Public inquiry must be held into Finucane killing

17 September 2004

Four leading human rights organizations - who sent observers this week to the trial of Kenneth Barrett - today called urgently on the UK government to immediately implement Judge Peter Cory's recommendation for a public inquiry into the 1989 murder of Belfast lawyer Patrick Finucane. The conviction and sentencing today of Kenneth Barrett, a former loyalist paramilitary, for the murder of Patrick Finucane has removed any purported justification on the part of the authorities to further delay a public inquiry.


"Our observers of the trial this week were able to confirm that Kenneth Barrett's guilty plea led to no significant information being made public during the court case; criminal proceedings have clearly been insufficient in getting at the full truth of the Finucane case". There must be no further delay in immediately proceeding to hold a public inquiry into the allegations of state collusion into, and subsequent cover-up of, Patrick Finucane's killing. The four organizations who sent observers further noted Judge Cory's finding that: "[t]his may be one of the rare situations where a public inquiry will be of greater benefit to a community than prosecutions."

A spokesperson for the organizations said:

"Successive governments have aided and abetted the cover-up in this most sinister of murders, which involved collusion by several agents and agencies of the state, including the police and the army. The time has come to submit the murder of Patrick Finucane to the independent scrutiny it demands. There is no longer any excuse for prevarication, and we expect the Prime Minister to announce a public inquiry immediately."

In the past, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on human rights defenders and the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, as well as international and local human rights organizations, including the International Federation of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and the Pat Finucane Centre have called on the UK government to proceed to an inquiry without delay.

The inquiry should focus on collusion by state agents with loyalist paramilitaries in Patrick Finucane's killing, on reports that his death was the result of state policy, and on allegations that different government authorities played a part in the subsequent cover-up of collusion in his killing.

For further information from the Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ) contact Maggie Beirne (Director) 0044(0) 7703486949 or Maggie O'Conor (Legal adviser) 028 90961122