British govt defends Finucane review

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson today defended the British government’s decision on a review into the Pat Finucane murder.

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson today defended the British government’s decision on a review into the Pat Finucane murder.

Even though he apologised again for state collusion in the 1989 killing, he said the plans to call in a top lawyer was the best way forward.

Loyalists shot Mr Finucane dead in front of his children as he was eating dinner. His family have campaigned for a full public inquiry.

His widow Geraldine Finucane has said she felt insulted after British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed a QC-led review of her husband’s death,, describing his attitude as "arrogant".

Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Paterson told the Commons: “I want to reiterate the government’s apology in the House today. The government is truly sorry for what happened.”

Mr Finucane was 39 when he was shot 14 times by Ulster Defence Association paramilitaries at his Belfast home.

Tony Blair promised the family that the allegations would be investigated but no inquiry was set up.

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, asked by the British and Irish Governments to examine allegations of collusion surrounding the Finucane and other controversial killings, recommended a public inquiry into the death. A separate report by former Met commissioner Lord John Stevens in 2003 said there was collusion.

Desmond Da Silva, an internationally recognised QC who has worked in Serbia and Sierra Leone dealing with those countries’ violent histories, will carry out the review to be handed to Mr Paterson by December next year.

The Northern Ireland Secretary pledged that he would have full PSNI co-operation and access to documents.

His job will be to produce a full public account of any involvement by the Army, Royal Ulster Constabulary, security services or any other UK Government body in the murder of Mr Finucane.

Mr Paterson said the review would have full access to the Stevens archive, which runs to more than a million pages.

Government papers from the Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Cabinet Office and Northern Ireland Office which the QC believes are relevant will also be made available. He will also be free to meet any individuals who can assist him.

Mr Paterson said: “The government accepts the clear conclusions of Lord Stevens and Judge Cory that there was collusion.”

He added that merely accepting that there had been collusion was not enough.

“The task now is to uncover the details of this matter. The public should not be kept waiting for many more years for the truth to be revealed.

“The government has taken a bold step by asking an internationally-respected figure to provide a full account.”

He said papers which were kept secret for decades would finally be exposed.

“I am clear that we don’t need to repeat all the work that Lord Stevens has already carried out for the truth to be revealed,” he added.

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