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25 November 1999 Edition

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British Army sabotaged collusion inquiry

by Laura Friel

A former British agent has claimed that the fire which gutted the operational headquarters of the Stevens' Inquiry team in 1990 was deliberately started by a covert unit of the British Army. The unit was apparently attempting to destroy evidence gathered during the investigation into crown force collusion with loyalist death squads.

A former member of FRU, who uses the pseudonym Martin Ingram, has revealed that the covert unit was introduced after the Stevens' team inadvertently stumbled upon Brian Nelson. As an agent of British Military Intelligence, Nelson worked within the UDA selecting targets for loyalist assassination squads and providing vital intelligence information on intended victims. Nelson was attached to the British Army's Force Research Unit, a covert group which controlled agents within the Six Counties. Through their agents, the FRU directed a loyalist campaign of terror against nationalists and republicans.

Ingram, has claimed that British Intelligence Corps personnel from Ashford in Kent, trained in breaking and entering (Covert Methods of Entry), were brought in to sabotage the Stevens' investigation.

The specialised training of the unit was augmented by inside help, as the RUC colluded in the unit's sabotage mission. According to Ingram, the CME-trained unit was helped by ``a friendly cop''. Just how many members of the crown forces does it take to light a fire?

Stevens' top-floor operational headquarters at Carrickfergus RUC barracks was gutted in a fire on 10 January 1990. At the time, it was claimed that the fire had started `accidentally' in a waste paper basket, possibly by one of Stevens' own team.

In the event ,the sabotage attempt failed because the Stevens' team had kept backup files at another location. Nelson was jailed for ten years and the FRU was disbanded, although it was later reconstructed under a different name. The Steven's inquiry has never been released by the British government. Sabotage may have failed, but the cover-up continued.
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