One of the UK’s leading barristers has condemned the government’s decision not to hold a public inquiry into the Pat Finucane murder.

The Prime Minister told the Finucane family on Tuesday that he had, instead, appointed senior lawyer, Sir Desmond de Silva QC, to investigate the 1989 killing.

He will be based in London and will not have the power to summon witnesses.

Michael Mansfield QC said the decision was a “travesty”.

“I think it is a flagrant breach of trust,” Mr Mansfield said. “The family have approached this with considerable dignity and considerable restraint over the years.

“Remember that this family was promised a public inquiry. It was first held out to them by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at the time of the peace process.

“The undertaking was that, if collusion was shown to have taken place between state agencies and those responsible for pulling the trigger, then there would be an inquiry.”

He said the review by Sir Desmond de Silva would be a “complete waste of time and money”.

Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, was shot dead by the UFF at his home 22 years ago.

Ken Barrett, who was convicted of murdering Mr Finucane, told the BBC’s Panorama programme that a police officer suggested the lawyer should be killed.

Mr Mansfield said the Pat Finucane murder had caused successive British governments grave embarrassment.

“From the beginning there never has been any real commitment to making sure it (an independent inquiry) took place,” he said.

“I think the reason for that is that the collusion was severe and there is a desire to ensure that the real truth doesn’t come out.

“This approach is non-existent; it’s just a hopeless situation. I think if the Finucanes stick with it, they will get an inquiry in the end. It may take a longer time, but it’ll happen in the end because the truth will come out. They should not give up because that’s what governments want: families to give up.”