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13 January 2005 Edition

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Adair flees to Bolton

Ousted UDA leader Johnny Adair was released from Maghaberry Prison in County Antrim on Monday 10 January and was immediately flown by British military helicopter from RAF Aldergrove to Manchester Airport.

Adair was released after serving two thirds of a 16-year sentence for 'directing terrorism' on behalf of the UDA.

Previously freed under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Adair was returned to jail in 2000 after breaching his licence conditions.

In May 2002, he was released from jail after reaching the halfway point of his sentence, only to be returned in January 2003 at the height of a loyalist feud with his former associates in the UDA.

Days after his return to jail, his allies shot and killed UDA leader John Gregg near Belfast docks.

Adair's wife and family, loyalist spokesman John White and their supporters fled the North in the aftermath of Gregg's killing, after former associates vowed to kill Adair if he returned to his Lower Shankill stronghold.

Adair's release was very low key compared to previous occasions, when large crowds of loyalist supporters gathered at the gates.

Adair's unprecedented flight arrangements were explained by prison chiefs as being necessary to protect Adair's safety and preserve public order.

After being interviewed by Manchester Special Branch, Adair then travelled to the Horwich area of Bolton, to the family home of his wife Gina.

Former associates of Adair have vowed to kill him if he returns to the North.

Shoukri back in jail

Meanwhile, leading North Belfast UDA member Ihab Shoukri is back behind bars at his own request.

On Monday 10 January, Belfast High Court was told that Shoukri was not opposing a prosecution application to return him to Maghaberry Prison.

Shoukri's barrister, Charles MacCreanor, told Judge Campbell that he had received a short statement alleging a breach of bail conditions. "My client does not accept a breach but takes no issue with the Crown seeking to recommit him to custody. He finds the position he is living in intolerable and it is having an effect on his health."

Judge Campbell asked whether Shoukri was seeking to have his bail revoked and MacCreanor replied, "it is akin to that".

Last month, 31-year-old Shoukri collapsed in a betting shop in Bangor, where he has been living since he was banned from Belfast. He was also prohibited from being in the company of convicted terrorists, including his brother Andre.

He is awaiting trial on charges of UFF membership. A charge of killing Alan McCullough during the loyalist feud in 2003 was dropped last August.

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