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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Finucane inquiry head lands top Met job

John Stevens is heading an independent inquiry in Northern Ireland

The police officer heading a new investigation into allegations of security force collusion with loyalists in Northern Ireland has been appointed to the top job at the London's Metropolitan Police Force.

John Stevens will replace the current head of Scotland Yard, Paul Condon.

Mr Condon agreed to stand down at the end of his term in post following bad publicity over the botched investigation of the Stephen Lawrence murder.

The Search for Peace

Morale among the Met's officers has been low following a series of corruption probes and a critical report from the Macpherson inquiry into its investigation of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence at a London bus stop.

Government sources have said Home Secretary Jack Straw hopes Mr Stevens, 56, will act as a new broom, sweeping through the London police service.

He has headed a probe into corrupt police officers in London, leading to 50 suspensions.

Third inquiry into collusion

He is currently leading the third inquiry into allegations of security force collusion between the Northern Ireland security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

Mr Stevens came to Northern Ireland in September 1989 to lead the first inquiry into collusion after allegations that loyalist paramilitaries had gained possession of files on republicans from the security forces.

The family of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane said they believed there was security force collusion in his murder in 1989.

[ image: The newspaper story which landed journalist Ed Moloney in court]
The newspaper story which landed journalist Ed Moloney in court
Mr Stevens was involved in a second investigation in April 1993 as the allegations continued.

Launching the third inquiry into collusion allegations on 29 April this year Stevens made the surprise announcement that he had never investigated the circumstances of the murder of Pat Finucane during his previous inquiries.

Mr Stevens is heading the third inquiry independently of the Royal Ulster Constabulary after he was given responsibility for the investigation by RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

The Stevens inquiry team is currently locked in a court battle with a Northern Ireland journalist.

He is refusing to hand over his notes of interviews with a self confessed loyalist informer who said he gave the RUC special branch information which could have prevented Pat Finucane's murder.

The Sunday Tribune's northern editor, Ed Moloney, published an article detailing his interview with loyalist William Stobie, on 27 June, but has said he will face jail rather than pass on the notes.

Mr Stobie has been charged with the Finucane murder.

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