09 March 2006



Call in the experts

As we speak the Trevors are in Kent giving the bobbies there the benefit of their experience in handling major robbery inquiries. This is not a joke.
Kent Chief Constable Michael Fuller said the Trevors would carry out a review of the Tonbridge investigation to date in order to ensure that the English cops have “identified and exploited all possible lines of inquiry" and that the investigation was professional and thorough. This is recognised good practice in the police service and we value the opportunity to learn from our colleagues. This review allows experienced investigators independent of our inquiry to look at what we have done and what we plan to do and to help us take stock.”
Working quickly, the Trevors have already compiled a preliminary report which, thanks to his extensive contacts within the force, Squinter can share with you today. Some minor corrections made by Kent police to the PSNI report have been added in brackets.
“The Chief Constable of Kent has asked us to carry out a review of his force’s handling of the robbery of the Securicor (Securitas) depot in Sadlers Wells (Tonbridge Wells) on Thursday (Wednesday) January (February) 21 (22).
Can we first of all apologise to the Chief Constable for the fact that our report is 24 hours late, but review team officers, unfamiliar with the local terrain, were unable to locate the Kent police HQ and were forced to wander around for several hours before somebody thought to ask a policeman.
Even in the short term that we have thus far spent on examining Kent police practice, a number of glaring omissions and errors have become apparent.
• No search of the Kent police social club has been carried out.
Given that the only money that we have recovered thus far was found in the PSNI social club, this is an embarrassing oversight on the part of our Kent colleagues.
• The white van was found too quickly.
We are firmly of the opinion that in the early days the investigation was too focused on finding the van that the robbers drove the money away in. The huge amount of resources spent on finding the van within 48 hours took vital resources away from the crucial work of briefing journalists and bugging the homes of people kidnapped by the robbers.
• The Kent police kept their options open.
We have recommended that the Chief Constable of Kent follow standard practice by saying the IRA did it and ignoring all other possibilities. It is our experience that it is at this point that the media takes over the investigation.
• TV cameras not present at searches.
We have been disturbed to note that no television cameras were present during the searches of the white van, the farm and the lock-up garages. We refer the Chief Constable to section 28 paragraph 4 of the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act which reads: “All police operations must be filmed for the teatime news and an officer will be delegated to ensure that local media outlets are present. More vehicles and officers than are needed must be used so that cameras can get good pictures outside the premises of long lines of vehicles and officers rummaging in gardens and wheelie bins.”
• People have been arrested and charged.
Bringing people in for questioning and subsequently charging some of them was an act of extreme naivety. The Kent police have again been negligent – criminally so, in our view – in their approach to this matter. Information gleaned by police officers in the course of their inquiries has no place in a court of law, but should be filtered into the public domain by way of friendly journalists and the Sunday papers. And suspects should not be arrested and interrogated, instead their names and details should be leaked to the media, with officers taking great pains to ensure that the people named have served long terms of imprisonment and can’t sue.


Staff at the Irish Daily Mirror offices in Dublin will this morning be thanking their lucky stars that the three strikes and you’re out rule doesn’t apply to journalists.
On Tuesday morning the paper reported in best shock-horror fashion that a member of the Provisional IRA had murdered 22-year-old Donna Cleary, the mother of one who was shot dead at a house party in Coolock, north Dublin, in the early hours of Monday morning. Clearly, this was both a big story and a worrying development. What does it mean for the IRA’s so-called ceasefire? Is this the end of the peace process? Is the Sinn Féin electoral ball in the free state up in the slates? Do we have to put the security shutters back up and start taping the windows again?
Well, even as bundles of Irish Daily Mirrors were thudding on to the pavement in the wee small hours of Tuesday morning, events were overtaking the paper. Turned out that a man arrested in connection with the murder had died in custody. Turned out 24-year-old Dwayne Foster was a heroin addict with throat cancer who had fallen off a motorbike and badly injured himself during an attempted armed robbery last year. Turned out Gardaí believe he fired the fatal shot and aren’t looking for anyone else.
Now you can say many things about Dwayne Foster, but it’s clear that one thing you could not say about him was that he was an IRA gunman. Not surprisingly, by Wednesday the Mirror had cooled on the IRA hitman theory. It’s unfortunate that this latest gaff has come so quickly after the Mirror got it wrong about the Dublin ‘Love Ulster’ riot. The Mirror didn’t blame it on ‘republican scumbags’ as most of the other papers did, it laid the blame squarely at the door of Sinn Féin who, it emerged, had no more to do with the violence than the Mirror did.
Be nice to think that a third screw-up would mean that someone might be asked to do some explaining, but Irish journalism is a funny business. Whereas if a doctor makes mistakes like that somebody ends up on a slab, and if a lawyer makes a mistake like that someone ends up in jail, the punishment in the newspaper industry for getting something wrong is pretty feeble. No, let’s face it, the punishment is non-existent. The good news for the company that the Holywood headquarters of the paper’s Northern edition is equipped with state-of-the-art anti-claptrap software and the boys up here weren’t having any of it.
The Dublin edition of the Mirror more anti-republican than the Ulster edition – would you Adam and Eve it?

Can’t we have a quiet pint anymore?

And there’s you thinking that the UDA men in combat uniforms milling around upstairs in the Alexandra bar (above) were there for a night at the races. In fact, it now emerges that the UDA was about to announce that it had jacked in all criminality. All criminality, of course, except putting on paramilitary uniforms and assembling illegally. Either that, or they were practising for the next Love Ulster parade in Dublin.
Ihab Shoukri claimed that he didn’t know there were any UDA men on the premises and that he was having a quiet pint downstairs when all the bad boys were upstairs playing toy soldiers. This has the ring of truth, Squinter feels, and attempts to put him back in the slammer for breaking the terms of his bail by associating with bad boys were pure mischief-making on the part of the Trevors. Ihab told arresting officers on the night: “Out of all the gin joints in all the world, they had to go and walk into mine.”
UDA veteran Sammy Duddy, meanwhile, hasn’t been as upset since Johnny Adair’s men shot his chihuahua, Bambi. “Bursting through doors and shooting up bars indiscriminately is our job,” he said. Unionist politicians, meanwhile, are outraged and are demanding answers. Not about what the UDA was up to, but about why they fired CS gas into a pub full of half-cut paramilitaries. This press release is fairly typical of the depth of their anger.
Chief Constable Hugh Orde has a lot of questions to answer after Thursday night’s disgraceful scenes. For heavily armed officers to fire into a crowd of innocent thugs, killers and drug dealers in camouflage gear is an affront to civilised standards of behaviour. The fact that no-one was killed or injured was down to the will of God, sheer good luck, the military training of the loyalists, the anaesthetising effects of large amounts of vodka and the fact that no live rounds were fired.
We have no doubt that had this been an IRA show of strength of the kind we have seen all too often in recent months and years, the PSNI would have signed the members’ book and had a few drinks in the committee room before going in.
At last night’s meeting of the Parades Forum, the DUP demanded answers from the UDA representative to a number of questions:
• Are you all right?
• Did they give you your gear back?
• Who’s the tout?
• Did they let you finish your pint?
• Are you putting in a claim?

For his part, Chief Constable Hugh Orde said that what was going on in the bar that night when his men burst in was “no teddy bears’ picnic.” Indeed not.

If you go down to the pub today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go out for a swall today
You'd better go in disguise.

For every cop that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the UDA have their thicks nicked.

If you go down to the pub today,
You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely down in the pub today,
Except for the forces of Rome.

For every cop that ever there was
Will gather there with teargas, because
Today's the day the UDA smicks are pig sick.

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