BETWEEN (RUC) SPECIAL BRANCH AND CID
On May 1 2001 Ulster Television broadcast an interview with a former RUC Detective in the RUC Criminal Investigation Branch (CID), Detective Sergeant Johnson 'Jonty' Brown. In the programme a series of allegations were made concerning RUC Special Branch. It was claimed that Special Branch routinely blocked investigations and destroyed evidence in order to protect informers. This included the investigation into, and evidence concerning, the murder of Pat Finucane. See here for a full transcript of the TV programme.
Reference is made in the programme to internal RUC instructions governing the interchange of intelligence between RUC Special Branch and the CID. These instructions were contained in a memo issued on 23 February 1981, the Walker Report. The report was authored by Patrick Walker who, it is believed, was second in command of MI5 in the North in the early 1980s. Since the mid-seventies the role and influence of MI5 in the north had grown with Security Liaison Offices at British Army HQ and at RUC HQ at Knock. The MI5 Director and Coordinator of Intelligence (DCI), based at Stormont, functioned as a de facto personal advisor to ministers at cabinet level on security matters concerning the North. The Security Services Act of 1989 made the DCI responsible to the secretary of state for Northern Ireland as opposed to the MI5 in Britain which was answerable to the British Home Office. In 1989, in the same year that Pat Finucane was murdered, Walker was appointed overall Director of the Security Service, MI5. At least one, and possibly more, of those involved in the murder of Pat Finucane were agents run by RUC Special Branch. Another of those involved in the murder, Brian Nelson, was an agent of the British Army Force Research Unit. Given the variety of intelligence sources serious questions remain unanswered regarding the level of knowledge within command structures in both the RUC and the security services concerning the murder of Pat Finucane. There has been much speculation over the years regarding the nature of the relationship between MI5, Britain's internal security service, and RUC Special Branch. The fact that the report that defined internal RUC regulations regarding intelligence was written by a senior member of MI5 will only add to that speculation.
Commenting on the memo Jane Winters of British Irish Rights Watch said: "Before this document came to light many people would have thought that, perhaps, on occasion, security came before policing requirements and the requirements of justice. But in this highly systemised process, basically, intelligence always took priority I do think a very serious question is, if MI5 drew up these guidelines, and if, within the RUC, Special Branch and intelligence is primary - if Special Branch were running the RUC, was MI5 running Special Branch?"
Sinn Fein and the SDLP both said the existence of the document vindicated their stance on RUC reform. Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said: "We cannot have a new beginning to policing if that force is under the direct control of faceless securocrats within the British Secret Services." According to the SDLP's Alex Attwood the report confirmed "that there are still many unanswered questions regarding the relationship between loyalist paramilitaries and the police and army." (Irish News 15.6.2001) Below is the text of the confidential memo.
The Walker report
Policing / MI5