Republican News · Thursday 19 October 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Finucane confession suppressed by RUC

It has been revealed that the RUC had a detailed verbal confession to the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane two years after his assassination but the Special Branch stopped the pursuit of a prosecution to protect British military intelligence agent Brian Nelson and other RUC informers.

One of the RUC officers at the centre of the cover-up is Sergeant Johnston Brown, whose home was attacked by the UDA last week. Brown was responsible for imprisoning loyalist Johnny Adair in 1994. He was also one of three RUC officers to hear the Finucane confession. He appealed the Special Branch decision to suppress the evidence but was overruled. Brown and another RUC officer are currently cooperating with the Stevens' inquiry

This latest revelation further fuels the allegation that murders were allowed to go ahead or remained uninvestigated to meet the secret war agenda of the RUC Special Branch and British Military Intelligence, more specifically their most covert unit, the Force Research Unit.

It also shows close cooperation between the Special Branch and FRU, links denied in the past. In the Finucane killing, FRU agent Brian Nelson targeted and supplied the necessary information to identify and locate the victim while an RUC Special Branch informer, William Stobie, supplied the loyalist gang with weaponry for the kill.

The FRU have claimed that the murder went ahead because they didn't know when it would take place, the Special Branch claim that they couldn't intervene because they didn't know who, and yet, as this latest revelation clearly shows, the Special Branch and FRU had a closer working relationship than they are prepared to admit.

Meanwhile, the British government's determination to keep information about their secret war in Ireland under wraps suffered a blow last week when a court overturned a gagging order imposed at the behest of British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon on the Sunday People newspaper.

The British Defence Secretary tried to impose a series of draconian measures which included banning the newspaper from writing about the activities of the FRU and the confiscation of all journalist's notes, regardless of whether sources were revealed, by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Hoon also demanded the deletion of any information about the FRU from the paper's computers after a copy of all the information had been handed to the MoD, including giving MI5 access to the computers to check deletion had taken place. He further demanded prior approval of any subsequent article on the FRU.

After five hearings, at some of which the Sunday People were not allowed to be present, the court finally overturned all but one of Hoon's demands, never challenged by the newspaper in the first place, to protect the identity of informants, members and agents. Hoon was ordered to pay 100,000 legal costs.

After the gagging order was lifted it was claimed that the FRU had allowed the killing of loyalist leader John McMichael to go ahead in order to protect loyalist racketeer Jim Craig, who was working for RUC Special Branch. In 1986, McMichael had accused Craig of being an informer. Less than a year later, McMichael was killed by the IRA.

It is alleged that the FRU had prior knowledge of the IRA attack but failed to warn McMichael and made no attempt to thwart the killing. In turn, when Craig outlived his usefulness, he was sacrificed by the FRU and RUC Special Branch to enhance the reputation of FRU agent Brian Nelson within the UDA.

Craig was killed by the UDA after his role as an informer was exposed. The FRU passed a video filmed by the RUC's E4A unit, which incriminated Craig, via Nelson to the UDA.

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