Northern Ireland

UVF Billy Wright murder gang 'used police information to target people'

Billy Wright Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Billy Wright was the leader of a UVF gang in mid-Ulster which killed dozens of Catholics during the Troubles

Police provided UVF leader Billy Wright with information to help his murder gang target people, one of his former associates has alleged.

Convicted killer Laurence Maguire makes the claim in the latest BBC Spotlight documentary on the Troubles.

The programme also cites two senior security sources as stating Billy Wright was an agent working for the police and Army.

It will reveal new details about some of the gang's 40 murders of Catholics.

Maguire was convicted of offences including five murders and later freed under the Good Friday Agreement.

In an interview with BBC Spotlight, he says Billy Wright, known as King Rat, told him intelligence about targets "was coming from police officers working with him".

'Shocking' details

He claims he was nearby in a car when some meetings with police took place "up alleyways".

The PSNI told BBC Spotlight there should be no hiding place for any officer who broke the law and any evidence of wrongdoing should be independently investigated.

About half the gang's victims are thought to have had connections to the IRA or Sinn Féin.

Billy Wright's predecessor as UVF leader in mid-Ulster, Robin Jackson, is also named in the programme as a "state agent".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The family of Rory and Gerard Cairns complained to the Police Ombudsman when no-one was charged for their murders

Both men, now deceased, were arrested over the murder of two brothers, Gerard and Rory Cairns, at Bleary, near Portadown, in 1993.

When no-one was charged, the Cairns family complained to the Police Ombudsman - at the time Nuala O'Loan - believing the two UVF men "were being protected".

Maguire told the programme the pair had first targeted the brothers in 1992.

Baroness O'Loan says the fresh details were "shocking" and it would have been the basis, had she still been ombudsman, to reopen the case.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Rory and Gerard Cairns were murdered in their home in 1993

Sheila Cairns said she believed she would never see justice over her sons' murders.

"While I'm on earth I will never get peace," she said.

"Nothing will ever bring me closure because it will never bring Gerard and Rory back."

The men appeared to have been singled out because their cousin, Sheena Campbell, was a Sinn Féin activist who was killed by the UVF in Belfast in 1992.

Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History will be broadcast on BBC One NI and BBC Four at 21:00 BST and will be available afterwards on BBC iPlayer.

Related Topics

More on this story