10 May 2003. British FRU secret agent/killer Stakeknife has been named:
22 February 2001. Thanks to Neil Mackay.
See related FRU/Walshaw article: http://cryptome.org/fru-walshaw.htm
The Sunday Herald (Scotland)
The Scot behind Ulster's dirty war
Elite unit passed intelligence to UDA death squads
By Neil Mackay
Photograph Caption: This is the Force Reaction Unit, the British Army's elite counter-intelligence squad, pictured in 1988. It waged a 'dirty war' in Ulster in the late 1980s. Front, third from left, is Brigadier Gordon Kerr, the Scottish officer who led the covert unit, and who is now to be questioned by the Stevens inquiry
INVESTIGATION The Sunday Herald today names for the first time the Scottish military intelligence officer who controlled an ultra-secret covert army unit in Northern Ireland that colluded with loyalist terror gangs to murder at least 14 Catholics.
Brigadier Gordon Kerr ran the counter-intelligence Force Research Unit (FRU) in Northern Ireland between 1987 and 1991. He is to be questioned by Sir John Stevens, the Scotland Yard commissioner, over allegations that his unit aided and abetted loyalist killers as part of a state-sanctioned murder campaign.
Photographs and intelligence reports on republican targets were deliberately passed by the FRU to members of the outlawed Ulster Defence Association, which then passed the information to its gunmen to carry out sectarian and political executions. One of the FRU's key agents was Brian Nelson, the UDA's chief intelligence officer.
Two of Nelson's FRU handlers were Scottish soldiers, and one of his RUC handlers was also Scottish. Before he was recruited as an army agent, Nelson had been a private in the Black Watch regiment. He was later jailed but now lives in hiding in Germany.
Kerr, who comes from the Aberdeen area, served with the Gordon Highlanders before moving to Northern Ireland.
One FRU source, who spoke to the Sunday Herald under guarantee of anonymity, said: ''We were able to take out leading Provos with the help of the UDA. It was a great military move.''
Kerr, who is currently the military attache to the British embassy in Beijing, will be interrogated by members of the Stevens' inquiry team within the next three months, as will at least two other high-ranking FRU members. The Sunday Herald understands that Stevens plans to arrest a number of FRU officers shortly.
The principal killing that Stevens is investigating is the 1989 murder of the solicitor Pat Finucane, whose clients included many leading nationalists. He was gunned down by loyalists in front of his wife and children at his Belfast home.
A former FRU member who served under Kerr, Philip Campbell Smith, was arrested by detectives from the Stevens team early last week for threatening witnesses. Smith, a 41-year-old security consultant from Northamptonshire allegedly intimidated a former military intelligence agent, who uses the cover name Martin Ingram.
Ingram has voluntarily co-operated with the Stevens inquiry by giving a detailed statement about the covert activities of the FRU in Ulster. Smith allegedly threatened Ingram by sending e-mails revealing his address. This could have led to republicans trying to kill Ingram.
Smith is the author of a Ministry of Defence-approved book, The Fishers of Men. It was written under the pseudonym Rob Lewis and details the FRU role in Northern Ireland. The Sunday Herald's FRU source described Smith's book as being ''riddled with disinformation and lies''.
The Ministry of Defence said it had ''full confidence in the suitability and capability'' of Kerr to continue working as the British military attache in Beijing. The MoD said it had no intention of launching an inquiry into Kerr and his role as FRU commander following information that the Stevens inquiry wanted to interrogate him.
At the time of the Finucane murder, the Tory government was under pressure from its back benches to take a strong hand with the IRA. It was often said that the army should ''eliminate'' known paramilitaries, given the extent of high-level intelligence on IRA volunteers.
The role of Kerr and the FRU in the dirty war is not a story that the British government nor establishment want to be revealed. The government has already gagged the Sunday People newspaper for trying to publish a story similar to today's investigation in the Sunday Herald. Probing the activities of the FRU has also led to the Sunday Times and Ireland's Sunday Tribune being hounded under the Official Secrets Act.
The Sunday Herald
Headline 'My unit conspired in the murder of civilians in Ireland'
By Neil Mackay
Photograph Caption: The scene of Catholic lawyer Pat Finucane's murder. The Prime Minister has promised that there will be no state protection for anyone involved. From the top, Finucane, Brigadier Gordon Kerr and Brian Nelson, UDA intelligence officer
THERE is no hesitation in his voice. ''Oh, yeah,'' the former military intelligence officer says. ''There's no doubt about this. My unit was guilty of conspiring in the murder of civilians in Northern Ireland, on about 14 occasions.''
The team behind the killings is the Force Research Unit or FRU, the British army's most covert and elite military intelligence squad. It ran a series of double agents across the Province at the height of Ulster's ''dirty war'' conducting an horrific anti-terrorist campaign.
The FRU was under the command of Brigadier Gordon Kerr. Kerr, an Aberdeen man and former Gordon Highlander, was in charge of this shadowy network of British army agents, who quite simply collaborated with their loyalist informers to murder civilians in Ulster, between 1987 and 1991.
Sometimes their victims were Provos, sometimes high-ranking republicans, but on at least four occasions they were innocent Catholics.
Now in his early 50s, Kerr, a graduate and career officer who later moved to the Intelligence Corps, is currently the British military attache in Beijing, one of the most distinguished positions in the diplomatic service.
Kerr's FRU has been the subject of a long-running and top secret inquiry by Sir John Stevens, Scotland Yard Commissioner, into whether or not they colluded with loyalists as part of a campaign of organised state-sanctioned murder. The FRU are suspected of carrying out an arson attack on Stevens' office in an attempt to destroy key evidence linking the unit with UDA murder gangs. This is a story that military chiefs do not want out.
Most of Stevens' work has focused on the death of Pat Finucane. The Catholic solicitor, who had many high-profile republican clients, was gunned down by loyalist hitmen in Belfast in 1989. Finucane's death was planned by Brian Nelson, the Ulster Defence Association intelligence officer who was also the FRU's most prized agent.
A former FRU sergeant, who goes under the cover-name of Martin Ingram, has co-operated with the Stevens Inquiry by giving a voluntary statement to detectives about the FRU's undercover activities. The Stevens team are now clear that there was ''institutionalised collusion'' between the security forces and loyalist terrorists. FRU handlers did give dossiers on republican targets to loyalist agents. These were then used by UDA murderers to carry out assassinations.
Another FRU soldier, Philip Campbell Smith, was charged this week in England by Stevens' detectives for intimidating Ingram.
He allegedly sent e-mails identifying Ingram's whereabouts. This could have exposed Ingram to a republican assassination bid. Nearly all former FRU soldiers are still loyal to Kerr. They don't want him to fall foul of police inquiries. Ingram is now hated by his former comrades.
Over the past few weeks in Ulster, five loyalists have been arrested by Stevens' detectives. Two were interrogated for allegedly possessing documents containing information which could have been used by terrorists ''to carry out acts of violence''. Three RUC agent handlers have also been suspended pending inquiries related to Finucane's death.
The FRU officer who spoke to the Sunday Herald, under guarantee of anonymity, said Kerr was in charge of the day-to-day handling of loyalist informers. He knew his officers were handing information to UDA terrorists to be used to kill Republicans. The source worked with Kerr before and after Finucane's death.
The fingerprints of a number of FRU officers have been found on photographs and papers giving the addresses and movements of Catholics killed by loyalists.
This indicates that information from military intelligence was winding up in the hands of loyalist murder gangs.
''Under Kerr's command, the FRU were giving information to Nelson to help him prepare intelligence for attacks,'' the source said. ''The mind-set was one of 'the right people would be allowed to live and the wrong people should die'.'' Nelson was later jailed for his terrorist crimes and was subsequently released. He is currently in hiding in Germany. At least two other Scottish FRU soldiers and a Scots RUC officer were also Nelson's handlers.
According to the FRU source, there was an unbroken chain of command running from the handlers, to Kerr, then through to the military top brass in Ulster, on to the Ministry of Defence Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and finally the Prime Minister. At the time of Finucane's death George Younger was Secretary of State for Defence, Tom King was Ulster Secretary, Thatcher was Prime Minister and General Sir John Waters was the general officer commanding in Northern Ireland.
''It is rubbish to suggest that we were mavericks,'' the FRU source said.
''What was happening may have been occurring outside the law but the establishment knew what was happening.'' Kerr was known for his ''gung-ho'' aggressive style of executing the war against terrorism. Kerr learned the ropes of counter-insurgency as a member of 14th Intelligence. Also known as the Det, this SAS-run unit, was, until the creation of the FRU, Ulster's main counter-intelligence squad. He was a senior instructor with the Special Intelligence Wing between 1985-1986 and then moved to Ulster as FRU chief. ''He had no moral qualms about anything that we were up to,'' the FRU source said. ''And he knew of every decision taken by his men.''
"At the time I had no qualms either. We saw what was happening as a war and we were going to fight fire with fire. Kerr had one policy; in his own words it was: ''You go in, and you go in heavy. Raise the temperature on the ground to boiling point and then reduce it fast. That means you hurt your enemy so hard that you reduce the risk of casualties on your side. Then you step back quickly. That means the enemy is constantly in a state of terror and panic. It's an old SAS tactic.''
Kerr was the first FRU commander to sanction his men crossing the Irish border on illegal reconnaissance missions into the Republic to recce IRA arms caches. ''I can say with dead certainty that the FRU did conspire to murder certain individuals with loyalist terrorists through our work withUDA informers,'' the source said. ''And Kerr knew about it.''
The Stevens Inquiry want to interview around 30 FRU operatives. Chief among these is Kerr. The Sunday Herald understands that at least three senior FRU officers will be arrested within the next three months and charged in connection with the Finucane murder. One security source said: ''Kerr will be left to last as he is the biggest fish. Delaying speaking to him will make sure he sweats before he's interviewed. Whether or not those charged by the Stevens' team are ever prosecuted is a matter for debate. These people are so high-ranking that the establishment will have to cover-up for them. If they go down, the stink of what was happening will reach right to the top of government.''
The FRU source said: ''Lie upon lie has been told and documents have been destroyed or not handed over. The police are spotting that the story they were given by the FRU in the early stages of the inquiry do not tally with what they now know. The police know there's been a cover-up and they know how it all worked.
''In defence of all of us in the FRU, there were no rules in place to tell us what we could and couldn't do when running agents in Ulster. It was uncharted territory.
''If we were running the UDA's chief intelligence officer as an agent could we really be expected not to have had some 'collateral damage'?
''If every single operation Nelson had planned had fell on its arse, he would have been rumbled and executed by his own side. The bottom line is 'you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs'. It just happens to be unfortunate if you were one of the eggs. At least the targeting of the UDA was more refined while we were running Nelson. Random sectarian killings slowed and more IRA men were bumped off. In military terms it was a success.
Of the 13 or 14 people who died through FRU collusion with loyalists, I'd say four or five were 'innocent Catholics'. The rest were Republicans. Apart from one case where an 'innocent' was deliberately targeted, the other ordinary punters died simply because of intelligence f***-ups.''
The one ''deliberate targeting'' of an ''innocent'' by the FRU ended in the murder of Belfast pensioner, Francisco Notorantonio. His details were passed to Nelson by a female FRU officer, a close friend of Kerr's, known as Captain M.
Nelson had passed information about the planned assassination of an IRA man, code-named Steak Knife, to his military handlers. But Steak Knife was also a double agent providing the army with its best intelligence on Provo activities. He had to be protected. Captain M came up with Notorantonio's name as a replacement victim for Steak Knife.
In a private meeting with the Finucane family, Tony Blair recently addressed the concerns of the solicitor's widow, that there was state-collusion in her husband's death, by saying there would be no protection by the state for anyone involved in Finucane's death.
''The end-game seems to be in sight,'' the FRU source said. ''It seems to be a question of when rather than if the arrests start to happen.
''The police will probably ask the FRU top brass for an interview over coffee as the first stage of the interview. After the coffee, will come the cuffs and the interrogation.''
The Sunday Herald
Revealed: how we spied on Ireland
By Neil Mackay Home Affairs Editor
BRITISH army intelligence officers have revealed for the first time that they carried out illegal surveillance operations in the Irish Republic despite repeated assurances to the contrary by Westminster to Dublin.
The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, is outraged at the revelations of the covert cross-border operations and intends to raise the matter personally with Tony Blair this week and demand an explanation.
The operations were ordered by Brigadier Gordon Kerr, the Scottish military intelligenceofficer who controlled the ultra-secret Force Research Unit in Ulster between 1987 and 1991. The surveillance by the army's FRU, and its IRA double agents, included the planting of bugs in the homes of Irish republican activists and sympathisers.
The FRU staged its illegal incursions from British military bases along the border with, over 100 border-crossings under Kerr's command. Faulty intelligence also led to ''ordinary'' Irish citizens being bugged by the FRU.
Military intelligence sources have also revealed that a number of pubs, thought to be frequented by republican sympathisers, were also bugged in Louth, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim and Donegal.
''If we received information that there were arms in a certain location in the south or that republicans and IRA men were meeting in a specific house, then FRU officers would cross the border under cover to either place listening or tracking devices or carry out surveillance,'' one military intelligence officer said.
The operations also involved ''jarking'' - secreting electronic bugs on - weapons left in IRA arms dumps so the movements of guns could be traced. In other cases weapons were rendered inoperable and arms caches put under surveillance.
Revelations about the illegal incursions will seriously damage future co-operation between British security forces and the Irish special branch and G2, the Irish military intelligence.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach's office said: ''We are horrified by this information. These are serious allegations and we will be asking the British government to investigate them immediately.
''It has long been suspected that this kind of activity was happening. It is intolerable that a foreign country's agents entered Ireland for espionage and surveillance purposes without the authority of this government. Feelings of outrage and betrayal will remain until this is resolved.''
The MoD said it could neither comment on operational matters nor allegations of illegal activity made against its personnel. The Foreign Office also declined to comment. Sein Fein is now leading calls for a wide-ranging public inquiry into all the activities of the FRU.
Investigations into the FRU follow revelations about the bugging of Sein Fein president Gerry Adams' car and allegations that Britain authorised wire-taps to listen in on Irish government communications.
Sir John Stevens, Scotland Yard's commissioner, is heading an inquiry into allegations of loyalist collusion with the FRU. His detectives have found the fingerprints of FRU personnel on documents used by loyalist gunmen to carry out assassinations.
Last week the Sunday Herald revealed how Kerr's FRU officers passed information on Catholics and Republicans to loyalist murder gangs via double agents like Brian Nelson, the Ulster Defence Association's chief intelligence officer. These documents were used by loyalist assassins. Stevens' detectives want to interview Kerr and plan to arrest a number of FRU staff.
The Sunday Herald
The secret wars of a spymaster
By Neil Mackay
Photograph Caption: Gordon Kerr, far left, now the British military attache to Beijing, escalated the stand-off in Berlin with General Mikhail Zeitzev, centre, Commander of the Soviet Armies in Germany
Gordon Kerr not only ran a secret army unit which helped terrorists to kill innocent people in Ulster, as we revealed last week. He also worked against British intelligence in Cold War Berlin
THERE'S a phrase set aside in the British army for men like Brigadier Gordon Kerr and it's ''Green Slime''. Soldiers don't mince words, and to regular squaddies and military brass, Kerr and his Intelligence Corps are on roughly the same level as pond life. Highly effective, immensely powerful and very dangerous pond life, but pond life nevertheless.
The Green Slime tag is partly down to the distinctive emerald beret worn by Int Corps, but let's be frank, it's more a nod to Int Corps' back-stabbing, double-dealing and underhand tactics and morals. And Kerr is, after all, the archetypal spy; a spook's spook and a master of dirty tricks and dirty wars. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that there was one thing Kerr wasn't short of during his stint in Berlin during the early 1980s: enemies.
As one of the top spies in the divided city at the height of the Cold War, Kerr's job was taking on the KGB and the East German Stasi.
But his leading role in this cloak and dagger theatre was not enough for Kerr, who is currently the British military attache to Beijing. According to officers, who served with him in Berlin, Kerr's Intelligence Corps unit was also engaged in a dangerous turf war with other seemingly respectable British intelligence agencies which could have had disastrous consequences; it even threatened to undermine and close the last, vital diplomatic links between the British and Russian armies.
''If Kerr's Int Corp had been successful in its hostile takeover of legit British operations, it would have shut down that line of communication during one of the worst periods of the Cold War, and we would have lost our main route to the Russians,'' a former Berlin British intelligence officer said. ''It would have been like hanging up the telephone while trying to negotiate not blowing the world to smithereens.''
Kerr's role in the secret Cold War against his own side was a sign of his warped sense of duty and led to the most shameful chapter of Britain's dirty war in Ulster. As the Sunday Herald revealed last week, under Kerr's command, the Force Research Unit (FRU) - the most secretive and dangerous of all the covert British military intelligence groups - regularly passed documents on Catholics and nationalists to loyalist terrorists who they were running as agents.
These loyalist double agents, including the Ulster Defence Association's chief of intelligence, Brian Nelson, were handed packages of photographs and military reports detailing the movements and addresses of potential targets, which in turn were passed to loyalist murder gangs. In total, an estimated 15 civilians died as a result of FRU collusion with loyalist terrorists. One victim of this collusion was the Catholic solicitor, Pat Finucane, who counted a number of prominent republicans among his clients. Other victims included known Provos and high ranking republicans; but a handful - perhaps five - were so-called innocents, people who had no other reason to die other than the fact they were Catholic.
As far as we know, Kerr's activities in Berlin between 1983-85 had less dramatic consequences, although whether that was due to luck or design is still debatable. As commander of Three Intelligence and Security Company, or Three I-Spy, he was in one of the most sensitive intelligence-gathering posts in eastern Europe, and Britain's leading, frontline cold warrior.
Stasi files passed to the Sunday Herald show that during this time Kerr's men carried out more ''flag tours'' - secret intelligence missions - than the French and US military intelligence put together. An officer who served with Kerr in Berlin said his tactics were ''pointlessly aggressive and confrontational''.
Kerr's Int Corps seems to have used the same tactics it employed against the ''Sovs'' to take on its rivals in other branches of British intelligence in Berlin, particularly a little-known, but essential, outfit called Brixmis.
At the time, Berlin was the fiercest battleground in the spying war between east and west. Against the backdrop of the Afghan war and ever-deteriorating relations with Warsaw Pact countries, one of the few channels of communication left open between the Soviet armies and UK forces in Berlin was Brixmis - the British Commander in Chief's Military Mission to the Commander of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. Brixmis acted as a legitimate military liaison between the Red Army and the British Army on the Rhine. It was trusted by the Russians. Even the USSR army marshall, Pjota Koschewoj, said Brixmis acted with ''tact and good manners''.
Its ''clean'' status made Brixmis a key part of the Cold War. But, according to intelligence officers in Berlin at the time, Kerr wanted to take it over. Int Corps began machinating against Brixmis staff. Allegations of spying for the east were made against Brixmis officers and their families, and bad reports found their way back to London on the effectiveness of Brixmis personnel. The intention was clearly for Int Corps to get their own man into Brixmis so that deep-cover spooks could take over every arm of the British Cold War operation against Russia.
''We were run by the straight army, not the Green Slime, and the Soviets knew that,'' one Brixmis officer said. ''Three I-Spy wanted an Int Corps guy running Brixmis. That would have seen an organisation which was trusted by the Russians taken over by the likes of Kerr, who was, in Soviet eyes, running wild through Berlin at the time. If that had happened, Britain's interests in Germany would have been seriously damaged. The role of Brixmis was to keep open channels of communications between the Russians and British. If Int Corp had taken over, that would have stopped.
''We were the last line in the sand before all-out hostilities. To Russian eyes we were legit. If Kerr's mob had taken over it would have been disastrous. Our role was to build confidence with the Russians and to help prevent a nuclear holocaust. We have to remember we had two major armies involved in a confrontation in Berlin and any misunderstandings could have been fatal.''
To make matters worse, Kerr arrived in Berlin at the same time as General Mikhail Zeitzev took over as Commander of the Soviet Armies in Germany. An ultra-hardliner, Zeitzev, or Big Z as British agents called him, pushed the stand-off in Berlin to the brink. During Zeitzev's tenure, an American major was shot dead while spying on Russian tanks, a French NCO was killed and three British soldiers were almost crushed to death by a Soviet armoured patrol. Kerr's behaviour also outraged the head of the Stasi, Erik Meilke, as East German secret police files shown to the Sunday Herald reveal.
A senior intelligence source who served in Berlin said: ''Big Z had decided that he wasn't going to take any prisoners. If Kerr's men had moved into Brixmis, there would have been serious consequences. We were in the middle of a period of sustained hostility. If Kerr's lot had forced a change, that would have been the final break in communications with Russia.''
The Sunday Herald's investigation into Kerr's activities - through speaking to his contemporaries and men who served under him in the shadowy world of espionage and counter-insurgency - pieces together a picture of an officer described as ''drunk with power''; a brilliant soldier who decided to live life by his own rules, and a man who was, and probably still is, prepared to accept that terrible things must happen for Britain's greater good. ''He's the perfect advocate of the ends justifying the means,'' said one intelligence officer who knew him.
As one would expect for a soldier who is among the top six spies in the UK, there are big gaps in what we know about Kerr. Of his early years, there's little information. We know he comes from Aberdeen, is aged 52, and that he graduated from a Scottish university in 1970. The fog begins to lift around the time he arrives at Glencorse, the training depot for the British army in Scotland, in 1971. His high level of education was a military rarity in those days, and marked him out as a potential big-hitter. Second lieutenant Kerr, army number 489090, was nicknamed Craigie, and was, as his peers from those days recall, a ''good chap''.
As a young officer in the Gordon Highlanders he served in Cyprus before his first posting to Armagh in 1972 - the bloodiest period of the Ulster Troubles. The high-flyer was appointed an Intelligence Officer, and then the regiment's officer commanding the Intelligence Section. So began his undercover work. Dressed in civvies, he grew long hair to fit in with Ulster's civilian population, drove - and constantly resprayed - an undercover ''scout'' car and developed relationships with RUC Special Branch, MI5 and terrorist touts, or informers.
By the time he left Ulster in June 1973, he'd helped arrest four leading Provos: Edward Howell, the OC (officer commanding) 2nd PIRA; Raddo Bradley, adjutant of 1st PIRA; Micky McMullan, the OC of 1st PIRA's B company and Thomas Callan, OC 1st PIRA. In 1974, he was promoted to Captain before being posted to the British Army's Intelligence Training Centre in October 1975.
He was briefly with the ''Det'', the SAS-trained 14th Intelligence Company - the forerunner of the FRU - before being sent to the army's Ulster HQ in Lisburn and then transferring from the Gordons to the Intelligence Corp. At this stage, Kerr vanishes off the radar before resurfacing at the army's Staff College in 1980, where he was promoted to major before moving to Berlin.
After Berlin, he undertook a brief stint as senior instructor with the Special Intelligence Wing in Ashford, Kent. It was a CME - or covert methods of entry team - from Ashford which is alleged to have helped FRU men set fire to offices used by the Stevens Inquiry team in Ulster. Detectives under the command of Scotland Yard's commissioner, Sir John Stevens, are currently investigating FRU collusion with loyalist terrorists and are planning to interview Kerr and arrest a number of FRU staff.
In Ashford, Kerr, and his Irish wife, were involved in the resettling of British Army agents whose cover had been blown while undercover in Ulster. In 1987, now ranking as a colonel, Kerr took over as OC of the FRU; and it was then that civilians started to die in Northern Ireland at the hands of loyalist gunmen, aided and abetted by the security forces. As one FRU source told the Sunday Herald: ''My unit was guilty of conspiring in the murder of civilians in Ulster on about 14 occasions. We were able to take out leading Provos with the help of the UDA. It was a great military coup.''
Kerr, according to FRU sources, was not a maverick - he was sanctioned from the top. After leaving the FRU, which still operates today, Kerr returned to Berlin on more intelligence matters and was then promoted to brigadier - hardly evidence that military top brass and the government were displeased with his undercover operations in Ulster.
In army terms, Kerr has what's termed ''protezione'' - a Mafia term meaning protection. Kerr has connections going right to the heart of the British establishment and his position as military attache to Beijing makes him the effective joint number two in Britain's entire military intelligence operation. It would have been the current chief of the defence staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie, who is also Int Corps' colonel-commandant, who approved Kerr's promotion.
But Kerr's time may be running out. Stevens has already arrested a clutch of loyalists as part of his inquiry, and charged one FRU member with intimidation of witnesses. The fingerprints of British military intelligence personnel are on documents used by loyalist gangs to plan assassinations. New information, reported on our front page today - revealing how Kerr sanctioned illegal incursions over the Irish border by British military intelligence officers - has prompted diplomatic outrage in Dublin.
All the descriptions of Kerr by the intelligence officers and soldiers we spoke to who worked with him throughout his 30-year career, shared the same view - that Kerr saw himself above the law. Both Ulster FRU officers and Berlin intelligence officers, describe him almost identically. ''Kerr wrote his own moral code. He decided what was morally acceptable in Britain's best interests,'' one Berlin officer said. Or, as FRU sources put it: ''Kerr was the boss of the FRU and the FRU were deciding who could live and who should die in Ireland.''
Gordon Kerr's Force Research Unit - a covert British military intelligence cell - passed information to loyalist terrorists, recruited as double agents, which was used to kill Catholics and Republicans in Ulster during the 1980s. The FRU's main agent was Brian Nelson, the UDA's chief intelligence officer. Nelson was later jailed, even though Kerr gave evidence for him in court using the cover-name Colonel J.
The Sunday Herald
MoD mounts legal bid to gag the Sunday Herald
By Neil Mackay
THE Sunday Herald's probe into the activities of an undercover British army intelligence unit in Northern Ireland triggered legal moves by the Ministry of Defence last week to gag the newspaper from making further revelations about covert military operations in Ulster.
The MoD began the process of interdicting the Sunday Herald on Friday when it learned of the contents of the third part of our investigations into the role of the secretive Force Research Unit (FRU) in Ulster.
The FRU is under investigation by Scotland Yard's commissioner, Sir John Stevens, over allegations that it colluded with loyalist terrorists in the murders of civilians. The attempt to silence the Sunday Herald focused on the newspaper's investigations into the role of a female intelligence officer - known as Captain M - who is at the centre of the inquiry.
The MoD has already gagged the Sunday People and the Sunday Times in Northern Ireland for attempting investigations similar to the Sunday Herald's.
The interdict would also have prevented all future investigations by the Sunday Herald into the FRU. We have had to give an undertaking to MoD solicitors not to publish her name, reveal her location or identify her by photograph. But as a result the Sunday Herald is now the only paper able to fully probe the activities of the FRU.
The Sunday Herald
Exposed: captain who aided hitmen
Intelligence officer 'Mags' faces arrest over claims she colluded with death squad killers of innocent Catholics Pub
By Neil Mackay
A FEMALE military intelligence officer is at the centre of the Scotland Yard inquiry into collusion between the British army and loyalist paramilitaries in the murders of Catholics in Ulster.
The officer - who can be named only as Captain M to avoid a Ministry of Defence gagging order - allegedly handed information to loyalist killers which resulted in at least 14 deaths, including five Catholics with no terrorist links. 'M' is expected to be arrested after the Stevens' inquiry into collusion between loyalist terrorists and the British army in Ulster ends.
Over the last two weeks, the Sunday Herald has exposed how Scottish intelligence officer Brigadier Gordon Kerr commanded the army's Force Research Unit (FRU) - the covert military intelligence operation in which Captain M worked. The FRU is the subject of the investigation by Sir John Stevens, Scotland Yard's commissioner.
Sources close to the Stevens inquiry have revealed that at least three FRU officers will be charged within three months. One former FRU officer has already been charged in connection with the investigation for allegedly intimidating a former colleague who is now the main whistleblower in the police inquiry.
Last week three men were arrested in Belfast by Stevens' detectives as part of their ongoing investigations into the murder of the Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane. Finucane, who had a number of prominent republicans among his clients, was shot dead in front of his wife and children at his Belfast home in February 1989 by UDA gunmen allegedly using information provided by the FRU.
The three were arrested for ''possession of documents containing information likely to be useful to terrorists in planning acts of violence.'' Two were released - one pending a report being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions - and a third, a 51-year-old former British army soldier called Kieron Dalton, was charged and remanded in custody forpossessing information likely to be used by terrorists.
Between 1986 and 1990, Captain M - then a sergeant - and another FRU officer, known as ''Geoff'', were the primary handlers of Brian Nelson, a former Black Watch soldier, who was then the UDA's chief intelligence officer.
Nelson was later jailed for his terrorist crimes. ''Geoff'' subsequently joined the RUC and is currently suspended from police duties pending the outcome of the Stevens' inquiry.
At the time Captain M - also known as Mags to Stevens' detectives - answered directly to Gordon Kerr, a former Gordon Highlander from Aberdeen who was then a colonel and the commander of the FRU.
Highly-placed military intelligence sources say Captain M actively colluded with Nelson in the murder of Catholics and republicans. At times the victims were IRA men and active republicans, but the dead also include innocent civilians.
FRU sources told the Sunday Herald: ''It was a perfect military plan. We got to take out Provos, and the UDA carried on with their operations. Of course, intelligence can be faulty and 'ordinary' Catholics died.''
Sources claimed up to five 'ordinary' Catholics were murdered as a result of FRU collusion, adding: ''Captain M facilitated the UDA's targeting by producing maps, photos, details of routes to the scene of the assassinations and information of targets' movements.''
Although the FRU actively colluded with loyalists, they also deliberately withheld information from police which could have saved lives. In 1988, Gerald Slane was gunned down by the UDA even though M had advance knowledge that he was marked for assassination.
''Sometimes innocent people were allowed to die in order to keep double agents like Nelson in business. If Slane had lived suspicion might have fallen on Nelson that he was working for us,'' a source said.
The same policy ended in the death of Francisco Notorantonio, a Catholic taxi driver who was sacrificed to protect a senior IRA man, codenamed Steak Knife, who was a FRU double-agent and intelligence asset.
Notorantonio's details were passed to Nelson by Captain M as a replacement victim for Steak Knife when the FRU discovered loyalists were planning to murder the IRA man.
M also had prior knowledge that Brian Robinson - a UVF man - was planning a sectarian gun attack in Belfast in September 1989. The FRU allowed Robinson to kill 43-year-old Patrick McKenna before ordering an undercover army unit to open fire on him as he fled the scene. Robinson was shot dead even though he could have been wounded and arrested.
Another innocent Catholic set up by M and Nelson was Terence McDaid. He died when accidentally mistaken for his brother by loyalist gunmen. The army also allegedly supplied the loyalist killers of Louglin Maginn with documents.
The Stevens' inquiry is also investigating allegations that M handed over photos and details of routes to Nelson as part of the UDA officer's planning of the murder of Pat Finucane.
The RUC are also alleged to have failed to act to stop Finucane's killing despite having had advance warning from three separate loyalist sources that his execution was planned.
Military intelligence sources said Captain M's British Empire Medal was granted as a direct result of her undercover work in Ulster, proving her alleged illegal operations were sanctioned by military top brass and the government.
M, who was commissioned as a captain in 1998, was not a rogue agent, sources said. ''She was directly answerable to Gordon Kerr. Anything she did was okayed by the establishment.''
Although the FRU was thought to have disbanded in 1991, it merely changed its name to the Force Reconnaissance Unit and is still operating in Ulster. M is no longer in Ulster. However, her location is known to the Sunday Herald.
M has already been questioned twice by Stevens' detectives, and is due to be interrogated again before the planned arrests of FRU officers. ''Her role as Nelson's main handler puts her at the centre of the entire inquiry,'' a source said.
The MoD said Captain M will remain in post with the Intelligence Corps pending the outcome of the Stevens' inquiry, as will Brigadier Gordon Kerr, who is currently the British military attache to Beijing in China.
As part of the collusion, M arranged for two computers to be bought - one for Nelson and one for the FRU. Information held on the military computer on potential targets could then be downloaded onto floppy disks for Nelson which he could study at home and use to draw up assassination plans.
The FRU could also upload information known to the UDA when Nelson met with his handlers. This reduced the risk of Nelson being caught with incriminating documents on him.
P cards - or personality cards - comprising photos and personal details of targets were also handed to Nelson by the FRU. M became an FRU instructor with the Intelligence Corps in 1990 after leaving Ulster.
The Sunday Herald
British army allowed IRA to bomb Ulster Pub
By Neil Mackay Home Affairs Editor
Photograph Caption: Smith, left, allegedly harassed a key witness to the Stevens inquiry to protect Kerr, right
THE timing seemed designed to make a mockery of justice. On Tuesday, the Scotland Yard inquiry into collusion between loyalist terrorists in Ulster and British military intelligence officers lost its key witness - destroying hopes of getting the soldiers who conspired in the deaths of innocent Catholics into court.
Yet as Scotland Yard's commissioner, Sir John Stevens, watched his investigation collapse, the Sunday Herald was being briefed on how the Force Research Unit (FRU), the covert army outfit which colluded with loyalist terrorists, also knowingly allowed soldiers, RUC officers and civilians to die at the hands of IRA bombers in order to protect republican double agents.
Brigadier Gordon Kerr, a career soldier from Aberdeen who commanded the FRU between 1987 and 1991, lies at the heart of the collapse of the inquiry. The Stevens team plans to arrest senior FRU members for passing information to loyalist agents which led to the death of at least 14 civilians Kerr, now the British military attache to Beijing, was, according to FRU sources, fully aware that his officers were passing information designed to assist assassinations. To protect Kerr, one former FRU officer, Phil Smith, allegedly sent threatening e-mails concerning another ex-FRU officer who goes by the cover-name Martin Ingram. Ingram is hated for giving statements about illegal FRU operations to Stevens detectives.
Smith allegedly sent e-mails revealing Ingram's real name and location. Revealing the identity of an undercover military intelligence officer is illegal under the Official Secrets Act.
The Sunday Herald was recently threatened with a gagging order by the Ministry of Defence as the government suspected we planned to reveal the identity of a female FRU officer - known as Captain M - who was passing information on targets to her loyalist agent, Brian Nelson, the UDA's intelligence officer. Nelson, who was jailed and now lives in hiding, used the information to set up the 1989 assassination of Catholic solicitor, Pat Finucane, who represented republicans.
Last week, charges of intimidating witnesses were dropped against Smith. Ingram was stunned by the decision, seeing it as Britain declaring open season on him. Ingram unwillingly withdrew statements given to Stevens and refused to co-operate further. A source close to the Stevens inquiry said: ''Without Ingram, there is no way detectives can get near the officers at the top of the FRU who were allowing collusion to happen.''
Although a number of loyalists have been arrested recently as part of the Stevens inquiry, they were described as ''worthless'' in comparison to arrests of FRU officers by security sources.
Ingram will return to co-operating with Stevens if Smith is re-charged. As the British government came to terms with the fact that its 10-year police investigation which cost at least #100 million was now worthless, FRU sources revealed even more shocking details about the actions of the covert unit.
Sources claim the unit, in order to keep its IRA double agents active and stop suspicion falling on them, allowed Provos to plant bombs which the army could have prevented. Those bombs led to fatalities. ''If every operation that an IRA agent was involved in was intercepted, they'd be fingered as an informer and executed.
''We did try to limit the success of 'sanctioned' operations by sending undercover soldiers to IRA arms dumps to inject the explosives that were going to be used with chemicals that substantially reduced the capacity to kill.
''The Provos would plant the bomb and it would be allowed to go off even though we knew its location and timing. Sometimes, the bomb had been chemically deactivated sufficiently and no lives were lost, but at other times we hadn't put in enough chemicals and people died. Either way the Provos thought the operation had gone off successfully and our agent wasn't fingered.''
FRU sources said around seven police and army personnel died as a result of military intelligence allowing IRA bombs to be placed during Kerr's time in command of the FRU. They estimate that three civilians also died this way, with casualties in the hundreds.
At least 30 army, police and civilians died in total as a result of similar actions carried out by all arms of the intelligence community - this included MI5 and RUC special branch as well as the FRU. The FRU also manipulated the IRA into killing a significant number its own men. ''To protect Provos working for us, we would teach the agent to pass off any suspicion on him onto another IRA man.
''The agent would tamper with explosives or guns owned by another Provo. That would cause operations the target was part of to go wrong and he'd be suspected of informing and executed. We got rid of a good few top IRA men that way.''
Many IRA agents were recruited when they were young. FRU handlers guided their careers so that they later became high-ranking Provos. ''We gave them information and schooled them so they appeared to be the best - that way they shot up the ladder and our boys got to the top.''
Most IRA agents were lured to the FRU with substantial sums of cash. Good operators earned up to £60,000. The FRU had a huge number of informers in republican ranks, with up to 40 Provos in their pay.
The Sunday Herald
Ulster 'dirty war' inquiry collapses
By Neil Mackay Home Affairs Editor
THE £100million Stevens Inquiry into the conspiracy by a British Army undercover unit to commit multiple murders in Northern Ireland has collapsed.
The investigation, headed by Scotland Yard commissioner Sir John Stevens, is in total disarray following the decision by the inquiry's chief witness to cease all co-operation with detectives because of intimidation.
According to security sources, the witness, a former member of the Army's Force Research Unit who goes by the cover-name Martin Ingram, has withdrawn statements about the activities of the covert army operation after the Crown Prosecution Service in England refused to press charges against another ex-FRU member for intimidating him.
The fatal blow to the inquiry, which has lasted 10 years and cost up to £100m, comes as FRU sources revealed to the Sunday Herald how military intelligence officers allowed IRA double agents to plant bombs which killed police and army personnel as well as civilians.
The explosions were allowed to go ahead to protect republican agents from suspicion that they were army informers. At least six army and police personnel, and a further four civilians, died as a result.
The Stevens Inquiry centres on the activities of the FRU, which was headed in the late 1980s by Brigadier Gordon Kerr, a former Gordon Highlander from Aberdeen. FRU members colluded, allegedly with Kerr's knowledge, with loyalist murder squads in the deaths of at least 14 Catholics in Ulster between 1987 and 1991.
A former FRU officer, Phil Smith, sent out more than 100 e-mails revealing Ingram's real name and location last month following statements made by Ingram to the police.
Smith was initially charged with intimidating witnesses. However, early last week charges against him were dropped on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
The Sunday Herald has been told that Ingram believes dropping the charges is a clear message to anyone who opposes his co-operation with the Stevens Inquiry and wants to silence him, that they can threaten to reveal his true identity and location without fear of criminal proceedings.
The e-mail, a copy of which has been seen by the Sunday Herald, also makes reference to Ingram's wife and her family. Ingram is currently in hiding, but would be targeted for assassination by both loyalists and the IRA because of his previous life as an undercover soldier.
Sources close to the Stevens Inquiry said: ''The outcome has been that the e-mail worked. It was intended to bully Ingram into silence and that is what has happened with his withdrawal from the inquiry.
''He felt he could no longer continue as he would be putting his life at risk. I think he felt, 'Why should I co-operate with them, if they aren't prepared to protect me?'''
The Sunday Herald
Abandoned for killing their own, British Army officers planted as terrorists appeal to MoD to come home
Undercover soldiers trapped in IRA Pub
Byline Investigation by Neil MacKay
Photograph Caption: Former IRA member Willie Carlin
AT least 16 British Army officers, who are currently working undercover as spies within the ranks of the IRA, carried out a series of terrorist bombings and shootings to preserve their cover as leading Provos.
The British government is thwarting all efforts by the agents to come in from the cold and has abandoned the soldiers because of the offences they carried out while army agents.
The MoD is refusing to pull them out of Northern Ireland and give them new identities to protect them from republican reprisals.
Three senior MPs are to raise the scandal with the government. They are Michael Martin, the Scottish speaker of the House of Commons; the campaigning Scottish Labour MP Tam Dayell and the Shadow Ulster secretary Andrew Hunter.
The Sunday Herald has spoken to the most senior British army soldier currently working undercover as a republican terrorist - a highly-placed Provisional, who can only be identified as ''Kevin''.
An Irish Catholic from Northern Ireland, he served as a British soldier before being recruited by military intelligence to work undercover. He spent a number of years trying to get into the IRA and was eventually accepted after carrying out fundraising robberies for republicans.
All agents were recruited by the Force Research Unit, the British Army's most shadowy intelligence outfit. It allegedly provided information to loyalist hitmen to facilitate sectarian murder attacks. The FRU, which was commanded by Brigadier Gordon Kerr, an Aberdeen man and former Gordon Highlander, is under investigation by Scotland Yard for loyalist collusion.
Former FRU officers confirmed that the unit placed British soldiers in the IRA. The FRU also admitted the agents carried out terrorist offences which claimed the lives of civilians and RUC and army personnel.
Kevin said he was revealing his role as an agent in order to shame the British government into getting him out of Northern Ireland. ''I agreed to go undercover, was given a false discharge and returned home with a mission to become an IRA man.''
He has spent 13 years in the IRA. Security sources claim he was responsible for a number of deaths, including RUC and army staff.
''I can't reveal exactly what I did or didn't do,'' said Kevin. ''I will say that many people suffered. I could not have lasted as an agent if every operation I touched had failed.
''However, my work as an agent saved many lives. A lot of my job entailed 'frustrating' IRA operations, but some had to go ahead or else I would have ended up dead. I gave 20 years of my life to Britain, and the fight against terrorism. Yet now, I am trapped. I have made repeated calls to my military handlers to get me out of Ireland. Nobody is listening.
''I have nothing. I have a criminal record so I cannot get a job. When I move around Britain I'm constantly stopped by police who see me as a terrorist. I just want a normal life back. I want to be relocated, I want a job and I want a legal firearm so I can protect myself.''
Kevin is not currently receiving any payment from the British government, nor a pension for his time served as a soldier. He and three other army/IRA double agents have sought out another former army mole to speak for them - the former high-ranking Sinn Fein member, Willie Carlin, who is now in hiding in Scotland with his partner Colette. Carlin is also a former British Army soldier who, because of his Irish Catholic background, was chosen by military intelligence to penetrate the republican movement.
He became the right-hand man to Martin McGuinness and passed top secret information on the political thinking of Sinn Fein to the FRU.
He was exposed as a double agent in the mid 1980s and relocated by the FRU in mainland Britain. Carlin is co-ordinating the political support for the agents, and has been in contact with Michael Martin, Tam Dayell and Andrew Hunter, who plans to raise the issue in the Commons.
British military intelligence operations are increasingly under scrutiny. A long-running Sunday Herald investigation has revealed how the army conspired in the deaths of more than a dozen civilians.
The Sunday Herald
MoD farce as Sunday Herald gagged
By Neil Mackay Home Affairs Editor
BRITAIN'S intelligence chiefs face a hugely embarrassing fiasco this weekend over the exposure on the internet of one of the military's most prized secret agents.
With the kind of Orwellian double-think only Britain's spymasters can muster, one arm of the Ministry of Defence spent yesterday trying to gag the Sunday Herald and stop us revealing the identity of the female army undercover agent - despite the fact she is named on the internet. Meanwhile, the formal press liaison this paper has with the intelligence services at the MoD supported our right to name her.
Until now she has been identified as Captain M - a member of the covert Force Research Unit (FRU) that served under Brigadier Gordon Kerr, the Aberdonian former Gordon Highlander who is now British military attache to Beijing.
M, or Mags as she has also been called, is accused by former members of the FRU of colluding with loyalist terror gangs in the murder of prominent Catholics and nationalists in the late 1980s. She is still an army officer with the Intelligence Corps and is the subject of a long-running police investigation headed by Sir John Stevens, the Scotland Yard commissioner.
In a series of investigations over the last two months, the Sunday Herald has revealed both the activities of the FRU in Northern Ireland and the operations M masterminded. These include passing information to the outlawed Ulster Defence Association which was used to murder the Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane.
In December, the Sunday Herald was again threatened with an interdict by the MoD after officials learned that this newspaper knew the identity and location of M and had a photograph of her. At the time the Sunday Herald decided not to reveal her identity as this could have seriously prejudiced her safety.
However, the Sunday Herald, Sunday Times and Sunday People were tipped off early last week that M's identity had been revealed on a US website dedicated to releasing intelligence information. The Sunday Herald notified Rear Admiral Nick Wilkinson, the secretary of the MoD's D-Notice Committee, the body that decides whether or not to gag the press on the grounds of national security. Wilkinson checked the site and said that as M's identity was now in the public domain, newspapers were free to publish her identity.
Within hours, the MoD was back in touch with the Sunday Herald via Treasury Solicitor Roland Phillips. He made it clear that, unless we issued him with an undertaking that we would not publish her name, he was instructed to seek an immediate interdict to prevent us naming her.
He said the MoD did not consider M's identity to be in the public domain since only 230 people had read the internet document.
However, John Young, who runs the intelligence website based in New York, said that at least 3000 people had visited the FRU page by Friday afternoon. He accused British intelligence of illegally hacking into his site to find out who was accessing the material.
Young says he will not remove her name until a US judge compels him. It is unlikely an American court would do so due to the First Amendment, guaranteeing the right to freedom of the press.
Claims that the information on the internet would not harm M as long as it was not repeated in the press were proved ridiculous when a senior member of the republican movement contacted the Sunday Herald to say they had seen her name online.
Both Phillips and Wilkinson admitted the situation was farcical.
The Sunday Herald's solicitor, Peter Watson, said the threat of gagging made a ''mockery of the Labour government's pledge of open government''. Watson also said that the absurd position of the MoD in both attacking and supporting the same newspaper showed how the ''old and new guard inside the military establishment were riven over secrecy''. He added that it was ''apparent that the MoD was incapable of making one clear policy''. Both the Sunday People and Sunday Times were also forced to back down from publishing M's identity.
The MoD's claim that it wishes to protect the identities of agents in order to prevent assassination attempts is highly questionable. Last year the chief whistleblower to the Stevens inquiry, a former FRU officer who goes by the cover name Martin Ingram, had his real identity leaked to the press by former FRU colleagues.
The MoD took no action to protect his identity and a police inquiry into the leak was later dropped. The MoD also took no action against the Sunday Herald when it revealed the identity of Gordon Kerr last year.
As one disaffected FRU source said: ''It is a matter of who should be protected. The protection is not equal. Ingram is a whistleblower so they don't care about him. Kerr is out of the country so he is safe. But Mags is important. If anyone is jailed for collusion with loyalists it will be her, and the powers that be don't want that. So she is untouchable for the moment.''