Special Branch whistle-blower arrested

While my Slugger colleagues focus on the competition for bragging rights, pending the results of negotiations ahead, I thought I’d bring some of the real news taking place. An interesting move by the Police Ombudsman’s office yesterday when they, together with PSNI officers, arrested a former Special Branch office for alleged “neglect of duty in 1984”. But it may not be all it seems. According to reports the ex-detective had previously contacted the Ombudsman 4 years ago when he claimed that there had been a cover-up in the investigation of the attempted murder of the then-Resident Magistrate Tom Travers, and the murder of his 22 year-old daughter Mary, to protect a police informer within the PIRA.. but 2 years ago he withdrew co-operation from the Ombudsman Office citing his frustration with the pace of the inquiry.According to the BBC report

The retired Special Branch officer claimed there was a cover-up in the investigation to protect an informer.

He said another Special Branch officer allowed a member of the IRA, who was a police agent, to destroy vital evidence including the murder weapon.

The officer said he contacted the police ombudsman four years ago, but withdrew his co-operation two years later because he was unhappy with the investigation into his claims.

Mr Travers, who is now retired, has criticised the Ombudsman’s actions

An Ombudsman spokesman said the former officer is now being questioned in connection with alleged misconduct in public office. PSNI officers were also in attendance during the arrest operation.

Mr Travers told the Belfast Telegraph: “I am furious this former officer has been arrested. He has become a friend of both myself and my family since coming forward with vital information a couple of years ago.

“He has given us enormous comfort and help in finding out the truth about our daughter’s murder and I have complained to Nuala O’Loan about this arrest.

“I think it is a disgrace that a former officer trying to help the family of a victim should be treated in this way.”

While the Ombudsman Office’s senior director of invesigations, Justin Felice, is claiming that the move was “absolutely necessary”

“We very rarely arrest police officers or former police officers, and only when we have no other option,” Mr Felice said. “The former officer had refused to co-operate, leaving us no choice but to arrest him.”

Others are not convinced

One former colleague said: “This is what happens when you even consider coming forward with information about the past.

“This officer is highly regarded but he did believe there was a cover up in the murder of Mary Travers and upon retirement he took those allegations to Mrs O’Loan. His reward for helping the family has been a raid on his home and his arrest.

“He is a witness to an alleged cover up and was not part of it.”

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  • susan

    Pete, it sounds to me as though even the Ombudsman’s Office is saying they do not believe the officer was part of the cover-up in 1984, but are arresting him to put pressure on him to co-operate with their current probe.

    Is that your understanding?

  • Pete Baker

    That would appear to be the position, susan.

    But the inquiry has been running, supposedly, for 4 years and he withdrew his co-operation 2 years ago.

  • Have not heard from Ingram recently.

    Wonder what his opinion on this would be??

  • nmc

    Something along the lines of:

    I wrote a book about this years ago, remember where you heard it first.

    Ding Ding.

  • susan

    Like the investigation into collusion between SB and the Mount Vernon UVF, the accusation is that the investigation of the Travers murder was impeded in order to protect an informer.

    The two year gap between the officer’s withdrawal of co-operation and his arrest could well be further evidence that the Ombudsman’s Office believes he is innocent. It is also possible that after all the fallout following the Ombudsman’s findings in the McCord murder, there is now increased political pressure on the Ombudsman to be seen actively investigating a murder by republican paramilitaries. Or maybe they just have more resources now, I’ve no idea.

    But if the Ombudsman is stepping up pace of the inquiry, it is difficult to grasp what the Travers family and the former officer have to gain by not co-operating fully now, despite their personal pain and frustration.

  • Pete Baker


    I’d suggest there are valid questions to be asked about why the Ombudsman is now stepping up pace of the inquiry.. if that’s in fact what’s happening.

    But, given his withdrawal of co-operation 2 years ago, it’s not difficult to imagine why the former detective would still be wary of the Ombudsman’s investigation.

  • susan

    Wary, yes, bitter, even. But my question — and it is a question, not a judgement — is what does he hope to contribute to a case he obviously feels deeply about by refusing to co-operate even when it now appears the Ombudsman is stepping up the pace?

  • Pete Baker

    That’s another valid question susan.

    But, no doubt his response would be that he made his contribution 4 years ago and the Ombudsman’s office should have then followed-up on that contribution.

    The apparent failure to do that 4 years ago ran the risk of tarnishing the integrity of the inquiry. Which brings us back to the earlier question on why the interest now from the Ombudsman’s Office.

  • susan

    “no doubt his response would be that he made his contribution 4 years ago and the Ombudsman’s office should have then followed-up on that contribution.” — Pete Baker

    That may well be his response, Pete, but is it desirable or workable that a police officer’s cooperation with the Ombudsman be at his/her own discretion?

  • ingram

    Arty Babe,

    This officer was the Handler of amongst others Joe Fenton and the problem he experienced about the Travers murder involved the cover up of an agent who is a very well known figure.

    Documents that he supplied to the Ombudsman in confidence were not returned to him citing UK national interest.

    He is a good copper with a wealth of Knowledge who has done his best to bring some light into the dark corners of the troubles,the Ombudsman arrested Jonty Brown for not playing her game, this officer should have known better than to trust her and her office fully.

    Ding Ding


  • Ingram what is happening with your wesite?

    A day without the darkside is like a salad without water-cress lol

  • ingram

    Arty Babe,

    The site was hacked and destroyed last Friday.

    New site:




  • susan

    Well, perhaps this answers some of the questions about timing. O’Loan announced today her office is investigating six incidences over a 20-year period of alleged collusion between SB and PIRA, including the case of Stakeknife.


  • susan

    Sorry, obviously the probe will not be limited to just SB. From the Sunday Business Post in January:


  • barnshee

    O dear O dear how the shit is approaching the fan —which darling of the PIRA is going to be splattered this time