Friday, 2 April 2010

Jim Gamble: Looking Back

In this article it is not my intention to sit in judgement or moralise as to what Jim Gamble may or may not have been involved in during his tenure in the North of Ireland. You may, after reading this article, draw your own conclusions as you see fit.

My purpose here is to provide a brief background as to the type of environment in which Gamble plied his trade as a senior officer in the security services. My objective in doing this, is that you will recognize that to achieve what he has, and to have held the positions he has, the man knows the way of the world and is neither naive nor a fool.

How unfortunate then that he does not afford us the same respect in his transparent efforts to sell us the McCanns as victims in this grotesque farce. But his machinations surrounding all this are for another day, today our primary purpose is to establish his bona fides, and should you find the skulduggery of interest as we do this, look upon it as a bonus.

So first a couple of bio's taken from the main stream press.


Jim Gamble is Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and brings with him over 25 years in UK policing - from leading the fight against terrorism as the head of the Northern Ireland anti-terrorist intelligence unit in Belfast to most recently tackling organised crime as the Deputy Director of the National Crime Squad.

During his time in Northern Ireland he covered both uniform and detective roles in a rapidly changing and often volatile environment before leading anti-terrorist responses in both the UK and abroad. With the National Crime Squad he oversaw a complex and highly intricate portfolio ranging from firearm deployment to hi-tech crime and overall intelligence, professional standards and security as a central figure in the UK's fight against organised crime.

Gamble was previously a superintendent in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and most recently acting chief constable and head of the National Crime Squad, which deals with serious and organised crime


With more than 25 years experience working in law enforcement, Jim Gamble, 48, is a true career policeman.

Before taking up his current job as the head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) Centre in 2006, he worked as a superintendent in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and, most recently, as acting chief constable and head of the National Crime Squad.

During his time in Northern Ireland he covered both uniform and detective roles before leading anti-terrorist responses in Britain and abroad.

At the National Crime Squad - which deals with serious and organised crime - he oversaw a complex portfolio ranging from firearm deployment to hi-tech crime and intelligence to professional standards and security.

He also set up the National Crime Squad's specialist response cell - the Paedophile Online Investigation Team - and was involved in the creation of the first international law enforcement partnership to combat child abuse online - the Virtual Global Taskforce.
Mr Gamble is married with three children and lives in London.

Nobody's fool , I'm sure you must agree.

But what went on during his tenure, serving primarily under Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan? (scroll down) Quite a lot evidently, and none of it good.

Enough to bring about Operation Ballast, a three-and-a-half-year investigation by Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Nuala O'Loan.

Ballast, initially motivated to look into the murder of Raymond McCord Junior in November 1997, soon expanded to investigate further allegations of collusion between the Security Services and the RUC and the UVF and the Loyalist death squads who were murdering with impunity, if not actively encouraged and aided by the Security Services and the RUC. A fact not unknown to the British Government.


1. In May 2002 Mr Raymond McCord Senior made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland about police conduct in relation to the murder of his son, Mr Raymond McCord Junior. His complaint alleged that police over a number of years, acted in such a way as to protect informants from being fully accountable to the law.

2. Preliminary enquiries following receipt of Mr McCord’s complaint showed that there were sufficient issues of concern to warrant a wide-ranging investigation not only into matters relating to the investigation of Mr McCord’s son’s murder, but also into the police handling and management of identified informants from the early 1990s onwards.

3. In the course of the investigation the Police Ombudsman sought the cooperation of a number of retired RUC/PSNI senior officers. Officers who were being treated as witnesses were asked to provide an explanation of Special Branch and CID internal practices during this period. Investigators offered to meet retired officers at venues with which they would be comfortable and at times which would suit them. They were advised of the areas of questioning and provided with significant disclosure of information, at their request. The majority of them failed even to reply. This was despite the fact that witness details would be anonomised in any public statement. Amongst those who refused were two retired Assistant Chief Constable’s, seven Detective Chief Superintendent’s and two Detective Superintendent’s.

4. Some retired officers did assist the investigation, and were helpful. Officers varied a great deal in the manner in which they responded to questions. Some, including some retired officers dealt with challenging questions in a professional manner.

5. Others, including some serving officers, gave evasive, contradictory, and on occasion farcical answers to questions. On occasion those answers indicated either a significant failure to understand the law, or contempt for the law. On other occasions the investigation demonstrated conclusively that what an officer had told the Police Ombudsman’s investigators was completely untrue.

6. The Police Ombudsman’s initial concerns about PSNI informant management processes caused her to alert the Chief Constable to those concerns in March 2003. She subsequently made him aware on 8 September 2003 of her very detailed concerns about these matters. She also alerted the Surveillance Commissioner on 15 September 2003. He carried out an inspection of the Special Branch handling of Informant 1. That inspection found serious failings by Special Branch to comply with the requirements of the law in relation to the handling of informants.

7. The wider investigation was focused on seven main lines of enquiry, which had emerged during preliminary enquiries and in respect of which serious concerns had arisen. They were, in chronological order of event:

• two attempted murders in 1991.

• the murder of Sharon McKenna on 17 January 1993.

• the attempted bombing of the Sinn Fein office in Monaghan on 3 March 1997.

• the blocking by Special Branch of searches during a pre-planned CID operation intended to disrupt the activities of the UVF.

• the murder of John Harbinson on 18 May 1997.

• the murder of Raymond McCord Junior on 9 November 1997.


33.2 Operation Ballast analysed a small part of the informant handling of Special Branch RUC/PSNI. The investigation examined the activities of a number of Special Branch officers of all ranks in relation to Informant 1, and also the other informants who were associated with him. There is no reason to believe that the findings of this investigation are isolated. Indeed given that many of the failings identified in the course of the investigation were systemic, this is highly likely and the implications of this are very serious.

33.3 Cut for editing.

33.9 It would be easy, and indeed tempting, to examine and severely criticise the junior officers’ conduct in dealing with the various informants. These officers are not blameless. However they could not have operated as they did without knowledge and support at the highest levels of the RUC/PSNI. Chief Officers should have been aware of the processes used. The most serious failings are at Chief Officer level, particularly those Chief Officers who were responsible for Special Branch, since they are responsible for ensuring that training and systems are put in place to meet legal and policy requirements.

33.10 A culture of subservience to Special Branch developed within the RUC. Officers in the rest of the RUC have articulated quite clearly that Special Branch maintained control over those normal ethical policing activities which might affect either Special Branch informants or Special Branch operations. The consequence of this was that, in the absence of effective Chief Officer Management of Special Branch, it acquired domination over the rest of the organization which inhibited some normal policing activities.

33.11 The effect of that dysfunction was that, whilst undoubtedly Special Branch officers were effective in preventing bombings and shootings and other attacks, some informants were able to continue to engage in terrorist activities including murders without the Criminal Investigation Department having the ability to deal with them for some of those offences.

33.12 On occasions this also resulted in crimes being committed by informants with the prior knowledge of Special Branch officers. Informants engaged in such crimes were not subject to any of the controls inherent in the system for the use of Participating Informants devised by the Home Office for use by all police forces. On occasion, despite the fact that they had not given informants Participating Informant status, police nevertheless watched as serious terrorist crimes were committed by their informants.

33.13 The Police Ombudsman was concerned also at the attitude of some Special Branch and CID officers to their obligations as police officers. Some officers have articulated the belief that they had no function beyond intelligence gathering. Successive Police Acts have provided that the primary duties of a police officer are to protect life and property, and to prevent and detect crime.

33.14 Whilst acting as an informant, and with the knowledge of some Special Branch and some CID officers, informants moved through the ranks of the UVF to senior positions. The evidence clearly shows that Informant 1’s behaviour, including alleged murder, was not challenged by Special Branch, and the activities of those who sought to bring him to justice were blocked repeatedly. Records were minimized, exaggerated, fabricated and must also have been destroyed. Informant 1 would have been well aware of the level of protection which he was afforded.

33.15 It is also the case that whilst he was engaged in drug dealing and other money making activities, Informant 1 was not only protected by Special Branch but he was also given large sums of public money in return for such services as he provided. Indeed on one occasion he is recorded as having provided information which led police to stop a car containing him and two other leading UVF men, all of whom were police informants. No arrests followed and Informant 1 was paid £3,000. The total amount estimated to have been paid to Informant 1 over 12 years is in excess of £79,000.

33.16 This investigation demonstrates graphically the dangers of a separated and effectively unaccountable specialist intelligence department with extensive and largely uncontrolled powers. No effective analysis could have been made by the RUC/PSNI over the years of the implications of the totality of the information about, and activities of, the informants who have been identified during this investigation.

33.17 In many other crimes described in this report there were witnesses, who either drew police attention to a crime or volunteered to give evidence, some of it quite specific. There was also one occasion on which the victim of a punishment shooting gave extensive information to the police about what had happened to him. In all these situations the individuals involved were either seeking to assist the police or to be protected by the police. The Police Ombudsman has found that on a number of occasions the police did not use these opportunities to further their investigations. This had two consequences: firstly the investigation did not proceed, and secondly failure by police to use evidence tendered by witnesses to paramilitary shootings and other activity, must have given rise to a lack of confidence among the people that there was any point in assisting the police when such crimes were committed. The consequence of this would inevitably have been that the police became less effective and the community confidence in policing was reduced.

33.18 This investigation demonstrates that one of the greatest dangers to any anti-terrorist work is that, if those charged with intelligence gathering and investigation do not abide by the rules, and if those who manage them do not operate effectively to ensure compliance with both law and policy, the risk of terrorist attacks is enhanced, not reduced.

33.19 It remains the case that there are many officers within the RUC/PSNI who served bravely and honourably, some even making the ultimate sacrifice.On many occasions in the course of the work of the office, the Police Ombudsman has identified examples of excellent policing. This is in stark contrast to the activities and systemic failures identified in this report.

33.20 Since 2003 the PSNI has made significant changes and introduced new policies and working practices in relation to its strategic management of Crime Operations Department, which now incorporates Special Branch (now Intelligence Branch) under a single Assistant Chief Constable. A description of those changes is contained in Appendix A of this Report. It is hoped that the further necessary changes consequential upon this Report will combine with the change already made, to ensure that never again, within the PSNI, will there be the circumstances which prevailed for so long in relation to informant handling and intelligence management and which are articulated in this Report.

33.21 It is evident that the arrangements for ensuring compliance by the PSNI with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act were ineffective between 2000 and 2003. Before the Police Ombudsman drew these matters to his attention, the Surveillance Commissioner had not been able to identify the misleading documentation which was created by some Special Branch officers. Recent Surveillance Commissioner reports have identified very significant improvements but the most recent report still identifies areas for development. It is essential that in the arrangements for the future strategic management of National Security issues in Northern Ireland, there will be accountability mechanisms which are effective and which are capable of ensuring that what has happened here does not recur.


This then was the environment and the organisation in which Jim Gamble served in the North of Ireland, an environment you might agree that would tend to nurture the hard nosed realism of the shrewd and the adroit before that of the naive and the foolish.

Further reading.

NI police colluded with killers. BBC

Ronnie Flanagan Wapedia.

Cops knew truth seven years ago. Saoirse32

NI police colluded with killers BBC

Flanagan 'no collusion knowledge' BBC

Pat Finucane Troops Out Movement.

Irish History Links

Belfast Murals

Republican Murals

UVF Murals.

And lastly, I couldn't resist this from the RUC's own website.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary served all the people of Northern Ireland with valour and gallantry from 1922 up until 2001