Former UVF leader and Special Branch agent Mark Haddock was shot with a gun stolen from rival loyalist organisation the UDA, it can be revealed today.
Last week, more than three years after the attack in which Haddock was wounded, the UVF finally admitted the shooting.
The move, just weeks after the organisation’s decommissioning, was a clear attempt by its command staff to distance itself from its one-time Mount Vernon leader.
Today, in a special news investigation, the Belfast Telegraph examines the Haddock shooting, his role as a Special Branch CHIS (Covert Human Intelligence Source), and follows the informer trail all the way to the top of the loyalist group.
The reports will piece together information gathered during years of research — information from intelligence and loyalist sources — as well as revealing words spoken by the UVF’s most senior leader in a taped interview with this newspaper in August 2006.
Asked in that interview about an impression growing up around the Haddock case that the UVF was a puppet on the end of a Special Branch string, he responded: “Yes, that would be the impression of those people who would want to form that impression.
“On top of that list would be republicans, because their theory has always been that a UVF man couldn’t have mounted any operation unless there was a Special Branch man driving the car, or an MI5 officer passing material.
“So, it fits in nicely with their agenda. Raymond McCord is feeding into that agenda... he’s feeding their frenzy.”
That tape still exists.
The interview was recorded just months before the publication of a Police Ombudsman report — a damning document that exposed the extent of Haddock’s involvement in violence while in the pay of Special Branch.
Haddock has recently been charged with two murders.
Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the Mount Vernon UVF, wants to know why he has not been arrested and questioned about directing terrorism.
In a series of conversations stretching over a period of years, a source with detailed knowledge of the agent world revealed that the highest-ranking leader on the UVF brigade staff was also a registered Covert Human Intelligence Source.
Today, the Belfast Telegraph reveals the dates and detail of those meetings.
WHAT THE SOURCE SAID
Brian Rowan’s meetings with a senior intelligence source:
September 25 2003 Confirms UVF leader was registered as a Covert Human Intelligence Source. Describes him as being “very nervous”. Says the same Special Branch handling team had run him for a long time. Says the information he has provided is “mainly political”. Also discloses Special Branch had used sources to influence a move to expel senior UVF figure Billy Wright in 1996.
June 15 2004 Source again confirms that Haddock and UVF leader had been registered CHIS. In this meeting source reveals loyalist John White as an agent — as well as a prominent UDA Inner Council figure, a current member of that leadership.
July 5 2004 Discussing Ombudsman investigation of Haddock, source said it “could take them through to ------,” the six-letter nickname of the UVF’s most senior leader. Reveals that any officer who had “handled” Haddock had been stood down from handling duties.
January 25 2007 Source makes reference to a republican agent, saying if the story emerges “there will be ructions”.