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Finucane: facts we need to know updated

Wed 12 December 2012, 3:09pm

 

 

In the light of David Cameron’s statement, to keep my head above water in the flood of information and angry comment   I itemise questions of fact I‘d like to keep sight of. Perhaps others can add to them.   Update I intend to add to the list myself as I plough through the review and  review comment. I’ll add  convincing answers as they emerge. The Q&A will not all be about new material but will also  include matters which deserve repetition in the light of the de Silva review and reaction to it.

Warning: factual matters only, no polemic or whataboutery in this thread  please.

Update 15/12 courtesy of Brian Rowan in the Belfast Telegraph

Are there  agents connected with the murder  but stll  unidentfied and still in the UDA today?.

They were players in the plot, but not the biggest players; not the  operational planners, or the gunmen.

At the time, Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lyttle was the UDA ‘brigadier’ on the Shankill  Road.

He is not identified as an agent in the review report, but de Silva writes:  “The nature of Lyttle’s contact with some RUC officers provided him with an  entirely improper degree of protection and assistance in his role as UDA  chairman and the so-called brigadier for west Belfast UDA.”

In January 1992, at a meeting I had with loyalists, Lyttle was described as a  “Branch agent” – codenamed ‘Rodney Stewart’.

The person who told me is believed to have been one of the key planners in  the Finucane murder plot. There are suspicions that he too is an agent.

He still holds a senior UDA position, has a lifestyle beyond any legitimate  means of income and inside the loyalist world is viewed as an ‘untouchable’.

There are those who are still hidden behind the curtain of national security  and protected within the word frame of ‘not in the public interest’.

So, no, we probably don’t know the full extent of agent-involvement in the  murder.

Nelson and Lyttle are dead, as is Stobie. He was shot by loyalists in 2001 to  shut him up.

Updates

Wednesday night 12/12

  • In 1985 the Security Service assessed that 85% of the UDA’s ‘intelligence’ originated from sources within the security forces . 85% of what exactly? The number of” leaks?”  Leaks affecting  how many individuals? The precise percentage means this answer is known.

From the de Silva report

It was not until 1993 that some Cabinet Ministers belatedly came to support the creation of a legislative framework. Even then, it was not until seven years later, when the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) was passed, that any description of a statutory regime was created...

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

  • Was RIPA delayed until after the ceasefires and the GFA had been made and it was felt a stricter  regulatory regime could be imposed?

Updates 13/12

  • RIPA  had not be properly implemented even by 2003 according to a report by Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan in 2007. Why not?
  • Is Labour leader Ed Miliband correct when he claimed during the Finucane Statement exchanges in 12/12  that  the Labour government had been negotiating with the Finucane family about holding an inquiry under the Enquiries Act 2005, hitherto rejected by them because it gave ministers the power to curtail inquiries?
  • Why was Pat Finucane a target?
  • What was the strategy which involved collusion designed to achieve?
  • Why did it take 23 years to make these disclosures? Who was resisting disclosure and why, particularly after Stevens 1 to3?
  • What was the extent of clear-up after Stevens? See CAIN summary
  • What was stopping further prosecutions as a result of the Stevens reports?
  • What precisely are the elements of whitewash the Finucane family are accusing de Silva of?
  • How many new interviews did de Silva carry out?
  • In evidential terms, what would an independent public inquiry achieve that de Sliva has not? In concrete terms what are the gaps left to be filled?
  • Are prosecutions possible or likely?  Does the report harm or help prosecutions?
  • Which police force will conduct further investigations with a view to prosecutions?   Do they start all over again or rely on the de Silva report?
  • Will  Brgiadier Gordon Kerr  be interviewed again?
  • Are more  informers now at increased risk?
  • With the Army’s former Force Research Unit and MI5 involved as well as the RUC , how will London and Belfast prosecutors co-ordinate?  Which DPP decides?
  • Alistair McDonnell says de Silva has uncovered only half the truth. What is the other half about?   Mark Durkan says that with collusion shown at all levels it is hard to believe there wasn’t co-ordination. How high up did it go? Will we be told?  How do we find out?
  • There were 287 cases of misleading information reported to ministers. How misleading? Were ministers insufficiently curious?
  • What was the role of officials in alleged cover-up? The cabinet secretary and the Home, Defence and NI Secretaries are to report to the PM who will make their report public.
  • How might names of the guilty  be disclosed ?

 

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Comments (9)

  1. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Here’s another that I’m always surprised isn’t asked:

    How many unionists and loyalists were killed by British agents working inside Republican or Loyalists paramilitaries?

    There’s an assumption in some quarters that, “hey, collusion may have been [insert euphemism of choice] but if it kept us a bit safer then needs must”.

    Anyone who thinks that they were or are safer in a state that had its enemies murdered is deluded.

    Anyone who thinks that only Republicans were murdered by the British state needs to add a few more questions to Brian’s list.

    What do you think?
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  2. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Pete Shirlow has a book out recently on Loyalism and there’s a chapter in there that looks at the extent to which they were agents, including comparative arrest rates with Republicans.

    It would be good to know exactly what this Intelligence payload consisted of and how successful they were at putting it to use.

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  3. Ruarai (profile) says:

    How do you define “successful” Mick?

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  4. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Like some evidence it was used in an operation, successful or otherwise.

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  5. Ruarai (profile) says:

    The point is the objectives of the operations need to be defined, how successfully the tactical execution was conducted is secondary.

    It’s the objectives of the operations that will illustrate the morality and legality of what happened here – or rather the lack thereof.

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  6. Brian Walker (profile) says:

    Ulidian
    This the sort of knowing but not really knowing comment not wanted here please.

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  7. I don’t think there will ever be an inquiry into the workings of MI5 for the simple reason that MI5 would not allow it. I’m sure they have filing cabinets similar to J.Edgar Hoover’s holding information they could use against any politician they wanted to.
    I mean, they ever plotted a coup against Harold Wilson’s government in the 1970s and were never held to account for that.

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  8. PaddyReilly (profile) says:

    Why was Pat Finucane a target?

    As I recall he managed to get some alleged IRA man off by pointing out errors in the procedure. It was only once: the system did not usually work in favour of the defendant: but that was sufficient for some policeman to take against him.

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  9. aquifer (profile) says:

    Why was Pat Finucane a target?

    Simply getting too many terrorists off?

    (Military and Police folks like simplicity) or,

    If he had gone beyond the role of being a very effective Irish separatist lawyer and compromised his status as an officer of the court in some illegal way, they government would not have wished to put such a lawyer on trial in public and international view, especially using covertly gathered evidence.

    And he probably would not have told his wife what he was up to either.

    Could we ever rely on the Provisionals to ‘fess up any small role in this?.

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