27 October 2005

Money, Lies and Videotapes

An Phoblacht

By Mark Thompson

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Mark Thompson - Relatives for Justice

Mark Thompson, Director of Relatives for Justice, calls for an independent investigation into Eric Anderson and a review of all murder investigations involving the former RUC man

Wednesday night's re-screening of Insight (19 October) by UTV on the RUC handling of the abduction and murder of Arlene Arkinson once again brings into sharp focus major investigative failings by the authorities in the North. Crucially Insight also highlighted the failing of the entire policing and criminal justice system including the role of the DPP. Both prevented evidence from coming to light and which permitted the perpetrator to continue to prey on victims here and in England.

For many families across the country these failings are not new and they can empathise with the Arkinson family sharing both their experience and frustrations. Often these failings have been quite deliberate and to the advantage of the British state -- functioning in many controversial killings to shield their complicity as they waged their dirty war.

Ironically, it was the DPP and the RUC who were heavily criticised in a landmark judgement by the European Court in May 2001 for major investigative failings. Indeed the unaccountable nature of the DPP, even beyond the remit of the Police Ombudsman, was singled out.

At the centre of the investigation into Arlene Arkinson was one of the RUC's most senior members Chief Supt Eric Anderson. While viewers caught a glimpse of the real Eric Anderson, secretly filmed, scheming for money in return for an interview and access to crucial investigation documents he had stolen, and speaking disparagingly of the Arkinson family, my thoughts turned to the family of Tyrone pensioner Roseanne Mallon gunned down in her home by loyalists in May 1994.

Shortly after the killing of Roseanne, neighbours of the Mallon's discovered wires and cameras secreted in hedgerows overlooking the Mallon home. On removing the cameras two helicopters arrived and camouflaged British soldiers emerged from two positions surrounding the property, boarded the helicopters and left.

Eric Anderson was involved in the investigation into Roseanne's killing. His priority was to retrieve the cameras left behind. Anderson was consistently evasive as to how the British Army had failed to prevent the attack or apprehend the killers stating that it was a matter for others. It was established that the cameras transmitted footage to Mahon Barracks in Portadown where this was recorded. When the family asked for copies of the tape recordings Anderson stated that they did not exist.

Three years later the Mallon family successfully sued the British Ministry of Defence for trespass and criminal damage. In the course of the legal action statements from the British soldiers present on the night of the killing were disclosed. All stated that they were ordered "not to intervene" as the attack took place. A statement for soldier 'A' based at Mahon Barracks said that he gave DC Supt Eric Anderson five tapes of the transmissions, four log-books and a blank log book.

The family of Roseanne Mallon believes that vital evidence exists on these tapes that identify the killers. They want to know why the British soldiers were ordered not to intervene. They want to know what Eric Anderson did with the tapes, and log-books, and why Anderson needed a blank log-book. An inquest into the killing of Roseanne Mallon has been consistently delayed.

Speaking to UTV Live on Friday 14 October, after the initial Insight screening, a nephew of Roseanne, Martin Mallon, told viewers that he believed Eric Anderson had the tapes and that he was shielding the killers.

Motivated by greed and money it is now beyond question that Eric Anderson was corrupt and dishonest. The failure thus far of British Secretary of State Peter Hain to address the Eric Anderson issue stands in stark contrast to his denouncement of Fr Alex Reid in the House of Commons last week. The public need to hear from Peter Hain and Hugh Orde as to why Anderson has not been arrested for perverting the course of justice, and the stolen information retrieved. The Mallon family want Peter Hain to address the missing tapes and log-books.

Anderson was involved in "investigating" scores of killings in which collusion was alleged, and huge questions remain as to why these killings remain unsolved. The key question is on how many other murders does Eric Anderson hold files and vital information?

It is not acceptable for either Hugh Orde or Peter Hain to state that the Ombudsman will look into this — the remit of the Ombudsman is restricted and prevents it from taking action against any former serving officer or from examining the role of the DPP. Eric Anderson left the RUC citing his opposition to the Patten reforms.

If anything the exposé by Insight hardens the case for an accountable and transparent policing and criminal justice system and for this to be devolved.

The only logical step to be taken is an independent investigation into the activities of Eric Anderson — including a complete review of all the murder investigations he was involved in.

• Relatives for Justice (RFJ) is a regional human rights NGO and support organisation for victims and survivors of the conflict. RFJ have worked closely with the Mallon family in their legal quest for truth and justice since the killing of Roseanne.


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