Statement by Geraldine Finucane on behalf of the Finucane Family

“The world is now aware that my family and I were invited by the British Prime Minister David Cameron to 10 Downing Street earlier this week to hear his decision on the holding of an inquiry into the murder of my husband, Pat Finucane. Even now, days after the event, we still feel humiliated and insulted by the ordeal we were made to endure.

Not only were my family and I forced to listen to the Prime Minister of Britain renege on a promise made by the British Government, we had to hear him tell us, over and over, what it was that we really wanted, how we really wanted to achieve it, and what our ultimate response would be. It was clear within minutes that we had been lured to Downing Street under false pretences by a disreputable government led by a dishonourable man. My family and I have been humiliated publicly and misled privately. The NI Secretary of State, Owen Patterson, has denied that the Government misled my family. He claims that the reason we were brought to London was to allow the Prime Minister to apologise personally. I reject this explanation as untrue and self-serving.

I intend to reveal the details of discussions with British Government officials over the last year, which will show clearly prove that my family and I were indeed misled.

Lawyers for my family, including my two sons, attended meetings over the course of the last year with both the Secretary of State and his officials. Most of these meetings were private, to facilitate open discussion. The process was part of a review by the Government to determine whether a public inquiry ‘remained in the public interest.’ The Government was keen to know if we would participate in an inquiry and if so, under what conditions.

Our objection to part of the Inquiries Act 2005 is well documented. We opposed the use of the Restriction Notices created by the Act because a Government minister can impose these upon an inquiry at will. We had asked the previous Government not to use them but were told this was impossible. However, a recent case, the Baha Mousa Inquiry, created just such a precedent. Restriction Notices were not deployed in Baha Mousa. Instead, decisions about the restriction of evidence were left to the independent judge. We told the Government that an inquiry operated along the same lines as Baha Mousa would be something we could participate in. Although it was made clear that the Minister would make the final decision on an inquiry, the indications from Government officials were encouraging.

At no time were we advised that an alternative to an inquiry was also under consideration.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, we committed our position to writing in a submission delivered to the Government. Copies of this document are available. As it makes clear, the focus of the discussions between our family and the Government was the manner in which the inquiry might proceed. It was the Government itself that brought the Baha Mousa inquiry into discussions as a model upon which progress could be built. A considerable amount of time was spent exploring how it could be utilised as a blueprint for Pat’s case.

At no stage was a review in the manner announced by the Prime Minister ever discussed. We were told the Secretary of State would make a decision. When we learned that the Prime Minister wished to meet with us in Downing Street, we assumed, as did many others, that the Government was going to confirm its commitment to the promise of a public inquiry. Furthermore, in a recent telephone conversation between a senior NIO official and our lawyer, Peter Madden, we were told the Prime Minister was confident we would be happy with what was on offer. We could not bring ourselves to believe that we were being invited as guests to the Prime Minister’s home just to be refused the public inquiry promised many years ago.

The fact that David Cameron did so and in such a public fashion ranks as one of the most cruel and devastating experiences of my life.

What Mr. Cameron has established is a review of the papers in the case. The person appointed, Sir Desmond De Silva, will simply read the statements collected by the Stevens Investigation team. Although he will be permitted to speak with relevant persons, this will be done behind closed doors. My family will not be permitted to participate. We will see nothing for ourselves, hear nothing for ourselves and say nothing for ourselves. If anyone refuses t o speak with Mr. De Silva, he has no powers to compel them.

My family and I have no confidence in this process. We cannot be expected to take the British Prime Minister’s word that it will be effective when he is reneging on a Government commitment in order to establish it. His actions prove beyond doubt that the word of British Prime Minister is not to be trusted. The case of Pat Finucane shows that British Prime Ministers no longer keep their promises.

My family and I take great encouragement from the renewed support we have received this week, domestically and internationally. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has already asked for an urgent meeting with the family next Monday. Members of the US Congress have criticised the decision publicly and made their feelings known to the US and British Governments. Perhaps most telling of all, two former NI Secretaries of State have disagreed with the Prime Minister and urged him to reconsider. They have called this review “a mistake”. It is much more than that. History will not look favourably upon the decision of Mr. Cameron to welsh on the promise that was made.

My family does not believe that a public inquiry into Pat’s murder would elevate his case above the deaths of others. We support the quest of any family for truth and justice. We believe that a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane would be a force for good and not a long-running, open ended waste of money. It would clear a lot of the very poisonous air that has been left behind.

Most of all, we do believe that the British Government should honour the promise they made.”

 

 

NOTE FOR MADDEN AND FINUCANE MEETING

 

At the last meeting we discussed potential models of inquiry if one were to be held. This note sets out an overview of three current examples to aid discussion and to assist the family in making representations to the Secretary of State.

 

Northern Ireland Office January 2011

NON-STATUTORY INQUIRY EXAMPLE – GIBSON INQUIRY

•          Non-statutory inquiry established by the Prime Minister in July 2010.

•          Guarantees given by the PM in Parliament on state co-operation in relation to documents and potential witnesses.

•          independent judicial Chair. Two other non-judicial members of the panel.

•          Chair invited to consider the balance between public and private sessions, though the Prime Minister’s letter of appointment to the Chair makes dear that “almost all of the operational intelligence detail will need to be reviewed in closed session.”

•          Chair asked to agree a public protocol with the Government on the disclosure of information. If the protocol follows that used in the Iraq Inquiry, that would mean a detailed consultative process between the Government and Inquiry on disclosure. If agreement cannot be reached then the Inquiry can refer to this in its final report but cannot disclose the information.

•          PM’s letter to the Chair establishes that the Inquiry is free to question people and groups from outside Government in open session.

•          Asked to report within 12 months.

•          Budget TBC. Based on the example of the non-statutory Iraq Inquiry, a similar year long inquiry could cost around £3 million.

INFORMATION RECOVERY EXAMPLE – HILLSBOROUGH PANEL

•          Non-statutory panel established by the previous Government in January 2009.

•          Eight independent panel members drawn from a range of backgrounds.

•          Panel asked to oversee the disclosure of documents and to produce a report on “how the information disclosed adds to public understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath.”

•          Obligation in the terms of reference to consult with the Hillsborough families to ensure their views are taken into account.

•          Disclosure protocol based on the “fundamental aim….to provide full disclosure of documentation to the panel and, subsequently, to the Hillsborough families and then the wider public, taking into account legal and other considerations”. Exceptions to the disclosure principle based on legal professional privilege, legal constraints on disclosure and material prejudicing Cabinet collective responsibility.

•          Estimated duration of 3 years.

•          Budget of £4 miflion.

•         Statutory 2005 Act public inquiry established by the previous Government,

•         Independent judicial Chair.

•         Team of three independent legal Counsel to the inquiry.

•         Terms of reference to investigate and report on the circumstances of the death taking into account the investigations that have already taken place.

•         Detailed protocol in place governing the practical operation of the restriction order process under section 19(2)(b) of the 2005 Act. Protocol states the expectation that these procedures will be used to apply for a restriction order from the Chair rather than consideration of a restriction notice from the Minister.

•         Duration 2 Vi years (estimate).

•         Cost £11.4 million {to end October 2010). Final cost likely to be under £13 million.

1.       As a result of discussions between representatives of Pat Finucane’s family and NIO officials the family have been asked to submit representations to the Secretary of State on the type of inquiry that should be established into Pat Finucane’s murder.

2.       The Finucane family have already submitted a note outlining the basic principles to which any such inquiry should conform. The NIO have provided examples of three current “Inquiries” for comparison purposes: the Baha Mousa Inquiry; the Gibson Inquiry; and the Hillsborough Truth Recovery Mechanism.

3.       As discussed, the Finucane family do not believe that a non-statutory inquiry would provide an appropriate mechanism for an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder. Such an inquiry would not provide the powers that will be needed to carry out the task.

4.       The family therefore believe that a statutory inquiry is the only realistic option for the Pat Finucane case.

5.       At present the only possible statutory basis for an inquiry is the Inquiries Act 2005. The Finucane family have made their position on this Act clear on many occasions, whether in submissions to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in public statements or in the recent meetings with NIO officials.

6.       The NIO have provided the family’s legal team with a copy of the Protocol for the Production of Documents and Other Evidence to the Inquiry by the Ministry of Defence produced by counsel to the Baha Mousa Inquiry. This appears to be a procedure agreed between the Inquiry and the Ministry of Defence for the production and onward disclosure of material, including redaction and applications for non­disclosure. It is also stated to apply to other government departments to the extent that they will be involved with the inquiry.

7.       Paragraph 29 of that document states:

 

“Where public interest issues or other si9(3) issues arise, the Inquiry expects the above procedures to be used for seeking a restriction order from the Chairman rather than a restriction notice being issued under s,19(2)(a) by the relevant minister.(emphasis added)

 

8. There is no reason why the Minister(s) could not make a similar agreement in respect of an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. Of the three examples provided the Baha Mousa inquiry would be the most appropriate mechanism for an inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane.

 

ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION PAPER

 

Following the last meeting the Finucane family have given some thought to the principles they consider are required as a minimum to ensure the proper investigation of the circumstances surrounding the murder of Pat Finucane.

 

The Finucane family have always said that any inquiry should comply with Article 2 ECHR. They maintain this submission. What that means in practice is that the inquiry should be:

 

Effective

The inquiry should be capable of examining all circumstances relevant to the murder, including the involvement of any and all state agents. This is relevant both to the terms of reference and the inquiry’s powers for securing evidence and the attendance of witnesses. Will the family be involved in discussions designed to agree mutually acceptable terms of reference?

 

Independent

This clearly requires both actual and perceived independence and impartiality. It is here that the issues of (i) the members of the inquiry (ii) the inquiry team and (iii) the restriction notice arise.

Does the government still intend to make use of the restriction notice procedure? Will the government agree not to use the restriction notice procedure?

Will the family be involved in discussions around the identification and appointment of the inquiry members? What process will be used to identify and appoint the inquiry members?

 

 

Public

Again, the restriction notice procedure is relevant here. Attendance at the inquiry should be a matter for the inquiry to decide according to the law.

 

Accessible to the family

The family will require legal representation, to be able to raise issues for the inquiry’s consideration and to sufficient access to the material being examined, as determined by the inquiry.

 

Where will the inquiry be held?

 

 

Prompt

The European Court of Human Rights has already found a breach of the Article 2 promptness requirement. Action taken henceforth to establish, commence and conclude an inquiry should be taken expeditiously.