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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