Abuse probe detective fought IRA

THE Ulsterman heading up the Jersey childcare probe was once involved in the fight against the IRA on the streets of Belfast.

Lenny Harper, 56, was a young detective based in the republican heartland of Andersonstown in west Belfast at the height of the violence in Northern Ireland.

Former Royal Ulster Constabulary colleague Brian McVicker said: “He was a first-class operator, a fantastic worker. He was a go-getter because he was a policeman who caught people.”

His son-in-law, a commanding officer with the Royal Military Police, was shot dead in the Iraqi city of Basra in August 2003.

Mr Harper comes from the Waterside area of Derry but served just eight months as a sergeant in west Belfast on secondment from the London Metropolitan Police at a time when tensions heightened dramatically because of a developing crisis inside the Maze Prison in advance of the first of two republican hunger strikes which were to claim the lives of 10 men.

His career began with the London Metropolitan Police in 1974, after a series of failed attempts to join the RUC. The authorities refused to allow him in because he was a quarter of an inch below the required height of 5ft 8in. He served in London until 1990 and joined Strathclyde Police in Scotland in 1991. In 2002, he transferred to Jersey Police as head of operations. He was appointed to his current role in 2003 with responsibility for personnel, training and professional standards.

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