A Police Ombudsman report on the murder of Raymond McCord may be “extremely uncomfortable for the British state”, British Direct Ruler Peter Hain has admitted.
Mr McCord, a former RAF man from north Belfast, was beaten to death and his body dumped in a quarry in 1997.
His father Raymond McCord snr has long campaigned for an investigation after evidence emerged that the murder was carried out by UVF members who were working as police agents and later protected from prosecution.
Addressing a meeting of the assembly’s Preparation for Government Committee at Stormont yesterday, Mr Hain described the murder as “a terrible case”.
He also praised the work and independence of Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan.
“I am full of praise for the way that Nuala O’Loan did her job. She does it with integrity, with independence, and with no fear of who is criticised from her point of view correctly,” Mr Hain said.
“In that context the Raymond McCord case, which is... a stain on Northern Ireland society... I am sure this report is going to make uncomfortable reading for many people.
“But I don’t have any doubt if she thinks it is the right thing to do... it will be the right thing to do.”
Asked if it could upset the potential for Sinn Féin to sign up to policing structures, he said: “This is something in the past, an appalling incident and an appalling murder. But it should not be an excuse.”
Mr McCord welcomed Mr Hain’s assessment that the report may make difficult reading for Britain.
“For years I have been ridiculed by the UVF and the PUP for my belief that there was collusion in young Raymond’s killing. This is a great boost to his case,” he said.
“I felt that meeting with Mr Hain didn’t go too well. But now his attitude has completely changed.
“It’s like a different Peter Hain with a completely different outlook. I was astounded when I heard what he’d said, it’s great news.”
Mr McCord added that he “could not praise the Ombudsman highly enough”.