Smithwick hears evidence in private

Fri, Apr 20, 2012, 01:00

The public and press have again been excluded from the Smithwick Tribunal as it hears sensitive information relating to the activities of British intelligence services during the ‘Troubles’.

At the resumption of public hearings this morning Justin Dillon SC for the tribunal said today’s witness, known only by the cipher 'Witness 82', would give evidence impacting on that of former British intelligence officer Ian Hurst.

Mr Hurst gave evidence to the tribunal earlier this week, also in camera.

Applying for an order to exclude the public and press Mr Dillon told Judge Peter Smithwick Witness 82 had in fact “no evidence to offer” bearing directly on the terms of reference of the tribunal.

But he said Witness 82 would offer evidence on “certain matters” introduced by Mr Hurst and as Mr Hurst was heard in camera “it follows” that Witness 82 also be heard in private.

Approving the order Judge Smithwick said he accepted the point that if Mr Hurst was heard in private then Witness 82 should also be heard in private. He said the evidence of both witnesses, possibly in redacted form, would be read into the public record on Tuesday.

The Smithwick Tribunal is inquiring into suspicions that members of An Garda colluded with the provisional IRA in the murder of two RUC officers in March 1989.

Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush in south Armagh minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station.