Monday 20 November 2017

Legal review of Rosemary Nelson murder probe

Final legal checks are being carried out on the findings of a public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson in Co Armagh in 1999.

The inquiry team had already said it hoped to have its long-awaited report into the allegations of security force collusion in the killing completed by the end of April.

Now Secretary of State Owen Paterson said British Government lawyers are beginning their review of the inquiry's report to ensure its contents do not endanger any individual or compromise national security.

Mrs Nelson, a 40-year-old mother-of-three, died after a bomb planted by the loyalist Red Hand Defenders exploded under her car as she left her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh, on March 15, 1999.

The lawyer represented a number of high-profile republicans, as well as acting for a Catholic residents' group which opposed Orange Order marches in the Drumcree parade stand-off.

She rose to public prominence when human rights groups raised concerns for her safety after claims she was being intimidated by security force members and loyalists.

Mr Paterson said in a statement to the House of Commons that his team's review of the public inquiry findings was to get under way.

"In anticipation of the publication of the report of the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry, I have today asked a team of officials to commence the checking of the inquiry's report in relation to human rights and national security matters," he said.

"I intend to adopt the same approach as was used for the checking of the report of the Bloody Sunday, Billy Wright and Robert Hamill Inquiry reports.

"As I informed the House in my written statement of December 16, 2010, the Nelson Inquiry intends to complete its report by the end of April 2011."

Mr Paterson said he was legally obliged to have the report's contents reviewed.

"I have established a small team to assist me in carrying out this necessary exercise," he said.

"The team will comprise the Northern Ireland Office's principal legal adviser, two officials from the Ministry of Defence, one official from the Police Service of Northern Ireland and one official and one legal adviser from the Security Service, who are familiar with the sensitive material provided to the inquiry panel.

"This team will be granted access to the report under strict terms of confidentiality and for the sole purpose of carrying out the necessary checks, and they will report directly to me alone.

"Neither I nor any official beyond the members of the checking team will have access to the report until 24 hours before it is published."

Press Association

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