The leadership of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was behind a brutal murder in the North despite being on ceasefire, the watchdog Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) ruled today.
Bobby Moffett, 43, was gunned down in front of stunned shoppers in Belfast in May in a shooting that was widely blamed on members of the UVF.
But the government-appointed IMC has now confirmed the group’s leadership sanctioned the killing.
The UVF is on a long-term ceasefire and had decommissioned weapons and supposedly renounced violence prior to the killing, but significantly, the IMC advised the British government not to take action against the loyalist group that claimed more than 500 lives during the Troubles.
The IMC said Mr Moffett, a former prisoner with loyalist links, was involved in a dispute with UVF leaders.
“From this analysis, and from our extensive enquiries, we conclude that: the murder was committed by members of the UVF acting as such; these members had sanction at central leadership level,” the IMC report said.
It noted the UVF leaders had failed to condemn the killing and added: “There were two main reasons for the murder and the way in which it was committed: to stop Mr Moffett’s perceived flouting of UVF authority, and to send a message to the organisation and the community that this authority was not to be challenged.
“Senior leadership in the UVF could have prevented the murder had it determined to do so.”
But the IMC stopped short of advising government to impose legal sanctions on the UVF.
“The murder does not blind us to the progress the UVF has made hitherto or of itself mean that the process will be reversed,” the IMC said.