MoD in `Watergate' controversy
BY LAURA FRIEL
Evidence suggesting that the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) was involved in a burglary to gather information against a former member of the shadowy Force Research Unit (FRU), one of the most secret and controversial units within the British Army, is to be scrutinised by the United Nations. The details are included in a report currently being compiled by Jane Winters of human rights group British Irish Rights Watch.
The burglary was carried out in February of this year at a house where a former member of British Military Intelligence stays when he is outside Britain. A laptop computer, CDs, videos, two Swatch phones, a box of old cheque books and bank statements and an early draft of a memoir by the former soldier were amongst items taken.
The incident is believed to be linked to British attempts to identify and silence an FRU whistle blower, whose revelations appeared in the Sunday Times. The London newspaper was subjected to a gagging order shortly after a number of articles exposing Britain's ``dirty war'' in Ireland appeared last autumn.
The source, who adopted the pseudonym Martin Ingram, claims to be a former FRU member. British authorities are currently engaged in a massive search operation to locate and identify the former FRU soldier.
The FRU, which ran agents within loyalist paramilitary groups, was officially disbanded after the trial of a British agent infiltrated into the UDA by the FRU, Brian Nelson. Nelson exposed the role of British Military Intelligence in supplying information and selecting targets for loyalist death squads. The FRU is believed to have been reinstated under a different name.
Late last year, a former British soldier was arrested in Wales and taken to London where he was questioned by the Metropolitan Special Branch for two days. The former FRU member was accused of being Martin Ingram and was questioned in relation to the Official Secrets Act.
Papers allegedly stolen in February from an address used by a former member of the FRU were in MoD hands less than two weeks after the burglary. The MoD used the documents to confront an ex soldier they suspected of being Ingram. The MoD told the soldier's lawyers that the papers had been delivered to them anonymously.
Among Ingram's most controversial revelations was the claim that a British Army unit specialising in covert entry techniques attempted to sabotage the Stevens Inquiry into crown force collusion with loyalist death squads. The unit broke into the Stevens team's headquarters and set fire to investigation files. The office was gutted but the unit failed to totally thwart the investigation because Stevens had kept back-up files at another location.
Commenting, Jane Winters of BIRW said if it is true that the British security services burgled a house in order to obtain evidence against Martin Ingram which they were not able to obtain legally, then this is a serious criminal offence.