Transcript of UTV Insight programme 'Justice On Trial'

04 December 2001

The full transcript of the UTV Insight television programme, Justice On Trial, broadcast on Tuesday December 4 2001 is now available. The hard hitting investigation again focused attention on the role of the security services, RUC Special Branch, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the British Attorney General in the Finucane case.

PART ONE

Commentary: 
It was the most controversial murder of the conflict.

William Stobie:
"I didn't know it was Pat Finucane, all I knew was, a top Provie, so it was and that was as far as it went."

Commentary: 
It spawned three investigations into collusion and we are no nearer uncovering the truth. 

Hugh Orde, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Stevens Inquiry):
"We have not been sitting here relaxing for the last two years. We have been day in, day out pursuing leads and lines of inquiry. We will continue to do that until we are satisfied we can go no further."

Commentary: 
The collapse of the Stobie trial now threatens to bring into disrepute the entire criminal justice system here.

Geraldine Finucane:
"My very first reaction was that this overwhelmingly emphasised the need for a full public judicial enquiry into Pat's case and that really nothing else could be acceptable."

Commentary: 
Tonight on Insight we examine the truth behind the murder of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane and the attempts by the intelligence agencies to hide behind the cloak of national security.

Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch:
"It is quite obvious that there is somebody somewhere who does not want a public inquiry into this case and I think it is beholding on the politicians to take control of this situation and make their own decisions free of influence from anybody whom they have a vested interest in the matter."

Commentary: 
With the collapse of the trial of William Stobie is justice on trial.

When self-confessed UDA quartermaster and Special Branch Agent, William Stobie walked out of the doors behind me last Monday; it marked the end of one of the most controversial trials in recent times before it had even begun. But the decision to drop the case by the Director of Public Prosecutions only serves to raise further questions surrounding the alleged collusion and cover up in the murder of solicitor, Pat Finucane. The debacle over the attempt to bring Stobie to trial also gives us an insight into the nature of justice in Northern Ireland and, more importantly, the possible corruption of justice here over the past 10 years.

Up until yesterday and for the first time in 12 years, the family of Pat Finucane had an opportunity to see at least one of those involved in his murder face justice. But the fact that the case collapsed owes more to political and security considerations than the pursuit of justice. The very same considerations have dogged successive police investigations since Pat Finucane was murdered by UDA gunmen in February, 1989.

Joe Rice, solicitor for William Stobie:
"Its unusual that the crown some ten years later decide to unmask the crown agent and to bring these serious criminal charges against him. While William Stobie has nothing to hide he would like to find out much more information about the role of the various different prosecuting authorities, the Police Authorities, the military intelligence, the Special Branch, the workings of the Stevens team and of course he would like much more information about the role of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in his prosecution."

Commentary: 
The pressure now is for a full public inquiry, pressure applied equally by the Irish government and the family.

Geraldine Finucane: 
"The role of the DPP, it can be looked at, it can be brought to the public attention through the failure of cases, but they can't be quizzed on it, the situation cannot be gone into in depth, unless we have an inquiry, where these sort of matters can be fully dealt with and I mean they are of ultimate important in any society. The DPP must be a strong organisation that the general public can trust and at the moment I don't think they can."

Commentary: 
And tonight, in his first television interview since taking over the day-to-day running of the investigation into alleged collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane, the head of the Stevens inquiry team says he knows the names of each of the men involved in the assassination. But he admits it is now highly unlikely that they will be brought to justice.

Hugh Orde, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Stevens Inquiry)
"Have you given up hope of catching Pat Finucane's killers?"
"We never give up hope. This is an unsolved crime. It is one of the most serious crimes committed in Northern Ireland in recent history and if we find any further leads to pursue we will pursue them to destruction. We never give up."

Commentary: 
Just how seriously we can take these claims are apparent from the manner in which the case has been handled from the very beginning.

William Stobie joined the UDA after having served in the UDR. In the mid to late 80s he was part of the most active UDA unit in Northern Ireland, a unit responsible for dozens of sectarian murders.

William Stobie: 
"I didn't join the UDA to be part of a gang or anything like that there, I joined them because I felt there was a bit of a war on so there was you know. But being in the UDA, when you start think back on it so you do, you know, what was it all about, I mean it was senseless at the end of the day you know, actually senseless."

Commentary: 
The former soldier was appointed quartermaster to the ruthless battalion then heavily infiltrated by the various branches of the security forces covertly operating in Northern Ireland.

The unit was run by Tucker Lyttle, who, at the time, was also employed as an RUC Special Branch agent.

The intelligence officer to Stobie's unit was Brian Nelson, who was being run by the military's Force Research Unit, an elite counter-terrorism unit deployed on the ground by the British Army.

Among the foot soldiers were Johnny Adair and several other known killers.

It was only a matter of time before Stobie too was recruited, in theory to provide information on terrorist movements. Although why he too was required in a unit already heavily infiltrated has never been adequately explained.

The Enniskillen bomb in November, 1987 set off a chain of events which would lead Stobie to become a Special Branch agent.

The day after the bombing, his UDA unit sought revenge and murdered Adam Lambert on a North Belfast building site mistaking him for a Catholic, a nakedly sectarian killing conducted by a gang the security services had recruited to its cause.

Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch:
"Its bad enough to lose your loved one but then to discover that his murder was part of a much bigger and very murky picture and there appears to have been concerted efforts to cover up the truth. I think that makes it almost impossible for any family to put their loved one to rest and allow him to rest in peace and I know that other families who have also been touched by all of this have suffered very greatly indeed."

Commentary: 
Stobie drove the two killers away from the scene. Within 48-hours he was arrested and taken to Castlereagh where he made a full statement about his involvement, denying that he'd known the men had been involved in the murder. But rather than charge him, Stobie was blackmailed and recruited as an agent.

William Stobie:
"I was going down the hallway and two other Policemen asked me to go into an interview room and when I went into that interview room they started to ask me questions about _________ and those ones and then I knew it was Special Branch so I did. "

"They gave me a telephone number so they did and told me they would contact me and they asked me certain questions, so they did, did I know people in the estate."

What were they actually looking for?
"Well, they were looking information on guns, if they were hidden, where they were hidden and all this here. Who handled the guns and all that there."

Commentary: 
From that point, William Stobie began living a double life. He continued with his role as quartermaster, keeping and distributing guns for the UDA.

Over the course of 12-months, Special Branch sought to build up a detailed picture of events in the sectarian cockpit of North Belfast.

A calculated and calculating decision was taken which departed fundamentally from fundamentals of policing. Lambert was dead. More useful then to use the knowledge Stobie could give them to save lives. It placed Special Branch in the position of judge and jury and effectively bypassed the judiciary, now reduced to a supporting role.

Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch:
"Of course the Director of Public Prosecutions is not obliged to explain his actions or to give reasons for his actions so it is difficult to know what he was saying about his decisions but looked at coldly from the outside many of his decisions seem only to be explicable in terms of deals done with defendants or at the convenience of particularly the RUC and those decisions impact on people's confidence in the DPP's independence or indeed his ability to act completely."

Commentary: 
The question is did the agencies of the state go a step further and move into execution?

In February, 1989, Stobie was summonsed to meet a senior UDA man (Jim Spence), he knew something was being planned.

William Stobie:
"I produced a gun and I was told it wasn't the right gun because it was six shots, it wasn't They wanted 13 shots and it was a 9mm so it was Browning and it was all documented _______.

But it was clear that Special Branch knew
"They knew that something was going down, that it was a top Provie. I told them it was a top Provie."

Commentary: 
On the morning of the murder, Stobie spotted three men he knew to be UDA killers close to his home. He phoned Special Branch to warn them that something was up. Later that evening, Stobie went to a club in the Highfield Estate where he again saw the three men he'd seen in the morning along with three others. All six left and Stobie went home and called his handlers once more.

William Stobie:
You warned them?
Yes.
What did you say to them?
I told them it was going to be a top Provie, and that is as far as it went so it was."
Do you think they could have saved Pat Finucane's life?
They could have done something so they could have, you know.

Commentary: 
By not moving in to apprehend the gunmen as they left the Highfield Estate behind me, the RUC allowed the UDA hit team to proceed unhindered to its destination - the home of Pat Finucane. By if the police had set up roadblocks not only would they have saved Pat Finucane's life but they would have dealt a devastating blow to the UDA's C Company, the same company which in the late 80s and early 90s went on to murder dozens of Catholics in North and West Belfast.

Pat Finucane had assumed a high profile due to his success in the courts on behalf of a number of Republican clients. But just a few weeks before his murder, he had been publicly rebuked by a British junior minister. Douglas Hogg told the House of Commons that a number of solicitors in Northern Ireland were unduly sympathetic to cause of the IRA.

Douglas Hogg quote " I have to state as a fact, but with great regret, that there are in Northern Ireland a number of solicitors who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA."

Three weeks later, two Loyalist killers broke down Mr. Finucane's front door as the family were eating dinner and with savage accuracy murdered the solicitor in front of his wife and children.

Geraldine Finucane: 
"Well certainly I would like to see them being brought to justice but throughout this whole period of time they have never been my primary motive for furthering this case and for moving along, I have always been more interested in the people behind the scenes, the ones who sent these guys out, the ones who encouraged them to go and the ones who watched while they did it, watched while they got rid of their weapons afterwards and still did nothing about it."

Commentary: 
Unknown to Stobie, and to his handlers, another agent working for the crown had provided the intelligence for the planned assassination.

Brian Nelson the UDA's intelligence officer and double agent, in turn, had been provided access to military data on Pat Finucane known as a P card. He had even scouted the lawyer's home accompanied by a female agent of the secretive Force Research Unit, or FRU.

Earlier this year, Insight examined the Force Research Unit's role in the Finucane killing. Licensed to Kill revealed details of a report on the case by British Irish Rights Watch which made such serious allegations that the government was forced to call Sir John Stevens back to the Province for the third time in ten years.

The British Irish Rights Watch report stated that FRU:
"broke every rule in the book and committed some of the most serious crimes, including conspiracy to murder, collecting and providing information likely to be of use to terrorists and directing terrorism."

Commentary: 
A former officer in the FRU said the unit did not have to follow any rules and in Brian Nelson's case used Loyalist paramilitaries as part of a distinct government strategy.

Jack Grantham, Former FRU Handler:
"The strategy of using him as a conduit, through and using the UFF as an extension of the operational capability of the British Army. By that I mean refining their targeting, increasing their operational efficiency by re-arming them and using them to target known subversives which fitted the criteria and other type of person that the FRU wanted eliminating."

Commentary: 
Nelson was convicted of his involvement in the Finucane killing at a short trial in Belfast in 1992, a trial notable because the evidence was not aired and his commander revealed he was a loyal agent serving the crown. At no stage in either the initial Stevens investigation into collusion or the Nelson trial that followed it was there any airing of Special Branch involvement or knowledge.

Brice Dickson, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission:
"Well, my main concern would be that again it indicates that there has been a degree of control over the prosecution system exercised by the handlers of informers, that's the impression I get anyway, that the Special Branch or MI5 or whoever it has been has in some way made it clear that a prosecution just isn't possible or isn't feasible and that's been apparent over a number of years in this whole Pat Finucane fiasco."

Commentary: 
The critical question therefore remains unanswered: Were the agents of the state working at cross purposes, did the collusion relate only to the cover up or date back to the crime itself?

The evidence points to a dangerous situation in which political decisions were made to jettison the rule of law in order to prosecute the fight against terrorism. Decisions which in turn undermine the integrity of all three Stevens investigations.

Geraldine Finucane: 
"Well as far as I am concerned I really don't know a great deal about what Stevens has done in any of the three visits. They have been surrounded by controversy they have not been published, I have no reason to believe that he is going to publish the third one because he is going to give it to the Chief Constable, during the whole process it has been said by Stevens that he has investigated Pat's murder, then he said he hadn't investigated Pat's murder and really the whole situation over the past 10 years has certainly not inspired any confidence in our family."

Commentary: 
That confidence is further eroded by the evidence provided by William Stobie.
He claims that he alerted his handlers that he was to receive the Browning pistol used to murder Pat Fincuane from a senior UDA figure. But rather than arrest the senior UDA man and retrieve the gun, police looked on as it was passed on to another well-known member of the UDA near a local pub.

William Stobie:
When you received the gun you rang them?
I rang them so I did. They sent a landrover into the estate so they did just to watch but I ended up with another person on a car and was away with the gun and the police were told so they were. I had rung them again so I had and the Special Branch had told me it was too close to me.
What do you think they mean by that?
They probably think that if they went and go it so they could that UDA would have knew that I had told them.

Commentary: 
It would appear by not intercepting the handover, crucial evidence was literally thrown away in order to protect the informer. As with Adam Lambert 18 months earlier, Pat Finucane was expendable. Sources close to the Stevens Inquiry have described the intelligence services relationship with Loyalist paramilitaries at the time of the Finucane murder as institutionalised collusion.

Hugh Orde, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Stevens Inquiry)
Well, what we are clear on is that the RUC, which is now the Police Service in Northern Ireland was in overall control of intelligence, that was the case and that still is the case. Now in terms of how individual agencies contributed to the intelligence picture in Northern Ireland and could it have been done better, then that will be a matter we will talk about in the report.

Commentary: 
In reality the rules governing the conduct of the Dirty War were much more opaque and the grouping linking all aspects of the intelligence machine was in fact Mi5 not Special Branch or FRU.

In a programme broadcast in May this year, Insight produced evidence that Mi5 was in effective overall control of intelligence gathering in Northern Ireland. A dossier of evidence revealed the extent to which senior officers feared Special Branch and its masters, Mi5 given control under the stewardship of Jack Hermon.

Senior Police Source

"Mi5 wanted the power of having a role in fighting terrorism from within the police and secondly they wanted the opportunity to train their operatives and what better training ground than Northern Ireland in the middle of a terrorist war?

Hermon was assured of their good intentions and succumbed because in return he was promised unlimited funds and prestige. 
The RUC Special Branch had a chance to play the game with the big boys and finally they were transformed from a backwater force to one that enjoyed international recognition for their surveillance and intelligence gathering techniques. 
Special Branch ran the RUC, but it was Mi5 pulling their strings behind the scenes."

Commentary: 
This primacy we revealed was achieved through the Walker Report, a document drawn up by Mi5 which gave the Special Branch primacy in police operations. But Mi5's involvement in the security nexus went much further than control of Special Branch.

Brice Dickson, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission:
I believe there are still many questions to be answered by MI5 or by Special Branch or by the Force Research Unit of the Army. The questions that relate to the way in which informers were used, the way in which evidence was concealed or carefully or conveniently forgotten about, wheels within wheels, it's the lack of scrutibility that I object to, of course there have to be undercover operations when you are fighting serious crime, that's taken for granted, but the rule of law should not be subverted by such organisations and they should be accountable for what they have done.

Commentary: 
MI5 alone was in a position to collate all information. The structure of the intelligence operation is akin to a spider's web. At the outer edge are the intelligence operatives working on the ground, recruiting agents and collating information. This is fed into research units of FRU, Special Branch, MI5, 14th Int and the SAS.

These units in turn reported to the Tactical Co-ordinating Group at which the head of Special Branch, Ronnie Flanagan at the time sat alongside the head of the army senior personnel from the NIO and Mi5.

The Task Co-ordinating Group ascertained threat assessment and deployed resources as required.

The only group that had representatives at every stage along the line was MI5 itself. Special Branch, FRU and the SAS merely followed orders.

Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch:
I don't believe that the Force Research Unit or Special Branch were out of control in the sense that there was no hand on the tiller, that the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. I think they were perfectly controlled organisations. What I believe though, is that there was not sufficient political accountability for their work and one of the very big questions that a public inquiry will have to address is to what extent did politicians know what the Force Research Unit was doing, what Special Branch was doing and did they sanction it and that really lies at the heart of the matters that we have been trying to raise over the last 13 years.

Commentary: 
It is possible that the information was not collated in time to ascertain who the target was, when the killing was to take place and therefore take effective measures to prevent it. Crucially, however, all of the elements were known prior to the murder by the various sections of the intelligence community.

MI5 which had the ability to collate all the various strands made a conscious decision not to expose the actions of FRU and Special Branch. At worst, it was instrumental in condoning state execution.

Geraldine Finucane: 
Our family has become much stronger since Pat was murdered and we have become more and more determined the more obstacles that have been put in our way and that is exactly the way we look at it. We see everything that has happened as a delaying tactic to prevent us from getting at the truth and it's not just a truth for ourselves, as the years have gone by we have seen very clearly that something we believe to be against one man, the night that it happened, has now turned into a policy structure for the whole of Northern Ireland and it is something that needs to be thoroughly looked into.

Commentary: 
The Finucane case raises serious questions about the way in which the subsequent investigations were deflected from the extent of security knowledge, a process that has continued to this day with the handling of the Stobie file..

Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch:
It's my impression that there were a whole range of vested interests. Not so much this particular case but in not arriving at the truth about what happened to Patrick Finucane. If anybody had wanted us to know the truth we would have known by now. It is quite obvious that there are a number of people who do not want us to know the truth and who have done everything in their power to stop the truth from coming out.

Commentary: 
And it is the cover up which has the potential to destablise all sections of criminal justice here. Within days of the killing Special Branch was in possession of the facts but chose not to divulge them to the investigating officers. As Insight revealed earlier this year, Special Branch subsequently moved to prevent investigating officers from pursuing a definite line of enquiry, a taped confession by the killer to the Pat Finucane murder.

Jonty Brown, Former Detective Sergeant in CID:
I don't have the ability to argue with people in headquarters…there may be a hundred reasons at that time why they didn't want to move…it might have made more sense evidentially…they have nine tenths of the picture, I don't know…Are you are asking me did I expect them to bring him to book for the murder of Pat Finucane, absolutely.

Commentary: 
There was about to be yet another compromise caused by the sordid reality of the fight against terrorism, in the process would create a scandal of unparalleled proportions during the course of the last 30 years.

END OF PART ONE.


PART TWO:

Commentary: 
In 1991, Jonty Brown, a senior CID officer based in North Belfast, was contacted by a known UDA killer who asked to meet him. Because of its primacy, Special Branch demanded that one of its officers go with him to a roadside meeting on October 3rd during which the UDA man boasted of his role in the Finucane murder. The meeting was recorded by Special Branch.

Jonty Brown, Former Detective Sergeant in CID: 
He explained how he'd stood over Mr. Finucane and had emptied this gun into Mr. Finucane's face. And he wasn't just admitting the murder, he was boasting and gloating over the fact that he'd murdered this man. And he'd related how the bullets had gone into the floor and then because of the heavy stone floor, they were actually coming up past him and he had almost shot himself in error. So he relates this and I asked him well, what happened next. He said I think she got onto the road and she was shot and I don't know whether he shot her or whether his colleague but they left the house and got outside.

Commentary: 
Unfamiliar with the exact details of the Finucane murder, Sergeant Brown began making checks to authenticate the Confession, a confession that had also included a macabre reference to the fact that Mr. Finucane was holding a fork when he was shot. A detail only the killer could know.

Jonty Brown, Former Detective Sergeant in CID:
The photos and the video of the murder of Mr. Finucane were a very closely guarded matter because it was really important that it didn't enter the public domain. Now, we did get access following this confession to the tapes and the next time I met him was on the 10th of October. But in the meantime my colleague had stuck the video into the machine and he called me over and says come and see this and there was Mr. Finucane lying with his fork. So yes, it was at that stage I realised that yes, that we had what was a very, very important admission.
You've got a taped confession. You've written up your notes in your journal. 
Special Branch have a taped confession - there's a difference. And the Special Branch have a duty just as much as I do to investigate the murder of help us investigate the murder of Mr. Finucane.

Commentary: 
Special Branch was in a unique position to cross-reference the man's claims with its informants, such as William Stobie. Indeed, Insight has established that the Special Branch officer who accompanied Jonty Brown was in fact one of William Stobie's handler.

William Stobie:
You had given information that someone was to be murdered? Yes. ….
… given plenty of time to act on that information? Yes.

GRAPHIC:
Commentary: 
Not only did Special Branch not share this information with Sergeant Browne but efforts were made to recruit the killer as an informant, in effect giving him immunity from prosecution. There was nothing Johnty Browne could do to stop it.

Under the Walker guidelines, no arrest is possible without first getting approval of Special Branch.

'All proposals to effect planned arrests must be cleared with Regional special branch to ensure that no agents of either RUC or Army are involved. 
'A decision to arrest an agent must only be taken after discussion between Special Branch and CID. If agreement is not possible the matter will be referred to Assistant Chief constable level. 
'The charging of an agent must be the result of a conscious decision by Special Branch and CID in which the balance of advantage has been carefully weighed.

Commentary: 
This information was also deliberately withheld from the initial Stevens investigation into allegations of collusion, an investigation that focussed instead of low level collusion within the lower ranks of the UDR. Stevens however, had begun to open a Pandora's box with the charging of Brian Nelson.

Nelson's guilty plea ensured the truth did not come out about the level of involvement of other more centrally involved aspects of the security services.

Stobie, however, was going to feel the heat. In the parlance of the field, he was about to be burned. Feeling the pressure of working as a double agent, he had taken out an insurance policy by confiding in a local journalist, Neil Mulholland,

William Stobie: 
I thought my life was in danger. I didn't know any reporters. I known nothing about reporting so I looked up in the yellow pages and seen the Sunday Life because the Sunday Life did do stories on paramilitaries.

Commentary: 
Stobie's actions threatened to expose the degree of knowledge the security forces had on one of the most controversial murders of the conflict. But the strategy backfired. Mullholland went to the RUC and told them what had happened. Stobie was immediately arrested and spent seven days in Castlereagh Holding Centre.

Insight has obtained transcripts of his interviews which provide a very telling account of what police knew about the Finucane murder. During the course of those interviews, senior officers claimed to Stobie that they knew the names of all those involved. In interview after interview, the names of the UDA gunmen operating at the time were mentioned not by Stobie, but by the officers doing the questioning.

The RUC produced a report for the DPP which drew from the interviews with Stobie; the Special Branch evidence and the conversations he'd had with Neil Mullholland.

In January, 1991, the DPP ordered that Stobie was not to be prosecuted. That decision was taken within days of Stobie's appearance at Crumlin Road courthouse charged with possession of weapons found in his home in 1989.

However, a verdict of not guilty was entered when Stobie warned the DPP that if the trial went ahead he would admit to his role as a Special Branch agent and go public with everything he knew about the Finucane killing. That indeed was the corner stone of his unneeded defence ten years later.

Joe Rice, solicitor for William Stobie:
Well, one can speculate as to how trials run, trials can run in many different ways, certainly a fundamental part of his defence would have been that he give information and should have stopped the murder of Pat Finucane and that was absolutely crucial to his defence, but I think it is fruitless to speculate as to what may have happened during the tenure of the trial.

Commentary: 
The key questions are why did the DPP decide not to prosecute Stobie for his role in the Finucane killing and at the same time collapse the arms trial? And did the DPP make those decisions alone or seek guidance from the Attorney General in London?

Neither the DPP nor the Attorney General would participate in this programme.

Both confirmed that there had been no direction by the Attorney General since 1977.

But in identical statements they refused to answer the key question:

"Whether or not there has been consultation between the Director and the Attorney General in relation to a particular case, and, the nature of such a consultation, is a matter solely for the Attorney General and the Director."

The truth was that if the intelligence network was exposed it would only undermine the governments strategy in combating an ongoing terrorist campaign.

But in accepting this situation despite the evidence, the DPP was drawn into the cover up and the result was the rule of law was jettisoned for political reasons. Stobie's lawyer believes a similar rationale underpins last week's decision.

Joe Rice, solicitor for William Stobie:
There are many things that would have come out, we feel that William Stobie's trial was a vehicle perhaps to many unsavoury and total unsatisfactory features of the investigations generally and that's why we would like an inquiry outside of the criminal justice process to examine the unsatisfactory features in the case.

Commentary: 
This in turn raises the question of policy reversal and the very changed political circumstances. The pressure to prosecute Stobie now was mounted by the Stevens Inquiry team, independently of the local police. Charging Stobie was a direct and brutal criticism by Stevens of the conduct of the DPP and the RUC in 1991, both organisation facing fundamental change to buttress the Belfast Agreement. 

Hugh Orde, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Stevens Inquiry):
Well, our decision was to follow the evidence; the evidence took us to Stobie. 
We presented the case in the form of an additional witness statement, which was signed to a Director who reviewed the case and made a decision to charge Stobie with the murder of Patrick Finucane and Adam Lambert.

Commentary: 
The attempts to frustrate the truth continue to this day with the deliberate substitution of the tape recording of the confession by the man who carried out the murder.
When Jonty Brown gave evidence to Stevens he was amazed at the turn of events when he signed his witness statements.

Jonty Brown, Former Detective Sergeant in CID: 
" When I signed it the officers just cleared the desk and as I had done thousands of time myself and the atmosphere totally changed. And they were looking at me then like a police suspect and I couldn't understand this and I said what's the problem. And they asked me that a tape recording of the event of the 3rd of October, 1991 in which I alleged this made the confessions was an independent means of verifying who was telling the truth. I said yes - how do you argue with that. Yes, I had a stipulation, a reservation, I said look people can do things with tapes and they assured me the tape had been to Scotland Yard. It had been examined and it hadn't been tampered with. But there was no evidence or confession to the murder of Mr. Finucane on it. I was aghast, I could see myself facing court for perjury in the full knowledge that I wasn't telling lies. How could this not be changed? How could this be that the tape was in total contradiction to my written records?

Commentary: 
The tape was clearly labelled October 3, the date of Brown's second meeting with the source - the first at which the Special Branch attended and recorded. Johnston Brown began to see a dangerous strategy emerging, simultaneously amazed and gratified that whoever substituted the tape failed to take away its identifying character. In the third meeting a week later, the Special Branch officer re-asked all of the questions from the first meeting, with one key difference: he omitted all mention of Finucane. The reason was not to become apparent for a decade. 
However, at the beginning of the second meeting, the source mentioned two murders which had taken place that evening, inadvertently time dating the tape recording.

Jonty Brown, Former Detective Sergeant in CID:
This tape that was marked the 3rd of October was actually a recording that was taken on the 10th of October?
Yes, unless the individual in the car had a crystal ball on The 3rd of October, he couldn't have known about two murders on the 10th.
"This was a very serious situation because the tape of October the 3rd. He couldn't have known about two murders on the 10th.".
"Yes, it didn't surprise me. I mean I've had difficulty with individuals in Special Branch and these individuals I would be at odds with. It doesn't surprise me that they didn't listen to that tape but obviously it came back in to Castlereagh. All it had to be was a re-run of the third in line with my notebooks and my journals in the same way as I would have in my notes and that rids Special Branch of the confession, it wasn't done in 98, I don't know. You would have to ask Special Branch.".

Commentary: 
Given Special Branch's activity and the clear example of attempting to pervert the course of justice, can there be any public confidence that the police can police itself or that Stevens can get to the bottom of the affair, fast turning into the biggest scandal in the history of the conflict.

Geraldine Finucane:
I think that Stevens could have been hindered quite a lot. As I said there has been a lot of controversy and there have been fires, there have been stumbling blocks along the way, and really although he has presented Stobie to the courts, I don't think Stevens has any control over what happens once he gets there and I think the big question is the role that the DPP played in all this. The decisions that they have taken not only in this case but the last time when Stobie was charged before and the DPP said that there wasn't a case to answer. I think their role should be investigated very thoroughly.

Commentary: 
The political games played with justice also involved playing with the mental health of an individual. It had become clear earlier this year that Neil Mullholland's health was deteriorating as a result of him being ordered to give evidence against Stobie. His solicitors brought an application asking that the summons be set aside. Lord Justice Carswell denied the application but in doing so said it was up to the DPP to decide who should give evidence. The judge said the DPP would have to consider Mulholland's reliability given the psychiatric reports. It was a belated attempt to shore up the integrity of the judicial system but it also gave the DPP good reason to collapse yet another trial of William Stobie.

Hugh Orde, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Stevens Inquiry):
I'm not a medical expert. I'm a Police Officer. My team are Police Officers not from Ireland but from the United Kingdom, but they are all Police Officers. It was a matter for the Director to decide if he was a credible witness and up until very recently the decisions were all in favour of a prosecution. I'm sure they were quite proper decisions which you need to ask the Director about rather than myself but they appear to us to be entirely proper and the case went to Court. It is only recently that the medical state of the witness has been called into question in public Court and as a result the Director has decided today not to take the case any further.

Joe Rice, solicitor for William Stobie: 
I think it raises a lot of questions and equally the truth still has not come out in relation to the Crown involvement in respect of both investigations and it may well be that certain branches of the Crown wanted the Stobie case to run but it strikes me equally as likely that not every branch of the Crown did not want the case to run but unfortunately the truth seems to have got lost.

Commentary: 
If for security and political reasons the charges could not stick today the political climate has. And it here that the suspicions about the true agenda of the Stevens team at each stage of its inquiries moves centre stage.

The first investigation centred on the UDR and identified low level collusion. The second on the foot of the Nelson trial served only to change the leadership of the UDA as Tommy Tucker Lyttle took the hit. Now, with controversial changes to policing being required to copperfasten a political settlement it is Special Branch and Special Branch alone that is in the line of fire.

Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch:
The evidence that we have seen suggests that Army intelligence, MI5 and RUC Special Branch were all engaged in intelligence gathering. One of the questions to which we don't know the answer is the extent to which they shared that intelligence or co-ordinated its gathering and that, it seems to me, lies at the heart of the Finucane case and other cases that we have been raising because at the moment in the absence of clear information on that front it's very easy for one branch of the security forces to pass the buck to another branch. We need to get the bigger picture and to see exactly what was going on in terms of intelligence but I would say that all three agencies were actively engaged in gathering intelligence at the time.

Commentary: 
Insight has also discovered that the prosecution was prepared to go into the Stobie trial in the full knowledge that the weapon he was alleged to have handed over to Pat Finucane's killers no longer existed. The pistol had been recovered by police during a raid in the Shankill Road in 1989 but when it was re-examined in July this year it was discovered that the barrel and slide had been replaced. Further investigation by the Stevens team found that, inexplicably, the Forensic Science Laboratory had given the weapon back to the army in 1995. With the barrel and slide replaced, there was no chance of any further forensic evidence being gleaned.

Brice Dickson, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission:
"Either that's incompetence…"

Commentary: 
With those who planned and executed Pat Finucane remaining free and Neil Mullholland in serious psychological state the case of William Stobie says much about the quality of the system which passes for justice in Northern Ireland. Geraldine Finucane is outraged at suggestions that an international judge should now investigate her husband's murder.

Geraldine Finucane: 
I am particularly worried because everybody is rushing ahead with the idea of an international judge. No judge has been appointed, no terms of references have even been discussed, not even the start of a discussion, no timescale has been set up, and certainly if this one man has to look at six cases and he's not perhaps going to report until the end of the six cases, I can see a delay in this for at least another four or five years and from the British Government's point of view that probably will be quite welcome.

Commentary: 
The promise of a new policing service and the implementation of the criminal justice review was at the centre of the government's courting exercise to get nationalists to sign up to the police board. But if the very system is already seen to lack real transparency it could collapse before it takes its first faltering steps. That the Finucane family has lost all confidence in that process sends a very clear political message: what really has changed.