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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

The media must be held to account for its championing of discredited FRU spook Ian Hurst (Martin Ingram)

Ian Hurst on FRU "active service" in County Fermanagh

From 1999 onwards the media, both in the UK and Ireland, have used former low ranking FRU spook Ian Hurst as a kind of British Intelligence Guru, who was not only frequently and extensively quoted on “top secret” British army matters but also as an expert on the IRA. This would be laughable, but for the fact that the consequences have been so serious. Quite apart from the threat to the peace process that resulted from Hurst’s spurious evidence, the lives of leading Sinn Féin members were threatened on the same basis. Take for example Hurst’s allegation that the life of West Belfast pensioner Francisco Notorantonio was sacrificed to save British spy Fred Scappaticci. This story is pure bunkum but led to serious friction within the republican movement, not to speak of the added trauma for the Notorantonio family. (According to the MOD, Hurst was not even in Ireland when Francisco was murdered in October 1987 and the De Silva Report has confirmed that he has never served with the FRU in Belfast.)

No explanation has ever been produced, and no apology offered, as to why or how this bogus Scappaticci story gained such currency.

Adams and McGuinness - Ian Hurst's real targets

The same goes in 2006 for Ian Hurst’s fake MI6 document, which purported to show that Martin McGuinness was a British spy. This led McGuinness to issue a statement that he was being set up for assassination.

If anyone believes that this is all ancient news, think again. In the period of September to December 2011 (ie just over a year ago), there were headlines in all the “quality” newspapers and the rest of the media screaming that the IRA had been riddled with spies. These headlines were a direct reference to “testimony” from Ian Hurst

This Guardian piece in September 2011 for example:

Or look at this article in the Belfast Telegraph:

To be absolutely accurate, the Belfast Telegraph article quoted above does admit that Hurst got it wrong over McGuinness but the overall effect of the article is to boost Hurst’s credibility and status as a whistleblower. The same goes for the above Guardian article where Hurst is presented as an entirely credible key source. The reality is that Ian Hurst has never “whistleblown” any of his FRU superiors over its corrupt and murderous campaign in Ireland and two major tribunals of inquiry have rubbished his testimony.

See my Cic Saor article here:
"De Silva - Ian Hurst's credibility demolished"

Moreover, both of the above Guardian and Belfast Telegraph articles refer to a lengthy document or “secret dossier”, as reporters have often preferred to call it, (though there was nothing secret about it) submitted to the current Smithwick Tribunal that is sitting in Dublin. Yes this multi million Euro inquiry into the murder of two RUC officers is partly based on evidence provided by this same discredited Ian Hurst.

But there’s a wider point at play here and it is this:

It may be understandable in the first rush of excitement that happens in any media organisation when it finds a “deep throat” or secret source to overlook certain problems in the testimony. But where Hurst is concerned, we have now had two major tribunals in recent times (the Saville Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the De Silva Report on the murder of Pat Finucane), both of which have said that Ian Hurst (or Martin Ingram to give him his Sunday Times name) was an unreliable witness who not only gave inaccurate evidence but also exaggerated his status as a spy and his access to intelligence. And yet none of this has been reported in that same media that has lionised Ian Hurst for over a decade.

I'll repeat that - to my knowledge, not one media outlet has reported that Ian Hurst's credibility has been demolished. Not the Guardian, not the Sunday Times, not the Irish Times. I find this extraordinary, given that Hurst has never been out of their pages right throughout the period of the peace process. The Guardian is particularly culpable here, precisely because it usually has such high standards.

This is not good enough.

The Guardian - has some explaining to do

Eventually, serious newspapers like the Guardian will have to explain how they could have got it wrong for so long and why they have not reported the outing of one of their star witnesses as a dissembler and fantasist.

Once that is done, we can begin to look at the role Ian Hurst actually played in the FRU, which has never been looked at. In particular at the FRU’s illegal cross border work emanating from its unit in County Fermanagh where Hurst was stationed.

@Paul Larkin
Carrick, Gaoth Dobhair
Mí an Mhárta 2013
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Title: The media must be held to account for its championing of discredited FRU spook Ian Hurst (Martin Ingram)
Date posted: 01 Mar '13 - 12:21
Filed under: General
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