LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that an official report had revealed a “shocking” level of British state collusion in the 1989 paramilitary murder of Northern Ireland lawyer Pat Finucane.
But the 500-page report found there was no “over-arching state conspiracy” to murder Finucane, who had defended high-profile members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Cameron said the review exposed “shocking levels of state collusion”, for which he apologised, but he once again resisted calls by the Finucane family for a public inquiry into his death.
Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, who with their three children had watched the 38-year-old Catholic lawyer shot 14 times at their home in north Belfast, declared the report a “whitewash”.
In one of the most controversial murders of 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland, gunmen from the pro-British Ulster Defence Association (UDA) broke down the door of Finucane’s house before gunning him down.
Three criminal investigations and a further report found there was British state collusion, and one man was jailed for murder in 2004, but Cameron ordered a review last year to give a full account of what happened.
The review by senior lawyer Desmond de Silva concluded yesterday that two agents of the British state were involved in the murder, along with another person who later became an agent.
It also found that the British army and police — who at the time were battling armed republicans in Northern Ireland — had prior notice of a series of planned attacks by pro-British paramilitaries but failed to act.
The UDA, which fought for Northern Ireland to retain links to Britain, stood on the other side of the conflict from the IRA, the paramilitary group which wanted a united Ireland free from British control. De Silva found Finucane’s murder could and should have been stopped.
“I have concluded that two agents who were at the time in the pay of agencies of the state were involved in Patrick Finucane’s murder, together with another who was to become an agent of the state” despite his British employers knowing about his involvement in Finucane’s murder, the report said.
De Silva said British security forces had passed information to the UDA and had promoted Finucane as a target. AFP