A former newspaper editor has said the loyalist murderers of fellow journalist Martin O’Hagan have never been brought to justice because they were paid police informers.
Former Sunday World northern editor Jim Campbell was a close friend of Mr O’Hagan and worked with him for several years. He was speaking on the fifteenth anniversary of his death.
Mr O’Hagan was shot dead on September 28, 2001 in Lurgan, County Armagh as he walked home from a night out with his wife. The PSNI had been warned in advance about the loyalist killers driving around Lurgan prior to the 51-year-old’s murder.
The killing was admitted by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by two unionist paramilitary groups, the LVF and UDA. However, no-one has ever been convicted of the reporter’s murder.
“They boasted they would never face trial because they could reveal damning information about collusion between the police and LVF in several sectarian killings,” Mr Campbell said.
Mr Campbell also claimed police knew the names of Mr O’Hagan’s murderers within hours of the drive-by shooting. He said the PSNI had been warned in advance about “the LVF gang driving round Lurgan as if they were looking for someone” by a local loyalist, who gave their names to police shortly after the murder.
The current ‘Sunday World’ Belfast Bureau Chief, Richard Sullivan, said the newspaper would continue to fight for justice for Mr O’Hagan
He the “country has been let down” because Mr O’Hagan’s killers are still free.
“We named Martin’s killers and exposed them repeatedly. The fact that Martin’s killers are still on the streets is a very bitter pill to swallow,” said Mr Sullivan.
“There doesn’t appear to be any appetite to put Martin’s killers behind bars. The ‘Sunday World’ will continue to highlight the deficit in Martin’s case.”
The editor praised Mr O’Hagan for his brave journalism. “Martin pursued criminals tenaciously and was exposing people,” he said.