Finucanes expect inquiry announcement; Nelson report due
Finucanes expect inquiry announcement; Nelson report due

After decades of campaigning by the family of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane, they are to be told within weeks that a full inquiry into his murder will go ahead, according to reports at the weekend.

The British government is said to have agreed to a full public inquiry, the terms of which have yet to be revealed. British Ministers had previously offered only a limited inquiry, with any information deemed harmful to British national interests withheld.

A UDA death squad comprised entirely of British double agents, working for either the British Army or the RUC police Special Branch, carried out the assassination in 1989. Mr Finucane was shot dead at point blank range in his Belfast home in front of his young family.

Prior to his murder, Mr Finucane and some of his colleagues had reported police threats against their lives. In January 1989 Tory minister Douglas Hogg claimed in the House of Commons that there were lawyers in Ireland who were “unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA”, apparently setting the scene for his assassination.

It was later confirmed that the Crown forces had not only been aware of the plot to murder Mr Finucane, but had four agents directly involved in the killing, including British army agent Brian Nelson, who planned the attack.

At Belfast Crown Court in 2004, another double-agent, Ken Barrett, pleaded guilty to involvement and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Other gang members have since died, most of them violently or in unexplained circumstances.

Former London police chief John Stevens, who oversaw three separate investigations into British state collusion with loyalists, found that the British Crown forces knew about the murder plot. However, his various reports have been substantially suppressed by the British government.

In 2004 the family thought they had made a breakthrough in their call for justice when retired Canadian judge Peter Cory found there was enough evidence of collusion to warrant an inquiry. Seven years on, however, the family are still waiting.

John Finucane, a son of the dead man and himself a lawyer, said that during meetings with the British the family had been promised a decision on an inquiry after the elections earlier this month.

“We were told way back in 2004 by the previous administration that there would an inquiry.

“That’s an unacceptable delay of seven years, not to mention the 22 years since my father’s murder.

“As a family we are still waiting on Owen Paterson contacting us with a definitive answer. It’s an announcement that’s long overdue and we will not be left waiting indefinitely.”


Meanwhile, the report of the public inquiry into collusion in the murder of the Lurgan-based human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson is expected to be published on 23 May.

Nelson, a married mother of three, represented a number of high-profile republicans and nationalists.

She was legal adviser to the nationalist Garvaghy Road residents’ group which opposed Orange Order marches at the Drumcree parades standoff. Mrs Nelson was killed when a bomb exploded underneath her car as she left her home in Lurgan, County Armagh, in March 1999.

The attack was claimed by unionist paramilitaries, but Mrs Nelson’s frequent intimidation and death threats at the hands of the police ensured that Crown force involvement was always suspected.

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