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8 May 2003 Edition

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MI5 man accused of misleading Saville

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry



BY FERN LANE


An MI5 intelligence officer, identified only as 'Julian', was accused on Tuesday of deliberate misleading the Saville Inquiry by not disclosing details of his "main agent" in Derry at the time.

In his statements to the inquiry, which reconvened in London on 6 May, Julian only made reference to another agent, now deceased, known as Observer B, whom he referred to as trustworthy, reliable and brave.

In his own statement to the inquiry, made before his death, B claims to have seen the IRA drilling in the days before 30 January 1972 and goes on to say that he was told by a local that that they were 'planning for Sunday' and an 'ambush' of the British Army during the forthcoming civil rights march.

The inquiry saw some of the communications between Julian, his immediate superior 'James', and the then Director of Intelligence, identified as 'David', in the days after Bloody Sunday. It showed the security services' desperation to find justification for the shootings. Julian and James are asked to check with a number of 'Observers' - that is, informants - on RUC Special Branch reports that IRA weapons were distributed to men positioned behind the Rossville flats and elsewhere on Bloody Sunday. "It has only taken about 24 hours for the usual Irish myth to be manufactured," he writes; "and it would clearly therefore be useful to get information from all available sources while memories are reasonably fresh". It emerged that these Special Branch reports actually emanated from Observer B.

Under cross-examination by Barry MacDonald, for some of the families, Julian admitted to the inquiry that Observer B, an Englishman, was "openly partisan" and "strongly anti-republican". He was, according to Army intelligence, "intensely loyal" to Britain. The inquiry also heard that B was originally handled by the Parachute Regiment and was "sympathetic" to them. He saw himself, said MacDonald, as "part of the British war effort" and had volunteered himself as an informer, rather than having been actively recruited.

Julian said that B was "a very reliable and a very energetic reporter" who was "intent on providing his services in order to counter extremism and violence from whichever direction it came". In his statement to the inquiry, B claimed to have not paid by the British security services, when in fact he received salary and bonuses for his work.

The inquiry also heard that B's claims to the inquiry to have seen the IRA drilling before Bloody Sunday did not appear in any intelligence reports at the time. MacDonald put it to Julian that "this material did not feature in any shape or form in int summs [intelligence summaries], it did not feature in any shape or form in any of your notes or source reports or anything of that kind".

MacDonald accused Julian of deliberately trying to mislead the inquiry by neglecting to mention that his "only agent of any consequence" in Derry at the time was not B, who was not actually based in the city, but another man, Observer C, who was highly placed and a member of the Londonderry Tenants' Association and other local groups. Despite C's obvious importance, Julian claimed to have simply overlooked his existence until repeatedly prompted by Counsel during questioning. He was also accused of tampering with security files and removing documents.

MacDonald suggested that the reason why Julian had "forgotten" about C and did not refer to him in his statements was because, "even though he was your main agent in Derry, and even though he was so good that his information was given to the Prime Minister, and even though he was the one who was well placed to report on these matters, he was tasked by the Security Service to find out what he could about Bloody Sunday and he could not find out anything which helped the Army case at all."

 

McGuinness denied right to challenge unsubstantiated allegations


Commenting on Wednesday's proceedings at the Saville Tribunal in London, Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness said:

"During the course of the Saville Tribunal, a number of bogus and wholly unsubstantiated allegations have been made about my role on Bloody Sunday. All of these come from one so-called British security source, named Infliction, whose existence has not even been proven. This person, if he or she exists, will not appear at the Tribunal to give evidence and, critically, my legal team and the legal representatives of the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday will not be able to cross examine this witness or challenge the allegation that have been made.

My legal team have, additionally, been informed that the cross examination of the various British intelligence 'handlers' and other British Security Service officers who are being called to authenticate the evidence of unnamed informers, will be restricted in an unprecedented manner.

All material in relation to these matters has either been heavily edited or withheld, including any internal assessment of the reliability of any particular informant.
The cross-examination of any of these witnesses is to be severely restricted as a result of a ruling by the Tribunal,
Questions must be submitted in writing first with reasons given for asking those questions.
These will then be shown to the witnesses and their representatives who can object to the questions.
Only then can the questions be put with the witnesses able to give carefully prepared answers.
Following consultation with my legal representatives, I have decided that they should not participate in this sham of a cross-examination. In circumstances where those who allegedly made these allegations are not to be brought before the Tribunal, then the very least that can be expected is that a rigorous investigation of those who seek to bring those allegations to the Tribunal will be allowed. I am being denied the right to challenge unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations made about me by an anonymous individual. I have therefore instructed my lawyers not to engage in this restricted and meaningless form of cross-examination.

Despite the denial of my rights I will continue to assist the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday in whatever way I can to establish the truth that their loved ones were murdered by the British Army on Bloody Sunday.

My lawyers appeared on my behalf this morning to outline directly to the Tribunal my reasons for this decision.

Unlike Infliction, I will be appearing in person before the Tribunal when it returns to Derry."

 

Donegal holds no fear for Wilford


BY FERN LANE

After several years of claiming that he was too terrified to return to Ireland to give evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Derry, it has emerged that Colonel Derek Wilford, the former commander of 1 Para, suddenly felt confident enough to make a visit to Donegal last week as guest of honour at the Annual General Meeting of the obscure Society of Saint Patrick.

The Society, which has only been recently revived, was originally a sort of old boys club for British Army officers from the Donegal area who had fought in the First World War. It was restarted in more recent times by its current secretary, Hugh McDermot, a veteran of the Malvinas conflict.

In defending the invitation to Wilford, McDermott told the Derry Journal that the Society regularly invited "aristocratic and military figures from Northern Ireland and England" to its functions. This does not explain why, of all the former British Army officers in all the world, the Society decided to invite the man responsible for the soldiers who murdered 14 unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday, and who only recently told the Saville Inquiry in London that to this day he does not accept that all were entirely innocent. Perhaps, after the mauling of Wilford at the inquiry and demolition of his evidence, it was a show of solidarity by those of a similar class and ideological ilk looking after one of their own.

"At the end of the day, Colonel Wilford has given his evidence to the inquiry and is entitled to visit Donegal if he wishes," McDermot said, somewhat lamely.

"During his recent visit, he did not travel through or anywhere near Derry. The reason why he has stayed away from the north-west in the past is because he has feared for his life." He went on to add that there were "two Fianna Fáil ministers, a Fine Gael senator and three local town councillors also present at the drinks party after the AGM" who were not offended by the presence of Wilford.

The invitation was slammed by John Kelly, whose brother Michael was murdered on Bloody Sunday. He told the Derry Journal that the visit was "an insult to those who died and were injured on Bloody Sunday and an insult to the people of Derry and Donegal".

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