Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Nelson report due 'after elections'

Owen Paterson said a date for the release of the findings of an inquiry into the murder of Rosemary Nelson will not be fixed until after the elections

A date for the release of the findings of a public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson in Northern Ireland will not be fixed until after the May 5 Stormont Assembly election, the Government has announced.

The inquiry team had already said it hoped to have its long-awaited report into the allegations of security force collusion in the killing completed by the end of April.

But while Secretary of State Owen Paterson confirmed the completion of legal checks of the document, to ensure its contents do not endanger any individual or compromise national security, he said a date for the report's publication would not be set until after the election.

The murdered lawyer and 40-year-old mother of three was killed when a bomb planted by the loyalist Red Hand Defenders detonated under her car as she left her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh, on March 15 1999.

Mrs Nelson's clients included a number of high-profile republicans, while she also took on the prominent role of legal adviser to a Catholic residents' group that opposed Orange Order marches in the infamous Drumcree parade stand-off.

The solicitor's case came to international prominence when human rights groups, including representatives of the United Nations, raised fears for her safety following claims she was being intimidated by security force members and loyalist paramilitaries.

Mr Paterson said in a statement to the House of Commons that his legal team's review of the public inquiry findings was now complete.

"I am therefore satisfied that the report can be published in full," he said. "However, publication cannot take place during the election campaign in Northern Ireland. I will therefore make a further announcement confirming the date of publication shortly after the elections have taken place on May 5."

He added: "The report has not been shown to me or to any other member of the Government, or to any officials except the members of the small team which carried out the checking process. I have not been briefed on the contents of the report, nor have any officials other than those in the checking team. Government will not have sight of the report until the day before it is published."

He said that, as with the publication of the Bloody Sunday inquiry report, he would consider giving advance sight of the findings to those involved in the case, who include the murdered solicitor's family.

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