Murphy could end up in court

Secretary of State Paul Murphy could end up in court after the latest British spying operation in the heart of West Belfast.

Lawyers for the Andersonstown woman at the centre of the bugging scandal – who has declined to be named – were said last night to be “actively considering legal action”.

Workers stumbled upon a sophisticated listening device built into a timber beam in the attic of the woman’s flat on Monday morning.

The elaborate device was constructed of six long-life battery packs, a transceiver, and a tiny microphone that had been lodged in the living room ceiling.

Sinn Féin quickly confirmed that the woman is a part-time voluntary worker in the constituency office of local MP, Gerry Adams.

And Mr Adams used a meeting with the British government in London late on Monday evening to raise the matter directly with Tony Blair.

Republicans have called the development “a very serious matter” and the revelation is being widely seen as yet another example of the negative influence exercised by NIO securocrats over the peace process.

This latest spy operation follows the discovery of various other covert British intelligence-gathering activities in West Belfast over recent months.

As exclusively revealed by the Andersonstown News in May, a British Army spy-nest was rumbled on the Black Mountain, overlooking the homes of several senior republicans.

And a series of attempts by PSNI Special Branch to recruit local people for political intelligence-gathering have also been disclosed.

This week’s bugging scandal comes in the wake of a major intelligence document being declared “missing” by the Northern Ireland Office from the Belfast Special Branch headquarters at Castlereagh barracks in July.

Twenty-eight members of the RIR have been suspended from operating the spy-post at Divis Tower after the alleged loss, which PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has designated as “not sinister”.

Speculation has been mounting that the missing document contains intimate personal details about four hundred local people.

Speaking in West Belfast this week, Sinn Féin’s Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness pointed the finger of blame directly at the NIO and Paul Murphy.

“While we were in London this week a sophisticated bugging device was found in the home of a member of Gerry Adams’ staff. “Gerry Adams raised this very serious turn of events with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair. People should not underestimate the effects of this.

"This is a serious breach of faith by the British government and I believe that it comes directly from within the NIO.

“I have to presume that it was authorised by the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy in his role as head of the NIO and rest assured I will be raising this directly with him. The 'no comment' approach by the NIO will not wash.
“The British Prime Minister Tony Blair needs to tackle head on those within the NIO who are hostile to the peace process and hostile to republican involvement in it,” said Mr McGuinness.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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