The BBC is today reporting important developments in relation to Fred Holroyd, a key British Army whistleblower on covert activities in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.
Holroyd is suing the Ministry of Defence over allegations that he was falsely diagnosed with a mental illness in for political reasons. His account is being backed by a former military surgeon, Dr Hugh Thomas, who told the BBC:
The first I knew about it was when a senior physician colleague of mine came into the theatre and sought sanctuary, and he sought sanctuary because he had been ordered to section Fred, and had found that an abhorrent request, which it was.
A number of Holroyd's claims have been verified over the years. back in 2006, I reported on a document uncovered by the Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten at the National Archives in London. The document proved the existence of a covert 'Special Reconnaissance Unit' operating out of Castledillon, Co. Armagh, closing matching a unit described by Holroyd. It also showed that SAS members in the unit had been 're-cap badged' to facilitate denials of an SAS role in Northern Ireland.
The new evidence of dirty tricks against Holroyd puts the questions we asked then into sharper focus.
Holroyd claimed that an SAS troop led by Captain Julian Ball and Captain Robert Nairac was operating at Castledillon in Co Armagh under two cover names, 4 Field Survey Troop, Royal Engineers and NITAT.
In response to a question from Ken Livingstone in 1988, ministers denied that the NITAT unit existed, and claimed that records relating to 4 Field Survey Troop were no longer available.
The emergence, two decades later, of records confirming the existence of a unit corresponding closely to the one described by Holroyd raises two questions: was the British Parliament misled? And if Holroyd was right about this unit’s existence, was he also right about its involvement in collusion? (Irish were lied to about SAS, Daily Ireland, 5 June 2006).