[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 18:57 GMT
'Government slowness in inquiry'
Murdered LVF leader Billy Wright
Billy Wright was murdered in the Maze Prison in December 1997
Difficulties in receiving information from the government has delayed the inquiry into a leading loyalist's murder, the panel chairman has said.

The second preliminary hearing in the inquiry into the murder of Billy Wright has taken place in Belfast.

Wright was shot dead by INLA prisoners in the Maze Prison on 27 December 1997.

Inquiry chairman Lord MacLean said he was "concerned at the slow response of a number of government departments to our requests".

He said it was now anticipated the public sessions would begin next September and continue into 2007.

They had been expected to start next spring. The first preliminary hearing was held in June.

Where there has been the death of someone in the custody of the state, any inquiry set up to investigate that death must seek to ensure, so far as possible, that it beings the full known facts into the public light
Lord MacLean

Lord MacLean said: "I will not, at this stage, give specific examples of the extent of co-operation which the inquiry team has or has not received from the parties we are charged with investigating, namely the prison authorities or other state agencies."

However, he added: "I will assure everyone, however, that comment will be made in due course in the report of the inquiry on some of the difficulties we have encountered in the process of identification, collation and production of evidence that may be relevant to our work."

The chairman said it had also taken "a significant period of time" for NI Secretary Peter Hain to respond to his request for the inquiry to be converted and be held under the Inquiries Act 2005 rather than the Prisons Act under which it had been set up.

'Shot several times'

Lord MacLean said he had requested the conversion of his inquiry because he did not consider its powers under the Prisons Act were wide enough.

"Where there has been the death of someone in the custody of the state, any inquiry set up to investigate that death must seek to ensure, so far as possible, that it brings the full known facts into the public light.

"In pursuing that objective, it is important to recognise that there is a responsibility and an onus on those state agencies concerned to provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation on how the death occurred."

Wright, 37, had just got into a prison van to be taken to the visitors' area of the jail, when the prisoners from the INLA - a republican paramilitary organisation - climbed over the roof of the H-block and into the prison yard.

One opened the van door, singled out the LVF leader and shot him several times.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy announced the public inquiry in November 2004.

Lord MacLean is joined on the inquiry by academic professor Andrew Coyle from the University of London and the former Bishop of Hereford, the Reverend John Oliver.


SEE ALSO:
Wright unhappy over inquiry terms
22 Jun 05 |  Northern Ireland
MP 'has Wright murder details'
19 Jun 03 |  Northern Ireland
Father loses file access bid
07 Mar 03 |  Northern Ireland
Inquiry call over LVF leader's death
22 May 02 |  Northern Ireland
Inquiry 'undermined' by government
31 Jul 02 |  Northern Ireland
Wright killing inquiry demand
25 Oct 00 |  Northern Ireland


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific