Cameron statement on de Silva report
Second, there was a failure by the authorities to act on threat intelligence
Sir Desmond describes – and I quote – “…an extraordinary state of affairs…in which both the Army and the RUC Special Branch had prior notice of a series of planned UDA assassinations, yet nothing was done by the RUC to seek to prevent these attacks.”
When you read some of the specific cases in the report – page after page in chapter 7 – it is really shocking that this happened in our country.
And in the case of Patrick Finucane he says, “it should have been clear to the RUC SB from the threat intelligence that…the UDA were about to mount an imminent attack but “…it is clear that they took no action whatsoever to act on the threat intelligence”
Third, he confirms that employees of the State and State agents played “key roles” in the murder.
Sir Desmond finds that “two agents who were at the time in the pay of the state were involved…”
Brian Nelson and William Stobie “…together with another who was to become an agent of the State after his involvement in that murder.”
It can not be argued that these were rogue agents.
Indeed Sir Desmond concludes that army informer Brian Nelson should “properly be considered to be acting in a position equivalent to an employee of the MoD.”
And although Nelson is found to have withheld information from his Army handlers
“…the Army must bear a degree of responsibility for Nelson’s targeting activity during 1987-89, including that of Patrick Finucane.”
And most shocking of all, Sir Desmond says that on the balance of probabilities…an RUC officer or officers did propose Patrick Finucane…as a UDA target when speaking to a loyalist paramilitary.”
Fourth, there was a failure to investigate and arrest key members of the West Belfast UDA over a long period of time.
As I said earlier, Ken Barrett was eventually convicted of the murder but what is extraordinary is that back in 1991 – instead of prosecuting him for murder as RUC CID wanted to RUC SB decided instead to recruit him as an agent.
Fifth, this was all part of a wider “…relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice” after the murder had taken place.
Sir Desmond finds that:
“…senior Army officers deliberately lied to criminal investigators…”
The RUC Special Branch too “…were responsible for seriously obstructing the investigation…”
And on the separate question of how certain Ministers were briefed while Sir Desmond finds no political conspiracy, he is clear that Ministers were misled.
He finds that “…the Army and MoD officials provided the Secretary of State for Defence with highly misleading and in parts factually inaccurate advice about the [Force Research Unit’s] handling of Nelson”.
And on the comments made by Douglas Hogg, Sir Desmond agrees with Lord Stevens that briefing he received from the RUC meant he was “compromised.”
But he goes on to say there is “no basis for any claim that he intended his comments to provide a form of political encouragement for an attack on any solicitor.”
Mr Speaker, more broadly on the role of Ministers, he says there is “…no evidence whatsoever to suggest that any Government Minister had foreknowledge of Patrick Finucane’s murder, nor that they were subsequently informed of any intelligence that any agency of the State had received about the threat to his life”
He says that the then Attorney General, Sir Patrick Mayhew “…deserves significant credit for withstanding considerable political pressure designed to ensure Nelson was not prosecuted”
As a result – of course – Nelson was prosecuted in 1992, following the first investigation from Lord Stevens.
Mr Speaker, the collusion demonstrated beyond any doubt by Sir Desmond – which included the involvement of state agents in murder – is totally unacceptable.
We do not defend our security forces – or the many who have served in them with great distinction – by trying to claim otherwise.
Collusion should never, ever happen.
So on behalf of the Government – and the whole country – let me say once again to the Finucane family, I am deeply sorry.
Mr Speaker, it is vital that we learn the lessons of what went wrong and, for government in particular, address Sir Desmond’s criticisms of “a wilful and abject failure by successive Governments to provide the clear policy and legal framework necessary for agent-handling operations to take place effectively and within the law.”