Wright's father convinced about 'state collusion' in son's murder

Wright's father convinced about 'state collusion' in son's murder

Billy Wright’s father insisted today there was “firm and final” proof of state collusion in his son’s killing.

He criticised the rules of the inquiry, which he said was not allowed to use the word “collusion”.

Lord Maclean’s report said there was no collusion with the killers.

David Wright said: “It looks like collusion, it sounds like collusion and in my mind amounts to firm and final proof of collusion by state agencies.”

He said that culminated in the murder of his son.

Elsewhere, the SDLP said the Billy Wright inquiry findings may have ruled out collusion, but wide-ranging negligence in the Prisons Service underlined the urgent need for extensive reform.

The party’s Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly said collusion in the narrow sense defined by Justice Peter Cory was never really the issue but the fault lines which led to murder ran right through the RUC, MI5 and Prison Service.

She added: “There was specific intelligence on the threat to Billy Wright’s life and the finding that the failure to pass it on amounted to ’deliberate malpractice’ on the part of the RUC is damning.

“Billy Wright was an evil, dangerous man and those who murdered him were very similar. The Maze was a dangerous place but this cannot excuse the litany of negligence that the inquiry found, including both omissions and wrongful acts which facilitated the murder.

“There is no reason to think that the Prison Service has mended its ways and there are many recent indications that it has not.

“Perhaps the greatest service this inquiry has done is to recommend that the Prison Service needs the sort of thorough, root-and-branch reform that the Patten process brought to policing.

Sinn Féin claimed Wright had been controlled, directed and manipulated by the state. The inquiry had been limited in its focus to the circumstances surrounding Wright’s death and it came no surprise that the report placed much of the blame at the feet of the prison administration, it said.

Assembly member John O’Dowd said: “It is important not to forget that Wright was a unionist paramilitary leader involved in the murder of up to 30 innocent Catholics.

“Many of Billy Wright’s victims would be much more interested in a proper investigation into his activities when alive, including his relationship with senior unionist politicians like Willie McCrea, rather than simply the circumstances surrounding his death.”

The Wright Inquiry report stretched to 700 pages. Key findings included:

:: There was no collusion in the death of Billy Wright;

:: Security files on prisoners were destroyed on two occasions;

:: The failure of the Prison Service to classify killers Christopher McWilliams and John Kenneway as top-risk prisoners after they held a prison officer hostage in April 1997 was a wrongful omission which facilitated the murder of Wright;

:: The free run of prisoners may have made it easier to cut the yard fence before the attack;

:: The Prison Service failed to strengthen roof defences and secure the exercise yard;

:: Prison Service head Alan Shannon was criticised for appointing Martin Mogg governor of the Maze prison while he was still director of operational management. This severely weakened the operational capacity of the directorate;

:: Management failures mean there should be a review of the prison service similar to Lord Patten’s overhaul of policing;

:: There was no proper risk assessment of the prison van transfer which the gunmen targeted to ensure hostile inmates did not come into contact;

:: The Prison Service did not properly consider a Red Cross warning in November 1997 that the LVF and INLA wing of the jail was a “powder-keg”;

:: There was a suspicion of deliberate police malpractice in destroying audit trails and concealing evidence.


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