A former RUC police ‘whistleblower’ has blasted a decision not to prosecute 20 members of the British Crown forces who had previously been identified in the investigations by John Stevens as having been involved in collusion with unionist paramilitaries.
Earlier this week the North’s Public Prosecution Service announced that it would not prosecute the 20 members of the PSNI police and British Army identified in evidence gathered by the Stevens inquiry team.
That evidence included collusion in the murder of defence lawyer Pat Finucane and Protestant teenager Adam Lambert and the RUC decision to hand over weapons to a UDA gang, which were subsequently used in the murder of six people in gun attacks on a west Belfast bar and a south Belfast bookmakers.
The PPS said it had been unable to identify the senior members of the PSNI who had approved the decision to give the weapons back to the UDA. THE families of those killed by the weapons are to launch civil actions after the decision.
The failure to prosecute any Crown force member was also criticised by former RUC detective Trevor McIlwrath, who was central in exposing the two biggest collusion cases in the North over the past 30 years.
In October 1991 the former detective took the confession of UDA killer and British agent Ken Barrett as he confessed to the murder of Pat Finucane.
However, Mr McIlwrath and his colleague Johnston Brown were blocked by RUC/PSNI Special Branch from charging Barrett with the murder.
Two years later the two detectives found themselves in similar circumstances when UVF killer Mark Haddock confessed to the murder of Catholic woman Sharon McKenna.
Again Special Branch blocked Mr Brown and Mr McIlwrath from charging Haddock with murder.
Over the next 14 years Special Branch protected Haddock from prosecution, despite involvement in more than a dozen murders.
It was information that Mr McIlwrath and Mr Brown provided to the third (1999) Stevens inquiry that provided the first evidence of Crown force collusion with unionist paramilitaries.
The two detectives received numerous death threats after their cooperation with Stevens was made public.
However, Trevor McIlwrath last night criticised the decision not to prosecute Crown force members who had been involved in collusion.
“Yet again it will be the victims’ families who will lose out,” he said.
“Sir John Stevens was the most senior police officer in the whole of Britain and he believed he had provided the PPS with enough evidence to prove that these people were involved in collusion.
“The PPS is expecting victims’ families to believe they could not identify the senior police officers who allowed guns to be handed back to the UDA.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out who gave the orders to give these weapons back to the UDA.”
Mr McIlwrath called on the PPS to allow the victims’ families legal representatives to study the evidence not to prosecute.
“If the PPS is supposed to be open and transparent then they should allow these families to see the evidence on which they decided not to prosecute,” he said.
“Otherwise people are just going to think this is another cover-up.”
Sinn Féin’s Francie Molloy said what was being witnessed was “a classic case of the British State closing ranks we were told that no such prosecutions will take place”.
Mr Molloy pointed out that for years, the British government refused to publish the Stevens and other reports into collusion because to do so would jeopardise the potential of future prosecutions.
“In the wake of this decision I would now call on the British government to publish the Stevens, Stalker and Sampson Reports. If they continue to refuse to publish these reports then it will be another glaring example of the British policy of concealment and cover-up.”
26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has described the decision as “disappointing” and told the Dublin parliament there was a clear case for an independent public inquiry into Mr Finucane’s killing.
“If anything, it is the government’s view that this adds (to) the case for an independent inquiry, and that is the attitude that we will persist with,” he said.