The former leader of the Real IRA has appeared at the Smithwick Tribunal and denied receiving a tip-off from a garda saying his house was about to be raided.

Amid heavy security, Michael McKevitt was brought to the tribunal this morning, which had moved to the Special Criminal Court to hear his evidence.

The tribunal is investigating whether gardaí passed information to the IRA that lead to the ambush of two senior RUC officers in March 1989, just minutes after they left a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station.

The tribunal is investigating three former garda sergeants, Leo Colton, Owen Corrigan and Finbarr Hickey, to see if they were involved in passing information. All three deny the allegation.

In the court today, McKevitt was asked by senior counsel for the tribunal, Mary Laverty, whether he had received a phone call late on the night of 26 January 1990 from a garda contact informing him that his house was to be raided the following morning to search for a false passport.

The tribunal had earlier been told that a conversation had been recorded by gardaí, via a telephone tap, where someone had phoned McKevitt's house warning him he would have visitors the following morning and to get rid of the package. That information was known only to gardaí at the time.

McKevitt said his house was searched several times, but he was never told that a search was being done for a false passport.

He said he had never received a tip-off from anyone in advance of a search nor had he ever had a "friendly contact" with garda.

Asked by Ms Laverty if he had such contact would he be telling her anyway, the witness replied: "Probably have to. I'm here under oath."