A retired police protection officer has revealed that there was a severe security threat issued in Fermanagh on September 6 last year. The detail was revealed during a hearing in Fermanagh Court where the man, with an address as PSNI Dundonald, was contesting a charge of excess speed.

Under examination by his defence barrister, the former protection officer, who faced a charge of breaking the 60-mph speed limit, explained that on the day in question he was protecting a minister of the judiciary and transferring them from Enniskillen to Belfast. He explained that in planning a route, protection officers would check if there are any road closures or “significant threats” in the area.

“On September 6 the general threat across the province was severe but there was a specific entry about Fermanagh,” the man told the court. He outlined how he had driven an armoured Land Rover Discovery from Enniskillen, out onto the A4 towards Belfast with the protected person in the rear. “We entered a one-way system into heavy traffic and that flow of traffic followed us out of Enniskillen – that can afford a potential terrorist time for information gathering,” he said, “What generally happens is, if traffic has been behind you, you need to make up some distance to leave that traffic behind to avoid them following you and identifying the principal’s home. You need to find a time to get away from them by use of speed.

“You have to anticipate that you are being followed or that there’s the potential to come under attack such as the case of prison officer David Black who slowed down at a junction and was overtaken by terrorists who shot him.”

Under cross examination by the PPS solicitor, he explained that if he intended to travel at more than 90-mph for more than a minute, he would have to notify his superiors through a system called Tracker Locate. Because he was travelling at 78-mph for “a few seconds”, he argued that “this was not a Locate issue.”

District Judge Chris Holmes went into chambers to examine case law. When he returned, he said: “It was in the interests of all to exceed the speed limit.” He accepted the defence case “on the balance of probabilities” and dismissed the case.