Northern Ireland news

Former RUC chief Hugh Annesley denies giving order not to investigate 'planning and control' of Coagh ambush

Three IRA men died during the 1991 Coagh ambush
Connla Young

FORMER RUC Chief Constable Hugh Annesley has denied ordering police not to investigate the "planning and control" of a British army ambush during which three IRA men were killed.

Sir Hugh, who served as chief constable between 1989 and 1996, made the claim in a statement read on Friday during an inquest into the deaths of the three IRA members.

Pete Ryan, Lawrence McNally and Tony Doris were shot dead in the village of Coagh, Co Tyrone, in June 1991 in an operation believed to involve the SAS.

It is understood the IRA unit was planning to shoot a UDR member when the ambush was launched.

An inquest into the deaths of the three men opened last September.

At a subsequent hearing retired Detective Superintendent George Samuel Christy, who investigated the killings, revealed he was instructed not to question soldiers on how the military operation was put together.

During the hearing in October the coroner, Mr Justice Humphreys, questioned Mr Christy on his evidence.

The former RUC officer agreed that "one of the allegations might be that there was an agreement or plan in advance to kill these IRA operatives".

"You will have realised that was an issue," the coroner said.

"But the evidence you have given me today is that you weren't allowed to go there, you were not allowed by a Special Branch officer, or possibly the chief constable, but you were directed not to investigate whether there in fact was a plan to kill these people," he said.

In reply the retired officer said: "That's correct my lord."

The coroner continued: "So that was an obvious area that wasn't under consideration in your investigation, you simply didn't look at that issue".

"That's correct," Mr Christy replied.

In his statement Mr Annesley, who is aged 83, claimed he couldn't remember the Coagh ambush.

"I wish to state that, due to the passage of time, I have no recollection of this incident or any role I may have undertaken in relation to it," he said.

"I have had no occasion upon which, or reason, to recall or consider the incident since leaving office in 1996."

Mr Annesley also denied he made any direction not to investigate aspects of the ambush.

"I have been made aware that Det Supt Christy gave evidence that he was directed not to investigate the planning and control of this incident," he said.

"He, at one stage suggested that this came from the Chief Constable or the Office of the Chief Constable.

"I categorically refute that such a direction was given.

"I never ordered CID not to investigate planning and control and would not countenance such a suggestion."

The former chief constable also said he is unable to remember if he was briefed after the ambush.

"After an incident such as Coagh, I would expect to be briefed verbally on the outcome of the operation," he said.

"I cannot recall whether I was briefed following this incident or, if I was, the precise details of such a briefing, when I received it and who provided it to me."


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