Irish Republican News · July 27, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Newspaper censored, soldier fined after report

The British Ministry of Defence has placed a gagging order on a former undercover British soldier, who said an IRA sniper attack could have been prevented.

Stephen Restorick, the last British soldier to die in the conflict, died in the attack.

The former soldier, operating under the pseudonym “Tony Buchanan”, told the Sunday Times three weeks ago that the IRA sniper team which shot dead Lance Bombardier Restorick in Bessbrook in south Armagh in 1997 was under surveillance for 40 minutes before the soldier’s death, but that permission to intercept the gang was refused.

The revelation raised questions as to whether Restorick was put at risk to protect the life of an informant in the gang.

The British Ministry of Defence has taken a censorship order preventing the Sunday Times publishing further disclosures by Mr Buchanan, who is operating as a private soldier in Iraq.

The newspaper, which sought and received clearance from a military security committee for its initial report, has been infuriated by the order.

The MoD’s legal action against Buchanan prevents him from making further claims and seeks cash compensation for “breaching confidentiality”.

Rita Restorick, mother of Stephen, condemned the injunction. She said: “At the moment Buchanan is the only way that I am finding out any information at all about how Stephen died.

“We had met with the Ombudsman and asked her to look into this to find out if there is any truth in what he is saying and she had agreed to do that.

“I will be contacting the Police Ombudsman today to see where this leaves us and if this will hinder the investigation.”

The Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala O’Loan, is to press ahead with her request to interview Buchanan, although her office is also understood to be affected by the MoD’s actions.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman said “the allegations are so serious they warrant an investigation”.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News