Jon Boutcher to lead probe into ‘state collusion’ in Glenanne group

The former Bedfordshire police chief vowed his inquiry will have the victims ‘at its very heart’.

Jon Boutcher to lead probe into ‘state collusion’ in Glenanne group

Former Bedfordshire chief constable Jon Boutcher will lead an independent police probe into alleged state collusion with a notorious loyalist murder gang in Northern Ireland.

The Glenanne group was a deadly part of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in Mid Ulster that included rogue soldiers and police officers.

It was blamed for around 130 sectarian murders during the 1970s and 1980s and operated mostly in counties Tyrone and Armagh.

Mr Boutcher said: “The review of the Glenanne Gang series will have the interests of the victims, and their loved ones, at its very heart.”

Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan recently said police had not honoured the “legitimate expectation” of bereaved relatives of murder victim Patrick Barnard that an overarching investigation into the Glenanne group would be held.

Former Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief constable Sir George Hamilton had appealed against a 2017 judgment that found against the police’s decision not to complete work being conducted by the independent Historic Enquiries Team (HET) prior to its disbandment.

Mr Boutcher said: “I have started to meet with the families and their representatives and have promised each of them that I will do everything I can to establish the truth about who was responsible for these terrible crimes.

“For the families, that especially means finding out about what, if any, assistance was given to the Glenanne Gang by others in any manner whatsoever, and that will include whether people turned a blind eye to what was happening.”

The Glenanne members are suspected of involvement in about 90 attacks during the Troubles, including the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, killing 33, and the 1975 Miami Showband shooting attack on one of Ireland’s best known showbands.

It was also involved in a bombing at the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon, County Tyrone.

Court action against the PSNI was launched by Edward Barnard, whose 13-year-old brother Patrick was killed in the pub blast.

Gleanne gang judgement
Edward Barnard’s 13-year-old brother Patrick was killed in the Hillcrest Bar blast (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Boutcher has led an unrelated independent investigation into the murderous activities of the Army’s republican double agent, code named Stakeknife.

Mr Boutcher has appealed for anyone with information on his new probe to contact him through his Operation Kenova website.

He said: “Any inquiry or investigation is only as good as the information it receives. The Barnard Review will seek to recover records and information from wherever such information might be held, not only from PSNI records.”

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said: “Our thoughts first and foremost are with all of the families affected by these incidents.

“They, like too many other families, have suffered as a result of the Troubles and, understandably, they continue to seek answers in respect of the deaths of their loved ones.”

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