04 June 2006

Cops to visit UVF figures

Sunday Life

04 June 2006

COPS are expected to pay "priority" visits to a number of senior UVF members before an explosive report into how the organisation was undermined by informers is published.

The murder bid on Mark Haddock has underlined the danger individuals identified in the Police Ombudsman's report into the activities of police informers within the UVF could face.

The first draft of the report is now being written.

But it could be two months at least before it is finally published.

Investigators, who have spent more than a year probing the role of police agents within the UVF's Mount Vernon battalion, are now writing the devastating report, informed sources say.

Outstanding legal issues could delay Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan's final draft until September.

The Director of the Public Prosecution Service, Sir Alasdair Fraser, has still to decide whether to bring criminal charges against former agent-handlers.

Said one security source: "While names will be blanked out, it will be virtually impossible to ensure that identities will be sufficiently disguised to ensure individuals are not identifiable to their fellow UVF associates.

"This is a tight circle of terrorists, who know what each other did. So, when an incident is discussed in the report and an observation made, it will probably be possible for 'Mr A' and 'Mr B' to work out what 'Mr C' did and who the informer was. The shooting of Haddock just underlines how dangerous this is," he said.

In spite of extensive speculation about what may be contained in Mrs O'Loan's report, informed sources say there are explosive and highly-sensitive matters still unknown to the public.

Said a senior source: "A lot of people have suggested that it is all out there in the public domain and that all the basic details and allegations about the police touts who were operating in the north Belfast UVF has been outlined in the papers, but that is not the case.

"Those familiar with the investigation say there are many sensitive matters that are still known only to the Ombudsman and her investigators."

If the Public Prosecution Service decides to bring charges against Haddock's ex-Special Branch or CID handlers, that will mean that the first report will have to be heavily-edited or delayed indefinitely so as not to prejudice criminal proceedings.

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