Finucane widow dismisses 'whitewash' report

The widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane today dismissed the report into his death by Desmond de Silva as "a sham... a whitewash... a confidence trick", telling a London press conference: "This report is not the truth."

Renewing her call for a full public inquiry into her husband's 1989 death, Geraldine Finucane said that the British government had suppressed the truth and attempted to throw all blame on dead individuals and disbanded organisations while exonerating ministers, serving officers and existing security agencies.

Mrs Finucane said: "Yet another British government has engineered a suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband, Pat Finucane.

"At every turn it is clear that this report has done exactly what was required - to give the benefit of the doubt to the state, its Cabinet and ministers, to the Army, to the intelligence services and to itself.

"At every turn, dead witnesses have been blamed and defunct agencies found wanting. Serving personnel and active state departments appear to have been excused.

"The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others.

"This report is a sham, this report is a whitewash, this report is a confidence trick dressed up as independent scrutiny and given invisible clothes of reliability. But most of all, most hurtful and insulting of all, this report is not the truth."

Mrs Finucane said her family had been "misled and humiliated in a cruel and unnecessary fashion" when they were invited to Downing Street last year, only to be told that there would be no public inquiry and that instead Mr Cameron was ordering a behind-closed-doors review of documents.

"I left Downing Street that day so angry I could hardly speak," she said.

She insisted that the family came to London today prepared to judge the report with "an open mind" and with "a faint hope" that their misgivings would be proved wrong.

But she added: "I regret to say that once again we have been proved right."

Mrs Finucane said the review had been "compiled by a lawyer with strong links to the Conservative Party who was appointed by the Conservative government without consultation".

She added: "The report is the result of a process into which we have had no input - we have seen no documents, nor heard any witnesses.

"In short, we have had no chance to assess the evidence for ourselves at first hand. We are expected to take the word of the man appointed by the British government."

Mrs Finucane said she accepted Mr Cameron's apology but suggested he had little choice but to offer one.

"He is a human being. He probably does think it is an atrocious act. But unfortunately he is quite removed from Northern Ireland or what went on in the late 80s.

"So maybe it isn't very hard for him to apologise.

"I will give him the benefit of the doubt and accept the apology but it doesn't go far enough because I don't really know what he is apologising for."

The report "doesn't tell me much more" than previous inquiries, she said.

Her son, Michael, told reporters that while there was new material in the report regarding the extent of the threats, "it doesn't really take you much further in terms of the culture".

Previous reports had made clear that it was the "overwhelming priority" of agencies to protect intelligence sources even if there was a "human cost", he said.

"David Cameron referred repeatedly in the House to what went wrong here," he added.

But he told the press conference "nothing went wrong here".

"This is exactly what it was designed to do: to improve and focus the targeting abilities of loyalist paramilitaries over many years.

"A thorn in the side of the authorities could be removed, killed, in circumstances where the state could deny any responsibility."

There were probably "hundreds of others" killed in similar circumstances, he added.

He said he believed there would be a public inquiry if Labour won the next UK general election as he expected Opposition leader Ed Miliband to "keep his word" on the need for one.

Mrs Finucane said that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had always been very supportive of the family's fight and said she would not be surprised if the government in Dublin now upped the ante.

"I expect the Irish government to continue their support for me. I know that they have been very angry in the fact that the British government broke an agreement between the two countries unilaterally and they don't think that that is the correct way to behave.

"So they are upset politically because that has happened and they are upset because it was such an atrocious act.

"Enda Kenny has always been very supportive. In light of this I can't say what the Irish government are going to do because I haven't spoken to them today but I wouldn't be surprised if they would up the ante slightly."

Michael Finucane said: "Why is there this great fear by the British establishment to go examining the case of Pat Finucane in public?

"It's because they have stuff to hide. It's because they don't want people being questioned in public."

He told the London press conference the state did not want people like former Home Office minister Douglas Hogg being asked "probing questions".

He added: "Douglas Hogg went into the House of Commons and made a statement. Now, that has been benignly characterised as a compromise of a minister where he was misled.

"Did he not understand what he was saying when he said solicitors were unduly sympathetic to the IRA? Preposterous. He's a barrister himself, he knew exactly what he was doing and yet that issue is not really touched upon in the De Silva report."

He said it was "glossed over as a minister being misled".

"The benefit of the doubt is always given to the person who is still around, who is still alive, who could still be a witness in an inquiry and that is where we have a fundamental problem with this report."

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