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4th-Sep-2015 02:19 am - US gunrunner agrees to testify against Sinn Fein man in Belfast court
Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
3 Sept 2015

An American gunrunner is set to be flown to Northern Ireland to give evidence in court against a senior Sinn Fein strategist, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

In what would be one of the most high-profile trials in years, Florida stockbroker turned gunrunner Mike Logan has agreed to testify against Sean "Spike" Murray, once a prominent IRA member, in Belfast Crown Court.

Logan claims he sent Murray hundreds of weapons during his five-year gunrunning career which began after the IRA ceasefire and continued following the Good Friday Agreement.

Murray is one of Sinn Fein's most senior officials in Belfast. Less that a fortnight ago, he was a member of the party delegation which met the Chief Constable at PSNI headquarters to deny IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan and to insist the IRA no longer existed.

Mike Logan will give evidence against a one-time prominent IRA member in court

The deadly cache of weapons that Logan sent the Provos included around 200 handguns which were used in several murders including the killing of two police officers in Lurgan in 1997.

Spike Murray has continually denied any involvement in the gun-smuggling plot, describing the allegations as "without foundation".

But Logan (56) claims he worked for the IRA, reporting directly to Murray, who has served seven years in the H-Blocks for explosive offences and is a regular visitor to Sinn Fein offices in Stormont.

The Belfast Telegraph can exclusively reveal that a high-powered PSNI delegation travelled to the US last month to ask Logan to give evidence against Murray. They included Det Chief Supt Tim Hanley, Head of Serious Crime Branch.

The detectives held a three-hour meeting with Logan in a Florida Hotel. His lawyer spoke to them on the phone in advance to ensure he had immunity from prosecution.

Logan initially refused to co-operate with the PSNI. However, they remained in regular contact with him. Logan changed his mind a fortnight ago and told the police he was willing to help the investigation and to give evidence against Murray.

Three detectives and a PSNI camera operator are due to meet Logan in Florida in early October to formally interview him and record his evidence on video.

Sources say that if a prosecution case is successfully constructed, detectives have told Logan he will be flown to Belfast for the trial and housed in secure accommodation. He has been promised "total protection" in court and when travelling to and from court.

Sean 'Spike' Murray

When asked about the dramatic new developments in the case, a PSNI spokesman would only say: "Inquiries are continuing. This remains a live investigation and as such we can't comment."

Apart from sending the weapons used to murder Constables John Graham and David Johnston in Lurgan in 1997, another gun Logan sent the IRA was used to kill Real IRA Belfast commander Joe O'Connor three years later.

Logan believes a third was used in the IRA's attempted murder in England of former Special Branch agent Martin McGartland in 1999.

McGartland was shot six times outside his home in Whitley Bay. His life was saved by neighbours using cling film to stop the blood flow from his wound.

Two months later, the Czech-made Luger pistol used in the attack was found in undergrowth along the River Tyne. McGartland claims there has been "a massive cover-up" about the gun's origins as the authorities want to avoid blaming the IRA for the attack.

Logan was first interviewed in April last year in a BBC Spotlight programme which suggested that the British authorities, at the highest level, knew the full details of Spike Murray's involvement in the arms' importation but turned a blind eye in order to protect the peace process.

The day after the programme, the DUP met the PSNI to raise concerns and, hours later, it was announced police were investigating the Florida gunrunning operation.

Until our revelations today, details of that investigation had remained secret.

Logan was given immunity from prosecution by the US authorities in 2002 in return for giving them information about the weapons he had bought for the IRA.

23rd-Apr-2015 02:27 am - IRA informer accuses police of abandoning him to die
Case of Marty McGartland, who says he survived two attempts on his life by republicans, is one of 20 being examined as part of ‘Stakeknife’ inquiry

Henry McDonald and Owen Bowcott
The Guardian
22 April 2015



Martin ‘Marty’ McGartland claims two of the guards who interrogated him were recruited to work for the security forces as double agents. (Photograph: Rex Shutterstock)

The only informer ever to have survived an IRA execution squad has accused the police services in Northern Ireland of abandoning him to be killed. The allegations by Marty McGartland, who escaped an IRA interrogation in 1991 by jumping out of a window in west Belfast, will form part of a new inquiry by the police ombudsman into one of the most controversial episodes of the Troubles.

The inquiry will focus on the role of a double agent known as Stakeknife, who ran the republican movement’s so-called “nutting squad”, or counter-intelligence section. Around 20 cases will be examined where the security forces in Northern Ireland stand accused of failing to rescue “prisoners”.

McGartland’s claims that he believes two of the guards who interrogated him were a “protected species” – recruited to work for the security forces as double agents – will reinforce suggestions that the republican movement’s key departments were thoroughly penetrated by the intelligence services.

Speaking from a secret location outside Northern Ireland, McGartland said: “It’s my understanding that for 15 years, first the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and later the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI), sat on evidence that could have led to the arrest of both men. I have consistently said I would go as an eyewitness naming these two people as the ‘guards’ that held me in the flat in Twinbrook before I was to be tortured and then shot dead,” he said.

“I also know for a fact that for 15 years the RUC and then the PSNI failed to make it public that there was fingerprint and DNA evidence from that flat in Twinbrook which belonged to these two men. They even could have been arrested shortly after my escape, and yet nothing was done about them. This pair later took part in the interrogation of another IRA member accused of informing, also in west Belfast.”

McGartland was a former petty criminal whom Special Branch persuaded to infiltrate the IRA in the city. After he escaped the interrogation at which he belives he was to be killed, he went into hiding. He wrote an autobiography about the events, called 50 Dead Men Walking, which was later made into a film starring Jim Sturgess and Sir Ben Kingsley.

McGartland had a second narrow escape in 1999 when an IRA hit team tracked him down to his home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside. During a confrontation with an IRA gunman, McGartland put his hands over the gun barrel and sustained injuries to prevent his attacker from firing into his upper body or head. He is currently taking legal action against MI5 over the security service’s alleged neglect in protecting him from the 1999 attack and for failing to provide him with medical help in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Speaking to the Guardian, McGartland said: “A very senior member of Special Branch, Ian Phoenix, in his posthumous memoirs – Phoenix: Policing the Shadows – revealed that undercover officers were watching and filming me on the day the IRA ‘arrested’ me. From the moment I entered the Sinn Fein office in Andersonstown to me being driven away by these two men for the interrogation in Twinbrook, I could have been rescued at any time, and yet they did nothing. I think it was a case of ‘Well, we’ve got four years out of Marty and now we need to recruit some new informers’ … or else protect other agents.”

McGartland’s claims form part of the inquiry into the role of Stakeknife, who has been identified as Freddie Scappaticci, a republican activist who fled Belfast more than a decade ago. Scappaticci has always denied working for British military intelligence and continues to deny being Stakeknife.

Relatives of those tortured and then killed for being state agents have told the police ombudsman that in some instances their loved ones were “set up” in order to protect the identity of higher-grade informers at the top of the IRA.

McGartland said he would be providing material related to his allegations to the police ombudsman, but had “little faith in anyone taking on the security machine”.

The two men McGartland has named as his guards before his planned execution are veteran republicans who at one time were part of a security team protecting the Sinn Féin president and former west Belfast MP Gerry Adams.

In 2003, when the Stakeknife story broke, Michael Flanigan, a solicitor for Scappaticci, threatened legal action over allegations that his client had operated as a spy at the heart of the IRA. Scappaticci confirmed at the time that he had been involved in the republican movement but had since left.
16th-Jun-2014 05:58 am - Northern Ireland informer court hearings to be held partially in secret
Restrictions may hide details of former IRA members Freddie Scappaticci, known as Stakeknife, and Martin McGartland

Owen Bowcott and Henry McDonald
The Guardian
15 June 2014

Two partially secret court hearings involving Northern Ireland informers are due to take place in London and Belfast this week, as the government deploys fresh legal powers.

The applications for closed material procedures (CMPs) appear designed to prevent details emerging about the controversial roles of Freddie Scappaticci, the west Belfast man alleged to be the military informer codenamed Stakeknife, who ran the IRA's internal security unit in the 1990s; and Martin McGartland, a former RUC agent who infiltrated the IRA. Lawyers allege the cloak of national security is being used to resist legitimate claims.

The coincidence of restrictions being imposed on both historic intelligence cases suggests Whitehall departments and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are determined to exploit the controversial procedure in domestic as well as international cases. Earlier this year, the Northern Ireland Office indicated it would also apply for a secret hearing in a third case involving a former dissident republican who was reimprisoned after his release on licence was revoked without the full reason being given.

CMPs allow the judge and one party to a civil dispute to see sensitive evidence but prevent claimants and the public from knowing precisely what is being alleged. They were introduced by the Justice and Security Act, which came into force late last year. Most of the arguments during the legislation's passage through parliament focused on operations of the intelligence services in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The more commonly used public interest immunity (PII) certificates prevent evidence being used by either side in a court case. CMPs add a new legal weapon to the government's armoury, permitting intelligence to be introduced into a case but withheld in full from a claimant. Supporters, including the cabinet minister Ken Clarke, who ushered the act through parliament, argue it enables the government to resist ill-founded claims. Critics say courtroom battles are no longer fought on a level playing field.

The Belfast case has been brought by Margaret Keeley – whose husband was the MI5 informer known by the pseudonym Kevin Fulton – against the Ministry of Defence, the PSNI and Scappaticci. She alleges she was wrongly arrested and falsely detained in 1994 to protect her husband.

Her solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW Law, Belfast, told the Guardian: "In order to proceed with her claim against the British government for the violation of her human rights, Mrs Keeley requires disclosure of documents relating to her arrest and interrogation and the collusive role of the state in this.

"Both the MoD and PSNI have applied for such information only to be disclosed to the judge and a special advocate in a closed material hearing. This is a controversial procedure under the recent Justice and Security Act 2013, which means that Mrs Keeley will be excluded from the assessment of the material.

"[We] oppose these applications for CMPs. This procedure is not applicable to historical intelligence material which is no longer live and was never intended for use in proceedings relating to the conflict-related cases. The procedure is an offence to the principle of open justice."

Scappaticci rose through the republican movement to head its internal security unit or "headhunters". Their task was to unmask, interrogate and kill informers working inside the IRA. But at the same time as Scappaticci was overseeing the murder of state agents, he was providing RUC special branch and MI5 with high-grade intelligence on senior IRA figures and operations. At first he and Sinn Féin denied he was working as an informer but the republican leadership has since admitted Scappaticci was Stakeknife, although Scappaticci has always denied it.

Nogah Ofer, of Bhatt Murphy solicitors, who represents McGartland, said: "The claim is only to do with resettlement. There's nothing in it that requires exploration of his work as an IRA informant.

"It's purely that they failed to provide for psychiatric help for his injuries and failed to pay the disability benefits they had promised. He was shot by the IRA in 1999. There have been public statements by state bodies about him confirming his former role, including that he has given valuable service to the state.

"He was named in the Bloody Sunday inquiry so the government cannot rely on saying they 'neither confirm nor deny' his role when it[The government] has already confirmed publicly that he has been an agent. There's no need for closed hearings. It's part of a pattern of creeping secrecy."

McGartland worked for the security services in Northern Ireland between 1987 and 1991 when his cover was blown. He was kidnapped by the IRA but managed to escape by jumping from a third-floor window.

He was moved to north-east England but was tracked down after his address was released during a trial. He was shot seven times but survived and now suffers from post-traumatic stress.
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