MI5 spy sues bosses for blowing cover with Real IRA
Published 12/09/2010 | 05:00
A security agent is suing the British government for more than €750,000 after he was forced to give evidence at a Real IRA arms plot trial.
The spy, code-named 'Amir', is claiming that the security service committed a breach of trust and failed in its duty of care after he was summoned to give evidence at a trial in Northern Ireland earlier this year.
Amir was recruited by MI5 in 2004 to infiltrate the Real IRA amid fears that the republican dissidents were planning to launch a series of gun and bombs attacks.
The group, led by Paul McCaugherty, from Lurgan Co Armagh, were also plotting to kill General Michael Rose, a former commander of the SAS and the UN Force in Bosnia. Members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland were also to be assassinated by the group.
The disaffected spy has hired the London law firm Bindmans to fight his case, which is thought to be the first of its kind.
Amir claims that following his appearance in a Belfast Court, he will no longer be able to work as an undercover agent. It is understood that Amir, who was paid on a daily basis, agreed to work for MI5 on the understanding that he would never have to appear as a prosecution witness.
Amir was instructed to target Desmond Paul Kearns, 44, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, a suspected dissident republican, in what is known as a 'bump operation'. The 'bump' took place outside a store in Luxembourg where Mr Kearns was buying cut-price cigarettes. Amir told Kearns he could supply cigarettes at better prices.
After a series of meetings in Brussels and Amsterdam, Amir told Mr Kearns, and a woman, who was believed to be Kearns's wife, that he could get other goods -- before mentioning that he could also get guns from Pakistan.
In July 2005, Amir was told by MI5 to introduce Mr Kearns to a weapons expert known as Ejaz, also believed to be an MI5 agent.
In another meeting, an arms dealer known as Ali, who was also an MI5 agent, offered the Real IRA suspects 1,000kg of explosives, detonators and cords, 20 AK-47 assault rifles, 20 rocket-propelled grenades, 10 sniper rifles and 20 pistols with silencers for €104,000.
Virtually all of Amir's meetings with the alleged terrorists were bugged and filmed. The agent initially refused to give evidence but was told by a judge that he would be in contempt of court and could be imprisoned.
Amir eventually appeared at Belfast Crown Court in May 2010 and in the following month the case against Mr Kearns was dropped after the judge ruled that he had been entrapped by Amir; the case against McCaugherty was allowed to continue, however.
McCaugherty was convicted of attempting to import weapons and explosives and is due to be sentenced later this month.