Former British soldier to be sentenced over Aidan McAnespie murder
Friday, 27th January, 2023.
A former British soldier who shot a Co Tyrone man dead as he walked to a GAA match 35 years ago will be sentenced later today.
David Holden, 53 was convicted in November of the manslaughter of Aidan McAnespie, who was shot in the back on his way to a GAA Football match.
He is the first British army veteran to be convicted since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Whatever sentence is imposed, Holden will benefit from the agreement’s early release scheme for prisoners and will serve a maximum of two years.
Mr McAnespie, 23, was shot in the back from an army checkpoint in the village of Aughnacloy on the Tyrone/Monaghan border on 21 February, 1988.
He was walking to a game in the nearby GAA ground.
The former soldier, who was 18 at the time and serving in the Grenadier Guards, claimed the shooting had been an accident.
But the judge ruled he had pointed a machine gun at Mr McAnespie from an observation sanger in the checkpoint and pulled the trigger, assuming the weapon was not cocked and ready for use.
That was an assumption he should never have made and as a result he was guilty of manslaughter “by gross negligence”, the judge ruled.
He dismissed the soldier’s claim that it happened as he handled the weapon with wet gloves and that his finger had slipped onto the trigger.
The judge described that as a “deliberately false account” and said the expert evidence had been that it took nine pounds of pressure on the trigger to fire the weapon.
Three rounds were fired in a short burst. One of them ricocheted off the road and hit Mr McAnespie in the back.
During the trial, the court was told that Mr McAnespie was a “person of interest” to the security forces.
He had complained of regular harassment at the checkpoint and often parked his car and walked through it to the GAA grounds to avoid lengthy delays caused by searches of his vehicle.
Mr McAnespie’s family is expected at court in Belfast for the sentencing.
The case concludes as the British government’s controversial legacy plans continue to make their way through Westminster.
They have been rejected by all of Northern Ireland’s political parties and the Irish Government and face considerable opposition in the House of Lords where they are currently being debated.
The plan would effectively end all criminal and civil cases and inquest hearings relating to the Troubles.
Instead, there would be a truth recovery process in which former paramilitaries would be encouraged to participate, in return for an amnesty from prosecution.
The British government has promised amendments in the face of overwhelming criticism, but has been accused of tinkering at the edges.
The legislation follows a Conservative party commitment to legal protections for British army veterans.
After the sentence is handed down by the court, Holden’s legal team must apply to Northern Ireland’s Sentence Review Commissioners to have it commuted.
With many thanks to: RTÉ News and Conor Macauley (Northern Correspondent) for the original story.
Follow these links to find out more on this story: Former British soldier to be sentenced over Aidan McAnespie killing
With many thanks to: RTÉ News and Connor Macauley (Northern Correspondent) Follow@TVconormac for the original story.
Follow this link to find out more on this story: https://www.rte.ie/news/2023/0127/1352056-mcanespie-court-ruling/
‘Future King of England’ Prince Charles accepted £1m donation from family of Osama bin Laden, report claims.!#AbolishTheMonarchy #UpTheRepublic #CitizenNotSubject
UK proposal on North of Ireland Brexit protocol ‘unwise’ – Coveney
Boris Johnson now ripping up the Good Friday Agreement
Mr Coveney was responding to a Financial Times report that said British legislation out this week will “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and the new customs arrangements for Northern Ireland.
In a statement, the UK government said it was working with the European Union to resolve what it called “outstanding issues” surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Without making explicit reference to the Financial Times report or specifying what the outstanding issues were, the statement stated that if those issues were not resolved “as a responsible government, we are considering fall back options in the event this is not achieved to ensure the communities of Northern Ireland are protected”.
Senior government sources would not be drawn on the Financial Times report, with one source speculating that it was part of a stepping up of “noise” by the UK as the future relationship negotiations enter a critical phase.
The source said he expected that the European Commission Brexit Task Force would seek clarification on the report.
Quoting three Whitehall sources, the report claims that sections of the upcoming Internal Market Bill would undercut key provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
These included the potential levelling of tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, as well as the potential for EU state aid law to continue to reach into the UK if the British government subsidises companies that have significant subsidiaries in Northern Ireland.
The report claims that “clauses in the internal market and finance bills will force the UK courts to follow the new UK law rather than the EU deal, diluting the ability of the protocol to intrude on UK state aid policy.”
The paper quoted one source as saying that the force of the new legislation had been approved by the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, who “had personally driven the decision to take the ‘nuclear option’ of overwriting the withdrawal agreement, despite progress being made in talks on implementing the Irish protocol”.
Reaction to the report has been swift, with Mr Coveney issuing his response on Twitter, saying: “This would be a very unwise way to proceed.”
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the Brexit terms that Britain agreed to before formally exiting the European Union “must be respected”.
“Everything that has been signed must be respected,” Mr Barnier told France Inter radio, in response to the Financial Times report.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said on social media: “As the Brexit negotiations between the EU and British government enter their eighth round this week in London, any threats of a roll back on the Irish protocol would represent a treacherous betrayal which would inflict irreversible harm on the all-Ireland economy, and [Good Friday Agreement].”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “If true, this could lead to a hard border in Ireland and undermine decades of progress.
Britain’s Agriculture and Environment minister George Eustace denied the UK government intends undermining the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland protocol.
He said the British government is committed to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and the UK is working with the EU through the Special Committee established by the Agreement to jointly agree the specific terms of the treaty.
He said when that process ends there may be some outstanding issues – what he called “loose ends” that may need to be implemented through UK legislation.
Mr Eustace said these included the exact nature of checks required on food products entering Northern Ireland, and the type of exit declarations needed to document the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
The report coincided with a combative statement from the British Prime Minister, which said that if there was no agreement between the EU and UK before an EU summit on 15 October then a free trade deal was unlikely “and we should both accept that and move on”.
Boris Johnson added: “We will then have a trading arrangement with the EU like Australia’s.
“I want to be absolutely clear that, as we have said right from the start, that would be a good outcome for the UK. As a government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it.
“We will have full control over our laws, our rules, and our fishing waters. We will have the freedom to do trade deals with every country in the world.
“And we will prosper mightily as a result.”
What British ministers sometimes refer to as an “Australian” style free trade arrangement is generally taken as a “no deal” outcome, with both the EU and UK trading on WTO terms.
Mr Johnson said: “Even at this late stage, if the EU are ready to rethink their current positions and agree this I will be delighted.
“But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it.”
The EU-UK future relationship negotiations have been deadlocked for months over fisheries, the issue of state aid and the so-called level playing field, police and judicial cooperation, and how both sides would resolve disputes in the future.
The prime minister made no reference to the Northern Ireland Protocol in his statement.
Both teams of negotiators meet in London on Tuesday for the next full round of negotiations.
Mr Barnier has set a deadline for agreement of 31 October.
With many thanks to: RTE News and Tony Connelly Europe Editor for the original story
The British border in Ireland issue could land UK in court, report finds the North of Ireland customs plans could take five years to implement, IfG says
The British border in Ireland could yet snag Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, with experts saying it will be impossible to deliver the computer systems for the special arrangements for Northern Ireland by the end of this year. Failure to implement the new systems will risk legal action by the European commission against Britain, the Institute for Government says.
In a new report, it says: “The [Brexit] deal has the support of no Northern Irish political parties and it looks almost impossible to complete the practical changes, for government and business, by the end of the year. Failure to comply with the withdrawal agreement could see the European commission begin infringement proceedings and the UK ending up at the ECJ [European court of justice].”
Brexit deal: EU may threaten ‘to block’ City’s access to its markets
Johnson’s government remains adamant that there will be no checks or new reporting systems on trade crossing the Irish sea, despite Ireland and the EU insisting that those would have to be in place to protect the Irish border.
The prime minister’s intention to establish a trade deal with the EU by the end of December 2020 was also dealt a blow by Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, at the weekend as he indicated the bloc would be in no rush to work to Johnson’s timetable.
In a blunt assessment of the likelihood of satisfying Johnson’s “ambitious” vision, he said the fact that Britain had put the timescale for a trade deal into law did not mean the other 27 European countries would fall in line. “In my view, it’s probably going to take longer than a year,” he said.
The IfG’s report says HMRC has previously stated similar systems to the proposed customs arrangements for the North of Ireland would take five years to develop and implement.
Part of the problem is that until the new trade deal between the UK and the EU is struck, the details of the North of Ireland arrangements cannot be finalised.
The complicated system for the North of Ireland involves the region effectively staying in the single market but in the UK customs zone. This potentially means tariff charges and rebates, paperwork and physical checks on certain fresh foods and live animals going from Great Britain to the North of Ireland.
In the new report, “Getting Brexit done: what happens now?”, the IfG says Brexit will be far from done on 31 January when the UK formally leaves the EU with the expected ratification of the withdrawal agreement ending the article 50 process.
“The UK will formally leave the EU at the end of January, and in that sense Brexit will be done, but many of the biggest Brexit jobs will be far from over,” it says. “It will continue to dominate government for years to come. The prime minister may hope to end Brexit’s dominance in the public debate after 31 January, but in Whitehall it will continue to be the biggest and most challenging task faced by a government in decades.”
Under the deal sealed by Johnson with the EU last October, animals and fresh food going from Great Britain to the North of Ireland will be subject to some physical checks, with a tariff and tariff rebate system operating for the first time. These are there to protect any substandard goods seeping into the EU’s single market through smuggling over the Irish border into the Republic of Ireland.
While all sides recognise the complexities of the new system, little public attention has been paid to the fact that new computer systems cannot be designed by either HMRC, ferry companies, or manufacturers or suppliers like Tesco until the trade deal with the EU is done.
The report says: “With the details of how the border will operate still unclear – and likely to be so for some months – and no preparatory work having happened for checks between Great Britain and the North of Ireland, the 11-month timeline is almost certainly undeliverable.”
It notes that Sir Jon Thompson, a former chief executive of HMRC, said that a similar customs systems involving rebates could take up to five years to develop and implement.
Coveney issued his warning on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, saying the deal to be struck between the UK and EU over their future relationship was vast, encompassing security, data, aviation and trade.
He said: “When people talk about the future relationship in the UK in particular, they seem to only talk about a future trade agreement. Actually, there’s much more to this than that … I know that Johnson has set a very ambitious timetable to get this done – he’s even put it into British law – but just because a British parliament decides that British law says something, doesn’t mean that that law applies to the other 27 countries of the European Union.
“And so the European Union will approach this on the basis of getting the best deal possible, a fair and balanced deal, to ensure that the UK and the EU can interact as friends in the future. But the EU will not be rushed on this just because Britain passes a law.”
With many thanks to: The Guardian and Lisa O’Carroll and Kate Proctor for the original story
Jeremy Corbyn tells it how it is about the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lies concerning the North of Ireland
Labour says Treasury document undermines notion of no border in Irish Sea
All the day’s politics news – live
Heather Stewart Political editor
Fri 6 Dec 2019 05.57 EST
Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled a 15-page leaked Treasury document that he claimed revealed the “cold, hard facts” about the impact of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.
The presentation, entitled Northern Ireland Protocol: Unfettered Access to the UK Internal Market, warns that “the withdrawal agreement has the potential to separate Northern Ireland in practice from whole swathes of the UK’s internal market”.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Corbyn said: “This drives a coach and horses through Boris Johnson’s claim that there will be no border in the Irish Sea.”
The document suggests that for trade going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, the government cannot rule out several different checks, including on regulations and animal health.
“At minimum, exit summary declarations will be required when goods are exported from Northern Ireland to Great Britain in order to meet EU obligations,” it says.
And for trade going the other way – from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – there could also be tariffs, the document suggests.
A section headed “economic impact on Northern Ireland” suggests high street goods are “likely to increase in price”, and many exporters could struggle with the costs of border checks, which will be “highly disruptive”.
The prime minister has repeatedly insisted the Brexit deal he struck in November will not require border checks. He even told one business in Northern Ireland that if they were asked to fill in a form, they should ring him, and “I will direct them to throw that form in the bin”.
The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, appearing alongside Corbyn, said: “This document is significant because it is a Treasury document; this is the advice being given to the prime minister about his own deal – it’s not coming from us, it’s coming from the government.”
The document appears to have been drawn up to set out the economic and political implications of the government’s promise to maintain “unfettered access” to the British market for business in Northern Ireland.
Conservatives dismiss Andrew Neil’s demands for Johnson interview
That promise is made in the Northern Ireland protocol that replaced the backstop in Johnson’s Brexit deal.
At the event in central London, Corbyn also appeared to acknowledge that with less than a week to go until polling day, he was a divisive figure.
Asked whether he believed another leader could be more successful among working-class voters, he said: “I think Marmite’s really good for you; some people like it, some people don’t.”
Starmer, who has made few frontline media appearances during the campaign, confirmed that he would support remain in a second Brexit referendum, which Corbyn has promised to hold within six months. “I voted for remain last time and I’d do it again,” he said.
At a Conservative campaign event near Maidstone in Kent, the prime minister was asked about the documents. He said he hadn’t read them but that Labour’s claims were “nonsense”.
“What I can tell you is that with the deal that we have, we can come out as one whole UK – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, together. We can do free trade deals together, we can take back control of our borders and our own immigration system.
“If you look at Jeremy Corbyn’s proposed deal, under no circumstances are he or his colleagues going to take back control of immigration.”
He added: “They should believe exactly what I say, which is that there will be no checks on goods going between GB to NI, or NI to GB, because we are going to come out of the EU whole and entire.”
With many thanks to: The Guardian for the original story
Brexit Secretary hints UK could rethink DUP veto on deal
Don’t forget everyone the DUP are lying to everyone! And the elections are just around the corner. ‘PUT YOUR VOTE WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!
Stephen Barclay also says government willing to discuss detail of customs proposals
The Brexit secretary has hinted that the government could amend its proposal to give the Democratic Unionist party an effective veto over its plan for an alternative to the Irish backstop
With EU leaders not willing to accept the UK’s ideas and talks between the two sides suspended over the weekend when Boris Johnson had been hoping to intensify them, Stephen Barclay said on Sunday that the government would be willing to discuss changes to the mechanism designed to ensure the new arrangements receive political approval in Northern Ireland.
Can Boris Johnson’s border plan break the Brexit deadlock?
In rhetorical terms the government has shifted considerably from what it was saying just before it published its plan for an alternative to the backstop on Wednesday, when it was insisting this would be its “final offer” to the EU.
But the gap between the two sides remains considerable, and Barclay’s emollient language may be motivated as much by a desire to deflect accusations that the government is being unreasonable as by any serious expectation of a deal being reached before the EU summit starting on 17 October.
Under the UK plan, Northern Ireland would remain in the EU single market for goods after Brexit but in the UK customs territory. This arrangement, intended to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, would depend on the Northern Ireland assembly voting for it, and continuing to vote for it every four years.
One objection to this is that the assembly is currently suspended. Another is that, under the “petition of concern” mechanism used for contentious issues in the assembly, votes have to be agreed not just by a narrow majority but with the backing of a significant block of both unionist and nationalist assembly members. In practice this means the main unionist and nationalist parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin, can exercise a veto.
Why is the Irish border a stumbling block for Brexit?
The No 10 plan envisages the assembly having to vote for Northern Ireland joining the EU single market for goods, meaning the vote could only be won with DUP support. If the default were for Northern Ireland to be in that arrangement, only exiting if the assembly voted to leave, then in practice it would be Sinn Féin that had the veto.
On Friday Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland secretary, was told by some of the non-DUP parties in Northern Ireland that what was being proposed was a non-starter.
One source with knowledge of the meeting said: “The message has gone back from all quarters in Northern Ireland, from Sinn Féin to the Traditional Unionist Voice, that this is unworkable and it will destabilise the institutions and the Good Friday agreement and is not plausible – and in light of that, if [Smith] is serious about getting a deal, he has to come back with something more realistic.”
On Sunday, in an interview on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Barclay indicated the government might consider moving on this. Asked if he was willing to change the system being used to ensure the new arrangements had the backing of the people on the island of Ireland, he replied: “The key issue is the principle of consent.
“Now, the mechanism – we’ve set out proposals in our legal text. We can obviously, as part of the intense negotiations in the coming days, discuss that mechanism.”
Barclay was also asked if the UK would shift on its plans for minimal customs checks, away from the border, on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Ireland. These are currently unacceptable to EU leaders who complain they are too vague and that they would in practice fail to protect the integrity of the single market and the customs union.
Asked if the government was willing to compromise further on customs, Barclay said: “We’ve set out a broad landing zone. In the detail of the negotiations, of course we can get into the detail as to how operationally they work, what legal certainty is required by the commission.”
In public ministers have sounded relatively conciliatory in recent days, while also stressing that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October despite parliament having passed a law, the Benn act, intended to stop a no-deal Brexit. In private government sources have been briefing that the prime minister might subvert the act, and even try ignoring a vote in parliament for him to be replaced by someone else as leader of an interim government.
Asked if Johnson would comply with the Benn act, which requires him to write to the EU by 19 October requesting a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by then, and if MPs have not voted to authorise no deal, Barclay replied: “I can absolutely confirm that the government will abide by the law. The prime minister is clear on that.”
Asked if that meant he would send the letter, Barclay said: “Whatever the law says, we will comply with the law.”
But Barclay sidestepped a question about why a “senior No 10 source” told the BBC that Johnson was not prevented by the Benn act “from doing other things that cause no delay”, including sending messages to EU countries intended to persuade them to reject an extension.
In a separate interview on the Andrew Marr Show, Shami Chakrabarti, the shadow attorney general, said Johnson would be acting unlawfully if he did this.
“If you send the letter, as you are required to under the law, and then seek to undermine it by other means, you have not kept faith with the law. You have not fulfilled your specific statutory duty to seek an extension. That would be unlawful conduct,” she said.
With many thanks to: The Guardian and Andrew Sparrow and Lisa O’Carroll for the original story
Nearly all Home Office misconduct inquiries relate to immigration
In 626 internal investigations in three years, 210 allegations were substantiated
Almost all of the investigations into alleged serious misconduct by Home Office staff relate to immigration matters, the Guardian has learned.
Although the department also has responsibility for policing and counter-terrorism, 96% of its internal investigations focus on immigration matters. Scores of these investigations have substantiated allegations against staff made internally or by the public.
The Home Office’s professional standards unit (PSU) investigates only the most serious misconduct allegations against teams or individuals within the department, or contractors such as those working in detention centres. A general complaints procedure deals with more minor matters that are not investigated by the PSU.
Areas of investigation by the PSU include allegations of crimes such as assault, sexual assault, racism, theft, fraud, harassment or “any behaviour likely to bring the Home Office into disrepute”.
The Guardian obtained a freedom of information response which revealed that in the past three years there have been 626 PSU investigations, with 210 allegations substantiated. Of the areas of the Home Office’s work investigated, 96.4% of the allegations related to borders, immigration and citizenship, with only a handful relating to other important areas such as policing and counter-terrorism.
The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said the disclosures showed the Home Office’s immigration and nationality department was “not fit for purpose” and called for an immediate review.
The PSU has the power to request witness statements, CCTV footage, notebook entries, texts and voicemails on Home Office-issued mobile phones. Matters investigated may be referred to the police or other agencies where appropriate.
Home Office guidance states that the issues considered by the PSU have “potential for serious reputational damage to the Home Office as well as potential legal action taken against us. An assessment of each case will be conducted by the PSU to assess for the potential risk and if there is a risk of adverse publicity.”
In an answer to a parliamentary question last year, the then immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, revealed there had been 25 allegations of sexual assault made by detainees against staff in immigration removal centres between 2014-15 and 2017-18. She said in her response: “Any allegations of serious misconduct made by a detainee against staff in an IRC are also referred to the Home Office PSU for investigation.”
The Guardian requested information about recommended actions against individual members of Home Office staff contained in PSU investigation reports, but was rejected on the basis that each report would have to be examined individually and this would take more work than allowed under freedom of information request time limits.
However, the Home Office guidance states that the PSU’s Lessons Learned team tracks progress made on implementing recommendations in PSU reports and that there are quarterly Lessons Learned reports produced internally.
Home Office ‘doomed to repeat the mistakes of Windrush’
Abbott said: “These figures show just how entrenched ‘hostile environment’ practices are in the Tory Home Office. The Windrush scandal has taught them nothing as they continue to rack up internal investigations with no real consequence and no substantial change. This culture is destroying lives and families every day and cannot be allowed to continue. The immigration and nationality department of the Home Office is clearly not fit for purpose, and the government must call an immediate review into its continued failings.”
Toufique Hossain, a director of public law at Duncan Lewis, which has obtained disclosure of some of these internal PSU reports as part of legal challenges against the Home Office in immigration matters, said: “Grave concerns are raised as to Home Office failings on a daily basis. A government body essentially investigating itself, put simply, will never hold itself accountable.
“The burden is very much placed on the individual under the Home Office’s control, more often than not with the assistance of publicly funded lawyers and NGOs, to ensure that the Home Office is held to account. Only through these mechanisms can vulnerable individuals access courts in order to vindicate their rights.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We expect the highest levels of integrity and professional conduct of both staff and contractors. The number of complaints investigated by the professional standards unit has fallen by more than 25% since 2016-17.
“Borders, immigration and citizenship system teams have the greatest interaction with members of the public so it is to be expected that there are higher numbers of complaints than for other non-public facing Home Office teams.”
With many thanks to: The Guardian and Diane Taylor for the original story
Prince Andrew was a sex abuser, Epstein accuser says in TV interview
Virginia Giuffre claims prince was participant in disgraced financier’s exploitation of her
An accuser of Jeffrey Epstein has alleged Prince Andrew was “an abuser, a participant” in the disgraced US financier’s exploitation of her as a teenager, in her first television interview.
Virginia Giuffre, formerly Roberts, who was pictured with Prince Andrew in a now notorious photograph, spoke to the US network TV station NBC News about her involvement with Epstein, a convicted sex offender who killed himself in a New York jail in August while facing fresh child sex trafficking charges.
The interview was due to air late on Friday night in the US but there were clips of it on the morning news shows. In them Giuffre tells how Epstein directed her to have sex with other powerful men in his orbit, including, she said, the Queen’s second oldest son, Andrew.
Giuffre has previously alleged she was recruited by Epstein when she was 15 and was coerced into sexual activity with him and associates in return for payments.
She alleged in 2011 testimony that Andrew “knows the truth” about Epstein’s abuse of underage girls and said he should be made to testify. In a December 2014 court filing she claimed she was made to have sex with Andrew, among other friends of the financier. The prince has always vehemently denied the allegations.
In 2015 a court decided that the allegations made by Giuffre about the prince were “immaterial and impertinent” and ordered them to be struck out of a defamation claim against Epstein’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell.
The prince hosted Epstein and Maxwell, a daughter of the late, disgraced British newspaper publisher Robert Maxwell. Ghislaine Maxwell has been accused of assisting Epstein’s abuse, but denies any wrongdoing.
Giuffre told NBC news anchor Savannah Guthrie about her allegation that Maxwell played a crucial role in the financier’s alleged sex trafficking racket.
She said: “The first time in London, I was so young. Ghislaine woke me up in the morning and she said, ‘You’re gonna meet a prince today.’ I didn’t know at that point that I was going to be trafficked to that prince.”
She added of Prince Andrew: “He denies that it ever happened. And he’s going to keep denying that it ever happened. But he knows the truth. And I know the truth.”
The prince has previously strongly denied any inappropriate behaviour or of being aware of any such behaviour from Epstein, in rare statements issued from Buckingham Palace. The palace pointed to those previous denials when asked about the Giuffre claims on Friday.
The prince said in a statement last month that he made Epstein’s acquaintance in 1999 and saw him once or twice each year. The prince also said he stayed at several of Epstein’s homes.
He said he did not “see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to [Epstein’s] arrest and conviction”.
He added: “I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release [from prison] in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know.”
The prince also said: “His suicide has left many unanswered questions and I acknowledge and sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.
“This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr Epstein’s lifestyle. I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.”
Giuffre went on to say in the TV interview on Friday, after recounting that she been woken up in London by Maxwell: “That night Prince Andrew came to her house in London. And we went out to club Tramp. Prince Andrew got me alcohol. It was in the VIP section. I’m pretty sure it was vodka.
“Prince Andrew was like, ‘Let’s dance together.’ And I was like, ‘OK.’ And we leave club Tramp. And I hop in the car with Ghislaine and Jeffrey, and Ghislaine said, ‘He’s coming back to the house. And I want you to do for him what you do for Epstein.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
Last month, lawyers for some of Epstein’s victims said Prince Andrew should give sworn testimony on “everything he knows” about Epstein, after the prince said he was appalled by Epstein’s sex crimes.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida: one count of solicitation of prostitution and one count of solicitation of prostitution with a minor under the age of 18. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail, followed by a year of community control or house arrest.
With many thanks to: The Guardian and Joanna Walters in New York for the original story @joannawalters13
IRA: Former British spy says police report confirms he was shot by IRA
Martin McGartland claims 1999 murder plot was covered up to keep peace process alive
A former British agent who infiltrated the IRA says an internal police report has finally confirmed that he was targeted and shot by the group in a murder plot that he alleges was covered up by the government.
The Guardian has seen a copy of a review by three forces into Northumbria police’s investigation of the 1999 attempted murder of Martin McGartland.
McGartland was recruited by the RUC special branch to infiltrate and undermine the Belfast IRA in the late 1980s. His exploits were later turned into the film Fifty Dead Men Walking starring Jim Sturgess and Ben Kingsley.
The police document is a “major crime unit investigation review” by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire forces.
Its findings appear to support McGartland’s claims over the past two decades that the IRA rather than a local north-eastern criminal gang was behind the murder attempt in Whitley Bay on 17 June 1999.
In the days, weeks and months after McGartland was shot and seriously wounded, both Northumbria police and the then Labour government refused to confirm that the IRA was responsible.
McGartland, along with unionist politicians at the time, alleged that the truth was covered up to keep the IRA and Sinn Féin wedded to the fledgling post Good Friday agreement peace process.
In their review, the three constabularies led by Jon Boutcher, the ex-Bedfordshire chief constable and head of another multimillion investigation into another army spy in the IRA – Stake Knife – concluded that republican paramilitaries did try to kill McGartland.
Among 60 recommendations to the Northumbria police regarding the McGartland shooting, the police forces suggest: “That Northumbria police must make a formal media release acknowledging the re-investigation of the attempted murder of Mr McGartland. This should be underpinned by a public statement that the original shooting was most likely associated with Mr McGartland’s background within the IRA and having acted as an agent of the security services within the republican areas of Belfast and was carried out by a paramilitary active service unit.”
The report also dismisses any suggestion that the shooting was connected to a dispute between McGartland and drug dealers in north-east England. McGartland has always alleged that this line of inquiry was “invented and fed” to media sources by either MI5 or elements of the Blair government to deflect from the IRA’s role in the botched assassination.
“The review has not uncovered any credible evidence of a specific threat to the victim at the hands of ‘local criminals’ or indeed that gives any indication of this being related to any of the victim’s business, his work or his private life within the locality,” the report says.
In addition to calling for a fresh investigation into the 1999 attack on McGartland, the review suggests that “NP (Northumbria police) to consider external force to progress investigation in its entirety”.
Furthermore, it recommends that “key roles” in that fresh investigation “should be filled by persons not connected to NP (Northumbria police)”.
The report also appears to suggest that the IRA line of inquiry was known to the Northumbria police in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
“Most critically, he (an officer named only as Police R by the review) was of the considered view that the attack was most likely carried out by the Provisional IRA and that this fact was known to the original SIO (senior investigations officer) within a very short timeframe following the attack. He (Police R) would offer no explanation as to why this had not been acknowledged much earlier within the investigation, and that this remained as a significant issue between the victim and the police,” the report says.
McGartland told the Guardian that this finding in particular proved that from the outset officers in Northumbria police knew that the IRA was behind the shooting. The ex-spy insisted this line was “covered up and obscured by false, malicious lies” by senior figures in the security and political establishment to conceal the IRA’s role at a delicate stage in the peace process.
On the report’s main findings, McGartland said: “I am now urging the current chief constable of Northumbria police to immediately admit and acknowledge that the IRA had been behind my June 1999 attempted murder. I am also calling on him to swiftly agree to an external police force to carry out my unsolved attempted murder investigation. I have absolutely no trust, faith or confidence in Northumbria police nor its crime department or any of its chief or senior officers when it concerns me and my cases.”
A spokesperson for Northumbria police said: “We can confirm this case has remained open since the shooting in 1999. Following a recent review, the force are investing a significant and dedicated resource into progressing the investigation.
“The classification of the incident is currently under further review.”
The Northumbria police at this stage however has declined to confirm or deny that the van believed to have been used by the gang that shot McGartland has since been destroyed.
On the wider implications of the report’s findings, McGartland added: “The Northumbria police knew the IRA had been behind my shooting, that they acted in consort with MI5, the Home Office and the then Blair Labour government (and subsequent governments) covered it up to protect not only the IRA as an organisation but the individual IRA members who tried to murder me. And this was done as part of a secret deal between police, security service and government as a result of the Good Friday peace agreement.”
In 1999 McGartland was shot six times by two gunmen outside his home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.
Eight years earlier the Belfast-born agent became the only person ever to escape from the IRA’s notorious internal mole hunting unit, the so-called “Headhunters” or “Nutting Squad”.
McGartland dived out of a third storey flat in west Belfast where the IRA were holding him before he was to be handed over to the head of the Provisionals’ security team which was led by a man named Stake Knife, one of Britain’s most important agents inside the republican terror group.
With many thanks to: The Guardian and Henry McDonald for the original story
Follow these links to find out more: https://youtu.be/1NtCYswQkI4
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