Northern Ireland

Victims' families sue over UVF Glenanne gang collusion claims

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Media captionA farm in Glenanne was alleged to be the base for a UVF gang

Families of 20 people killed by a loyalist gang that contained members of the RUC and UDR are taking legal action against the government and the police.

They claim the authorities knew about the activities of the UVF gang based at a farm in Glenanne, south Armagh.

The gang has been accused of carrying out 120 murders on both sides of the border during the early 1970s.

The families say there is clear evidence of collusion between members of the security forces and the gang.

They are suing for damages, alleging a failure by the government, the Ministry of Defence and the police to fulfil their legal duties to protect life and take action against those involved.

Their solicitor, Peter Corrigan, said: "These cases are taken against a background of a continued failure by the state to front up on its role in facilitating collusion in mid-Ulster in one of the darkest periods of the conflict here."

'Safe house'

Nine years ago, the BBC's Spotlight programme investigated the activities of the gang.

Image caption John Weir told the BBC's Spotlight the farm in Glenanne was central to the gang's activities

A former RUC sergeant and convicted killer, John Weir, told the programme he was a member of the gang, and that the farm in Glenanne was central to its activities.

"Things would have been planned there because it was a safe house in every respect of the word," he said.

"That house was always, I mean, always watched. Special Branch, military intelligence even went to that house, you know.

"So it wasn't as if it was a secret house or anything because basically everybody knew what was going on from there."

A book published last month claims there was collusion on a huge scale between the security forces and the gang.

Lethal Allies, by former journalist Anne Cadwallader, includes extracts of previously unpublished reports by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

In one report, the HET said there was "indisputable evidence of security forces involvement with loyalist paramilitaries, which should have rung alarm bells all the way to the top of government".

The families involved in the legal action have also lodged complaints with the Police Ombudsman, alleging that the RUC failed to properly investigate the killings.

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