Northern Ireland

Pat Finucane murder: Family oppose security check

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

A government security check on a new report into the loyalist murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane will further undermine the credibility of the document, his family have claimed.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said a thorough check prior to publication was necessary to rule out security breaches.

She said highly sensitive material given by the government to author Sir Desmond de Silva would not be included.

This follows concerns about identifying sources, Mrs Villiers said.

The NI Secretary said the government had a legal obligation to examine the report to make sure lives and national security were not endangered.

She said the report would be published as soon as possible after the security checks and Mr Finucane's family would be offered the chance to see it first.

But relatives of Mr Finucane, who have been critical of the review from the outset, said the security exercise should have been done by the courts.

Pat Finucane was shot dead in his north Belfast home by loyalist paramilitaries, the UFF, in 1989.

The murder of the prominent solicitor and Catholic father of three was one of the most controversial of the Northern Ireland Troubles with allegations of state collusion in his killing.

Sir Desmond, a leading QC, was commissioned by the government to undertake a legal review of the case last year.

However, the move angered members of the Finucane family who said it fell well short of the full public inquiry for which they had long campaigned.

Relatives subsequently launched a legal challenge against Prime Minister David Cameron's refusal to establish an inquiry.

Mr Finucane's son John said on Wednesday his family never had confidence in the review and the government's decision to subject it to a security check had emphasised their misgivings.

He said it was not appropriate for the state to control the information published in a report that was supposed to be examining its alleged role in a murder.

"This confirms again that the government, who on the one hand are being accused of collusion in the murder of my father, and the Prime Minister has accepted that there was collusion, controls the flow of information - which I don't think is credible," he said.

"It is not a process that I think is independent, we think that process is best managed by a court."

Mr Finucane again called for a full public inquiry to be held.

The security checks ordered by Mrs Villiers are similar to those conducted by the government on other sensitive reports - such as the Bloody Sunday Inquiry - prior to publication.

Mrs Villiers said it would be unlikely that any material would need to be redacted but the government had a legal obligation to carry out the checks.

Government lawyers and representatives of the Ministry of Defence, Security Services and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will examine the report.

In 2004, the then Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy announced his intention to hold an inquiry under the new Inquiries Act.

The Finucane family are opposed to the inquiry being held under this legislation, which they say makes the inquiry accountable to the minister responsible, rather than to parliament.

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