Declassified files: ‘Disturbing’ level of UVF drug dealing

In 1987 then Secretary of State Tom King was concerned at paramilitary involvement in drug dealing

In 1987 then Secretary of State Tom King was concerned at paramilitary involvement in drug dealing

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An August 11 1987 letter from Tom King to the chief constable said that “overall” the secretary of state was encouraged that the RUC was maintaining a functioning drugs squad, despite the pressures on the police.

But it added that the issue of “paramilitary involvement in this area” concerned him.

“I was disturbed to learn that the UVF has been actively involved and that peripheral or potential involvement is to be expected from other loyalist and republican groups. This is a development with potentially serious consequences…”

A copy of the RUC report is not included in the file, released by the Public Record Office in Belfast under the 30/20 year rule.

However, another note from an official referred to its contents. She said: “It is quite clear from the paper ... that all the main terrorist organisations are either definitely or probably into the business of raising funds through drugs sales.”

And a note from AK Templeton in the NIO’s Police Division also referred to the paper, saying that although it confirmed that Northern Ireland did not have a drugs problem on the scale of that in Great Britain, “the growth of cocaine sub-culture and the UVF’s fund raising through sale of drugs are perhaps the two most disturbing aspects of the assessment”.