In a gripping drama broadcast on BBC One in June, local writer Declan Lawn re-enacted the sinister poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury in March 2018 by Russian military intelligence (GRU) agents. This highly acclaimed drama bought home the sheer ruthlessness of the Russian secret service using a Soviet-era designed nerve agent, Novichok, to try to murder Skripal and Yulia.
They happily survived, but Dawn Sturgess, a mother of three, was killed by the reckless abandonment of the nerve agent in a fake perfume bottle.
Skripal himself was a former Russian GRU officer, who worked as a double agent for the British secret service. He was jailed by the Russians, but was freed in 2010 as a result of a spy swap.
As a result of this extra-judicial attempted killing, several Russian diplomats were expelled from Britain and other Western countries.
Theresa May rightly condemned Russia's blatant criminality. President Putin unconvincingly denied Russian secret service involvement.
Russian officials, in a darkly comical moment, claimed the men identified as Russian agents were merely tourists interested in viewing the architecture of the historic city of Salisbury.
The egregious murder of Pat Finucane in Belfast was as sinister as the botched attempted murder of Skripal by the Russian state in Salisbury.
The Finucane murder was carried out by a secret service - this time the British secret service. That they used guns, not nerve agents, is immaterial. That they used the useful fools of the UDA to carry out their work of extra-judicial killing was simple expediency.
In the midst of Belfast in the Troubles, it was not necessary for the British secret service to actually pull the trigger. They had only to encourage and guide the murderers and thereafter to protect them with official silence and exhaustive cover-ups.
We know from the de Silva review of 2012 that there were shocking levels of systematic collusion by the RUC Special Branch, MI5 and the secretive Army Force Research Unit (FRU) in carrying out this calculated murder.
This endemic collusion is an established fact, the magnitude of which brought about a profound apology from the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott.
The de Silva report is highly disturbing and depicts serious in-fighting and rivalry among the different intelligence agencies; it raises more questions than are answered.
Less convincingly, it also concluded that there was no over-arching state conspiracy. However, there still remains a credible suspicion that there was a conspiracy within government at a high level to tacitly approve and engineer this killing.
To allay this credible suspicion would, of necessity, entail a full public inquiry to thoroughly examine the interface between the British government and the intelligence services at that time. And, if there was political plumbing behind this murder, then it needs to be exposed.
It is simply not credible that this ruthless murder was unilaterally carried out by state agents without some high-ranking political approval, or direction. This was not a rogue incident.
And if there was no over-arching conspiracy, what is it that makes Boris Johnson's Government so fearful of carrying out a public inquiry?
Surely such an inquiry would clear the Government of the grave accusation of high-level state involvement in this premeditated killing?
Could it be that the Government is too frightened to expose the murky culture of the secret service, that has conveniently remained hidden from the public eye?
The British military and intelligence Establishment have for too long led a twilight existence, impervious to open government. Their secrecy and self-protection are notorious. They have enjoyed effective immunity from either in-depth investigation, or criminal prosecution.
Alarmingly, the Government currently proposes to provide immunity from prosecution for its security personnel on overseas missions in draft legislation before Parliament. That in itself undermines confidence and creates grave suspicion.
The deliberate murder of criminal defence solicitor Pat Finucane was not just an attack on defence lawyers defending IRA suspects and other suspected paramilitaries, but also a serious attack on the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland by state agents.
That the state colluded in this means that the state itself was a party to undermining the rule of law.
In 2018, the Supreme Court decided that the de Silva review fell short of a proper Article 2 inquiry under the European Convention of Human Rights.
They did not order a public inquiry, but their judgment strongly implied that an inquiry should actually take place.
Given that the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, has given flimsy reasons for not calling an inquiry, it is likely that the Supreme Court will not look kindly on the Government avoiding its legal responsibilities in this matter.
The Government's response has been disdainful, bordering on contempt, and needs to be sharply corrected.