Belfast Telegraph

Police officers in NI instructed to lie to detectives, programme claims

The programme examined the role of secret agents, state secrets, espionage and collusion.

John Stalker headed up one of the probes (Greater Manchester Police/PA)
John Stalker headed up one of the probes (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

Police officers in Northern Ireland were instructed to lie to detectives and prosecutors destroy evidence in order to protect informers other intelligence sources, a programme has claimed.

Former police chief John Stalker was asked to investigate RUC shootings of six people, but was removed from the inquiry shortly before it was due to report in 1986.

The inquiry was taken over by another English police chief, but its findings were never made public.

Mr Stalker’s reports into the so-called shoot-to-kill scandal and a follow-up by another English police officer are still closely guarded State secrets more than 30 years after they were first written.

A new BBC Northern Ireland Spotlight programme said the executive summaries obtained by the programme “portray a massive cover-up by the guardians of the law”.

The summaries allege that police officers were instructed to lie to detectives and prosecutors, and that senior police and MI5 officers destroyed evidence in order to protect an informer and other intelligence sources.

Both reports recommended prosecutions of members of the police and the M15, and it was decided that pursuing those cases in court would run contrary to the interests of national security, the programme reported.

Tuesday night’s programme also focused on the Loughall ambush, an incident which occurred on 8 May 1987 in the village of Loughgall Co Armagh.

Stakeknife, the top British spy within the IRA, was a key factor in successful Army operations against the group in Co Tyrone, a relative of one of those killed told the programme.

In 2003, Stakeknife was widely named as west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci, but he has always strongly denied the allegation.

Stakeknife headed up the internal IRA investigation into the Loughgall ambush in 1987.

The SAS, the elite Army unit, was lying in wait for an eight-man IRA team as it attacked a police station, and shot them dead.

The investigation did not find out who was responsible for the thwarting the operation.

Quoting Republican sources, the programme said a local IRA man Gerald Harte had a falling out with Stakeknife over who was to blame.

Gerald Harte’s brother Ignatius Harte, was asked by the programme if he held Stakeknife responsible.

“If Freddie Scappaticci was dealing with internal security in Tyrone, which we know he was, obviously that was a leading role in how so many operations were carried out in Tyrone,” said Mr Harte.

The fourth episode of Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History is available to view on BBC iPlayer.

PA

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