Northern Ireland: Police Service Agent Provocateur Claims

Ombudsman to investigate PSNI agent provocateur claims | May 6, 2010

THE Police Ombudsman is to investigate the [Police Service of Northern Ireland] PSNI after it emerged that a vulnerable 19-year-old had been recruited to act as an agent provocateur and informer. West Belfast teenager Thomas Boyle, who has a history of drug abuse and self-harm, was pressured to act as a PSNI agent after he was caught shoplifting. He revealed the kind of actions he was instructed to undertake by his PSNI handlers during a media interview last week.

As well as spying and planting tracking devices, Boyle was also told to plant a weapon and explosives to incriminate individuals believed to be active ‘dissidents’.  Boyle admitted he was told to plant Semtex in a neighbour’s shed and plant a gun in his neighbour’s car.

His PSNI handlers also pressured Boyle to join a particular group of ‘dissidents’.

The teenager was given mobile phone Sim cards to contact his handlers and claims he was encouraged to make hoax bomb calls at specified times. According to Boyle he was promised £2,500, but only ever received £50.


... Announcing his investigation, Al Hutchinson said the allegations against the police made by Boyle included attempts to pervert the course of justice.

“The police actions must be investigated fully. If people are to have confidence in the criminal justice system they must be assured that the police are not above the law,” said the Ombudsman.

The recruitment of a vulnerable teenager and the way in which he was used as an agent provocateur is also to be raised with the Policing Board. Sinn Féin Policing Board member Alex Maskey said that while the use of informers is standard practice for police services the world over, there has to be a proper protocol.

“Obviously we have a history of political policing which has seen the use of agents provocateur. Clearly allegations such as these need to be scrutinised,” said Maskey. ....

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