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21 August 2003 Edition

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British Army sent agents to their deaths

BY LAURA FRIEL

John Stevens is investigating evidence that suggests compromised British agents working for the FRU, a covert unit of British Military Intelligence, were deliberately sent to their deaths by their military masters.

According to a former member of the FRU and close associate of Brigadier Gordon Kerr, agents whose cover had been compromised were encouraged to return to the north of Ireland. The former FRU soldier claims that agents were told to return, not despite the obvious dangers, but because of it.

According to the FRU whistleblower, the ploy was intended to save the £250,000 that it cost to resettle each former agent with a new identity in a safe house in England or further abroad. But the elimination of agents no longer of any use and who also knew too much must have been expedient beyond monetary considerations.

According to the allegations, the FRU inner core, which sent agents to their deaths, weren't simply putting their agents‚ lives at risk. Through the manipulation of other embedded agents British Military Intelligence could directly commission their killing.

In a statement to Stevens, the British Metropolitan police chief who has conducted three probes into allegations of collusion, the former FRU operative claimed that the secret policy to eliminate compromised agents was run by an inner core of four people in the FRU.

Earlier in the year, the Stevens' team questioned the former head of the FRU British Brigadier Gordon Kerr for seven days. The former FRU soldier making the allegations is known to have been close to Kerr and his wife, who was born in the north of Ireland. As head of the FRU, it is inconceivable that Kerr would not be party to any inner core.

Kerr was until recently British Military attaché in Beijing, one of the most senior postings in the British establishment. A few months ago, Kerr was speedily dispatched to the Middle East after it was suggested in the media that Stevens was about to arrest and charge the Brigadier. As a serving British officer engaged in 'the theatre of war', he was placed beyond recall by the civil authorities.

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