Partial publication of Stevens 'an absolute scandal'

 

Human rights campaigners have criticised the forthcoming publication of a portion of the Stevens report on alleged collusion between loyalist terrorists and elements within the British security services as "an absolute scandal".

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens is set to publish just a tiny part of his report, which investigated claims that police and military intelligence aided loyalist terrorists involved in a wave of sectarian murders, including that of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Paul Mageean, of the Belfast-based Committee on the Administration of Human Rights, said: "This is an absolute scandal - £4 million has been spent on this inquiry and it looks as if we will see about 15 pages out of 3,000."

Sir John, who has spent more than a decade investigating allegations of collusion, will deliver his latest findings to Northern Ireland chief constable Hugh Orde on Thursday.

Files on at least 20 serving and retired soldiers and police officers have been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions. With criminal charges expected against some of those identified, heavy restrictions have been placed on details included in the published summary of Sir John's third separate investigation into the allegations.

"There may be names in the report that could people's lives at risk," Mr Mageean accepted. "But after four years to get so little is unacceptable. This is no better than Stevens' first report which we never got to see." It is understood the military's secret Force Research Unit has come in for intense criticism about how it operated at the height of Northern Ireland's conflict.

The shadowy Army wing ran double agents such as Brian Nelson, who died of a massive brain haemorrhage last week. Nelson, a former soldier who infiltrated the Ulster Defence Association, has been linked to more than 30 murders, including the Finucane killing in 1989.

He worked as the terror organisation's intelligence officer and provided gunmen with crucial information on their targets. Former FRU chief Brigadier Gordon Kerr recruited him as part of a plan to stop the UDA shooting ordinary Catholics and concentrate on known republicans.

Brig Kerr, now the military attache in Beijing, is believed to be one of those whose details have been passed by Sir John's team to the DPP.

Allegations persist that some warnings Nelson passed on to his handlers were ignored. He insisted his security force bosses knew the UDA had asked him to compile information on Mr Finucane.

With the lawyer's family and supporters still demanding a public inquiry into his murder, Nelson's death has robbed any future hearing of a crucial witness."This is a massive loss," Mr Mageean admitted."But people still want to know exactly what went on in the Pat Finucane case and neither Brian Nelson's death nor a 15-page document will end that."

PA