Thursday 12 December 2019

We were targeted, claim fathers of Omagh victims

Adrian Rutherford and Shane Phelan

THE father of a boy killed in the Omagh bomb has asked police to investigate if his phone was hacked, amid mounting fears over the extent of illegal interference in Ireland.

And a second father who lost a child in the atrocity also plans to ask British police if his phone messages were intercepted.

Last night Victor Barker and Michael Gallagher, whose sons were killed in the August 1998 blast, both voiced fears their phones may have been hacked. They expressed their concerns following revelations that police fear relatives of the July 7, 2005 London bombings had their voicemail targeted.

Their comments came a day after the Irish Independent revealed that the Metropolitan police are investigating suspicions that an Irish journalist and a grieving Irish father had their phones hacked by a private investigators working for the British tabloid.

Mr Barker, whose son James was among the Omagh victims, said he has contacted the Metropolitan Police to determine if his phone had been interfered with.

"Some years ago when I was operating from my office in Surrey, we had a lot of problems, not only with my office phone but with my mobile," he said.

"I thought at the time that, because I was making a lot of phone calls to Martin McGuinness, it might have been the security services listening in on the phone calls."

He added: "The question has to be asked, because if they have been hacking into the phones of the July 7 victims' families, then what else have they been doing?

"I have asked the Metropolitan Police whether they think my phone was being hacked as well, and I've yet to receive an answer."

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the bombing, said he too had concerns.

"There are doubts when you learn that these people can intercept your phone calls or your messages," he said.

Last night a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police declined to comment on the concerns expressed by Mr Barker and Mr Gallagher.

"We are not commenting on individuals who may or may not have been contacted. It is an ongoing inquiry," she said.

Irish Independent

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