Ian Buckells

Line of Duty finale: The 7 big clues we missed that Buckells is H aka The Fourth Man

Who knew it was the Brummie bloke?

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The Line of Duty finale revealed who the final ‘H’ was, or ‘The Fourth Man’ – Buckells.

While fans digest the identity of the bent copper, there have been clues right from the very start.

So what are they, and what nailed Ian Buckells?

Ian Buckells in series one of Line of Duty
Buckells in series one (Credit: BBC)

What were the seven big clues in the Line of Duty finale?

He’s been there right from the start

Viewers will recognise Ian Buckells right from the very start.

Perhaps we chose not to acknowledge him because he’s always come over as someone too incompetent to be anything more than a ‘yes man’.

But just look at his backstory.

In series one, he was assigned by ACC Derek Hilton to be SIO of the Jackie Laverty case.

Hilton was, of course, unmasked as one of the four ‘Hs’.

Read more: Line of Duty finale: Bookies reveal latest odds on suspect as it’s ‘revealed’ H will be unmasked

At the end of that series, Buckells allowed Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan to speak to DS Tommy Hunter in private.

And we all know what Dot was all about.

By series four, reappeared, this time as a DCI and became involved in the Roz Huntley case.

He was called in by AC-12 after being accused of blowing Kate’s cover in an undercover operation.

Ian Buckells Line of Duty
Buckells in the Christopher investigation (Credit: BBC)

His involvement in the Lawrence Christopher investigation

Buckells was first brought (back) as a person of interest when DC Chloe Bishop uncovered the identity of the original investigating team behind the botched investigation into the murder of Lawrence Christopher.

Alongside Ian Osborne and Marcus Thurwell on that team was Ian Buckells.

This elicited a “mother of God” from Ted, and suddenly Buckells was in the frame.

But he was just an incompetent guy. Wasn’t he?

The golf clubs

Earlier on in series six, fans spotted a set of golf clubs in his Hillsgate police station.

Golf clubs have a special significance in the universe of Line of Duty.

Viewers will remember bent copper Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan had the nickname, ‘The Caddy’.

After Cottan died at the end of series three, fans thought that the golfing connection ended.

But when they spotted a set of clubs at the back of Buckells’ office, they put two and two together.

Ian Buckells Line of Duty
He’s always been dodgy (Credit: BBC)

His conduct during Operation Lighthouse

Buckells’ conduct on Operation Lighthouse was suss all the way through.

He wilfully screwed up surveillance procedure on Carl Banks and Terry Boyle.

Buckells also brought in one of his ex-girlfriends, Deborah Devereux, to be a dodgy witness to incriminate Terry Boyle.

(Who can forget the ‘truncheon’ moment?)

He didn’t say a word when Lee Banks strangled Jimmy Lakewell in the prison cell, proving that he was at least bent.

But even though there was enough to put him away, everyone thought he was just bent.

Not ‘H’ or ‘The Fourth Man’.

Ian Buckells Line of Duty
A key piece of evidence (Credit: BBC)

Definately maybe

This is what did it for Ian Buckells.

The word ‘definately’.

After Ted and the team saw a repeat of the spelling ‘definately’ in communications between the OCG and Jo Davidson, Hastings ordered a trawl through the archives.

It revealed more spellings of the word ‘definately’ in correspondence between the OCG and Lisa McQueen in 2019.

And then again in the Lawerence Christopher inquiry in 2003, and then from Operation Lighthouse in 2019.

There could only be one man behind it.


Not a droid from Star Wars, but a fancy police name for a piece of evidence – namely a laptop found in his prison cell.

Cyber detected comms from GGM13 to Jo Davidson.

The noose was tightening.

Ian Buckells Line of Duty
The end for Ian Buckells (Credit: BBC)

Holte End Holdings

Buckells liked the high life.

A house – 17 Maychurch Road – was registered under the name Holte End Holdings.

The company, registered in the Cayman Islands, also owned a timeshare apartment in Gran Canaria.

Guess who owns Holte End Holdings?

(Holte End, by the way, is a reference to the Aston Villa football ground.)

Read more: Line of Duty finale: Crime drama series that will fill the Ted, Kate and Steve hole

A laptop was found under the floorboards of 17 Maychruch Road – HS6.

On it, AC-12 found correspondence relating to the Eastfield weapons depot raid in series five.

Further forensic analysis revealed that Buckells’ fingerprints and DNA were all over the laptop.

Ian Buckells, ladies and gentlemen – bang to rights.

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