Court ruling puts Britain in the dock

Democrat reporter

THE RECENT European Court of Human Rights ruling that the British government is guilty of having breached Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to the 1992 murder of Pat Finucane has further boosted demands for a full judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the killing and allegations of collusion.

The court’s seven judges, including one from Britain, unanimously agreed that the police investigation into Finucane’s murder had been inadequate, lacked independence and raised “serious doubts as to the thoroughness or effectiveness with which the possibility of collusion had been pursued”.

The court’s ruling, delivered at the beginning of July, is an embarrassment for the Blair government. However, it has been widely welcomed by the Finucane family, nationalist politicians and human rights campaigners.

Ruling that the solicitor’s human rights had been violated in a number of ways, the judges also noted that, as later events were to demonstrate, “there were indications that informers working for Special branch or the security forces knew about, or assisted in the attack on Patrick Finucane”.

It also noted that the official inquest which followed Finucane’s murder had refused to accept evidence of threats made against the solicitor and “failed to address serious and legitimate concerns of the family and the public and cannot be regarded as providing an effective investigation into the incident or a means of identifying or leading to the prosecution of those responsible”.

The judges also criticised the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for failing to provide adequate reasons for “many decisions taken in relation to cases touching on the murder”.

Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch and the Committee on the Administration of Justice are among those who have renewed calls for the British government to establish immediately an independent, international public inquiry with full judicial powers of discovery and subpoena.

The human rights groups also want to see the full publication of all three Stevens reports and action to ensure that the DPP gives full reasons for the many controversial decisions related to the case.

A spokesperson for the groups said that the judgement confirmed that there has been no effective investigation of the collusion in this murder. “The Finucane family has been waiting for fourteen years for justice. It is time the government stopped aiding and abetting those who have engaged in collusion and cover-ups and allowed the full truth to be told about this case by establishing a public inquiry.”

Responding to the court’s ruling on behalf of the Finucane family, Michael Finucane, son of the murdered solicitor, said:

“My family has never been afraid to put our case forward to be tested. Now we have a judgement from the highest court in Europe that his right to life was violated. The UK has been found wanting because they did not properly protect his life nor investigate his death. It is easy to see why they didn’t want to investigate this murder: they were the instigators and facilitators of it.
“The responsibility for this matter now rests squarely with the British government and how they will meet their obligations under the European Convention.” It remained to be seen how seriously the government would take its obligations under the convention.

Full details of the Finucane case can be found on the website of the Pat Finucane Centre at

<< | Up | >>

This document was last modified by David Granville on 2003-07-17 12:28:05.
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2003 Connolly Publications Ltd