Northern Ireland

Pat Finucane: Shaun Woodward calls for public inquiry

Pat Finucane Image copyright bbc
Image caption Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his family in 1989

The former Secretary of State Shaun Woodward has said there should be a full public inquiry into the death of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

On Wednesday, a government report concluded there had been "no overarching state conspiracy".

Sir Desmond de Silva's review confirmed that agents of the state were involved in the 1989 killing and that it should have been prevented.

Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, said the report was a "sham and whitewash".

Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his wife and children at his north Belfast home in 1989.

Mr Woodward said the "shocking scale" of the collusion revealed by the findings showed there was now a greater need for a full enquiry.

"What I think this report does is simply add more weight of evidence to the argument for an inquiry, not against an inquiry," he said.

'Good of society'

"For me the most shocking thing in this report isn't to learn that very clearly the state was involved in collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane.

"The most shocking part of this report is the scale of the collusion that seems to have taken place."

Mr Woodward said a public inquiry was needed for the "good of our society".

"Let's be very clear, I'm a huge admirer of the security forces, they saved many lives, but at the same time, there were more than a few bad apples in the barrel, there were many bad apples in the barrel.

"They weren't the majority but there were more than we thought and they did very bad things which led to several people, maybe more, losing their lives.

"I really think we have a duty to find out what went on, how it went on."

He said an inquiry was needed, not just for the Finucane family, but also for the good reputation of the security forces.

Image caption David Cameron said the level of collusion uncovered by the report was "shocking"

Mr Finucane's family have led a high-profile campaign for a full public inquiry into the murder but David Cameron ruled that out last year.

Instead he announced that Sir Desmond de Silva would carry out a review into the solicitor's murder.

The family did not co-operate with the review and the solicitor's widow said the de Silva report did not tell her much more than she previously knew about the case.

Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, said "at least we would have an opportunity to ask questions" if there was a full inquiry.

She said the family would continue with their campaign.

"The support we have had the last number of years has not diminished," she said.

"It's not just about Pat, collusion affected everybody in Northern Ireland - it didn't matter who you were or what side of the community you came from - civilians, policemen, everyone, was affected."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron described the level of state collusion uncovered by de Silva as "shocking" and once again apologised to the family.


"David Cameron has apologised. We don't know what he is apologising for or what that apology actually means," she said.

The review, published on Wednesday, found RUC officers proposed Mr Finucane, 39, be killed, said they passed information to his killers and failed to stop the attack and then obstructed the murder investigation.

It also found that an Army intelligence unit, the FRU, "bears a degree" of responsibility because one of their agents, Brian Nelson, was involved in selecting targets.

The report concluded that Nelson did not provide his handlers with details of the plot against Mr Finucane.

It found that MI5 received intelligence two months before the killing that Mr Finucane was under threat but that no steps were taken to protect him.

It also found that MI5 helped spread propaganda against Mr Finucane in the years before he was killed.

Sir Desmond found that "in 1985 the security service assessed that 85% of the UDA's 'intelligence' originated from sources within the security forces".

And he was "satisfied that this proportion would have remained largely unchanged" by the time of Mr Finucane's murder."

In his report Sir Desmond said: "A series of positive actions by employees of the state actively furthered and facilitated his murder and that, in the aftermath of the murder, there was a relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice.

"My review of the evidence relating to Patrick Finucane's case has left me in no doubt that agents of the state were involved in carrying out serious violations of human rights up to and including murder.

"However, despite the different strands of involvement by elements of the state, I am satisfied that they were not linked to an over-arching state conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane."

Last year, Mr Cameron acknowledged there had been state collusion in Mr Finucane's murder and apologised to his family.

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