John Stalker: 'Shoot-to-kill' probe police chief dies

John Stalker Image copyright Family handout
Image caption John Stalker was the former deputy-chief constable of Greater Manchester Police

A senior British police officer who led a controversial investigation into an alleged shoot-to-kill policy by the Royal Ulster Constabulary has died.

John Stalker, the former deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, died aged 79, a family statement said.

He was replaced as officer in charge of the RUC investigation after allegations he was associating with criminals in Manchester in 1986.

He was later exonerated and became a journalist in his retirement.

Mr Stalker joined Manchester City Police in 1956 and first made his mark as a young detective during the investigation into the Moors murders in the 1960s. He developed the photographs and listened to the tapes made by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley as 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey was sexually tortured and murdered.

In 1978 his appointment aged 38 as detective chief superintendent with Warwickshire Police made him the youngest to hold that rank in the country.

Paying tribute, his eldest daughter Colette Cartwright said: "He is fondly remembered by many as going above and beyond the call of duty and was committed to making a difference for those most in need."

'Excellent police officer'

Mr Stalker rose to national prominence when he was taken off the investigation into alleged extra-judicial killings of suspected paramilitaries that had taken place in north Armagh in Northern Ireland in 1982, after a critical interim report into the circumstances surrounding the shootings.

Among the complaints were claims he attended social events attended by members of the so-called "Quality Street gang" - a group of Manchester's leading villains.

There were also behind-the-scenes fears that a Masonic plot within the police against Mr Stalker could be revealed during one of the most controversial episodes of the Troubles, according to newly declassified files that were released in 2016.

He was taken off the case at the moment he believed he was about to obtain an MI5 tape of one of the shootings.

Former Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd, who raised Mr Stalker's case in Parliament in the 1980s, said he was "a man of great integrity who was treated unjustly".

Mr Lloyd, who now represents Rochdale, added: "He was an excellent police officer."

Mr Stalker is survived by his two daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren