North's DPP has decided not to charge Loyalists arrested in connection with Ludlow killing
Ed Moloney, Sunday Tribune | 17 October 1999
The North's Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to bring charges against any of the Loyalists arrested and questioned about the controversial murder over twenty years ago of Dundalk forestry worker, Seamus Ludlow, the Sunday Tribune has learned. The decision has been taken despite admissions made by two of the four men during interrogation by RUC detectives last year and comes amid persistent suggestions of a cross-Border cover-up of the killing involving British and Irish intelligence agencies.
Last month the Taoiseach announced there would be a private investigation headed by a retired Supreme Court judge into the 1976 Ludlow murder, but that the report of the inquiry would not be published so as not to compromise any criminal proceedings in the North. The decision not to prosecute will now add to pressure on the government to reverse this decision.
Coming after recent revelations and allegations about the role of the North's DPP in the investigations into the murder of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane and the part played by former UDA quartermaster and RUC Special Branch agent William Stobie, the decision not to prosecute anyone for the Ludlow killing once again places the prosecution system under a harsh spotlight. It also comes as a review of the criminal justice system - including the role of the DPP - ordered under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement is due to publish its report.
Suspicions of a cover up in the murder of Seamus Ludlow, which for two decades was one of the most mysterious unsolved killings of the Troubles, comes partly from the behaviour of Gardai detectives and Special Branch officers at the time of the killing and also from recent revelations made by one of the four men who were allegedly involved in killing Seamus Ludlow on May 1st, 1976.
Paul Hosking from Newtownards, Co Down gave this newspaper a detailed account of the killing over a year ago in which he described how Ludlow (47) was picked up, apparently at random, and killed by members of the Red Hand Commando paramilitary group, two of whom were also soldiers in the Ulster Defence Regiment.
He also says he gave the same account to the RUC Special Branch eleven years later, in 1987, but after being questioned for several hours he was told that he wouldn't be charged and was urged to forget all about the case as it was "political".
This account has fed the suspicion that the authorities may have been protecting a Loyalist double agent amongst the killers who was possibly working for one of the British intelligence agencies.
When Hosking was arrested in 1998 he gave RUC detectives a full account of his role in the murder, in which he says he was caught up by chance, including his dealings with the Special Branch in 1987. It is understood from reliable sources that another of the four men said to have been in the car the night Ludlow was picked up and killed also made admissions. An RUC file has been with the DPP for almost excatly a year.
Hosking and the three others were arrested in 1998 after a campaign by Seamus Ludlow's relatives to re-open the investigation and after it transpired that the Gardai had known the identity of the killers for many years. The Gardai have also been accused of lying to the Ludlow family by saying that Seamus Ludlow was killed by the IRA for informing and was betrayed by a member of his family.
Had Hosking not decided to tell his story to the Sunday Tribune it is possible many of the murder's controversial aspects would have remained hidden and the decision not to prosecute made in non-controversial circumstances.