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Date Posted: Wed, Sep 17 2003, 02:30:20 GMT
Subject: "I knew murder plan for Wright"
Northern Ireland News
I Knew Murder Plan For Wright
Sep 16 2003
Exclusive By Stephen Dempster
PRISON authorities were told exactly who would kill Billy Wright and how they would do it - two months before the LVF leader was murdered in the Maze.
This is the shock revelation which has been hidden in police files for more than five years but has now been made public.
The News Letter has been passed sections of the police file on the Wright case confirming this. MP Peter Robinson referred to the same papers under Parliamentary privilege on June 19 this year.
At the weekend, some of the documents from the file appeared on the internet, posted on the website www.cryptome.org.
Only nine pages of prison papers and statements - a very small sample of police documentation - were put up on the site.
There is other material which raises great concern not on the site.
Included is a crucial statement from prison officer Geoffrey Gilliam that highlights the prison authorities' failure to protect Wright.
His statement was signed and dated December 30, 1997, three days after the murder, carried out by INLA inmates Christopher 'Crip' McWilliams, John Kenaway and John Glennon.
The killers scaled the roof of H Block 6, which housed the LVF and INLA in segregated wings, and McWilliams shot Wright as he sat in a van in the forecourt waiting to be taken to the visiting centre.
Mr Gilliam revealed in his statement that he and another officer had warned two months beforehand that this could happen.
It said: ''Regarding the recent incident of shooting of prisoner Wright, we had made governors fully aware of our thoughts (on October 24, 1997).
"We had named the prisoners involved, the way in which it could be carried out, eg: over the roof or through a window; we also told the governors of our gut feeling that prisoner McWilliams was planning something along with prisoners Glennon and Kennaway [sic].''
This prophetic and specific warning could be vital to Wright's father David in his quest for a public inquiry into the murder and his claim that it involved State sanction or complicity.
Journalist Chris Anderson - whose book The Billy Boy deals with the LVF leader's life and death - said the Gilliam statement at the very least vindicated suspicions of collusion.
When coupled with other warnings to the prison governors and the Government it appears even more significant. The website also noted that another prison officer warned governors in May 1997 about his concerns that McWilliams was planning an operation.
This is now confirmed in a "halfsheet" filed by Prison Officer M on May 29, 1997, which has been passed to the News Letter.
The site also noted that a Stormont minister was warned that INLA prisoners were threatening to murder LVF inmates at the Maze - five months before Wright was shot dead.
Representatives of the Prison Officers' Association gave the warning during a meeting with NIO Minister Adam Ingram on July 7, 1997, cryptome.org reveals.
An agenda of the meeting confirms that the POA said INLA inmates had told staff "they intend, given a chance, to take out the LVF".
The POA said precautions had been put in place to ensure inmates from the two terror groups did not come into contact with each other.
But POA sources said Mr Ingram was also told prison officers had grave concerns over security measures in H Block 6, where Wright and the LVF were housed.
It is understood many of these issues had not been tackled when Wright was killed.
These and other warnings led Mr Robinson to use Parliamentary privilege on June 19 to highlight the case. He asked: "Who took the decision to do nothing? Who took the decision to allow Billy Wright to be murdered?"
He told the Commons: "The contents of this file give rise to a number of very serious questions about the failure of the authorities to heed any one of a number of warnings from various prison staff before the murder of Mr Wright.
"The governors were told about concerns about camera coverage, about the dropping of the guard at the watchtowers and over arrangements relating to visits.
"All of these concerns were ignored and the officers were left with the impression that their warnings had been a waste of time and that no corrective measures would be taken.''
* The papers referred to above were passed to the News Letter anonymously and will be returned to the police.
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