A decision by the UK government to withhold [paywall] documents relevant to the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane is denying his family justice. The documents contain information on Brian Nelson, a British army agent in the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
Pat Finucane was a human rights lawyer from Belfast who was killed by the UDA on 12 February 1989. Nelson is alleged to have played a role in his murder.
The Finucane family is demanding justice. They want to know the full facts including who planned his murder. Finucane’s widow Geraldine said it’s not about “who pulled the trigger but those who pulled the strings”.
Inquiries and Supreme Court
An investigation by Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended a full public inquiry into his murder.
A further investigation by Sir Desmond de Silva forced David Cameron to admit to the House of Commons that there had been “shocking levels of state collusion” in his murder. Cameron apologised to the Finucane family.
But the de Silva report cleared the British state of conspiracy. So the family continued demanding a public inquiry. Cameron rejected these demands in 2012, as did the Belfast Court of Appeal in February 2017.
As a result of these rejections, in June 2018, the Finucane family took their case to the Supreme Court in London. They are now awaiting a decision from the court.
Reaction to withholding documents
The papers were due for release under the 20-year rule. But Whitehall departments can request that files remain secret if their publication could damage foreign relations or undermine defence and security. In the case of Brian Nelson, the documents will remain secret due to:
public interest issues and protection of intelligence sources and methods.
A representative of the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) told The Canary:
It is alarming that the cabinet office would retain files of notorious British agent, Brian Nelson, who was implicated in a number of murders during the conflict.
To cite ‘public interest’ and ‘protection of intelligence sources’ adds further insult to his victims.
What needs to happen now
The Finucane family need a full and public inquiry into this murder to ensure justice. Accordingly, the same principle needs to apply to other cases of state collusion. British people need to know the truth about their government’s role in the Northern Ireland conflict that claimed 3,637 lives.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image Flickr/Paul Joseph
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?