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Killer informants ‘could be named’

Killers who acted as informers could be publicly named as part of a legal attempt by ex-RUC officers to demonstrate the pressures they worked under, it has been claimed.

As former police officers prepared for a second lawsuit against the Chief Constable over how they were treated for anxiety and depression during decades of exposure to violence, former officers warned of the lengths they were prepared to go. The most senior retired policeman involved in the action, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said: “The guys are saying they will be relying on facts and situations which they were placed in, vis-a-vis looking after killers and murderers who were also known informants.

“Effectively, a lot of them are going to use these type of scenarios to support their illness. They were subjected to dealing with this type of thing on a daily basis.

“That's all going to be opened up in court, the names of informants and what the police were subjected to.”

The ex-detective said he was seriously injured by an IRA bomb in Donegall Street, Belfast, in the early 1970s and narrowly survived when INLA men opened fire on him in Newry, Co Down, in 1987.

One retired Special Branch officer, who also requested anonymity, said outside court: “This could end up bigger than Bloody Sunday when all the cans of worms are opened.” He is among scores of former officers planning to represent themselves as personal litigants after losing a class action against the Chief Constable.

Up to 5,500 officers had sued over how they were treated for anxiety and depression during the Troubles.

Two years ago a judge ruled there had been systematic failures within the force.

But any hopes of a multi-million pound compensation award were then dealt a crushing blow when 10 test cases were rejected by a judge.

A High Court judge is now planning to set the officers a deadline for confirming whether or not they want to continue with the case. He confirmed yesterday that the first batch of 10 actions have been selected at random.

A further review hearing was set for September.

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