Million dollar price-tag for trial testimony

The chief MI5 witness in a ‘Real IRA’ arms trial refused to give evidence unless he was given 650,000 pounds sterling ($1.1m) and a medal from the Queen.

Three county Armagh men are to stand trial next year over an alleged plot to smuggle weapons from mainland Europe.

They were arrested after a ‘sting’ involving an MI5 agent codenamed ‘Amir’.

‘Amir’ accused MI5 of betrayal when, despite earlier assurances, he was ordered to give evidence against the three men.

It has now emerged that he demanded 650,000 pounds from MI5 for the stress caused.

Amir’s lawyer wrote to MI5: “I would invite you to agree to pay to my client the sum of 450,000 pounds within 28 days in full and final settlement of his current claims.

“Please also confirm that you will agree to a life contingency payment of 200,000 pounds.”

In later correspondence Amir also demanded a ‘retainer’ of 30,000 pounds.

“Amir would be prepared to hold his ‘grievance’ (as it has been referred to by you) in abeyance pending the criminal trial in Northern Ireland,” his lawyer wrote.

He said his client “seeks to be paid a lump sum of 30,000 pounds reflecting a monthly income or retainer of 2,500 pounds”.

Amir’s solicitor warned that this was his “final position”.

“If your client [MI5] does not, then our client will withdraw his cooperation with the authorities in Northern Ireland and pursue a civil claim against the service for breach of contract and/or breach of their duty of care to him,” he wrote.

Amir claimed that MI5 had promised him an honour from the Queen, only to withdraw it after he refused to give evidence.

In an internal MI5 memo his handlers wrote ‘Amir’ was told that “an honour was long overdue and that he had ‘definitely been put down for one and it had gone through various people and it is on the desk of somebody’.

He was later told that it was “definitely happening 100 per cent”.

Thirty-five MI5 agents will testify anonymously at the trial. All the defendants deny the charges.

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