Force Research Unit
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2011)|
Force Research Unit (FRU) is alleged to be a name used by a covert military intelligence unit established by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence in the Intelligence Corps of the British Army based at Templer Barracks, Ashford in Kent. The FRU is alleged to have been formed between 1980 and 1981 replacing an existing unit as an agent handling capability. The FRU is claimed to have been based at the Intelligence Corps centre at Thiepval Barracks, Northern Ireland from where its members recruited and handled agents.
Because this unit was a Intelligence Corps sponsored unit, all FRU personnel were trained at a Top Secret intelligence facility in Templer Barracks, Ashford called Specialised Intelligence Wing (SIW) (often wrongly called the Special Intelligence Wing). The Specialist Intelligence Wing was part of the School of Service Intelligence within Templer Barracks and was commanded by an Intelligence Corps Lt Colonel. The Senior Instructor was always an Intelligence Corps officer but Directing Staff (DS) were drawn from a variety of army units including Special Forces. The unit was simply referred to as "The Manor" by soldiers because the unit was based within Repton Manor, a grade 2 listed building. Repton Manor also contained the Photographic Section run by RAF personnel. There were additional pre-fabricated buildings at the rear of the manor house used by SIW's L Branch who had the responsibility of re-settling and protecting former high-value PIRA/INLA/UVF/UFF/UDA informers & agents throughout the UK and overseas. Much FRU training took place nearby at the Cinque Ports Ranges in Hythe and Lydd (Northern Ireland Training and Advisory Team)and at Overhill Camp, Cheriton, Folkestone (an Intelligence Corps sub unit). The barn & stables behind Repton Manor were used to keep surveillance adapted cars and vans which were used by soldiers for surveillance tasks..
The FRU and its members are alleged to been engaged in a policy of collusion with loyalist paramilitaries during the 1980s and 1990s, and to have contributed to the assassinations of at least 14 Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland between 1987-1991 along with the deaths of two senior members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
Alleged collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries
FRU activity on Tasking and Co-ordination Group
Allegations exist that the FRU sought restriction orders in advance of a number of loyalist paramilitary attacks in order to facilitate easy access to and escape from their target. A restriction order is a de-confliction agreement to restrict patrolling or surveillance in an area over a specified period. This de-confliction activity was carried out at a weekly Tasking and Co-ordination Group which included representatives of the RUC, Security Service and the British Army. It is claimed the FRU asked for restriction orders to be placed on areas where they knew loyalist paramilitaries were going to strike.
Alleged infiltration of republican paramilitaries
FRU are also alleged to have handled agents within Republican paramilitary groups. A number of agents are suspected to have been handled by the FRU including IRA units who planted bombs and assassinated. Attacks are said to have taken place involving FRU controlled agents highly placed within the IRA. The main agent to have been uncovered so far was codenamed "Stakeknife". There is a debate as to whether this agent is IRA member Freddie Scappaticci or another, as yet unidentified, IRA member.
"Stakeknife" is thought to have been a member of the IRA's Internal Security Unit- a unit responsible for counter-intelligence, interrogation and court martial of informers within the IRA. It is believed that "Stakeknife" was used by the FRU to influence the outcome of investigations conducted by the IRA's Internal Security Unit into the activities of IRA volunteers.
It is alleged that in 1997 the UDA came into possession of details relating to the identity of the FRU controlled IRA volunteer codenamed "Stakeknife". It is further alleged that the UDA, unaware of this IRA volunteer's value to the FRU, planned to assassinate him. It is alleged that after the FRU discovered "Stakeknife" was in danger from UDA assassination they used Brian Nelson to persuade the UDA to assassinate Francisco Notarantonio instead, a Belfast pensioner who had been interned as an Irish republican in the 1940s. The killing of Notarantonio was claimed by the UFF at the time. Following the killing of Notarantonio, unaware of the involvement of the FRU, the IRA assassinated two UDA leaders in reprisal attacks. It has been alleged that the FRU secretly passed details of the two UDA leaders to the IRA via "Stakeknife" in an effort to distract attention from "Stakeknife" as a possible informer.
FRU and the Stevens Inquiry
Self professed former FRU operative Martin Ingram asserted that the arson attack which destroyed the offices of the Stevens Inquiry was in order to destroy evidence on operational activities collected by Stevens' team. 
- According to a former British military intelligence officer who served with the FRU, "there's no doubt about this. My unit was guilty of conspiring in the murder of civilians in Northern Ireland, on about 14 occasions." See article by Neil Mackay, 'My unit conspired in the murder of civilians in Ireland', Sunday Herald, 19 November 2000. 
- Davies, Nicholas (2000). Ten-Thirty-Three. ISBN 1-84018-343-8.
- Scappaticci denies the allegations and in May 2003 began legal action to force the then NI Secretary of State, Jane Kennedy, to deny he is/was a British Agent see here for details. At this point (May 2006) Scappaticci has launched no libel actions against media making the allegations. There is also suspicion in Irish republican circles that the real "Stakeknife" and/or other British agents have yet to be unmasked, this suspicion was compounded by the revelation that Denis Donaldson was a mole within Sinn Féin/the Republican movement, and by interviews given by the man calling himself "Kevin Fulton" in March 2006.
- According to the article title 'My unit conspired in the murder of civilians in Ireland' - by Neil Mackay, the officer in the FRU who passed Notarantonio's details to Nelson was "Captain M" assumed to be Cpt. Margaret Walshaw.
- Details on the Death of Notarantonio available on CAIN Sutton here.
- Stakeknife: Britain's Secret Agents in Ireland, Martin Ingram, O'Brien Press, 2004
- Pat Finucane Centre
- Activities in Northern Ireland
- Relatives For Justice
- Madden & Finucane
- Brian Nelson
- Sunday Herald FRU investigation
- Kerr, Moyles and Walshaw portrait
- Transcript of BBC Panorama programme titled 'Collusion', 23 June 2002
- Series of articles appearing in the Sunday Herald about the activities of the FRU.
- Lengthy Interview given by Martin Ingram on Radio Free Eireann describing his FRU activities NOTE: Interview with Ingram starts around 25 minutes into the mp3.
- Transcript of Insight TV documentary : Licensed to Kill - Inside the Force Research Unit