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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 13:47 GMT
Court bid over Finucane report
Family of Pat Finucane at courts
Finucane family have started legal action over report
The family of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane is taking legal action against the British Government for failing to publish a report into his killing.

Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine lodged papers at the High Court on Tuesday, seeking an order compelling the Secretary of State to publish Judge Peter Cory's report on the murder.

The retired Canadian judge examined allegations of collusion surrounding some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

These included the 1989 murder of Pat Finucane at his north Belfast home, the killing of Catholic man Robert Hamill in Portadown in 1997, the murder of Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright in the Maze Prison in 1997 and the murder of Rosemary Nelson in Lurgan in 1999.

He told the families of solicitors Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and of Robert Hamill and Billy Wright on Monday that he has recommended public inquiries into their murders.

Judge Cory was appointed by the British and Irish Governments in 2001 to examine allegations of collusion surrounding some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Last October, he delivered six reports to the London and Dublin administrations on eight killings.

The British Government says it is still considering the legal and security implications of publishing the judge's findings.

Billy Wright was murdered in prison in 1997
Billy Wright was murdered in prison in 1997
However, some of the families have criticised the decision not to publish the reports, because of what the government calls legal and human rights matters.

On Tuesday, solicitors for the Finucane family lodged papers at the High Court in Belfast to seek a judicial review.

Geraldine Finucane is also seeking a declaration that she is entitled to a copy of the report or access to it.

The grounds for her application include the government's commitment to publish the report, and that its subsequent failure is a breach of her rights under the European Convention.

The papers state that Judge Cory has said in his report on the murders of Chief Supt Breen and Supt Buchanan: "This case, like that of Finucane, Hamill, Wright, Nelson and the Gibsons was specifically selected as one of those to be reviewed to determine if there was collusion and, if so, to direct a public inquiry.

"In light of this provision in the original agreement, failure to hold such an inquiry as quickly as possible might be thought to be a denial of the original agreement, which appears to have been an important and integral part of the peace process.

"The failure to do so could be seen as a cynical breach of faith which could have unfortunate consequences for the Peace Accord."

A judge is understood to be assessing the papers to decide whether to hold a leave hearing or to proceed straightaway with the judicial review application.

Earlier, Mr Finucane's son Michael said Judge Cory had phoned him as he decided that contacting the families was the humane thing to do.

"He did not think that it was not appropriate that the families be made to wait any longer for at least this fundamental piece of information," he said.

'Cover-up'

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams accused the British Government of a "cover-up" over its failure to publish the reports.

Mr Adams was speaking on Tuesday following a meeting with Secretary of State Paul Murphy to discuss the inquiries.

He challenged Prime Minister Tony Blair to keep his word about endorsing Judge Cory's recommendations.

He said the refusal to publish the findings proved that Judge Cory had recommended public inquiries into Mr Finucane's killing and other cases.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson welcomed Judge Cory's recommendation to hold a public inquiry into the murder of Billy Wright.

"What we don't want is the kind of inquiry that we've seen connected with Bloody Sunday, which has been drawn out over two years and cost a huge amount of taxpayers' money," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

"I think any inquiry should take place in a relatively short timespan, and it should be focused on the issues relating to the circumstances in which the murder took place."

Published

The Irish Government has already published its report into the murders of RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan and the killing of Lord Maurice Gibson and his wife Lady Cecily in 1987.

Last month, the Irish Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell announced a public inquiry into the IRA murders of the two senior RUC officers in 1989.

The inquiry came after Judge Cory's report which examined allegations of collusion between rogue police officers and the IRA.

Five human rights organisations - Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, Human Rights Watch and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights - have also called for the reports to be published.

Judge Cory was appointed by London and Dublin following the Weston Park political negotiations in 2001.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI security editor Brian Rowan reports
"It's still not known how the government will respond"



SEE ALSO:
Dublin announces killings inquiry
18 Dec 03  |  Northern Ireland
Finucanes request murder report
01 Dec 03  |  Northern Ireland
Judge completes murder reviews
23 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland
Unresolved deaths: A question of collusion?
02 Aug 01  |  Northern Ireland


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