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Undercover army unit linked to killing previously blamed on IRA

Researcher Ciarán MacAirt has uncovered documents that show the MRF may have been involved in the killing of Jean Smyth-Campbell
Connla Young

A BRITISH army undercover unit is believed to have been involved in the killing of a west Belfast women in a gun attack previously blamed on the IRA.

Jean Smyth-Campbell was gunned down in west Belfast 43 years ago today as she travelled home from a night out with a friend.

The 24-year-old was hit in the head as she sat in the passenger seat of the car at a bus terminus on the Glen Road in June 1972.

Until recently her family believed she was killed by the IRA but documents uncovered by author and researcher Ciarn MacAirt reveal that the British armys Military Reaction Force (MRF) fired shots in the area on the same night the mother-of-one was killed.

Later today the familys solicitors, KRW Law, will launch legal action against the Secretary of State, the chief constable and the Department of Justice over alleged failings to properly investigate the killing.

The victims brother Gerry Campbell last night accused the British government of lying to his family after both the RUC and the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) blamed her death on republicans.

Ministry of Defence logs reveal that members of the MRF fired ten shots at what they claimed was a two-man IRA unit, hitting one of the men.

The Irish News understands republicans have confirmed they were not in the area at the time of the gun attack.

Researchers believe the reference to the incident in military logs was not accurate.

The MRF was set up in 1971 as a counter-insurgency unit and is believed to have been involved in the murders of several innocent Catholics before it was later dissolved.

In 2013 former members of the unit admitted to BBC Panorama that the unit had killed civilians.

After the shooting a taxi was flagged down and the driver was told to take the victim to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The taxi is believed to have been diverted to Andersonstown RUC station by police where they were held for several hours.

Mr Campbell last night said the family were stunned by the emergence of the fresh information.

It has been a very difficult time for our whole family, especially for Jean's daughter Sharon who lives in Australia. We have been lied to by the British Government for 43 years, and we now have no choice but to put it in the hands of our solicitors to get justice for Jean."

The grieving brother urged anyone with fresh information to provide it directly to them or Niall  Murch at KRW Law in Belfast.

Ciaran MacAirt, who runs the Paper Trail Legacy Archive Research service, said that the recently discovered documents totally demolish the narrative produced by the State that republicans were responsible for the killing of Jean Smyth that night.

He said he had uncovered documents at the British National Archives in Kew, Surrey, which revealed that a British army brigade majors log reported that a dead girl had been found in a taxi and that the SF (security forces) claimed a hit during an earlier incident.

Mr MacAirt believes authorities have failed to properly investigate the killing.

It seems obvious they are guilty of not finding the documents which were on public record or knew about it and failed to process it, he said.

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