Subversion report 'no surprise'

The 'Subversion in the UDR' document is accompanied by four letters of response from very senior officials. And although the document is described as a draft, it is significant that none of the letter writers disagree with its contents. One goes so far as to say he wishes he "could say the contents came as a surprise, but cannot", and fears that the report will raise questions "once it has reached No 10".

A top military figure writes that the vetting of UDR recruits is "only a screening procedure" and "has no relationship to normal security vetting carried out on people who require to have access to classified information". He reveals that the additional requirement for recruits to provide a reference had "been successful as part of the PR exercise", but is open to abuse and "can add little" to the screening.

A second response recommends changing the language of a number of paragraphs, but says: "I have no reason to dissent from the conclusions of this paper".

A third reply suggests that the report's author offer "wider coverage" on the "85-95 per cent not thought likely to be members of Protestant extremist organisations".

The same intelligence officer asks if more work could be done to identify UDR units that should be disbanded in the event of a reduction in the size of the regiment being proposed. He then suggests extra research be carried out, adding, however: "You may consider that the submission of the paper, particularly in view of its depressing content, should not be delayed."

A final letter of response on the report, penned by a senior MoD civil servant, reads: "I wish I could say that its contents come as a surprise, but I am afraid they do not." He adds that until further "hard evidence" is available: "I would agree with the doubts expressed by Cdr UDR about the validity of including the percentage figures shown as estimates of the proportion of UDR involved now or in the past in Protestant extremist groups." There is no indication as to whether or not the author acted on the request to have the five to 15 per cent figure removed. The civil servant finishes by writing that if "it begins to look fairly definite that the draft will become a JIC approved paper", it should be circulated more widely among officials before it is passed on. "This would enable them to be prepared to some extent for the questions which, I would guess, are bound to follow once it has reached No10."