An inquiry into Finucane - but what kind?

The following is a statement by Amnesty International Press Release following yesterday’s announcement of an inquiry into the Pat Finucane case.


Today, the UK authorities have finally announced that an inquiry into the 1989 killing of Patrick Finucane in Northern Ireland will be established. However, instead of announcing a public judicial inquiry under the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, the UK authorities have stated that the inquiry will be held on the basis of legislation to be introduced shortly.

Amnesty International views this announcement with great suspicion. It states that the Finucane inquiry will require the introduction of new legislation to take account of “the requirements of national security”. In light of this, Amnesty International strongly suspects that the UK authorities are using “national security” to curtail the ability of the inquiry to shed light on state collusion in the killing of Patrick Finucane; on allegations that his killing was the result of an official policy and that different government authorities played a part in the subsequent cover-up of collusion in his killing.

“With this announcement, the UK authorities are making the ‘public interest’ subservient to ‘national security’. Conversely, Amnesty International believes that the public interest can only be served by ensuring public scrutiny of the full circumstances of Patrick Finucane’s killing and its aftermath,” Amnesty International said today.

A further concern is the fact that in their statement the UK authorities do not commit themselves to setting up a public inquiry. The failure to set up a public inquiry would amount to reneging on their commitment to fully comply with Justice Peter Cory’s recommendation. In his October 2003 report into the Finucane case, Justice Cory concluded unequivocally that “only a public inquiry will suffice”.

----------------------------------------------------------- The following is a statement from the Law Society of England and Wales -----------------------------------------------------------

The Law Society is pleased that the British Government has finally agreed to set-up an independent inquiry into the death of solicitor Patrick Finucane.

However, the Society is gravely concerned that the inquiry will be held under proposed legislation which may prevent the full disclosure of findings. In addition, the inquiry is being delayed yet again while this new legislation is introduced.

For the past nine years the Law Society of England and Wales has campaigned for a public inquiry into allegations of state collusion in the murder of the Belfast solicitor in 1989.

On 20 September, Edward Nally, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to order a public inquiry.

Mr Nally believes the case deserves special treatment because of its impact on the administration of justice; “The Law Society has long-campaigned for an independent inquiry into the death of Mr Finucance. There has been a plethora of investigations and reports into the murder that have produced a growing body of evidence of official collusion. It is a fundamental principle that solicitors must be able to advise their clients without fear or interference.

This inquiry should be held straight away under existing legislation. We are tired of successive governments’ refusal to allow the truth about Patrick Finucane’s murder to be known.

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