Belfast man seeks legal ruling to halt alleged MI5 approaches
Christopher Catney claims he is being harassed by British security services
Christopher Catney claims MI5 agents contacted him during a holiday in Spain and on his return to Belfast.
A west Belfast taxi driver has begun legal moves to stop alleged repeated approaches by MI5 agents.
He alleged contact was made during a holiday in Spain and on his return to Belfast International Airport.
Mr Catney, the nephew of former IRA man Tony Catney, said he fears others in his community will suspect him of being an informant. He stressed that he has no links to any political group or organisation, and attributed the alleged targeting to his family name.
In a statement prepared as an initial stage in the legal process, Mr Catney claimed he has come under increased attention from MI5 and the PSNI. He alleged that officers called at his ex-partner’s home looking for him, and that unmarked cars followed his taxi.
The level of attention increased following an approach by MI5 agents while on holiday last November, according to his account.
Two men allegedly identified themselves as members of the British security services, saying they wanted to speak to him.
He stated that his lawyer raised concerns about the alleged incident with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Madrid and Dublin.
It was claimed that the same agents approached him again after he was taken into a room to have luggage searched on arrival back in Belfast.
Complaints have been lodged with the Police Ombudsman, and with an Investigatory Powers Tribunal in a bid to have security services scrutinised.
Mr Catney further alleged that the MI5 representatives appeared again after he was involved in a road traffic collision in December, telling him they wanted to be “friends” and to “work together”.
Earlier this month, he stated, a man with a recognisable voice phoned, introduced himself as “Jim from Gran Canaria” and asked to talk to him.
Emphasising his clear record and lack of any affiliations, Mr Catney added: “The only rationale I can find is that I am the nephew of veteran republican Tony Catney.”
His uncle was jailed for murder in the 1970s and later acted as Sinn Féin’s head of elections before becoming involved with dissident groupings. He died in August 2014 following a battle with cancer.
Claiming to be living in fear, Mr Catney stated: “I am afraid that people in my community will start to think I am some sort of informant because of the PSNI-MI5 contact I have been experiencing. “This could be seriously life threatening in the sort of society we live in.”
His solicitor, Ciaran Mulholland, confirmed he has been instructed to explore High Court proceedings aimed at securing an injunction against MI5.
“It appears that Mr Catney is being harassed by MI5,” Mr Mulholland claimed. “I find the repeated approaches and contact from individuals, suspected to be that of British Security Services agents, extremely concerning.
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident, and other clients have complained of their movements being hindered at airports.”