Terror Trial: Defence dispute quality and veracity of MI5 video footage

Alex McCrory

The non-jury Diplock-style trial of three men allegedly secretly filmed by MI5 agents was yesterday shown two short clips taken in the grounds of a Co Armagh park on December 6, 2013, the day after a murder bid on police in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

Colin Duffy

The prosecution claim that the recording is of Colin Francis Duffy (51), Henry Fitzsimons (50) and Alex McCrory (57), whose addresses can’t be reported at this time.

Between them the trio deny preparing and directing terrorism and membership or professing to be members of the IRA.

Henry Fitzsimmons (50)

Fitzsimons and McCrory also deny attempting to murder police in the Ardoyne convoy and possessing of the two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition used in the gun attack.

The defence in the Belfast Crown Court trial, who claim the recordings are of “very poor quality”, have already told trial judge Mr Justice O’Hara that they intend to challenge the admissibility of the video content. They even suggested that it was impossible to make any identification in two of the cases.

They again repeated their objections yesterday to the surveillance footage, telling the court, while the prosecution claim the recordings, were made on December 6, 2013, and an hour apart, it was not accepted by the defence without proof of proper timing and continuity.

The two pieces of video, lasting approximately 20 seconds in each case, were allegedly taken from a video camera positioned in the laneway at the entrance of Demense House, Lurgan, looking in the direction of main road.

The black and white footage initially shows a parked car in the background of what appears to be the entrance of a tree-lined avenue with passing traffic. From the left-hand side of the screen three men, one a little stout, the others of average size and build, appear.

They are seen, growing ever larger, as they walk, one of them apparently with a slight limp, towards the direction of the hidden camera. Eventually they exit screen left. One hour later, according to the prosecution, the same three men are captured on tape again.

This time, their backs to the viewfinder, three men, similarly dressed, are filmed walking back down the laneway, until they reach the entrance, turning left, back the way they allegedly came.

MI5 operatives who deployed the surveillance camera have refused to say anything “on the grounds of national security”, about their workings, or even when they were put in place, save that it occurred “on or before December 6, 2013”.

However, the team leader of the group of agents responsible for setting up the covert device has disputed defence claims about the quality of the black and white footage, claiming it was “pretty clear”.

At hearing.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Michael Donnelly for the original story

Tory MP: Robert Nairac was my captain and a gentleman, he should be honoured

Captain Robert Nairac in Belfast before he was abducted and executed by the IRA in South Armagh

Captain Robert Nairac in Belfast before he was abducted by the IRA in South Armagh.

An MP whose commanding officer was murdered by the IRA has called for Parliament to mark his death amid a row over draft proposals on the prosecution of Armed Forces veterans.

Sir Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) paid tribute to Captain Robert Nairac in the House of Commons as a number of MPs spoke about reports saying plans to block prosecutions against ex-military personnel would not apply to the North of Ireland.

Rising to make a point of order, he said: “42 years ago in the early hours of that morning, a brave British soldier who was from 3 Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards was abducted by the IRA.

“Captain Robert Nairac was my captain, a gentleman that in the boxing ring broke my nose, the first person to have done so.

“We still do not know what happened to him. This country owes a great debt to our soldiers in the North of Ireland, and particularly those who have given the utmost for their country.

“Mr Speaker do you think there is any way that I can mark 42 years of Captain Robert Nairac giving his life for this country and for the peace of the North of Ireland?”

His tribute was echoed by Tory MP and former army officer Bob Stewart (Beckenham), who said Captain Nairac had received a George Cross posthumously, after being “tortured heinously” by the IRA.

He said he had “died in an incredibly gallant way and I agree we should recognise the great gallantry of this man”.

In reply, Commons Speaker John Bercow said he was “very open to the idea of recognition in the way that he suggests”, and called for Sir Mike to visit him to discuss it further.

But it led to further points of order, with the DUP’s Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) saying that he sought assurances from the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox earlier this year that any proposal to protect veterans from prosecution would “apply equally across the UK”, and that he was told it would be “plainly wrong if it didn’t”.

So he said he was “perturbed” to read that plans will not apply to Northern Ireland, saying: “It shows scant disregard for people the length and breadth of this United kingdom who stood to protect our interests, our values and our democracy.”

Tory James Grey (North Wiltshire) asked whether any bill which excluded Northern Ireland could be amended to out it back in, with Mr Bercow agreeing in principle, saying “with very few exceptions bills are amendable”.

And fellow Conservative Richard Drax (South Dorset), another ex-military officer, called on the Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley to make a statement to the Commons on the matter.

Gavin Robinson MP
Legal protections for military veterans must apply equally across the UK, says MP
He added: “This pursuit of our armed forces, our veterans, 200 of them for things allegedly done many, many years ago is totally unacceptable and it must end forthwith.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast News Letter for the original story

Follow this link to find out more about a British traitor who was looking after himself and looking Brownie points. He was a national disgrace to his regiment: https://ansionnachfionn.com/2016/01/04/captain-robert-nairac-britains-death-squad-adventurer/amp/?usqp=mq331AQA

(2) – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1227861/PATRICK-MERCER-MP-I-Robert-Nairac-night-IRA-killed–justice-done.html

RUC/PSNI murder plot discussion apparently ‘recorded by MI5’

Colin Duffy, 51, is accused of directing terrorism and being a member of the IRA

An undercover MI5 agent has told a court of how recordings were made of three men allegedly discussing a failed murder attempt on police.

Colin Duffy, 51, Henry Fitzsimons, 50, and 57-year-old Alex McCrory are on trial at Belfast Crown Court.

They face a range of terrorist-related offences connected to a gun attack on the PSNI in 2013.

All three men deny preparing and directing terrorism and being in the IRA.

Mr Fitzsimons and Mr McCrory also deny attempting to murder police and possession of two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

The charges relate to a gun attack on a police convoy in the Crumlin Road area of Belfast on 5 December 2013.

On Tuesday, the court heard evidence from the MI5 officer, known as witness 9281, on video and audio surveillance carried out on three men in December 2013.

Harry Fitzsimmons, 50, is accused of attempting to murder members of the RUC/PSNI Image copyright © PACEMAKER

However, before the witness was sworn in, defence lawyers said they would be seeking to exclude three audio exhibits.

They said the exhibits were at the centre of the prosecution case.

Speaking from behind a curtain, the MI5 officer said he placed 15 audio devices at a park in Lurgan in December 2013.

The security service officer also confirmed he placed video recording equipment and that its images were transmitted directly to MI5.

‘Grounds of national security’
He was asked by a defence lawyer about a statement he made saying he replaced one of the audio devices.

However, in cross-examination, he said he placed all 15 audio devices at the same time.

When asked about the technical details of the devices and their recording capabilities, he replied a number of times: “I am not sure I can answer that on the grounds of national security.”

Alex McCorey, 57, is accused of attempting to murder members of the RUC/PSNI Image copyright © PACEMAKER

The judge, sitting without a jury in the Diplock-style trial, has heard the surveillance operation was carried out the day after the gun attack on a police convoy in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, in which 14 shots were fired at a three-vehicle patrol by two gunmen.

At an earlier hearing, the prosecution claimed the accused can be identified from the covert video footage and from an hour-long audio recording of them as they talked in a public park in Lurgan, known as Demesne Park.

Prosecution case
It is the prosecution’s case that an analysis of the audio recordings by two voice recognition experts provided strong to moderately strong support that the defendants were those captured discussing how to go forward “in light of Ardoyne, and how the leadership were regrouping”.

The prosecution lawyer further alleged this was supported by the video recordings, as the clothing worn by the three suspects in the Demense Park were similar to that seized from the defendants following their arrests.

“The prosecution case is that the three men present and recorded talking in Demense Lane are Duffy, Fitzsimons and McCrory,” counsel claimed.

“The three defendants are close associates and have been seen together by police prior to the meeting and are also friends,” added the lawyer, who further claimed the men spoke using their first names.

Further proof
The voice analysis evidence of the conversation, which the prosecution alleged was not a “normal one” as it involved “an operation which had not gone to plan, and the failings and difficulties in arming a terrorist organisation”, was further proof of the men’s guilt.

The prosecution told the court the men’s discussions lasted almost an hour and “related almost exclusively to terrorism… there was no discussion about everyday issues”.

The trial continues.

With many thanks to: BBCNI and Dan Stanton for the original story

Special Advocates and the murky role of MI5 at the expense of former Republican prisoners in the North of Ireland

Spooky

I HAVE KNOWN Ciaran Collins for several years. Days before we first met at a political meeting in Dublin, Ciaran had attended the funeral of Michael Lutton in Lurgan, Co Armagh. Lutton was a member of the Continuity IRA (CIRA) who died on 1 November 2010 and received a military funeral.

I had never heard the name Michael Lutton before, but Ciaran, still mesmerised by the atmosphere of the funeral kept on talking about him.

It was, coincidentally, Michael Lutton’s anniversary when I met Ciaran on a chilly All Hallows 2018: I had just arrived in Belfast from Vienna. It was almost 6:30 pm when I reached Ciaran’s house on the outskirts of West Belfast, and I was looking forward to the cup of tea in his kitchen that is usually the first thing I do in Belfast.

The kettle was puffing nicely when suddenly he jumps up, throws the tea in the sink and shouts: “I haven’t produced myself today”. Before I understand, Ciaran is in his car on his way to the PSNI police station.

Ciaran is a former Republican prisoner. After four years in HMP Maghaberry, he was released on licence in September 2016 under strict terms. Although his sentence was over in 2017, he got handed an extra two years for “national security” reasons.

Every single day since his release he has had to produce himself before 7 pm at the PSNI police station, he is not allowed to leave Northern Ireland, he has a list of ten people he shall not have any contact with, and he is not allowed to reside in the Greater Craigavon area.

Ciaran is originally from Craigavon, his 72-year-old father, his relatives, and his partner with their three children aged one, six, and ten, all live there.

His legal representative, Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law in Belfast says: “Ciaran is subject to the most restrictive conditions in the constituency.

He has been deprived of his liberty and forced to live in isolation away from his family”.

“The Governor just came to me and said: That’s it, you are out of here”, remembers Ciaran of the day he was released from prison: “So I went to the reception desk to collect my stuff, and they told me that I could not go home. I went to my aunt in Belfast and stayed there for a while”.

Ciaran is one of many former Republican prisoners with particularly harsh conditions imposed upon them. There are currently about a dozen Republican prisoners held in Roe, the separate area for Republicans in HMP Maghaberry.

There are dozens who have served their sentences but face strict licence conditions. However, Ciaran’s case is different from other cases.

On 7 October 2014, Megan Lindsay wrote in a letter to the Offender Management Unit HMP Maghaberry on behalf of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) that “the PSNI has confirmed that it does not hold any information indicating that Kieran [sic] Collins is involved in terrorism or linked to a terrorist organisation, or any information which if disclosed would be damaging to national security” (emphasis in original).

The only security information provided about Ciaran in a security report dated 25 June 2014 is that he took part in an “ongoing protest/issues with Dissident Republican Prisoners in Roe”.

This line refers to his participation in a series of protests by Republican prisoners demanding the implementation of an agreement reached between the prisoners and the Northern Ireland Prison Service in August 2010. This on its own would not have affected his release terms.

Based on this report from the NIO, Ciaran and his legal representatives expected his release in 2015. However, Ciaran was not released, and in autumn 2015 closed material procedures (CMP) were initiated.

In CMP, also known as “secret courts”, the evidence is withheld from the accused and his legal team for “national security reasons”. Instead, a Special Advocate represents the accused during closed hearings.

This Special Advocate is not allowed to provide any information from the closed evidence to the accused and his legal team.

“I was supposed to be out the previous year”, Ciaran remembers. He only met his Special Advocate twice: “That was a guy from England.

He said to me: In there, I am your eyes and your ears, you need to trust me. But I said I don’t know who you are. I never met you before’. His legal representative was told not to contact the Special Advocate. He points out that “I have never seen the full evidence against me”.

As of today, Ciaran still does not know why he was not released in 2015 despite a favourable report from the NIO the previous year. He also does not know why his release on the licence was extended for another two years despite his having served his full sentence. In addition, he does not know why the evidence was withheld from him and his legal time.

In other words, he is not aware of all the allegations being made. In this way, Ciaran’s legal representatives were kept in limbo, unable to defend Ciaran.

Why did Ciaran get a Special Advocate appointed after a favourable report from the NIO was issued? Special Advocates are used sparsely in the UK justice system.

In Northern Ireland, they are merely used for high-profile Republican and Loyalist cases. The use of a Special Advocate in the case of Ciaran indicates that his case is of particular interest to the Security Service.

Ciaran was convicted of unlawful possession of a gun. On 20 September 2012, he travelled in a convoy with two other men. Both cars were stopped and searched.

The statement of evidence says that the “two other men were assessed by the Security Service (MI5) to be CIRA members”. However, solely Ciaran was charged and eventually pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon in suspicious circumstances.

In prison, Ciaran disassociated from his former comrades, leaving the prisoners’ support group Cabhair which supports CIRA prisoners, and became a guest of the Cogús prisoners’ support group. On 7 October 2014, the NIO cleared him from any “links to a terrorist organisation”.

But his early release was blocked because the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State signed a certificate of confidential information. It was noted that confidential information within the meaning of Rule 9 (1)(e) of the Parole Commissioners’ Rules (Northern Ireland) 2009 and Rule 9(2) “would not be in the public interest”. Reinforcing this, Ciaran’s release would be “contrary to the interests of national security”.

Although Ciaran was not linked to paramilitary Republicanism, he was not released. The reasons are found in his open evidence.

For it mentions that the information collected about Ciaran came from a person “providing information or assistance in confidence and disclosing evidence would make it impossible for the person to continue with providing such information”.

Furthermore, the “information (was) received in confidence by the security forces (…) and intelligence agencies”. In other words, the information used to prosecute Ciaran came from within the Republican group.

Ciaran was set up for prosecution in 2012, cleared by the NIO in 2014, but still forced to serve his full sentence. Two years after his sentence expired in 2017, Ciaran is still not a free man.

“My father is 72. Last year he had an operation and needed care, but they didn’t let me stay overnight. One evening, he had to be rushed to Craigavon Hospital, but I got no permission to visit him during the night. Mentally the whole situation is torture”, Ciaran says.

Ciaran is not allowed to reside in the Lurgan/Craigavon area. In this small area with significant Republican support, two other cases appeared in the past decade that provide the context for Ciaran’s situation.

When Martin Corey’s licence was revoked for almost four years, the intelligence-based evidence was also not disclosed. Likewise, the cases of Brendan Conville and JP Wootton, who were convicted for a CIRA attack that killed police officer Stephen Carroll in March 2009, point to the involvement of State agents in their prosecution.

Certainly, all the evidence collected by the author confirms that both men had had no involvement in the shooting. They were innocent.

Ciaran is the fourth man from the same area whose conviction has been based on the words of a State agent. MI5 linked all four men to the CIRA.

To what extent do the Security Services pull the strings within Republicanism, namely the CIRA, in North Armagh? Have North Armagh Republicans been prosecuted where for some reason that was necessary to protect State agents still operating in the CIRA?

Throughout the Troubles, The British State ran paid State agents inside paramilitary organisations. Some of them like Freddie Scappaticci were high-ranking IRA members who not only provided information but also tortured and killed other Republicans to hide their own identity; and yet they were protected by MI5.

The cases of Ciaran Collins, Martin Corey, Brendan McConville, and JP Wootton indicate that obsession with protection for State agents remains the same in today’s Northern Ireland.

With many thanks to: Village Magazine and Dr Dieter Reinisch for the original story

Dr Dieter Reinisch is an Adjunct Professor in International Relations at Webster University and Lecturer in History at the University of Vienna. He tweets on @ReinischDieter and blogs on http://www.ofrecklessnessandwater.com.

 

MI5 closes in on New IRA gangster Mellon

Thomas Ashe Mellon

 

POLICE chiefs are preparing a fresh directing terrorism case against the leader of the New IRA gang that murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

Thomas Ashe Mellon is the target of a specialist team involving officers from the PSNI’s terrorism investigation unit (TIU) and MI5. Their orders are to bring down the 43-year-old dissident who runs the New IRA in Derry city.

Mellon, who glared at Lyra’s friends as they protested outside offices linked to the gang, has been a paramilitary since his teenage years.

But he has led a charmed life – beating a previous directing terrorism rap, walking away from a possessing explosives prosecution, and being investigated but not charged in connection with a robbery at Gransha Hospital.

The only major crime the New IRA godfather has been convicted of is writing a note that was smuggled into dissident inmates in Maghaberry Prison.

Mellon was jailed for 15 months for having an article of use to terrorists and put on a 10-year MI5 watch-list, which is normally only reserved for members of Islamic State.

After getting out of prison in 2015, he assumed control of the New IRA in Derry and was a key figure in establishing the headquarters of its political wing Saoradh on Chamberlain Street in the city, from which it is now being evicted.

However, Mellon’s reign could soon be at an end with the establishment of a specialist police unit with orders to charge him with directing terrorism.

Officers from the TIU are working with their counterparts in MI5 and the military’s Special Reconnaissance Regiment in targeting the New IRA boss.

Conversations are understood to have been recorded and dissident meetings monitored, with unconfirmed reports that Saoradh’s Junior McDaid house has also been bugged.

Security chiefs used a similar strategy to charge prominent republicans Colin Duffy, Alex McCrory and Harry Fitzsimmons with directing the New IRA’s terror campaign.

The trio are currently on trial before a non-jury court denying the charge.

The coffin of journalist Lyra McKee is taken out of the church after her funeral at St Anne’s Cathedral on April 24th, 2019 in Belfast, in the North of Ireland

 

“Mellon was high on the terrorism investigation unit’s radar, but he became a priority target after the murder of Lyra McKee,” a security insider told Sunday Life.

“There were already covert operations in place against his group and these have intensified.

“Cases like this take time. They involve many hours of monitoring and recording, often with little end result, but pieced together they do create enough evidence for arrests.”

Security sources say lessons have been learned since the last time Mellon was charged with directing terrorism and found not guilty by a judge.

“Admittedly the evidence against him then was weak,” added the insider.

“It was more a case of hitting him with a holding charge and getting him off the streets so he couldn’t cause any trouble.

“The test for prosecution this time round will be much stricter, it will take a lot more than his handwriting on a scrap of paper.”

Mellon – a taxi driver by day with an address on Rathmore Road – is extremely security conscious, and having served a previous terror sentence, rarely gets his hands dirty.

The New IRA riot in the Creggan area last month, which was put on for cameras filming there and led to the killing of Lyra McKee, took place on his orders.

The New IRA riot in the Creggan area last month, which was put on for cameras filming there and led to the killing of Lyra McKee, took place on his orders.

Mellon was careful enough to not get involved, telling a veteran dissident to organise the violence.

He did, however, sanction shots being fired at police, with one of the bullets hitting Ms McKee who was standing beside a PSNI vehicle on Fanad Drive. Mellon is also aware that violent republican groups in Derry have been heavily infiltrated by informants, with several members of the New IRA jailed following police intelligence-led operations.

Because of this, he keeps a tight circle of friends, with his closest confidants being veteran dissident Fergal Melaugh, who is in his 60s, and Kieran McCool (51), named in court as being a “key member” of a dissident republican gang.

Both men stood menacingly with Mellon outside Junior McDaid House when Ms McKee’s friends protested by putting red handprints on its wall to represent the murdered writer’s blood.

Also standing with arms folded outside the building was tattooed dissident Gary Hayden.

The 46-year-old was among 11 New IRA supporters, including Mellon, convicted last week of taking part in an illegal Easter 2018 parade through the Creggan.

They were videoed by police wearing berets, sunglasses and combat fatigues with scarves covering their mouths while marching in the estate.

The demonstration led to trouble, with teenage rioters hurling petrol bombs at PSNI vehicles.

Mellon and Hayden were fined £750 each, as was Saoradh spokesman Joe Barr (30) and convicted dissident bomber Jason Ceulemans (47), who was caught in 2012 with a rocket launcher in a car.

Ceulemans was jailed for five years for possessing explosives, and having been released in 2017, is on licence until 2022.

He remains a free man despite being convicted last week of taking part in an illegal parade in support of the New IRA.

Also convicted of taking part in the march was William Martin McDonnell (32), who was caught by prison staff smuggling New IRA leader Thomas Mellon’s handwritten terror note into dissident inmates at Maghaberry jail.

He was caged for a year.

Ex-Provo Christy O’Kane (45) was also fined £750 for his role in the Creggan terror display.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 10 years after walking into a PSNI station and confessing to involvement in five IRA shootings and bombings that took place between 1993 and 1994.

Because the offences took place before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, O’Kane had to serve just two years behind bars.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Ciaran Barnes for the original story

The Duke of Cambridge has spent a “humbling” three weeks on work placements with three of Britain’s security and intelligence agencies

Collusion is not an Illusion!!!

MI5, MI6 and GCHQ were “full of people from everyday backgrounds doing the most extraordinary work to keep us safe”, Prince William said.

GCHQ’s head of counter-terrorism said the duke worked “exceptionally hard”.

The royal learned about risks to the UK’s national security and economy, Kensington Palace said.

He also observed counter-terrorism teams analysing intelligence and carrying out investigations.

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The prince’s attachments came to an end on Saturday.

“Spending time inside our security and intelligence agencies, understanding more about the vital contribution they make to our national security, was a truly humbling experience,” he said.

Staff at the security and intelligence agencies “work in secret, often not even able to tell their family and friends about the work they do or the stresses they face”, he continued.

He added: “We all owe them deep gratitude for the difficult and dangerous work they do.”

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Prince William’s attachment comes after the Queen celebrated GCHQ’s centenary earlier this year with a visit to its former top secret base, Watergate House in London.

The head of counter-terrorism operations at GCHQ, who is anonymous, said in a statement: “William worked exceptionally hard to embed himself in the team and comfortably held his own amongst some highly skilled analysts and operators.

“His Royal Highness asked some probing questions and demonstrated a real grasp of our mission.”

The threat to the UK from international terrorism is currently classed as severe, which means a terror attack is “highly likely”.

The head of MI6 warned in February the Islamic State group was preparing for more attacks, despite its military defeat in Syria.

And in January, the former head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, warned leaving the European Union without a deal would make the UK “less safe”.

With many thanks to: BBC England for the original story

Media ‘gagged by MI5 over bid to report MP child sex cases’ Security Services accused of aiding Westminister paedophilia cover-up

This story is over four year’s old but it is as reverent today as it was then ‘if not more so today’

Barbara Castle, the former Labour minister, tried to alert 🚨🚨 newspapers to the case

 

The security services are facing questions over the cover-up of a Westminster paedophile ring as it emerged that files relating to official requests for media blackouts in the early 1980s were destroyed.

The British propaganda Secret Service run by your government the Tory party

Two newspaper executives have told the Observer that their publications were issued with D-notices – warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security – when they sought to report on allegations of a powerful group of men engaging in child sex abuse in 1984. One executive said he had been accosted in his office by 15 uniformed and two non-uniformed police over a dossier on Westminster paedophiles passed to him by the former Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle.

http://www.dnotice.org.uk/

The other said that his newspaper had received a D-notice when a reporter sought to write about a police investigation into Elm Guest House, in southwest London, where a group of high-profile paedophiles was said to have operated and may have killed a child. Now it has emerged that these claims are impossible to verify or discount because the D-notice archives for that period “are not complete”.

Officials running the D-notice system, which works closely with MI5 and MI6 and the Ministry of Defence, said that files “going back beyond 20 years are not complete because files are reviewed and correspondence of a routine nature with no historical significance destroyed”.

The spokesman added: “I cannot believe that past D-notice secretaries would have countenanced the destruction of any key documents. I can only repeat that while any attempted cover-up of this incident might have been attributed to a D-notice the truth would be that it was not.”

Theresa May, home secretary, this month told the Commons that an official review into whether there had been a cover-up of the Home Office’s handling of child-abuse allegations in the 1980s had returned a verdict of “not proven”. The review, by Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, was prompted by the discovery that 114 Home Office files related to child abuse in the 1980s had gone missing.

On Saturday night the Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, whose book Smile for the Camera exposed the child sex abuse of the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, said it was a matter of deep concern that D-notice correspondence had also disappeared, presumed destroyed. D-notices to media outlets are rare, with just five sent in 2009 and 10 in 2010, according to a freedom of information response from Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Vallance, secretary of the defence, press and broadcasting advisory committee, which oversees the system.

Danczuk said: “There are clearly questions to be answered as to why these documents were destroyed. They issue very few of them – where was the need to destroy correspondence?

“It feels like just another example of key documents from that period going missing. We need to know more about what has happened. The journalists who have said that D-notices were issued are respected people with no reason to lie.”

The two journalists, Don Hale, the former editor of the Bury Messenger, and Hilton Tims, news editor of the Surrey Comet between 1980 and 1988, both recall their publications being issued with D-notices around 1984. Tims, a veteran of the Daily Mail and BBC, where he was head of publicity for the launch of colour TV, said that his chief reporter had informed him that a D-notice had been issued to him after he tried to report on a police investigation into events at Elm Guest House, where Smith is said to have been a regular visitor.

 

 

 

Follow this link to find out more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/13/uk-military-mod-universities-research-psychological-warfare-documents

Tims, 82, said: “One of the reporters on routine calls to the police learned that there was something going down at the guest house in Barnes. It was paedophilia, although that wasn’t the fashionable phrase at the time, it was ‘knocking up young boys’, or something like that.

“The reporter was told that there were a number of high-profile people involved and they were getting boys from a care home in the Richmond area. So I put someone on to it, the chief reporter I think, to make inquiries. It was the following day that we had a D-notice slapped on us; the reporter came over and told me. It was the only time in my career.”

Hale, who was awarded an OBE for his successful campaign to overturn the murder conviction of Stephen Downing, a victim of one of the longest-known miscarriages of justice, said he was issued with a D-notice when editor of the Bury Messenger. He had been given a file by Castle, by then an MEP, which had details of a Home Office investigation into allegations made by the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens of the existence of a Westminster paedophile ring. The files contained the name of 16 MPs said to be involved and another 40 who were supportive of the goals of the Paedophile Information Exchange, which sought to reduce the age of consent.

Hale said he asked the Home Office for guidance on the dossier and the progress of the investigation but was stonewalled.

Hale said: “Then shortly after Cyril Smith bullied his way into my office. I thought he was going to punch me. He was sweating and aggressive and wanted to take the files away, saying it was a load of nonsense and that Barbara Castle just had a bee in her bonnet about homosexuals. I refused to give him the files.

“The very next day two non-uniformed officers, about 15 uniformed officers and another non-uniformed person, who didn’t introduce himself, came to the office waving a D-notice and said that I would be damaging national security if I reported on the file.”

A spokesman for the D-notice system said: “If Don Hale was ‘served’ with anything purporting to be a ‘D-notice’, it was quite obviously a fabrication.”

With many thanks to: The Observer and Daniel Buffey (policy editor) for the original story

Topics
Child protection

The Observer
Children

Social care

Cyril Smith

Ministry of Defence