‘The British government has dragged us through the mud for 45 years – now there’s proof one of their officers was involved in the massacre’ – Des Lee

A survivor of the Miami Showband massacre has called the existence of army documents naming an undercover solider at the scene as “the final nail in the coffin”.

Des Lee, who miraculously survived the 1975 atrocity, said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) papers calling out Captain Robert Nairac and his alleged role in the UVF slaughter, should “shame” the British government

The 72 year-old’s lawyer Michael Flanigan obtained the secret intelligence files as part of a case being taken by a murdered bandmate’s wife.

Fran O’Toole’s widow Valerie is pursuing the action against the MoD and PSNI Chief Constable.

The redacted documents reportedly state that Captain Nairac – a SAS trained British soldier – was responsible for the planning and execution of the attack.

The file also suggest the young soldier obtained equipment and uniforms for the UVF killers.

Speaking to the Sunday World about the claims, saxophone player Des has now called on the British government to apologise for the atrocity

“It’s the final nail in the coffin,” Mr Lee said. “He was there, it’s been proven.

“Not only was he there but he apparently arranged for the uniforms and he was involved in the planning of the massacre.

“To think  that such a high profile officer was involved in the Miami Showband massacre, this is a huge slap in the face and what I would now expect is an apology from the British government and its leader Boris Johnson.

“To think that their government was involved in our murders is nothing short of pathetic.

“They have dragged us out for 45 years, they’ve dragged us through the mud.

“They’ve been lying, denying, hiding documents, they’ve been destroying documents…it’s just despicable what the families have been put through.

“They should be absolutely ashamed of themselves and today is a very, very embarrassing day for the British government.

“This is really getting deeper and deeper and it makes you wonder, what’s going to come next?”

Three members of the band, including lead singer Fran O’Toole, died when loyalist killers stopped their minibus at a bogus UDR check point near Banbridge in Co Down on July 31,1975.

The attack was carried out by members the Glenanne Gang, which included RUC, UDR and UVF personnel.

Two loyalists also died when the bomb they were planting exploded prematurely.

While Robert Nairac was previously connected to loyalist murders, he has never been named in official government documentation.

The British soldier was abducted and killed by the IRA in 1977 and his body has never been found.

He is one of three people belonging to the group known as The Disappeared whose remains have yet to be located.

Captain Robert Nairac

In his 2015 book about the life of Captain Nairac, Alistair Kerr claimed the British soldier went on leave to Scotland on the same day as the Miami massacre.

The writer stated two of Nairac’s army colleagues had backed up claims he’d been on the Scottish fishing trip the day the horror occurred.

However, Mr Lee said he always believed the high profile soldier was involved in the slaughter of his bandmates.

He said: “All through the years I have always insisted that Nairac was there on the night of the massacre.

“In saying that I did not name him at the time, what  did say was that there was a very, very posh English accent there on the night.

“And it stood out a way above everyone else during the massacre. He was also dressed totally different to everyone else there. He was the one calling the shots.

“When we had the HET (Historical Enquiries Team) investigation, I mentioned it on several meetings that I was conviced Nairac was there on the night.

“And I was told by investigators that they had got no evidence to go on that Nairac was there.

“I still insisted, I said I am sorry, as far as I am concerned there was a posh English accent there on the night,  and I later learned that Nairac was educated in a private Catholicschool in the UK.”

Mr Lee continued: “This is obviously good news for us because of the fact we have said all along that we have insisted that he was there  on the night, and we were told by all the authorities in the UK basically that we were talking nonsense. But we stood by what we said.”

The MoD documents, which are heavily redacted, are currently in the possession of Mr Lee’s solicitor Michael Flanigan.

Public interest immunity certificates have been issued. The files are expected to be presented as evidence in the dispute.
On Friday a high court judge criticised police for not disclosing documents in the alleged collusion case.

The Miami Showband

Justice Maguire said delays in receiving the material from the PSNI were “appalling” and he warned he may strike out their defence to the claim.

He said: “This case has been going on since 2012, and we are at a stage in 2020 where the obligation of discovery on the police service has not been complied with.

“The court seems to be getting the runaround. It makes me angry (and) shows so much disrespect to the court.”

The attack in July 1975 happened as the band, which toured across Ireland, were travelling home to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge.

Their minibus was stopped by a fake army patrol involving Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) members.

The band was made to stand by the roadside while a bomb was placed on the bus.

It exploded prematurely, killing two of the attackers, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville.

The rest of the gang opened fire, murdering three members of the band

Two other band members, Mr Lee and Stephen Travers, were injured but survived.

Published by Patricia Devlin

Award winning journalist based in Ireland covering crime and investigations.

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