The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Political Policing

Martin Ingram • 7 November 2006

The recent arrest of Kevin Fulton by PSNI officers provides an interesting and up to date validation of the progress made towards the complete implementation of the Pattern proposals. After all, Pattern was designed to deliver us a "normal" police force, as opposed to the one that specialised in political policing.

Officers arrested Fulton after he had agreed to meet with them at a police station. The officers took Fulton back to Northern Ireland to be interviewed. Upon arrest Fulton was told he was being investigated for "involvement in the murder(s) of Eoin Morley and Cyril Smith". Let me make this point crystal clear, here and now. The murders of both these individuals deserve to be investigated and all those guilty should be punished. That said, the truth will not be revealed by petty minded amateur detectives who have no interest in the truth, merely an interest and a desire to keep the lid on the past. It is no wonder the PSNI have a horrendous record in detecting and convicting criminals. This record will not be improved unless and until they move from a political police force to a truly investigative one.

To fully understand the situation one must briefly recount the background to this case. In the weeks leading up to this arrest, a number of journalists were secretly briefed that members of the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team (HET) would be shortly arresting Kevin Fulton on serious matters, including murders. The journalists were told there was forensic evidence to link Fulton to these matters. The journalists were led to believe officers from HET would carry out the arrest and interviews.

The HET is a PSNI specialist unit tasked to investigate serious incidents which occurred during the Troubles, i.e., before 1998. The exact terms of reference given to the HET by Sir Hugh Orde can be found on their website. In brief the following excerpt covers the most important description of their role: "Its sole job is to re-examine all deaths attributable to the security situation here between 1968 and 1998." The HET are systematically examining all murders in chronological order and will one-day get round to all the contentious ones, like the murder of FRU agent Frank Hegarty. In short the HET are working to a system; in contrast, C2 officers appear to be working to an agenda.

To carry out these investigations the HET team was given a budget of many millions of pounds by the British Exchequer. This money was given under the belief that this unit would be the sole investigators into the hundreds of unsolved murders of the troubles. Indeed, only this week Sir Hugh Orde made this comment about these historical enquiries in the Belfast Telegraph. "Sir Hugh said he has long believed a "wider process" is needed, but pointed out that the HET is "the only piece of concrete work that is ongoing in relation to these issues".

Upon Fulton's arrest a number of media outlets, including the Press Association and TV stations, reported the fact that members of HET had arrested Fulton. This was not true; the police officers belonged to C2, another division of the PSNI, who are not connected in any way with the HET. The media outlets had been lied to, or at least had been deliberately misled by officers of the PSNI.

Officers working for C2 had arrested Kevin Fulton. Today we know they lied to many others, including potential witnesses, to try and gave the impression that they were members of the HET. The day before Fulton was released with no charges these same PSNI officers were frantically trying to secure witness statements from individuals who had dealings with Fulton. Indeed, they wanted to meet one potential witness from their holiday flight at the airport. One police officer called Ferguson told one witness an untruth; when challenged whom he worked for, Ferguson replied that the inquiry was a joint approach but would not confirm to the potential witness the unit he worked for. In short he lied. Ferguson did not receive that statement and the witness felt nothing but contempt for the police. Surely common sense dictates that you do your homework well before you make an arrest. You don't go chasing every man and his dog around the North looking for the holy grail when the clock is ticking. To use a military term, prior-planning, lads, prevents piss poor performance. This investigation was akin to a Keystone cops movie.

Many in our communities, except perhaps the DUP and Sinn Fein, would say, tell me something new. Thankfully, there are some people who are concerned and clever enough to see a wrong and are prepared to stand upto this activity.

The director of the universally respected NGO, the British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW), Ms Jane Winter, contacted the commander of the HET, Mr Dave Cox, who stated that his team had nothing to do with Fulton's arrest. Indeed he made it very clear that he felt frustrated by these officers doing his job, although he was powerless to stop them. He made it clear that all inquiries regarding Fulton should be directed to Simon Barrowclough, a serving senior police officer in the PSNI. Ms Winter makes this point very clear in this comment:

"I am at a loss to understand why crime operations are trampling on the HET's work like this, it will only discourage others from helping the HET to get to the truth of the very many—too many—unsolved murders arising from this conflict. I would like to think it is just the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, but I fear a political agenda here."

The week previous to the arrest, Fulton had been ordered by the courts to give evidence in the PSNI case against Sean Hoey, the alleged Omagh bomber. The PSNI was already under pressure in this case because of the fabricated evidence put forward by its officers against Hoey. Clearly the arrest of Fulton was designed to apply pressure upon Fulton to not give evidence, or at least to taint his potential evidence should the case get so far. Which it won't, because we all know the defence are planning to expose State Agents involved in the case.

It was no great surprise when Fulton was released after 5 days on Sunday Morning with no charges being made nor crucially any forensic evidence produced.

Now, clearly, Barrowclough is well down the food chain; he did not take this initiative upon himself. Barrowclough was acting upon instructions, which clearly had political input. These are serious matters which impact directly upon both the HET and the many victims' families who deserve to have a proper investigation into their loss, and certainly not by police officers whose only concern is to limit political damage.

Policing in Northern Ireland clearly has not come as far as many think. The days of political policing are far from over. Sir Hugh Orde should now make a public statement to fully explain the actions of his officers and to reassure the HET, and in particular their well respected senior officer, Dave Cox, that their investigations will not be subverted and potentially compromised by design.

The PSNI would do well to follow the HET in their mission statement, "As in all of our dealing with the community ‘Trust and Openness’ will be key goals for this work. Our principle of ‘maximum permissible disclosure’ – simply telling people as much as we can – will be vitally important."

Political policing is a serious matter, no matter what your individual politics are. The basis of a decent society is equality and respect. The PSNI have much further to travel upon the long road to proper policing. Northern Ireland political parties be warned.





Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

19 November 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Bogeyman
Anthony McIntyre

Believe It Or Not
John Kennedy

Contra Con Artists
Anthony McIntyre

The Wrong Kind of Republican?
Ivan Morley

Equality Agenda: British Rhetoric and Reality
Martin Galvin

A Deal Done By Quislings
Mick Hall

Dr John Coulter

Deadline? Pull the other one!
David Adams

Political Policing
Martin Ingram

It's Not The Taking Part
Anthony McIntyre

Who Can Get Dr No to Say Yes?
Dr John Coulter

Equality or Equity
Michéal MháDonnáin

Michael Gillespie

Revolutionary Unionism
Dr John Coulter

Who Needs Enemies
John Kennedy

The King's Threshold
Robin Kirk

7 November 2006

When It's Time for Change, No One Is Irreplaceable
Mick Hall

Date Fixed For Flawed Landmark Case
Michael McKevitt Justice Campaign

Souper Sinn Fein
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Dr John Coulter

St Andrews Agreement & 'the Left'
Davy Carlin

Shotgun Wedding
John Kennedy

...and to create the space for a diversity of views...
Noel Dolan

'Undo the Great Betrayal, Free the Occupied 26'
Dr John Coulter

The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Anthony McIntyre

Power & Powerlessness
Patricia Campbell

The Constantine Institute
Terry O'Neill

Mary Robinson Spotlights Human Rights Abuses in Darfur
William Hughes

Fearless Speech
Anthony McIntyre



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices