UK state: Northern Ireland

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Feb 24 04:14:54 MST 2003


The fact that this story is being reported at all indicates that there are
some within the security apparatus who are deeply unhappy about the whole
affair and are therefore willing to leak otherwise "sensitive" information
about this case.

------

'UDA collusion' masterspy in top Iraq role

Investigation: Promotion for Scottish brigadier in Ulster murder probe rules
out threat of prosecution
By Neil Mackay Home Affairs Editor
The Sunday Herald, 23 February 2003

BRIGADIER Gordon Kerr, the Scottish military intelligence officer facing
prosecution for allegedly colluding with loyalist paramilitaries in the
murders of Catholics in Ulster, has been sent to the Gulf to head up British
spying activities in the Middle East as part of preparations for action in
Iraq.

The posting places Kerr, an Aberdonian army officer who began his career in
the Gordon Highlanders, far beyond the reach of either Scotland Yard or the
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The move has been described as a 'get
out of jail free card' for Kerr.

The families of victims murdered through security force collusion with
loyalist terror gangs have savaged the decision to relocate Kerr to the
Gulf, saying that it proves he is protected by the state and will never face
prosecution.

The move follows a decision on February 13 by Sir John Stevens, the
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, to forward papers on Kerr and some 20
other members of the security forces who served in Northern Ireland to the
DPP. The DPP will make a decision on whether or not to seek prosecutions
against Kerr and the other security force personnel.

For more than two years, the Sunday Herald has been investigating the role
of Kerr in the 'dirty war' in Northern Ireland. Kerr was the commanding
officer of the Force Research Unit (FRU), an ultra-secret arm of the British
Army's Intelligence Corps which ran some of the most highly placed agents
within the IRA and loyalist paramilitary organisations.

The Sunday Herald investigations revealed how Kerr and the FRU used some
agents as 'proxy assassins' for the British state. Military handlers would
pass information and documents -- such as photographs and address details --
on Sinn Fein activists, republican sympathisers, IRA men and sometimes
ordinary Catholics, to agents inside the UDA. This information would then be
handed on to UDA murder squads who would use it to plan assassinations.

Among those who died as a result of the alleged collusion was the acclaimed
Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane who was gunned down by loyalist killers in
front of his wife and children in 1989. Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir John
Stevens has been investigating the Finucane murder and the activities of the
FRU for more than a decade.

Pat Finucane's son Michael, who is a Dublin solicitor, said: 'This latest
development shows clearly that the government not only supports Kerr but
will protect him should he need protection from possible prosecution.

'I have no confidence in Sir John Stevens's investigation ever producing a
successful prosecution, certainly not against an army brigadier.

'The circumstances surrounding the murder of my father clearly show British
army and British government collusion in the murder. It is clear that this
policy of collusion continues even to this day, except that instead of
colluding with loyalists, the army and the government are colluding with
each other to ensure that the matter stays covered up.'

Until recently Kerr was British military attachZ to Beijing -- one of the
most senior diplomatic roles that a serving soldier can fill. Kerr was
questioned by the Stevens team earlier this year on his return from China.
He then took two weeks' leave before his posting to the Gulf.

A senior military source told the Sunday Herald: 'This posting makes Kerr
untouchable. He is not going to be dragged away from essential war work in
an operational theatre to talk to the police or prosecutors. Kerr has landed
on his feet with this posting.

'It shows that the whole Stevens inquiry is nothing but a whitewash. He is
never going to end up in a court of law. This posting keeps him safe and
protects those in the army who are above him -- and those politicians who
were in power when the FRU was carrying on these activities in Ulster --
from ever having to answer nasty questions that might arise through him
being arrested or charged.'

Other senior Ministry of Defence sources said that 'it seemed increasingly
unlikely that there would ever be a successful prosecution stemming from the
Stevens inquiry'. Kerr is the most senior serving officer in the
Intelligence Corps and has been rewarded with both an OBE and the Queen's
Gallantry Medal for his services to the Army.

The MoD's chief spokesman said: 'As far as I'm concerned Brigadier Kerr is a
senior serving officer and he will be deployed as we see fit. This will be
the case until there are charges or arrests.

'We cannot release information on his posting and location due to the
background of the work that Brigadier Kerr was involved in. I'd find it very
unfair if the Sunday Herald said that we were keeping him out of trouble or
away from the investigation.

'We do not see how his current posting is relevant to the Stevens inquiry.
It would only be relevant if the police had said that Brigadier Kerr should
remain in the country. That wasn't said.'

Jane Winter, the director of British Irish Rights Watch -- an organisation
that has campaigned long and hard for justice over the murder of Pat
Finucane -- said: ' The fact that Kerr seems to be playing a key role in the
coming war suggests that all the activities that he was involved in were
sanctioned at the highest level.''

Intelligence sources who know Kerr said: 'It seems bizarre that he has been
chosen for this role. He isn't an expert in Arab matters at all. It seems a
very convenient way of getting him offside at a crucial time.'

Kerr will also be involved in any post-war 'de-Saddam isation' of Iraq,
sources said. This would involve the prosecution of key members of the
regime for crimes against humanity. 'Wouldn't it be ironic if Kerr was in
charge of gathering the information for the prosecution of war crimes?' a
source added.




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