Shocking levels of State collusion with terrorists involved in the UDA murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane have been uncovered during a review of his killing.
The review by Sir Desmond de Silva concluded there is “significant doubt” Mr Finucane would have been murdered by the UDA in February 1989 had it not been for “different strands” of State involvement.
In his report Mr de Silva stated that 85% of the UDA’s intelligence at the time of the 39-year-old’s murder originated from sources within the security forces.
His review revealed that RUC officers proposed that Mr Finucane (below) be murdered, they passed information to his killers, failed to stop the attack and then obstructed the murder investigation.
However, it concluded that there was “no over-arching State conspiracy” in the murder.
Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine, who wants a public inquiry into her husband’s killing, has dismissed the report as a “sham”.
She said that “the dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid” on what really happened to her husband, who was shot 14 times as he sat down for dinner with his wife and three children on Sunday, February 12, 1989.
Prime Minister David Cameron apologised yesterday to the Finucane family and said that the collusion demonstrated within the review “is totally unacceptable”, but ruled out a public inquiry.
The review said that two of those involved in Mr Finucane’s murder were working as State agents at the time. Brian Nelson was an Army informer and William Stobie was an agent for RUC Special Branch.
Another of those involved in the murder, Kenneth Barrett, was later recruited by RUC Special Branch as an agent even though he was suspected of being involved in the killing.
Mr de Silva said there was no “adequate framework” for the police and security forces running agents in loyalist and republican gangs at that time.
The review stated that the British Army and Special Branch had advance notice of a series of planned UDA assassinations, but nothing was done.
Mr de Silva said that a RUC officer or officers proposed Mr Finucane as a UDA target when speaking to a loyalist around two months before his killing.
RUC Special Branch also failed to take any action on intelligence they received about an imminent UDA attack from one of their agents, Stobie, who provided the gun to Mr Finucane’s killers. Special Branch also failed to act on intelligence provided by Army informer Nelson.
The RUC was also criticised within the report for withholding “highly relevant intelligence” from the CID team investigating Mr Finucane’s murder.
Mr de Silva revealed there were “extensive leaks” of security force information to the UDA and other loyalist paramilitary groups from members of the security forces.
“In 1985 the Security Service assessed that 85% of the UDA’s ‘intelligence’ originated from sources within the security forces. I am satisfied that this proportion would have remained largely unchanged by February 1989, the time of Patrick Finucane’s murder,” he said.
In his report Mr de Silva wrote that he was left “in significant doubt” as to whether Mr Finucane would have been murdered by the UDA in February 1989 “had it not been for the different strands of involvement by elements of the State”.
“The real importance, in my view, is that a series of positive actions by employees of the State actively furthered and facilitated his murder and that, in the aftermath of the murder, there was a relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice,” he said.
But Mr de Silva concluded that while “agents of the State were involved in carrying out serious violations of human rights up to and including murder” he was satisfied that they were not linked “to an over-arching State conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane”.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the Prime Minister’s refusal to hold a public inquiry was “not acceptable”.
But the DUP’s Ian Paisley jnr said he and his constituents “are sick and tired of a one-sided narrative of revisionism that says the PIRA were actually quite good and the troops and police were actually quite bad.”
Truth comes out 23 years after brutal slaying
1989: Pat Finucane is shot 14 times in front of his family at his home in north Belfast as they ate Sunday dinner. His wife Geraldine was also wounded as she tried to protect him. His three children witnessed his killing as they hid under the table.
1999: The third inquiry by John Stevens into allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries concluded that there was such collusion in the Finucane murder. As a result, RUC Special Branch agent and loyalist quartermaster William Stobie was later charged with supplying one of the pistols used to kill Finucane.
2000: Amnesty International demands an open and public inquiry into his death.
2001: Retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory was appointed by the British and Irish governments to investigate the allegations of collusion.
2003: The British Government Stevens Report stated that the killing was indeed carried out with the collusion of police.
2004: UDA informer Ken Barrett pleads guilty to murder.
2005: Then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tells a US special envoy to Northern Ireland that “everyone knows” the UK Government was involved in the Finucane murder.
2007: A public inquiry is announced by the British Government, but under the Inquiries Act 2005, which empowers the Government to block scrutiny of State actions. The Finucane family say they will not co-operate
2011: Finucane family meets with Prime Minister David Cameron who gives them an official apology for State collusion in lawyer’s murder.
2012: De Silva report confirms that agents of the State were involved in the killing but finds no “over-arching State conspiracy”. Geraldine Finucane dismisses the report as a “sham” and repeats calls for a full public inquiry.
Cameron says no to public inquiry
By Tom Moseley
David Cameron repeated his apology over the death of Pat Finucane — but batted away repeated calls for a public inquiry.
The Prime Minister (right) said the collusion surrounding the murder was “totally unacceptable” and insisted Government could not have been more open.
With the Finucane family watching from the Speaker’s Gallery, he defended his decision to reject a full public inquiry, insisting the de Silva report was the best way of getting closest to the truth as quickly as possible.
It would be up to the authorities to decide whether to launch fresh criminal actions based on the findings and added: “We should be in no doubt that this report makes extremely difficult reading”, telling MPs there was “significant doubt” Mr Finucane would have been murdered had it not been for involvement of different strands of the State.
He added: “The collusion demonstrated beyond any doubt by Sir Desmond — which included the involvement of State agents in murder — is totally unacceptable.
“So, on behalf of the Government — and the whole country — let me say once again to the Finucane family, I am deeply sorry.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood will be asked to produce their own reports.
Mr Cameron revealed he had spoken to Enda Kenny — who is pressing for an inquiry — that morning, and said the Taoiseach “understands why we have taken this decision”.
Widow slams review as ‘a sham’
By Tom Moseley
The wife of Pat Finucane branded the review by Desmond de Silva a “whitewash” and a “sham” as she renewed calls for a public inquiry.
Moments after David Cameron left the House of Commons having told the solicitor’s family he was “deeply sorry” on behalf of the Government, the Finucanes launched a fierce attack on him and the latest report.
They told journalists they had come to London with an open mind, having stormed out of a previous meeting with the Prime Minister.
But Mr Finucane’s wife Geraldine said: “The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others.
“This report is a sham. This report is a whitewash. This report is a confidence trick dressed up as independent scrutiny and given invisible clothes of reliability.”
She said Mr de Silva had strong links to the Tory Party and had been appointed “without consultation”. “We are excepted to take the word of the man appointed by the British Government,” she said.
The family had no input, seen no documents, heard no witnesses, she said, adding: “Yet another British Government has engineered a suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband... most hurtful and insulting of all, this report is not the truth.”
The Finucanes said that while there were some elements of the review that were new to them, it was unlikely to contain evidence strong enough to mount fresh prosecutions.
Old mantra of a few rotten apples just doesn’t wash
By Brian Rowan
The one-word text message yesterday morning read ‘Whitewash’.
It was a first thought on the de Silva Review — one word and an early indication of the response that would come later from the family of Pat Finucane.
They certainly don’t believe that the lock has now been picked to throw open the truth of this case, a killing that reads into the often described ‘dirty war’ and that takes you into the darkest places of a decades-long conflict.
Buried there are some of the ugliest of truths.
Before David Cameron spoke, there was another message pointing to the key finding in this year-long review that there was no “over-arching State conspiracy” that resulted in loyalists shooting the Belfast solicitor 14 times.
The ferocity of the attack tells us they wanted to make sure that they had killed him.
When the Prime Minister spoke he talked about “shocking levels of State collusion”.
Those words were used to describe information leaks, agent involvement in the murder plot, and failure before and after the killing to first act on threat intelligence, and then to investigate the UDA in west Belfast.
The key planners in this murder still hold significant rank and positions within that group.
Their names are not a secret.
When you begin to read this report, collusion is not a story of the odd rotten apple, but something much bigger than that.
In periods from the mid to late 1980s, the Security Service MI5 assessed that 85% of the UDA’s intelligence originated from sources within the security forces.
We read that the loyalist leader on the Shankill Road at that time, Tommy Lyttle, had a very cosy relationship with RUC officers that “provided him with an entirely improper degree of protection and assistance in his role as… the so-called brigadier of west Belfast UDA”.
That organisation remained legal until 1992, more than three years after the Finucane murder.
And there are still untouchables in its highest ranks who know the fine detail of that murder more than 23 years ago.
Yesterday was never going to produce a full stop in this case.
Geraldine Finucane, widow of the murdered solicitor, made that clear when she spoke last weekend and said that a review could not be a substitute for the independent public inquiry that has been the family’s demand.
The Finucane killing stinks of collusion and the family is convinced that the State wanted him dead. Their questions won’t go away, and for them and for hundreds of other families the past is now a battleground on which truth is being both sought and resisted.
And it is not just about the State’s truth, but the ugly secrets of the IRA and loyalist organisations.
This needs a proper process, because the present cannot be built on the crumbling foundations of a past war that won’t speak to the peace.