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.
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?
- 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 ?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London