POLICE RAID UUP OFFICES
Offices of David Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party were raided today as
part of a police investigation into money laundering by the unionist
The party office inside the Castlereagh Borough Council office was
raided and computer equipment and paper files were seized. The home and
office of Ulster Unionist Assembly member Michael Copeland was also
raided. Computer equipment, credit card and bank statements were among
items taken from Mr Copeland.
There have been a series of raids and arrests in east Belfast and its
outskirts in the past two weeks as part of the police investigation into
the criminal activities and money laundering of the UDA.
A leading estate agent was charged by the same team of detectives who
are investigating the financial affairs of deposed UDA leader Jim 'Doris
Gray himself appeared in court on Saturday charged with possessing and
concealing criminal property.
Gray was arrested carrying a large amount of cash just days after he was
toppled from his position as one of six so-called 'brigadiers' in an
internal UDA purge. There had been rumours Gray was set to quit the
Now it appears the Ulster Unionist Party may become another casualty of
the UDA's internal power struggle.
The police said they were acting as a result of a serious allegations
made against Copeland over the sale of land.
"I assisted the police fully and gave them my wholehearted support
getting to the bottom of their investigation," Mr Copeland said.
"I wish to make it clear that I feel that I am not in any way implicated
in any wrong-doing."
The raids are the latest blow to the UUP's election efforts and have
placed the party in a difficult position. Party leader David Trimble
collapsed the Belfast Assembly in 2002 after choreographed police raids
on the Sinn Fein offices at the Assembly buildings.
Allegations of an IRA 'spy ring' ultimately came to nothing, although
the damage to the political process was extensive.
Today's raids have been greeted with silence from Sinn Fein's usual
critics. East Belfast Sinn Fein Representative Deborah Devenny
contrasted the approach.
"When the Sinn Fein Offices in Stormont were raided the PSNI had
the media in advance to ensure maximum publicity and senior Special
Branch figures including the DUPs Bill Lowry briefed selected members
the media on the operation.
"Today the offices of the UUP were raided in Castlereagh Council
home of a senior elected representative was also raided as part of an
investigation into money laundering.
"Correctly no media were informed until after the raid was completed.
"As republicans well know the fact that the PSNI raid a home or office
does not imply any guilt. However what is stark is the approach to this
news by the unionist political parties.
"In the wake of the Stormont raids despite the fact that nobody has
convicted of any offence and many of the original charges have since
been dropped, the UUP collapsed the political institutions and the DUP
made false allegation after false allegation accusing republicans of
criminality and spying.
"It will seem to many within the broad nationalist community that
entirely different approach has been adopted today by the political
leaders of unionism in the wake of these raids."