“unusual but absolutely necessary”

Only a few days after the Secretary of State Peter Hain offended Raymond McCord, and UUP MP Sylvia Hermon, by appearing to fall asleep during a meeting to discuss the investigation of the murder of Mr McCord’s son in 1997, the BBC, and RTÉ, are reporting that two former detectives have been arrested and are being questioned today by Police Ombudsman’s investigators “over allegations of perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.” Update Both former detectives have been released with charge. More While Jonty Brown, returning from holiday, takes his turn to be questioned.From the BBC report

An interim report has already been submitted to the Public Prosecution Service and a report is expected to be published next month.

The Police Ombudsman’s Office said the two former officers were being questioned by its investigators at separate police stations.

Police Ombudsman senior director of investigations, Justin Felice, described the operation as “unusual but absolutely necessary”.

The former police officers were arrested shortly after 0700 BST with PSNI officers in attendance.

Update A short Police Ombudsman statement here

  • na

    I thought Jonty Brown and Trevor McIlwrath had been more open about McCord’s killing than most.

    Police ‘let loyalist free to kill and kill again’

    David Gordon
    28 April 2006

    Two retired detectives have alleged that a multiple loyalist killer could have been put behind bars after his first murder.

    The former officers said the paramilitary was allowed to evade justice while working as a paid Special Branch informer.

    And they said he should have been charged with the brutal sectarian murder of Catholic woman Sharon McKenna as long ago as the early 1990s.

    Their claims will add to the growing scandal over alleged security force collusion with a vicious UVF gang from north Belfast’s Mount Vernon estate.

    A long-awaited report from Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan on the issue is due to be published shortly.

    The retired detectives – Johnston Brown and Trevor McIlwrath – worked together in CID in north Belfast in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Brown elaborated on his previous claims about the activities of Special Branch agents.

    His allegations have been backed up by Mr McIlwrath.

    They centre on the same senior Mount Vernon UVF figure who has been at the heart of the Police Ombudsman’s investigations.

    Mr McIlwrath said he had initially recruited this individual as a CID informer and tried unsuccessfully to stop him joining the UVF.

    Special Branch subsequently took control of handling him because of his involvement in paramilitarism, he said.

    Both Mr Brown and Mr McIlwrath said the loyalist should have been charged with the murder of a Catholic in the early 1990s – his first killing.

    It is believed he committed the killing to “prove” to the UVF that he was not an informer.

    “We could have brought charges within a week to 10 days,” Mr Brown said.

    “We were denied clearance, denied assistance and not allowed to do our duty.”

    Mr McIlwrath said: “He should have been brought to book for the murder. Senior police have questions to answer.”

    He added: “Everything I know about him is down in the records of the police service.

    “They have all the information they need about him.”

    The two retired officers said the loyalist and his Mount Vernon associates were involved in a string of subsequent murders.

    “A blind eye was turned. They acted with impunity and terrorised their own community,” Mr Brown said.

    “They were involved in terrorism in other parts of Northern Ireland and as far away as the Republic.”

    Mr McIlwrath said: “They were unlike any other UVF unit. They were a law onto themselves.”

    The Mount Vernon loyalist and alleged informer has also been accused of ordering the murder of ex-RAF man Raymond McCord jnr in 1997.

    Mr McCord’s father, Raymond snr, complained to the Police Ombudsman in 2002 about the case, prompting one of Mrs O’Loan’s biggest investigations to date.

    Her report on her findings is currently being finalised.

    A police spokeswoman said the force could not comment on matters that are the subject of ombudsman investigation.

    “We would make the general point that significant changes have been made in recent years to the way informers are handled,” she added.

    Mr Brown and Mr McIlwrath did not name the senior north Belfast loyalist.

  • na

    Seems Sharon McKenna’s killing is also part of the case.

    FORMER RUC DETECTIVE SAYS SPECIAL BRANCH PROTECTED UVF INFORMER

    Source: IRIS

    A former RUC detective claimed on October 26 that the RUC Special Branch prevented a UVF informer from being charged with the murder of a nationalist taxi driver. Sharon McKenna was shot dead while visiting a Protestant pensioner at his north Belfast home in January 1993.

    UVF informer Mark Haddock is alleged to have burst into the house and blasted Sharon McKenna with a 12-bore shotgun. As she lay on the ground the gunman fired a second shotgun blast into her body. UVF claims that Sharon McKenna was a member of the INLA were dismissed by an RUC detective who said the murder was “purely sectarian”.

    Former CID detective Johnston Brown said that within weeks the RUC could have charged Haddock with the murder of the 27-year-old ‘good Samaritan’ but were prevented. “We could have put him away for life but obstacles were put in our way by Special Branch,” he said. “It is up to Special Branch to explain why that was. What I can say is that we could have sent this guy down for life in 1993 but it wasn’t allowed to happen. Who knows how many other people died as a result of the Special Branch decision to allow him to continue? “People think these are isolated cases but they aren’t. Special Branch allowed fellow police officers to die. If they were prepared to allow that to happen, who else did they allow to die?”

    Mark Haddock was just 16 years of age when he was recruited as a British Colonial police informer. In 1985 he had agreed to work as an informer after being arrested for a petrol-bomb attack on a bus in north Belfast. Haddock is understood to have acted as a low-level criminal during the late 1980s, receiving small sums of money for information passed onto the RUC. However, by 1991 he had joined the UVF and the RUC Special Branch had taken over control of him.

    One former RUC member who knew him at the time claimed that this was the moment when Haddock crossed over to the ‘dark side’. “From then on Special Branch had complete control of Haddock,” he said. “That’s when the problems started and when he was literally allowed to get away with murder.”

    Haddock is alleged to have murdered Sharon McKenna because the UVF suspected she was an informer. “He was told to go and shoot her or he would be the one being shot,” one loyalist source said. He is claimed to have admitted the killing to his Special Branch handlers but no action was taken. In May 1994 Haddock was implicated in the murders of nationalist builders Gary Convie and Eamonn Fox in north Belfast.

    A former British soldier was jailed for hiding the murder weapon but the gunman was never caught.
    In March 1996 Haddock is said to have boasted to his RUC Special Branch handlers that he had killed UVF man Thomas Sheppard, who was suspected of being an informer. No attempt was made to charge Haddock with the killing.

    In March 1997 Presbyterian minister David Templeton became the first clergyman to be killed by loyalists. The 43-year-old had been the victim of a so-called UVF punishment shooting six weeks earlier after having been falsely accused of being a child molester. While in hospital he is understood to have identified Haddock to the RUC as one of his attackers.

    No action was taken to charge him with the attack. One month later Haddock was implicated in a UVF bomb attack on Provisional offices in Monaghan town. It is claimed his handlers had been made aware of the attack but no action was taken to stop it.

    In May 1997 William Harbinson died after being handcuffed and beaten by a UVF gang on the Mount Vernon estate in north Belfast. Despite this bearing all the signs of a paramilitary attack an RUC source was quoted as discounting UVF involvement. In April 1998 Haddock was among a dozen UVF men jailed for three years for an attack on the Golden Hind bar in Portadown. Shortly after his release he was implicated in the October 2000 murders of David ‘Candy’ Greer and former Ulster Democratic Party spokesman Tommy English, as part of a feud between the UDA and UVF. In April 2003 Haddock was charged with the attempted murder of a doorman in Newtownabbey.
    He denies the charges and is awaiting trial. Next month he will apply to have the case dropped on the grounds that, in contravention of human rights laws, he has spent more than two years on.

  • John Maynard

    Why are they searching Jonty Brown’s house?
    Surely he’d give them a full statement voluntarily on all he knows?

  • na

    Was Jonty Brown not interviewed after the 0700 arrests?

    Does this mean McIlwrath and another have been arrested and Jonty’s home is being searched with him expecting arrest later?

  • Pete Baker

    From what I could gather from the various reports, na, Jonty Brown is currently on holiday but has stated that he expects to be arrested and questioned when he returns later today.

    He also claimed that the searches were a result of his refusal to testify against police officers in any cases brought.

    That stated refusal would appear to undermine his claim that he has been co-operating fully.

  • na

    Pete,

    So who was arrested with McIlwrath at 0700?

    Two men have been arrested this morning as part of a major Police Ombudsman investigation. – Ombudsman

    Or did the Ombudsman release a predrafted but incorrect press release on the assumption that Brown would be arrested this morning? It would hardly inspire confidence in their investigation if aren’t even entirely sure how many people they have arrested.

  • Pete Baker

    na

    Only McIlwrath is named in any of the reports I’ve seen or heard.

    I think you’ve assumed that Brown was the other former detective arrested..

    Belfast Telegraph report here

  • na

    Pete,

    Sorry for being so confused. It’s just they say they have arrested two former officers and are searching two premises. Brown says his home is being searched and he clearly wasn’t arrested at 0700.

    Does that mean one of the arrested men isn’t having his home searched? The two arrested men shared premises? Jonty Brown’s home is being searched in an unrelated investigation? Or the Ombudsman didn’t arrest two men?

  • Pete Baker

    na

    They seem to be valid questions.. but the Ombudsman’s office seem adamant that they are questioning two former detectives. I think we have to assume they have two former detectives in custody to question.

    Beyond that, any attempt of mine to answer your other questions would be guess work.

  • Phil Scott

  • Brendan,belfast

    getting off the point somewhat but the question from NA is indeed valid. it would appear that the Ombudsman’s office was ready to go with a press statement and issued it ahead of time. The ‘Tele clearly had a heads up on the story, making you think had been briefed fully last night.

    It would not be the first time the Ombudmsan has run to the media to claim a good headline before going through due process. Didnt the PSNI complain earlier this week that they didnt get the report into the Larne case before O’Loan was on the Nolan show? and didnt the Parades Commission have cause to say they had not seen a report critising them which was trailed all over the morning media?

    a shoddy performace from O’Loan and team.

  • Pete Baker,

    He also claimed that the searches were a result of his refusal to testify against police officers in any cases brought.

    That stated refusal would appear to undermine his claim that he has been co-operating fully.

    That is quite interesting. Did he give a reason for refusing to testify? From his comments and actions over the past few years he seems very keen that the depths of collusion between RUC Special Branch and loyalists/republicans come out. It occurs to me that his refusal might be because he doesn’t want a few patsies to get the blame for institutional acts, but that’s purely my own conjecture.

  • na

    If Paul Panther is giving the name of the 2nd arrested former PSNI officer as Phil Scott, not a name I’m aware of, then have his premises been searched along with McIlwaith’s?

    Is Jonty Brown part of the Ombudsman’s enquiry? Did they intend to arrest him? Did they search three houses or two? Is the action against Brown unconnected but coinciding with the arrest of two other former RUC/PSNI officers or part of that investigation?

    Who is Phil Scott?

    Why are the only people being lifted or searched on this matter those who have spoken openly about the whole sordid Haddock saga?

  • gareth mccord

    phil scott handled haddock aswell

  • na

    Gareth,

    Thank you.

    Was Scott the 2nd man arrested today? What was his role in the RUC/PSNI? SB, CID? Was his house searched? Do you have any references to his involvement with Haddock, Mount Vernon etc? Is Brown a legitimate and connected target for the Ombudsman enquiry? Do you think he needs/will be arrested on his return to ensure an honest investigation into Haddock’s and others activities? Do you think he is perverting the course of justice? While I know Brown and McIlwraith both used Haddock how does their involvement tie-in with Brown’s?

  • na

    Brown and McIlwraith both used Haddock how does their involvement tie-in with Brown’s?

    should be:

    Brown and McIlwraith both used Haddock how does their involvement tie-in with Scott’s?

  • Brown and McIlwrath were CID, Scott was Special Branch. Special Branch took over the running of Agent Helen in the early 1990s. He was renamed Agent Roxy. When Roxy murdered McKenna, Convie, Fox, Sheppard, McCord, Templeton and English he was handled by the Branch.

  • Amy Lee O Rate

    Jonty Brown said on Talk Back today that he was coming back from his hols tonight and expected to be arrested on arrival in NI.

  • gareth mccord

    jonty and mcilwrath have provided alot of info to our family but they need to do what the ombudsman needs to make this investigation successful.as for scott he is a low life piece of shit who has alot to answer for as he has ignored our families plea for info and help in getting justice!! but its early days and we expect justice will prevail.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Jonty was arrested at the airport when he landed. There’ll be something on the TV news in a few minutes, as there would’ve been cameras there.

  • Pete Baker

    See updates, Gonzo.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    McIlwrath’s was apparently the other house searched as well as Jonty’s in Ballymena.

  • loudmouth

    Interesting eh? The saga continues of corruption amid the police service of Northern Ireland. Paul panther…how come you know so much about Phil Scott?

  • loudmouth

    Must be a blow for your family Gareth? Thinking you had them 2 on your side then all this. You just can’t trust anyone these days. Seems to me they were trying to put all the onus onto the Special Branch, getting ‘their side’ of the story out before the ombudsman’s report is released (whenever that will be).

  • Rory

    This story received prominence on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme and evening news. That might indicate either a genuine seriousness or a pretence of deeper concern intended to influence.

    I consider myself a fairly good old witch doctor when it comes to casting BBC bones, but I wouldn’t like to call this one. On the one hand the prominence of the piece is ominous (or hopeful – as you will) on the other hand – it is August and it is the BBC.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Brendan :

    Actually I think there are a lot of positive aspects to having the Ombudsman take on the cops in a public way like this. It helps remind the police that if they mess around they are not untouchable, and it shows that the powers exist to address these things when they come up. I’m hopeful that the investigation leads to real results.

    I found the accounts of these former police officers interesting but overall I like to keep a health suspicion of people who chose the Sunday Life to tell their story to. Surely there’s a degree of moneymaking and opportunism taking place here; these folks were part of the force when this stuff was going on and they didn’t lift a finger to blow the whistle.

  • Garibaldy

    CS,

    Allegedly in Jonty’s case cause he was threatened and afraid

  • loudmouth

    So if he was so afraid, why talk now?

  • Garibaldy

    Ceasefires presumably altered things, and the general whistleblowing that’s been going on. This is of course speculation on my part. I haven’t read his book. Maybe somebody who has can answer that.

  • When Jonty Brown spoke of being unable to save lives because paramilitaries were being protected he was alluding to a Special Branch officer who prevented him and McIlwrath from making arrests. He alluded to the same man in his best selling book.
    This man, whose name in known only by a few, is at the core of the McCord case. He protected Mount Vernon UVF men for years, allowing them to get away with countless killings. Among those he handled were MH, JB, GH and WG.
    This entire episode is as a big as the Brian Nelson case. The Special Branch detective at the centre of it has as much questions to answer as the FRU’s Gordon Kerr.

  • loudmouth

    I am actually in the process of reading it! Coincidental or what? According to him the Special Branch were a bunch of sick, arrogant, bully-boys. The first chapter tells of his first ‘hiding’ from colleagues of his in CID. He was obviuosly afraid of that happening again but why talk now? If he knew of all these goings-on, he should’ve spoke out before now. He doesn’t hold much back in his book as he didn’t on any of the TV programmes he appeared on, it doesn’t add up. I would be more afraid of the paramilitaries he named & shamed than the police but is this his way of connecting the 2 somehow? It is cryptic to be honest!

  • loudmouth

    Is this the ‘Phil Scott’ you’re talking about paul panther?

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Comrade Stalin

    i am perfectly happy that the Ombudsman holds the PSNI to account and in fact i think that by and large they do a fair job (although they appear too often ready to accept the cop’s version of events). My point in this case is that once again Nuala is on the airwaves before the proper procedure has been gone through. that is a pattern which is at least interesting and more importantly, worrying.

  • loudmouth

    You’re completely right Brendan, it shows lack of planning on their behalf. Not as crafty as they think they are.

  • willis

    This Telegraph story

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=701965

    says that the third man was Tom Meek not Phil Scott.