Belfast Telegraph

British spy in IRA asked to testify about role in lorry hijacking

Northern Ireland Court Service
Northern Ireland Court Service

By Alan Erwin

A former British spy inside the IRA is to be asked if he will testify about his role in a lorry hijacking, the Court of Appeal heard today.

In an unprecedented move, senior judges directed that a letter should be sent to Peter Keeley to see if he will stand over claims in his book that he was a state agent at the time of the incident.

Lawyers for lorry driver Patrick Quinn are drafting the correspondence as part of attempts to overturn his conviction for involvement in the February 1985 hijacking.

The Newry man claims he was set up by those who seized the truck loaded with electrical goods in Belfast.

Keeley, widely reported to be a British soldier who infiltrated the IRA using the pseudonym Kevin Fulton, referred to the hijacking in his book 'Unsung Hero'.

He claimed the heist was organised to help him gain credibility within the paramilitary organisation.

In court today counsel for Mr Quinn, Stephen Toal, indicated a dispute over Keeley's status as an agent when the hijacking was carried out.

He revealed an intention to seek an affidavit from the ex-spy about whether he is prepared to stand over the contents of his memoirs.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan directed that a letter should be served on Keeley "as soon as possible".

Following the hearing Mr Quinn's solicitor, Kevin Winters, confirmed he is writing to the former agent asking if he stands by the truthfulness of the book.

He said: "My client is appealing against this conviction because the state set him up and he went to jail for something he didn't do.

"It was a contrived plan to advance the credentials of an agent within the republican movement, and Mr Quinn lost his liberty as a result of that plan."

Mr Winters added: "It is an unprecedented development for the court to direct solicitors to send to send a letter to an alleged state agent, via the Public Prosecution Service."

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