David Cameron gave MI5 agents ‘licence to kill’ in secret letter saying they should not be prosecuted for their war crimes, tribunal hears

MI5 agents authorised to participate in ‘murder, torture and sexual assault’

Yet no police officer or prosecutor has ever been told of their criminal activities

A secret letter from former prime minister David Cameron was made public

MI5 agents have secretly been given authorisation to participate in ‘murder, torture and sexual assault’ on British soil without fear of prosecution, a tribunal heard yesterday.

It emerged that the security service has been giving its informants and agents the freedom to commit ‘grave criminality’ for almost 30 years.

Yet no police officer or prosecutor has ever been told of their criminal activities, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in London heard.

A secret letter from former prime minister David Cameron was made public yesterday. This effectively gave MI5 agents a licence to kill, campaigners claim

The bombshell document emerged during a legal challenge by privacy campaigners, who want know what crimes have been committed in the name of MI5 since the 1990s and whether they were lawful.

In November 2012, Mr Cameron wrote to retired judge Sir Mark Waller acknowledging that there was a ‘long-standing’ secret policy to let security service agents break the law.

He instructed Sir Mark, who was at the time the Intelligence Services Commissioner, charged with overseeing the conduct of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, to have oversight of the policy.

The bombshell document emerged during a legal challenge by privacy campaigners, who want know what crimes have been committed in the name of MI5 since the 1990s and whether they were lawful

In November 2012, Mr Cameron wrote to retired judge Sir Mark Waller acknowledging that there was a ‘long-standing’ secret policy to let security service agents break the lawful
In November 2012, Mr Cameron wrote to retired judge Sir Mark Waller acknowledging that there was a ‘long-standing’ secret policy to let security service agents break the law
But the then-prime minister told him not to rule on whether it was legal, and said he need not express any views as to whether any cases should be referred to prosecutors.

Privacy campaigners claim the letter effectively handed MI5 agents a licence to break the law with immunity.

The timing of the letter is said to be highly significant as just two weeks later Mr Cameron admitted there was ‘state collusion’ in the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane.

Mr Finucane, who represented several high-profile Republicans, was shot dead in front of his family by loyalist gunmen. After his death it emerged that the loyalist paramilitary intelligence officer responsible for directing Ulster Defence Association attacks, Brian Nelson, was an agent controlled by the British Army’s ‘Force Research Unit’. No one has been prosecuted for the murder.

Javid: ‘MI5 will share more information with other organisations’

But the then-prime minister told him not to rule on whether it was legal, and said he need not express any views as to whether any cases should be referred to prosecutors +9
But the then-prime minister told him not to rule on whether it was legal, and said he need not express any views as to whether any cases should be referred to prosecutors

Privacy campaigners claim the letter effectively handed MI5 agents a licence to break the law with immunity

Mr Cameron wrote in the newly disclosed letter: ‘In the discharge of their function to protect national security, the security service has a long-standing policy for their agent handlers to agree to agents participating in crime, in circumstances where it is considered such involvement is necessary and proportionate in providing or maintaining access to intelligence that would allow the disruption of more serious crimes or threats to national security.’

The timing of the letter is said to be highly significant as just two weeks later Mr Cameron admitted there was ‘state collusion’ in the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane

Official MI5 guidance entitled ‘guidelines on the use of agents who participate in criminality’ was also made public yesterday for the first time. The policy states that an officer is ‘empowered’ to ‘authorise the use of an agent participating in crime’.

Ben Jaffey QC, representing an alliance of human rights groups, told the tribunal that Mr Cameron’s letter demonstrated that no police or prosecutor would ever hear about the cases involved.

Sir James Eadie QC, representing the intelligence agencies, the Home Office and the Foreign Office, told the tribunal that details of MI5’s conduct had to be kept secret and he asked that the hearing go into private to hear his reasons.

Reprieve director Maya Foa said: ‘We want to know if it’s government policy to let MI5 agents get away with serious crimes such as torture and murder.

‘While our intelligence agencies have an important role in keeping this country safe, it does not follow that agents can be permitted to break the law without limits.’

With many thanks to the: Daily Mail for the original story.

Trial of double murderer and ex-leading loyalist murderer ‘Winkie’ Rea is delayed on medical grounds

CHARGES: ‘Winkie Rea’

The non-jury trial of former leading loyalist Winston Rea has been postponed so he can undergo a series of medical tests.

Rea may have to undergo MRI or CT scans for a “long-standing illness”, Belfast Crown Court heard yesterday.

Defence counsel Arthur Harvey QC said the 67-year-old, of Springwell Crescent in Groomsport, Co Down, has also been examined by a neurological psychiatrist.

Rea was arraigned in October 2017 and pleaded not guilty to all 19 charges said to have been committed on dates between 1973 and 1996.

Included in the charges faced by ‘Winkie’ Rea are conspiring to murder Catholic men John Devine in July 1989 and John O’Hara in April 1991.

Mr Devine (37), was shot in front of his son in west Belfast while Mr O’Hara, a 41-year-old taxi driver, was lured to his murder in the south of the city.

Rea has also been charged with conspiring with others to threaten to kill LVF leader Billy Wright in August, 1996.

He also pleaded not guilty to firearms and other terror-related charges, including conspiring to possess firearms secured from the Ulster Resistance paramilitary group on dates between November, 1986 and October, 1994.

He is further charged with encouraging the murder of “persons working in shops selling An Phoblacht in republican and nationalist areas” between November, 1977 and October, 1994.

Rea, who was not in court for the proceedings, was due to stand trial on all charges early next month.

At yesterday’s review hearing, Mr Justice Colton heard that Rea had recently been examined by consultant psychiatrist Dr Helen Harbinson about his “cognitive ability” for the trial over a “long standing illness”.

Arthur Harvey QC said that three months ago Rea had a pacemaker device fitted to his heart which had “created a significant number of complications for the MRI and CT scans”.

He added that a medical practitioner had advised the defence that if the scans were to be carried out “eight doctors would have to be present for the removal of the heart pacemaker”.

The defence QC said Rea “will consent to any examination by experts appointed by the prosecution”.

Prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC said he was mindful that “the families of multiple alleged victims will have been preparing themselves” ahead of next month’s trial, adding the provision of expert reports could cause “further delays for a considerable period”.

He urged Mr Justice Colton to fix a new date for the trial in the current court term.

Mr Justice Colton directed that a consultant neurological psychiatrist’s report on Rea be served on the prosecution within three weeks.

The judge said he was requesting the “full co-operation” of all defence medical experts in the case, urging them to comply with his directions which were “in the public interest of the trial process”.

The judge listed the trial November 12 this year.

With many thanks to the: BelfastTelegraph for the original story.

MoD challenging order to explain role in the north.

‘The public have a right to know the scope of the role of the British army in the North of Ireland complies with the terms of the peace agreement, Patten Commission and human rights standards’ – Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice.

THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to challenge a ruling ordering it to release information about its current role in the north.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) asked MoD officials to provide the terms of reference for Operation Helvetic – the name given to the British Army’s continuing operation in the north – last year.

The first two Land Rover’s with the spare tyre on the front are the British Army. Along with the RUC/PSNI. They also include the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SSR) who also work closely with the SAS.

It came after military chiefs originally refused to hand over the majority of the information requested by the Committee on the Administration of Justice, claiming it is exempt under two sections of the Freedom of Information act.

MoD officials claimed some of the information could be withheld under Section 23 of the act – which refers to intelligence agencies and section 24 – which considers “national security”.

Section 23 covers information linked to agencies such as MI5, MI6 and Government Communications Headquarters (GHQ).

The Section 23 reference is believed to relate to MI5, which operates from a complex at Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co Down.

In a recent decision notice the ICO said while some of the information is exempt other information relating to Operation Helvetic should be released.

Helvetic has been in place since July 2007 when Operation Banner officially ended.

The British Army continues to have a limited presence in the north and its bomb squad routinely responds to call-outs to deal with explosives.

Undercover units are also believed to have been deployed since the start of Operation Helvetic, including the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SSR), which is understood to work closely with the SAS.

Deputy director of the CAJ Daniel Holder said “the public have a right to know whether the scope of the role of the British Army in Northern Ireland complies with the terms of the peace agreement, Patten Commission and human rights standards.

Masked and armed with semi-automatic machine guns members of the bomb squad of the RUC/PSNI on foot patrol. In the occupied six counties of the North of Ireland.

“In the absence of transparency about the remit of the armed forces here, it’s not possible to tell if they are operating under PSNI direction or if there is instead some undeclared link to MI5 or the use of covert units, such as the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, that bypass the oversight arrangements,” he said.

An MoD spokesman said: “As an appeal is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.

Follow this link to find out more concerning Operation Helvetic which replaced Operation Banner after 1998: http://www.irishnews.com/paywall/tsb/irishnews/irishnews/irishnews//news/northernirelandnews/2017/07/31/news/ten-years-since-end-of-operation-banner—and-start-of-helvetic-1096778/content.html

Praise for film shining light on Ballymurphy massacre

https://mobile.twitter.com/C4Dispatches/status/1038028578108198912/video/1

The film shown on Channel 4 on Saturday details the deaths of eleven people during the Ballymurphy Massacre.

 

There has been huge online reaction to the network premier of Massacre at Ballymurphy, the hard hitting documentary by award making film maker Callum Macrea, which screened on Channel 4 at the weekend.

The film, which was previously premiered at Féile an Phobail, was shown on Saturday, with a reconstruction and forensic examination of the events which started on August 9, 1971.

The documentary contains personal stories from relatives of the ten people shot dead in West Belfast by members of the Parachute regiment over three days of horrific violence. Paddy McCarthy, considered the 11th victim, died of a heart attack after soldiers fired shots over his head.

Among the dead a mother of eight Joan Connolly and Catholic priest, Fr Hugh Mullan who was shot dead going to the rescue of another victim.

The film details a shocking reenactment of the circumstances of Daniel Teggart’s death, shot fourteen times, with most of the bullets entered his back as he lay injured on the ground.

Following the programme Unionist Irish language activist Linda Ervine posted on Twitter that; “Before watching #MassacreAtBallymurphy I had no knowledge of what took place all those years ago. A terrible wrong has been done”.

Documentary maker Seán Murray said he hoped the screening of the film by Channel 4 “awakens the British public to the actions of their government during the conflict Well done to my friend Callum Macrae and all involved”.

Journalist and broadcast celebrity, Eamonn Holmes tweeted in support of film maker Callum Macrea saying; “Regardless of your Political persuasion or views on the Northern Irish Troubles, I would urge you to both hear what this man has to say and watch his film if you can. The Year is 1971 . The subject is the killing of civilians by the Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy West Belfast”.

Ian Katz, director of programmes at Channel 4 said; “Ashamed to say I knew nothing about the Ballymurphy massacre – the 1971 killing of 11 men and women by the British army in Belfast – till I saw Callum Macrae’s meticulous and shocking reconstruction of it”.

Scottish political activist Tommy Sheridan said it was, “Absolutely shocking”.

“I am ashamed that despite my limited knowledge of British Army atrocities in Northern Ireland I didn’t know about these state murders in Ballymurphy.

“No wonder the British Establishment have hidden such massacres from the general public for 47 years”, he added.

Former soldier Glenn Bradley said he had “met the Ballymurphy families some years ago and have supported their call for truth since

“I watched Massacre At Ballymurphy and my lasting thought is how docile and compliant were the media then”.

Belfast boxer Michael Conlon said; “Watching Ballymurphy Massacre and listening to what family’s have gone through and still going through, my eyes are filling up, very sad stories to poor innocent families”. Former An trim football captain Anto Finnegan said: ” This is not writing history, this is shining a light into that dark place those in power want to keep hidden.”

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.

Latest up-to-date news from ‘The Ballymurphy Massacre Victims’ families.

Justice Keegan appoints additional council, Mr Michael McCartan, to “specifically” and “exclusively” deal with military witness issues including tracing.

Ballymurphy Massacre families in court today Wednesday 11th July for another preliminary hearing (PH) in advance of the inquests starting in September. Groundhog day was the feeling as the legal teams reviewed outstanding issues including tracing of soldiers and the ruling on the UVF application for Properly Interested Party (PIP) status, which if granted will give them access to all the documentation, witness statements and they will be able to cross examine witness including family member.

Unfortunately, the Judge will make a ruling on this application at the next PH on the 27th July, but hopefully when the judge has considered all the submissions from the other legal teams she will rule against it. At the last PH Karen Quinliven argued against granting PIP status on the grounds that witness x was not in fact a witness but and third party who was relaying “gossip” and “hearsay” to the court as if it were evidence.

The issue of tracing soldiers remains high on the agenda for families, at every opportunity the MOD have been dragging their heals in relation to identifying those responsible for the shootings in Ballymurphy, losing cipher lists, not knowing the postal address for Veteran’s associations and breaching deadlines set by the coroner to produce information and on almost every occasion handing in information the day before or the morning of the hearing making it impossible for the legal representatives for the next of kin to respond to until the next hearing again delaying the process.

The Coroner Justice Keegan today acknowledged again that the MOD keep breaching deadlines and set the 20th July as the final date for producing information in relation to tracing of soldiers, she also acknowledged that the tracing of military witnesses was of utmost importance and appointed addition council, Mr Michael McCartan, to “specifically” and “exclusively” to deal with military witness issues.

This is good news for families who have been arguing all along for additional resources to be put in place to trace soldiers, wither that be a tracing agency or the appointment of additional council who’s role is to focus on tracing soldiers exclusively.

Q & A – IS THERE A WITCH – HUNT AGAINST EX – BRITISH SOLDIERS? – THE ‘WITCH – HUNT’ PART 2.

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Q & A – Is there a witch-hunt against ex British soldiers?

15 February 2018Prosecutions soldiers amnesties statute of limitations witch-hunt impunity letters of comfort MoD

A quick question and answer guide to the current debate around prosecutions of former soldiers, ‘letters of comfort’ and the alleged ‘witch-hunt’. (Updated February 2018)

Who is saying there is a ‘witch-hunt’ against former soldiers involved in killings during the conflict in Ireland?

Some right-wing newspapers (The Daily Mail and The Sun) have recently published misleading and inaccurate information claiming that there is a ‘witch-hunt’.

A group of MPs and peers (some of whom are ex-military and are sometimes referred to as the “military wing” of the Tory party) along with some unionist MPs, have also raised the issue in parliament.

The Office of the Speaker has conceded some MPs have abused parliamentary privilege in comments they made about the prosecution of a former soldier that is continuing before the courts.[1]

A group of former soldiers has also held a number of demonstrations in London and Belfast protesting against recent decisions by the Northern Ireland Prosecution Service to charge former soldiers.

How many soldiers have been convicted of murder in the Northern Irish courts?

Four have been convicted of shooting civilians while on duty in circumstances where the courts ruled they were guilty of murder[2] (one murder conviction was overturned on appeal).

All four were freed after just five years of their life sentences through the use of the “Royal Prerogative of Mercy”. All were allowed to re-join the British army.[3] This hardly amounts to a ‘witch-hunt’.

Convicted murderers were allowed to rejoin the army?

YES. No other member of NATO and no other democratic country allows convicted murderers to join, or re-join, its armed forces.

But haven’t republicans and loyalists convicted of murder also been freed under the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) ?

Yes. Prisoners convicted of conflict related offences were granted early release under the GFA. Some had only served a short period of their sentence but a great majority had already served lengthy sentences. Tens of thousands of republicans and loyalists spent time in jails (totalling an estimated 100,000 years). As against four soldiers serving less than five years each.

If anyone should be convicted today of an offence that occurred before the GFA they would only serve a maximum of two years.

Would this two year limit also apply to former soldiers or members of the then RUC (police)?

Yes. On January 25 2018 a British Government minister told a Defence Committee meeting that former members of the armed forces would benefit from the early release scheme. See link below

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/b4c512e0-51c4-4251-ad0b-3f6b3f…

But don’t the so-called “letters of comfort” issued to republicans mean that they will not be prosecuted … and soldiers will?

All the ‘letters of comfort’ did was confirm that the PSNI (police) had no evidence against an individual that could lead to a prosecution at that time. Prosecutions are still possible if evidence becomes available in the future.

Prosecutions are now proceeding against a number of former republicans and loyalists.

The handful of cases where errors led to some people being told, wrongly, that there was no evidence against them led to the Hallett Enquiry.

The PSNI Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) is presently reviewing ALL cases where such letters were issued.

But why are military killings being re-investigated all these years later?

The Stormont House Agreement proposes a new police unit to investigate all outstanding homicide cases – but politicians have so far failed to agree its implementation.

In the meantime, the PSNI are investigating a small number of cases. These include military killings.

A large number of killings by British soldiers, however, were NEVER subject to ANY thorough Article 2 (ECHR) compliant investigation as is legally required.

These are not, then, RE-INVESTIGATIONS as – in many cases an Article 2 compliant police investigation has yet to happen.

Is there proof that these deaths were not investigated?

Yes. In the early 70s, an illegal agreement existed between senior army and police officers which meant that soldiers involved in fatal incidents were rarely interviewed by police officers.

The family of Kathleen Thompson, the mother of six whose photo appears in the banner ad, took a judicial review of the Prosecution Service failure to prosecute the soldier.[5]

The judge slammed the lack of investigation and ruled the Chief Constable had no authority to delegate responsibility to the Royal Military Police.

In addition, declassified official documents show that a second illegal agreement was reached in the early 70s whereby the Attorney General would consult with the Ministry of Defence BEFORE prosecuting a soldier, inviting a submission from the MoD on why a prosecution should not proceed.

This was an egregious violation, both of the independence of the Attorney General and the Prosecution Service. [6]

A report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary[7] and judgements from the European Court of Human Rights all confirm that military killings were not investigated as legally required between 1970 and 1973.

Even after this period, killings of unarmed civilians by the British army were not subjected to rigorous and thorough investigations as required by law.

But the British Army was in Ireland to uphold the law and was subjected to daily attacks by the IRA?

This was not the experience of the nationalist/republican community. Where they didn’t uphold the law they should be subject to investigation and prosecution as with anyone else.

It was the actions of some soldiers, who killed unarmed civilians not posing any threat to them or others that inflamed and aggravated the conflict in the early 70s.

The subsequent failure to investigate and prosecute alienated the entire nationalist/republican community, prolonging the conflict.

A recent inquest into a man shot dead by soldiers in 1971 shows a complete failure to investigate the lies and disinformation that was put in the public domain at the time. It took over 40 years for his family to finally have the truth told.[8]

If the British army was only responsible for approximately 11% of deaths why are more resources not devoted to investigating killings carried out by illegal paramilitary groups?

As outlined above, thousands of people spent lengthy periods in jail having been convicted of paramilitary offences, including murder. For over three decades massive resources were devoted to putting people behind bars (and sometimes the wrong people, as with the Birmingham Six and the Guildhall Four).

The Northern Ireland Office has confirmed to The Pat Finucane Centre that there are approximately 170 outstanding investigations into the deaths of British soldiers.

Over 500 investigations into killings of soldiers have been completed. These resulted either in prosecutions, where evidence was sufficient, or to no prosecution if evidence was unavailable.

Why do these families want ‘revenge’ so many years on?

The vast majority of bereaved families whose loved-ones were shot dead by soldiers do not want revenge. They seek truth and justice.

Having been treated appallingly in the aftermath of the death, they now have to endure reporting that borders on the racist – and is certainly inaccurate.

The ultimate insult came when a parliamentary committee called for a “statute of limitations” for members of the British armed forces.

This is Illegal, immoral and certain to contradict both the spirit and the letter of the peace process. It is contrary to the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

What would you, reader, think if your parent or child was killed by a soldier whose only defence is that he was “fighting for Queen and country” ?

Who are we ?

The Pat Finucane Centre provides advice and advocacy to over 230 families on both sides of the border who have been bereaved due to the political conflict. A number of the families have had loved ones killed by the British army and were unarmed and did not pose a threat.

We are involved with families in cases where prosecutions are proceeding against former soldiers. Unlike the Sun, Daily Mail and some Tory backbenchers we do not see it as appropriate to comment on these cases where legal proceedings are on-going.

What can you do?

Join us on Twitter #nomilitaryimpunity

Talk to politicians who canvass at your door during the election.

Make your views known where the issue is debated in the media.

Submit a resolution within your union, political party or community organisation.

Email the Prime Minister https://email.number10.gov.uk/

Donate to the PFC through our web-site via PayPal

[1] Email to Pat Finucane Centre from the Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons.

[2] A number of Scottish soldiers were convicted for stabbing two men to death in Fermanagh in October 1972. There was no defence that this was a justifiable use of lethal force while on duty.

[3] See for instance- http://www.patfinucanecentre.org/state-violence/chronology-events-case-murdered-teenager-peter-mcbride

[4] http://eamonnmallie.com/2017/03/who-says-the-two-year-limit-on-prison-s…

[5] https://www.courtsni.gov.uk/en-GB/Judicial%20Decisions/PublishedByYear/Documents/2004/2004%20NIQB%2062/j_j_GIRC5085.htm

[6] http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/declassified-documents-reveal-army-lobbied-attorney-general-not-to-prosecute-soldiers

[7] https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/media/inspection-of-the-police-service-of-northern-ireland-historical-enquiries-team-20130703.pdf

[8]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-39707105

Links
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The ‘witch hunt’ part 2. The second of our 2 minute videos series on the theme of the so-called ‘witch hunt’ of former British soldiers. Please share widey

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1597331150377936&id=660666487377745

With many thanks to: The Pat Fincuane Centre for the origional story.

Seán Murry’s powerful and unsettling documentary ‘Unquiet Graves: Uncovering Britain’s Secret War in Ireland’.

Premieres at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh on 11th July 2018.

It will be shown in every major city in Britain from September.

Unquiet Graves: The story of the Glenanne Gang details how members of the RUC and UDR, (a British Army regiment) were centrally involved in the murder of over 120 innocent civilians during the recent conflict in Ireland. It will detail how members worked hand in hand with known sectarian murderers in the targeted assassinations of farmers, shopkeepers, publicans and other civilians in a campaign aimed at terrorizing the most vulnerable in society. Now known as the Glenanne Gang, the group of killers rampaged through Counties Tyrone and Armagh and across into the Irish Republic in a campaign that lasted from July 1972 to the end of 1978.

With many thanks to: Connolly Association for the origional posting.

Please follow: Unquiet Graves: Uncovering Britain’s Secret War in Ireland for more information.

Follow this link to find out more and LIKE or FACEBOOK page:https://www.facebook.com/connollyassociation/

Follow this link to find out more and LIKE or FACEBOOK page: https://www.facebook.com/unquietgravesfilm/https://www.facebook.com/unquietgravesfilm/