A Gripping True Crime Story of an Audacious Undercover Sting
by Mark Dickens with Stephen Bentley
Pub Date 28 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 15 Jun 2022
Hendry Publishing Ltd, Hendry Publishing
Meet the real Line of Duty ™ undercover team in this previously untold and gripping story of how a Northern Irish terrorist and murderer and one of his followers, were caught in an audacious and brilliantly executed undercover sting on the English mainland, codenamed, Operation George.
In 2006 at Belfast Crown Court, William James Fulton, a principal in the outlawed Loyalist Volunteer Force, was jailed for life and sentenced to a minimum of 28 years after the longest trial in Northern Ireland’s legal history.
Fulton was an early suspect in the Rosemary Nelson killing. Following the murder of the prominent human rights lawyer, he fled to the United States and, with help from the FBI in collusion with the British police, he was deported. On his arrival at Heathrow, Fulton ‘walked through an open door,’ a Lewis Carrol-like euphemism for an invitation created by the covert team, only to disappear ‘down the rabbit hole’ on accepting the invitation.
That ‘rabbit hole’ led to an alternative world: an environment created and controlled by the elite covert team and only inhabited by the undercover officers and their targets. The subterfuge encouraged the terrorist targets into believing Fulton was working for a Plymouth-based ‘criminal firm’ over a period spanning almost two years. In that time, over fifty thousand hours of conversations between the ‘firm’ members were secretly recorded and used to bring the killer to justice.
This unique story is told by former undercover officer Mark Dickens who was part of an elite team of undercover detectives who took part in ‘Operation George,’ one of the most remarkable covert policing operations the world has ever known. You won’t know him under that name nor the many aliases he adopted as an undercover police officer infiltrating organised crime gangs.
Together in ‘Operation George,’ with pioneering Operation Julie undercover officer and bestselling author, Stephen Bentley, they have written a gripping account of a unique story reminiscent of the premise of ‘The Sting’ film, and the ‘Bloodlands’ setting, combining a true-crime page-turner with a fascinating insight into early 21st-century covert policing.
The publisher wishes to make clear by using the Line of Duty™, there is no implied association with the Line of Duty series nor World Productions Ltd and the trademark is attributed to World Productions Ltd.
A Note From the Publisher
Hardback to be published on 31/01/22.
Large Print published on 09/03/2021
Audiobook release date TBC.
Full cast audio dramatisation.
‘Operation George is brilliant! It’s a unique insight into the undercover world, the ingenious tactics, the outwardly serene UCOs and the fastidious adherence to rules and training are nothing like I’ve ever read before.
Devoting the majority of the second half of the book to the trial was inspired. It’s all very well for readers to have that amazing peek into the undercover world (and the way the team created a totally illusionary one for Fulton at huge potential risk to themselves given his background and connections) but to show how the evidence obtained stands or falls in court does the whole tactic justice.’ - Graham Bartlett, former UK senior police officer and co-author with international best seller, Peter James, of a Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling non-fiction book, Death Comes Knocking – Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton.
“Just like Jim Carrey’s character in The Truman Show, Fulton’s environment had been controlled and his life manipulated,” co-authors Dickens (a pseudonym) and Bentley, both former undercover officers, write in this rare and at times compelling window into the murky world of undercover policing. – Kirkus Reviews
“This true crime and narrative nonfiction story of undercover policing proves fascinating… The most interesting and original aspects of this book are its look into the inner workings of undercover policing during the aftermath of the Troubles… Readers will find many aspects of this work to be compelling.” – The BookLife Prize
Pre-publication discount on the Kindle edition with a social media strategy to promote that.
Press release scheduled for March 2022 and UK blog tour scheduled for April 2022.
Pre-publication discount on the Kindle edition with a social media strategy to promote that.
Press release scheduled for March 2022 and UK blog tour scheduled for April 2022.
Average rating from 8 members
Brilliantly written account of the horrific events that were going down in Northern Ireland and the accounts of the undercover officers involved in trying to bring justice to victims and families by bringing the criminals down.
This book is so right up my street, i love nothing better than getting right Into the nitty gritty of exactly what happened, the where, the when and who said what and to who. The victims and families getting justice for crimes perpetrated against them. The men and women who help to bring that justice, the fact of not only putting themselves in danger but the real possibility of putting their families in danger is real here. Such a nasty time in northern Ireland and I can remember growing up hearing all about it in the news and how scary it all seemed to me as a child, never mind actually being there and living it. 👍to all the people that helped to try and make things better.
I have long been fascinated with the history of events in Northern Ireland and have read many many books about the military involvement, undercover officers embedded within the different factions and family lives growing up during the troubles but this was a truly unique insight into how works continues long long after the events to try and find justice and resolution for many people affected by terrifying acts of violence.
The huge and complex operation is almost unbelievable, the bravery and courage, the risks, the challenges - it creates an epic tale that would rival any fictional thriller or detective novel.
I couldn't pull myself away from the escapades of the police teams and the information they drew out and ripped through the first part of this book in double quick time.
I'll confess I did find the 'trial' section much more of a 'trial' to get through. It is quite tedious and repetitive in parts and some of the 'legalese' bogs down the reader and makes it a much slower and more laborious read. I think nobody would be disappointed if they ended up not completing the reading of this part as the first section really is enough of an experience in itself.
Imagine you are a terrorist suspect and have escaped to the US - only to find yourself deported back to the UK with help from the FBI and the British police.
On arriving at Heathrow airport you are then lured into an undercover policing ‘rabbit hole’, a world where you think you are working for a mainland criminal ‘business man’ who employs you as his trusted driver. You accept the job because you believe that your life is in danger in your home town in Northern Ireland.
So the scene is set for the undercover policing ‘Operation George’, with a backdrop of a number of brutal Northern Irish sectarian killings including the 1999 murder of a prominent Catholic solicitor, Rosemary Nelson.
What follows is a jaw-dropping undercover story based in the South West of England (Plymouth in Devon and Camborne in Cornwall).
The book describes it as being in a world resembling ‘The Truman Show’ film and reading it, you can see the analogy. The subsequent methods to expose the criminal activities carried out by two people linked to the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) in Northern Ireland are both jaw-dropping and insightful.
For those with a keen interest in sentencing and the specifics of the horrific crimes carried out, there is a detailed break-down of the court judgements leading a 28 year jail sentence for the main target and an 8 year sentence for his female associate. Although this forensic legal detail won’t appeal to everyone, it shows the high bar needed to get covert recordings accepted as evidence,
At the end there is a conversation between the book collaborators, former undercover investigator, Barrister and author, Steve Bentley, (who played a part in the 1970s drug busting undercover Operation Julie), and Mark Dickens - a pseudonym - a seasoned detective whose work has included covert policing roles.
‘Operation George’ is recommended for its insight into this significant story, giving an astonishing glimpse into the complex and dangerous world of covert investigation. Maggie F
JIMMY is a newcomer to the west country and keen to establish a base in the home of cider and cream teas.
But his biggest dilemma is not whether to put jam or cream on his scone first, but how to become a trusted member of a ruthless gang of organised criminals.
No stranger to living on the wrong side of the law, he is delighted when his ambitions pay off and he is taken on as the gang’s driver. Even better, before long he is an integral part of their shady operation and keen to boast to his new buddies about his past exploits as a paramilitary in Northern Ireland.
What Jimmy doesn’t realise is that he IS the operation, and the more he talks, the more he is digging a hole for himself from which he won’t be able to climb out.
For the bunch of hard-drinking, tough talking miscreants that surround him are all undercover police officers – and their aim is to get him to reveal on hidden tape as much about his murderous past as they can without raising his suspicions.
As a script for a new series of the brilliant TV show Line of Duty this probably would have been rejected as too far-fetched. But the thing that makes Operation George so compelling is that every word is true.
Authors Stephen Bentley and Mark Dickens are both former undercover police officers who wrap you up in the thrill of the chase and the problems encountered in such a massive sting.
While Jimmy worked for ‘the firm’, over 50,000 hours of conversations were recorded and at the end of it all he finds himself back in a Northern Ireland court room having to face justice for his vile and heartless crimes, many of which involved innocent people.
With court transcripts and personal accounts provided by officers who must still wear a cloak of anonymity in fear of reprisals, this is a must for any true crime junkie. If you were engrossed by Bentley’s Undercover, the story of the biggest UK drug bust of the 70s, then this should be right up your street.
Operation George is the amazing story of one of the most audacious Police Undercover operations undertaken in this country by 2 of the officers involved,"Mark Dickens", a pseudonym , and Stephen Bentley.
The operation was launched after Human Rights Lawyer Rosemary Nelson was murdered in Northern Ireland in 1999 , One of the suspects was William James "Jimmy" Fulton, prominent in an outlawed "Loyalist" paramilitary group the LVF and a suspect in an number of other attacks,some of them fatal.
Fullton fled to America before being unwittingly lured to England as the first part Operation George bears fruit. What Fulton doesn't know is that his entire life is now being manipulated and directed by a group of very determined policemen who steer him into a life of crime with a criminal gang in Plymouth......all of whom are Undercover Police Officers. As he takes part in one stage-managed "crime" after another Fulton feels comfortable enough amongst his new friends to boast about his crimes in Northern Ireland and his skills as a paramilitary leader of men. Of course as with all of his type the reality is that he's rather a dim thug with a big ego .
This is largely a great read,I was living in Plymouth at the time and remember reading in the local paper about the "prominent paramilitary" arrested almost next door to the place I was working at the time. The organisation behind the operation is mind-blowing and the book is honest enough to tell of situations where mistakes or people failing to do their job properly could have blown the whole thing.
The latter half of the book is a detailed report of Fulton's trial and it does get bogged down a bit with repetition that a bit of defter editing might have sorted,reading the same incidents described 3 times gets a bit wearing . It does however give a good picture of the reality of the paramilitaries , far from the idealistic freedom fighters they like to style themselves.
Overall a great read,though quoting the Judges summary verbatim does make it drag at times.
Not my usual genre, but the description had me intrigued so decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did!! This true crime story follows an undercover operation to catch Northern Irish terrorists working within the LVF. The book was insightful and informative on the huge amount of work and risk within undercover operations. The operation itself and the tactics used were amazing- I loved how we were given a background to the operation and its purpose in the first chapters and then each chapter gives details of different people within the operation. This allowed us to see the tactics used by all involved and also helped to stress the collaborative nature of the work being crucial in order to succeed. I found this to be a real page turner and just wanted to keep finding out more as the operation progressed. The action is fast paced and the detail provided about both the operation and the evidence used were fascinating. A truly brilliantly written book which was thought provoking, honest and educational. This made me truly appreciate what goes on behind the scenes of an undercover operation, something that I hadn’t really thought about before.
I don’t read much true crime, which is slightly surprising given I love crime fiction. But something about the blurb for Operation George spoke to me and said “read me”.
It’s a book of two halves; the first half is the all about the sting, whilst the second is the trial. The blurb already told me that Fulton, the target was going to be jailed so I was interested more in how they got there and what he was actually found guilty of especially, as he was a suspect in the murder of a prominent lawyer. Was that what he was found guilty of?
Mixed in with the details of the Operation George sting is anecdotes and facts about the changes to undercover work. I never realised that the officers who go undercover make a career out of this work but it does make perfect sense. The lengths the undercover officers had to go to was fascinating. I couldn’t get enough of the undercover work!!
As the second half went on, I felt like it was dragging a little at points. It wasn’t my preference of how a trial should pan out but it was a different style of trial. For me, it lacked the theatrics of a crown court proceedings with the questioning and cross examination of witnesses by barristers which I love. It was, however, interesting to read a trial by judge along with their thought process to deliberate whether there was duress or substance influences to the admissions.
Operation George was an interesting insight as to how a dangerous terrorist mixed up in the unrest in the Emerald Isle was brought to justice. I grew up with the threat of the IRA constantly in the news so seeing various parts of the British police and the RUC working together to bring down such a criminal have me some of the work behind the headlines.
Anybody who knows me well, knows that not only am I a book geek but I am also a history and true crime nerd. So you can probably imagine why I was so drawn to this book. ‘Operation George’ is slightly different to the books that I normally read as it is a non fiction title and I usually read fiction. They do say that a change is as good as a rest and so without further ado, I grabbed a cup of tea, grabbed my Kindle and settled down for an interesting afternoon of reading. Having just finished reading ‘Operation George’, all I can say is ‘wow’. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Operation George’ but more about that in a bit.
As soon as I started reading, I instinctively knew that I was going to become addicted to reading the book and that I would find it thoroughly interesting. I started reading and I just couldn’t stop. I was immediately drawn into the story and I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t a fictional story or a Hollywood movie but the events detailed in the book actually happened! I had only intended to read a couple of chapters to make a start on the book but I became that wrapped up in the events and the different characters that I was still sat there reading over an hour and several chapters later. My Kindle wasn’t exactly glued to my hand but it might as well have been because it travelled everywhere with me. I couldn’t bear to miss a single second of the ‘operation’. I couldn’t turn the pages of the book quickly enough as I worked my way through. All too quickly I reached the end of ‘Operation George’. I found it to be a gripping, tense and dramatic read, which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.
‘Operation George’ is superbly written. The author certainly knows how to grab the reader’s attention and then take them on one hell of an unpredictable and scary rollercoaster ride with more twists and turns to it than you would find on a ‘Snakes & Ladders’ board. For me, the story hit the ground running and maintained a hell of a fast pace throughout. The fact that this book details events as they actually happened somehow makes the story even scarier. I m a huge supporter of the police in general and especially of those brave police officers who take on undercover missions to infiltrate certain groups and/ or ensnare certain offenders. It’s a job that I certainly couldn’t do as I am not brave enough. ‘Operation George’ gave me a whole new appreciation of the police, the work they do and the dangerous situations in which they find themselves.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Operation George’ and I would recommend it to other readers. I hope to read a lot more from this author in the future. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.