01/12/2020

Govt Will Not Hold Public Inquiry Into Murder Of Pat Finucane

The UK Government has decided not to establish a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane, a practicing lawyer, was murdered in his home in North Belfast on the evening of Sunday 12 February 1989. He was shot 14 times. The attack was carried out by gunmen from a loyalist paramilitary group.

While the Government acknowledged the Supreme Court finding that there is yet to be an Article 2-compliant investigation into the death of Mr Finucane, it said that "following extensive consideration of all options available, the Government has decided not to establish a public inquiry into the murder of the Belfast solicitor at this time".

The Government has committed to re-assess whether a public inquiry is necessary to resolve any outstanding obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in light of the police review process and Police Ombudsman investigations.

The Government, has also today published further details - not previously in the public domain - relating to the conduct of previous investigations into the Finucane case. A report of a review conducted by the PSNI in 2015 in light of the findings of the de Silva review has been shared with the family and will be published by the PSNI in the coming days.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, spoke to the Finucane family to inform them of the Government's decision.

Mr Lewis said: "The murder of Patrick Finucane was an appalling crime that has caused tremendous suffering. The UK Government is clear that the shocking levels of collusion in this case are totally unacceptable, and has publicly apologised that this took place.

"This case is sadly but one example of the violence and tragedy experienced by so many individuals and families during the Troubles, not just in Northern Ireland but across the United Kingdom and Ireland. It demonstrates the importance of ensuring that all families affected by the Troubles have an opportunity to find out the circumstances of their loved one's death.

"We remain committed to working collaboratively with the Irish Government, the Northern Ireland parties, and civic society, including victims groups, in finding and delivering a progressive way forward on legacy to support NI in working towards a more positive future."

A review process is being taken forward by the Legacy Investigation Branch of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and investigations being conducted by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland are ongoing - both independently of Government.

Commenting on the government's decision, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: "The murder of Pat Finucane was a truly horrendous crime.

"It has been the subject of extensive criminal inquiries, a Report by Judge Cory and a Report by Sir Desmond de Silva. A former Prime Minister and a former Chief Constable have apologised for State involvement in the murder.
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"Today, I echo the apology given by the Chief Constable in 2012 to Mr Finucane's wife, Geraldine, and her family.

"Absolutely no one is above the law and the Finucane family deserve to have justice for the loss of a husband and father.

"The decision around the holding of a Public Inquiry is a matter for the Northern Ireland office and is outwith the statutory responsibilities of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

"Due to the absence of any other solution for dealing with the past in Northern Ireland, the statutory duty for investigating deaths during the Troubles continues to sit with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. For this reason, the murder of Mr Finucane rests within our Legacy Investigation Branches' caseload. The Branches Case Sequencing Model routinely brings Troubles related deaths forward for a review.

"Following the publication of the de Silva review in 2012, we established a review of the de Silva Report to assess if there were any outstanding actions for police. As a result of that review, we referred a number of issues to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. Four recommendations were also for the Police Service.

"We also made contact with those responsible for the conduct of the de Silva review regarding the material described by de Silva as 'new and significant'. Following consideration by the Public Prosecution Service, it was concluded that this material did not provide credible opportunities to pursue criminal investigations.

"The Northern Ireland Office recently wrote to us to ask if there were any outstanding matters in relation to the murder of Mr Finucane. We confirmed that the case sat within in our Case Sequencing Model and it would be due for its review and that four recommendations for Police were outstanding following our internal review of de Silva.

"It is our view that there are currently no new lines of inquiry. We now need to decide if a further review is merited given all the previous investigations into this case. Once we have determined that, we will inform the Finucane Family. If we determine that a review should take place, we will then have to decide if we are best placed to carry out that review. As it stands it is unlikely that we would enjoy a perception of independence in this case, given the accepted position of State involvement in this matter. Therefore, it is highly likely that any review would need to be conducted independently.

"A review itself is not an investigation. Any decision to investigate would only be made following the review process. Again, it is likely that any new investigation would need to be independently led. We would also need to be satisfied that given the extensive work of Lord Stevens, Judge Cory and Sir Desmond de Silva, that a further investigation has a reasonable prospect of furthering this matter either by bringing more persons to justice or answering the unanswered questions of the Finucane family and their ongoing search for justice."

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