MI5 report on Northern Ireland 'can stay secret'

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has ruled that a report produced by MI5 on policing in Northern Ireland during the 1970s can remain classified.

Serving MI5 officer Jack Morton was required to compile the document in 1973 as a review of the functions of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch during the worst period of the Troubles.

The report had been commissioned by then-head of MI5, Michael Hanley, who had suggested that a detailed look at operations by a senior security service officer was necessary.

However, a year after its completion, bombings occurred in Dublin and Monaghan. There have long been suggestions that those behind the atrocities had connections to British Intelligence or Special Branch Officers.

A Freedom of Information request was made to the ICO by journalist Phil Miller - who is researching this part of the Troubles - but the ICO has now ruled the report to be exempt.

MI5 confirmed it had supplied the report to the RUC and the ICO has consequently ruled it to be exempt, meaning its contents will remain a secret.

The ICO took 18 months to reach a decision, so sensitive were the details within the document.

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