The Security Services’ undercover operative giving evidence against three Co Armagh men charged in connection with a so-called dissident IRA international arms smuggling plot has claimed he is being forced to give evidence.
The operative, known only as Amir, claimed police told him he “had been f****d over” by his “MI5” bosses and that he would have to sign his witness statement and give evidence at the men's Belfast Crown Court trial.
Between them the trio, Paul Anthony John McCaugherty (43) from Beech Court, Desmond Paul Kearns (44) from Tannaghmore Green, both Lurgan, and 41-year-old Dermot Declan Gregory, also known as Michael Dermot Gregory, from Concession Road in Crossmaglen, deny a total of eight charges.
The court also heard that Amir's solicitors even tried to sue his security masters for £450,000 over the case and at one stage asked for £30,000 plus £2,500 a month. Amir also agreed that he had hoped to get “an honour” for his work for the Security Services, but claimed it was not necessarily for this case.
Under cross-examination by defence QC Orlando Pownell for Kearns, Amir claimed detectives told him that either he signed his statement and have the protection of MI5, or he was on his own.
Amir told the court “that wasn't a very pleasant choice” and that he wasn't happy about coming to Belfast to give evidence, indeed he was “extremely angry” about it.
At one stage Amir described the Security Services as “a law onto themselves”, doing what they wanted and that “half the time” he didn't even know what they were doing or if they were bugging him or not.
Amir told Mr Pownell that when initially approached by the PSNI he “never believed” he would have to give evidence in court.
He further agreed that during the whole of the undercover operation between August 2004 and June 2006, whenever he was asked if he would be prepared to give evidence, his answer was always the same: “No”.
“The message was loud and clear... I'm not giving evidence,” said the lawyer.
“Yes that's correct,” replied the agent.
He claimed that when he made a statement to PSNI detectives he was told it was because the prosecution barrister “wanted to study my impact in the case”, and that if his role “had to be disclosed no arrests would be made and the operation concluded in a different manner”. He said that when he talked to detectives “there were papers, papers, I had no idea” what they were, but they did help to provide some dates of when certain meetings had taken place.
However, again Amir agreed that when he eventually signed his statement he told detectives “this was under sufferance” as he was “really left with no choice”.
But he denied that he'd tried to hold his former security bosses “to ransom” by demands made by his “solicitor or those acting on your behalf”.
Amir also claimed that he wasn't aware of any actual figures involved.
He said any legal proceedings had been taken “out of principle” and rejected the suggestion it was a case of “cough up or no evidence will be given”.
Amir maintained that the only reason he was in court was because he was “threatened... with summons here and with arrest to get me here”.