RUC bugged Rosemary Nelson’s home
RUC bugged Rosemary Nelson’s home

British Crown forces bugged a house belonging to human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson and tried to tap her office phone, the inquiry into her murder has learned.

The inquiry revealed RUC Special Branch were recording the “minutiae of her life” for almost three years before Mrs Nelson was murdered by a car bomb.

The inquiry, which resumed hearings this month, will explore whether RUC Special Branch colluded in the killing of Mrs Nelson, which was carried out by the unionist paramilitary UVF in March 1999.

The then British Direct Ruler Mo Mowlam approved the operation to bug the home owned by Mrs Nelson. One intelligence report gives details of a conversation Mrs Nelson had with Martin McGuinness in her office, several months before the RUC application to tap her phone.

RUC Special Branch was interested in Mrs Nelson because she represented the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Coalition in the Drumcree dispute and prominent local republican, Colin ‘Collie’ Duffy.

The Committee on the Administration of Justice -- Mrs Nelson served on its executive committee -- indicated it was concerned about the revelations.

“We are opposed to any breach of lawyer-client confidentiality arrangements,” said CAJ director Mike Ritchie.


Meanwhile, the Washington Post has published claims that the British army bugged every new car sold in the North of Ireland during the conflict.

The Washington Post’s military correspondent, Tom Ricks, posted on the internet details he claims were gleaned during a top-level briefing at the Counterintelligence Center, a private firm specialising in counter-intelligence education, a year ago.

Mr Ricks said a former member of the SAS who worked in Belfast for 10 years “provided some fascinating insights into their operations and, specifically, some of the ‘out-of-the-box’ methods they utilized to collect and target the IRA, Gerry Adams and their sympathisers”.

The former soldier told how the intelligence service “bugged every new car going into Northern Ireland, and thus knew everything [Sinn Féin leader] Gerry Adams was discussing”.

“They did this because Adams always conducted mobile meetings and always used new cars,” Mr Ricks wrote.

“The Israelis have a term for this type of thinking, ‘Embracing the Meshugganah’, which literally translated means, embrace the craziness, because the crazier the plan, the less likely the adversary will have thought about it, and thus, not have implemented a counter-measure.”

In 1999 Sinn Féin discovered a bug in a car used by Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness while travelling to talks with the IRA.

Earlier this year it was reported that MI5 took one of Gerry Adams’s personal drivers into protective custody after he was suspected of working as a British agent.

The security agency is said to have advised him to leave his home after it emerged that an internal IRA investigation found he had been working as a spy for more than a decade.

He was part of a pool of drivers for senior republican leaders from the time of the IRA’s first ceasefire in 1994.

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