Wanted ad sparks Special Branch recruitment bid
Wanted ad sparks Special Branch recruitment bid


A County Tyrone taxi driver has told how PSNI Special Branch tried to recruit him as an informer after he placed a small classified ad on a website.

Seamus Hughes from Ballinderry, on the Tyrone-Derry border, said he was intimidated when approached within weeks of advertising for an electronic car part on the Gumtree website.

The part-time taxi driver said men claiming to be from the PSNI threatened that he would lose his taxi licence if he refused to spy on named individuals and report back.

Mr Hughes said the men knew his name even though only his telephone number was on the website.

“Just my number was put on Gumtree - there was no name,” he said.

Since the ad appeared he was contacted several times by the Special Branch. Within days of posting it, he received a call to his mobile phone from a man claiming to have the part he wanted and arranged to meet him in Newry, County Down, to make an exchange.

Mr Hughes says the man refused to accept cash and instead told him he could pay his debt by providing him with free taxi runs between Cookstown and Newry.

After taking the car part home Mr Hughes realised it didn’t work.

Two weeks later he was contacted by the ‘seller’ and the pair arranged to meet for a second time near Cookstown so he could return the unwanted car part.

“I handed it back and thanked them for not charging me and trusting me,” Mr Hughes said.

“Then one of them said to me: ‘I have done you a good turn so I want you to do us a good turn’.

“I nearly fell over when he said it. They said: ‘You have been running about in bad company and you are going to end up in jail’.

“Then they started to name people that they wanted information on, saying some were republicans.

“I told them I didn’t know these boys and don’t agree with their carry on and that I have no interest in politics.

“He said: ‘Get us some information and we will give you a car and money and whatever you want’.

“I told them I didn’twant their money. I asked ‘Who are you?’ and he said: ‘We are the police’.”

Mr Hughes says one of the men threatened to have his taxi licence removed if he did not cooperate.

“I am walking about in fear that I could lose my taxi licence,” he said.

“You don’t want to lose your livelihood.

“I live on my own and it can be very quiet. Coming and going in the middle of the night, you’d be afraid.

“They are trying to intimidate me... I hear the dogs barking at night and there are strange things happening around the house. I am feeling vulnerable.

“That’s why I am going public. I want people to know what is happening.”

The PSNI have refused to comment on the matter.

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