Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Pat Finucane murder: British government meeting notes disclosed to family

Pat Finucane
Pat Finucane

British government meeting notes have been disclosed to the family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, it emerged today.

Some of the documents being sought were handed over within the last few days, with more expected to follow.

Lawyers representing Prime Minister David Cameron supplied the material following examination by a High Court judge.

Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine wanted full access to the material, including minutes from cabinet meetings and correspondence between Downing Street officials, as part of her legal challenge to the refusal to order a full, independent inquiry into the 1989 assassination.

A review carried out by lawyer Sir Desmond de Silva QC has confirmed agents of the state were involved in her husband's murder and that it should have been prevented.

However, it concluded there had been no overarching state conspiracy in the shooting, carried out by the loyalist Ulster Freedom

Fighters at the solicitor's north Belfast home.

Although Mr Cameron expressed shock at the level of collusion uncovered by Sir Desmond, Mrs Finuncane claimed it was a sham and a whitewash.

Material being sought by her lawyers includes original notes, minutes, recordings or transcripts of:

:: A meeting between the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Prime Minister on November 5, 2011.

:: A meeting of officials from the Northern Ireland Office, Cabinet Office and Prime Minister's Office on May 16, 2011.

:: A meeting of ministers on July 11, 2011.

:: A Cabinet meeting on October 11, 2011.

:: Copies of letters from MI5 to the Northern Ireland Office in February and March 2011.

Earlier this year Mr Justice Stephens held that Mrs Finucane's legal team had established sufficient necessity.

But he directed that he should receive and inspect the documents in private before deciding whether disclosure would further aid their case.

In court today senior counsel for Mrs Finucane confirmed some of the documents have been received.

Although more are set to be handed over in due course, it is unclear whether all of the requested material will be supplied.

A further potential issue was raised over partial redactions to some of the documents. 

A Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate is understood to have been signed by the Secretary of State last week.

It was indicated that Mrs Finucane's legal team may want to have an input on the PII process when the case is reviewed again in September.

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