Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Matt Baggott: Pat Finucane murder should never have happened

Baggott’s ‘complete, absolute and unconditional’ apology to family

Chief Constable Matt Baggott

Chief Constable Matt Baggott is to discuss the de Silva report with the Police Ombudsman and the Public Prosecution Service to see if more people should be held to account for the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.

Mr Baggott announced in Belfast that he is planning talks with Ombudsman Michael Maguire and Barra McGrory, director of the PPS, to discuss the findings of the review.

The Chief Constable yesterday said: “The murder should never have happened. There was a catalogue of failure which needs to be assessed to see if people should be held accountable.”

The Chief Constable said that the report findings were unequivocal and he accepted them fully.

He also apologised to the Finucane family. He said: “It is clear that the murder of Mr Finucane should never have happened.

“The report finds 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.”

The Chief Constable told a Press meeting following the release of the de Silva report on the murder: “For that I am deeply sorry and, on behalf of the Police Service, I offer a complete, |absolute and unconditional apology to Mr Finucane's wife, Geraldine, and family.

“I know that the vast majority of colleagues, both past and present, will share in my profound sadness and disappointment at how the Finucane family were so badly and abjectly failed. |This failure has done a great |disservice to the bravery and dedication of the many who joined the police to keep all communities safe throughout the awfulness of those difficult times.”

Mr Baggott said crime could not be prevented without the use of intelligence, but the PSNI now operated within a framework of independent scrutiny and regulation which was both rigorous and demanding.

He added: “We are determined to keep everybody safe and uphold their human rights.”

The Chief Constable said he needed time to examine the report, consider the findings and then assess the investigative opportunities.

Loyalist paramilitaries behind the murder

The loyalist paramilitaries who were centrally involved in the murder of Pat Finucane all worked for the intelligence agencies in Northern |Ireland.

The two gunmen who shot the lawyer dead in front of his family have never been charged.

They were identified in yesterday’s report as L20 and |L28.

Ex-soldier Brian Nelson supplied the intelligence. William Stobie provided the gun and Ken Barrett was the driver of the killers’ getaway car.

All of them were members of the Ulster Defence Association in west Belfast which at that time was headed up by a so-called brigadier Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lyttle, who had close connections with RUC Special Branch.

Even though there is no conclusive evidence that he operated as an agent, Stobie, Nelson and Barrett were all paid informers.

Nelson and Lyttle have since died of natural causes but Stobie was shot dead by former associates just weeks after he was cleared of involvement in the Finucane murder.

William Stobie

Ex-soldier William Stobie was shot dead by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by the UDA, in December 2001.

He had served in the British Army from 1969 to 1975 and was in the Territorial Army from November 1983 to March 1985 and had acquired basic weapons skills.

He was appointed ‘quartermaster’ for the UDA’s west Belfast brigade, but in practice he was among a number of people who stored weapons for the terror group.

In 1987 Stobie received a two-year suspended sentence for possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

He was recruited as an agent in February 1988 after being arrested and questioned about the murder of student Adam Lambert (19).

After agreeing to become an agent Stobie was released without charge with regard to the Lambert murder.

He has admitted supplying the gun to the UDA team involved in the murder of Pat Finucane. He was arrested and charged in connection with the killing but the case against him collapsed after a key witness refused to testify.

Stobie claimed to have given his Special Branch handlers enough information to have stopped the solicitor's death.

His account contributed significantly to the Sir John Stevens report.

Brian Nelson

The UDA's intelligence chief died aged 55 in Cardiff in April 2003 after a battle with lung cancer. He was recruited by the British military's Force Research Unit (FRU) in 1984.

The former squaddie, from Belfast's Shankill Road, left school aged 15 and joined the Royal Navy.

He later signed up to the Territorial Army but in October 1965 joined the 1st Battalion Black Watch and served in Germany and Cyprus. He was medically discharged in 1970.

In 1974 he was jailed for seven years for firearms offences, intimidation and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Nelson was released from prison in August 1977 and was not involved in paramilitary activity until May 1984, when he contacted the Army to offer his services.

Between May 1984 and October 1985 Nelson met with his handlers 60 times, and was paid more than £2,000.

At the time of Pat Finucane's murder Nelson was the UDA's intelligence officer.

In a statement included in the investigation by former Met Commissioner Sir John Stevens, he said: “I have been told by someone ... that if I want to get someone really big, get Finucane, he is the brains behind PIRA.

“Forget about (Gerry) Adams.”

Tommy Lyttle

Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lyttle died in October 1995 aged 56.

He was the UDA's long-standing west Belfast ‘brigadier’ and sat on the inner council. By 1989 he had become the UDA chairman.

Lyttle was not directly involved with the murder of Pat Finucane but Sir Desmond De Silva said he would have been aware of the conspiracy.

He said: “I am satisfied that ‘Tucker' Lyttle had foreknowledge of the plan to murder Patrick Finucane in 1989, though he may have been unaware of the details.”

The report also concludes that Lyttle was being improperly assisted by RUC contacts in the period before and after Patrick Finucane's murder and that one of these contacts was a Special Branch officer with access to intelligence information.

Ken Barrett

Ken Barrett was convicted for the murder of Pat Finucane in 2004 and sentenced to 22 years in jail. He was released in 2006 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He had grown up on Belfast's loyalist Shankill Road and became a trusted hitman for the UDA. One detective described him as a compulsive gambler and one of the most cold-blooded killers he had ever met.

In covert recordings played at his trial, Barrett described his emotions after killing Pat Finucane. “I lost no sleep over it. All is fair in love and war. I have to be honest, I whacked a few people in the past.”

Barrett fled to England in 2002 after William Stobie was shot dead, but he was tracked down by a television documentary team. His current whereabouts are unknown.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz