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Report on Pat Finucane murder uncovers "shocking levels" of state collusion

David Cameron said that the report found that Pat Finucane could still be alive today had it not been for state involvement.

Geraldine Finucane, the wife of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane (right), stands besides her son Michael (left) - file photo
Geraldine Finucane, the wife of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane (right), stands besides her son Michael (left) - file photo
Image: Johnny Green/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Updated: 14:28

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER David Cameron has responded to the latest review of the killing of solicitor Pat Finucane, saying that it revealed “shocking levels” of state collusion.

The review, by Lord Desmond de Silva, had “full and unrestricted access to files,” as well as “new and significant evidence” which had not been in the public domain before.

Referring to the “extremely dark and violent crime,” Cameron said that the finding made “for extremely difficult reading”.

While the review did not find “an overarching state conspiracy to murder,” de Silva did find “shocking levels of state collusion”.

Most importantly, Sir Desmond says he is “left in significant doubt as to whether Patrick Finucane would have been murdered by the Ulster Defence Association in February 1989 had it not been for the different strands of involvement by elements of the State.”

De Silva had found five specific areas in which collusion had been determined to have taken place:

  1. There were found to be extensive leaks of security-related information to the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and other paramilitary groups.
  2. Authorities failed to act on intelligence which outlined a number of future attacks, with de Silva noting that “both the army and the RUC Special Branch had prior notice of a series of planned UDA assassinations, yet nothing was done by the RUC to seek to prevent these attacks.” Having read of this, Cameron said that “it is really shocking that this happened in our country.”
  3. It was found that state agents played “key roles” in the murder of Finucane. Cameron said that “it can not be argued that these were rogue agents,” with one of them, Brian Nelson, considered to be in a position “equivalent to an employee of the MOD.”
  4. Following the murder, there was a failure to “investigate and arrest key members” of the UDA for a long period of time. This was compounded by the fact that Ken Barrett, who was later convicted of the murder, was subsequently recruited as an agent by the Special Branch of the RUC.
  5. There was a “relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice” with senior Army officers as well as members of the RUC Special Branch responsible for lying to and misleading investigators.

“Collusion should never, ever happen,” Cameron said, before apologising to the family of the murdered solicitor:

So on behalf of the Government – and the whole country – let me say once again to the Finucane family, I am deeply sorry.

As a next step, Cameron said that he had asked “the Secretaries of State for Defence and Northern Ireland and the Cabinet Secretary to report back to me on all the issues that arise from this Report.”

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“I will publish their responses,” he said.

Speaking of the levels of death in Northern Ireland during “the troubles,” Cameron said that the Finucane family had suffered the most “grievous loss.” He went on to say:

I know they oppose this Review process. And I respect their views. However, I respectfully disagree with them that a public inquiry would produce a fuller picture of what happened and what went wrong.

In response to this, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that Cameron had “today sought to use the review as a pretext for denying the family a public inquiry – a commitment that was made by the British government at Weston Park in 2001.”

“This is not acceptable to the family or to Sinn Féin and it should not be acceptable to the government here,” he said.

It reveals some of the extent to which this existed. It does not diminish the need for a public inquiry. On the contrary it makes such an inquiry more necessary than ever.

You can read the full report here.

Read: Report on Pat Finucane murder to be published today >

About the author:

Paul Hyland

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