RUC Special Branch systematically failed to warn people under threat by loyalists, the Billy Wright Inquiry has heard.
The revelation was made by Vincent McFadden, senior investigating officer with the Stevens Inquiry which examined collusion between the Crown forces and unionist paramilitaries.
He said the team had gathered evidence that more than 250 people were never told they were being targeted, some of whom were later killed or injured - and that the “symptoms” of collusion continued long after the Stevens Inquiry was terminated.
Mr McFadden outlined how the Stevens Inquiry team had examined the handling of intelligence about threats to 255 people, the vast majority of whom were Catholic.
The retired officer said there was no evidence that any of them had been warned they were under threat.
Mr McFadden also told the inquiry that senior Special Branch officers told his team that records on some of these individuals either did not exist or had been destroyed - only for the records to be found years later.
Wright was the leader of the LVF death squads, shot down by the INLA inside Long kesh prison in December, 1997.
Alan Kane, who represents Billy Wright’s father, referred (without irony) to “the symptoms of the disease of collusion” uncovered by the Stevens Inquiry.
The barrister said these symptoms included not acting on intelligence, withholding intelligence, a failure to keep records and an absence of accountability.
Asked if he believed these symptoms still existed at the time Billy Wright was killed, Mr McFadden replied: “Yes.”
Mr McFadden also said the Stevens team did not have any evidence of a threat to Wright prior to his death.
The Wright Inquiry was set up following an investigation by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory into allegations of collusion by the prison service and other authorities into Wright’s execution.
Ian Paisley jnr, who has claimed an informer told him about the destruction of police files in the Wright case, has refused to reveal his alleged “source”.
The controversial son of the former DUP leader has denied suggestions that he simply invented the claim.
His stance, which he has vowed to maintain, could leave him exposed to a fine if the inquiry presses for sanctions.
He has yet to be served with a High Court order to give the name of the so-called informer.
Nineteen serving and retired members of the RUC/PSNI will be able to give their evidence to the Robert Hamill inquiry from behind screens, it was announced this week.
The Hamill inquiry was also set up on foot of the recommendations of Judge Cory.
Mr Hamill, a 25-year-old Catholic, was beaten to death by a sectarian mob in Portadown, County Armagh, in 1997, while an RUC patrol kept watch. Members of the RUC later advised their loyalist friends on how to avoid prosecution in connection with his death.
No-one was ever charged in connection with the murder.