Monday, January 22, 2007

Operation Ballast

Special Branch Police Officers colluded with and protected members of Loyalist paramilitaries behind several murders according to a report issued by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland published today:

The report named Operation Ballast makes these chilling conclusions:

Intelligence was (also) found linking police informants, and in particular "Informant 1", to ten attempted murders between 1989 and 2002. Intelligence was also found which implicated police informants, and in particular, "Informant 1", in a significant number of crimes in respect of which no action or insufficient action was taken: • Armed robbery; • Assault and Grievous Bodily Harm; • Punishment shootings and attacks; • Possession of munitions; • Criminal Damage; • Drug dealing; • Extortion; • Hijacking; • Intimidation; • Conspiracy to murder; • Threats to kill."

"There are grave concerns about the practices of some police officers. The activities which were identified included: • Failure to arrest informants for crimes to which those informants had allegedly confessed, or to treat such persons as suspects for crime; • The concealment of intelligence indicating that on a number of occasions up to three informants had been involved in a murder and other serious crime; • Arresting informants suspected of murder, then subjecting them to lengthy sham interviews at which they were not challenged about their alleged crime, and releasing them without charge; • Creating interview notes which were deliberately misleading; failing to record and maintain original interview notes and failing to record notes of meetings with informants; • Not recording in any investigation papers the fact that an informant was suspected of a crime despite the fact that he had been arrested and interviewed for that crime; • Not informing the Director of Public Prosecutions that an informant was a suspect in a crime in respect of which an investigation file was submitted to the Director; • Withholding from police colleagues intelligence, including the names of alleged suspects, which could have been used to prevent or detect crime; • An instance of blocking searches of a police informant’s home and of other locations including an alleged UVF arms dump; • Providing at least four misleading and inaccurate documents for possible consideration by the Court in relation to four separate incidents and the cases resulting from them, where those documents had the effect of protecting an informant; • Finding munitions at an informant’s home and doing nothing about that matter; • Withholding information about the location to which a group of murder suspects had allegedly fled after a murder; • Giving instructions to junior officers that records should not be completed, and that there should be no record of the incident concerned; • Ensuring the absence of any official record linking a UVF informant to possession of explosives which may, and were thought according to a Special Branch officer’s private records, to have been used in a particular crime; • Cancelling the “wanted” status of murder suspects “because of lack of resources” and doing nothing further about those suspects; • Destroying or losing forensic exhibits such as metal bars; • Continuing to employ as informants people suspected of involvement in the most serious crime, without assessing the attendant risks or their suitability as informants; • Not adopting or complying with the United Kingdom Home Office Guidelines on matters relating to informant handling, and by not complying with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act when it came into force in 2000. "

"The cumulative effect of these activities as described by police officers and as demonstrated in documentation recovered, was to protect Informant 1 and other informants from investigation. In the absence of explanation as to why these events occurred, the Police Ombudsman has concluded that this was collusion by certain police officers with identified UVF informants. "
The full report is available as a PDF download here:

This post is dedicated to John McGuffin (1942-2002) author of The Guineapigs, which described and documented the British State's use of sensory deprivation and torture in Northern Ireland. For more on John's life click here.