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MI5 'destroyed material' held by inquiry examining Pat Finucane murder

The solicitor was shot dead by loyalists at his home in Belfast in 1989.

Geraldine Finucane speaking to reporters outside the Supreme Court in London in February.
Geraldine Finucane speaking to reporters outside the Supreme Court in London in February.
Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/PA Images

MI5 DESTROYED SECRET information from computer hard drives being held by an inquiry examining the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, according to a new documentary.

The human rights solicitor was shot dead by loyalists in front of his wife and three children at his home in Belfast on 12 February 1989.

Finucane’s family believes state collusion in his murder went to the top of the British government and repeatedly called for a public inquiry to be held.

New allegations surrounding his killing feature in a BBC Spotlight programme due to air tonight. 

Retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory, head of the inquiry, complained to the Metropolitan Police about the deletion of the material but decided against pursuing the matter in a bid to prevent a diplomatic incident.

The programme reports that in 2002 MI5 told Cory’s staff they were removing all the inquiry’s hard drives in the interests of national security. In 2004, Cory recommended that a public inquiry into Finucane’s killing be held, but this has not happened to date.

‘Insecure’ computer system 

BBC Spotlight said it was told that MI5 was concerned the inquiry’s computer system was “insecure” and a leak could expose the identities of informers.

Judge Cory had printed back-up copies of the material and believes nothing was ultimately lost.

Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, told the programme: “I was told that papers marked ‘cabinet eyes only’ involved the collusion and the killing of my husband. There is something there that needs to be exposed.”

In February of this year, the UK Supreme Court ruled there has been no valid inquiry into the killing. At the time, the Finucane family’s solicitor said the decision “vindicated” their “relentless campaign” for justice.

BBC Spotlight will also tonight reveal that the late Willie Frazer, who campaigned for victims of republican violence, had a role in distributing weapons to loyalist paramilitary groups.

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Órla Ryan

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