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Pat Finucane's widow to appeal public inquiry rejection judgment

Published 14/10/2015

Geraldine Finucane is appealing a judgment upholding the Government's rejection of a public inquiry
Geraldine Finucane is appealing a judgment upholding the Government's rejection of a public inquiry

The widow of murdered Northern Ireland solicitor Pat Finucane is to appeal a judgment upholding the Government's rejection of a public inquiry.

In September Geraldine Finucane lost a legal challenge against the Prime Minister's controversial 2011 decision.

Her solicitor Peter Madden confirmed appeal papers had been lodged with the court.

He said: "A full independent and international tribunal of inquiry where documents will be examined in public and witnesses shall be compelled to attend and be cross examined by Geraldine's lawyers, remains the only model capable of achieving the truth of Pat's murder."

Mr Finucane, 38, who represented a number of high-profile republicans, was shot dead in front of his wife and three children at their north Belfast home in February 1989.

The killing, one of the most notorious of the Troubles, is shrouded in controversy over allegations that the security forces colluded with the gunmen from the outlawed Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

His family have long campaigned for an independent inquiry and took a judicial review of David Cameron's decision to commission QC Sir Desmond de Silva to review papers in the high profile case rather than hold a statutory probe.

In his lengthy judgment, Mr Justice Stephens told Belfast High Court, the Prime Minister's actions had been lawful and that a full blown public inquiry would be costly, protracted and could not be confined to narrow issues surrounding the loyalist shooting over 20 years ago.

Lawyers for the Finucane family have repeatedly argued that the Government made a commitment to hold an inquiry during peace process negotiations at Weston Park in 2001.

Mr Madden added: " It was demonstrated by internal communications between the Secretary of State and his officials, and in documentation disclosed in the course of the judicial review application, that the Secretary of State had already closed his mind to the type of inquiry envisaged by Judge Cory and promised by the British Government in 2001.

"He had engaged in a sham exercise, inviting representations from the family as to the model of inquiry which would be acceptable to them in circumstances where he had absolutely no intention of establishing such an inquiry."

In a scathing report, published in 2012, Sir Desmond de Silva detailed shocking levels of state involvement.

That included spreading malicious propaganda suggesting Mr Finucane was sympathetic to the IRA; one or possibly more police officers proposing him as a target to loyalists; and the mishandling of state agents inside the UDA who were involved in the murder.

While he found no evidence of an overarching conspiracy by the authorities to target the solicitor, Sir Desmond said the actions of a number of state employees had "furthered and facilitated'' the shooting.

He also said there had been efforts to thwart the subsequent criminal investigation.

Mr Cameron has apologised to the Finucane family in the House of Commons.

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