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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 17:16 GMT
Stevens 'gets to truth' on collusion
Sir John Stevens says he has got to the truth about collusion
Britain's most senior police officer has said he has got to the truth about collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at an international conference in Belfast on Thursday, Sir John Stevens said 28 of his officers were still involved in the inquiry.

It is now focusing on the army agent codenamed Stakeknife.

"We are bringing to a close some of the investigations in relation to Nelson, (the army informer Brian Nelson), the handlers and other issues," he said.

"However, the main part of the investigation at the moment, as the prime minister announced in the Houses of Parliament, relates to the allegations against the agent Stakeknife."

Wilful failure to keep records
Absence of accountability
Withholding intelligence and evidence
Agents involved in murder

Asked if he found that the RUC had been corrupt, Sir John said that corruption was part of any major organisation, whether it be the RUC or the Metropolitan Police.

"Corruption is always there, you have to have systems to ensure you can fight that corruption to identify and eradicate it.

He added: "I would not say it (the RUC) was corrupt any more than some other organisations were corrupt.

"At the end of the day, they were doing, at that time, a very difficult job".

In April, it emerged that up to 20 Army and police personnel could face criminal charges in the wake of the Stevens Three report which alleged that rogue elements colluded with loyalist killers.

Stevens Three

Sir John found members of the RUC and Army colluded with the largest loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), to murder Catholics.

Informants and agents "were allowed to operate without effective control and to participate in terrorist crimes", the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has been considering whether criminal charges should be brought.

The report also found military intelligence in Northern Ireland helped to prolong the Troubles in the late 1980s.

Its key findings were:

  • Actions or omissions by security forces led to deaths of innocent people

  • Murders of solicitor Pat Finucane and student Adam Lambert could have been prevented.

    Collusion in both murders of Pat Finucane and Adam Lambert

  • Government minister was compromised in House of Commons

  • Three official inquiries wilfully obstructed and misled

    The report, which centres on the murder of Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 and Protestant student Adam Lambert in 1987, was delivered to Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde on Thursday 17 April.

    After receiving the April 2003 report, the chief constable said Sir John in his 21 recommendations had stressed the importance of the criminal investigation.

    "He confirmed that he had today sent a large file to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide what to do in terms of criminal charges and whether prosecutions should be brought," said Mr Orde.

    He said many of the police officers questioned in the Stevens investigation had since retired.

    Mr Orde said he was determined that there would be no collusion under his command.

    The Finucane family has always believed the security forces were involved in his murder and have dismissed the report.

    His widow, Geraldine, said a full judicial inquiry was the only way to deal with the issue.

    Mr Finucane, a high-profile Catholic solicitor, was shot dead by the UDA in front of his family at his north Belfast home.

    BBC NI security editor Brian Rowan
    "Twenty-eight of Sir John's officers are still involved in the inquiry"

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