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Tuesday, August 31, 1999 Published at 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK


New clue over IRA informer shooting

Martin McGartland: Police have open mind on IRA claim

Police have presented new evidence in their inquiry into the attempted murder of Martin McGartland, a former member of the IRA who became an informer.

Mr McGartland was shot seven times at a secret address in Whitley Bay, Tyneside, in June.

The Search for Peace
The former RUC double agent who infiltrated the IRA, claimed the terror group was behind the shooting.

But now Northumbria Police has produced a 10-second piece of audio tape of a man with a Scottish accent who they want to question over the shooting.

Open mind

The man was looking for a Bedford Rascal van that was advertised in a paper just before the shooting.

BBC Scotland's Forbe McFall reports
The voice message said: "Hello, I am actually phoning up about the van. You can contact me on 07880 697568."

Police say the same mobile number was used to buy another Rascal van, which was eventually used in the shooting.

Despite Mr McGartland's claims of IRA involvement, police have always kept an open mind on the attack.

[ image: Martin McGartland: Double agent]
Martin McGartland: Double agent
Detective Chief Inspector Keith Oliver denied claims made by Mr McGartland recently that police are being pressurised by politicians to suppress links between the shooting and the IRA.

Mr Oliver said: "There has been no pressure put on me from anyone at all. Mr McGartland is entitled to his opinions.

"We have listened to his opinions but I have got to deal with the facts."

'Vital lead'

Mr McGartland, 29, who infiltrated the IRA when he was 17, was shot outside his home but has since made a recovery and is in hiding in the north-east of England, where he moved to in 1991.

Police said the mobile number was last used on 17 June, the day of the shooting. But police did not disclose where or when the phone was bought as inquiries are still ongoing.

Mr Oliver said: "We regard this voice as a vital lead in the inquiry. We believe it is the voice of the man involved directly in the planning and preparation of the shooting of Mr McGartland."

A Metropolitan Police Website has a recording of the taped message, which can be found at

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