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Concern over Special Branch murder plot probe

SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said the development was "deeply worrying"
Brendan Hughes

A SPECIAL Branch officer being referred for possible prosecution over alleged conspiracy to murder and perverting the course of justice raises "difficult questions" for police, an MLA has said.

SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness described the case as "deeply worrying".

The Irish News revealed at the weekend that a file had been sent to the Public Prosecution Service following a Police Ombudsman investigation focussing on the running of agents in north Belfast.

Prosecutors have also been asked to consider whether to bring a charge of misconduct in public office after the probe was completed in March.

The details emerged at an inquest into the death of 20-year-old Catholic postman Daniel McColgan.

The father-of-one, from Whitewell in north Belfast, was murdered by two UDA gunmen in January 2002 as he arrived for work at a sorting office in nearby Rathcoole.

The inquest heard that the officer, then a detective constable, was the Special Branch liaison assigned to work with the team investigating the murder and attended case conferences.

However, a barrister appearing on behalf of the Crown Solicitor Office said the Ombudsman probe was unconnected to the McColgan case.

Roy Suitters, who led the PSNI investigation into the murder, denied the officer was "pivotal" to his inquiry, saying his role had been to "listen to what was being talked about and if he had anything to contribute".

The PSNI has not confirmed whether the Special Branch officer is still serving.

Mr Maginness yesterday said: "It is deeply worrying that any police officer has been reported in relation to an alleged conspiracy to murder.

"The circumstances are unclear and one would hope that the circumstances would become clearer, but it is a matter of deep concern.

"Certainly it is something which people will be quite disturbed to hear. There will be difficult questions for the police to answer."

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