The North's Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory has asked the PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott to investigate claims and admissions that a British army undercover unit operated a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s.
Mr McGrory, QC, requested Mr Baggott to carry out the inquiry following last night's BBC Panorama programme which reported that the special unit, the Military Reaction Force (MRF) under the command of a British army brigadier had authority to kill real or suspected IRA members, regardless of whether they were armed.
The programme also reported how the MRF in 1972 drive-by shootings allegedly killed two Belfast men, Patrick McVeigh and Daniel Rooney, neither of whom had paramilitary connections, and that they wounded more than 10 others who were not involved in paramilitary activity.
Seven former members of the MRF spoke to Panorama with three of them, slightly disguised, appearing on camera to say they had high-command permission to carry out drive by shootings in which people were killed and wounded - even though there is no independent evidence that any of them were armed or were members of the IRA.
Mr McGrory said today he has asked for a PSNI inquiry “on the grounds that criminal offences may have been committed”.
“I viewed with great concern the Panorama broadcast documenting the activities of the MRF,” he said.
“Former members of this unit appear to have claimed on camera that they considered themselves to have been authorised to operate outside the law of Northern Ireland. This raises the clear possibility, if not probability, that serious criminal offences were committed,” he said.
“Accordingly, I have asked the chief constable to initiate an investigation into the activities of this unit, to include the authority upon which the unit and its commanders acted”.
The British Ministry of Defence is already investigating claims.