The Irish News
For the sake of convenience, I relate only to the former article in this brief preamble. For information only purposes, the second shorter report will also be scanned. Readers’ can conclude on it as they wish.
In the preliminary sections of this presentation I contrasted the quality of writing of various items credited to Martin Ingram, questioning if they were all by one hand (and mind).
Parts 6-7 of my 39 part document (index section six) entitled Martin Ingram, there is reference to an undated submission by Ingram to Greg McCartney, solicitor, contained on pages K12.13 and K12.14 of the Ingram statement bundle to the Saville Inquiry. I observed:
“Note: 2) A poor presentation. Is this a natural Ingram document? Other work by him seem to have had a professional input in their preparation. His Saville Inquiry witness statement, for example, and articles said to have been written by him in The Irish News, the Andersonstown News, The Guardian.” Also: “Undated. Misspelling. Bad grammar. Sloppy typing…
The real Ingram?”
Reports in The Guardian (
The Irish News reports
listed above, were, as already stated, received and read for the first time on
My passing opinion on these matters is not an attempt to intellectually slight Mr. Ingram, who I accept is a repository of a wide and specialised military experience, even if at times a slopcart dimension spills over in some of its recounting.
However, I do query his integrity.
Part of my search is to note what he says and how he says it. In this regard, one accepts that his literary skill, if not “officer standard” is competent.
From that questions arise. If some of his submissions/articles appear to reflect his own effort in their entirety, others suggest input from third party sources. In the former respect there is his undated missive to Greg McCartney, solicitor. Further like examples can be found online, in particular his 20 page statement to the Smithwick Tribunal on which a selective critique is included at an earlier juncture in this compilation.
In the items mentioned or alluded to, there are obvious defects. Ingram at times struggles in the use of language and with consistency of story telling. In the round, his recounting of events are prone to contradiction and, worse, lies.
A mixed bag.
I am thinking of articles by Ingram and articles credited to Ingram with more than a hint of a third party input.
In two instances, work credited to Ingram were I would suggest written by outside sources – though in respect of the book to be mentioned, possibly with background detail provided by Ingram.
They are the Monday 11 December 2000 Irish News article, which follows this preamble, and the foreword to Kevin Fulton’s book, Unsung Hero (2006), which I have not included.
If the latter was penned by a ghost writer, the former – I aver, was more likely in good part the work of a member of the Security Service or a security-intelligence officer, likely military, working on their behalf. Maybe a former colleague of Ingram? If Ingram did have an input, it was nominal, or rewritten to an extent to make it so, I would say.
So the reader can assess the Irish News piece, enclosed is a typed and scanned copy reduced to A4 size to allow computer inclusion.
Please read it and make comparison with the “all Ingram” works mentioned earlier and indeed his Andersonstown News article of 01.03. 2001, also included in this compilation, which I suspect was the result of a collaboration by Ingram and a non credited third party.
To what end the deception? To sell a pup to the republican movement; hogwash via the good offices of one of their own newspapers.
(Seán Kelly, Wednesday 01 February 2012.)
The Irish News, 11 December 2000 – Martin Ingram (a pseudonym), a former member of the British military’s Force Research Unit, is a witness to the Stevens 3 Inquiry. He believes that the probe will conclude that senior RUC and army officers ‘acquiesced’ in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.
As an ex-Intelligence Corps soldier who served with the Force Research Unit, it is a strange feeling writing an opinion piece for a newspaper that I once viewed as a mouthpiece for the republican movement. Indeed, the paper was used by intelligence operators on a regular basis to extract up-to-date photography of individuals of ‘interest’ ie, GAA matches etc.
This type of passive intelligence-gathering from open media is perfectly legal and there are many people within the nationalist community who would support the security forces’ right to maintain an up-to-date intelligence database to fight the scourge of terrorism.
In contrast, most reasonable law-abiding citizens from both communities would denounce the involvement by security forces in any collusion, official or otherwise, with any paramilitary organisation, even if it meant increased success in controlling terrorist activity and, in particular, the success at reducing random sectarian attacks.
The basic premise of any democratic and free society is the security forces act within the law and are accountable for their actions to the people and if any individuals in positions of power or influence have or are accused of having abused this power, then the mechanism to establish the truth should be transparent and have the ability to speedily resolve the issues at point. The RUC requested such an inquiry to be established during late 1989.
The original investigation was led by Sir John Stevens, who was the deputy chief constable of Cambridge police, and manned by officers drawn from England. The terms of reference were simply to investigate possible collusion between elements of the security forces and illegal paramilitary organizations. The investigation was well intentioned and resulted in the exposure of the Force Research Unit agent Brian Nelson. Nelson had been an intelligence officer for the Ulster Defence Association.
This investigation culminated in both a ‘secret’ report and a curtailed court case which allowed Nelson to plead guilty to a number of charges for which, in return, he received a substantially reduced prison term and a lucrative resettlement package.
This accomodation denied to those affected by Nelson’s activities the opportunity to glean in an open court the circumstances regarding Nelson’s career as a paid agent of the state and, perhaps more importantly, the opportunity to examine the role undertaken by members of the security forces in the handling of Brian Nelson.
The ‘running’ of human intelligence is never easy nor straightforward and though there are no formal guidelines each and every handler knows that if they transgress the law there is no defence.
In my experience the vast majority of handlers employed by the Force Research Unit operated within the law and, where possible, were even-handed and objective in their work. It is my belief that handlers involved in the running of Nelson and at least one other agent did not conform to acceptable practices, although it is up to a properly convened court of law or inquiry to determine whether their practices were lawful or otherwise.
Amazingly, one of Nelson’s handlers appeared recently on Peter Taylor’s BBC programme Brits to defend both his actions and the case management of Nelson in general. He used a pseudonym Geoff and although his physical appearance was deliberately silhouetted to protect his identity, it was clear to anybody who had worked with Geoff and perhaps, more importantly the Stevens detectives, that the person portrayed as Geoff was indeed an ex-FRU soldier.
Speaking personally, I was astounded when Peter Taylor asked a series of questions regarding conspiracies to murder and for the avoidance of doubt the transcript of this programme is reproduced below.
Taylor: Brian Nelson went to gaol because he was involved in conspiracies to murder.
Geoff: Yes, at our behest.
Taylor: He was encouraged to be involved in those conspiracies.
Geoff: Yes, he was.
Taylor: By you and your colleagues.
Geoff: Yes, he was.
Taylor: By the FRU.
The astonishing admission of involvement in conspiracies to murder is not news to me, although I was shaken by the nonchalant and arrogant manner that Geoff delivered this information safe in the belief that he was immune from prosecution. Wrong! This interview is compounded by the knowledge that Geoff is now a serving RUC officer, although he felt inhibited to inform the public of this relevant fact during his interview.
I can envisage no greater advertisement or justification for the full and immediate implementation of Patten, because this is not an isolated incident involving RUC members and no comfort should be drawn from the fact that Geoff is an ex-soldier. It is vital that we reform the mindset of the RUC and for those not minded to uphold the values that we demand of a police officer, the door beckons.
I can fully understand the frustrations in the nationalist community, having endured an investigation which has been ‘live’ for over 10 years. However, only more time and a degree in patience will tell if the current Stevens 3 investigation into primarily the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Finucane, is successful. Either reassuring the nationalist/republican community that there was no institutionalized collusion or that those individuals who did commit offences will be brought before a properly convened court of law and remedies to the old working practices put into place.
I believe that a progress report compiled by the Stevens investigation is to be produced and presented to government early in the new year and a significant and reassuring gesture to the educated public and, by inference, your readers, would be the public being allowed sight of this progress report as an informed debate may take place, for perhaps the first time.
During the Brian Nelson court case, Lt Col J, the FRU commanding officer responsible for the case management of Nelson, stated clearly and honestly that “at the heart of the ‘informer system’ lies a legal nonsense”. This situation has led to many people suffering and, as part of any inquiry, this legal nonsense needs to be clarified and clear and explicit rules, or in military terms standard operating practices, need to be urgently put into action.
This report will I believe portray a picture of institutionalized collusion primarily in the Belfast region. This collusion, although not officially sanctioned, had the conscious acquiescence of senior RUC officers including…[sic] whilst serving in the Special Branch and, of course, senior army officers.
This situation was a ticking time bomb and is and was totally unacceptable. The practice of using one terrorist army to attack another terrorist army is both morally indefensible and unlawful. Indeed, I was told on more than one occasion the ‘ends justifies the means’ and the ‘right’ people were allowed to live and the ‘wrong’ were not.
This practice of presiding as a judge, juror and executioner is wrong and regrettably I cannot say the mindset of some of the individuals concerned has changed to this day.
Indeed, in recent communications they have reinforced their opinions. I, for my part, cannot and will not subscribe to the same and I and my family have suffered as a consequence.
In some media reporting the FRU was portrayed as a ‘maverick’ unit with a number of rogue members operating in a cavalier fashion. This portrayal would satisfy those looking to limit any potential blame to a number of individuals. How very convenient. Those who proffer this line of thought should examine both the management controls in place and, crucially, the basis and intelligence requirement that were sought by commanders and on which the FRU was established in 1980.
There are three ‘special duties’ units which operate within the north and other parts of Ireland. For the avoidance of doubt these are 22 SAS, 14 Coy, and Force Research Unit. Two of these units are directly under the operational command of the RUC, that is to say that they cannot operate unless they are directly tasked via RUC officers and the army cannot task independently.
The FRU was established with different terms of reference and was not brought under operational command of the RUC for political and operational reasons. If there was a genuine desire and the political will to have the RUC in command of all intelligence-gathering as those who proffer the RUC primacy argument [sic], then why was the FRU not commanded like the other two ‘special’ units with RUC commanders?
The peoples of Ireland, and especially the republican movement, are grappling with the implications and challenges that the Good Friday agreement poses to all sectors of the community and it is imperative that soldiers like myself get off the fence and do the decent thing and stop the lies, deceit and hiding behind the dressing gown of mother state.
The agreement created an opportunity for a genuine period of glasnost and we should not allow those who have a vested interest in remaining in a state of cold war to delay or indeed destroy the vision of peace, equality and prosperity that all decent, sane people aspire for.
Note: One observes querulously, not so much on the content of the article, that is trite run of the mill double talk, but how they can get away with having their propaganda published in a nationalist newspaper.
Perhaps, given the background provided in previous documents, and those to come, I pronounce rhetorically?
The Irish News, Monday 11 December 2000.
The Irish News, Thursday 10 October 2002.
*) It is perhaps fair to
say The Irish News is considered to be the premier “nationalist” newspaper in
*) Yet, remarkably, up to and including year 2016, the newspaper has continued to promote the lie of agent Stakeknife.
*) Up to and including year 2016, the newspaper has further promoted the fiction that Francisco Notorantonio was murdered in lieu of Freddie Scappaticci, alleged agent Stakeknife.
Short of bi-location, the basis for this claim is an intellectual and physical impossibility.
*) Up to and including year 2016, the Irish News promoted the claim that Freddie Scappaticci was the “golden egg” of British army intelligence in Northern Ireland.
This nugget of dissembling is derived from a sham interview of a supposed “General Sir John Wilsey”, former GOC Land Forces in Northern Ireland (1990-1993) by ex-FRU sergeant Ian Hurst.
Like the Notorantonio story, this claim is also bogus. The alleged General Sir John Wilsey in the telecon “interview” of Saturday 14 April 2012 was almost certainly an impersonator.
A measure of elementary investigative journalism would have exposed many of the questionable aspects in the Stakeknife fabrication.
In 2015, an Irish News journalist made reference to a claim by another writer that Freddie Scappaticci was a (long weekend) guest of Mrs. Margaret Thatcher at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat.
It is in a book – it must be true! See Dead Men Talking (2004), by Nicholas Davies, pages 86-88.
This claim, like the “jewel in the crown”, bi-location, “the golden egg”, the “rat hole”, and much else, are all derived from FRU freebies.
Why doesn’t The Irish News, on behalf of and in the interest of its readership, research and comment on the reality of these positions?
My submissions to the Operation Kenova “investigation into the alleged activities of the person known as Stakeknife” are available to be read by prior arrangement at my address.
Do note the Operation Kenova direction is to a “person known as Stakeknife” and not an ”agent known as Stakeknife”. That’s because the latter does not exist – and never did.
The Irish News, Wednesday 20 May 2020 – “Publishers of The Irish News, Belfast Telegraph and Newsletter have joined with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to issue [a] powerful statement demanding [the ‘immediate withdrawal’ of paramilitary death threats against Northern Ireland journalists] and those responsible be ‘brought to justice’ and for the ‘free and independent media’ to be protected.”
Yes the lives of journalists should be safeguarded but not especially more so than other members of society. However, don’t be fooled into believing it is to maintain a “free and independent media” – that we do not have.
Having reached this point in my “search for truth” into the Stakeknife story, you will have read a good deal of the evidence confirming it is a bogus concoction . Ask yourself this question: “How did that e lie enter the public arena?” Answer. The same way as a lot of other spoof stories from the treasure chest of national security agencies – by their writer friends in the “free and independent media”.
If you can’t believe the journalists, you can’t trust the editors. So the next question is: “Why did the media lie to us and on whose behalf?” Answer. Judge for yourself.
When published lies are brought to the attention of the media, like those in the Stakeknife story, why the failure to correct?
Answer: Because the media is not “free and independent”.
Why was it left to me, and old man with marginal formal education, to research the Stakeknife story? Answer: Because the “free and independent media” wouldn’t do it.
They sold us the lie but would not pursue the truth.
The late Enoch Powell MP, writing in the Independent on Friday 1 April 1988, on the SAS shooting dead three IRA members in Gibraltar on Sunday 6 March 1988, damned the British press and parliamentary opposition for a failure to ask questions and go on asking them, something which he characterized as an “ugly silence”. A criticism directed at a disinclination to do their job and root out the truth on the shootings.
Powell would employ Aneurin Bevan’s “Alliterative denunciation of the British media as ‘the most prostituted press in the world.’” He rhetorically posed:
“Where have all the journalists gone? I do not think I can be the only person asking this. In almost any major event or item of news, there is a question or point of view which ought to be voiced, however awkward it may be and however much out of line with the general gush of public sentiment and prejudice. It is nearly always the sort of question and point of view which governments prefer should not be asked; and governments are equipped with the resources to swamp public presentation and reportage, so that the awkward question and awkward point of view are squeezed off the television screen and news paper pages.
“It used, or am I mistaken?, to be able to be taken for granted that there would be an editor or writer somewhere who would do the work of asking that question and going on asking it, putting that point of view and going on putting it. They were not very likeable people.
“In fact they were more than a bit of a nuisance. But that was their job and they did it…”
Are the words of Mr. Powell as true today as they were in 1988?
Now-a-days the “free and independent media” are more likely to be pro-active in national security dissembling. The Stakeknife story is one case in point.
The Anglo-Saxon world is particularly adept at this form of manipulation and disinformation; often coming to us through the medium of “whistleblowers”.
I know of no “investigative” journalist or newspaper of any worth in the exposition of egregious national security wrongdoing in the “free west” – do you?
You may think you do. Check it out.