9 December 1999 Edition

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Stevens investigation rejected

BY LAURA FRIEL

The Stevens' investigation into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was set up ``to prevent a full public judicial inquiry'', says Martin Finucane. The family were responding to renewed calls by British police chief John Stevens for relatives of the dead man to assist the investigation. ``A criminal investigation is not a public process,'' says Martin. ``Its sole function is to secure criminal convictions not to find the truth. It is our opinion that the Steven's investigation is no substitute for a full public international judicial inquiry.''

A report, now in its final stages, is to be presented by the family to both the London and Dublin governments detailing the reasons behind the family's refusal to support the current investigation. This will be the second report to be presented to the two governments. The initial report was compiled by the human rights watchdog, British Irish Rights Watch. ``The report will affirm our reasons for not supporting the investigation,'' says Martin, ``which we have consistently stated is not the most appropriate nor effective means of establishing the truth.'' Martin pointed out that in the past, on a number of occasions, the Finucane family have been told by both Tony Blair and John Stevens that the murder had been ``thoroughly investigated''.

Pat Finucane was murdered after masked gunmen burst into his North Belfast home in February 1989. In 1990, John Stevens, then Deputy Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire, was called upon to investigate allegations of Crown force collusion in a number of loyalist killings including Pat Finucane. Stevens returned for a second time after the role of British military intelligence was exposed during the trial of their agent Brian Nelson. Earlier this year, after refuting a claim by RUC Chief Ronnie Flanagan that the Finucane murder had already been investigated by Stevens, the British policeman was called upon to investigate the killing. The decision came despite calls for an international independent public inquiry.

During the last seven months of the Stevens investigation, one loyalist has been charged with the Finucane murder and several others arrested for other loyalist attacks, William Stobie, a self confessed UDA quartermaster, has admitted that he supplied Pat Finucane's killers with their weapons. Stobie's claim that he was working as an informer for RUC Special Branch at the time was confirmed during a bail hearing. Despite the murder charge, Stobie was released on bail.

Meanwhile, John Stevens has claimed that the current investigation will continue for at least another six months. Stevens is due to take up a post as London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner in February. He will be replaced in the day to day running of the Finucane investigation by Hugh Orde, a deputy assistant commissioner with the Met, but retain overall responsibility.

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