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EDITIONS
 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 12:28 GMT
Officer 'forced out' by MI5
Northern Ireland Policing Board
Policing Board met to discuss the case in December
The former head of Police Special Branch in Belfast has said he is convinced he was forced out of his job by the national security service MI5.

Bill Lowry resigned in controversial circumstances in November.

He said he believed his willingness to pursue the IRA's alleged involvement in intelligence gathering in the NIO led to his removal.

The province's power-sharing institutions were suspended on 14 October following a row over allegations of IRA activity, including alleged spying within the Northern Ireland Office.

Bill Lowry: Former head of Belfast Special Branch
Bill Lowry: Former head of Belfast Special Branch

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, Mr Lowry said: "I felt during the whole operation that I was running, constant pressure from the security services, that it would be better if we didn't take skulls, if we just took papers.

"It would leave Sinn Fein/Provisional IRA a chance of denying they were involved in it."

Meanwhile, the DUP Policing Board member Sammy Wilson said the complaint was so serious it could not be ignored, and called for a public inquiry.

Mr Wilson said: "Either the ombudsman could undertake a full inquiry because this is a public interest matter, or the board could undertake an inquiry bringing in an outside police officer to investigate what could be regarded as an internal police matter."

Mr Lowry's complaint was considered at a meeting of the Policing Board in December.

In November, he retired earlier than expected from his post.

At the same time, it emerged that the Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, had ordered an investigation into leaks to the media on the inquiry into the break-in at Castlereagh security complex last March and the investigation into alleged IRA spying at Stormont.

In a disciplinary charge, Mr Lowry was accused of disclosing information to the media and was also told he was being transferred from his post.

That charge was later withdrawn and he retired as head of Special Branch in Belfast on 18 November.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Former head of Special Branch Bill Lowry:
"I felt constant and consistent pressure from the security services"
  BBC NI's security editor Brian Rowan:
"He believes he was forced out of his job"
See also:

06 Dec 02 | N Ireland
18 Mar 02 | N Ireland
03 Dec 02 | N Ireland
25 Nov 02 | N Ireland
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