Belfast Telegraph

Supergrass trial to hear of UVF plots to kill 'Mad Dog' Johnny Adair and John White

By Brian Rowan

Plots to kill some of the most senior loyalist figures in Belfast are set to emerge in the case being faced by one-time UVF leader and Special Branch Agent Gary Haggarty.

Those targeted included Johnny Adair and John White - both since exiled from Northern Ireland after bloody loyalist feuds that followed the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. White also worked for Special Branch.

More detail on the Haggarty charges is emerging just days after senior loyalists warned the case could have "a destabilising impact on society".

Haggarty has agreed to be an "assisting offender" - what was previously described as a "supergrass". He faces more than 200 charges.

And, in interviews, has implicated the most-senior leaders of the UVF in violent activities spanning more than 15 years.

The Haggarty case is being investigated as part of what is called Operation Stafford, and will once again put a spotlight on the Special Branch - on what they knew, when they knew and what action was taken.

Haggarty was once a close associate of UVF figure Mark Haddock, another agent linked to multiple killings.

In recent days detectives from Operation Stafford have been writing to people who were targeted by the UVF, including a prominent community sector worker in Belfast, who has asked not to be named.

He has been told that Haggarty faces a charge of conspiracy to murder him.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that the letter from the PSNI describes a lengthy investigation.

It is headed "Operation Stafford - prosecution of Gary Haggarty". And it apologises, saying "the number of charges makes it impractical to inform you in person".

Haggarty sat at the top of the loyalist leadership - in the rooms where orders and directions were given. He knows all of the key leaders.

Thousands of pages of evidence have been compiled and he faces a record 212 charges.

That list includes five murders, 31 conspiracies to murder and six attempted murders.

The investigation also covers arms importation, UVF membership, swearing-in ceremonies, feuding, punishment attacks, assaults, extortion, terrorist funding, directing terrorism and having information useful to terrorists. "It will have a destabilising impact on society, not just one organisation," PUP leader Billy Hutchinson recently told this newspaper.

"UK legislation that allows this with people like Haggarty is wrong and should be done away with," he said.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that as in the IRA 'Stakeknife' case, this investigation of loyalism could reveal agents involved in plots to kill other police agents.

There is growing anger within loyalism about continuing conflict-related investigations.

And with the latest battle at Stormont, there will be questions about putting in place the structure agreed in December, including an Historical Investigations Unit and an Independent Commission for Information Retrieval.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph