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Fugitive Bryson mocks police

Published 28/02/2013

Frazer held but forum leader with sore leg stays one step ahead Bimpe Archer

LOYALIST flag protest leader Jamie Bryson has posted a video of himself online mocking police "fascists" as officers combed north Down searching for him.

Appearing in his distinctive white beanie on his own Facebook page, the 22-year-old said he was considering handing himself in but had been hampered because "my leg is very sore".

"How much money is [Chief Constable Matt Baggott] spending chasing me? He needs to employ better tracking devices," he told followers.

Earlier police were reported to have flooded the streets of the seaside town of Bangor in an attempt to run him to ground.

The former community worker was not at home when officers arrived with a warrant for his arrest and another to search the property.

In another bizarre twist, supporters of fellow protest leader Willie Frazer claim he told police who arrived to arrest him yesterday morning that he was a republican killer responsible for the notorious Kingsmill massacre.

Both are spokesmen for the Ulster People's Forum, which has been involved in coordinating the loyalist flag protests.

The 52-year-old was arrested in the Tandragee Road area of Markethill, Co Armagh, on suspicion of public-order offences relating to the protests.

Police confirmed it was part of Operation Dulcet, with the team's detectives carrying out the questioning.

However, Mr Bryson evaded arrest and spent much of the day revelling in the embarrassment this caused police.

The resulting cat-and-mouse game played out throughout the day on various social media sites.

Mr Bryson told visitors to his Face-book page: "They haven't arrested me because they can't find me."

Accusing the PSNI of "political polic ing", he claimed officers were seeking to arrest him at the behest of Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly.

Mr Kelly had told his Twitter followers the night before that he had "had a frank discussion with M Baggott".

"Lines are clear as to what is legal and what is breaking the law in protest marches. Action?" he posted at 10.07pm.

Within 12 hours police had arrested Mr Frazer and tried to apprehend Mr Bryson. The homes of both men were reportedly searched and Mr Bryson's car seized, although police would not confirm what actions they had taken.

Mr Bryson branded Mr Kelly "the new PSNI superintendent" and the chief constable "his puppet", telling his Facebook supporters the operation was "despicable" and a "disgrace".

He called on "every Ulsterman to take to the streets to support the democratic right to protest".

A day earlier Mr Bryson took to Twitter to insist that loyalists who killed people during the Troubles were not terrorists.

"I am very clear, I do not believe loyalists were terrorists," he said in a series of exchanges.

"The same way SF don't believe IRA were terrorists.

"I would not view the UVF as terrorists... loyalists were not terrorists. The IRA were the terrorists."

On Mr Frazer's Facebook site a colleague claiming to have spoken to the former victims' campaigner said he had identified himself to the PSNI as a named republican linked with the 1976 Kingsmill attack and "is claiming responsibility for the... murder of 10 innocent Protestants at Kingsmill".

The bizarre post went on to say Mr Frazer had said "paperwork containing evidence of this is in his house".

"He will be refusing any bail conditions should they be offered to him," it continued.

"Gerry Kelly IRA man made this happen and Matt Baggot was only too willing to oblige."

Another man, identifying himself as a supporter, claimed that "two PSNI search teams spent almost five hours taking his home apart".

He said officers had seized information Mr Frazer held "on paper, hard drives and memory sticks accumulated over years" about "IRA murders, smuggling and fraud".

Last night loyalists protested outside Musgrave Police Station in central Belfast where they said Mr Frazer was being questioned.

A small group draped in Union flags congregated beside the building’s entrance on Victoria Street at 7pm.