The Finucane family have achieved another legal victory against the British government in their campaign for justice.
Pat Finucane was a Belfast defence lawyer brutally assassinated in front of his family by a British-operated death squad in 1989. On Wednesday, a High Court judge found the British government continues to breach its legal obligation for a proper, human rights-compliant investigation into the murder.
Justice Scoffield quashed a government decision not to establish a public inquiry into the full scale of Crown Force collusion with loyalist paramilitaries who carried out the murder.
He also held that former British Direct Ruler Brandon Lewis unlawfully failed to reconsider that position following a PSNI review of the case. He directed that a fresh decision must now be taken.
The verdict came in a challenge by the murdered lawyer’s widow, Geraldine Finucane, to the failure to set up a public inquiry.
The judge admitted he found himself “in a sorry situation” nearly four years after the Supreme Court in London declared previous investigations failed to meet the standards required by the European Convention on Human Rights.
He said she had “no hesitation” in concluding that the London government remains in breach of its obligations and ordered current Direct Ruler Chris Heaton-Harris to reconsider the response to the Supreme Court’s findings.
Mr Finucane’s son John, now MP for north Belfast, said it is time for a public inquiry.
“They have covered up, they have failed to investigate, they have acted unlawfully and it is clear to us they do this solely to hide the truth,” he said.
The murder of his father was among the most notorious of the conflict. UDA gunmen burst into his north Belfast home and shot him 14 times in front of his wife and three children.
His family have campaigned ever since for a public inquiry into the state’s collusion with the killers.
Sinn Féin Assembly Gerry Kelly has called on the British government to honour its commitment made by a British Prime Minister at Weston Park in 2001 to hold a public inquiry into the murder of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane
“Today’s decision by a High Court judge is a victory for the Geraldine Finucane, the widow of murdered human rights solicitor Pat Finucane, and her campaign to hold the British government to its commitment to hold a public inquiry into his killing,” he said.
“The British government now need to end their stalling tactics and fulfil the promise it made in 2001 and hold a full and independent public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.
“No family should have to go to the courts again and again to force the British government to act within the law.
“The Finucane family has campaigned with courage and dignity for decades. They simply want the truth behind the murder of their father, husband and brother.
“Further delays are unacceptable and fly in the face of justice for Geraldine Finucane and her family.”
The judgement comes in the week that a statement issued by UN experts warned that proposed British legislation for an effective conflict amnesty fails to comply with their obligation to investigate serious human rights violations, and denies truth and remedy for victims.
It comes one week after the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe also called on the British government to withdraw their legacy bill.
Aontú councillor Denise Mullen described the legislation as “a get out of jail free card for human rights abuses” and called for an All-Ireland investigation into Britain’s collusion with loyalist murder gangs.
“We know that the British government committed horrendous war crimes. The British Government went as far to kill elected representatives such as Cllr Eddie Fullerton and Bernard Hagan,” she said.
“At the heart of true reconciliation there needs to be the basic principles of transparency and the rule of law. The legacy bill is an affront to these principles.”