A former newspaper editor has claimed journalist Martin O’Hagan’s killers have never been brought to justice because they were “paid police informants”.
The claim from ex Sunday World northern editor Jim Campbell, who worked with investigative reporter O’Hagan at the paper, comes on the fifteenth anniversary of the 51-year-old’s death.
O’Hagan was shot dead on 28 September 2001 in Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, as he walked home from a night out with his wife.
The killing was admitted by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name known to be used by loyalist paramilitary groups the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).
Campbell told The Irish News that O’Hagan’s killers had “boasted they would never face trial because they could reveal damning information about collusion between the police and LVF in several sectarian killings”.
Campbell, who was himself shot and badly wounded by UVF gunmen in 1984, also claimed police knew the names of O’Hagan’s killers within hours of the drive-by shooting.
He said officers had been warned about “the LVF gang driving round Lurgan as if they were looking for someone” by a local loyalist, who identified them to police shortly after the attack.
In September 2013 the police handling of the murder investigation was set to be reviewed by the Northern Ireland police ombudsman.
It came after the Northern Ireland director of public prosecutions said the evidence of Neil Hyde, who had agreed to name O’Hagan’s killers, would not be sufficient to secure convictions.