The British authorities have been accused of protecting killers from both sides during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and disposing of evidence against them in return for information.
The shocking claim comes from a team of investigative journalists who produce the BBC current affairs programme Panorama.
They claim to have uncovered “extraordinary evidence” that proves killers from both the IRA and the UVF were protected by the police in Northern Ireland (PSNI).
That could mean that some of the most notorious murders during the Troubles have remained unsolved because the authorities have purposefully turned a blind eye and allowed the killers to walk free.
The Panorama investigation claimed that the murder of reporter Martin O’Hagan in 2001 was covered up by the state because the killers, or at least one of them, was an informer for the police.
The independent report into the death was delayed because the PSNI refused to release certain files to the Police Ombudsman.
Similar obstructive tactics were used by the police in the independent investigations of a total of 60 murders, and the state has been accused of being involved in all of them.
The same allegation is made over the massacre at Sean Graham’s bookmakers in 1992 which saw five people killed, and the murders of nine Protestants in the village of Kingsmill in 1976.
Panorama said that the assault rifle used to kill Sean Graham had been disposed of according to the police, but was actually on display in the Imperial War Museum.
Panorama claim the police allowed these killers to walk free because they were providing information about their organisations’ activities which led to other arrests and prevented further acts of terror.
The investigation also revealed that the man responsible for building the bomb that killed RUC police officer Colleen McMurray in 1992, was a paid informer for the police. The evidence surrounding her murder went missing almost immediately after her death.
Mrs McMurray’s murder is one of dozens in which state and paramilitary collusion is being alleged.
Raymond White, a former Special Branch Officer, admitted to Panorama that the state “recruited people with blood on their hands in order to save lives. That’s what we were employed to do, to get information and the best information comes from within organisations. That’s the reality of the life in which we lived”.
Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said: “The breadth and depth of collusion being alleged here is truly disturbing.
Killing people targeted by the state, using intelligence provided by the state and shooting them with guns provided by the state – if all this is proven, we’re not talking about a security policy we’re talking about a murder policy.
“There must now be a full, independent investigation into the scale of the policy where the police, army and MI5 worked with illegal paramilitary groups, resulting in the deaths of perhaps hundreds of people.”