Cameron refuses new probe of Catholic lawyer's death

Geraldine Finucane (C), wife of slain Irish human rights attorney Patrick Finucane, in Washington D.C., 2005.

Story highlights

  • Family of Pat Finucane walks out of meeting with Cameron
  • They want a probe of his controversial death
  • Face-off comes a day after a confrontation in Ireland
The family of a high-profile Catholic lawyer murdered during the conflict in Northern Ireland walked out on a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron Tuesday after he refused to order a public inquiry into the controversial killing.
Pat Finucane was gunned down in front of his wife and three children at his Belfast home in 1989. The pro-British loyalist paramilitary convicted of the murder was a police informer. Finucane had represented IRA and loyalist paramilitaries. Just weeks before Finucane was killed, British government minister Douglas Hogg sparked anger when he told the UK parliament some Northern Ireland lawyers were "unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA."
The Finucane family has campaigned for a full, independent inquiry amid persistent claims of security force collusion with the murder gang. They suspect the killing may have been sanctioned at the highest levels of the British government.
Tuesday, the family met Cameron at Downing Street and had expected to be given details of an inquiry. They cut short the meeting when the prime minister told them there would be no inquiry and instead the government was appointing a leading lawyer -- Queen's Counsel Desmond de Silva -- to review the case.
Finucane's widow Geraldine told waiting reporters she was disgusted by Cameron's decision and "felt so angry she could hardly speak."
"I am so angry and so insulted by being brought to Downing Street today to hear what the prime minister had on offer," she said.
"He is offering a review. He wants a QC to read the papers in my husband's case and that is how he expects to reach the truth. All of us are very upset and very disappointed."
Finucane added she was "so angry with the prime minister" she "actually called a halt to the meeting."
The slain lawyer's son, John, spoke to CNN and accused the British government of a cover-up.
Finucane, also a lawyer, said: "We made it clear to the prime minister that we felt he is scared of an inquiry - he is scared of what that will show and what that will bring out.
"We feel that this government, the government of David Cameron, is continuing the policy of collusion by firmly stating there will be no proper examination of what went on. We do feel this is a cover up."
When he was prime minister, Tony Blair agreed to set up an inquiry into the Finucane case, but a fresh investigation was never established.
John Finucane added, "We are very shocked and insulted. Five inquiries (into controversial killings) were recommended and promised by the government - the only one that is yet to take place is the inquiry into the murder of my father."
The family had vowed to continue its campaign for an independent public inquiry and say they will not participate in the new review.
"We have been asked to accept the truth of a behind-closed-doors review and it's not something we can take part in or attach any credibility to by engaging with it," said John Finucane.
The tragedy of Ireland's violent past has been close to the surface this week as an Irish presidential candidate was confronted about his former role as an IRA commander a day before Cameron met with the Finucane family.
Irish presidential candidate Martin McGuinness was confronted Monday by a man claiming to be the son of a soldier killed by the Irish Republican Army in the 1980s, as McGuinness campaigned ahead of Election Day, October 27.
David Kelly confronted McGuinness in Athlone, Ireland, demanding answers about his father, Patrick Kelly, who he said had been shot dead with a trainee police officer as they attempted to rescue a kidnapped businessman in the Republic of Ireland in 1983.
As shoppers and the media looked on, Kelly demanded that McGuinness name the killers, to which McGuinness replied, "I don't know who was responsible for the killing of your father."
Kelly then accused McGuinness of having been a member of the IRA's ruling Army Council at the time of the killing -- which McGuinness denied. "You are a liar. I want justice for my father," Kelly said.
McGuinness, a former IRA commander and now a leader of the political party Sinn Fein, stepped down from his position as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister to run for president of the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, while the Republic of Ireland is an independent state.