Britain apologises for 'state collusion' in lawyer Pat Finucane's murder

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 5:13am


Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday there was a "shocking" level of British state collusion in the 1989 paramilitary murder of Northern Ireland lawyer Pat Finucane.

But a year-long, 500-page review found there was no "over-arching state conspiracy" to murder Finucane, who defended high-profile members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Gunmen from the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA) used sledgehammers to break down the door of Finucane's house in north Belfast before shooting the 38-year-old Catholic father-of-three 14 times.

The review found that two state agents were involved in the murder, along with another person who later became a state agent. The British army and the Northern Irish police had prior notice of a series of planned attacks by pro-British paramilitaries but did not act, it found.

Finucane rose to prominence defending members of the IRA, the paramilitary organisation responsible for many of the 3,000 deaths in the British province.

The UDA, which fought for Northern Ireland to retain links to Britain, stood on the other side of the conflict from the IRA, which wanted a united Ireland free from British control.

Senior lawyer Desmond de Silva, who conducted the review, found the murder could and should have been stopped.

"Two agents, who were in the pay of agencies of the state, were involved in Patrick Finucane's murder, together with another who was to become an agent of the state after his involvement in that murder became known to the agency that later employed him," his report said.

Making a statement to parliament after receiving the review, Cameron apologised to the Finucane family on behalf of the British government, saying the report exposed "shocking levels of state collusion".

"I am deeply sorry," Cameron told lawmakers. "Collusion should never, ever happen."