Mark Thompson responds to last night’s Spotlight Programme
Last nights BBC Spotlight showed no consideration whatsoever for the families of those bereaved when flashing images of bodies at roadsides – or to the family of Denis Donaldson.
The showing of this gratuitous imagery was unnecessary and has upset several families who contacted RFJ last night and this morning with some deeply distressed. The programme makers did not contact the families.
Two families have also questioned the agenda of the programme in that it did not focus on the role of MI5 Secret Service, British army intelligence and RUC/PSNI Special Branch (C3) in facilitating the killings through their agents such as Freddie Scappaticci when showing imagery of their loved ones.
If anything the programme studiously sidestepped these central and evidential issues instead choosing to focus on Gerry Adams purely on the word of a completely anonymous figure citing opinion rather than actual testimony.
The same families rightly question the central role of former head of RUC Special Branch Raymond White in the programme discussing the use of agents completely unchallenged despite the wealth of evidence from Stevens, Cory, to De Silva of Special Branch illegality in this area.
It was beyond farcical given that Raymond White has not only refused to cooperate with the Police Ombudsman, who is currently investigating a number of killings including those used in the imagery referred to. He has also, through the NI Retired Police Officers Association (NIRPOA), initiated legal action against the Police Ombudsman over the recent findings of collusion in the Loughinisland report. Are they collusion deniers?
But White’s participation and assistance in last nights programme might be better understood in that there is a report due soon by the Police Ombudsman that will include the role of the PSNI’s C3 in deliberately exposing Denis Donaldson likely in the knowledge that he would eventually be killed.
The programme did have one credible contributor in that Sam Pollock, former Chief Executive at the Police Ombudsman, effectively laid an element of culpability for the eventual killing of Denis at the door of the PSNI.
What is quite extraordinary and somewhat unprecedented is that ‘Martin’ just decided to contact the BBC and reveal himself.
In the world of we can ‘neither confirm or deny’ – the policy of NCND – just how did the BBC verify ‘Martin’s’ claims?
Surely ‘Martin’s’ wholly unorthodox approach would have been cause for concern for his PSNI handlers within C3, who would have presumably brought this to a halt; or was he a figment in a classic counter-insurgency psych-op sanctioned by C3 and others that some in the BBC were only to happy to buy wholesale? Hence the references to how ‘we won the intelligence war’ peppered with countless informers and agents. It was a classic case of getting your story in first, which should tell us all what we need to know.
Most ridiculous was the claim by White that they brought about the peace process through agents when in fact quite the opposite was the case with the term ‘securocrat’ coming into the lexicon given the volume of overt and covert activity against Sinn Féin’s peace strategy in particular from within the RUC.
However, on a lighter note and amidst all, we were treated to a rollercoaster of emotions when former RUC/PSNI ACC Alan McQuillan claimed he wanted a ‘low key’ raid at Sinn Fein’s Stormont office.
He takes the ‘Comical Ali’ award.