Random MI5 recruitment bid lands man in hospital

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A County Tyrone man has described how he was hospitalised after MI5 and PSNI tried to recruit him as an informer.

John Cuddy from Aughnacloy had to be taken to hospital by ambulance after the approach in Moygashel last week. The grandfather takes medication for a condition that means his heart could stop if it beats too fast.

The 51-year-old security officer says he was confronted by the two men as he manned the gates of a building site. Interviewed by the Irish News, he said the men, wearing work clothes and yellow safety jackets, arrived at his building site in a plain white transit van.

One said “Don’t be alarmed John, I’m MI5” while the other identified himself as a “policeman” and flashed a card.

“They said they wanted to talk to me and I said ‘I don’t want to talk to you’,” he said.

“They said ‘We know you are a great community man and care for your community’.

“They said ‘We want half an hour’ of my time and they said they could make life very easy for me or very difficult for me.

“I said, ‘I don’t care what you can do, get to hell away from me’.”

Mr Cuddy said he “backed off” the men and told them he had health problems. He said the men eventually left the area but told him they would return in a month.

Mr Cuddy said he received a phone call later that day from a person he believes was one of the men. He said he reported the encounter to his lawyer who has since referred the matter to the Police Ombudsman.

He said that after the incident he started to get chest pains, felt sick and later attended a doctor’s surgery.

“At this stage my heart was racing. It was doing 130 beats a minute and my blood pressure had gone away up,” he said.

Mr Cuddy said a doctor rang an ambulance which took him from the surgery to hospital where he spent several hours before being allowed to return home.

He says he was forced to give up his job as a lorry driver due to his health condition. The father-of-three says the experience was “very frightening” and he is considering not returning to work.

“I am watching everything,” he said. “I can’t sleep, I’m panicking and my family is trying to keep me calm.

“I want to make it very, very clear, I want nothing to do with it. I am a grandfather to three children and want to be left alone.

“I am not involved in anything. I’m in no groups and have no affiliation whatsoever.”

A spokeswoman for the Ombudsman said it had received a complaint about the approach and was making preliminary enquiries.

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