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Britain's Secret Terror Deals: collusion claims to be raised at Stormont

By Rebecca Black

Claims of collusion between the security services and paramilitaries aired in a BBC Panorama investigation are to be raised at Stormont.

One of the revelations in the programme, Britain's Secret Terror Deals, was that a gun used in one of the most infamous atrocities of the Troubles had been on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The Czech-made VZ58 rifle was one of two guns used to kill five Catholics - including a 15-year-old boy - in a massacre at a bookmaker's shop on the Ormeau Road in Belfast in 1992. The UFF claimed responsibility.

Families of the slain were told that the rifle had been officially "disposed of", but investigators from the Police Ombudsman's office found the gun at the museum and have sent it for further tests. The same rifle has been linked to the unsolved murders of two other men in 1988.

Billy McManus, whose father Willie was one of the five killed in the atrocity, said he was stunned to hear where the gun had been.

"I am absolutely shocked that a gun connected with so many deaths was there on display for anyone to come and see at the Imperial War Museum in London," he said.

"It should be here in a secure place so that it can be used for ballistics.

"Why would somebody let something so important be shipped to England to be put on display? What does that say about their treatment of the case? They just don't care."

The weapon was originally recovered by the police in 1992, but officers from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) were unable to locate the gun when they reopened the unsolved murder cases.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said police would fully support the Ombudsman's investigation.

"In the interests of public confidence and transparency, I accept that it merits further investigation," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Imperial War Museum said it was given the gun by the Royal Ulster Constabulary weapons and explosives research centre.

Mark Thompson from the victims' group Relatives for Justice has called for a full inquiry into allegations of collusion between the security forces and paramilitaries during the Troubles.

And Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney said he will call for a full debate into the Panorama revelations at Stormont "at the earliest opportunity".

'Truly disturbing' BBC Panorama allegations of collusion must be fully investigated, says Amnesty

Background

The Panorama programme also probed claims of collusion in the murders of Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan, RUC officer Colleen McMurray, and the Kingsmills massacre. Former Police Ombudsman Dame Nuala O'Loan claimed that "hundreds" of deaths happened as a result of collusion. She claimed some informants were "serial killers".

Further reading

British Army's secret 'terror unit' Military Reaction Force shot dead innocent civilians in Northern Ireland: claim

PSNI to probe British Army's 'death squad' Military Reaction Force  

BBC Panorama team 'loses' confidential information relating to a secret British Army unit the Military Reaction Force  

Murder weapon linked to state agent Brian Nelson  

Pat Finucane: Government staged sham process, court hears

Murdered  lawyer Pat Finucane was victim of state engagement in terrorism through loyalist terrorists, High Court hears

Families in legal bid to restart probe into Glenanne collusion

Loyalist 'collusion' legal action: relatives deserve the dignity of knowing the truth about 1970s killing spree, court hears

Family hopes to finally get truth behind Romper Room killing

' Ombudsman probe will prove my son was shot to protect IRA spy'

British state 'involved in mass murder on British soil, colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in 80 deaths between 1972 and 1978'

Glenanne gang: Notorious death squad 'fuelled by collusion'

Row over agents delays inquest into pensioner Roseann Mallon murdered by UVF

Gun used to kill Roseann Mallon 'part of UDA agent's haul'

Historic UDA murder inquiry may be delayed by 20 years due to Police Ombudsman funding uncertainty

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's Troubles vow: Garda will investigate any fresh evidence about atrocities

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