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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July, 2003, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
'No security' role in Castlereagh
The investigation followed the break-in at Special Branch offices
A review into the break-in at a Northern Ireland police headquarters did not uncover any evidence that workers with government agencies were involved the secretary of state has said.

An officer was assaulted and sensitive documents stolen during the raid at Special Branch offices in the Castlereagh police complex on 17 March 2002.

The report by Sir John Chilcott is one of two investigations into the incident.

The former senior civil servant was asked to assess if there had been any damage to national security following the incident.

Paul Murphy said the report came to certain conclusions about how the incident might have occurred and made recommendations about how to avoid any similar incidents happening in the future.

The police investigation into the break-in is continuing.

I can confirm that the review did not uncover any evidence whatever that members of government agencies were in any way involved in this incident, although the police investigation is continuing
Paul Murphy
Secretary of state

Commenting on Wednesday on Sir John's report in a written ministerial statement to Parliament, Mr Murphy said: "In identifying weaknesses in national security arrangements exposed by the break-in, this report makes a number of observations and recommendations.

"There has, over the months, been a significant degree of speculation about who might have been involved in this incident, including allegations of collusion.

"I can confirm that the review did not uncover any evidence whatever that members of government agencies were in any way involved in this incident, although the police investigation is continuing.

"The review was also able to provide a satisfactory assurance about the quality of the police investigation, confirming the conclusions of a separate review of the professional quality and standard of the investigation, carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service last year at the request of the PSNI."

Investigation

Mr Murphy added: "I am sure that the House will recognise that I am constrained by the wider aspects and implications of national security from going into any detail on these matters. But I shall be considering the matters raised in the report with the greatest care."

Shortly after the break-in, there were accusations from some quarters that agents of the national security service MI5 may have been involved.

On a number of occasions, the IRA said it was not behind the Castlereagh raid but police chiefs have linked the organisation to the incident.

Sinn Fein's policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly claimed the summary "shed no light" on who was responsible for the raid.

"The IRA have said they were not involved. All of the evidence points to the involvement of elements of the intelligence agencies in this raid," Mr Kelly said.

Special Branch deals with intelligence work, some relating to informers, and has an anti-terrorism role in Northern Ireland.

One of the main police centres for the interrogation of terrorist suspects was located at Castlereagh. It closed at the end of 1999.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI security editor Brian Rowan
"It was arguably the most embarrassing security breach in the history of the Troubles"



SEE ALSO:
Murphy denies cover-up claim
12 Mar 03  |  Northern Ireland
Forensic link in police break-in
03 Oct 02  |  Northern Ireland
Castlereagh break-in: Who was behind it?
05 Sep 02  |  Northern Ireland
Analysis: Story behind the break-in
19 Apr 02  |  Northern Ireland


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