Finucane family slams 'whitewash' as Cameron refuses inquiry into 'shocking' state collusion

A mural in Belfast remembers Pat Finucane
A mural in Belfast remembers Pat Finucane
Alex Stevenson By

David Cameron is refusing to grant a public inquiry into the brutal murder of Pat Finucane, despite anger and disappointment from the Belfast solicitor's family.

The prime minister had hoped Finucane's relatives would be satisfied by the report from Sir Desmond De Silva published today, which revealed Finucane was killed after being pinpointed for assassination by a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer.

Geraldine Finucane, the wife of the Belfast solicitor killed in his family home in February 1989, dismissed the report ordered by Cameron in 2011 and published today as a "whitewash" and a "sham", however.

"The dirt has been been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others," she said at a press conference.


"This report is a confidence trick dressed up as independent scrutiny and given invisible clothes of reliability. But most of all, most hurtful and insulting of all, this report is not the truth."

The prime minister said today's report revealed "shocking" details of state collusion in a Commons statement. Finucane died after being shot by gunmen 14 times at his family home, with his wife and children present, in February 1989. He was a Belfast solicitor who had represented Irish republicans.

Three criminal investigations led by John Stevens established that the RUC had colluded with the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association, leading to the deaths of both Finucane and Adam Lambert.

Now the extent and nature of state collusion have been revealed in full, the prime minister claimed.

"It is really shocking this happened in our country," Cameron said.

"Collusion should never, ever happen. so on behalf of the government and the whole country, let me say again to the Finucane family I am deeply sorry."

Labour leader Ed Miliband welcomed Cameron's apology, but told MPs: "On this side we continue to believe a public inquiry is necessary for the Finucane family and for Northern Ireland."

"In the end I believe what matters is getting to the truth," Cameron replied. "It is agony to read what happens in this report but it's right we publish it.

"You don't need an inquiry… you just need a government that is bold enough to unveil it, and then let's see the consequences."

Alasdair McDonnell, leader of the SDLP, said he believed only "half the story" had become public.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International said the British government had "reneged" on repeated commitments and was falling short of its obligations under international law.

"It is unacceptable and Amnesty, his family and the public should not settle for anything other than the full and independent investigation that this case, and Patrick Finucane's memory, warrants," Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan said.

De Silva's report did not find evidence of a "state conspiracy", but the agents involved were not "rogue agents". One, Brian Nelson, should be viewed as an employee of the Ministry of Defence, the report said.

Nelson escaped a conviction in 1992 after cover-ups by key officers, described by De Silva as part of a "wider relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice". Ken Barrett, who confessed to the murder, was sentenced to 22 years in 2004.

His report also revealed around 85% of the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association's intelligence came from the British.

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