Investigation into Nelson harassment
by Deirdre Feehan
The Independent Commision for Police Complaints (ICPC) has
sanctioned the appointment of a senior London Metropolitan Police
officer to investigate claims made by Lurgan solicitor Rosemary
Nelson of persistent RUC intimidation and harassment.
RUC chief constable, Ronnie Flannagan, nominated Metropolitan
Police Commander Niall Mulvihill to oversee claims of repeated
death threats against Ms Nelson by the RUC. It is the first time
such a course of action has been taken and raises serious
questions over the way the RUC were conducting the inquiry. The
ICPC said it had raised ``serious concerns'' about the case with
Ms Nelson is legal advisor to the Garvaghy Road Residents
Coalition and solicitor for Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, who is
also constantly harassed by the RUC. She said her life has been
threatened as recently as two weeks ago.
Her case was highlighted in the recent UN report on intimidation
of solicitors, written by the Malaysian jurist, Dr Param
Cumaraswamy. His scathing report was an indictment of RUC threats
against solicitors in the Six Counties. The report also called
for an independent inquiry into RUC collusion in the UDA murder
of leading defence lawyer Pat Finucane.
This case has caused renewed demands from human rights groups for
a truly independent method of investigating complaints against
the RUC as the ICPC has a supervisory role only.
Ms Nelson said she is ``reassured'' that the RUC were being
replaced by the Metropolitan Commander to investigate her
complaints. ``The RUC must be made to see that we are a legitimate
part of the legal system, and not their enemies. It is serious
enough that lawyers such as myself are harassed, but it could
also affect a defendant's right to a fair trial.''