NI Police Collusion ‘Confirmed’

Police colluded with loyalists behind several murders in north Belfast, a report by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland is to confirm. Nuala O’Loan’s report will say UVF members in the area committed murders and other serious crimes while working as informers for Special Branch.

The report will also say some Special Branch officers protected the killers and ensured they were not caught.

NI Secretary Peter Hain said it “shone a torch into a very dark corner”.

The report will call for a number of murder investigations to be re-opened.

But it is unlikely that any of the police officers involved will be prosecuted – the Ombudsman is expected to say that evidence was deliberately destroyed to ensure there could not be prosecutions.

The Ombudsman’s investigation started more than three years ago when Belfast welder Raymond McCord claimed that his son, also called Raymond, had been killed by a police informer.

The former RAF man was beaten to death and his body dumped in a quarry in 1997.

Mr McCord has said he wants action against those who were responsible.

Among the investigations which could be re-opened are the murder in north Belfast in 1992 of 27-year-old taxi driver Sharon McKenna, who was shot at the home of an elderly friend.

The names of the police officers and the informers will not be made public.

However, it is known that the main informer at the centre of the investigation is Mark Haddock, who was named in the Irish parliament 15 months ago as a UVF killer.

Some of the Special Branch officers criticised in the report have rejected the Ombudsman’s allegations as “unfounded and incapable of substantiation”.

In a statement, the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers’ Association said they had always acted in the best interests of the pursuit of justice and had nothing to be ashamed of.

The officers also challenged the Ombudsman to disclose the details of any evidence of their criminal behaviour discovered during her investigation.