Report of the Rosemary Nelson Tribunal

24 May 2011

The Pat Finucane Centre is conscious that Rosemary Nelson was a private person long before she became a public figure.  We send our warmest wishes to her family as they continue to struggle with the consequences of their loss.

We bear in mind the definition of collusion given by Judge Peter Cory in his report on the murder of Rosemary Nelson:

“Because of the necessity for public confidence in government agencies, the definition of collusion must be reasonably broad when it is applied to such agencies.

“This is to say they must not act collusively by ignoring or turning a blind eye to the wrongful acts of their servants or agents or supplying information to assist those servants or agents in their wrongful acts or encouraging others to commit a wrongful act.

“Any lesser definition would have the effect of condoning, or even encouraging, state involvement in crimes, thereby shattering all public confidence in governmental agencies.”

Clearly, by this definition, the report of the public tribunal of inquiry into Rosemary Nelson’s death produced hard evidence of collusion.

RUC

Judge Cory’s definition of collusion includes acts of omission as well as commission.

  • The inquiry report concludes that the RUC “negligently failed to intervene to prevent their officers from uttering abuse and threats to defence solicitors, including Rosemary Nelson”.

This clearly falls into the category of collusion, defined by Judge Cory, as “ignoring or turning a blind eye to the wrongful acts of their servants or agents”.

  • The report’s conclusion that some RUC members “publicly abused and assaulted Rosemary Nelson … having the effect of legitimising her as a target”

falls within Judge Cory’s definition of collusion as “encouraging others to commit a wrongful act” and therefore also amounts to collusion.

The report’s finding that there was “some leakage of intelligence which we believe found its way outside the RUC” also amounts to collusion in her murder.

The NIO

The report finds the NIO failed to press the RUC for

“full replies to their questions concerning Mrs. Nelson’s security”.

It further failed Rosemary Nelson by dealing “in a mechanistic way” with correspondence from concerned NGOs about her safety.

The report concludes that the state failed to pay attention to Mrs. Nelson’s known vulnerability, failed to analyse or evaluate relevant intelligence information and failed to warn her or offer security advice.

The report says:

“The combined effect of these omissions by the RUC and NIO was that the state failed to take reasonable and proportionate steps to safeguard the life of Rosemary Nelson”.

This amounts, in the view of the PFC, to conclusive evidence of state collusion in the death of Rosemary Nelson.

The Secretary of State’s response to the Inquiry’s findings was to speak to what is not in the report rather than focus on its findings. We stand with others who have expressed their deep concern and disappointment at this response. It is unacceptable to try to divert attention from the state’s failures to protect Rosemary Nelson by suggesting she should have approached those that were threatening her for protection.

Those who choose to interpret this report, perversely, as proof there was NOT collusion in her murder demonstrate precisely the attitudes that paved the way for her murder.

We believe that Rosemary herself, had she been alive, would have pointed to an urgent requirement to reach an agreed definition of what collusion is. Judge Cory offered a definition that sets clear standards and reflects the public’s expectations that all citizens will be protected from wrongdoing by the state’s agents, and, where there is wrongdoing, that those responsible will be held accountable. Public confidence in the institutions of the state demands nothing less.

We call on all interested parties to reach agreement on a definition of collusion. We also call on the British government to begin implementing the Eames/Bradley proposals on truth recovery to ensure all victims of the conflict are treated in as equal and fair a way as possible.