Northern Ireland news

Co Tyrone lorry driver left shaken after 'intelligence services' approach

Marcus Varley said he has been left shaken after being approached by men claiming to be from the 'intelligence services'
Connla Young

A Co Tyrone man has described an alleged attempt by British intelligence to recruit him as an informer as “horrific”.

Marcus Varley said he has been left shaken after being detained by English police just weeks after he was approached by two men who said they were from the “intelligence services”.

The part-time lorry driver, who lives near Dungannon, woks for a Co Monaghan-based haulage firm and regularly travels to England at weekends.

The 41-year-old, who is originally from Drogheda, said he has no involvement in politics.

He claims he was approached at motorway services near London in August by men who said they wanted to talk to him.

During the encounter the men referred to a friend, who is a member of the hardline republican party Saoradh, and another prominent member whom he had never met before.

Mr Varley said he and his friend are also members of a Celtic supporters club in east Tyrone.

He said he refused to speak to the two men.

However, he claimed that weeks later he was stopped as he attempted to disembark a ferry in his lorry at Birkenhead, near Liverpool.

He said because of a mix-up his ticket was in the name of a colleague who usually drove the lorry.

Mr Varley claims a man who described himself as a member of ‘special branch' asked him to step out of the lorry and attempted to take his mobile phone.

He claims that after he protested he was grabbed by the arms and “force marched” to a nearby office where his arms were twisted.

He said he was later taken to a police station for further questioning before being released after being detained for more than nine hours.

Mr Varley, who cares for his four-year-old autistic son during the week, said he now fears for his livelihood and after the second incident he had to go to the doctor.

"It was horrific," he said.

“It totally caught me off guard, it's a shock to the system.

“It does make you nervous and then you are paranoid – are they going to come to my house, are they going to put something on my car?”

His solicitor Darragh Mackin last night said Mr Varley was stopped under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act.

“The deprivation of legal advice during the Schedule 7 search is deeply concerning,” he said.

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