Cameron statement on de Silva report
Full text of the statement by British prime minister David Cameron on Sir Desmond de Silva’s report into the nature and extent of state collusion in the murder of Patrick Finucane
I would like to make a statement on Sir Desmond de Silva’s report into the nature and extent of state collusion in the murder of Patrick Finucane.
Mr Speaker, the murder of Patrick Finucane in his home in North Belfast on Sunday 12th February 1989 was an appalling crime.
He was shot 14 times as he sat down for dinner with his wife and three children.
He died in front of them.
His wife, Geraldine, was injured too.
In the period since the murder there have been three full criminal investigations carried out by the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Stevens.
Taken together they amount to the biggest criminal investigation in British history led by the most senior police officer consisting of more than 1 million pages of documents and 12,000 witness statements obtained with full police powers.
As a result of the third investigation – one of those responsible – Ken Barrett, was tried and convicted in 2004 for the murder of Patrick Finucane.
There was a further report by Judge Cory.
Both Lord Stevens and Judge Cory made it clear that there was State collusion in the murder.
This itself was a shocking conclusion and I apologised to the family on behalf of the British government when I met them last year.
But despite these reports, some twenty-three years after the murder – there has still only been limited information in the public domain.
The whole country and beyond is entitled to know the extent and nature of the collusion – and of the failure of the State.
That is why last October this government asked Sir Desmond de Silva to conduct an independent review of the evidence to expose the truth as quickly as possible.
Mr Speaker, Sir Desmond has had full and unrestricted access to the Lord Stevens archive and to all government papers.
These include highly sensitive intelligence files and new and significant information that was not available to either Lord Stevens or Justice Cory – including Cabinet Papers, minutes of meetings with Ministers and senior officials, and papers and guidance on agent-handling.
He has declassified key documents, including original intelligence material and published them in Volume II of his report today.
The decision over what to publish was entirely his own.
Sir Desmond’s report has now given us the fullest possible account of the murder of Patrick Finucane and the truth about state collusion.
And the extent of disclosure in today’s report is without precedent.
Mr Speaker, nobody has more pride than me in the work of our security forces.
As Sir Desmond makes clear he is looking at “an extremely dark and violent time” in Northern Ireland’s history.
And I am sure the House will join with me in paying tribute to the police and security forces that served in Northern Ireland
But we should be in no doubt that this report make extremely difficult reading.
It sets out the extent of collusion in areas such as identifying, targeting and murdering Mr Finucane, supplying a weapon and facilitating its later disappearance and deliberately obstructing subsequent investigations.
The report also answers questions about how high up the collusion went including the role of Ministers at the time.
Sir Desmond is satisfied that there was not “an over-arching State conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane”
But, Mr Speaker, while he rejects any state conspiracy, he does find shocking levels of State collusion.
Most importantly, Sir Desmond says he is “left in significant doubt as to whether Patrick Finucane would have been murdered by the Ulster Defence Association in February 1989 had it not been for the different strands of involvement by elements of the State.”
He finds that “a series of positive actions by employees of the State actively furthered and facilitated his murder…”
And he cites five specific areas of collusion.
First, “there were extensive “leaks” of security force information to the UDA and other loyalist paramilitary groups”
Sir Desmond finds that “in 1985 the Security Service assessed that 85% of the UDA’s ‘intelligence’ originated from sources within the security forces…
And he is “…satisfied that this proportion would have remained largely unchanged by …the time of Patrick Finucane’s murder.”