Tag: inquiry

Pat Finucane: UK government ‘running down clock on inquiry’

Pat FinucaneImage copyright

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Pat Finucane, 39, was shot dead by loyalists in 1989

The government may be trying to “run down the clock” until a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane becomes pointless, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for his widow, Geraldine Finucane, claimed the delay in acting on a finding that his death has never been properly investigated is unlawful.

The judge hearing her legal challenge also voiced increasing “unease” at the government response.

Mr Finucane, 39, was shot dead by loyalists at his Belfast home in 1989.

His family has campaigned ever since for a public inquiry to establish the full scale of security force collusion in his murder.

In February 2019, the Supreme Court said none of the inquiries into Mr Finucane’s death, including the review carried out by Sir Desmond de Silva, had the capability “of establishing all the salient facts” about his killing or the liability of those who were responsible for his death.

In his 2012 review, Sir Desmond said the state had facilitated Mr Finucane’s killing and made relentless efforts to stop the killers being caught.

However, his report concluded there had been “no overarching state conspiracy”.

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Geraldine Finucane has been involved in a long-running legal battle over her husband’s murder

Mrs Finucane is judicially reviewing the secretary of state for failing to take a decision on the investigation required since the Supreme Court ruling.

The delay of 20 months and counting is unexplained and unjustified, it was contended.

Fiona Doherty QC said: “Having been through this process one can see how the family might be sceptical that in fact what is happening here is the government is buying more time to make a potential public inquiry pointless, or not viable.”

Agreeing with an interpretation suggested by Mr Justice McAlinden, she added: “Running down the clock, indeed.”

‘Out of the traps’

The barrister argued the Supreme Court findings, together with international calls for a public inquiry, should have galvanised the authorities into action.

“This government was faced with the murder of a citizen more than 30 years ago, in which the government has accepted there was collusion, and which the highest court in the land has accepted there hasn’t been an Article 2 (of the European Convention on Human Rights) compliant investigation,” she said.

“One would think they ought to be out of the traps very quickly.”

Instead, she submitted, the ongoing delay had “heaped insult” on top of injury.

Counsel for Secretary of State Brandon Lewis stressed his continued commitment to complying with the Supreme Court findings “as quickly as possible”, but could not provide a timeframe.

According to Mrs Finucane’s case, however, the government cannot rely on new difficulties caused by Covid-19.

Mr Finucane was a high-profile solicitor who lived and worked in Belfast.

The 39-year-old Catholic was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his young family at their home in February 1989.

In his role as a defence

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Former ministers to hold ‘rapid’ inquiry into government’s Covid-19 response

Video: Boris Johnson warns of further measures if coronavirus advice ignored (The Independent)

Boris Johnson warns of further measures if coronavirus advice ignored



A pair of Conservative former ministers have announced they are to lead a rapid, cross-party investigation into the UK’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, amid worries a government inquiry will take too long for lessons to be learned in time.

Jeremy Hunt wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Photograph: House of Commons/PA

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Photograph: House of Commons/PA

In a rare set of joint hearings, the Commons health committee, led by ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt, and the science committee, chaired by Greg Clark, who was business secretary, are to hear from witnesses in the hope of producing a report by the spring.

Announcing the plan, Hunt and Clark said the inquiry would aim to produce interim recommendations along the way. It will hold weekly joint sessions, with early witnesses set to include Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, and Patrick Vallance, the government’s top scientific adviser.

Jeremy Hunt wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: The inquiry will cover the need for regular, large-scale coronavirus testing, according to Jeremy Hunt.

© Photograph: House of Commons/PA
The inquiry will cover the need for regular, large-scale coronavirus testing, according to Jeremy Hunt.

While the pair stressed the aim will be constructive, and they do not want to pre-empt any future official inquiry, the testimony and findings could nonetheless be uncomfortable at times for Boris Johnson and his ministers.

Clark and Hunt have been among the most assiduous questioners of Matt Hancock, the health secretary, during his recent Commons appearances.

Hunt said he would expect the inquiry to cover the need for regular, large-scale coronavirus testing, an issue he has repeatedly raised in parliament, and whether this could help people visit loved ones in care homes.

The hearings begin next Tuesday with a session on social care. Other promised areas of examination include the efficacy of lockdown measures; how well modelling and statistics have been used; the efficacy of government messaging; wider preparedness for a pandemic; and the impact on BAME communities.

Hunt said while Johnson had not yet set out what sort of official inquiry he would like to set up, the expectation was that this would not be quick.

“If it is a public inquiry, it will take several years before it’s ready to report,” Hunt said. “Whereas this will be an inquiry that I think will be in a position to report by spring of next year, so a much shorter timescale.”

Clark said the aim was “to uncover and describe lessons that should be learned, but have application during the weeks and months ahead, before any further inquiries that the prime minister might commission”. While the final report was unlikely to arrive before spring, he added, there would be “staging posts on the way” to highlight any lessons.

The inquiry will hear from witnesses in person, with Clark and Hunt alternating who chairs each weekly session, and will accept written evidence. Hunt said the assumption was that ministers would attend if requested: “We would expect excellent cooperation to continue, as we’ve have

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