Irish Republican News · April 19, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry
The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry
The following is an edited version of the initial procedural statements of the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry.

 

Introduction

On 15th March 1999, Rosemary Nelson, a 40 year old solicitor from Lurgan, died as a result of the injuries she sustained when a bomb, attached to her car, exploded. Despite a very substantial police investigation, nobody has been charged with, still less convicted of, her murder.

In his Collusion Inquiry Report published on 1st April 2004, the Honourable Justice Peter Cory, a retired member of the Canadian Supreme Court, recommended the establishment of an independent public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Rosemary Nelson’s murder and into the allegations of collusion in relation to her murder.

On 16th November 2004, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP, announced the establishment of an Inquiry under s.44 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

About the Inquiry

The Inquiry has been established under section 44 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. It is being conducted by a Panel of three. The Panel members are:

  • Sir Michael Morland, a retired Judge of the High Court of England and Wales, who is the Chairman of the Inquiry.

  • Dame Valerie Strachan, former Chairman of the Board of Customs and Excise.

  • Sir Anthony Burden, former Chief Constable of South Wales Police.

    The Secretary to the Inquiry is Hugh Burns. Michael Fitzgerald is the Solicitor to the Inquiry. Rory Phillips QC, Mark Savill and Peter Skelton are Counsel to the Inquiry.

    Terms of Reference

    The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference are as follows [amended 24th March]:

    “To inquire into the death of Rosemary Nelson with a view to determining whether any wrongful act or omission by or within the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Northern Ireland Office, Army or other state agency facilitated her death or obstructed the investigation of it, or whether any such act or omission was intentional or negligent; whether the investigation of her death was carried out with due diligence; and to make recommendations.”

    Biographical details for the Panel

    Sir Michael Morland served as a Judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, between 1989 and 2004, having served as a Recorder since 1972. During this time he served as the presiding judge of the Northern Circuit and as a member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (1980-1989). In 1980, he chaired the inquiry into the death of four-year old Paul Brown, set up by the Department of Health and Social Security. He has had direct experience of Northern Ireland during his career - he was a member of the 1974 Gardiner Commission on internment and he acted for the Crown in 1973 in internment proceedings.

    Sir Anthony Burden was the Chief Constable of South Wales Police from 1996 to 2003, during which time he served for a year as President of the Association of Chief Police Officers. Previously he served as the Chief Constable of Gwent Constabulary and Assistant then Deputy Chief Constable of West Mercia Constabulary.

    Dame Valerie Strachan has been the Deputy Chair of the Community Fund and then Vice Chair of the Big Lottery Fund since 2000. From 2000 until 2002, she assisted Sir Andrew Leggatt on the Review of Tribunals. She was the Deputy Chairman then Chairman of the Board of Customs and Excise from 1987 to 2000. Before this she was the Head of HM Treasury/Cabinet Office Joint Management Unit from 1985 to 1987.

    The Inquiry Team

    The Secretary to the Inquiry is Hugh Burns. Michael Fitzgerald is the Solicitor to the Inquiry. Rory Phillips QC, Mark Savill and Peter Skelton are Counsel to the Inquiry.

    Contact Details

    At the beginning of this year, the Inquiry established an office in London. The correspondence address for the Inquiry is as follows: The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry PO Box 50157 London SW1E 6WW Other contact details are as follows: Telephone: 020 7976 0475 Fax: 020 7222 9298

    The Inquiry’s approach

    The Inquiry intends to carry out its task with rigorous thoroughness and fairness. The Inquiry intends to adopt flexible, even-handed and open procedures which will enable it expeditiously and economically to establish the facts and to make recommendations.

    The Inquiry is an inquisitorial and not an adversarial process. The Inquiry will itself seek to find out the truth. It will itself gather in the relevant documents, obtain witness statements and decide from whom oral evidence should be heard. The Inquiry will not treat those from whom it obtains any such material or from whom it obtains witness statements or hears evidence as parties in an adversarial contest or trial.

    The Inquiry’s Powers

    The Inquiry hopes and expects to receive co-operation from all persons or organisations with relevant material or evidence.

    However, the Inquiry has vested in it powers to compel persons or organisations to provide it with information, documentation and evidence.

    Although the Inquiry hopes that it will not be necessary to do so, the Inquiry will not hesitate to use the powers which have been conferred upon it, should it decide that such use is required for the effective discharge of its duties of fairness, thoroughness and impartiality.

    Full Participants

    The Inquiry presently intends to accord to a very limited number of persons or organisations the status of Full Participant.

    The Inquiry’s view at this stage is that the following persons or organisations should be accorded Full Participant status:

    . Mr Paul Nelson (Rosemary Nelson’s husband, also representing their children)

    . Mrs Sheila Magee (Rosemary Nelson’s mother, also representing Rosemary Nelson’s brothers and sisters)

    . The Police Service of Northern Ireland (on its own behalf and as representing the former RUC and serving, former or retired officers of the RUC and PSNI)

    . The Northern Ireland Office

    Draft/LIST OF ISSUES (12 April 2005)

    The Inquiry believes that, in order to discharge the task conferred upon it by the Secretary of State, it will need to consider the following matters:

    1. Did Rosemary Nelson’s work for her clients, create conflict with the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency, and if so, to what extent.

    2. What threats were made to Rosemary Nelson’s personal safety by any persons or organisations; and the nature and extent of, and the reasons for such threats.

    3. To what extent, were the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency notified or otherwise aware, of threats to, and concern for, Rosemary Nelson’s personal safety; including the nature, and likelihood, of a specific attack.

    4. Whether Rosemary Nelson was subject to any adverse behaviour or comments by any persons or organisations, including the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency; and the nature and extent of, and the reasons for such behaviour or comments.

    5. To what extent, were the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency notified, or otherwise made aware, of any other adverse behaviour or comment, to Rosemary Nelson or about her.

    6. To what extent, were any complaints made by Rosemary Nelson and/or others, as to her alleged mistreatment by the RUC, investigated by the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency.

    7. To what extent, did Rosemary Nelson and/or others acting on her behalf sought assistance from the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency regarding concerns for her personal safety and their reaction thereto.

    8. The response of the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency to any knowledge of threats or adverse behaviour to or about Rosemary Nelson, including the investigation of the same.

    9. The nature and extent of any risk assessments carried out by or on behalf of the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency with regard to Rosemary Nelson’s personal safety, including advice given arising from the same.

    10. The nature, extent and quality of the material on which each such risk assessment was based.

    11. What material relevant to Rosemary Nelson’s personal safety was in the possession of, or available to, the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency prior to Rosemary Nelson’s death.

    12. Rosemary Nelson’s response to any offers of assistance in relation to her personal safety made to her or to others representing her interests.

    13. The circumstances of Rosemary Nelson’s death, including the sequence of events and activities in the vicinity of Rosemary Nelson’s home in the 48 hours preceding her death.

    14. The persons or organisations who are suspected to be directly responsible for Rosemary Nelson’s death.

    15. How far, if at all, was Rosemary Nelson’s death facilitated by acts or omissions of the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency.

    16. Where responsibility for any such acts or omissions lies.

    17. Whether such acts or omissions were intentional or negligent.

    18. Whether the investigation into Rosemary Nelson’s death was conducted with due diligence.

    19. Whether the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency obstructed the investigation into her death.

    20. Whether any such obstruction was intentional or negligent.

    21. What procedures did the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency have in place to assess and react to threats and adverse behaviour to an individual, whether reported by that individual or not.

    22. How such procedures have changed and might be improved.

    23. What procedures were in place to record and deal with adverse behaviour or comments by members of the RUC towards a detainee about his legal representative.

    24. How such procedures have changed and might be improved.

    25. What structures and procedures were in place to facilitate co-operation between the RUC, NIO, Army or other state agency with regard to any of the matters set out above.

    26. How such procedures have changed and might be improved.

    27. Whether any improvements in PSNI police procedures for murder investigations should be implemented in the light of the experience of the Rosemary Nelson murder investigation.

    28. What other recommendations are appropriate in light of the Inquiry’s findings.

    Note: this List of Issues will be an important working document for the Inquiry. This first draft is based on the work of the Inquiry to date. The Inquiry anticipates that the List of Issues will be revised and up-dated during the course of its work and in the light of its examination of the relevant material and of the evidence which it receives.

    Comments on this draft list are welcomed. All such comments should be made in writing and sent to the Secretary to the Inquiry by 4.00pm on Tuesday 26th April 2005.

  • © 2004 Irish Republican News