Northern Ireland

Billy Wright was state agent, Winkie Rea trial told

Winston Churchill Rea, (aka Winkie Rea), at the opening of his trial at Belfast Crown Court
Winston Churchill Rea, (aka Winkie Rea), at the opening of his trial at Belfast Crown Court Winston Churchill Rea, (aka Winkie Rea), at the opening of his trial at Belfast Crown Court

BILLY Wright the founder and leader of the LVF was a state sponsored agent, a Belfast court has heard.

And the 37-year-old, assassinated by the INLA in the Maze Prison in 1997, was just one of many loyalist bosses in the pay of the state, it was also claimed.

The claims emerged as the last of seven taped interviews made for the US Boston College for its `Belfast Project' were played at the Crown Court trial of Winston 'Winkie' Rea.

At the end of the tape, Mr Rea allegedly predicted that this claims would someday be proven.

The prosecution claim that the 69-year-old from Springwell Road, in Groomsport, Co Down, is the voice heard on the tapes, identified as "interviewee L".

Mr Rea denies 19 offences, including involvement in murders and conspiracy to make a threat to kill the LVF leader in Aug 1996.

Billy Wright was killed inside the Maze Prison by the INLA in 1997
Billy Wright was killed inside the Maze Prison by the INLA in 1997 Billy Wright was killed inside the Maze Prison by the INLA in 1997

According to the prosecution, Mr Rea allegedly admitted on the Boston tape, that in hindsight he did not think a public threat should have been given to the LVF leader.

"Well my own personal view was was that, the head of the snake should have been taken off, but unfortunately that didn't happen," he is alleged to have said.

'L' told his interviewer that Wright remained untouchable because of the key supporters he claimed to have, and that a blind eye was turned to what he was doing.

The speaker said the "unfortunate thing about it is, was people were believing him".

At one stage 'L' said he thought "Billy Wright was also an agent and at a later date it will be clearly exposed".

He earlier alleged that the murdered LVF leader was not the only paid agent.

Asked if he thought if it was inevitable what he was saying would be exposed as true, 'L' continued: "someday that it will come to an end, but when that end will be, I couldn't have put a date on it".

According to the speaker, another matter that was "abundantly clear, that these so-called people were able to get away with literally murder and I believe that the biggest majority of them again worked for the state".

"And because they fed a diet of information against the mainstream loyalist paramilitaries, a blind eye was turned, and again at a later date, I think that the things I am saying here will come true."