4 May 2015 Edition
Brigadier Frank Kitson faces writs over role in North
London legal move on Military Intelligence role in ‘dirty war’
THE FAMILY of Patrick Heenan, murdered by British state agents within the unionist Ulster Defence Association on 1 February 1973 in east Belfast, have travelled to London with Relatives for Justice and solicitors KRW Law to issue legal proceedings against the Ministry of Defence and retired British Army Commander-in-Chief Frank Kitson.
Kitson, who at the time of Heenan’s murder was a brigadier posted to the North, is specifically named in the writ, the first of this kind whereby senior military figures have been included in relation to murders in Ireland.
Patrick Heenan (47) was killed when the minibus he was travelling in was targeted by the UDA. Patrick was a foreman joiner overseeing part of the construction of a Catholic school in east Belfast.
On the morning of the attack, the minibus had stopped to allow what appeared to be a partially-sighted man to cross the road. This was a ploy to stop the minibus at which point it was attacked and a British Army-issue hand grenade thrown into the main body of the bus containing the workmen. Patrick immediately threw himself on top of the grenade, taking the full force and shielding the other passengers. Another man, who subsequently died, lost a leg and several others were seriously injured.
At the end of May 1973, a British soldier, Albert ‘Ginger’ Baker, handed himself into Warminster Police Station, confessing to Patrick’s murder and three other murders. Baker was part of a UDA gang modelled on Brigadier Kitson’s manual, Gangs & Counter Gangs. Baker was jailed and subsequently spoke at length to Fr Denis Faul and Fr Raymond Murray of the Association for Legal Justice and also to the Labour Party’s Ken Livingstone, revealing his collusive activities and links to British Military Intelligence.
Kevin Winters of KRW Law said:
“It is well-established that Frank Kitson was the British Army officer in the North commanding 39 Brigade whose doctrine of counter-insurgency warfare was key during British Army operations during this period. His command and influence were such as to make him liable for the actions of Baker and others in the murder of Patrick Heenan.
“These are civil proceedings for damages but their core value is to obtain truth and accountability for our clients as to the role of the British Army and Frank Kitson in the counter-insurgency operation in the North of Ireland during the early part of the conflict.”