MI5 agent 'doesn't know' why bosses said account full of spin

21 May 2010
The Irish News
Barry McCaffrey

An MI5 agent at the centre of a Real IRA arms smuggling trial says he has no idea why his bosses raised concerns that his evidence was full of "spin" and was "inaccurate".

The agent, codenamed 'Amir', was giving evidence at the trial of three Co Armagh men charged in connection with an alleged Real IRA plot to smuggle guns and explosives from mainland Europe to Northern Ireland in 2005/2006.

Paul McCaugherty (43) of Beech Court in Lurgan is charged with conspiracy to possess firearms and explosives, using almost EUR46,000 for terrorist purposes, membership of the RIRA and making the deeds of a Portuguese restaurant available for the purposes of terrorism.

Desmond Kearns (44) of Tannaghmore Green, Lurgan is accused of conspiring to possess firearms and explosives, while Declan Gregory (41) of Concession Road, Crossmaglen is accused of making the deeds of a Portugese restaurant available for the purposes of terrorism.

The trial had previously heard that Amir had met Mr Kearns and his wife Alison during trips to Belgium in 2005 to buy cheap cigarettes. The prosecution alleges that Mrs Kearns asked if Amir could supply weapons which could be smuggled to Northern Ireland.

Mr McCaugherty is later alleged to have travelled to mainland Europe with Mr Kearns to meet another arms dealer, who was in fact another MI5 agent. However, giving evidence from behind curtains yesterday, Amir denied ever having written a witness statement in which it was alleged that Mrs Kearns asked if he could supply weapons. Questioned about contradictions in the statement, he replied: "You'll have to ask the author. It's unfair to ask me."

However, under questioning from Orlando Pownall QC, Amir admitted that he had only agreed to give evidence at the trial after his former MI5 bosses threatened to arrest him and expose his identity.

The court was told that while Amir had secretly recorded three hours of conversations during a meeting with the Kearnses in July 2005, the crucial part in which Mrs Kearns allegedly asked if he could supply weapons had failed to record. While he insisted that Mrs Kearns had asked about guns, he conceded that key parts of the statement written in his name were "inaccurate". "She didn't keep asking me questions about weapons but she did ask," he said.

He admitted that at a later MI5 debriefing one of his handlers accused him of deliberately having turned off the tape recorder. Asked who had been responsible for writing his statement, Amir replied: "Surely you must know who the author is? It's not me."

An MI5 memo was read to the court in which Amir's handlers raised concerns that what he was telling them was "inaccurate" and that "self interest" was a "strong factor".

"We also need to think WHY (Amir's) account ... is inaccurate," it stated.

"There's lots of spin, selective memory, revisionism, reinterpretation and potentially miscomprehension. What's underlying this?"

Confirming that he had had "heated exchanges" and a "big fall-out" with his handlers after he refused to introduce a second MI5 agent posing as an arms dealer, he said: "They were certainly not happy with me and I wasn't happy with them."

He said he was no longer "on great terms" with MI5 and had not worked for it since 2006.

The trial continues.

1 Responses to "MI5 agent 'doesn't know' why bosses said account full of spin"
Anonymous said...

MI5 treat all their agents like shit. Just google Kevin Fulton, Martin McGartland or Raymond Gilmour. Those in MI5 who are selling these brave agents out, the pen pushers in MI5, are not fit to do-up these fellas boots. Anyone working for MI5 or thinking of working for them need their heads looking at. MI5 murder agents or they at the very least set them up to be murdered.

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