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Ex-Gibraltar Governor who played key role in SAS shootings dies at age 91

The former Governor of Gibraltar, who played a central role in the build-up to the SAS killings of three IRA members on the Rock and who later miraculously survived a revenge murder bid by the Provos, has died at the age of 91.

Former RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Terry was the man who gave the authorisation for the SAS to go after the Provisional IRA members who were shot dead in March 1988.

Operation Flavius had started after MI5 discovered that the IRA was planning an attack in Gibraltar.

It was thought the most likely target was the Royal Anglian Regimental band, which was due to play at a changing of the guard ceremony outside the governor's residence.

Two IRA men and a woman - Sean Savage, Daniel McCann and Mairead Farrell - had been tracked to Malaga in Spain.

They drove a car in March 1998 to Gibraltar and it was wrongly thought they had a bomb in the boot.

Sir Peter Terry had signed the order to authorise police on the Rock and an SAS unit to follow the IRA gang and arrest them.

But as the trio walked towards the Spanish border they were shot dead by the SAS and it was later established they were unarmed. Two of them had their hands in the air.

The British Government said a 500lb bomb had been found, but the IRA gang had actually been to Gibraltar to park a harmless vehicle at the space in which they wanted to later leave their car bomb - which was still under construction in Spain.

An inquest in Gibraltar ruled that the SAS had acted lawfully, while the European Court of Human Rights ruled that, although there had been no conspiracy, the planning and control of the operation were so flawed as to make the use of lethal force almost inevitable.

The killings led to a cycle of violence in Belfast. First, loyalist Michael Stone launched a murderous gun and bomb attack on mourners at the funerals of the IRA's Gibraltar gang.

And then two British soldiers were shot dead by the IRA after they strayed into the funeral of one of Stone's victims.

After the inquest's lawful killing verdict, Sir Peter Terry said: "Even in this remote place, there is no place for terrorists."

The IRA set about exacting its retaliation on Sir Peter, when in September 1990 a gun gang came within millimetres of killing him at his home in Milford, Staffordshire.

At least one terrorist fired 20 shots through a window as Terry was sitting reading and he was hit at least nine times.

His wife, Lady Betty Terry, was also shot and wounded in the attack on her husband. She suffered eye injuries while she was sorting out family photos on the floor with her daughter Liz, who was treated for shock.

Terry's face had to be rebuilt after the shots shattered it and two high-velocity bullets lodged a fraction of an inch from his brain.

His jaw was shattered by the bullets, which also hit him in the leg and side.

As the family recovered they said that many of their messages of sympathy had come from Ireland.

It was reported that Sir Peter - who had had a distinguished RAF career - knew he was under threat but wanted to live as normal a life in retirement as possible without security measures at his home.

His wife said: "It is too expensive to expect people to nursemaid us."

Belfast Telegraph

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