Call for new investigation into informer recruitment coercion
Call for new investigation into informer recruitment coercion


The Police Ombudsman has been urged to review an investigation into the suspicious death of a republican while in PSNI custody after an investigator linked to the case resigned.

Belfast-based solicitor Aiden Carlin made the call after it emerged that former ombudsman official Steve Skerratt left his post after a PSNI gun and ammunition were found in a filing cabinet in the ombudsman’s city centre HQ.

It is understood Skerratt stood down from his position shortly after being informed that an internal investigation had been launched into the discovery of the gun in June.

Mr Carlin said this week that Skerratt also investigated the death of Strabane republican John Brady (pictured) who took his own life while being held at Strand Road PSNI station in Derry in 2009.

He was approached by members of the PSNI C3 (Special Branch), three times before his death. It is believed that Mr Brady, who served a prison sentence for IRA actions and had been interned, was put under pressure to become an informer before he died by hanging in the station cell.

Mr Brady’s family later criticised the ombudsman’s investigation, which claimed he was neither harassed nor mistreated in custody.

“Significantly, the role of C3 officers did not feature in the 2010 Police Ombudsman report despite the fact that Steve Skerratt confirmed as recently as last year ‘this aspect has been thoroughly investigated and we can say with certainty that no C3 officers had contact with Mr Brady while he was in custody’,” he said.

“The Police Ombudsman needs to move beyond damage limitation and accept that the casework of its former investigator requires a full independent review.”

Mr Carlin said that if a gun had been left in the ombudsman’s “premises for almost a decade what hope for the Police Ombudsman discovering the truth about John Brady’s suspicious death in custody?”


There have been fresh concerns over the PSNI’s pressure tactics to persuade another man to turn informer recently.

John Carleton, who was subjected to a punishment shooting by a breakaway IRA group over alleged anti-social activity, said he had been threatened by the PSNI for refusing to identify those involved.

Mr Carleton, who has ongoing health problems and is described as “vulnerable” by his lawyers, said he has come under pressure to name a known west Belfast republican as being responsible for the shooting. He claims the PSNI warned him he would be jailed if he didn’t name the man as his attacker.

Mr Carleton, who is in his 40s, has reported his concerns to the Police Ombudsman.

“I’m living in constant fear of what’s going to happen next. They (PSNI) have been phoning me since October last year. I’ve been given numbers to ring and they’ve stopped me and even rang the house. The pressure is getting to me,” he said.

“I’m the victim of a shooting and yet I’m the one being threatened with jail.”

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