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.
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
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.
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
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.
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:
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 manytoo
manyunsolved 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."
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
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.