• MI5 opened a file on Jeremy Corbyn over his links to the IRA, it has been claimed
  • Was allegedly investigated 25 years ago as potential threat to national security
  • He had links with convicted terrorists and was campaigning for a united Ireland
  • Source close to the investigation said file was opened by MI5 in the early 1990s 

Jack Doyle, Executive Political Editor For The Daily Mail

MI5 opened a file on Jeremy Corbyn over his links to the IRA, it was claimed last night.

The Labour leader was allegedly investigated 25 years ago because he was seen as a potential threat to national security.

At the time he had links with convicted terrorists and was campaigning for a united Ireland.

His support for the Republican cause led to security officials looking into his activities, a source close to the investigation told the Daily Telegraph. The source said the file was opened in the early 1990s.

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured with Ken Livingston and Gerry Adams - MI5 has now opened a file on the Labour leader over his links to the IRA

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured with Ken Livingston and Gerry Adams - MI5 has now opened a file on the Labour leader over his links to the IRA

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured with Ken Livingston and Gerry Adams – MI5 has now opened a file on the Labour leader over his links to the IRA

Cosy: Pictured from right to left, John McDonnell, Gerry Adams and Jeremy Corbyn in 2008

Cosy: Pictured from right to left, John McDonnell, Gerry Adams and Jeremy Corbyn in 2008

Cosy: Pictured from right to left, John McDonnell, Gerry Adams and Jeremy Corbyn in 2008

‘If there was a file on someone, it meant they had come to notice,’ said the source. ‘We opened a temporary file and did a preliminary investigation. It was then decided whether we should open a permanent file.’

A file would be opened on someone who sympathises with a certain group, or is friends with a specific person and the purpose was to assess whether they were threat, the source added. 

Scotland Yard’s Special Branch was also monitoring the Labour leader at the time, it is claimed. Mr Corbyn is said to have expressed support for Hugh Doherty, a member of the Balcombe Street gang which carried out a wave of attacks in England in the 1970s.

The newspaper reported that in 1987 Mr Corbyn handed a petition to Margaret Thatcher demanding better visiting conditions for Doherty and his fellow IRA prisoner Nat Vella and ‘the immediate transfer of Irish political prisoners to prisons near their homes’.

The Balcombe Street gang was named after the street in Marylebone in which they were arrested in 1975. They were responsible for 16 murders during a 14-month campaign of terror, carrying out 50 bombings and shootings.

One of their victims was the television personality Ross McWhirter, who co-founded Guinness World Records with his twin brother Norris.

Mr McWhirter, who offered a £50,000 reward for information that would lead to the gang’s capture, was assassinated in November 1975.

The Labour leader is pictured left, as an MP, alongside Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams back in 1995 

The Labour leader is pictured left, as an MP, alongside Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams back in 1995 

The Labour leader is pictured left, as an MP, alongside Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams back in 1995 

John McDonnell says the IRA’s ‘armed struggle’ should be ‘honoured’

John McDonnell sparked fury yesterday after he tried to defend his praise for the IRA’s ‘bombs and bullets’ – saying he was only trying to bring about peace.

The shadow chancellor was challenged over comments from 2003 in which he demanded people ‘honour’ Republican terrorists who were ‘involved in the armed struggle’.

He said their ‘bravery’ was what had brought the UK government ‘to the negotiating table’.

Asked today how he would explain those remarks to voters at the general election, Mr McDonnell said he had ‘apologised for those words’.

But he insisted he had been ‘contributing’ to the peace process.  

The gang members were released as part of the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. Mr Corbyn also supported the cause of IRA bombmaker Dessie Ellis, who was jailed for ten years in Dublin in the 1980s and later became a member of the Irish parliament.

Peter Francis, a former undercover Metropolitan Police officer has said he was asked to collect information on Mr Corbyn, then a backbench MP, as he infiltrated anti-racist groups in the 1990s.

Lord Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was left paralysed in the Brighton Tory conference bombing, said: ‘It just marks him out as what he clearly is: a hard-Left, Marxist, terrorist sympathiser. 

‘It’s a comfort to know they were indeed being monitored, although clearly they stayed just on the right side, for them, of being charged with any offences. It just makes me feel Theresa May is being perhaps unnecessarily indulgent towards the Labour party in order to win this election.’

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: ‘MI5 kept files on many peace and Labour movement campaigners at the time, including anti-apartheid activists and trade unionists.

‘The Pitchford Inquiry is currently investigating how the security service carried out surveillance of political figures such as former foreign secretary Jack Straw, former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain and Jeremy Corbyn.’

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