01 April 2006

Controversy casts doubt on Omagh witness

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
01 April 2006

The credibility of a key witness in the Omagh bomb probe was questioned yesterday following legal proceedings in Dublin.

Former Special Branch Garda Detective Sergeant John White is at the centre of a public row in the Republic after he was forced to change his story on the alleged intimidation of a suspect. The controversy may cast a shadow over his evidence in the Omagh case.

Det Sgt White was the handler for former Real IRA informer and car thief Paddy Dixon. He claims he passed on information to senior officers about the dangers of a bombing - information not acted on in the days before the August 1998 blast.

Det Sgt White first made his revelations about Omagh to Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan in 2001 during her probe into the police investigation of the bombing.

A team with the Justice Department found the claims to be without basis.

The awkward publicity for Det Sgt White came after he made a statement to the Morris Tribunal in Dublin admitting to verbally abusing two suspects in a murder investigation in 1996, after years of denials.

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