Arrest fears over 'dirty war' book

Stake Knife authors will risk imprisonment by detailing allegations of collusion between terrorists and security forces

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday October 5, 2003
The Observer

A former undercover soldier pledged to ignore a threat of arrest to promote his new book on the 'dirty war' in Northern Ireland. Martin Ingram, a former member of the British Army's secretive Force Research Unit, pledged to promote the book detailing allegations of collusion between terrorists and the security forces even if it means risking imprisonment.

Ingram and his co-author, Greg Harkin, have written Stake Knife, the inside story of how agents for the British Army and RUC were able to carry out criminal acts, including murder, while working for the state.

Speaking from abroad, Ingram told The Observer that he said he was determined to promote the book in the UK, despite the threat of him being arrested for alleged breaches of the Official Secrets Act. The Ministry of Defence is considering whether to prosecute Ingram and Harkin over revelations made in Stake Knife about the secret anti-terrorist war in Ulster.

'If they want to arrest me, then they can arrest me,' he said. 'I am not running away or changing my lifestyle for them.'

The ex-army whistleblower added: 'I am not doing this for myself but rather for the public interest. In a democratic society the people should know that their security forces were allowing people serving the state to break the law up to and including murder. There are also families out there who have lost loved ones that deserve to be told that in many instances the people that killed their relatives were agents working for the British state.'

Ingram said he has been told that he may be arrested if he returns to Britain, having lived for eight years outside the UK. The former soldier spent several days in jail after giving interviews to journalists about the security forces' use of agents operating inside the IRA and loyalist terror groups. Ingram and Harkin are scheduled to join a promotional tour of the book in several UK cities next month. Their Irish publishers, O'Brien Press, have said they will print the book in the Irish Republic even if the MoD decides to slap an injunction on it in Britain and Northern Ireland.

Ingram served as an NCO for 12 years in the British Army's Intelligence Corps and six years inside the Force Research Unit.

The ex-soldier has been the source of a series of embarrassing revelations for the security forces in Northern Ireland, including the plot to kill Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane and the role of 'Stakeknife', the British Army's most prized intelligence asset inside the IRA.

Earlier this year a number of newspapers named Freddie Scappattici, the former head of the IRA's internal security department, as Stakeknife.

The allegations are strongly denied by Scappattici, who has claimed the reports have put his life in danger.

Ingram's fellow author was defiant about any threats of injunction or imprisonment. 'An arrest or injunction would be an attack on free speech, which we would resist to the end. I think any move like that would backfire on the MOD,' Harkin said last night.

Stake Knife will not only explore the alleged role of Scappattici in the deaths of IRA members accused of being informers but also the activities of the late loyalist terrorist Brian Nelson. Ingram and Harkin say Nelson had been working for the FRU as far back as the early 1980s when he prevented scores of UDA murder bids in Greater Belfast.

The authors will also claim that one of the police officers accused of setting up republicans for assassination by loyalists, known as 'Geoff', is still serving in the PSNI.

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