NI: UK Supreme Court to rule on Pat Finucane public inquiry appeal next week
The UK Supreme Court will rule next week on whether the UK Government acted unlawfully by denying a public inquiry into the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
Mr Finucane was shot and killed in his home on 12 February 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries. In 2012, then Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged that there had been “shocking levels of collusion” with security forces in the killing.
However, the UK Government declined to order a public inquiry and instead ordered High Court judge Desmond de Silva QC to carry out an independent review into the murder.
Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, has challenged that decision, arguing that the decision-making process was a sham, had been pre-determined, and that the commitment to establish a public inquiry had been unlawfully frustrated.
In her appeal to the UK Supreme Court, which was heard last June, Mrs Finucane also argued that article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights required a public inquiry to be held rather than the review established by the Government.
State obligations under article 2 of the ECHR include an obligation to carry out an effective investigation “when individuals have been killed as a result of the use of force by, inter alios, agents of the State”.
The appeal to the UK Supreme Court is centred on the following issues:
- Whether the Secretary of State’s decision to appoint Sir Desmond de Silva to conduct a review into the murder of Patrick Finucane rather than to hold a public inquiry into the murder was taken in accordance with the stated decision-making process or whether it was a sham process and/or whether the outcome was pre-determined.
- Whether Mrs Finucane had a substantive legitimate expectation that a public inquiry would be established. Was any expectation frustrated by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and if so, was the frustration justified?
- Whether the failure to establish a public inquiry into the murder is compatible with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The UK Supreme Court will hand down its judgment on Wednesday 27 February 2019 at 9.45am in Courtroom 1.