Operation Torsion

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Operation Torsion was an RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) operation that led to 'Stormontgate', the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive in October 2002, amid claims of an IRA spy-ring. It would later emerge that a key figure in the alleged spy-ring, Denis Donaldson, was a British agent.

Surveillance operation

According to the BBC's Brian Rowan, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid authorised a major surveillance operation against the IRA by the Police Service of Northern Ireland Special Branch, assisted by MI5, in the wake of the Castlereagh break-in.

I understand Prime Minister Tony Blair was briefed by John Reid in September, by which time the investigation had reached a critical phase.
On the police side, only a handful of senior officers were kept informed - the then Acting Chief Constable, Colin Cramphorn, senior Special Branch officers Chris Albiston and Bill Lowry, and the senior Belfast detective Phil Wright, who is also heading the Castlereagh break-in investigation.
Before Operation Torsion "went live", Chief Constable Hugh Orde had been fully briefed and the most senior uniformed officer in Belfast, Alan McQuillan, had been brought into the picture.[1]


  1. How Stormont 'spies' were rumbled, by Brian Rowan, BBC News, 12 November 2002.