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Special Branch murder plot probe linked to UVF agent

Retired Special Branch officer Douglas Buchanan is at the centre of a probe into the police running of agent and UVF man Gary Haggarty (pictured)

A RETIRED Special Branch officer linked to the Danny McColgan murder investigation is facing possible prosecution over alleged conspiracy to murder as part of a probe into the police handling of UVF agent Gary Haggarty.

Former detective constable Douglas Buchanan was named during an inquest into the death of the 20-year-old last week.

Senior coroner John Leckey was told he was a Special Branch liaison assigned to work with the team investigating the murder of Danny McColgan and attended case conferences.

Father-of-one, Mr McColgan was shot dead by the UFF as he arrived for work at Rathcoole postal sorting office, on the outskirts of north Belfast, in January 2002.

The former policeman is one of two officers to have been referred to the Public Prosecution Service by the Police Ombudsman.

In Mr Buchanan's case, the inquest heard that prosecutors have been asked to consider bringing charges of conspiracy to murder, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

The charges do not relate to the McColgan case.

The “interim file” was sent to the PPS by Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire earlier this year.

Former UVF commander Haggarty has been charged with 212 offences, including five murders, 31 conspiracy to murder and six attempted murders.

The 'supergrass' has also made allegation of criminality against his police handlers and former UVF colleagues.

Haggarty has been questioned by the PSNI almost 1,000 times since August 2009.

Earlier this year concerns were raised about the length of time it was taking to begin the case against Haggarty, who worked as both an RUC and PSNI informer.

Details of his paramilitary activities were revealed in court papers last year.

The documents revealed that the UVF continued to target several republicans including Ardoyne man Eddie Copeland around the time of its 1994 ceasefire.

Others singled out included north Belfast brothers Michael and John Donnelly, who were both previously targeted in murder attempts.

Haggarty gave details of a plot to murder the brothers on dates between May 1994 and January 1995.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman confirmed yesterday: ”We have submitted an interim file to the PPS which relates to two officers both of whom are retired.

“Our enquiries are ongoing.”

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