23 March 2000 Edition

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RUC behind sinister calls


RUC officers based at Lurgan RUC barracks were behind a series of anonymous, malicious phone calls aimed at destroying a business belonging to the partner of republican Colin Duffy, it has emerged. Upper Bann Sinn Féin Assembly member Dara O'Hagan is now calling for an independent public inquiry into the RUC's actions.

The 32-year-old woman, who lives with Duffy, says business contacts of hers received anonymous calls in September and October of last year urging them to cancel deals with her. She says that one of the anonymous calls was traced to a mobile phone registered to Lurgan RUC barracks. The woman said her business clients were told she was living with a republican and that money from her business was going to the IRA. She has rejected the allegations, saying her business is ``completely legitimate''.

When told about the calls, she contacted a `nuisance bureau' in England which specialises in tracing calls. They then referred her to the Six-County Advisory Committee on Telecommunications (NIACT), which traced calls made to the woman's business clients to a telephone `smart card'. Smart cards are widely available and allow users to make calls on any telephone, with costs then charged from the card.

Two of the calls were traced to public phones in Lurgan and Ballynahinch but a third was traced to a mobile phone which a NIACT letter said is registered to an address given as 62 Church Place, Lurgan, which is Lurgan RUC barracks.

The Independent Commission for Police Complaints has confirmed it is now overseeing an RUC inquiry into the allegations. The business woman said she had just established her business and believes information about her clients was secured by tapping her telephone.

The revelations come just weeks after leading loyalist Lindsay Robb revealed he was paid by the RUC to testify against Duffy when the Lurgan republican was convicted in 1995 of the killing of a UDR sergeant in 1993. Duffy, who was represented by assassinated solicitor Rosemary Nelson, was subsequently cleared of the killing.

In March 1990, Duffy and two other republicans were attacked by loyalists minutes after signing bail at Lurgan RUC station. Duffy and a second man escaped, but 31-year-old Sam Marshall was killed.

In 1993, an RUC chief inspector confirmed that a car which followed the men prior to the shooting was owned by the crown forces but claimed it could not have prevented the attack.

Commenting, Dara O' Hagan said: ``This is the latest in a series of dirty tricks operations, some of which have led to death, involving the so-called `security forces' in the area. The record of the RUC is clear for the world to see.''

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