The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Preliminary Hearings, Cont'd.

Excerpt from the booklet, The Framing of Michael McKevitt

The Blanket is serialising the booklet.

Marcella Sands • 22 June 2006

As in previous super-grass trials in the North of Ireland the defence case hinged heavily on the prosecution witness�s credibility. Mr Rupert made no secret of being a serial bankrupt; these started in the early 70�s and continued through the 90�s he was also a tax cheat. Rupert acknowledged to his home-town newspaper that he had a reputation as a crook, thief and fraudster. It was also revealed that he became a police informant in New York in 1974, when he was investigated for cheque fraud. He gave evidence before a grand jury there about drug deals he had set up with detectives. Subsequently the cheque fraud charges were dismissed as a result of his actions as an informant at that time.

In MI5 documents disclosed to the defence a Garda report said the only information/intelligence he gave them came from newspapers and that his information was low-level and unreliable. By 1993, the Garda Crime and Security Branch tipped off the FBI on Rupert and reported that he had connections with Irish Republicans in the Bundoran area. However, although the FBI said that they only recruited him in 1994; it was established during the trial that Rupert had been working as an informant since 1974. This would suggest that the FBI had already been working Rupert in Ireland from earlier than they admitted to the Irish authorities. This meant that he was operating within the territory without the authority of the Irish.

The FBI agent-in-charge of the Irish terrorism section in Chicago in the early 90�s, Pat �Ed� Buckley, claimed that he recruited Rupert as an informer in 1994 a claim which was questionable and unconvincing due to the fact that Rupert admitted that he had been an informant in the 70�s. Agent Buckley is well known amongst the Irish Republican community in the Chicago area. He is described by many of those who know him as a corrupt agent.

In another case Buckley attempted to stitch up a family named Fogarty in Chicago however the case subsequently collapsed as a result of fraudulently obtained evidence.

In the early 90�s Rupert was under Federal investigation for wire fraud but no charges were brought. Around that time many of his employees were questioned by the FBI about the fraud allegations, however, Rupert claimed in his evidence that he knew nothing about the FBI investigation and had only heard about it in the late 90�s. Not surprisingly the Special non jury court accepted this claim from Rupert as being truthful.

FBI documents disclosed to the defence revealed that in the mid 90�s, his handler agent Buckley arranged for Rupert to fly to London to meet with MI5 agents. According to Rupert he was trained by MI5 in 1997 and begun working for them as an informant in the North of Ireland. He was also coached in court etiquette by a consultancy firm hired by MI5.

Other documents provided to the defence team show that, even at that early stage of his involvement with MI5, they were preparing him for an eventual appearance as a court witness. Initially MI5 paid Rupert �10,000, but said this was �compensation and reimbursement� � an important legal phrase. Subsequently, Rupert got an agreement for pro rata payments and bonuses etc; from MI5, which doubled his take from the FBI.

Throughout the short period of his involvement with the Irish authorities Rupert�s Garda Special Branch handler Dermot Jennings had an extremely poor opinion of him, until he emerged as the secret weapon which might secure the conviction of an Irish Republican. The Garda documents disclosed to the defence didn�t reveal anything of meetings between Rupert and his handler Jennings; however, MI5 documents obtained by the defence team as a result of discovery orders uncovered these Garda opinions of Rupert. One MI5 document in particular reported �The Garda view was summed up by Det Chief Superintendent Dermot Jennings of the Garda Crime and Security Branch (CSB) who described Rupert to MI5 officers as a �bullshitter� and �a liar�.

As chief of the CSB (formerly C3) at Garda HQ, Dermot Jennings was the working head of the Irish State Security apparatus throughout the 90�s. His opinion, therefore, expressed at a formal meeting (which it was never expected would be made public) with senior MI5 officers in London, at which he was accompanied by Det Supt Peter Kirwan, might reasonably be regarded as convincing by any Irish court. It was not, since Jennings, in statements made to the prosecution denied all such assertions revealed in the MI5 documents and described them as being misquotes etc; this was how Jennings explained away these comments and said that they were taken out of context or that they were never said in the first place. Another MI5 document revealed where Jennings prompted the MI5 agent to �remove� sections from the reports to avoid Rupert being exposed to the Irish courts as an unreliable witness. These documents were brought to the attention of the Special non jury Court in October 2002.

One MI5 briefing note states �In June 1999, DCS Dermot Jennings of An Garda Sioch�na, who had not met Rupert since 1996, expressed his personal opinions about Rupert, which were not favourable. He expressed doubts about Rupert�s judgement, and Jennings stated that Rupert had falsely suggested that Jennings had not paid him all the money he was entitled to�. (The rest of the document was obliterated.)

Another MI5 document marked �Secret� and labelled �Telegram to Washington 14 June 1999� states: �I spoke to Dermot Jennings privately on 11 June about Rupert � (the rest of the long paragraph is edited). Paragraph 2 reads: �Jennings seemed embarrassed at the mention of Rupert�s name and took a little time to gather his thoughts, but at no time was he cross or disappointed � but was evidently surprised � (When) he had composed himself he made a number of disobliging comments about Rupert rehearsing some of what is already on file and Rupert�s threat to expose his agent role through his lawyer if he did not receive certain payments; the fact that his wife was conscious and that he told her everything; Rupert�s overblown sense of his own importance and the value of his information; and the fuss � Jennings used the word �lies� � over payments made or not made by Jennings.�

An MI5 file note dated September 15 2000, records a conversation between the MI5 section head in London and Rupert�s agent handler. The report, giving an account of the handler�s meetings with Rupert in Chicago, is largely edited. However, one key section reads: �The subsequent meeting between (handler) and Rupert went very well. Rupert was confident, sensible and related much about his earlier criminal and smuggling background.� These allegations were put to Rupert during cross-examination; he denied the allegations and said that the handler must have made errors during his reporting.

The court judgement summarised Rupert�s business experience in the following words: �He clearly had a very chequered business career and operated close to the edge in many matters.�



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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19 July 2006

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