Kenova boss Jon Boutcher to head up collusion probe into 'Glenanne Gang' killings
An independent police team is to investigate a loyalist terror gang linked to more than 100 Troubles murders, it has emerged.
The team, headed up by former Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, will produce a thematic report into allegations of collusion between the so-called Glenanne Gang and the state in a series of killings in the 1970s and 80s.
Jon Boutcher is currently involved in three high-profile Troubles investigations, including one into the activities of the British agent known as Stakeknife.
The latest announcement comes following a July ruling by the Court of Appeal that bereaved relatives are being denied their legitimate expectation that an independent police team will oversee a probe into the Glenanne Gang, part of the UVF.
I will do everything I can to establish the truth about who was responsible for these terrible crimes. Jon Boutcher
Proceedings were brought by Edward Barnard, whose 13-year-old brother Patrick was among four people killed in a St Patrick's Day bombing at the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon in March, 1976.
The no-warning attack was allegedly carried out by the gang, who are reported to have been based at a farm in Glenanne, Co Armagh and contained members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Defence Regiment.
In 1981, UVF member Garnet James Busby received a life sentence after admitting his role in the no-warning attack and other terrorist offences.
Jon Boutcher said the investigation will have the interests of the victims involved and their loved ones "at its very heart".
“I have started to meet with the families and their representatives, and have promised each of them that I will do everything I can to establish the truth about who was responsible for these terrible crimes," he said.
"For the families that especially means finding out about what, if any, assistance was given to the Glenanne Gang by others in any manner whatsoever, and that will include whether people turned a blind eye to what was happening.
“If anyone has any information about these crimes please do contact me through the Operation Kenova website. Any enquiry or investigation is only as good as the information it receives.
"The Barnard Review will seek to recover records and information from wherever such information might be held, not only from PSNI records."
Our thoughts first and foremost are with all of the families affected by these incidents. PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke
The Glenanne Gang is suspected of being responsible in around 90 attacks during the Troubles, including the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, in which 33 people were killed, and the 1975 Miami Showband shooting attack.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said: “Our thoughts first and foremost are with all of the families affected by these incidents.
"They like too many other families have suffered as a result of the Troubles and, understandably, they continue to seek answers in respect of the deaths of their loved ones."
Jon Boutcher was appointed to lead Operation Kenova, an investigation into killings allegedly carried out by the British agent known as Stakeknife, in 2016.
West Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci has been named as Stakeknife, however he has repeatedly denied this.
In September 2019 it was also announced Mr Boutcher would head up a probe into the killing of three RUC officers in Co Armagh in 1982.
Sergeant Sean Quinn, and Constables Allan McCloy and Paul Hamilton died in an IRA landmine attack at Kinnego Embankment near Lurgan.
The former Bedfordshire Police boss is also investigating the shooting death of mother-of-one Jean Smyth-Campbell in west Belfast in June 1972.
It is alleged that an undercover army unit called the Military Reaction Force was behind the killing.
Belfast Telegraph Digital