28 February 2006

Mass murderer Knight 'was not a police agent'

Belfast Telegraph

As senior security sources reject claims that Greysteel killer Torrens Knight was an informer, security expert Brian Rowan analyses the role played by agents in Ulster

28 February 2006

The Greysteel killer Torrens Knight was not a police agent, the Belfast Telegraph has been told.

A senior security source told this newpaper last week that he would be "astounded" if the Special Branch had recruited Knight.

Now it has emerged that the police have moved in recent days to give private assurances to a senior member of the Policing Board and nationalist politicians.

The official police position is not to comment on news reports relating to informers, but in the past week steps have been taken to address the claims that Knight was working for the Special Branch.

"People with knowledge have gone to particular lengths to deny the Knight allegation," the SDLP's Alex Attwood said.

"At a time when intelligence sources are providing confirmation about what MI5 knew about Omagh, the determination to deny Knight may have greater credibility."

That denial is understood to have been communicated to the vice-chairman of the Policing Board, Denis Bradley.

Suspicions that Knight was a Special Branch informer are linked to unconfirmed reports that the loyalist killer was drawing large amounts of money from a bank account into which £50,000 a year was being paid.

"There's no way any of our sources were paid £1,000 a week," a senior intelligence source told the Belfast Telegraph.

"We had upper limits - nowhere near £50,000 a year."

This source has detailed knowledge of the Special Branch, its agents and their payments.

"Our top source in Belfast was getting good money, (but) not £50,000 a year."

That "top source" is said to be a republican, still "unexposed", according to the senior intelligence figure who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph over the weekend.

He also said the revelations about the loyalist John White published in this newspaper last week are "as safe as houses" - meaning they are true.

The Belfast Telegraph disclosed that White, a convicted killer and close associate of the Shankill loyalist Johnny Adair, was a Special Branch informer.

In the Torrens Knight case, the question that will now be asked is whether he was working for any of the other intelligence agencies - those with the ability to pay £50,000 and more a year.

The loyalist was a member of a UDA gang jailed for the 1993 gun attacks in Castlerock and Greysteel in which 12 people were murdered.

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