Inquiry is only key to truth, says lawyer

THE FORMER partner of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane says a judicial inquiry is the only way to establish the truth over allegations of collusion by the Government and security forces in Finucane's 1989 murder.

Peter Madden is acting for Finucane's widow, Geraldine, in a negligence action against the Ministry of Defence. The case is still in the process of discovery, but there are fears that essential information may never come to light.

“I am very happy that English lawyers have taken this view,” said Madden. “I don't think we are going to get anywhere until there is a full inquiry. We have no access to the relevant documents.”

Geoffrey Bindman, of the Law Society's human rights working party, said he and colleagues examined claims of intimidation of solicitors in Northern Ireland. The Finucane case was one of the most striking examples of such claims, he said. “We concluded that the matter should be investigated.”

The call for a judicial inquiry has been repeatedly made by leading international bodies including Amnesty International and New York-based Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights.

Finucane was shot outside his home by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). His killers were never caught. However, Brian Nelson, an intelligence agent working in the UFF and jailed in 1992 for conspiracy to murder, is claimed to have had access to UFF hit-lists. Geraldine Finucane alleges Nelson warned intelligence agents that Finucane was a target, but officers failed to warn her husband.

Accusations by Douglas Hogg, then a Home Office Minister, that Belfast solicitors were “unduly sympathetic” to terrorist clients only three weeks before Finucane's death were widely condemned as instrumental. Geraldine's writ names Nelson and the MoD as defendants.