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Disgruntled loyalists 'have contacted Adair'

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

Exiled UDA leader Johnny Adair has already been contacted by a host of disgruntled loyalists, it was claimed by Manchester police sources last night (Thursday). So far there has only been a fleeting glance of Adair at his new home at Horwich in Bolton.

Adair has refused to make any public statement about his future since he was flown to England on Monday morning.

"Adair has only been seen outside his house on one occasion but we have information that he has already been in contact with a range of former associates," the source said.

These contacts are understood to include John White, former north Belfast UDA leader Jim Simpson, his former bodyguard Gary Smith and former Maze UFF leader Sam McCrory.

While Adair and White were close associates, the pair fell out after the former UPRG spokesman split from a group of 40 Adair supporters who fled to Britain from the lower Shankill in February 2002.

However, when interviewed by the Irish News in Maghaberry prison last year Adair confirmed that he had recently received letters from White.

Former north Belfast UDA leader Jim Simpson fled Northern Ireland in October 2003 when an attempt to seize control of the north Belfast UDA from Andre Shoukri failed.

The contact between Simpson and the former Shankill loyalist is somewhat ironic, owing to the fact that it was Adair who ousted Simpson as north Belfast UDA leader in the summer of 2002, replacing him with Andre Shoukri.

Adair is also understood to have been contacted by north Belfast loyalist Jim Evans who was twice expelled from Northern Ireland by Andre Shoukri, most recently after the failed coup.

Adair's two strongest allies are Gary 'Smicker' Smith and former UFF leader in the Maze, Sam 'Skelly' McCrory.

In 1998 Smith was released from the Maze under the Good Friday Agreement after being sentenced to 16 years in 1995 on conspiracy to murder and possession of firearms charges.

When Adair was later released in 1999 Smith was his closest bodyguard.

In March 2002, Smith was sentenced to three years in jail for a hoax bomb alert at Holy Cross Girls School in Ardoyne.

Ironically, while Smith was in prison his son was attacked and seriously injured in a so-called punishment beating in Tigers Bay, allegedly ordered by Adair.

When released from jail Smith originally went to live in Bolton with the Adair exiles, but last year moved to Scotland.

In December police maintained a heavy presence when Smith returned to Belfast for the funeral of his brother Stanley.

Scotland has also been home to Sam McCrory since the late 1990s when he moved to Ayrshire to live with a clergyman.

In July 1992 McCrory was sentenced to 16 years in jail on charges of attempted murder and possession of weapons.

In May 2002 the UDA was blamed after a failed gun attack on McCrory near his home.

In June 2003 Adair's protege Alan McCullough was shot dead by the UDA after being given assurances that it was safe for him to return to Northern Ireland.

The Manchester source said that police would continue to mount 24-hour surveillance on Adair's Horwich home for "as long as necessary".

January 15, 2005

This article appeared first in the January 14, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

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