The British Direct Ruler Brandon Lewis is attempting to “run down the clock” in a legal challenge over collusion in the assassination of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane, the High Court has heard.
Further delays in the case are being highlighted as the British government prepares to issue a blanket ban on such investigations in an effort to “draw a line under the Troubles”, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine is taking legal action against Lewis for deciding not to hold a public inquiry into state collusion in the killing.
Although a full hearing is due to begin next month, it emerged today that Mrs Finucane’s legal team have still not received censored evidence documents from the British government.
Fiona Doherty QC questioned the further delays. She told the court she remains “in the dark” about the so-called Public Interest Immunity (PII) process, where some evidence is being withheld for reasons of British ‘state security’.
She said: “We are sceptical about the Secretary of State’s motives in all this, and about the fact this is another example of running down the clock.”
Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries at his north Belfast home in front of his family in February 1989. His family have campaigned ever since for a public inquiry to establish the full scale of Crown force collusion in the murder.
It is a prominent example of hundreds of cases in which evidence of collusion exists but for which the truth may never be uncovered, thanks to plans by the current Tory government in London for a blanket statute of limitations. The overarching cover-up is set to include all killings carried out by members of the Crown Forces and their agents.
There were concerns this week at fresh attempts to conceal the role of British agents in the 1998 Omagh bomb in which 29 civilians died. Part of a court judgement published this week calling for a new investigation has been withheld for reasons of “British state security”.
It also emerged that the first report of ‘Operation Kenova’, an investigation into the actions of British state agents within the Provisional IRA, is to be censored of anything which would be ‘prejudicial to the British state’, up to and including “the economic well-being of the UK” and “the continued discharge of the functions of any public authority”.
After six years of delays, it now appears likely the investigation will be gagged from revealing the truth behind ‘Stakeknife’ and other British informers inside the IRA.
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said this week the British armed forces cannot be placed above the rule of law and accountability.
“Victims of the conflict and their families cannot be denied access to the courts in pursuit of truth and justice,” he said.
“Boris Johnson’s Tory government needs to listen to the voices of victims and their families.
“They should withdraw their controversial amnesty proposals for state forces outlined in his government’s command paper on the 14th July and instead commit to fully implementing the Stormont House Agreement in a human rights compliant manner.”