Geraldine Finucane (R), the widow of murdered Belfast
solicitor Pat Finucane, arrives for a media conference with
her children in central London. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
British Prime Minister David Cameron said state collusion
in the 1989 murder of a Northern Ireland lawyer had been
"shocking" after a report on one of the province's most
controversial killings condemned security services and
Pro-British paramilitaries shot Pat Finucane, who had acted
for members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrilla
group at the height of Northern Ireland's "Troubles", 14
times in front of his wife and three children at his Belfast
An independent report issued on Wednesday (local time)
severely criticised members of the British intelligence
services and army and the Northern Irish police for colluding
in the killing and covering it up, although the author, top
lawyer Desmond de Silva, found no evidence of an
Protestant-dominated security forces were dogged by Catholic
allegations of collusion with pro-British paramilitaries
during the IRA's 30-year armed struggle to end British rule
over the province and unite with largely Catholic Ireland.
The accusations have already been borne out in previous
"This report makes extremely difficult reading," Cameron, who
commissioned the report and had previously accepted that
there had been a degree of collusion and apologised to
Finucane's family, told parliament.
"Sir Desmond is satisfied that there was not an 'over-arching
state conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane' but, while he
rejects any state conspiracy, he does find shocking levels of
"The collusion demonstrated beyond any doubt by Sir Desmond -
which included the involvement of state agents in murder - is
totally unacceptable ... Collusion should never, ever
Quoting from the report, Cameron said the killers had
received active help from members of the police, army or
intelligence services to find Finucane, obtain a gun, dispose
of it, and then avoid justice as investigations were
De Silva, who was given access to secret documents, said two
men involved in facilitating the killing had been in the pay
of security services at the time of Finucane's death, and a
third who was later convicted of the murder had become an
agent once his involvement became known.
One of the agents, Brian Nelson, was jailed for 10 years in
1992 while a case against the other, William Stobie,
collapsed in 2001. He was shot dead two months later.
Ken Barrett, who like Nelson and Stobie had been recruited
from within Protestant paramilitary ranks, was tried and
convicted of the murder in 2004.
De Silva came down heavily on the Protestant-dominated Royal
Ulster Constabulary (RUC), since replaced by a new force
under the terms of a peace agreement, and the army's Force
Research Unit, as well as British politicians of the time.
"My overall conclusion is that there was a wilful and abject
failure by successive Governments to provide the clear policy
and legal framework necessary for agent-handling operations
to take place effectively and within the law," he wrote.
A report in 2007 found that during the 1990s top officers in
the RUC allowed Protestant paramilitary informers to carry
out murders for more than a decade.
Finucane's widow Geraldine maintained her demand for an
independent public inquiry, one that has been backed by the
Irish government, and said yet another British government had
"engineered a suppression of truth" about her husband's
"This report is a sham, this report is a whitewash, this
report is a confidence trick dressed up as independent
scrutiny. But most of all, most hurtful and insulting of all,
this report is not the truth," she said in London.
"The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious
attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so
Cameron repeated his apology to Finucane's relatives but,
mindful of the 200 million pound cost of the public inquiry
into Bloody Sunday - the shooting dead of 13 civil rights
marchers in Londonderry by British troops in 1972 - he said
he would not order a full public inquiry.
He said policing and security in Northern Ireland had been
transformed in recent years, but that 10 days of street
violence in Belfast showed that progress since a 1998 peace
deal could not be taken for granted.
"We will not allow Northern Ireland to slip back to its
bitter and bloody past," he said.