Duo who infiltrated IRA to sue State after payments cut off
A lawyer acting for a former spy who worked inside the IRA has accused the Home Office of trying to bully his client and other agents out of taking legal action against the State.
Martin McGartland has been left penniless after MI5 stopped a standing order it was paying to him and his partner Jo last month.
The news comes as Raymond Gilmour, another Troubles-era police agent and supergrass, was refused any help by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a secretive body set up to examine complaints against the intelligence services.
The IPT refused to explain its decision and told him there was no appeal.
Both men have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and wake up screaming from nightmares in which republicans track them down.
In the case of Mr McGartland, the nightmare has already come true twice already.
He has been left disabled, and his partner Jo has been his full-time carer since 1999. That was the year he was hunted down and shot while living under a new name in Whitley Bay in Tyne and Wear, England.
His double identity was revealed over a speeding charge. He was eventually acquitted.
Mr McGartland was already suffering from injuries he sustained jumping from a third floor window to escape an IRA interrogation squad that kidnapped him in 1991. After the shooting Mr Mc Gartland was advised by MI5 not to claim State benefits, such as invalidity benefit, because he would have to reveal his identity to explain his injuries – creating a danger of him being traced again. "They told me to say I had been injured in a car accident –but I had six bullet wounds, so the doctors wouldn't accept that," he said.
When benefit reforms were introduced, checks of claimants increased and MI5 agreed to pay him a sum equivalent to what he would be entitled to plus a "top-up allowance" to make up for the fact that his partner couldn't work. All these payments have been stopped.
"When I was working within the IRA saving lives, I was told I would be helped for life if things went wrong.
"Now I am living in a strange city under a false name living off an overdraft that has just £500 left in it," he said.
His legal representative, who asked for his own identity to be withheld, said: "We intend serving papers on the Treasury solicitors on behalf of Martin and Jo within the next fortnight."
He added: "The case is for breach of contract and failure of the duty of care. I see this decision to stop their money as an attempt to bully them out of this action."
Mr Gilmour said that he was disappointed by the decision of the IPT and was considering contacting Mr McGartland's lawyers to launch a similar claim.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "We have met the Secretary of State about these cases and are awaiting her response."
Story so far
Last September, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Martin McGartland and Raymond Gilmour, two former police agents within the IRA, were taking legal action against the Government. They claimed the State had failed to look after them once their cover was blown and they had been resettled under new identities. Mr Gilmour is a former supergrass from Londonderry while Mr McGartland infiltrated the IRA in west Belfast.