A County Armagh lorry driver has said he fears for his life after being stopped on a Scottish roadside by PSNI Special Branch police who offered him thousands of pounds to gather information on republicans.
Brendan Adair, who lives in Keady, said the two PSNI men were accompanied by uniformed Scottish police who pulled his lorry over in a patrol car on a rural road as he drove from Cairnryan ferry port to England in the early hours of the morning.
The 41-year-old said the approach in November was the second time he had been stopped and asked to act as a paid informer. Mr Adair said the same two men first stopped him on Grosvenor Road in west Belfast on October 17, identifying themselves as members of Special Branch.
“They said, ‘We know you work hard and you’ve two good kids there - we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you that would take you away from them’,” he claimed.
“They knew what I did for a living and other personal details about an ex-girlfriend.”
Mr Adair said the men asked about a named senior republican from west Belfast and whether he had any information about the person. Days later he was making his way through western Scotland when he was pulled over again by a police patrol car with flashing blue lights.
“Two uniformed police told me to stand at the back of the lorry, that they were doing a routine check,” he said.
“When I walked to the back of the lorry the two men from Belfast were standing there. One said, ‘Bet you weren’t expecting to see us here’. The taller one said, ‘I’ve money here for you’. He kept telling me I wouldn’t need to work so hard and they could sort a holiday for me and my kids.
“They knew I’d done a medical trial recently and how much I’d been paid for it. One of them said, ‘I’ve 10 times that amount for you here if you help us’ - they gave me the same number again to ring.
“They kept me there for about 25 minutes. I’m worried for my livelihood and my safety if this keeps on. I’ve contacted my solicitor who is going to write to the chief constable about police harassment.”
A PSNI spokesman said “anyone with a complaint to make regarding police action should contact the police ombudsman.”
OMBUDSMAN SAYS NO
But a County Tyrone man who sought official help in dealing with separate attempts to recruit him as an informer was controversially told the Police Ombudsman has no power to deal with the situation.
The 28-year-old, who did not want to be named, said the PSNI subjected him to two ‘stop and search’ operations and two attempts to recruit him as an informer in the Dungannon area.
Uniformed police officers first attempted to recruit him after pulling his work van to the side of a busy public road close to a loyalist area in August. During the encounter a female PSNI operative tried to push a “wad” of cash through the open window of the van as another looked on. He said he was approached for a second time several weeks later by two plain-clothes police, one of which was present during the previous approach, outside his workplace in Dungannon. Again, attempts were made to recruit him as an informer.
The Police Ombudsman told him such incidents are “outside the remit” of the office. It is understood to be the first time the ombudsman’s office has admitted it was unable to investigate a complaint of PSNI harassment because it involves ‘intelligence’ issues.
“In a way it’s very scary to think the ombudsman, set up to protect the people, are unable to because they have no jurisdiction over the people operating in northern Ireland,” he said.