MI5 wants secret court session over IRA informant’s lawsuit
May 7, 2013 9 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, has requested a secret court hearing to deliberate a lawsuit from a high-profile spy who infiltrated the Provisional Irish Republican Army, commonly known as IRA. The mole, Martin McGartland, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, was recruited by the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the 1980s. The information he supplied to the security agencies over several years is widely credited with having saved the lives of at least 50 British police officers and soldiers. His autobiographical experiences formed the basis of the 2008 motion picture 50 Dead Men Walking, written and directed by Kari Skogland and starring Jim Sturgess as Martin and Ben Kingsley. McGartland’s cover was dramatically blown in 1991, when the IRA began suspecting that he might be an MI5 mole. After several hours of interrogation by the IRA’s Internal Security Unit, McGartland managed to escape his captors and throw himself out of a third-floor window. He survived serious injuries and was taken into hiding by MI5, living in a series of safe houses across Britain for nearly a decade. However, in 1999 the IRA caught up with him at an MI5 safe house in North Tyneside, in the northeast of England, where he was shot by an IRA hit team while walking to his car one morning and left for dead. McGartland is now suing MI5 and its institutional patron, the British Home Office, claiming that they failed to support him after he was shot by the IRA. In his lawsuit, McGartland claims that government funding he was receiving for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder was withdrawn after he publicly criticized the British government’s counterterrorism policies. But on Monday, it emerged that Home Office solicitors had filed a formal request to hold the trial as a Closed Material Procedure (CMP) hearing. This type of practice, which recently became law under the 2013 Justice and Security Act, allows the court to decide a case without giving the plaintiff party any details of the information against them. In many cases, the government resorts to CMP ostensibly to protect ‘sources and methods’. But McGartland’s legal team said yesterday that the secret hearing was designed “solely to cover up [MI5’s] own embarrassment and wrongdoing and not, as the Government has been claiming, to protect national security”. British newspaper The Independent, which broke the story, spoke to the Home Office and was told by a spokesman that “there are ongoing legal proceedings in this case and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment”.