State agencies 'involved in murder' - Cameron
British prime minister David Cameron said today he was “deeply sorry” for the extent of state collusion in the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 following the publication of an independent review.
Speaking in the House of Commons as the review by Sir Desmond de Silva QC was published, Mr Cameron said the report revealed five key areas of collusion and said agents of the British state had “actively furthered and facilitated the murder”.
Outlining the findings of the report, Mr Cameron continued: “Sir Desmond says on the balance of probabilities, an RUC officer or officers did propose Patrick Finucane as a UDA target when speaking to a loyalist paramilitary.”
Mr Cameron said there was a further failure to investigate and arrest members of the West Belfast UDA over a long period.
And he said it was all part of a “wider, relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice” following the murder. Mr Cameron said the De Silva review found senior Army officers deliberately lied to criminal investigators and that RUC Special Branch were “responsible for seriously obstructing the investigation”.
And he added: “While Sir Desmond finds no political conspiracy he is clear ministers were misled. He finds that, and I quote, 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 (a British agent who played a role in selecting targets).”
“It is really shocking this happened in our country,” he said.
“Collusion demonstrated beyond any doubt by Sir Desmond, which included the involvement of state agencies 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. On behalf of the Government and the whole country, let me say again to the Finucane family I am deeply sorry.”
He said the Finucane family suffered “the most grievous wrongs” and that he respected their view that the de Silva review was not the right response. But he said he disagreed with them, and said a public inquiry might not have uncovered so much information about the killing.
“I know they opposed this review process and I respect their views. However, I do respectfully disagree a public inquiry would produce a fuller picture of what happened and what went wrong. The history of public inquiries in Northern Ireland would suggest had we gone down this route, we would not know now what we know today,” he said.
Mr Cameron said his government would review the findings of the report about all aspects of the collusion to learn any lessons on how procedures could be changed.
He said Sir Desmond had full access to Government documents, including Cabinet papers and “highly sensitive” intelligence reports.
He told MPs: “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.
“The extent of disclosure in today’s report is without precedent.”
Mr Cameron said he hoped the report would contribute to moving the Northern Ireland peace process forward.
“We must, we will not, allow Northern Ireland to slip back to its bitter and bloody past.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband urged Mr Cameron to launch a public inquiry into the murder.