A South Armagh man has claimed that British intelligence offered him a six figure sum and a home abroad if he would work with them to help imprison a Real IRA leader.

Martin Winters (58) says he was asked to spy on 'X', a well-known Real IRA figure originally from South Armagh, who now lives in the Republic.

Winters gave the Sunday Tribune exclusive details of apparent attempts to recruit him by MI5, the FBI, and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Special Branch over a five-year period.

He said the latest offer came after the murder of two British soldiers at Massereene and a policeman in Craigavon.

He said that he was stopped outside Banbridge, Co Down, for a fictitious motoring offence.

He claimed a Special Branch officer then told him: "We've bodies on the streets now. It's not on, Martin.

"If you'd met us and co-operated before, none of this would have happened. We could have put this man X away."

An MI5 officer then allegedly offered a huge reward if he'd spy on X: "We'll give you a six figure sum, we'll buy you a house in America or anywhere you want in the world. We'll set you up for life.

"We'll give you £5,000 even if you meet us for one hour."

Winters showed the Sunday Tribune a brown envelope containing £1,000 which he said was slipped into his jacket pocket as a taster.

Inside, was also a mobile phone number for him to contact. When we rang the number and questioned the man who answered, he put down the phone.

Winters also showed us what appears to be a tracking and listening device which was planted under his car.

He said the security forces have alleged he is a senior Real IRA figure. He claimed he has never been arrested, isn't a member of any paramilitary group, has no knowledge of terrorism, and his relationship with X is "personal, not political".

He has logged details of the security forces' approaches with his solicitor.

"I'll go to court to get them to leave me and my family alone.

"I want them to stop offering me money and to stop bugging my car.

"I don't want to work for them, and I never will," he said.

His solicitor, Kevin Winters (no relation), said: "While intelligence-gathering is part of policing, there are legal boundaries which, in this case, have been well over-stepped with sustained and unwanted approaches by the security forces.

"These approaches have affected our client's mental health and we will take the necessary court proceedings for an injunction to stop any repetition of these approaches.

"The facts in this case may point to a potential breach of his Article 8 rights under the Human Rights Act – the right to privacy."

The intelligence services are under immense pressure to shut down the Real IRA as it emerges from a lengthy period of restructuring.

If true, Martin Winters' account shows they are willing to employ huge resources to jail X in the same manner they dealt with former Real IRA leader Mickey McKevitt.

Dave Rupert secured several million pounds and a new identity for providing information which led to McKevitt's 20-year sentence for directing terrorism.

Winters said that one Special Branch-MI5-FBI approach to him took place at JFK airport in New York.