22 July 2005

Castlereagh: no charges

Daily Ireland

By Jarlath Kearney

The PSNI has failed to charge anyone after a highly sensitive security dossier “disappeared” from east Belfast’s Castlereagh barracks in July 2004, it can be revealed.
Daily Ireland has also learned that – barring three initial searches and one arrest – the PSNI has failed to order any follow-up searches or arrests in the explosive investigation for exactly 12 months.
It’s believed that 28 Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) soldiers ranging from major to private were removed from sensitive intelligence duties after the disappearance of the document from the Military Intelligence offices at the PSNI base was discovered.
Speaking to Daily Ireland yesterday, a British army spokesperson declined to elaborate on the current assignments of the 28 RIR soldiers claiming “it would be unfair to speculate”.
Nationalist politicians were incensed about the apparent theft of the intelligence document. British government officials telephoned members of the media throughout Belfast to advise that the apparent theft was a “non-story”.
The incident followed a previous burglary of intelligence documents at Castlereagh PSNI Special Branch office in March 2002.
On that occasion, the PSNI initially blamed an ‘inside job’ theory before attempting to throw suspicion onto republicans.
Over 30 high-profile raids and nine arrests took place in the days after the 2002 Castlereagh burglary, with extensive PSNI media briefings blaming the IRA for the incident. No one was charged.
By contrast, on Sunday, July 11, 2004, the PSNI issued a brief statement indicating that detectives “had been called to investigate” an alleged internal breach of security at Castlereagh barracks. A later British government statement confirmed that “there is an ongoing investigation into the disappearance of a document from a room in the Castlereagh Complex”.
At that time, just three premises were searched. Only one person was arrested before being released without charge. This individual was believed to be a serving RIR soldier.
It emerged that a highly-classified intelligence dossier containing the personal details of hundreds of citizens had gone missing from Castlereagh barracks.
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed to Daily Ireland yesterday that no subsequent searches or arrests have been ordered in the past 12 months.
“To date, one person has been arrested and subsequently released without charge. Three searches were carried out. Investigations into this incident are continuing,” the PSNI spokesperson said.
A British army spokesperson told Daily Ireland last night that “no soldiers were suspended from duty” over the affair.
“A number of personnel were assigned to other duties while the police investigation went on,” the spokesperson said.
Describing the reassignments as “quite normal”, the spokesperson continued: “We just gave them other jobs. I don’t know what they’re doing now. It would be unfair for me to speculate on what they’re doing now.”
The spokesperson said that the British army would “look at it [the case] when the police finish their investigation”.

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