Wednesday 18 July 2018

Widow of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane takes bid for public inquiry to UK Supreme Court

Geraldine Finucane, widow of a murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, takes her bid for a public inquiry into his death to the UK Supreme Court
Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Geraldine Finucane, widow of a murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, takes her bid for a public inquiry into his death to the UK Supreme Court Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Cathy Gordon

The widow of a murdered Belfast solicitor takes her bid for a public inquiry into his death to the UK's highest court.

Geraldine Finucane's 39-year-old husband Pat was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989 in an attack found to have involved collusion with the state.

Mr Finucane, who represented a number of high-profile republicans, was murdered in front of his wife and children at their north Belfast home.

Former British prime minister David Cameron decided not to hold a public inquiry into the killing - one of the most notorious of The Troubles - but ordered an investigation by a senior lawyer.

The review by Sir Desmond de Silva QC, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, concluded there was "no overarching state conspiracy" in the lawyer's death but found "shocking" levels of state collusion involving the army, police and MI5.

Mrs Finucane has described Sir Desmond's 2012 report as a "whitewash" and has waged a lengthy legal battle for a public inquiry.

Pat Finucane was shot at his north Belfast home by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989
Pat Finucane was shot at his north Belfast home by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989

In February last year, she lost the latest round of the fight at the Court of Appeal in Belfast.

Three judges dismissed her challenge against a ruling in 2015 that the 2011 decision by Mr Cameron to reject a public inquiry was lawful.

A panel of five Supreme Court justices, headed by the court's president Lady Hale, will consider the case today and tomorrow.

One of the issues the court has been asked to decide is whether the decision to conduct a review rather than hold a public inquiry was "taken in accordance with the stated decision-making process or whether it was a sham process and/or whether the outcome was predetermined".

(left to right) Piaras, Michael, Katherine, Geraldine and John Finucane outside the Supreme Court in London
Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
(left to right) Piaras, Michael, Katherine, Geraldine and John Finucane outside the Supreme Court in London Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

The judges will also consider whether Mrs Finucane had a "substantive legitimate expectation" that a public inquiry would be established and whether the failure to establish such an inquiry into her husband's murder was compatible with article 2 - the right to life - of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

At the time the Supreme Court appeal was announced, Peter Madden of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, said: "The only way that the full truth about Pat's murder can be firmly established, and the extent to which a policy of extra-judicial assassination of which Pat was a victim was authorised by government, is by a full transparent public inquiry where witnesses and documents are subject to intense scrutiny.

"We will seek to persuade the Supreme Court at the hearing of this appeal that David Cameron acted unlawfully in refusing a public inquiry and that the court should quash his decision."

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