Northern Ireland

Owen Paterson says Pat Finucane review will uncover the truth

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Media captionOwen Paterson: "We do not need a statutory inquiry to tell us that there was collusion - we accept that"

The secretary of state has said he wants the truth about the murder of Pat Finucane to be uncovered.

Owen Paterson said the government accepted the findings of two previous investigations which found there had been security force collusion in Mr Finucane's death.

Leading lawyer, QC Desmond DeSilva, will lead a review of all the papers relating to the murder.

Mr Paterson said he would have the full support of all agencies.

The family of Mr Finucane, who was shot at his home in 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries, have campaigned for a full public inquiry into his death.

They rejected the British government's offer of a review during a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr Paterson at Downing Street on Tuesday.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Finucane's wife, Geraldine said the family would have no participation in what had been proposed.

"They're offering us a review of papers - all behind closed doors and let me stress, I cannot stress it enough, even if we wanted to participate in this, we are not being given the opportunity," she said.

"I said to the prime minister, 'and what do we do', and he said, 'you do nothing, you just sit and wait until he brings his report out'."

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward said it was "crass and cruel" to bring Mr Finucane's family to Downing Street to say there would be no independent public inquiry into his murder.

One of Mr Finucane's sons, John, said that his family did not understand what led the government to "change its mind" over holding an inquiry into the killing.

He said the family had met officials to discuss a particular type of inquiry - but that was ruled out at the Downing Street meeting.

Mr Paterson told the Commons on Wednesday that the murder of Mr Finucane was a "terrible crime".

"The government accepts the clear conclusions of Lord Stevens and Judge Cory (who previously investigated the murder) that there was collusion," he said.

"The government is deeply sorry for what happened.

Image caption Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his family in 1989


"Despite the clear conclusions of previous investigations and reports, there is still only limited information in the public domain.

"That is why the prime minister and I have committed to establishing a further process to ensure that the truth is revealed."

Mr Paterson said "accepting collusion is not sufficient in itself" and that the "public now need to know the extent and nature of that collusion".

He said Sir Desmond DeSilva had been asked to conduct an independent review to produce a "full public account" of any state involvement in the solicitor's murder.

"His terms of reference are to draw from the extensive investigations that have already taken place to produce a full public account of any involvement by the Army, Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the security service or other UK government bodies in the murder of Patrick Finucane," he said.

"The review will have full access to Stevens' archive and all government papers including any MOD, security service, Home Office, Cabinet Office or NI Office files that Sir Desmond believes are relevant."

Mr Paterson stressed that Sir Desmond would be given "unrestricted access" to these documents.

"He will be free to meet any individuals who can assist him in his task," he said.

"It is, of course open for Sir Desmond to invite or consider submissions as he sees fit.

"The review will have the full support and cooperation of all government departments and agencies in carrying out its work.

"I have spoken to the chief constable who has given his assurance that Sir Desmond will have the full cooperation of the PSNI."

Mr Paterson said he was "disappointed" the Finucane family did feel able to support the review.

Image caption The Finucane family said it would continue to campaign for a full public inquiry


"I fully recognise that the family have pursued their long campaign to find out the truth with great determination," he said.

"We do not need a statutory inquiry to tell us that there was collusion. We accept that. The task now is to undercover the details of this murder.

"The public should not be kept waiting for many more years for the truth to be revealed."

He told MPs that he believed the review would be the "quickest and most effective" way of getting to the truth.

"Experience has shown that public inquiries into the events of the Troubles take many years and can be subject to prolonged litigation which delays the truth emerging," he said.

"The prime minister and I do not believe that more costly and open-ended inquiries are the right way to deal with Northern Ireland's past.

"When the report is published the government will not hide from the truth, however difficult.

"I would encourage everyone to judge the process we have established by its results."

The secretary of state said Sir Desmond's review would be given to him by December 2012 prior to publication.

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