Northern Ireland: Wikileaks revelations strengthen case for public inquiry into Finucane killing

Amnesty international has said that revelations contained in US diplomatic cables leaked by the WikiLeaks website, strengthen the case for an independent public inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane.    The leaked cables reveal that UK security agency MI5 may hold secret files on the killing and that US diplomats feared that "elements of the security-legal establishments" in Britain were attempting to block an inquiry.   Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:   “The UK government’s failure to hold a properly independent inquiry into the killing of a prominent lawyer in this country is outrageous and with each day that passes and each new revelation that comes to light, that failure becomes yet more outrageous.    “These new revelations show concerns that elements within the UK security establishment have sought - to date, successfully - to avoid an inquiry and, further, that MI5 holds important files on the killing which have yet to be disclosed.   “Over 20 years on from the murder of Patrick Finucane, the truth about his killing is still being kept from his family and from the public. The UK government should establish an independent public inquiry without any further delay.”   Background Patrick Finucane was murdered at his home in Belfast on 12 February 1989. More than 20 years later, the UK government has still failed to establish a genuinely independent public inquiry into all of the circumstances of his death, including into credible evidence that UK state agents colluded in the killing.   In the aftermath of Patrick Finucane’s death, extensive and compelling evidence began to emerge that his killing took place within the context of widespread state collusion with armed groups. Since then, further evidence has given rise to strong suspicions that numerous state agencies may have played a part in attempting to cover up state collusion in his murder.   Kenneth Barrett, a former loyalist paramilitary, was convicted in 2003 of the murder of Patrick Finucane. Since he had pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including that of the murder of Patrick Finucane, no significant information about alleged state collusion in the killing or about the alleged subsequent official cover-up emerged in court.   In July 2003 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that “the proceedings following the death of Patrick Finucane failed to provide a prompt and effective investigation into the allegations of collusion by security personnel” , and that there had therefore been a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in his case.    Also in 2003 Sir John Stevens, a senior UK police officer who carried out three inquiries into allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, confirmed that his investigations had uncovered evidence of “collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder”. The full findings of the investigations conducted by John Stevens have, however, remained secret, not only from the public but also from the Finucane family and their lawyers.   In June 2007, following an extremely lengthy delay, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Northern Ireland announced that no further charges would be brought following the review of the material submitted by the third investigation conducted by Sir John Stevens (‘Stevens III’).   Throughout this time the family of Patrick Finucane has campaigned tirelessly for a genuinely independent public inquiry into the circumstances of his death.

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