Gun-running trial held up by busy spies

28 November 2009

Prosecutors are struggling to get statements from dozens of spies involved in an alleged dissident republican plot to buy arms, it emerged yesterday.

Lawyers say some of the 33 secret agents who will play a major part in a massive criminal case next year are involved in "various duties" and pinning them down could take "some time".

The news emerged during a pre-trial hearing for three men arrested as part of an MI5 sting to smash a gun smuggling operation between May 2005 and June 2006.

Paul Anthony John McCaugherty, 43, from Beech Court in Lurgan, Co Armagh, and Desmond Paul Kearns, 44, from Tannaghmore Green in Lurgan are denying conspiring to possess firearms and explosives.

The trial is expected to last up to 10 weeks and is scheduled to start next April.

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