CONVICTED UDA killer Mo Courtney has denied being one of the gunmen who murdered solicitor Pat Finucane.
The loyalist's rebuttal came after the British government said it would not be holding a public inquiry into the fatal shooting, which former Prime Minister David Cameron admitted involved "shocking levels of collusion".
Courtney was named as the second gunman by UDA assassin and Special Branch agent Ken Barrett, who was convicted of the 1989 Finucane murder. He was also named as one of the killers in a court affidavit by Detective Chief Inspector Graham Taylor, from the Metropolitan Police, who investigated the killing.
But in a statement issued to Sunday Life, Courtney denied the claims. A representative said: "Mr Courtney has no knowledge of the killing of Pat Finucane and he rejects the malicious and persistent speculation which seeks to link him to that incident.
"The killing of Pat Finucane is the most investigated incident of the Troubles. It has been subjected to countless investigations and inquiries. None of these processes have uncovered any credible evidence whatsoever to charge Mr Courtney."
UDA veteran Courtney, who served an eight-year prison sentence for the manslaughter or rival loyalist Alan 'Bucky' McCullough, was arrested in connection with the Finucane killing in 2002 but freed without charge.
The loyalist features heavily in Sir Desmond da Silva's review of the murder in which he is given the cipher L/22.
West Belfast UDA leaders Jim Spence and Eric McKee, who planned the Finucane murder and were assisted by rogue Special Branch officers, are identified as L/20 and L/28.
Statements from Ken Barrett (below), who was released early under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement having served just three years for the killing, detail Courtney's alleged role.
The Finucane gunman, who now lives in Bexhill-on-Sea in England, told detectives: "Spence came to me and said it had to be done. Somewhere on the Antrim Road there was a (police) roadblock. Spence made a couple of calls to remove it.
The scene of the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989
"We went to the address, Mo Courtney and (unnamed loyalist) went in and did the business. Afterwards the guns went back to L30. We went back to Spence's house and got changed and then went to the club and met Eric McKee."
Barrett spoke about discussions within the UDA prior to the Finucane murder and emphasised that Jim Spence was the driving force behind the killing.
He added: "Spence's contact wanted it done. He had been to Spence's house many times. The contact was a police officer known as McWhirter."
Barrett's claims about Courtney being one of the Finucane gunmen back up a court affidavit from the Met Police's Chief Inspector Graham Taylor.
In a signed statement, the top cop said: "The investigation team have in their possession information that Courtney and R were the gunmen in the Finucane murder. However, this information is not admissible as the source is not willing to testify as a witness."
Detectives believe that after murdering Finucane, UDA killers Barrett and Courtney fled in a getaway car driven by Mark Barr, who took his own life in 2007.
The slain solicitor's wife Geraldine, who was also injured in the attack at their north Belfast home, has described the government decision not to hold an inquiry as "yet another insult to a deep and lasting injury".
She said: "With every breath in my body, I will fight them to the bitter end. There is only one reason to ask the local police to investigate a case that involves the British Army, the security services, and former members of government - that reason is to ensure they will remain untouchable."
Controversy: The British Government refused to have a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane
Rejecting demands for an inquiry, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said the PSNI intends to review the murder next year. But this is viewed as being wholly inadequate by the Finucane family who say any police probe will be severely limited.
They are now petitioning US President-elect Joe Biden to add his weight to the public inquiry demands. The politician has previously voiced support for their campaign.
The Irish government has backed calls for an inquiry, with Taoiseach Micheal Martin saying the decision to refuse one is "arrogant, cruel" and "that some dark secrets have been hidden and it is time they were revealed".
Pat Finucane's murder came just weeks after Tory MP Douglas Hogg told the House of Commons that some solicitors in Northern Ireland were "unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA".
At the same time rogue police officers were suggesting him as a target to loyalist paramilitaries who were being questioned in Castlereagh.
In December 2019, 30 years after his father's murder, John Finucane, who is also a solicitor, was elected the Sinn Fein MP for North Belfast.