On 14 November 1981, IRA gunmen stormed a community centre on the outskirts of South Belfast and murdered the MP for the area, Robert Bradford, as he was meeting with constituents. They also murdered the centre’s caretaker, 29-year-old Ken Campbell.
The double murder was one of thousands that happened during The Troubles and has since been largely forgotten. Yet among some sections of the Unionist community in Northern Ireland, it’s one of the most whispered about cold cases of that bloody era. In the aftermath of Bradford’s death, his colleagues claimed everyone from the CIA to the British security services were involved.
For decades, rumours have swirled, with many believing that Bradford – an outspoken MP with a history of using the press to make serious allegations and revelations – was about to reveal something concerning Kincora, an infamous children’s home at the centre of a child abuse scandal involving one man with links to both Unionist politicians and MI5.
It’s a cold case which has become almost mythical in the decades since it happened. Why did some of Bradford’s colleagues believe the security forces were involved in his murder? And why do so many members of the Unionist community believe he was about to reveal something sensational when he was murdered?
Lyra McKee spent five years interviewing Bradford’s colleagues, his close friends, and other acquaintances, in an attempt to understand how this case became the subject of rumours, myths, and speculation. She also reveals how Bradford’s death could have been prevented – as the security services had received intelligence that the attack on 14th November 1981 was about to happen.
Angels With Blue Faces provides an insight into one of the strangest cold cases of The Troubles and how journalists and researchers attempt to recover answers in the aftermath of a war.