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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
New inquiry call over lawyer's murder
Pat Finucane was murdered in 1989
Pat Finucane was murdered at his home in 1989
The government is facing fresh calls for an independent review into the murder of Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane.

It follows revelations in a BBC Panorama programme which said elements within Northern Ireland's police and military intelligence collaborated with loyalist paramilitaries in the late 1980s over the murder of Catholics.

A man identified as a loyalist killer tells the programme - to be broadcast on Wednesday - that the targets included Mr Finucane, who was murdered 13 years ago.
Ken Barrett: Secretly filmed
Ken Barrett: Secretly filmed

The nationalist SDLP's Alex Attwood told the BBC on Wednesday there now needed to be a full international independent inquiry into the murder.

Mr Attwood, the party's policing spokesman, said: "That has always been our view, the view of the family and many, many others - and now the case for that is unstoppable."

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said the implications of the latest evidence "may be bigger than Bloody Sunday".

"There is a very compelling case for the establishment of a public and international inquiry into what has been going on," he said.

"I think the lid has now come off the can of worms and the worms are crawling out," said Mr McGuinness.

However, Democratic Unionist Party assembly member Sammy Wilson dismissed the allegations, describing them as "tittle-tattle claims by a former paramilitary".

The former Ulster Unionist security spokesman, Lord Maginnis, said any proof of collusion would be a serious matter.

First Minister David Trimble said he would not comment until he had seen the programme.

Speaking in London on Wednesday he said: "One thing there was not was collusion by the RUC organisation with the paramilitaries.

"There may be individuals who have behaved badly but it was not structural or systemic."

Mr Finucane was a thorn in the side of the British establishment in Northern Ireland until the Sunday evening in 1989 when loyalist gunmen burst into his home and shot him dead in front of his wife and children.

Secretly filmed

As Panorama reveals, the story of who killed him and why continues to haunt the authorities in Belfast and London.

It also raises disturbing questions about collusion between elements of the security forces and loyalist murder gangs.

The central charge in the programme is that such collusion resulted in the murder of a number of innocent Catholics - among them Mr Finucane.

In one extraordinary moment, reporter John Ware sits in a car with Ken Barrett, a loyalist paramilitary who is unaware that this meeting and others are being secretly filmed and recorded.
Pat Finucane: Shot dead at his home
Pat Finucane: Allegations of collusion surround murder

Barrett tells Ware bluntly: "Finucane would have been alive today if the peelers (police) hadn't interfered."

Barrett - described in the programme by a veteran detective as "a killer" - says a special branch officer encouraged loyalists to murder Pat Finucane.

They then tipped off the assassination squad on the fatal night that the coast around his house was clear - in other words that there were no police or Army patrols around it.

It is shocking stuff, but the programme suggests it is part of a pattern, and that at the centre of that pattern were paramilitaries like Ken Barrett, but also the still more sinister figure of Brian Nelson.

'More professional'

Nelson was a former soldier from Northern Ireland recruited by military intelligence and sent back to Belfast to infiltrate the loyalist paramilitary organisation the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

In partnership with his handlers though, his job rapidly and dangerously expanded until he was supplying loyalist killers with intelligence documents from the security forces.

The aim, according to the programme, was to make the targeting by loyalists "more professional".

The result was that innocent Catholics were killed.

Since 1989, Sir John Stevens, who is now commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has been investigating the allegation that shadowy elements within military intelligence and the RUC special branch were colluding with loyalist assassination squads.

The RUC became the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in November last year.

The BBC's Denis Murray
"One police officer said that 'Finucane had to go'"
BBC Panorama producer Eamon Hardy
"The documents that we have... present a very, very dark picture"
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness:
"This may be bigger than Bloody Sunday"
Panorama: A Licence to Murder

See also:

19 Jun 02 | N Ireland
18 Jun 02 | Panorama
10 Jun 02 | N Ireland
26 Nov 01 | N Ireland
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