A British information tribunal has ruled that a review of ‘dirty war’ tactics in the north of Ireland compiled by British intelligence at the height of the conflict nearly 50 years ago should stay secret.
The verdict marks the end of a freedom of information battle between the PSNI (formerly RUC) police and news website ‘Declassified UK’.
It comes as a blow to legacy campaigners and bereaved families who hoped the report could shed light on collusion between RUC/PSNI Special Branch and pro-British paramilitaries.
The dossier was drawn up by Jack Morton (pictured, centre), a former MI5 director and colonial counter-insurgency veteran. Morton spent eight weeks in 1973 reviewing “the organisation, staffing and equipment” of RUC Special Branch in its bid to control the north of Ireland.
Less than a year after Morton completed his report, the unionist paramilitary UVF killed 33 people and an unborn child in Dublin and Monaghan. No one has ever been charged with the atrocity.
The bombs are thought to have been built at a farm in Glenanne, south Armagh, owned by an RUC man and used by a gang of unionist paramilitaries, RUC and British soldiers.
Dublin bomb campaigner Margaret Urwin from Justice for the Forgotten said: “It is of crucial importance for us to be able to access the Morton Report as we have long been aware of the close relationships between members of the Glenanne Gang and RUC Special Branch.
“As they have done with so many hundreds of other files on Northern Ireland, which have been closed for 84 years or 100 years, the British authorities have applied the national security blanket possibly in order to cover up human rights violations.”
It’s now feared the report may never be published after a British court ruling in August that it can stay secret for ever.