14 May 2006

Tapes claim Army spooks abandoned trio of IRA spies to their gruesome fate

Sunday Life

Hung out to die

By Chris Anderson and Stephen Gordon
14 May 2006

AUDIO recordings of a former intelligence officer outlining events which ended in the murder of three British agents inside the IRA are to be made available to the PSNI's cold cases team.

The ex-soldier, who died recently, was the handler of Gregory Burns, Aiden Starrs and John Dignam who were tortured and killed by the Provos' ruthless internal security unit in 1992.

Before his death, the ex-Force Research Unit soldier gave the tapes to a journalist who, it is understood, is willing to hand them over to cops.

It's believed the tapes confirm the three died when Army Intelligence refused to resettle them in England after they had been compromised.

Following their execution, the IRA said it had acted after the three admitted being MI5/Special Branch agents, and having been involved in the murder of Portadown woman Margaret Perry.

Until now there has been a wall of silence about why they were left to die at the hands of the 'nutting squad', whose leaders included British agent Freddie Scappaticci.

Another ex-intelligence services soldier, who is familiar with the tapes, said they revealed precise information about the activities of Starrs, Dignam and Burns, and the FRU.

"The voice on the tapes is that of the FRU soldier who handled these three agents up to the time they were killed by the IRA," he said.

"He confirms how and when they were recruited, as well as providing specific information on each of them that would only be known to the intelligence services."

The tape confirms Burns told his handler he had compromised himself with his girlfriend and that Dignam, Starrs and himself wanted resettled outside Northern Ireland.

That request was rejected by a senior military intelligence officer on cost grounds.

The tape is believed to name everyone involved - the senior officer who gave the orders, other handlers and agents.

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