Northern Ireland

PSNI face legal challenge over failure to confirm role of agent Peter Keeley

Court action launched by ex-British army agent Sam Rosenfeld

Former British agent Peter Keeley, also known as Kevin Fulton
Former British agent Peter Keeley, also known as Kevin Fulton

A former British army intelligence agent has launched legal action against the PSNI over its refusal to confirm or deny if a Co Down man he claims threatened him also worked for the state.

Former Force Research Unit (FRU) agent Sam Rosenfeld is challenging chief constable Jon Boutcher over the PSNI’s position to neither confirm or deny (NCND) the status of Peter Keeley, the British agent who is also known as Kevin Fulton.

Born in London, Mr Rosenfeld, not his real name, has previously told how he worked undercover for the British army in Co Fermanagh during the 1990s.

State bodies traditionally provide a NCND response when challenged over the part played by informers and agents during the Troubles.

However, lawyers for Mr Rosenfeld are set to argue the reliance on NCND by the PSNI and others is unlawful.

The Ministry of Defence and MI5 have been added as notice parties to the legal action.

In an affidavit Mr Rosenfeld said he remains concerned about threats to his life and that of his family due to “this sustained threat and prolonged threat by Peter Keeley and his associates”.

Solicitor Barry O’Donnell, of KRW Law, said the case will explore examples of when there can be a departure from NCND.

“This case will examine if there are exceptional circumstances to depart from the otherwise blanket policy of NCND,” he said.

“We say Peter Keeley’s own admission that he was a British army agent in PIRA means NCND should be lifted "

Understood to be a former police, MI5 and British army agent, Keeley has been linked to attacks that resulted in the deaths of several people including British soldiers, RUC officers and civilians and is currently at the centre of around 25 legal cases linked to his role.

In June last year the PSNI and Ministry of Defence settled High Court actions with the mother of IPLO man Eoin Morley after she secured a judgment against Keeley.

Mr Morley was shot during a botched paramilitary-style attack in Newry in 1990.

Keeley has also been linked to an IRA mortar attack that resulted in the death of RUC officer Colleen McMurray in March 1992.

She died after the police car she was travelling in was struck by a Mark 12 horizontal mortar in the Merchant Quays area of Newry.

Gerard Lawlor death
Police ombudsman Marie Anderson

In a Police Ombudsman’s report published in 2021 Marie Anderson confirmed that an IRA man referred to as Person A was a Special Branch agent.

He is understood to be Keeley.

Person A is believed to have been involved in the development of the ‘flash-initiated’ technology used to trigger the mortar that killed Ms McMurray.

In 2006 Keeley was arrested in England and questioned about the Morley killing and that of British soldier Cyril Smyth, who was killed when the IRA carried out a bomb attack on a checkpoint outside Newry in 1990.

The former agent was also linked to the Real IRA unit that carried out the 1998 Omagh bomb, which claimed the lives of 29 people.

The Irish News revealed last year that in 2008 Keeley was invited to a thanksgiving service attended by King Charles to mark the end of Operation Banner - which was launched by the British army in 1969 and ran until 2007.

The invitation, which was issued by then Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne, was held in St Paul’s Cathedral in London and followed by a buffet lunch.