FRU murder and lies at Ballykinlar
FRU murder and lies at Ballykinlar

The murder of an undercover British Army soldier in the North by a drunken colleague was followed by an elaborate cover-up, it has emerged.

The killer, identified only as Sergeant W, staggered drunkenly after a heavy drinking session just hours before going on to a County Down firing range where he shot his colleague dead, an inquest has heared.

Undercover soldier Michael ‘Harry’ White (42), was shot dead in December 2001 in a ‘friendly fire’ killing on a British Army firing range. No charges were brought.

The sergeant could barely stand after drinking with other officers in the hours before going on specialist training at Ballykinlar. His major was later questioned by detectives investigating an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Mrs White told the inquest his colleagues told her of the drunkenness weeks after the shooting.

Explaining her main reason for wanting a full investigation, she said: “I don’t want Harry to be blamed for his own death.”

The family is suing the British Army for negligence. Sergeant White, a senior instructor with the British Army’s “agent handling” unit, was reportedly playing the role of a hostage when he was shot dead by a colleague attempting to “rescue” him in December 2001.

White was a member of the Joint Services Group (JSG), the unit formerly known as Force Research Unit (FRU), which handles informers and paramilitary death squads.

The court was only told that White was a member of an unnamed undercover unit and colleagues gave evidence anonymously from behind screens.

The FRU has been at the centre of a number of scandals, including its “handling” of Brian Nelson, who directed the murder of Pat Finucane and other civilians.

In a blatant cover-up, it was initially suggested that White had been hit by a ricocheting bullet that had bounced off “something”. However Leo Rossi, a forensics expert, told the coroner’s court: “In my opinion the bullet struck point on, it had not been upset in flight.”

He added that the fatal bullet’s metal jacket and tip were not recovered during the post mortem. This made it impossible to establish the gun responsible for firing the shot that killed White. The absence of this evidence had made it impossible for a PSNI investigation to say with certainty which soldier fired the fatal shot.

“It is hard to find an innocent explanation for the total loss of this vital evidence, especially since it took place in a closed training facility within an army base,” admitted DUPP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News