A book published today claims the SAS executed 27 IRA suspects in Northern Ireland in 1971 and 1972 in a covert operation codenamed "Nemesis".
The author, using the pseudonym Paul Bruce, claims to have been a young SAS soldier and, as a member of a team of four, executed the suspects and buried them in two graves in remote countryside near the border between northern and southern Ireland.
The Ministry of Defence denied the allegations that the squad had existed and carried out the "executions". The MoD said it would try to check whether the author had actually belonged to the elite unit.
The author appeared at a press conference yesterday to launch the hardback book, The Nemesis File, published by Blake, with a print run of 60,000. He wore a black balaclava, apparently to conceal his identity. He claimed to have been threatened by the IRA. Questioned by reporters his knowledge of SAS organisation and procedures appeared vague, but John Blake, the publisher, said: "We checked it out very thoroughly, in every way." He said Mr Bruce was very nervous and this might explain his unconvincing answers.
Mr Bruce said he had joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers before passing the SAS selection and being sent to Northern Ireland at the start of the Troubles. The group of four - a standard SAS unit - would pick up the victims on the border. He said many had been captured in the Republic by other SAS soldiers, although later victims had been picked up on streets in the north. He refused to elaborate on why there were no reports of 27 people going missing.
The victims were taken to a site between Dromore, Co Down, and Lurgan, Co Armagh, where they were shot in the back of the head with a 9mm pistol and pushed into graves already dug. Later a second site was allegedly established in remote Tardree forest.
Mr Bruce said the experience had ruined his life and he left the SAS and the Army in 1972.
"We didn't want to build up any sort of relationship with them. No names, nothing ... We usually told them they were being taken to the RUC."
The publisher refused to speculate on the legal consequences of Mr Bruce's claim.