04/04/2021 21:58 BST | Updated 04/04/2021 22:09 BST

Who Is DSU Ian Buckells? The Line Of Duty Character You Need To Know About After Episode 3

Hillside Lane's station chief has previously crossed paths with AC-12, and is now suspected of being in league with organised crime.

There’s a new police officer under suspicion of being in league with organised crime on Line Of Duty – at least that’s what DCI Joanne Davidson would have us believe. 

Sunday night’s episode of the BBC police drama saw DSU Ian Buckells arrested and heading in for questioning with AC-12 after various pieces of evidence came to light. 

And while there are certainly suspicions about whether he’s really a “bent copper” or being set up by Davidson, he’s set to become a key figure in AC-12′s investigation into Operation Lighthouse.

The character actually has links way back to the first series of Line Of Duty, so just in case you’re in need of a refresher as to where he fits into the story, here’s everything you need to know...

Steffan Hill/BBC/World Productions
DSU Ian Buckells

Who is DSU Ian Buckells?

DSU Buckells is a Detective Superintendent and station chief at the Hillside Lane station of Central Police, where he works alongside DCI Joanne Davidson and DI Kate Fleming on the Murder Investigation Team (MIT).

Played by Nigel Boyle, he was first introduced way back in series one in 2012, when he worked as a DI in the Tactical Operations Division. He was appointed by corrupt Chief Superintendent Derek Hilton as the senior investigating officer in the case of Jackie Laverty’s disappearance (yes, that Jackie Laverty, whose body was stored in Terry Boyle’s freezer for seven years).

During this time, he crossed paths with DI Arnott and DI Fleming, who were investigating the conduct of DCI Tony Gates – Laverty’s lover and for a time, a suspect in her disappearance.

Buckells in series one of Line Of Duty

Buckells’ investigation also led him to question a certain Ryan Pilkington, but his decision to let him off meant the teen did not obtain a criminal record that linked him to the OCG, and inadvertently (or maybe not) meant he was later able to pass background checks and join the police as their inside man in series six. 

He also enabled a meeting between DI Matthew “Dot” Cottan (aka The Caddy) and former OCG boss Tommy Hunter, following his arrest in series one, believing Cottan’s enquiries related to his posting with Counter Terrorism. 

Buckells returned to Line Of Duty in series four, where he was brought in to replace AC-12 antagonist DCI Roz Huntley on Operation Trapdoor, which investigated the kidnapping and murder of Baswinder Kaur, the disappearance of Leonie Collersdale and the attempted kidnapping of Hana Reznikova.

With Fleming placed undercover on Huntley’s team, going by the name of DS Kate Flynn, he realised he knew her from when they met in series one and was instructed not to blow her cover. He was unhappy with her presence on the team and would withhold information about the investigation from her, insisting he was “no grass for AC-12”.

Buckells was later accused of breaching Fleming’s cover, which allowed DCI Huntley to entrap her into discrediting the investigation against her, temporarily rendering all of AC-12’s efforts to pursue her redundant. 

Buckells replaced DCI Huntley on Operation Trapdoor

Then, Buckells was questioned by AC-12 where he denied the allegations and insisted Fleming’s cover was blown as she had worked as a UCO on too many occasions. 

After being dismissed from AC-12’s offices, Huntley resumed her role on Operation Trapdoor and Buckells was not seen again until the start of series six. 

As the boss of Hillside Lane, he is involved in MIT’s investigation into the murder of journalist Gail Vella on Operation Lighthouse. 

Following the arrest of suspect Terry Boyle (a character with links back to series one) during the raid at Beechwood House, Fleming told Davidson that Buckells made a mistake in the paperwork for the surveillance authority, ordering the wrong one, thus meaning the property was unmonitored for three hours and could have allowed the real suspect to escape. 

However, it was actually Davidson who “messed up” the surveillance authority having verbally asked Buckells for “Directed Surveillance Authority” instead of the “Intrusive Surveillance Authority” she actually needed. 

Steffan Hill/BBC/World Productions
Is DCI Davidson setting up DSU Buckells?

Is Buckells working with the OCG?

In episode three of the current series, evidence piled up against Buckells that suggested he was in league with organised crime. 

Davidson claimed he pulled strings to disclose the identity of CHIS Alistair Oldroyd and missing case files on Vella’s murder were found in the boot of his car. It was claimed he’d previously let off witness Deborah Devereux – the woman who identified Terry Boyle as the man the CHIS had been bragging to about his involvement in Vella’s death – on a previous charge, suggesting he got her to falsely identity Boyle as a favour in return. 

Davidson also claimed it was Buckells who was responsible for OCG member Pilkington managing to infiltrate the police force, having hired him due to links he had with Pilkington’s family. 

However, much of this evidence were all things Davidson could have had a hand in, and there is a suggestion she is fitting him up – something her later contact with the OCG pointed to. 

That said, there appears to be at least some level of corruption on Buckells’ side, so could it be the case that Buckells and Davidson are working with the OCG together, but she offered him up to AC-12 in order to stop them sniffing around her?

Line Of Duty continues on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.