Did David Cameron get a whispered warning over Finucane at the last minute?
Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State was keen to encourage fellow MPs to recognise a spirit of “openness and frankness” yesterday in the Government’s desire to bring the Finucane case to a conclusion.
But many will remain bewildered by David Cameron’s tactics.
Dragging the Finucane family all the way to Downing Street merely to tell them that another review would be conducted into the controversial 1989 murder of the solicitor was little short of incredulous.
Having seemingly primed the family and briefed elements of the media to expect a momentous announcement, the PM then proceeded to wrong-foot everyone.
Tuesday’s No.10 meeting with the Finucanes is now officially portrayed as merely the opportunity for the Prime Minister to apologise to them in person on behalf of the Government.
Mr Paterson’s admission that the public “now need to know the extent and nature” of collusion in the 1989 murder sounds promising, as does his undertaking that Sir Desmond de Silva QC will produce “a full public account of any State involvement in the murder”.
The task now, he said, was to “uncover the details of this murder” and not to delay the presentation of truth into the public domain. And he promised to expose “details in papers and statements that have been kept secret for decades”.
That sounds like a ministerial undertaking that everything that could have emerged through a public inquiry will be divulged in Sir Desmond de Silva’s report in 14 months’ time.
So why not just hold a public inquiry?
Is it simply a case of it being more economically prudent to fund one leading barrister rather than a myriad of barristers who would flock to a public tribunal of inquiry on fat fees?
Paterson appeared to indicate this in his statement to the House yesterday. But it still begs the question — why on Earth was the Finucane family summoned?
Was Tuesday’s ‘humiliation’ of the Finucane family merely a combined public relations debacle by NIO and Downing Street mandarins?
Or, are the conspiracy theorists right, and was Mr Cameron visited by the pinstripe suit brigade and plainly told: “Beware Prime Minister, beware.”