Belfast Telegraph

Co Antrim ex-spy wants name cleared over 80s murder of Seychelles politician

Ian Withers
Ian Withers

A Co Antrim pensioner arrested over the assassination of a Seychelles politician in the 80s has called on the police to make it clear he is no longer a suspect.

Ian Withers (77), a former private detective, was arrested last year and flown to London for questioning over the murder of exiled politician Gerard Hoarau, who was shot dead outside his London home in 1985.

Mr Withers - who admits spying on the politician for several years but denies his murder - was later released without charged.

Scotland Yard, however, said he remains "released under investigation".

Now Mr Withers, who lives in Antrim town, has said he has been left in "legal limbo" and called on police to state he is no longer a suspect.

"I'd like them to be able to say that I am no longer subject to investigation. It's as simple as that," he told BBC News NI.

"If they have come up with some evidence down the road - if ever there was such a thing in existence - they could always come back and re-arrest me. Why leave someone on an open book?"

The ex-private detective worked for Albert Rene's left-wing Seychelles government in the 80s and was tasked with keeping tabs on exiled opposition politicians who had fled to London.

"My job was to conduct what you might call commercial intelligence services to protect the country from being attacked or usurped by dissidents and their associates and paid servants namely mercenaries," he explained.

Ian Withers said that his job was "no different from being a spy for MI5 or MI6" and admits arranging the bugging of Gerard Hoarau's London home before his murder.

"Each country has to maintain its own security services to protect itself, and that is what I provided, a service to Seychelles amounting to external intelligence gathering," he said.

While no one has been charged with Mr Hoarau's murder, the Seychelles government was named as a chief suspect, but they strongly deny this.

"I certainly had nothing to do with it. I can also say categorically that to my knowledge neither had the Seychelles government," said Mr Withers.

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