolutely. What you would get would be an analysis or

16 a background explanation as to the history and to the

17 current position. So there would be documents in

18 support of that so you were aware of the range of issues

19 that then had to be addressed in the letter or in the

20 reply to the letter.

21 Q. And so presumably you were made aware of the years of

22 concern or complaint being expressed about the alleged

23 intimidation or harassment of defence lawyers?

24 A. I would need to see the documents I was furnished with

25 at the time to see with accuracy that that was what I

 

 

59

 

1 was told. You know, I don't know whether you have

2 documents that go alongside this, the paper trail would

3 have shown what ministers were then being informed of.

4 So in the absence of that, I genuinely can't give an

5 answer to that.

6 Q. Sadly, we don't have a complete range of material in

7 ministers' cases of that kind, although we have made

8 a number of attempts to get it. But if I just show you

9 the next page of this letter, RNI-105-177 (displayed),

10 and we can have it on the screen at the same time,

11 please, as RNI-105-176 (displayed), you see that the

12 issue here raised by Jane Winter in the third paragraph

13 relates to the question of the difference between

14 allegation on the one hand and substantiation on the

15 other. Do you see that in the third paragraph?

16 A. I do, yes.

17 Q. What she is trying to explain to your boss, the

18 Secretary of State, is that in practice it was very

19 difficult, if not impossible, for allegations concerning

20 what happened in interview to be substantiated?

21 A. That's correct.

22 Q. Now, again, just stepping back from all the mass of

23 correspondence in these files, the position that

24 ministers and civil servants take with NGO letters such

25 as this appears to be as follows: these are allegations,

 

 

60

 

1 what we need is substantiation; in other words, for

2 proper evidence to be produced. That's the first stage?

3 A. That's correct.

4 Q. That evidence needs to be assessed by "the proper

5 authorities"?

6 A. That's correct.

7 Q. In other words, lawyers -- Rosemary Nelson in this

8 case -- shouldn't be taking these matters to us, to you,

9 the NGOs, they should be taking them either to the

10 police or to the ICPC?

11 A. That would be correct. I would have viewed any

12 solicitor that has been professionally trained and they

13 should have had respect for the judicial process.

14 Q. Now, of course, the proper authorities, the complaints

15 process, was one in which, as you have already said,

16 there was insufficient confidence at this stage?

17 A. Of?

18 Q. Well, in the community generally. You say so in your

19 statement.

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. So nevertheless you were saying, "This is the system, it

22 is still the system, we are trying to get a new system

23 in, but for the moment take it to the proper authorities

24 within the existing system"?

25 A. Correct.

 

 

61

 

1 Q. Of course, one of the criticisms of the existing system

2 was that the substantiation rate of the complaints was

3 very, very low, wasn't it?

4 A. As I understand it, yes.

5 Q. And what Jane Winter gives you in that third paragraph

6 was at least some of the reasons for why it was so low

7 because in effect in an interview situation, the two

8 police officers on the one hand and the defendant on the

9 other, or the accused on the other, and no recording at

10 all of the interview, no independent recording, it was

11 in practice very unlikely that any such complaint would

12 be established?

13 A. If indeed there was truth to the allegation.

14 Q. Indeed, yes. Now, as I understand it also, the general

15 approach to such matters was that where complaints were

16 made to the appropriate authorities and correspondents

17 asked questions about them, they were told that it would

18 be inappropriate to comment because the investigation

19 was ongoing?

20 A. That's correct.

21 Q. During your time in office at the very period we are

22 concerned with, some changes were brought about, were

23 they not, in relation to the recording of interviews?

24 A. As I recollect, that's the case, yes.

25 Q. First the silent videoing, then the audio recording?

 

 

62

 

1 A. That's correct, yes.

2 Q. Presumably as a matter of policy, which is your area,

3 the point here was first that if you had an objectively

4 verifiable record it would discourage any inappropriate

5 behaviour by police officers? That's the first point.

6 And secondly, it would discourage unjustified,

7 malicious, false complaints by detainees?

8 A. Well, that would be likely to be the outcome of it, but

9 it was also about doing what we believed to be necessary

10 anyway in terms of advancing the protection to everyone

11 within that process. So it could be more than just

12 those two issues.

13 Q. So it was part of a broader change, was it, whereby you

14 were bringing the conditions in which terrorist suspects

15 were held up to the PACE standards which applied in

16 England?

17 A. We were trying to get to the point where we could be as

18 normal as possible within the overall judicial process,

19 and that was a very important step change.

20 Q. Moving back to general questions in relation to

21 Rosemary Nelson, how significant for you as a minister

22 were these issues concerning Rosemary Nelson at the

23 time?

24 A. As against what?

25 Q. As against all the other issues that were crossing your

 

 

63

 

1 desk.

2 A. Well, the way in which certainly I would operate, I

3 think ministers would operate, is on the basis that you

4 deal with that which is nearest the fire, to describe

5 it.

6 You would deal with the issue that was in front of

7 you. You then had to move on to a raft of other issues.

8 Meanwhile, you may carry with you a need to say, "Right,

9 this now needs to be addressed", and as long as the

10 issue was being addressed and concerns were being

11 properly responded to, then you were satisfied that that

12 bit of the mechanism or that bit of the process was

13 operating.

14 So you had to -- while being concerned about that

15 which was closest to the fire, you also had to retain

16 a lot of other issues as to what needed to be done. So

17 you were juggling -- I'm using a lot of different

18 metaphors here, but you had to juggle a lot of balls and

19 sometimes that could be very complicated.

20 Q. Indeed. But taking a step back and looking at the thing

21 as best you can now, she was, wasn't she, involved with

22 a number of important political issues?

23 A. I think also I say in my statement I would not have seen

24 her, from recollection, as a political activist.

25 Q. Indeed.

 

 

64

 

1 A. So involved in a number of important political issues,

2 conscious of the fact that she was involved in the GRRC,

3 conscious, as I say, in the probability that I would

4 have been aware of her previous engagement with

5 Colin Duffy at the time of his arrest and subsequent

6 acquittal. I would have been aware of that and,

7 therefore, she would have been within that frame of

8 reference and understanding.

9 But to say that she was a prime mover or she was the

10 key issue -- I don't think that would have been -- I

11 don't think that was a fair recollection of my

12 assessment of her role.

13 Q. No. Let's have a look at the passages in your statement

14 where you deal with this. In paragraph 3 at RNI-809-002

15 (displayed) you say exactly as you have just remembered,

16 that -- do you see in the fourth line:

17 "She was not a political activist."

18 Do you see that?

19 A. I do, yes.

20 Q. And:

21 "We were primarily concerned with the political

22 process. Ms Nelson's clients, including the GRRC, had

23 a part to play in the peace process, but Ms Nelson as

24 their solicitor did not. I have no recollection of

25 meeting her. She is not someone I would have met."

 

 

65

 

1 Now, so far as the issues which the Inquiry has been

2 considering are concerned, she was involved with the

3 Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition and the Drumcree

4 problem. That's correct, isn't it?

5 A. That's correct, yes.

6 Q. She was at the heart of the row and problem that broke

7 in the summer of 1998 concerning the ICPC and what

8 became the Mulvihill investigation, which you deal with

9 in your statement?

10 A. That's correct.

11 Q. That concerned these allegations of inappropriate

12 comment and threat made to her by police officers,

13 didn't it?

14 A. She wasn't the only defence solicitor who was making

15 complaints, but she was probably the one that was --

16 again, who was standing up and being prepared to be more

17 vocal about it. And therefore she had -- in terms of

18 the cohort on behalf of whose -- on behalf of whom

19 complaints were being made, she would probably have been

20 the one that was writ large. She would be the name that

21 would have figured most.

22 Q. She was perhaps the most high profile lawyer in that

23 category, was she not, at this stage?

24 A. Well, I have explained it the way in which I have

25 explained it. If you were thinking about it, then it

 

 

66

 

1 would have been her name that would have been the one

2 that would have taken on greater awareness.

3 Q. And her case was also taken up by the UN Special

4 Rapporteur and referred to in his draft report, and

5 indeed he then continued to correspond about her up to

6 and after her murder, did he not?

7 A. He did, and he was -- he himself would have received

8 a lot of representations from the NGOs similar to the

9 representations we were receiving.

10 Q. But that was itself politically significant, was it not,

11 because he was an important UN official? This was his

12 first ever mission to the UK and what he said had to be

13 taken very seriously?

14 A. Well, everyone had to be treated with due respect, and

15 certainly someone who was carrying that title was

16 elevated to probably a higher level of prominence by

17 virtue of the fact that they had a greater and wider

18 range of reporting and interests and currency, whether

19 it was in the States or elsewhere. So it was someone

20 that we had to pay proper attention to and we did.

21 Q. So far as the specific example you give of the GRRC --

22 and this is back to paragraph 3 -- is concerned, you

23 draw a distinction there in political terms between the

24 residents themselves and Rosemary Nelson as their

25 lawyer. Is that right? That's the distinction you are

 

 

67

 

1 making there?

2 A. Yes, and I do that because I had a number of meetings

3 with Breandan Mac Cionnaith and others of the GRRC.

4 I went to the Garvaghy Road, I met them on at least one

5 occasion in number 10 with the Prime Minister. I met

6 them extensively during the attempt to broker a solution

7 post the Jonathan Powell attempt -- failure to do so.

8 So I had a lot of contact with -- Rosemary Nelson

9 was not someone -- and I think I did meet her once --

10 I said in my statement I had no recollection of meeting

11 her, but I think she was at one meeting which I was at,

12 when I go back and look at the history of events. But

13 she was not someone across the table whom I would be

14 negotiating with, if that was the right word, or

15 interfacing with or talking to or brokering -- trying to

16 broker a solution.

17 So in that sense she would have been -- I would

18 probably have seen her as an adviser, of which there

19 were many, for the GRRC, all of whom were trying to give

20 them directions as to what they could and shouldn't do.

21 Q. So far as the perception of her within the NIO and

22 amongst your colleagues was concerned, in her

23 autobiography, called "Momentum", Mo Mowlam says:

24 "Although Rosemary Nelson had been pushy and

25 difficult, I had respected her and quite liked her. But

 

 

68

 

1 because of her combative style she was disliked by many

2 in the establishment, including civil servants, the

3 legal profession and the police."

4 Do you agree with that assessment of the way she was

5 regarded?

6 A. I genuinely am not answerable for anyone else's

7 autobiography.

8 Q. No. I'm asking you whether you agree with Mo Mowlam's

9 assessment?

10 A. Sadly, she is not here to say why she came to that

11 conclusion. That was her conclusion and I have no --

12 nothing upon which to base a similar statement. I

13 wouldn't make that statement.

14 So if you take that as meaning I don't agree, then I

15 wouldn't have made that statement because I had no

16 evidence to come to that same conclusion.

17 Q. Was Rosemary Nelson regarded as being pushy and

18 difficult?

19 A. I wasn't aware of that.

20 Q. You didn't hear that opinion being expressed?

21 A. Well, I mean, I have no recollection of it being said.

22 If it was said, then it certainly didn't -- it is not

23 sitting there in the forefront of my mind as the

24 description of her.

25 Q. And were you aware of her being disliked?

 

 

69

 

1 A. Well, sadly, because she was murdered, she clearly was

2 disliked and those who carried out the murder obviously

3 had an intense hatred of her.

4 Q. But the point that Mo Mowlam was making, as you know

5 from the quotations I read to you, was a rather

6 different one: that she was disliked, as she puts it, by

7 many in the establishment, including civil servants, the

8 legal profession and the police?

9 A. As I say, those are Mo Mowlam's statements. They are

10 not mine. And I have said I wouldn't -- I have nothing

11 upon which to make an assertion. So I can't add to that

12 or I can't confirm it.

13 Q. Thank you. Can we look at the next paragraph of your

14 statement, in which you address this issue? It is

15 paragraph 13, RNI-809-006 (displayed). Again, I think

16 in response to a question raised with you in the

17 interview -- this is the very end of the third line,

18 moving on -- you say:

19 "Whether Ms Nelson was becoming more important at

20 a political level ..."

21 Again, to help you the context here is that you are

22 addressing a memorandum produced for you by an official

23 at the beginning of March 1998. And you say:

24 "In my view, Ms Nelson did not become more important

25 at a political level. What mattered was not the volume

 

 

70

 

1 of correspondence about her, but rather the substance of

2 it. More correspondence did not mean that the

3 allegations contained within them were any more

4 accurate."

5 So can I take it then that your view was that her

6 political importance did not increase in the period with

7 which we are concerned, i.e. between your coming into

8 office in May 1997 and her murder in March 1999?

9 A. I stand by what I said there. That would be my

10 recollection of my view of Rosemary Nelson and I don't

11 think I have seen anything that would say that I should

12 have taken a different view to that, and the sense in

13 which I have tried to explain it in terms of previous

14 answers about what I meant as being a political activist

15 and prominence within a political firmament.

16 Q. Now, so far as correspondence is concerned, as I

17 understand it, you are essentially saying in the next

18 part of your statement -- which, again, I have just read

19 to you -- that size doesn't matter, it is really

20 substance. Volume is irrelevant; it depends on whether

21 there is anything at the heart of it?

22 A. Well, I think that's a statement of fact which I would

23 apply to almost anything, that, you know -- and I bring

24 my experience as a member of Parliament -- as members of

25 Parliament you can be inundated with people campaigning

 

 

71

 

1 on an issue, but the basis upon which they are making

2 their assertions or demands may be flawed and wrong.

3 So do you bend to the will or do you look at the

4 substance? Then you raise it to the level of being

5 a minister and it is about what the evidence is, what

6 the substance of the charges or allegations are. Do

7 they actually stack up? Are they provable such that you

8 cannot do anything other than then change your position

9 or change the position of those for whom you have

10 responsibility now to do something different? And I

11 will go on also to say that it was quite clear that NGOs

12 coordinated a lot of their activities, including

13 probably this one.

14 And there is enough evidence to show that there was

15 a lot of communication: the British Irish Rights Watch

16 were writing to the UN Special Rapporteur. Clearly

17 within the small community of Northern Ireland, people

18 would have been saying, "This is what -- these are the

19 allegations we have and let's -- this is what we are

20 saying, are you going to say the same?"

21 It was not without the realms of possibility that

22 those who were making the allegations were also

23 organised, that actually the allegations that were being

24 made had no substance to them whatsoever, but were part

25 of a concerted attack on the RUC and the apparatus of

 

 

72

 

1 the State that was trying to ensure the delivery of

2 proper justice.

3 Q. Is that the way you viewed the NGO correspondence at the

4 time, namely that it was part of a campaign against the

5 RUC?

6 A. Not against the RUC. I think it was part of a campaign,

7 and they were clearly trying to address a variety of

8 issues within the correspondence and not just the

9 criticism of the RUC and the way in which they were

10 dealing or not dealing with Rosemary Nelson and other

11 defence solicitors. They were also campaigning about

12 the need to have a new set of procedures laid down:

13 PACE; removal of Diplock courts.

14 Yes, there were campaigns out there. That is the

15 very nature of what NGOs are set up to do. They're not

16 just set up to be a post box. They are set up to

17 identify what they believe to be the reality of the face

18 and then to campaign for change. Now, do they do that

19 in concert with others? Yes, they do.

20 Q. Did you think at the time that Rosemary Nelson's case

21 was simply being deployed as part of a much wider

22 strategy by NGOs and others to bring about change?

23 A. I would say that would have been part of the analysis

24 which would have sat in my consideration of that which

25 was being brought forward.

 

 

73

 

1 Here we have the grievance, to use that term, and

2 multiply it by others, and therefore, here is

3 a justification for bringing about change. Actually

4 change in many ways we were already on course to

5 deliver. So we couldn't actually address the specifics

6 until we had the new structures in place, and then that

7 would -- as you said earlier, in an earlier question,

8 that would again give us the opportunity to prove or

9 disprove or to give the comforts that things were or

10 were not happening.

11 Q. Do you think there was a risk that in the sound and fury

12 of this campaigning the merits of her particular case

13 got lost?

14 A. No, I don't. I don't think they got lost. Was it

15 something that was then dismissed or ignored?

16 Q. Yes.

17 A. No, I don't think that would be the case.

18 Q. But there was a danger, isn't there, in volume of

19 correspondence, as you say, the perception that it was

20 coordinated, that there is no much noise being made that

21 it is hard to hear the actual complaint, which may

22 indeed be genuine, in the middle of all that?

23 A. I think you are perhaps putting words into my mouth

24 about the perception of coordination. I'm saying that

25 it was not beyond the realms of possibility that there

 

 

74

 

1 was coordination, and even to the extent of the raft of

2 complaints from those who were being apprehended and

3 being questioned by the RUC, it is not beyond the

4 possibility that they were also being coordinated. That

5 every time they were taken in for questioning they could

6 have then been advised to make a complaint about the way

7 you were treated.

8 Q. Is that the way you saw it at the time?

9 A. I would have considered every aspect, every eventuality,

10 every possibility. But meanwhile, you had to focus on

11 what the issue in front of you was. But you couldn't

12 prove any of those things.

13 So, therefore, in the same way that the complaints

14 were unsubstantiated, all the other possible scenarios

15 were not provable either. But nonetheless they would

16 have been part of the overall assessment of what was

17 likely, but keep focused on the central issue.

18 Q. What was the basis for your view that it was at least

19 a possibility that the complaints themselves were part

20 of a tactic or strategy?

21 A. Primarily because I think I had a good assessment of the

22 way in which the various parties and organisations

23 worked, and they did try to create the conditions of an

24 overwhelming demand or an overwhelming complaint,

25 i.e. define grievance, multiply the grievance to the

 

 

75

 

1 extent that perception becomes reality. And it was

2 clearly the objective of the Sinn Fein, as the political

3 wing of the IRA, to bring about complete and utter

4 disillusionment and distrust of the apparatus of the

5 State of which the RUC was a very important part.

6 So that was their objective and, therefore, it

7 didn't matter whether the grievance was correct or not,

8 the grievance of itself was important in their overall

9 strategy and we had to be conscious of that but park it

10 as an issue because we were then trying to move

11 a different process forward.

12 Q. I appreciate you only considered it as a possibility,

13 but looked at in that way, however, the NGOs were part,

14 were they, of a strategy which in fact was not theirs

15 but that of the terrorist organisations operating in

16 Northern Ireland?

17 A. No, I'm not imputing or implying that they were part of

18 that mechanism, but they could have been useful in terms

19 of that overall strategy because it is clear that the

20 NGOs -- given what I said earlier, that the NGOs had had

21 a certain function and it was to put pressure on

22 Government. And therefore, they would seize the raft of

23 grievances that were out there and say, "Well, here is

24 what we are being told. What now are you saying about

25 it? What are you going to do about it?" And therefore,

 

 

76

 

1 a useful tool of any other organisation in that sense,

2 but not of themselves being married to that strategy.

3 They were not part -- I wouldn't have thought for

4 a moment that they were hand in glove with those who

5 were following that line of approach.

6 Q. But it is possible they were unwitting useful tools of

7 the wider strategy?

8 A. I think they would have been conscious of that

9 probability as well, but nonetheless they were pretty

10 determined to ensure that their integrity, the way in

11 which they went about the articulation of their case,

12 had merit and substance to it. And there must have been

13 times when they realised that they were going beyond

14 something which stacked up, but nonetheless it is worth

15 putting the complaint forward because that was part of

16 the overall capture of the issue, that then they were

17 reporting to the Government and to ministers.

18 Q. But doesn't it follow, from everything you have now told

19 us about the way you perceived the NGOs operating and

20 the wider context, that your likely reaction to an

21 individual case such as this would be at the very least

22 careful, if not cynical?

23 A. I wouldn't be cynical. I don't see why I would be

24 cynical. I certainly would be critical, and to use the

25 range of experience and knowledge I had -- and I say not

 

 

77

 

1 just as a minister, but also as a member of Parliament,

2 that you had to sift a lot of information, you had to

3 consider as best you could all of the possible scenarios

4 but keep fixed on was there substance to this, was there

5 something of a substance in there.

6 And my view of this is that the officials who had

7 responsibility for addressing these issues clearly were

8 pursuing it. They were raising the issues as they were

9 being brought forward, and we then had to show to the

10 NGOs and others that we were attending to the

11 complaints, whether we agreed with them or -- agreed

12 with them in totality or we didn't think that it added

13 up, nonetheless we still had to address their complaints

14 because we could not afford in a process to have people

15 out there who were saying we were not trying to act in

16 the best interests of the process of change in which we

17 were involved.

18 But it so happened that was a criticism that

19 ministers took: that we were actually a barrier to

20 change, but we were the drivers for change.

21 Q. Now, we started this discussion by talking about

22 Rosemary Nelson's political importance, as you saw it,

23 at the time. But what I would like to do now with you

24 is to go forward to the time of her murder. And for

25 your reference, you deal with it in your statement at

 

 

78

 

1 RNI-809-019 (displayed). You say in paragraph 43:

2 "I knew her death was an event that would have huge

3 repercussions because of the nature of it and issues

4 surrounding her."

5 Can I take it then that you immediately, on hearing

6 of the news, knew that it was hugely significant

7 politically?

8 A. I think everything I have said before would have said

9 that was the conclusion that we came to and clearly

10 would have been the case at the time. This had

11 a political significance. This single death, against

12 all the other deaths that were around at that time, was

13 going to be writ large on the issues we then had to

14 attend to.

15 Q. So that, for you -- is this right? -- whilst she was

16 alive, she was not politically important in your view,

17 but in her death she became politically important?

18 A. I said she was not a political activist and within the

19 points of contact I had with her, I didn't see her as

20 a great political point of contact. So that was the

21 description I was giving of her.

22 But it was quite clear the death of any defence

23 solicitor, if it had been someone -- even a name we did

24 not know, had not been brought to our attention, would

25 have been writ large on that political landscape. And

 

 

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1 because she had had a measure of prominence before did

2 not make her death any more important than any other

3 defence solicitor. And we would have reacted in exactly

4 the same way because when you focused on that, those who

5 were perpetrating these terrible deeds could have been

6 focused on someone else. And the scale of it I don't

7 think would have been different or lower if it had been

8 another solicitor -- to repeat the point -- whose name

9 had not been brought to our attention.

10 Q. What were the potential political implications, as you

11 saw it?

12 A. Well, the political implications would be that we had

13 been complicit -- the allegation would then be that we

14 had been complicit in the death, that we had not done

15 something, that you knew automatically collusion would

16 then be the word that would be used, and then it would

17 be another issue that could then be exploited to the

18 maximum extent by those who were trying to undermine the

19 status and the efficacy of the RUC.

20 So it was quite clear that we then had that issue to

21 address and why Mo Mowlam then became -- and she was in

22 Washington -- immediately engaged in the process by

23 contacting the office.

24 Q. Were you concerned that it might lead to a return to

25 violence by way of retaliation?

 

 

80

 

1 A. Sorry, we had not got rid of violence. There was no

2 return to violence. Violence was still common currency,

3 and could it escalate? Could there be retaliation?

4 Yes, that was the nature of -- one death usually begat

5 another.

6 Q. Was it perceived as being so serious as to be a threat

7 to the continuing peace process?

8 A. No.

9 Q. No.

10 A. And I say that because of the momentum which was there

11 and the strategy -- it's why Mo Mowlam called her

12 autobiography "Momentum". It was keep the momentum

13 going, keep being bold, keep delivering against the

14 odds. And you just have to take all of those issues out

15 there, and remembering round about Drumcree there were

16 some terrible deaths, some terrible incidents, you know,

17 the murder of an RUC officer by the very same people who

18 had -- who then claimed the killing of Rosemary Nelson.

19 So they killed -- the so-called Loyalists had killed

20 an RUC officer and extolled the virtue and then they

21 were claiming the death of Rosemary Nelson. This was

22 not a pleasant time in Northern Ireland.

23 Q. And presumably you were also concerned that there would

24 be comparisons between her murder and that of

25 Pat Finucane?

 

 

81

 

1 A. Unquestionably that's what would happen, yes.

2 Q. You said that the Secretary of State became immediately

3 involved although she was in Washington, as you tell us

4 in your statement. And it is right, isn't it, that she

5 continued to take a very close interest in the murder

6 investigation over the next weeks and months?

7 A. Yes. Mo in many ways -- and I think I said in the

8 earlier part of my statement that when the roles were

9 interchangeable -- and you said that she was my boss --

10 Mo would take ownership of a problem, but then again,

11 because of the nature of it, because of the number of

12 meetings that had to take place and because this was in

13 my area of responsibility, I would then be drafted in to

14 perhaps do meetings or cover for her where she was

15 somewhere else or doing something else.

16 So there was a lot of interchangeability, but there

17 was no question at all that Mo Mowlam had ownership of

18 this issue: one, because she had been closely engaged

19 with the Pat Finucane trail of issues, which I said

20 earlier I had no access to. I knew about it as an

21 issue, but I did not know the detail, and therefore she

22 had a greater involvement: She had met Pat Finucane's

23 widow and she had previously met Rosemary Nelson. So

24 that showed a very clear understanding on her part as to

25 her level of engagement.

 

 

82

 

1 Q. As I understand it, one of her concerns was that the

2 murder investigation should be credible, obviously,

3 thorough, but also perceived to be independent to the

4 extent that that was possible within Northern Ireland?

5 A. Well, as it proved to be possible and because it was

6 then a case of drafting in the outside officers, senior

7 officers, investigating officers, with outside support.

8 But importantly, then the debate became about should the

9 RUC be involved or not. Well, who knew the territory?

10 It was the RUC. Those were the very officers who were

11 putting their lives on the line daily to go into

12 those troubled areas to apprehend people, and officers

13 from outside Northern Ireland would not have been

14 familiar with the streets which they would walk,

15 experienced though they were.

16 So that became a whole part of the debate as to how

17 this was then to be conducted. But the outside

18 independent involvement was absolutely crucial to move

19 the process forward.

20 Q. So far as the conduct of the investigation is concerned,

21 can I ask you to look at this passage of your statement?

22 Can we have on the screen, please, RNI-809-020 and

23 RNI-809-020, paragraph 48 (displayed)? Thank you very

24 much.

25 You set out there the question of the appointment of

 

 

83

 

1 Colin Port, who was the outside senior officer brought

2 in to lead the investigation. Then do you see at the

3 very bottom of the page you talk about

4 Sir David Phillips who came in at the beginning? And

5 you say at the top of the next page:

6 "Mo Mowlam would have been driving this."

7 So that's an example of what you have been

8 describing, I think, isn't it?

9 A. That's correct.

10 Q. And:

11 "They would have wanted the Chief Constable to get

12 a very senior and experienced police officer in."

13 In other words, somebody from outside the RUC to

14 lead the investigation. Is that what you mean?

15 A. That's exactly what I meant.

16 Q. Thank you:

17 "Ronnie Flanagan would have been aware of this.

18 Similarly, he would not have wanted to brush the matter

19 under the carpet. He would have wanted to find out who

20 had committed the murder."

21 Can I just ask you this question: on what basis do

22 you express those views about what Sir Ronnie Flanagan

23 wanted?

24 A. Ronnie Flanagan, like all the RUC officers I met, were

25 utter professionals. A murder on their patch was

 

 

84

 

1 something that had to be solved if it possibly could.

2 And the statistics, I think, bear this out, that while

3 the wider Republican terrorist activists had perpetrated

4 probably twice as -- I think the figures were twice as

5 many atrocities as the Loyalists, there were twice as

6 many cases cleared up by the RUC. So this idea that

7 somehow there was collusion between the forces didn't

8 stack up on the basis of that evidence. They pursued

9 relentlessly anyone who carried out those type of

10 murders. That was their job and that was their pride in

11 their job, to make sure, if they could, to bring it to a

12 conclusion, and those who had perpetrated the killing

13 were brought to justice.

14 Q. Those are quite general remarks. Can I take it from the

15 specific remarks about Ronnie Flanagan that you see him

16 very much as consistent with that as indeed the head of

17 the organisation?

18 A. That's what I'm saying; he was the head of an

19 organisation which was very committed and very

20 professional in the way that they went about their role

21 in relation to these issues.

22 Q. Now, so far as the operation of the investigation is

23 concerned, of course that was a matter for the police

24 officers and not for ministers or officials at the NIO,

25 wasn't it?

 

 

85

 

1 A. Correct.

2 Q. Thank you. Now, so far as the early stages are

3 concerned, I would like to show you an article you refer

4 to in your statement which you wrote for the Belfast

5 Telegraph, and I think it was published on 23 April. It

6 is at RNI-831-203 (displayed). This is obviously not

7 the published form but presumably the text as provided

8 to the newspaper.

9 I just wanted to take you to one or two passages

10 within it. You say, in setting out what was being done

11 about it, that -- this is the fifth paragraph:

12 "Since Rosemary Nelson's murder Mo Mowlam and I have

13 discussed the nature of the murder investigation with

14 a large number of people. As recently as Monday night

15 I spoke to the Chief Constable, and we have met the UN

16 Special Rapporteur, a number of human rights

17 organisations, the Law Society and a number of local

18 criminal defence lawyers."

19 Although Mo Mowlam was in the lead, as you say, in

20 taking hold of this, you were clearly working closely

21 with her on these issues?

22 A. I think that showed the way in which we approached this,

23 that we had to throw all resources at it because this

24 was a defining moment in so many ways.

25 Q. And can I take it also that in the paragraph

 

 

86

 

1 two paragraphs down, where you talk about Colin Port,

2 you are expressing your view, your belief about him,

3 namely that he was a senior officer with extensive

4 experience?

5 A. I would have been advised on that. I didn't know him in

6 that sense but that would have been the received wisdom.

7 Q. Had you met him, do you think, by the time that you

8 wrote this piece, 23 April 1999?

9 A. I know I did meet him -- I went up to visit him and his

10 investigating team -- but I don't know whether that was

11 before or after this. Again I would need to look at the

12 timescale of that.

13 Q. How much continuing contact with or involvement with the

14 investigation, murder investigation, did you have after

15 this initial stage, just after the murder?

16 A. It was an operational matter and therefore very little.

17 It was only if the police wanted us to do something, we

18 would do it, in the sense of -- and whether this article

19 was something we offered or whether they said this would

20 be helpful, again I have no recollection of that. But

21 clearly the aftermath of it -- I know Colin Port was

22 complimentary of it. They did get some leads as

23 a consequence of it, hopefully as a result of this

24 article appearing and therefore being taken seriously by

25 those who may have information to give.

 

 

87

 

1 So -- but it was wholly an operational matter. We

2 would not -- and I have no evidence or knowledge of more

3 interfering in that way at all. We would be kept well

4 distant from operational matters.

5 Q. Yes. Now, if you look at the paragraph at the top of

6 the screen as it is at the moment, bearing in mind what

7 you said a little earlier, it looks as though there were

8 a range of individuals and organisations who were

9 concerned about the investigation and about what was

10 being done and you were doing what you could do address

11 their concerns?

12 A. Everyone had an opinion and everyone was telling us what

13 to do, and I think what we did was right, in the sense

14 of, one, hearing what they were saying -- but we were

15 already on to that solution anyway or that approach

16 anyway.

17 Q. Yes. Now, amongst the organisations taking a very close

18 interest in events after the murder was the Irish

19 Government. That's right, isn't it?

20 A. Well, they took a close interest in everything that was

21 going on in the street in Northern Ireland. That's why

22 the Secretariat had been established.

23 Q. Yes. But they took a particular interest in issues

24 concerning Rosemary Nelson before her murder and

25 returned to it in the Secretariat after her murder, did

 

 

88

 

1 they not?

2 A. Yes, they would have done, and the nature of the -- one

3 of the aspects of their role would have been that if

4 people were bringing matters of concern to them, then

5 they were in a sense duty-bound to report it on to us.

6 I don't think they would have been sifting and saying

7 "Well, we ainít reporting this," because then they could

8 have been accused of being somehow in bed with the

9 Northern Ireland Office. So they had to operate in that

10 open way, that transparent way, and one with what was

11 integrity.

12 Q. But without much of a filter?

13 A. I don't know how they operated. I'm guessing they

14 wouldn't have dismissed things. By saying "filter",

15 they wouldn't have said, "Well, this is just another one

16 of those complaints," and laid it aside. Because we

17 didn't address it that way and I wouldn't have expected

18 them to address it that way.

19 Q. Can we look at a document just after the murder showing

20 this, RNI-107-031 (displayed).

21 This is a memorandum which reaches you -- as I have

22 explained before, I think it is hard to see things all

23 at once on the screen but can I ask RNI-107-034 to come

24 on the screen on the right-hand side, please, just to

25 show you that it went to your private secretary.

 

 

89

 

1 (displayed). Do you see, you are the third in line

2 there?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Looking back on the left-hand side, after the summary

5 recording that the Irish side had been fully briefed by

6 your colleague Paul Murphy, under "Detail", 2:

7 "The Irish are intensely interested in the events

8 surrounding the murder of Ms Nelson. This includes the

9 Taoiseach in Washington. It is in our strong interest

10 to ensure that, whatever difficulties this crime creates

11 for the political process, the likelihood of

12 decommissioning in particular and the standing of the

13 RUC, these are not made worse by any failure on our part

14 to demonstrate to Irish colleagues, ministers, as well

15 as officials, that we are taking the case (and its

16 penumbra of allegations) with the utmost seriousness."

17 Does that reflect your own understanding of the

18 matter as it was then in the immediate aftermath of the

19 murder?

20 A. Yes. I mean, the tempo had just escalated, and I say,

21 Mo Mowlam had been in contact, and clearly the

22 Taoiseach, and no doubt the Prime Minister, was also

23 addressed on this issue as well.

24 Q. Now, we see just a little further on, at RNI-107-065

25 (displayed), another minute some two days later, another

 

 

90

 

1 report from the same source, the British side of the

2 Anglo-Irish Secretariat. Again, if can we have on the

3 screen, RNI-107-066, (displayed), we will see that it

4 went to your private office.

5 A. That's correct.

6 Q. You will see in the third paragraph on the left-hand

7 side:

8 "One of the few encouraging features of this week's

9 dismal turn of events is that the Irish have not been

10 seeking to make political capital out of them."

11 And further down:

12 "Irish heads appear happily still to be ruling their

13 hearts."

14 So, presumably, one of the things which concerned

15 the Government in the immediate aftermath was that the

16 Irish would take up the murder and create political

17 difficulties as between the two governments?

18 A. I would interpret that as meaning that in terms of the

19 Irish engagement in the process, that had also reached

20 a very mature level of understanding and that -- in

21 response to an earlier question you asked me about -- I

22 can't remember exactly how you phrased it -- would it

23 mean the end of the peace process or would it stop it --

24 nobody was going to let a single death stop the process

25 no matter how tragic or how difficult the circumstances

 

 

91

 

1 surrounding it may have been.

2 You could not let that one incident stop it, and

3 clearly that was the framework within which the Irish

4 were then operating and they had been operating within

5 that framework for a considerable period of time. It

6 was a benefit of the Secretariat, it was a benefit, as

7 you saw from the earlier note Paul Murphy, who was

8 a political minister and who had the responsibility of

9 engagement with the Secretariat, would have spent a long

10 time talking to them about it.

11 Q. Yes. Now, so far as the reporting that was coming in to

12 you about the murder and who was responsible for it was

13 concerned, can I take you first to RNI-107-035

14 (displayed), which is on the day after the murder,

15 addressed to you. You were in Belfast, as you tell us

16 in your statement, while Mo Mowlam was in Washington.

17 Is that right?

18 A. That's correct, yes.

19 Q. Yes, thank you. There you see in the first full

20 paragraph it says that:

21 "The Red Hand Defenders, giving a recognised code

22 word during a telephone call to a Belfast media office,

23 admitted responsibility for the murder of

24 Rosemary Nelson."

25 So far as you were concerned, can I take it that, as

 

 

92

 

1 minister, it wasn't your responsibility to consider,

2 still less question, whether that was a valid claim for

3 responsibility or not?

4 A. Well -- no, I wouldn't do that type of analysis.

5 Q. No.

6 A. That would be done by those who had close call on that

7 which was happening amongst that -- those group of

8 Loyalist murderers, and they would be assessing -- just

9 someone -- and this could happen -- someone claiming

10 responsibility because they wanted to be the lead of the

11 Loyalist community in this case at that time. So they

12 were -- they could have been elevating themselves, and

13 actually it was someone else who had done it and from

14 the police point of view, the police would then have to

15 satisfy themselves not who claimed it, but who actually

16 did it.

17 Q. Indeed. We will look at some more material on that

18 specific question in a minute, but can I ask you to help

19 me with a paragraph of your statement, please? Can we

20 have on the screen RNI-809-019 and RNI-809-020

21 (displayed)? Thank you very much. That gives you the

22 full text of paragraph 45. Do you see, it starts at the

23 very bottom and ends at the top of the next page?

24 A. Got that.

25 Q. Thank you. I think here, since you produced your

 

 

93

 

1 statement, you have had an opportunity to see further

2 documentation in relation to this question of whether

3 you were aware of the Red Hand Defenders at this point?

4 A. I would have been aware of the Red Hand Defenders at

5 that point. When I was answering that question at the

6 time, ten years on, they didn't register, but when

7 subsequently I looked at the various intelligence

8 documents and the other aspects to it, yes, they had

9 been a proscribed organisation, yes, they were a known

10 entity, although there was questions about who actually

11 made up the organisation. Nonetheless they did pose

12 a threat and they had already claimed the murder of

13 Frank O'Reilly at Drumcree in September of the previous

14 year.

15 Q. He was the police officer you mentioned earlier?

16 A. He was the RUC officer, yes.

17 Q. So that, in political terms, was a significant murder?

18 A. The murder of Frank O'Reilly?

19 Q. Yes.

20 A. Yes. I think it is interesting, the history of the

21 Troubles, the first murder of a police officer was

22 carried out by a so-called Loyalist and the last was

23 carried out by a so-called Loyalist. And it so happened

24 he was a Catholic, by faith. It wasn't a targeted

25 killing because it was a blast bomb that was thrown, and

 

 

94

 

1 it so happened that he was the one who tragically was

2 killed as a consequence.

3 Q. So far as the Red Hand Defenders were concerned, they

4 were one of a number of, if I can put it this way,

5 fringe of Loyalist groups that emerged during 1998,

6 weren't they?

7 A. Yes, there was the Orange Volunteers as well, from

8 memory. Yes, they were constantly trying to get

9 assessment as to where the threat existed. Was it a new

10 threat emerging? As you try to get one particular group

11 in a box, then some of them may fragment and this

12 happened with the IRA. It happened with, as I say, the

13 so-called Loyalist community, the paramilitaries as

14 well.

15 Q. And that was part, wasn't it, of the movement which took

16 place as some parties and organisations came into the

17 fold, if I can put it that way, with the Agreement and

18 with what followed, others, splinter factions, came to

19 greater prominence because they then posed the potential

20 threat to the positive steps towards peace that were

21 taking place?

22 A. Yes, and there was another thing mentioned to it and it

23 wasn't just about that. In terms of the Loyalist

24 community, it was who controlled a street, who

25 controlled the organised crime as well, and therefore

 

 

95

 

1 there was tremendous tension between the factions and

2 breakaways from the factions. And the main factions, of

3 course, were trying to hold their centre for a variety

4 of reasons, but one of which was because they were then

5 being considered as moving towards the position of

6 finding a solution to the problem, and therefore it was

7 important that we tried to keep that as whole as we

8 possibly could.

9 Q. And time and effort was being spent during the period in

10 late 1998, leading up to the time of the murder of

11 Rosemary Nelson, trying to find out more about these

12 groups and to assess their capability and the extent to

13 which they posed an actual threat?

14 A. Correct, and that would be something that the police and

15 the intelligence services would be very much focused on.

16 Q. And it is right also, isn't it, that in the month before

17 Rosemary Nelson's murder in February 1999, the Secretary

18 of State and the Prime Minister were considering whether

19 to proscribe the Red Hand Defenders?

20 A. That's correct, yes. And I was aware of that at the

21 time I made that statement. I only today have seen the

22 document that confirms that.

23 Q. I was going to ask you that question next: was that

24 question of proscribing terrorist organisations and of

25 course on the other side of it, removing people from the

 

 

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1 proscription list, was that something which as security

2 minister you had in your portfolio?

3 A. I certainly would be part of consideration, but at the

4 end of the day it would be Secretary of State to Prime

5 Minister to get the political cover and the

6 justification for doing this and, having seen the

7 document of February 1999, that it was quite clear that

8 we had to act very promptly, otherwise they would change

9 its characteristics again. So we had to nail them

10 quickly. Whether I sat in meetings, whether this had

11 been considered in some form of round table discussion,

12 I wouldn't recollect that, but I would have knowledge of

13 all of these developments at the time and I would have

14 watched how this was developing.

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

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. We will break off until

17 2 o'clock.

18 (1.00 pm)

19 (The short adjournment)

20 (2.00 pm

21 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Phillips?

22 MR PHILLIPS: Mr Ingram, I would like to start this

23 afternoon by asking you some questions about

24 intelligence, please.

25 Presumably as minister responsible for security, you

 

 

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1 had some degree of engagement with the intelligence

2 agencies who were working in Northern Ireland?

3 A. I would have had, yes.

4 Q. How did intelligence reporting come to you?

5 A. Well, it would have come to me through documents. It

6 would have been brought together from the different

7 reporting mechanisms. There would then be put into an

8 analysed form by the liaison unit that would sit as

9 a coordination unit dealing with all the strands of

10 intelligence.

11 What I would then get would be on a regular, almost

12 daily basis that form of documentation. You would also

13 see incident reports as well, so events that were

14 happening on the street. Occasionally you would see

15 that, but that was kind of open source reporting anyway.

16 You knew these type of things were going on by and

17 large.

18 The intelligence reports would be made available to

19 me when I was available to read them because they were

20 delivered to my private office and it was a designated

21 member of staff, the private secretary, who was cleared

22 to bring the documents in to me and then take them back

23 again. Sometimes it would also be delivered by the

24 officer from the intelligence unit that was dealing

25 with it.

 

 

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1 Q. So just to be clear, were those the NIIRs, the documents

2 you say were delivered to the private secretary, the

3 Northern Ireland intelligence reports?

4 A. Yes, and you would also get analysis of them as well.

5 Q. So that's the written form. Were you also briefed

6 face-to-face by the officers of the various agencies?

7 A. Not of the various agencies. It would be done through

8 one central point.

9 Q. Who was that?

10 A. That would be the liaison officer, the person who had

11 that job to coordinate the flow of the information.

12 Q. Was he a Northern Ireland Office civil servant or

13 a Security Service officer?

14 A. I think that varied. I think in the main -- I don't

15 know. I would need to check back on that, but I

16 think -- the one I do remember was

17 a Northern Ireland Office civil servant.

18 Q. So in terms of that sort of face-to-face briefing then,

19 were there any other regular ways in which you were

20 updated on intelligence matters?

21 A. If you were having perhaps these side discussions with

22 someone like the Chief Constable, they would give you

23 a flavour of what was happening, some explanation about

24 events. You know, it could come to you through

25 a variety of sources and your own security -- Director

 

 

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1 of Security, someone like John Steele would -- I can

2 mention his name, yes?

3 Q. Yes.

4 A. Someone like him, who was very well attuned to all of

5 this, would come in and talk me through issues as well.

6 Q. Now, you have told us in your statement, and you and

7 I have already discussed it, about the security policy

8 meetings and you have told us that where they touched on

9 intelligence issues, it was at a high level?

10 A. In the main, yes.

11 Q. So far as the Northern Ireland intelligence reports are

12 concerned, which you have mentioned -- we are going to

13 look at a couple of those in a minute -- who was the

14 official who decided which should come to you or your

15 private secretary and which should not, i.e. who settled

16 the distribution list? Do you know?

17 A. I don't know offhand.

18 Q. In the evidence that the Inquiry has collated, the NIO

19 is described as one of the customers of intelligence in

20 Northern Ireland. To what extent were you or other

21 ministerial colleagues able to set

22 intelligence-gathering requirements?

23 A. In terms of asking for a course of action to be taken?

24 Q. Yes.

25 A. I was never conscious of ever doing that. Whether it

 

 

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1 was within my powers to do it, I would question.

2 I suspect the Secretary of State had more capacity to

3 call for that type of approach. But what could happen,

4 you could say more information, give us more definition

5 or is there anything else that we could -- that I could

6 read on this issue. But you couldn't direct

7 a surveillance operation or target an agent on

8 a particular target. That would not be within my remit.

9 Q. For example, where there were issues raised, such as the

10 issue we discussed before lunch about the possible

11 proscription of a terrorist organisation, in this case

12 the Red Hand Defenders, were you able to call for more

13 on the intelligence front about a particular issue such

14 as that in order to get a full picture of what was

15 going on?

16 A. The answer to that would be yes. If you are only given

17 a terse explanation, then you could say, "I need a bit

18 more, give me some more background". But in the main

19 the quality of the information flow was very good.

20 So you wouldn't necessarily find yourself in that

21 situation and I can't recollect any details. It was so

22 long ago in that sense, whether it happened or didn't

23 happen, I couldn't say with any certainty.

24 Q. As you may or may not know, the Inquiry has collected in

25 a good deal of intelligence reporting about

 

 

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1 Rosemary Nelson herself; reporting before her murder, I

2 should add.

3 Do you recall seeing any such intelligence reporting

4 about her before her murder?

5 A. I don't recollect that.

6 Q. Do you recall any reference to her having been made at

7 briefings or meetings such as the security policy

8 meetings you have mentioned?

9 A. I have no recollection of that.

10 Q. Are you surprised to learn that she was of such interest

11 to the intelligence agencies in Northern Ireland?

12 A. Nothing would surprise me in Northern Ireland. That's

13 not a glib comment. In the sense that, you know -- the

14 process proceeded to what is a very advanced stage of

15 conclusions on the basis of the quality of what the

16 security forces were doing, within which was

17 intelligence machinery, which had an incredible

18 knowledge base -- not perfect -- of a lot was happening

19 on the street. And within groups and in terms of

20 individuals, it was very high-grade intelligence we were

21 working with on a lot of occasions.

22 So in that sense, nothing would surprise me about

23 who they were obtaining information from and about.

24 Q. Now, so far as other intelligence matters are concerned,

25 one of the issues the Inquiry has also obtained material

 

 

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1 on and has been considering relates to the question of

2 warranty; in other words, applications for intercepts,

3 et cetera.

4 Now, was that within the purview of the Secretary of

5 State?

6 A. Wholly. I never signed any warrants.

7 Q. Did you have any discussions with her about individual

8 cases that you can recall?

9 A. Prior to her signing a warrant?

10 Q. Yes.

11 A. No.

12 Q. Did you ever have such discussions after the event; in

13 other words, after she had signed the warrant?

14 A. I was never made aware -- and I think correctly so -- of

15 who was being listened to, how they were being listened

16 to, who were agents and who were -- who was working

17 within those communities on her behalf. I had no

18 detailed knowledge of any of that. All I saw was the

19 end result of the quality of the intelligence gathering.

20 A lot of it was open source anyway, but some of it

21 was very high grade and usually it was graded within the

22 documents you would see, which would say "from a very

23 highly placed source" or phrases like that, which gave

24 you the indication that it was of significance. And it

25 didn't necessarily mean to say it was 100 per cent

 

 

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1 accurate, but it was of significance.

2 Q. Just finally on this question, do you recall having any

3 discussion with the Secretary of State about a specific

4 application, which was signed, in relation to a property

5 belonging to Rosemary Nelson?

6 A. No, I don't.

7 Q. Thank you. I would like to show you two

8 Northern Ireland intelligence reports issued very

9 shortly after the murder, which both did come to you.

10 We can see the first of them at RNI-534-055

11 (displayed). The date is 16 January, you can see at the

12 top left-hand corner, I hope, and your private secretary

13 appears in the distribution list there and the NIO. Do

14 you see, the second entry there?

15 A. I can't see the date on it, though.

16 Q. Sorry, it is the top left-hand corner. Do you see under

17 the word "immediate"?

18 A. Oh, yes.

19 Q. Thank you very much. If we go back to the box, do you

20 see you're on the distribution list or your private

21 secretary is?

22 A. I do, yes.

23 Q. Thank you very much. This, as we can see from the next

24 page, RNI-534-056, please (displayed), was a report

25 directed to the murder itself and issued the next day.

 

 

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1 But the passage I would like to take you to begins at

2 RNI-534-057, and again, I'll flick it through for you on

3 the screen, if I may. The first question is:

4 "Who are the RHD?"

5 And we will see if you go back to the page, please,

6 on the screen, from paragraph 3, a reference there to

7 the claim of responsibility by the Red Hand Defenders

8 that we looked at just before the break?

9 A. Okay, got that.

10 Q. So there is something in 5 and 6 about the RHD. Then

11 over the page, if we can have RNI-534-058 on the screen

12 at the same time, please (displayed). Now, the next

13 question addressed in this report is:

14 "Was the LVF involved?"

15 That's the passage I would like to direct your

16 attention to, please. In the second line of 9, it says:

17 "We assessed that none of these individuals has the

18 capability to manufacture a viable UCBT device. Indeed,

19 the indications are that the LVF has only a limited

20 explosives capability."

21 Then various details of previous activities are

22 given. Then a few lines down:

23 "We judge that the LVF leadership would not sanction

24 any attacks at this stage. The group remains focused on

25 its efforts to influence the release of its leader, Mark

 

 

105

 

1 'Swinger' Fulton and is unlikely to authorise any action

2 which may jeopardise Fulton's case."

3 So in summary then, the report coming to you and

4 others was that it was unlikely, in the judgment on the

5 day after the murder, that the LVF had been involved,

6 (a) because they didn't have the capability, and (b)

7 because it wasn't judged to be in their interests. Do

8 you see that?

9 A. I see that, yes.

10 Q. A week later you received another document of the same

11 kind, and we will see it at RNI-534-061 (displayed).

12 And this time at the top left-hand corner, the date of

13 23 March. It is, as I say, a week later. Again, you're

14 on the circulation list there; your private secretary,

15 the second addressee. Here, the title, which we see at

16 RNI-534-062 -- can we have that on the right-hand side,

17 please (displayed):

18 "Is LVF responsible for the murder of

19 Rosemary Nelson?"

20 Do you see that?

21 A. I see that, yes.

22 Q. And:

23 "Key points. LVF responsible for the device which

24 killed Nelson."

25 Then the detail:

 

 

106

 

1 "intelligence indicates that prominent LVF members

2 ..."

3 Then there are some redacted names there:

4 "... played an active role in the murder of

5 Rosemary Nelson. The murder was claimed in the name of

6 the Red Hand Defenders."

7 Then further comment follows over the next page.

8 I want to show you the whole of the document, so could

9 we have RNI-534-063 on the left-hand side, please?

10 (displayed) And you will see there the supporting

11 information and detail in relation to the suggestion

12 that the LVF was responsible.

13 So within a week you had been told first that they

14 weren't responsible and now that intelligence suggested

15 that they were.

16 Was that sort of change or inconsistency something

17 you think that would have struck you at the time?

18 A. I wouldn't have seen it as an inconsistency, I would

19 have seen it as evolving knowledge.

20 Q. Yes.

21 A. On the basis that, because of the sophisticated way in

22 which the intelligence services went about their

23 business, they would gain more knowledge because of

24 the variety of means by which they could pick up better

25 intelligence. But they always operated on the basis

 

 

107

 

1 that you could never get perfect intelligence.

2 Q. Can I just use this as an example for how you would have

3 approached this material as it came in to you? You

4 described how your private secretary would bring it to

5 you and you would read it and he would then take it

6 away. Was it ever the case that you raised a question

7 or asked for further information as a result of

8 something you had read in one of these intelligence

9 reports?

10 A. I can't recollect doing it, but yes, that again is

11 possible, asking a bit more, just give me a bit more

12 information on this. And if I did ask for it then,

13 again, it would be something that would be recorded

14 because it would by definition have to be based upon

15 intelligence.

16 Q. So you would expect a follow-up or further report to

17 deal with the matters you raised?

18 A. Yes, but again, in terms of your earlier question about

19 would you have discussions with people, you know, I may

20 have been advised at that time this is pretty raw what

21 we have got, it is -- actually we are on the case, we

22 are getting a better understanding. Another report will

23 be on its way within a short period of time. That could

24 well be part of the flavour of what was happening at

25 that time.

 

 

108

 

1 Q. But other than what was contained in these documents, do

2 you have any recollection now of this sort of issue --

3 A. No, I don't. I think it would be unfair to say I had.

4 Q. Thank you. Can I now go back in the history and look at

5 some of the episodes which you have set out for us in

6 your statement? As I say, you cover a reasonably

7 substantial amount of correspondence and material in

8 your statement and I just want to focus on some aspects

9 of it this afternoon.

10 So I'm taking you now to paragraph 18 of your

11 statement and to the summer of 1998 -- paragraph 18 is

12 at RNI-809-009 (displayed) -- thank you very much --

13 because this is where you begin to discuss what happened

14 in June 1998 in relation to the ICPC.

15 Just to be clear at the outset, to what extent were

16 you, as a minister, involved in this issue and in the

17 Mulvihill appointment which followed?

18 A. In the sense was I driving it, was I in control of it?

19 Q. Yes.

20 A. I think I have said earlier that this was really sitting

21 with Dr Mowlam. This was sitting with her in the lead,

22 but I would have been part of the overall handling

23 approach because I had to dip in and out and sometimes

24 take a lead in various meetings.

25 Q. I just wanted to check is this with you: so when you say

 

 

109

 

1 at RNI-809-103, paragraph 28, at a slightly later stage:

2 "Mo Mowlam was more engaged in this issue than I

3 was."

4 It is now the end of July you are talking about --

5 that is a general comment, is it, about this ICPC issue?

6 She was in the lead?

7 A. She was in the lead overall. I think that is consistent

8 with what I have been trying to impart, yes.

9 Q. Thank you. That said -- and going back to 18, please,

10 RNI-809-009 (displayed) -- presumably you recall the

11 impact that the letter from the ICPC Chairman made at

12 the NIO when it was received in -- I think it was sent

13 on 19 June 1998. It was a very big and important

14 political issue which was raised?

15 A. Yes, and those statements I made were done on the basis

16 of examining the documents which were presented to me at

17 the time, which then obviously refreshed the knowledge

18 of that. Yes, that would have been the case.

19 Q. Yes. Now, you say there that:

20 "The fact that the ICPC intended to issue

21 a qualified statement in relation to the RUC's

22 investigation into Ms Nelson's complaint was a serious

23 matter."

24 Was that in part because it had never happened

25 before?

 

 

110

 

1 A. Well, I couldn't say whether it had never happened

2 before. I don't think it happened in my tenure at the

3 time.

4 Q. What was it then about the ICPC's position that made it

5 so significant politically?

6 A. Because we had a point of conflict and all their efforts

7 were to try and minimise, to try and reduce, to try and

8 remove points of conflict. And where you had -- the

9 structure which I said earlier and also referred to in

10 my statement I had to be protective of, I had to try and

11 give people confidence in it even though we knew that we

12 were dismantling it and putting something different in

13 its place -- if there was that point of conflict, that

14 just made that delivery message much more difficult in

15 trying to encourage people to engage with this process.

16 Q. Because the monitoring body, the supervisory body itself

17 was making trenchant criticisms of the way an

18 investigation had been conducted?

19 A. Because that, of itself, could then be seen to be

20 healthy in the way in which it then gave a measure of

21 independence to it. But was it justified is perhaps

22 a better way of explaining it.

23 There is nothing wrong with criticism, absolutely

24 nothing wrong with criticism, public or private, of

25 different bits of the mechanism and the way in which it

 

 

111

 

1 was operating. But did it really -- was it really going

2 to help or not and was it based upon a fair assessment

3 and would it create a reaction that could then just

4 cause problems about other things we were trying to move

5 forward.

6 As ever, everything had to have a political overlay.

7 Everything had to be put through that filter. That's

8 what politicians, that's what ministers are for: to try

9 and assess it.

10 Q. You are the first witness that has actually made the

11 point that there was nothing of itself wrong with the

12 supervisory body expressing concern about an

13 investigation, that was part of its job?

14 A. It was independent.

15 Q. Exactly. So what was it, therefore, about this

16 particular incident? Was it that the criticisms were so

17 severe?

18 A. I would need to go back and see exactly what they were

19 saying before I could grade that as being severe or so

20 severe. Certainly it was the first -- I don't know

21 whether it ever happened before, but it certainly was

22 the first in my tenure of office.

23 Q. Let's have a look at the letter to help you. It is at

24 RNI-106-211 (displayed). That's just the first page.

25 As usual we have got the problem of documents. Could we

 

 

112

 

1 have RNI-106-211 and RNI-106-212 on the screen at the

2 same time, please? (displayed) Thank you.

3 You will see the language. It is directed to the

4 Secretary of State, this, but the language is that the

5 defects, as they identify them -- do you see at the

6 bottom of the first page:

7 "... combined to fundamentally undermine the

8 investigative process."

9 Bottom line:

10 "The investigation has been obstructed and obscured

11 to an extent that leads us to conclude that the final

12 outcome is irretrievably flawed."

13 So that was the level at which it was being pitched,

14 which was very high?

15 A. Yes, I would agree with that. Could I see whether I was

16 on the circulation list for that?

17 Q. I don't know whether you are and I'm not sure I can

18 answer that question. What I can tell you is that you

19 were on the circulation list for all the memoranda that

20 followed in which a resolution to the issue was

21 proposed. So it seems hard to believe that you weren't

22 shown the letter itself. That sounds fair, doesn't it?

23 A. No, it doesn't. That's why I'm asking whether I was on

24 the circulation list. You have been pointing out my

25 involvement with every other document, but --

 

 

113

 

1 Q. No, I can't show you as a copyee, but I can show you the

2 document you yourself referred to in your statement in

3 which a proposed resolution to this difficulty is put

4 out. Would you like to see that?

5 A. Yes, please.

6 Q. Right. It is at RNI-106-217.504 (displayed) and you

7 appear -- it is a very long document -- at

8 RNI-106-217.509 (displayed).

9 A. I would expect to be on that list, yes.

10 Q. Do you think it is conceivable that you didn't see the

11 letter of the ICPC Chairman of 19 June?

12 A. I'm not -- I wasn't asking to prove that I was or wasn't

13 on because I thought hadn't seen it. It is just that --

14 I wouldn't have seen everything that was coming in to

15 the Secretary of State's office.

16 Q. No, but this was a matter of political importance, as

17 you have already pointed out?

18 A. Absolutely.

19 Q. And you were engaged in discussion, no doubt, with

20 Mo Mowlam about how it was to be resolved?

21 A. Yes, but then what you would tend to use would be the

22 synopsis. It would be the analysis by the division that

23 was dealing with it that would give you a synopsis of

24 what the issue was. So that would be your -- you would

25 get a briefing document. You wouldn't necessarily see

 

 

114

 

1 again the raw data, the correspondence. You wouldn't

2 necessarily see that. You would get a synopsis and an

3 analysis.

4 Q. So you were relying on your officials to make an

5 accurate summary of what had come in?

6 A. There is nothing wrong with that.

7 Q. No. Did you ever have cause to believe that they were

8 giving you an inaccurate summary of the correspondence

9 that was coming in?

10 A. No.

11 Q. No. Let's look back in your statement and paragraph 18,

12 please, at RNI-809-009 (displayed). Here, when you are

13 talking about the need for a resolution, you say in the

14 middle of the paragraph:

15 "There was also a political imperative for this

16 matter to be scrutinised and any issues addressed,

17 otherwise the matter would become a major issue which

18 would be exploited by certain groups within the

19 community who wanted to discredit the police system. No

20 matter what we did to try and resolve the issue, they

21 would claim it was a cover-up."

22 Now, can I ask you some questions about that? Which

23 groups do you have in mind?

24 A. That would -- they would in the main be Sinn Fein. It

25 would mainly be those who were leading the charge of

 

 

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1 unremitting criticism of the RUC and the security

2 apparatus.

3 Q. Did you have any other groups in mind when you made that

4 comment?

5 A. No, I think they would be the major grouping.

6 Q. And how did you think that they would try to exploit the

7 situation?

8 A. Because they were a very capable and astute political

9 organisation who thought very carefully about the

10 ramifications of everything that was current. And they

11 would see is there something that we can -- use the word

12 again -- exploit to our advantage.

13 It may be on the back of something that they were

14 already engaged in or it may be a new line of attack and

15 criticism.

16 Q. Presumably you would have been concerned that they would

17 use this to build on the existing criticisms of the

18 complaints system?

19 A. Yes. Others may have used it as well, but I would say

20 that would be how I would have focused on it, that this

21 would be used for political purposes.

22 Q. And it looks as though, therefore, you saw the need in

23 those circumstances and to avoid that outcome -- you saw

24 the need for strong action. What do you mean by that?

25 A. Resolution, solution, focus, determination to try and

 

 

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1 get it smoothed over, if that was the best approach.

2 Q. Who was to take the strong action?

3 A. Hm-mm, well, those who were -- those who would be in --

4 at the point of interface in all of this, to try and

5 make sure that we did not let something go that could

6 provoke undue criticism, that was perhaps imbalanced and

7 realistically would have been imbalanced and unfair.

8 Was there another way of dealing with this?

9 So, therefore, it would be the officials who would

10 be charged with trying to work that street, that

11 territory, talking to people to see if there was an

12 answer to it.

13 Q. As you say in your statement, if we could go back to the

14 full page, please, in the next paragraph, 19, there was

15 only so much that the NIO could do because, of course,

16 as a matter of statute, this was at least primarily the

17 Chief Constable's province?

18 A. That's correct, yes.

19 Q. If we look at a memorandum, one of the many generated at

20 this time by your officials, this one -- if we can have

21 both pages, please -- RNI-106-256 and RNI-106-257

22 (displayed) -- this is from Mr Steele whom you have

23 already mentioned, the senior director in Belfast, and

24 it is addressed to the Private Secretary to the

25 Secretary of State.

 

 

117

 

1 You appear as the first copyee -- or your private

2 secretary does. This is as the Mulvihill solution, if I

3 can put it that way, was being worked through and it was

4 a recommendation for a particular draft letter to go to

5 the Chief Constable. Discussion under "Detail" on the

6 left about the ambit of the Mulvihill Inquiry, and then

7 at 4, do you see on the next page, RNI-106-257:

8 "For the present, it is important that the Secretary

9 of State maintains a discreet but firm grip on the case.

10 Accordingly ... she should reiterate her interest

11 in it."

12 Given the Chief Constable's position in charge, as

13 it were, was that the advice that you and Mo Mowlam were

14 receiving: that you should be discreet but firm in your

15 grip on the case?

16 A. Yes, John Steele was a very good adviser and he was very

17 experienced. His view would be that ministers had a lot

18 of influence to bring to bear. They could condition the

19 scenario even if they may not have the legal entitlement

20 and it always falls within this grey area about who has

21 ultimate responsibility. So that type of advice would

22 be correct and healthy advice: keep focused on this,

23 don't let it go by the wayside and make sure you have

24 a firm view on it. So that wouldn't surprise me, that

25 type of advice.

 

 

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1 Q. In a situation such as this, where you are trying to

2 achieve the aims that you mentioned earlier, there was

3 at stake the question of confidence in the police

4 complaints system and also, in a sense, presumably

5 confidence in the ICPC itself because its behaviour,

6 what it was proposing to do, was at the heart of the

7 dispute, wasn't it?

8 A. Correct.

9 Q. So did you see it as part of your role to support and

10 safeguard the ICPC, given that the system was

11 continuing, it was an essential part of the system?

12 A. I think in my statement -- and I have said earlier --

13 that I had to be protective of the system. So, yes, if

14 I was a salesman for the system, then I was prepared to

15 do it even though we knew that it had to change.

16 So, yes, and the integrity and the independence of

17 those who participated in this had to be protected at

18 all times. And again, these, to use a phrase, very

19 brave people, they were putting themselves in a real hot

20 seat by taking on this role.

21 Q. Yes. I would like to ask you just a couple of questions

22 about a later stage of your dealing with the ICPC, and

23 that's in December this year, 1998, where you wrote to

24 Mr Donnelly, the Chairman, on 8 December. That's

25 RNI-106-341.502 (displayed). Thank you very much. And

 

 

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1 can we have the next page, RNI-106-341.503, as well,

2 please (displayed)?

3 That's a letter from you, as you see, with your

4 signature and sign-off line, if I can put it that way,

5 on the right. And it is a letter about complaints of

6 improper conduct involving lawyers. Do you see the

7 first paragraph on the left?

8 A. I do, yes.

9 Q. And this was one of the things that came out of the

10 discussions following both this Mulvihill incident we

11 have just been looking at and also the visit of the UN

12 Special Rapporteur, wasn't it?

13 A. It was, yes.

14 Q. Because he, in his report, amongst many other comments,

15 encouraged the solicitors' profession to make use of the

16 complaints system, the existing system, and to register

17 their complaints in that way?

18 A. Yes, we weren't trying -- we were trying to encourage

19 engagement.

20 Q. Yes, exactly.

21 A. And, therefore, all of this had to be encouraged.

22 Q. You say in your statement -- and this is paragraph 40 --

23 and I'm sorry that because of the screen you can't, as

24 it were, keep a finger in one page and flick over. But

25 that's at RNI-809-018 (displayed), and you say there

 

 

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1 that you can't recall anything about the survey, but see

2 that you commended it. The question that I have here is

3 where, in the second paragraph of your letter, you say:

4 "I think this bit of work is extremely helpful ..."

5 That is the survey:

6 "... and I should be grateful if you could pass on

7 my thanks to ... "

8 Presumably the people who compiled it:

9 "While I agree with you that the results are clearly

10 open to a range of interpretations, I think nevertheless

11 the fact that you have conducted the survey is important

12 not least in assessing the scale of the issue."

13 Can I just ask you, are you able now to help me with

14 what you meant by:

15 "I agree that the results ..."

16 That's of the survey:

17 "... are clearly open to a range of

18 interpretations"?

19 A. Not without going back and examining the survey. And

20 clearly the ICPC and Paul Donnelly themselves recognised

21 it was flawed, probably in terms of the size of the

22 population that participated. So there is a

23 proper statistical issue in there that -- you know the

24 point I'm making: if there is a small number, variations

25 and comments can have extra weight, which is maybe not

 

 

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1 the case if it is was a bigger population that was

2 examined or surveyed.

3 Q. Yes, thank you. I would like to ask you about one

4 further aspect of the ICPC/Mulvihill events, and that

5 concerns Geralyn McNally.

6 Now, you will remember that the Mulvihill Report and

7 the final certificate from the ICPC came out just after

8 the time of Rosemary Nelson's murder?

9 A. I remember that, yes.

10 Q. And what happened, as again I'm sure you remember, is

11 that the ICPC declared its satisfaction with the

12 Mulvihill investigation?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. But Geralyn McNally repeated, in an appendix to that

15 document, her criticisms of the original police

16 investigation?

17 A. I recollect that on the basis of the documentation

18 I have seen, yes.

19 Q. Yes. Thank you. Now, at about that time or shortly

20 thereafter you were aware, weren't you, that there was

21 a whispering campaign and comment in the media adverse

22 to Geralyn McNally?

23 A. I have reviewed that as well. Yes, that's something

24 that I would be aware of.

25 Q. And at a point, concerns began to be expressed in

 

 

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1 relation to her safety?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Thank you. And this was a matter, wasn't it, which was

4 raised with you by Paul Donnelly of the ICPC?

5 A. Well, the answer to that I think would be yes, from

6 memory.

7 Q. Yes. I would like you, please, to look at a couple of

8 documents on this. The first is at RNI-228-193

9 (displayed) and, again, perhaps we could have the second

10 page of the letter, please, as well, RNI-228-193

11 (displayed). Thank you very much.

12 Can you see reference to what I have just been

13 describing in the second paragraph on the left?

14 A. I see that, yes.

15 Q. In terms of reply, the reply -- the reply we have at any

16 rate -- comes from Mo Mowlam and it is the next document

17 I want to show you at RNI-228-247 (displayed):

18 "Thank you for your letter of 4 May ..."

19 17 May this letter:

20 "I'm also replying on behalf of Adam Ingram to whom

21 you also wrote in the same terms."

22 It looks as though two identical letters went from

23 the Chairman:

24 "I'm grateful to you for the commentary, which was

25 clearly a major undertaking and which raises a number of

 

 

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1 important points. I'd welcome a meeting with you to

2 discuss it."

3 That was a commentary that he had prepared about the

4 Mulvihill investigation, I think; is that correct?

5 Then the second paragraph:

6 "I can well understand your concerns about

7 Geralyn McNally."

8 Then a reference to action having been taken on

9 security.

10 Looking further down though, it says:

11 "On the rumour mongering, this is simply not

12 acceptable. I can understand your concerns over this

13 and if there's anything Adam Ingram or I can do, we

14 will. I have not seen anything recently, so let's hope

15 the issue has run out of steam."

16 So, as I understand it, you and Mo Mowlam at various

17 points were engaged with this issue and did what you

18 could, not only in relation to the security question but

19 also the rumour mongering?

20 A. I don't recollect what in detail, but yes, we would have

21 done whatever we could have done. But it was obviously

22 an impossible task. How do you deal with rumours.

23 Q. Did you speak to any of your officials in Police

24 Division about it?

25 A. I don't recollect that. The real analysis would

 

 

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1 probably be that you would be -- you would assess it on

2 the basis that these are rumours. How can you pin

3 a rumour down? And if it is undisclosed sources, one,

4 do you believe everything you read in the papers? And

5 the media have a tendency to say "a senior security

6 source". It could be the lowest common denominator they

7 can find and they elevate them to be senior.

8 So all of this can be distorted through the prism of

9 the media. It may be true, it may not be true, but

10 there is enough there to think if it is happening, it

11 should not be happening. But how do you pin it down?

12 Q. Were you given any information as to the likely source

13 of these rumours?

14 A. I don't recollect that being the case. If there was

15 evidence to that and a name was given, then I'm sure

16 that the system would immediately have kicked in. If it

17 was someone in the Security Service, either RUC or

18 elsewhere, I would have expected them to have been

19 approached by their line manager. Ministers would never

20 engage in that type of disciplinary or potential

21 disciplinary approach. That was not the function of

22 ministers.

23 Q. You don't remember talking to Mr Lindsay about this?

24 A. Not at this stage I don't.

25 Q. I would just like to show you one final document on this

 

 

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1 topic, please, and it is a slightly later one. We can

2 see it at RNI-463-291 (displayed). Again, this is

3 copied to your private secretary from Mo Mowlam's

4 private secretary. It follows a meeting with the

5 Chairman of the ICPC, and the first two pages are

6 concerned with effectively an update on the substance of

7 the matter.

8 The paragraph I would like to draw to your attention

9 though is on the final page, paragraph 6, RNI-463-293

10 (displayed), where the Secretary of State -- it is on

11 the left of the screen, in the middle -- raises the

12 issue of Geralyn McNally. I should say again that if we

13 had the documents, it would be easy for you to check

14 this, but she was present at the meeting with

15 Paul Donnelly and the Chief Executive of the ICPC.

16 But reading on is the question not just of security,

17 but of criticism, and publicity is touched on. And do

18 you see she is recorded as saying that she believed this

19 had exposed RUC attitudes towards certain sections of

20 the community and towards women. Then this:

21 "The Secretary of State observed that this was

22 a cultural issue which the RUC needed to address, that

23 it went simply further than the police. The culture of

24 dependency and blame and the willingness to resort to

25 devious tactics was widespread in Northern Ireland

 

 

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1 within politics and beyond. At the highest level, the

2 implementation of the GFA and the establishment of new

3 political institutions would eventually change

4 attitudes, and at lower levels, the introduction of

5 structures, complaints mechanisms, et cetera, would

6 enable problems in particular areas to be more easily

7 tackled, but the process would inevitably take time."

8 Now, those views, as recorded, of Mo Mowlam, were

9 those views that you heard her express yourself?

10 A. And views I would share.

11 Q. They were?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. So there were problems here which went very deep and

14 which were problems of attitude and culture?

15 A. I think in my earlier answers I have tried to refer to

16 that. Yes, there was, again, what was known as

17 a canteen culture within the police. There was a whole

18 lot of attitudes that clearly required change, cultural

19 matters as well. And as Mo Mowlam said, that was going

20 to take time. It wasn't in the gift of ministers to

21 change psychology or the structure within

22 Northern Ireland that easily.

23 Q. But the point she was also making is that this was not

24 just about the police; it goes wider than that and,

25 indeed, applies to Northern Ireland more generally?

 

 

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1 A. Yes, and I think the way I would interpret that would be

2 that everyone has a part to play, that no one is perfect

3 in this and that if we all need to change, then we all

4 need to change.

5 Q. I would like to move on to another topic, please, and

6 you deal with it -- or you begin to deal with it in

7 paragraph 29 of your statement, RNI-809-013 (displayed).

8 Thank you very much.

9 This gives us the background to the assessment of

10 Rosemary Nelson's safety, which took place

11 in August/September 1998. Here, you refer to a letter

12 from the CAJ. Before we look at it in any detail, it is

13 obvious from your statement and from the file that there

14 were a number of letters coming in during 1997 and 1998

15 to you and others at the NIO from that organisation.

16 That's right, isn't it?

17 A. That's correct.

18 Q. They had expressed various concerns and raised various

19 issues relating to Rosemary Nelson during that period?

20 A. That's my recollection.

21 Q. Thank you. Now, this one, as you see, enclosed two

22 documents, and you set them out for us in your

23 statement, and I'm not going to look at them now.

24 Suffice to say, though, that on the system you have

25 described to us about correspondence, was it possible

 

 

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1 that these two documents with the letter which enclosed

2 them, as it were, reached your private office and then

3 were immediately passed down for a reply to be produced

4 by other officials?

5 A. No, I think my view on that would be that they would

6 have come into the department. I don't think I would

7 have necessarily -- I don't know whether this is

8 something that can be tested or proven where it first

9 arrived. I don't know whether the paper trail allows

10 that to happen. So I don't know where it would have

11 come into first, who would have captured the document

12 and then acted upon it. The likelihood was it would

13 have been acted upon before I saw them.

14 Q. Yes --

15 A. That's what --

16 Q. Sorry, that was a very long-winded way of asking you

17 that. You think the likelihood is that they would have

18 been acted on before you first saw them?

19 A. The way in which I would have understood the machinery

20 was that if -- knowing that they would need to address

21 this, they wouldn't just pack it and leave it on the

22 side saying, "Let's just ignore this". Again, because

23 of the nature, this was part of something else. It

24 wasn't just a one-off. And therefore, they would have

25 been alert enough to know that something needed to be

 

 

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1 done about that. What triggered that, whether I had

2 it first and said, "Let it be done" or whether it was

3 being done and then I was advised and then asked what is

4 being done about it, what was important, I think, was

5 that something would have been done about it.

6 Q. And as you say, this was not something raising issues

7 out of the blue, it was simply the latest development in

8 a long-running saga of people expressing concern about

9 her safety?

10 A. Yes, it wasn't a one-off and it wasn't the first.

11 Q. Let me show you a copy of it, which may help you with

12 how it came in. It is RNI-107-282 (displayed). It has

13 a stamp on the top right-hand corner. I don't know if

14 that actually tells you anything about how it came to --

15 A. It looks as if it would have come into my office.

16 Q. Yes.

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. We know in fact that the eventual response to this

19 letter, which came at the end of September,

20 24 September 1998 -- I'll just show you that,

21 RNI-116-105 (displayed) -- we know that that letter was

22 in fact sent by your then private secretary -- we can

23 have both pages, I think, on the screen. RNI-116-106,

24 please, as well (displayed). Thank you very much.

25 In your statement, you say you don't know why the

 

 

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1 private secretary signed the letter, not you. You can

2 see from the first paragraph that she says she had been

3 asked to reply on your behalf. Based on your experience

4 of the way correspondence was handled, is it possible,

5 given that she was taking on the reply to this, that you

6 never in fact saw the Mageean letter of 10 August and

7 its enclosures?

8 A. That would be most unlikely.

9 Q. Most unlikely?

10 A. Yes, and I think there is maybe a process at work here,

11 in the sense of -- the way in which private office would

12 operate would be a kind of hierarchical approach:

13 Depending who wrote to the minister, who would then

14 reply.

15 Now, having said that, the rule was never applied

16 absolutely because there would be occasions when either

17 Mo Mowlam or myself would write back to an NGO because

18 you had a line of engagement with them. I mean, I don't

19 know why in this case this happened. It is possibly to

20 do with holidays. Again, my diaries would say when I

21 was on holiday. I can't remember -- I would usually go

22 on holiday round about the second fortnight in August or

23 the first fortnight in September when the main marching

24 season was over. So it is possible that there was

25 a holiday intervening in here as well.

 

 

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1 Q. Just dealing with the points you have just made in that

2 answer, the first thing you talked about was a hierarchy

3 of answers.

4 Now, we know from the file that the previous CAJ

5 letter, with which we are particularly concerned, which

6 was sent to you again in March, was answered by your

7 then private secretary in July. So it looks as though

8 letters addressed to you, in both cases here from CAJ,

9 were being responded to not by you but by your private

10 secretary. Does that suggest that the CAJ had not

11 a very high place in the hierarchy?

12 A. I think you are probably better getting (inaudible) from

13 someone in the civil service on this as to how they

14 would manage ministerial correspondence. And again, I'm

15 not making this a glib point, but the one thing you

16 didn't do, again, was micromanage. If there was

17 a system in place, then -- and it was being addressed

18 by, in this case, the private secretary, the important

19 thing was was it being addressed. It is not so much who

20 was signing it. And the very fact it says they had been

21 asked to reply on my behalf means the likelihood would

22 be I had been engaged in this.

23 Now, I could imagine a different set of

24 circumstances, that if I was on holiday and a decision

25 had to be taken within the system, that a ministerial

 

 

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1 letter had to go because it had been sitting around,

2 then some other minister may have given authorisation to

3 it. That's not an impossibility, but the likelihood is

4 I would have seen it and I would have endorsed it.

5 Q. You think you would have seen this, what, as a draft?

6 A. I couldn't recollect that.

7 Q. Let's try to work out what you would have seen.

8 RNI-106-320 (displayed) is the advice and draft at that

9 led to this letter, I think. Yes. So could we have the

10 second page of that, please, RNI-106-321 (displayed)?

11 Thank you.

12 So there your private secretary is the second person

13 on the list of addressees and it is also copied to the

14 Secretary of State's private secretary and three other

15 senior officials, setting out the background, dealing

16 with the documents and, at 3, setting out really the

17 factors which led to the draft taking the shape that it

18 did. Do you see that?

19 You say in your statement you probably had knowledge

20 of the letter:

21 "Even though I didn't sign it, I would probably have

22 spoken to the private secretary about it over the

23 telephone."

24 Do you think that you saw this advice with its

25 draft, the original letter from the CAJ and its

 

 

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1 enclosures, or do you think you were told about it over

2 the phone and approved its terms over the phone?

3 A. I mean, I don't know how accurate my statement would

4 have been possibly -- I don't know if I said in my

5 statement possibly or probably over the phone. I was

6 trying to guess why I wouldn't have signed this, but the

7 more I reflect on it, this notion of the hierarchy, as

8 to who would write back -- so if it was a MP's letter,

9 in the main as a minister I should sign it, but that

10 wasn't always the case because sometimes it was pp'ed if

11 I wasn't around, and we do know that we were writing

12 direct to other NGOs. As to why this happened, I have

13 no recollection as to the precise mechanism that was

14 applied here.

15 The highest likelihood is that this would have

16 appeared in my box. I would have seen this because this

17 was going out effectively in my name because I had asked

18 for this to be done. Whether that meant I had directed

19 or whether I was then being made aware that this was

20 being done, nonetheless I had to be aware of it.

21 Q. Now, so far as the documents which Mr Mageean enclosed

22 with his letter are concerned, you tell us in your

23 statement that at a later stage -- and I would like to

24 have this on the screen, please, at paragraph 44,

25 RNI-809-019 (displayed) -- it is the end of paragraph 44

 

 

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1 on the left-hand side -- you discovered that there was

2 an issue as to whether the documents had in fact both

3 reached the police. Do you see?

4 A. I do, yes.

5 Q. Can you now remember when you first found that out?

6 A. No, I don't.

7 Q. You say that you were extremely unhappy about it,

8 i.e. that the NIO:

9 "... might have failed to pass something on to the

10 police which was relevant to the RUC threat assessment"?

11 A. I can imagine being told that something that should have

12 been sent has now been sent that hasn't been sent or

13 that hasn't been properly documented as being received.

14 And this is not a good day for me, would be the reaction

15 because now we have another issue to attend to here

16 because this may or may not be relevant, yes.

17 Q. Because it is something that may have made an impact on

18 the threat assessment conducted by the RUC?

19 A. Well, everything should have been considered in that

20 light, yes. Then it is for others to make the

21 assessment.

22 Q. Now, we have seen some material in the Inquiry files

23 suggesting that there was a review of the NIO's

24 procedures in relation to handling threat material as

25 a result of this. Is that something you were aware of

 

 

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1 at the time?

2 A. I would have been aware of it at the time, yes.

3 Q. Does it ring a bell?

4 A. Not now, but I would have been aware because clearly

5 something -- well, there were subsequent investigations.

6 Q. Indeed there were.

7 A. Superintendent Short, and then there was an Ombudsman's

8 subsequent inquiry --

9 Q. Indeed.

10 A. So it was a case of, yes, you would have been aware

11 of -- something had not operated in the way in which it

12 should have, where that responsibility lay, that may or

13 may not have been proven, but do we need to then make

14 sure we have a more effective system in place. So this

15 shouldn't happen again.

16 Q. So far as the letter itself is concerned, I would like

17 to go back to the advice note which came from the

18 official and look at just a particular aspect of it with

19 you, please. It is at RNI-106-320 and the second page,

20 please, on the screen at RNI-106-321 (displayed).

21 Now, to remind you, this is the note that enclosed

22 the draft and it was the draft that went out eventually

23 signed by your private secretary.

24 The passage I would like you to look at with me,

25 please, is "Timescale". It is at the third paragraph

 

 

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1 down on the left. You remember that the CAJ's letter

2 was dated, I think, 10 August and stamped "received" by

3 your office on the 12th:

4 "The timescale. As soon as possible. The advice

5 has been delayed as we were awaiting response from the

6 police as to whether there was any specific threat

7 against Mrs Nelson."

8 One of the features of the correspondence that we

9 have seen, particularly the NGO correspondence, is that

10 answers are going out months, in this case six weeks,

11 but in other cases three/four months after letters are

12 received. And some of the civil servants have told us

13 that there was guidance suggesting they should go out, I

14 think, in three weeks in most cases.

15 So these, on any view -- there are various other

16 examples I can show you -- were slow responses to

17 letters coming in to you and your officials, weren't

18 they?

19 A. But that, I think, is indicated because you are awaiting

20 someone else, given the answers upon which the letter

21 has to be constructed. And while there would have been

22 targets set, and if my memory serves me right, we used

23 to be given on a periodic basis the response timescale,

24 and ministers were told sharpen up, get your -- not you

25 as ministers, but get this sharpened up and saying how

 

 

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1 many people are working in the correspondence unit. And

2 it was a question sometimes of resources. These people

3 were working all sorts of hours trying to keep on top of

4 a lot of correspondence to make sure we were meeting the

5 targets, because at the end of the day they could

6 reflect badly on them in terms of their potential

7 career.

8 So in a sense they would be doing all they could,

9 but they were dependent upon others to provide them with

10 information. I would also say this: that if there was

11 a specific threat, it wouldn't have mattered when we

12 wrote back to that organisation; it would have mattered

13 what happened on the basis of the assessment.

14 Q. Indeed.

15 A. The organisation was secondary, although they were the

16 complainant, it was what then would have happened in

17 relation to, in this case, Mrs Nelson.

18 Q. And of course if the threat had been investigated and

19 been reason to act and the police had acted, then as you

20 say, what happens at this level in correspondence is

21 secondary?

22 A. Yes, and in many ways ministers would have been behind

23 that (inaudible) as well. They wouldn't have waited to

24 tell the minister before they took action. Action would

25 have been taken depending obviously on the nature of the

 

 

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1 threat. If it required ministerial approval, then

2 clearly the minister would have to be engaged if it was

3 the inclusion of the KPPS scheme or some other approach.

4 But if there was a very specific threat and the life was

5 at risk immediately, then the whole mechanism would have

6 immediately taken action.

7 Q. You see, this letter, the original letter from the CAJ,

8 raised the question of threat with the two documents

9 and, indeed, the specific question of protection for

10 Rosemary Nelson, which is what led to the advice about

11 referring to the KPPS, et cetera.

12 So that was the subject matter of the letter and,

13 indeed, of the various other letters from BIRW and CAJ

14 over the months. So in that sense, the subject matter

15 was both urgent and important. But in terms of

16 a substantive response from you and your officials, they

17 were still waiting a very long time, weren't they?

18 A. Yes, but what was important was to get a proper

19 assessment. Because the allegation and complaint is

20 made, it doesn't mean to say you then automatically

21 assume that it is accurate. And that then has to be

22 tested and the testing would be done by those who had

23 responsibility for carrying out the assessment.

24 Now, you would then have to ask those who had

25 responsibility for this, I guess, as to how promptly

 

 

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1 they then dealt with it, and I would need to see

2 timelines, whether it was being acted upon, whether they

3 were assessing all of the issues, they were gathering in

4 information, they may have been looking at specific

5 intelligence, may not have been. But if they were going

6 to do something, they had to be sure that what they were

7 doing was based upon hard evidence/fact.

8 I don't know whether this would be an indication of

9 slowness or tardiness. It may have been thoroughness,

10 to make sure that he had the actual facts before any

11 action was taken.

12 Q. Can we just look at one more example, and that's another

13 NGO letter? This is from British Irish Rights Watch,

14 26 March, and that's RNI-106-167.500 (displayed).

15 Perhaps we should try the next page, RNI-106-167.501

16 (displayed). No.

17 A. Can I just take you back to the previous line of

18 questioning because some things -- I have remembered

19 something.

20 The actual receipt of the threatening letter had

21 a date stamp on it, which -- and it then took a long

22 time for it to come in to us as a complaint. So there

23 was a gap between it being received and then being

24 passed on, you know.

25 So your line of questioning was: was there

 

 

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1 a slowness in response? Well, there may well have been

2 a slowness in passing it on. So was it being viewed in

3 that urgent way by those who were passing on the

4 complaint?

5 Q. No, the delay I was talking about was between the letter

6 itself coming to you -- not the original incident or

7 threat -- and your response going back. That's what

8 I meant.

9 A. Yes. Well, the point I'm trying to make here is if

10 I receive something personally, obviously as a minister

11 I had a greater range of protection, but as an ordinary

12 citizen if I received something which looked as if it

13 was giving an immediate threat to me and I had no way of

14 assessing the accuracy or not, I wouldn't have passed it

15 on to a third party. I would immediately have contacted

16 the police and said, "Look, I want something done on

17 this", immediately I would have done it.

18 I wouldn't have talked to people. I wouldn't have

19 said, "What do I do about this" because my immediate

20 concern would have been for my life, not for anything

21 else. And yet that didn't seem to happen. It was

22 a third party that was dealing with the process of all

23 of this.

24 Q. So is your point here that instead of the threat being

25 taken straight to the police by Rosemary Nelson, for

 

 

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1 example, she was taking it to third parties, to the

2 NGOs, and they were then passing it on to you?

3 A. I think that was a fact. I think the fact was she

4 didn't report it and it was done through more than one

5 third party.

6 Q. Yes.

7 A. So I mean, those were the facts. That didn't mean to

8 say it hadn't then to be addressed as a serious matter.

9 But then, in dealing with it as a serious matter in

10 terms of looking at the timescale, it is not the case

11 that the timescale is proof that it was not being

12 treated seriously. If anything, they may have been

13 trying to get accuracy as to what exactly was happening

14 and then to make recommendations as to what had to

15 follow on from that, because the risk assessment would

16 have been something that the police had a lot of

17 knowledge of.

18 They would be dealing with almost -- well, I don't

19 know if I could say daily, but it would be a very

20 frequent occurrence. The police would be looking at

21 these threats against RUC officers, against prison

22 officers, against others within the public service and

23 against wider members of the community, councillors and

24 whatever else. That was part of what was happening at

25 that time. It wasn't just one case that was being dealt

 

 

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1 with by one police officer; there would be a system that

2 was very sophisticated in dealing with this. And they

3 would not, I would -- I could say with certainly, to my

4 own satisfaction, be dealt with on the basis of if

5 a life was going to be forfeited on the back of not

6 taking action, then that would sit heavily on those who

7 had not acted promptly on the basis of it.

8 And those who had responsibility in that area,

9 I believe, acted at all times with integrity. I had no

10 evidence to say that they didn't do so and nor were they

11 less than professional.

12 Q. Just picking up something you have just said at the end

13 of that answer about the process by which threat was

14 assessed and the sophistication of it and the detail,

15 can I take it, therefore, that when you were informed,

16 as happened in these cases, that the question of threat

17 had been assessed and it had been determined that there

18 was no specific threat, that your understanding in each

19 case was that this sophisticated and detailed assessment

20 of Rosemary Nelson's position had been taken, and as

21 a result of that it had been determined that there was

22 no specific threat?

23 A. I had nothing to tell me other than that.

24 Q. So you relied on that?

25 A. Correct.

 

 

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1 Q. Thank you.

2 Now, can we just look back at the letter that went

3 to the CAJ from your private secretary, and on one point

4 in particular, which is the KPPS point? This is

5 RNI-116-105 and the second page, RNI-116-106

6 (displayed).

7 So far as the KPPS point is concerned, and following

8 on from the advice to you that we looked at earlier, do

9 you see from the bottom of the left-hand page reading on

10 to the top of the right-hand page a suggestion is made

11 that Rosemary Nelson should apply, or could apply at any

12 rate, to join the KPPS scheme? Do you see that?

13 A. I do, yes.

14 Q. And this was notwithstanding what you had been told by

15 your officials: that the RUC's assessment was that there

16 was no specific threat to her?

17 A. At that point before any application had been made.

18 Q. Indeed. And was it your understanding, therefore, that

19 if she did make an application, there would be a fresh

20 assessment with, who knows, perhaps a different result?

21 A. Well, obviously, in terms of the application, it would

22 have to contain information. There may be new

23 information contained within it, which would then of

24 necessity require another review.

25 I mean, if the person who is applying is giving more

 

 

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1 detail and expressing more about the background to the

2 concerns, then the system would have had to have taken

3 that into account. Whether that then resulted in

4 a different conclusion would have depended upon those

5 who were carrying out the assessment.

6 Q. But as I understand it, therefore, the letter, the

7 message going across from your private secretary to

8 Mr Mageean was that Rosemary Nelson could apply and that

9 if she did apply, her application would be assessed on

10 the information that was put together during that

11 process?

12 A. Yes, any application would be dealt with on its merits.

13 Q. Exactly, yes. Now, so far as you were concerned, were

14 you aware at this time that the question of protection

15 and security had been raised in the context of the

16 proximity talks which were taking place in the summer,

17 in July and August, of this year by

18 Breandan Mac Cionnaith?

19 A. About who?

20 Q. About Breandan Mac Cionnaith and his fellow councillor,

21 Mr Duffy?

22 A. I think it was on behalf of those who were part of the

23 GRRC, and clearly himself and Councillor Duffy were the

24 two main players in that.

25 Q. Yes, but although you weren't involved in those

 

 

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1 proximity talks directly -- they were run by

2 Jonathan Powell, I think -- you were aware of those

3 issues, were you?

4 A. If there was any form of documentation relating to it, I

5 would have been aware of it because, again, it would

6 have been something which would have come in through the

7 red boxes and information to me.

8 So if it was captured as an issue I had to address

9 and then there was a subsequent note on it, the

10 likelihood is I would have seen it.

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

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. We will have a 20-minute break.

13 (3.15 pm)

14 (Short break)

15 (3.35 pm)

16 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Phillips?

17 MR PHILLIPS: Now, Mr Ingram, can we just look at the letter

18 of 24 September again? That's RNI-116-105 and

19 RNI-116-106 (displayed), the paragraph we were looking

20 at together a little while ago about the KPPS and the

21 suggestion that she could, if she wished to, obviously,

22 make an application. This, of course, in a letter to

23 the CAJ. So presumably you and your officials were

24 expecting Mr Mageean to pass it on, or pass the message

25 on anyway, to Rosemary Nelson?

 

 

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1 A. Because that was the only point of contact we would have

2 had with her or through the British Irish Rights Watch.

3 Q. Was any consideration given that you can remember at any

4 stage in this process to trying to initiate contact

5 direct, i.e. between NIO officials and Rosemary Nelson

6 herself?

7 A. I am not aware of any.

8 Q. No. And in relation to the assessment of her position,

9 can you recall at any stage whether, as it were, across

10 the piece assessment was undertaken by you or by others

11 whereby the whole of the history of these complaints

12 about threats, concerns expressed about safety, the

13 assault on the Garvaghy Road, all of the matters that

14 you refer to in your statement, were taken into account

15 and at the end of that an assessment about her safety

16 produced?

17 A. By myself or ...?

18 Q. Were you aware of anybody undertaking an exercise of

19 that kind?

20 A. I would have assumed, and given what I said earlier,

21 that the way in which those responsible for carrying out

22 that assessment would have conducted their business

23 would have been taking all relevant factors into

24 account.

25 So my answer to that would have been yes, but I have

 

 

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1 no proof that that was being done.

2 Q. So, again, getting back to the assumptions and the

3 reliance that we talked about earlier, it was your

4 understanding then that an across-the-board assessment

5 of that kind had been undertaken?

6 A. And there is nothing to tell me there wasn't.

7 Q. No. Now, looking at the KPPS in particular, we have

8 heard a certain amount of evidence about this from civil

9 servants, and the points emerge that at this particular

10 stage of the political process, so the summer 1998,

11 a bit later now, consideration was being given at any

12 rate to extending the scheme on a discretionary basis

13 with those political developments in mind. Was that

14 something you were aware of?

15 A. I would have been, yes.

16 Q. Yes. And the point was made, I think in particular in

17 the evidence of Christine Collins, which I think you

18 have had a chance to look at, that in those sorts of

19 cases it might be that the political imperative, if I

20 can put it that way, would outweigh a narrow approach

21 based on a threat assessment with the result that some

22 individuals might have been admitted to the scheme?

23 A. Those would have been very fine judgments to make.

24 Q. Yes, indeed.

25 A. Because of precedents. And, as I say, I would know --

 

 

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1 and I don't know whether that information is still

2 available, about the number of people who were applying,

3 who had been assessed and had been refused, but I have

4 no doubt in my mind that many of those would have been

5 RUC officers, prison officers, perhaps others within the

6 public service. And if they felt their case was being

7 turned down on the basis of hitting a particular

8 threshold and someone else was being included, hitting

9 the same or even lower threshold -- it wouldn't have

10 been a threshold, but having less of a threat against

11 them but not sufficient to get into the category --

12 would have been accepted, then they would have said,

13 "This is wrong". And so we would have probably then

14 have been faced with judicial reviews and a whole range

15 of other pressures upon us.

16 Q. Because the danger of extending the scheme in that way

17 was that others would see it as a precedent and seek to

18 say that they should have been treated in a different

19 way?

20 A. Yes, and because they would -- many of them would have

21 come from a community, if it was RUC officers or prison

22 officers, who had lost many of their colleagues over the

23 period. So they did feel at all times threatened,

24 potentially.

25 Q. The reason I ask you this is because, as we know,

 

 

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1 Rosemary Nelson did not make an application for

2 admission to the scheme, but you will have seen, I know,

3 in the evidence of Christine Collins that I asked her to

4 consider it on a hypothetical basis, i.e. assume she,

5 Rosemary Nelson, had applied and assume also that the

6 threat position had been as you knew it to be and as,

7 you know, the police had informed your department in

8 early September, i.e. no specific threat. She still

9 believed, she said in her evidence, that it was very

10 probable, was the term she used, that she would have

11 been admitted to the scheme. Is that your own view?

12 A. I would have to see the context within which all of that

13 question was taking place; why she then came to that

14 conclusion.

15 I know you have paraphrased it. I couldn't come to

16 a conclusion on that. I think Christine Collins would

17 have been -- and she is still current. She is still

18 within -- obviously as a senior civil servant, still

19 within the system. I mean, I have moved on so much from

20 that that I think it would be wrong to go back and say

21 this would have happened on the basis of the information

22 and on the basis also of what I said earlier, that the

23 fine judgment -- there would have been a very fine

24 judgment indeed.

25 I would make the additional point to this that if

 

 

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1 anyone was going to act in this against the grain, so to

2 speak, against what the standards of the system were, it

3 would have been Mo Mowlam. Mo Mowlam was one of those

4 people who did do things instinctively and just ignored

5 the criticisms out there and said, "I'm doing it because

6 I believe it to be right", and yet she didn't do that.

7 So on the basis of your question, I'm inclined to

8 think that would not have been the case.

9 Q. With all those caveats that you have put up and bearing

10 in mind that it is a hypothetical situation, your

11 suggestion is that the result would not have been that

12 she would have been admitted to the scheme?

13 A. I don't know because I'm setting against what you say

14 Christine Collins said, in whom I had tremendous

15 confidence, and also was a radical thinker and someone

16 who would push the boundaries. And if she has come to

17 that conclusion, then I would respect her conclusion on

18 that. But the other side of my assessment would have

19 been what I just said about someone like Mo Mowlam, who

20 was prepared to take risks against the grain and yet she

21 didn't do that. And she was much more intimately

22 involved, one, with the Finucane case, and also having

23 met Rosemary Nelson and probably more directly engaged

24 with many people who were talking to her about it.

25 Q. When you say Mo Mowlam didn't do it -- that's the second

 

 

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1 time you have said it actually -- are you suggesting

2 that she, Mo Mowlam, considered an application from

3 Rosemary Nelson and turned it down?

4 A. No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that it would not

5 have been -- on the basis of what you said about

6 Christine Collins' conclusion, that given the framework

7 within which Mo Mowlam operated and the way in which she

8 operated, then it would -- I would -- if anything was

9 going to happen, it would more likely have come from

10 that direction, but it didn't. Whether she considered

11 it or not, I couldn't say.

12 Q. Now, this is the third time you said it, "but it

13 didn't". What did you mean by that? What didn't?

14 A. There was no overriding of the process to say we are

15 going to put Rosemary Nelson on the KPPS.

16 Q. Indeed, but there was no application made to join the

17 scheme?

18 A. Yes, but in a sense there could have been people sent

19 out to talk to her. There could have been encouragement

20 to do all of that.

21 Q. All that of was possible, was it?

22 A. All of that was possible.

23 Q. Right. So it wasn't necessary to wait for an

24 application to come in from her?

25 A. In terms of the system it was.

 

 

152

 

1 Q. Yes, but it could have been possible in this particular

2 case to get round that, do you think?

3 A. Anything -- I mean -- and I do make this point: anything

4 would have been possible if the political imperative, to

5 use the way in which we have described it, was such that

6 it had to happen.

7 Q. And do you think those possibilities were considered and

8 rejected?

9 A. I have no idea.

10 Q. No.

11 A. I couldn't say whether -- she certainly never discussed

12 it with me. So I have no knowledge of whether she was

13 considering it elsewhere.

14 Q. But the point you are making is that in politics,

15 anything is possible. In other words, there would have

16 been a way and Mo Mowlam would have been the sort of

17 person with the courage, perhaps is the right way to put

18 it, to take the unexpected, the unusual way forward?

19 A. I wouldn't use the word "courage" because it looks as if

20 the rest of it weren't brave in those circumstances. I

21 don't know whether courage is the right word I think in

22 the sense of the way in which Mo operated, in the

23 instance where she went to the Maze to see the Loyalist

24 prisoners against advice: she decided to do it, the high

25 risk associated with it to herself, it could have gone

 

 

153

 

1 the other way but she was prepared to do it.

2 Here, the system would have said if she had decided

3 to take that course of action and actively given an

4 indication that no matter what the assessment was, she

5 was then going to concede the territory, but what was

6 going to trigger it was either a point of contact from

7 someone acting on her behalf or someone encouraging

8 Rosemary Nelson to make contact with the system because

9 there was an acceptance that she was going to get it,

10 then, you know, that could well have happened. But it

11 didn't, which then takes me to the conclusion that Mo

12 was not minded to do that.

13 But the system also would have said, "If you go down

14 that particular route, you are creating a massive

15 problem in terms of the administration of the KPPS

16 system", and the containment of that system was very

17 important in terms of trying to move towards a normal

18 environment in Northern Ireland. If we had opened up

19 all of that system and then a larger number of people

20 had entitlement through some court decision, then we

21 were into a different environment clearly in

22 Northern Ireland.

23 Q. So you think that if a proposal of that kind had been

24 voiced or had been suggested, the officials would have

25 been advised against it because of all of the points you

 

 

154

 

1 have just made about precedent, et cetera? And do you

2 think, therefore, that the fact that it didn't happen

3 was because it wasn't regarded as being a political

4 imperative?

5 A. I'm also conscious that, in terms of

6 Breandan Mac Cionnaith and Councillor Duffy, there then

7 was a recommendation from Stephen Leach to say that you

8 should do this, and exceptional circumstances were then

9 applied because of the nature and importance that they

10 played within the process.

11 Q. Yes.

12 A. So it did happen with them, but there was no

13 representations being made that I am aware of. I don't

14 think there is anything documented to say that a similar

15 type of approach would have been adopted for

16 Rosemary Nelson, and if it had been initiated by

17 Mo Mowlam, I guess the system would have set up pros and

18 cons, but more likely cons.

19 Q. Now, can we just look very briefly at your involvement

20 in that issue you have just mentioned of protection and

21 the two councillors, Breandan Mac Cionnaith and

22 Joe Duffy, because you deal with it in your statement at

23 paragraph 35 and that's RNI-809-015 (displayed).

24 Just before we look at that in any detail, you tell

25 us in your statement -- and I think you have just told

 

 

155

 

1 us in your evidence -- that you were not involved

2 directly in the proximity talks in the summer of 1998.

3 Is that correct?

4 A. Not at that stage. I did subsequently, yes.

5 Q. You came into the picture later -- I think later that

6 year. Is that right?

7 A. It was round about December time, yes.

8 Q. And we know, again from your statement, taking it

9 forward slightly, that at the meeting in Downing Street

10 with the residents on 18 January, you were present?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Thank you. You mention in this paragraph one of

13 a number of memos circulating at this point, and in

14 summary what happened was that it was suggested that

15 there should be an exceptional package, an exceptional

16 case made in relation to these councillors.

17 That proposal was put up to the Secretary of State

18 and we will see from the next page of your statement,

19 RNI-809-016, paragraph 36 (displayed), that the

20 Secretary of State's first reaction was to reject it?

21 A. Correct.

22 Q. So this was in itself rather a bold proposal from

23 Mr Leach, and the Secretary of State's first response

24 was, "No, I'm not going to go down that route"?

25 A. Correct.

 

 

156

 

1 Q. So far as that is concerned, I would just like to look

2 at it briefly with you. It is RNI-305-257 (displayed)

3 and there the reasoning is set out:

4 "The Secretary of State is not convinced, however,

5 that this is an appropriate step, particularly since the

6 RUC have said there is no intelligence to suggest

7 a significant threat to either individual. Her view is

8 that we have in the past accepted RUC advice in these

9 cases and would want more persuading before going

10 against the RUC advice on this occasion."

11 So was that another factor -- you have mentioned

12 some of the counterbalancing factors. Was it another

13 factor in the case that the RUC were, as it were, the

14 experts and, therefore, in general a decision should not

15 be made which went against their advice?

16 A. Well, yes. I think the way -- ministers have to be

17 careful they don't set elephant traps for themselves

18 because if you then take away from those who have the

19 responsibility the assessment and take it upon yourself,

20 then others will say, "Bypass them and you do all of

21 them" and that was not the role of ministers. That was

22 not our function to do that type of risk assessment and

23 to look at the raw data and to look at all of the data

24 and then to come to a conclusion on that type of risk.

25 That was not the role of ministers.

 

 

157

 

1 Q. No. But, again, it takes us back, doesn't it, to the

2 point that you and I have discussed before, which is

3 that great reliance here is being placed upon the advice

4 received from the RUC and, indeed, the soundness, the

5 reliability of that advice?

6 A. I think that was based upon the right perception of what

7 the RUC did, and I referred again to the fact that they

8 were also refusing people from within the RUC who were

9 trying to get on to the scheme. So, therefore, they

10 must have been acting in a very professional and

11 impartial way.

12 They had to weigh all of the factors before they

13 gave the indication that they could trigger protection

14 under the system. So the evidence upon which we were

15 working, although not tested to destruction, told us

16 that there was a sophisticated -- again, to use that

17 word -- and professional approach to this.

18 Q. As far as their role was concerned, it was limited --

19 that is the RUC -- wasn't it, to this question of

20 assessment?

21 So far as the broader evaluation -- in other words

22 could a death or injury to the person damage or

23 undermine the democratic framework of Government,

24 et cetera -- that was a matter for ministers in the last

25 analysis, wasn't it?

 

 

158

 

1 A. Yes, that was something ministers had to sign off.

2 Q. Yes. We know that in due course the Secretary of State

3 was persuaded -- and I would like you to look at that

4 memorandum, please, recording that, RNI-305-258

5 (displayed). And it is copied to you, we see at the top

6 right-hand corner:

7 "Ministers have reconsidered after consultation with

8 officials your submission and are now content to accept

9 the recommendations."

10 Was this something that you were involved in at the

11 time?

12 A. I couldn't say with certainty, but the fact it says

13 "ministers" --

14 Q. It seems likely --

15 A. It seems likely to be the case.

16 Q. Yes. Now, in subsequent months and during the

17 negotiations, Breandan Mac Cionnaith raised the question

18 of protection for members of the Coalition, the GRRC,

19 the Residents Coalition. So far as that was concerned,

20 given your involvement, limited perhaps though it was,

21 do you have any recollection of Rosemary Nelson's name

22 being specifically mentioned in that context?

23 A. No, I don't.

24 Q. And in relation to the meeting between the residents and

25 the Prime Minister on 18 January, can we look at that

 

 

159

 

1 passage of your statement, please, and have on the

2 screen RNI-809-018 and RNI-809-019 (displayed)?

3 A meeting took place on 18 January the following year.

4 I'm not going to take you to the note, but there is

5 no reference in the note to the question of security for

6 Coalition members being raised. Do you have any memory

7 yourself of an issue of that kind being raised during

8 the meeting?

9 A. No, I don't.

10 Q. Was there any specific mention of Rosemary Nelson at the

11 meeting?

12 A. I have no recollection of that at all.

13 Q. Was she present?

14 A. I couldn't say with certainty. If the list of those in

15 attendance said she was there, she was there. I think

16 also in my statement I said I don't recollect meeting

17 Rosemary Nelson, but subsequently it appears to be the

18 case that she was at that particular event.

19 Q. But that suggests at the very least that she, in your

20 memory at any rate, if she was there, she didn't play

21 a prominent part in the meeting?

22 A. Breandan Mac Cionnaith was the person who spoke most of

23 the time, probably all of the time.

24 Q. Do you mean by that, of the residents he was the man

25 who --

 

 

160

 

1 A. From their side, yes.

2 Q. The entire meeting was not a monologue?

3 A. No, it certainly wasn't a monologue because it was about

4 trying to engage with the process, so there had to be

5 responses to it. But Breandan Mac Cionnaith was very

6 much in command and control of his community groups.

7 I'm not saying that others didn't make a comment, they

8 probably did, but he would be one who led almost

9 exclusively.

10 Q. Thank you very much.

11 I would like to turn to a slightly earlier part of

12 the history just to pick up a few outstanding questions

13 with you, if I may, and I would like you to look,

14 please, at a letter you wrote to the British Irish

15 Rights Watch on 12 August 1998, RNI-106-302 (displayed)

16 could we have the second page as well, please,

17 RNI-106-303 (displayed)? Thank you very much.

18 Now, I haven't taken you through all the preceding

19 correspondence in the interests of brevity, but I know

20 you have had a chance to look at the letters which

21 preceded this. This, to give you a bit of context,

22 however, comes in response in fact to exchanges between

23 Jane Winter and the Secretary of State, and you see that

24 from the first paragraph.

25 One of the points being addressed in that

 

 

161

 

1 correspondence, you can see from the second paragraph,

2 was the row which had broken out about whether or not

3 somebody had made comments about solicitors working for

4 the paramilitaries in a meeting with the Special

5 Rapporteur?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. And it looks, if I can suggest this to you, from the

8 second sentence of the second paragraph, as though you

9 are trying to draw a line under that passage of

10 correspondence. Would that be a fair suggestion, when

11 you say:

12 "I'm not sure how much further we can go"?

13 A. Well, I think we were just stating the obvious, that we

14 had -- we couldn't prove or disprove this. So what role

15 could we play in this?

16 Q. Now, you say in the third paragraph:

17 "I can also say that I know from my frequent

18 discussions with the Chief Constable that he would not

19 tolerate intimidation of defence lawyers and would act

20 were evidence available."

21 Can you help me with that? What was that comment of

22 yours based upon?

23 A. On the basis that -- again, it goes back to my view

24 about the Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan, now

25 Sir Ronnie Flanagan, that he would have been very

 

 

162

 

1 mindful of any threat to the whole judicial process.

2 If defence lawyers were under the type of -- and

3 provable under the type of harassment and threat that

4 others were raising, then he would not have been

5 tolerant of that. He would have acted on the basis of

6 the evidence.

7 At the end of the day, of course, he was only one

8 part of that process. Anyone saw -- brought to court,

9 would have to be judged in the eyes of the court, not in

10 the eyes of the Chief Constable.

11 Q. In your statement, when you are talking about this

12 letter, you say:

13 "I can't recall any specific discussion with the

14 Chief Constable about intimidation of defence lawyers."

15 And I take that, but it looks as though it was

16 a topic that came up in your discussions on a frequent

17 basis?

18 A. I think perhaps that letter would have overstated it.

19 Not all letters are 100 per cent accurate, I would say,

20 and I couldn't say -- had a I meant by "frequent" in

21 that, how often would that have been. But the very fact

22 that this was part of the language of the time, the

23 common currency was out there, because we were getting

24 all these representations, then it would have been

25 remiss of me not to have discussed this with the

 

 

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1 Chief Constable. And I have no doubt that it would have

2 come up every time we met.

3 So it depends how often I met him, and perhaps it

4 could have been phrased a bit more tightly than that.

5 Q. But what was his reaction? You presumably were saying

6 together, "Well, we are having all these complaints,

7 allegations made about intimidation of defence lawyers."

8 Was his response, "Well, if a case is proven, then I'll

9 do something about it"?

10 A. Well, he would be part of proving the case, or his

11 officers would be part of proving the case.

12 Q. In other words, through the complaints procedure?

13 A. It could be through the complaints procedure or they

14 could have had evidence of it from elsewhere.

15 Q. In criminal cases?

16 A. In criminal cases and, therefore, they would have acted

17 accordingly. The thought that the Chief Constable would

18 ignore any evidence to that effect was just not --

19 I just don't think it would have been the reality. He

20 would have been empowered to act and he would have

21 wanted to act.

22 Q. So far as that is concerned, it takes us back, doesn't

23 it, to one of the very early topics we touched on, which

24 is the difference between allegation and substantiation

25 and the question of the difference between what people

 

 

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1 were asserting to you, often through third parties, in

2 correspondence, and proven evidence.

3 Were you ever made aware at this period, when you

4 were the security minister, of a proven case of

5 intimidation in relation to a defence lawyer?

6 A. I don't recollect any such case.

7 Q. No. So what that left you with then was a pattern of

8 allegations in relation to police misconduct?

9 A. Yes, alleged police misconduct.

10 Q. Yes, alleged misconduct.

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. In other words, that you were being told by various

13 bodies and individuals over a period of years about

14 allegations disclosing broadly similar types of

15 misbehaviour on the part of the police?

16 A. Correct, yes.

17 Q. Now, when considering those allegations, did the source

18 of the allegations make a difference to you?

19 A. In terms of it being an NGO, in terms of the nature of

20 the third party, or the originating complaint?

21 Q. Well, let's say a NGO on the one hand and the UN Special

22 Rapporteur on the other. Did the source of the

23 allegations, albeit they were broadly speaking the same,

24 make a difference?

25 A. I don't think I would have made such a judgment or

 

 

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1 dismissed it. I would have taken it as a belief that

2 those people had that these things then needed

3 investigation and remedy as well, in fact, they were

4 requesting we should fix this, you know, we should find

5 a remedy to this, without telling us how we were going

6 to do that because we had no evidence.

7 Q. And with the exception of the criminal cases that you

8 mentioned earlier, so far as investigating the

9 allegations are concerned, that takes us back, doesn't

10 it, to the proper authorities and the existing police

11 complaints system?

12 A. Correct. There was a machinery there to handle all of

13 that.

14 Q. Now, so far as the UN Special Rapporteur is concerned --

15 we have touched very briefly on the various events in

16 1997, his visit, 1998, the row about his draft report --

17 it is right, isn't it, though, that he produced another

18 report at about the time of Rosemary Nelson's murder,

19 in March 1999?

20 A. I think it was due to be published either on the day or

21 the day after.

22 Q. Exactly. Thank you very much.

23 Let's have a look at that document just to give you

24 a context for the questions here. We can see it,

25 I hope -- or a report about it from one of your

 

 

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1 officials -- at RNI-107-037 (displayed). This document

2 actually doesn't have the report attached, which I don't

3 think is a problem for these questions.

4 You see that the official here -- it is Simon Rogers

5 within the Police Division -- summarises the various

6 points made and you will see Rosemary Nelson was

7 obviously another theme. If we have RNI-107-038 on the

8 screen as well, please (displayed), the report refers to

9 Rosemary Nelson case without naming her and to the

10 ICPC's concerns about the investigation. Mr Cumaraswamy

11 concludes that this:

12 "... again, illustrates the lack of confidence in

13 the RUC investigation mechanism and demonstrates further

14 why the lawyers concerned refused to complain to the

15 RUC."

16 Then it says that he also responds to the

17 Government's comments on the previous report, but the

18 paragraph I want you to look at particularly, please, is

19 the next one. He says that:

20 "The Chief Constable could easily have called the

21 30 defence lawyers to a meeting and asked them why they

22 were complaining to NGOs and not the RUC. [He says] the

23 Chief Constable's failure to do this allowed the

24 situation to deteriorate."

25 When you deal with this in your statement at

 

 

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1 paragraph 46, RNI-809-020 (displayed), you deal with the

2 comment by saying -- and it is in the last sentence, do

3 you see? The last line of paragraph 46:

4 "I believe Mr Cumaraswamy's comment is made with the

5 benefit of hindsight."

6 Do you see that?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Can I ask you what that means in this context?

9 A. I think it is a wrong statement. I don't think I should

10 have said that.

11 Q. No. Thank you very much.

12 Those are all the questions I have for you, but as

13 you have probably gathered, I give all witnesses an

14 opportunity to add to their evidence if there is

15 something we haven't covered which you would like to say

16 to the Tribunal?

17 A. No, I think it has been a very exhaustive examination.

18 I hope I have given a full explanation on some of the

19 backcloth to all of it and also to show that we were

20 concerned about any loss of life in Northern Ireland.

21 Every death weighed heavy with us.

22 Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN

23 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Sorry to add to the thoroughness of

24 the examination, Mr Ingram. I wanted to take you back

25 to that very point.

 

 

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1 You told Mr Phillips earlier today that the death of

2 any defence solicitor would have been writ large, and

3 that because Rosemary Nelson had had a measure of

4 prominence before, that didn't make her death more

5 important than that of any other defence solicitor. I

6 think it is common ground between everybody here that

7 any murder is a very serious matter and you discussed

8 the reasons why the murder of a defence solicitor had

9 got a special significance.

10 But there was a difference, wasn't there, between

11 the murder of Rosemary Nelson and what the situation

12 would have been if any other defence solicitor at that

13 time had been murdered, in the sense that you had had

14 a lot of correspondence before the event from NGOs, the

15 Irish Government, American lawyers, the UN Special

16 Rapporteur, all expressing concerns about her safety.

17 So you were in a rather different position, that

18 people would be able to say you actually had a lot of

19 warning that there was a problem here in this particular

20 case. Would you accept that?

21 A. Yes, in the sense that the accusation would have been

22 that this was preventable and that if we had no

23 knowledge of threats on others, then so be it, in

24 a sense. But what I was trying to say was that the way

25 in which -- and I was trying not to minimise and

 

 

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1 diminish the enormity of what happened to

2 Rosemary Nelson in terms of the scale of it, but the way

3 in which others could have exploited the death of

4 a defence solicitor who was not in the frame like that,

5 I suspect would have been used just as effectively as

6 a campaigning tool against the apparatus of the state

7 and the RUC and others. And that would be my political

8 experience of the people with whom we were in close

9 engagement trying to assess how they reacted to events

10 on the ground. Anything was useful to them if it meant

11 they could bludgeon the Government of Northern Ireland

12 and prove their case, as they saw it, of collusion,

13 failures in the RUC or whatever else.

14 So everything could have had -- any other death of

15 a defence solicitor could just as equally have had

16 a great prominence. But I take your point clearly that

17 it was probably an easier route on the back of the death

18 of Rosemary Nelson.

19 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: In this case it wasn't just the RUC

20 who was in the frame, it was actually ministers?

21 A. That's why I said the whole apparatus of the State.

22 Everybody would have been criticised in those

23 circumstances, yes.

24 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Leading on from that, could I ask

25 you a question I have asked others? We are all

 

 

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1 operating now with hindsight. During the period when

2 you were getting all this correspondence, did you at any

3 time think, "Actually, this woman could die"?

4 A. I don't -- I mean, if I thought for a moment that there

5 was something that I could have done to prevent the

6 death, I would have done it. And that is why I said the

7 death weighs heavy. Then when I review all of the

8 things we were doing at the time, I think we were acting

9 properly and in accordance with the mechanisms that were

10 available to us and I have set out all the reasons as to

11 why the integrity of that had to be protected as well.

12 So, look, in my time both as a security minister

13 here and as a defence minister, I have had to deal with

14 families, I also became the minister for the victims,

15 and we had to explain a lot of issues to families.

16 That's not easy to deal with and I would not want it on

17 my conscience that something I did or didn't do

18 contributed to the death of someone. I don't think

19 it did.

20 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Thank you.

21 Questions by SIR ANTHONY BURDEN

22 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Mr Ingram, you have been very clear on

23 your views of Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the Chief Constable,

24 and the way that he commanded his organisation. But of

25 course it was a very, very large organisation and you

 

 

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1 have also made it perfectly clear you showed your

2 determination to tackle attitudinal change and cultural

3 change within the police service.

4 Can I just broaden that slightly to the security

5 organisations in total? In the wings at this particular

6 time, of course, you had the Pat Finucane murder and, as

7 he is now, Lord Stevens enquiring into aspects of that,

8 and reports from Lord Stevens have referred to the

9 possible collusion. Was there ever a suspicion, as far

10 as you were aware, that lower down in the security

11 organisations there may have been an unhealthy

12 relationship between the members of those organisations

13 and the Loyalist community, even a leakage of

14 information to those Loyalist organisations?

15 A. Was I aware to be able to pin that on anyone? No, I

16 wasn't.

17 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: No, were there discussions? Were there

18 any suggestions that that may have been a problem?

19 A. Look, we had to live within the real world and if you

20 are asking me do I accept that there were rogue

21 individuals within the security forces, i.e. potentially

22 the -- even the British Army, in terms of the home

23 regiment here, the Royal Irish Regiment, or within the

24 RUC, the reality must be yes. They were not a perfect

25 organisation. I haven't seen in all my experience

 

 

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1 a perfect organisation and, therefore, the eventuality

2 of that being the case -- the answer to that would be

3 yes because there was -- there was no evidence to it.

4 And also because of my close engagement with the RUC,

5 I knew exactly those who were in command of it, and we

6 also surveyed the RUC through the process as well to try

7 and find out about the attitudes to change and so on.

8 All of the RUC officers lived within this community.

9 All of them had -- not all of them, but certainly some

10 had children and all of them had immediate families, all

11 of whom could be at risk at any point in time. They

12 were engaged in this. They did not want a ongoing

13 problem. They wanted in the main a resolution of it.

14 That was the driving force. They were up for change, but

15 they were prepared to defend the lives of others, others

16 who may on another occasion have tried to kill them.

17 That is why I would put them on a bit of a pedestal, but

18 not uncritically and not saying there may be things

19 wrong in terms of one or two individuals. But I could

20 apply that to any institution, that there are people who

21 do not conform to what is right and what is good and

22 what is for the greater good of the society in which

23 they exist.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Ingram, we are very grateful for your very

25 frank and helpful and lucid answers. Thank you very

 

 

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1 much for coming to give evidence before us.

2 A. Thank you very much.

3 THE CHAIRMAN: We will adjourn now until quarter past 10

4 tomorrow morning.

5 (4.20 pm)

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

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Questions by SIR ANTHONY BURDEN .............. 170
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