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Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 20:12 GMT 21:12 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

New revelations in Finucane murder

Journalists show solidarity with Belfast colleague

A court has heard how a self confessed RUC informer told police nine years ago of his role in the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

William Stobie, 48, reportedly confessed to his part in the 1989 killing during a series of interviews with Ed Moloney, the Northern editor of the Dublin based Sunday Tribune newspaper in 1990.

[ image: Pat Finucane: Murdered in 1989]
Pat Finucane: Murdered in 1989
These interviews were published after Mr Stobie was charged in June of this year. The arrest followed the ordering of a new inquiry into the Finucane murder.

The new investigating team obtained a court order directing Ed Moloney to hand over his notes of the interviews he conducted with Mr Stobie in 1990.

Mr Moloney contested this order during Monday's hearing in Antrim Crown Court.

Admitted supplying weapons

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Turner told the court that Mr Stobie had confessed his involvement in the murder during 32 interviews conducted over seven days in 1990.

Despite the alleged admission and a file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, he was never charged by the RUC.

DCI Turner alleged Mr Stobie had admitted to the RUC supplying one of the weapons used in the murder and of disposing of it afterwards.

He was re-arrested in June by the team which is comprised mainly of Metropolitan Police officers and headed by the Scotland Yard Deputy Commissioner, John Stevens.

They charged him with involvement in the murder largely based on the the evidence of a former Sunday newspaper journalist, Neil Mulholland.

Serious consequences for journalist

He had interviewed the accused in 1990 and provided the murder squad with a statement and notes of his original interview.

Counsel for the Crown Solicitor's Office, David McAllister, told the hearing that the police team wanted notes of an interview conducted by Mr Moloney in 1990 to corroborate Mr Mulholland's evidence and to advance the murder inquiry.

But Michael Lavery QC, for Mr Moloney, said they would gain nothing new from his client's notes and were engaged in creating a collision course with Mr Moloney's journalistic ethics.

He accused the police team of being on a "fishing expedition or perhaps worse" and engaged in activity which might have "serious consequences" for Mr Moloney.

He said the police case would not be advanced "one iota" by his client adding his notes to the already published article.

[ image: Ed Moloney:
Ed Moloney: "I might as well give up being a journalist"
After the hearing, Mr Moloney questioned why no action had been taken until now given that it emerged during DCI Turner's evidence that Mr Stobie had admitted his role in the murder during questioning over nine years ago.

"It begs the question why they're taking action against him and it also begs the question why I'm being pursued."

The judgement was reserved at the hearing and it may be several days before a verdict is handed down.

Journalists and trade unionists from all over Ireland protested outside Antrim Crown Court during the hearing.

Mr Stobie has denied charges of involvement in Pat Finucane's murder.

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