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Security forces colluded

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Apr 17 2003

Rogue members of the security services colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in dozens of murders in Northern Ireland, a devastating new report claimed today.

Up to twenty senior police and army officers could face charges after an investigation into the covert fight to defeat IRA terrorists compiled by Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens.

His report confirmed Republican suspicions that security forces waged a "dirty war" for 20 years.

Sir John said: "My inquiries have highlighted collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder.

"These serious acts and omissions have meant that people have been killed or seriously injured. The unlawful involvement of agents in murder implies that the security forces sanction killings."

Sir John's report accuses an Army section, the Force Research Unit, of colluding with loyalist paramilitaries to target IRA suspects for assassination.

Pat Finucane, a high-profile Belfast solicitor for terror suspects, was named as one of the victims of cooperation between security forces and gunmen. He was shot dead in front of his family at his north Belfast home in 1989.

Another was protestant student Brian Lambert, killed in November 1987. Sir John said both deaths could have been prevented if the security forces had not been involved in the plots.

"I have uncovered enough evidence to lead me to believe that the murders of Patrick Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert could have been prevented," he said.

"I also believe that the RUC investigation of Patrick Finucane's murder should have resulted in the early arrest and detection of his killers."

In a 20-page summary of his report, Sir John made 21 recommendations about future intelligence operations, including a call for a review of procedures for investigating terrorist offences.

He also said his inquiries had been wilfully obstructed by security forces and a 1990 fire in the investigators' office was arson.

"From day one this obstruction was cultural in its nature and widespread within parts of the Army and RUC, the FRU, and RUC Special Branch in particular. It should not have taken 14 years to get to the point we are now. "

Sir John was not the only one to be misled by security forces, he said. Former Home Office minister Douglas Hogg made comments in the House of Commons based on false information fed to him by the RUC.

"The comments were not justifiable and my conclusion is that the minister was compromised," he said.

The full report, which runs to thousands of pages, has been sent to retired Canadian judge Peter Corry, who will assess whether there should be a public inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has also been sent 40 files.

Sir John emphasised every single point in the report was supported by evidence and documentation. Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde also received a full version of the report, but pointed out his police service had changed a great deal since the late 1980s.

"The new Police Service of Northern Ireland is a very different organisation," he said. "The officers now carrying out their work day in, day out, protecting the communities of Northern Ireland, operate a very different system to very different legal requirements than took place in 1989."

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