Category: Archive

Other lawyers were targeted at time of Finucane murder: report

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST – Loyalists were targeting two other lawyers at the same time they murdered Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane, in 1989 and although the RUC and British Army knew of their plans, neither was warned to take extra security, a British newspaper has alleged.

The two lawyers were listed in British army intelligence files as being “sympathetic” to the IRA, according to the London-published “Guardian” newspaper.

The lawyers targeted were Patrick McGrory and Oliver Kelly, according to a report by BBC Panorama reporter, John Ware. The assassination plans against the two lawyers were discovered by the Stevens inquiry.

Led by the current London metropolitan police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, the inquiry is due to publish its full report this autumn, which is expected to be highly critical of the RUC special branch and British military intelligence.

Neither lawyer was warned their lives were in peril. Sources close to the Stevens inquiry suspect this was no accident, according to the report. One detective has described it as “collusion by omission.”

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McGrory, who acted for the families of three unarmed IRA members who were shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar, died of natural causes in 1994.

Oliver Kelly, who is still a practicing solicitor in Belfast and whose brother, John, is a Sinn Fein assemblyman said: “This is what the cops were feeding out to loyalists: if you defended someone in court you were acting against the state.”

“They felt that you should throw in the towel; you shouldn’t defend someone to the best of your ability. They were telling the loyalists to wipe us out – to take us out of the road.”

Three days after Finucane’s death, on February 16, 1989, the RUC Special Branch received a report from one of its several sources within the UDA that had killed Finucane that “Oliver Kelly and P.J. McGrory will be next.”

The source stated that the threat came directly from the two UDA leaders who had been heavily involved in Finucane’s murder. Yet neither Kelly nor McGrory was ever warned of this.

Kelly said: “It just didn’t happen. But I was hearing from other sources what the cops were saying about us to loyalist type persons – that we were up to our eyes in the Provos, we were worse than the worst, we were orchestrating things and all that nonsense.”

Although neither Kelly nor McGrory were shot, in the case of McGrory – as with Finucane – details of the lawyer’s movements were collected by the British Army’s intelligence agent, Brian Nelson.

The draft Stevens report says the failure to provide a warning was “another Finucane tragedy in the making”. The Stevens inquiry has recovered a targeting document received by Nelson five months after Finucane was shot.

It records that McGrory spent “a lot of time” in the Chester bar on Belfast’s Antrim Road; that he went there “in the late afternoon” and that every Sunday he visited the Kitchen bar to which he drove in his Mercedes, which was parked “unprotected” nearby.

Although Nelson passed the document to his British Army handlers, none of the references to McGrory were entered into their official record. Barra McGrory, son the late defense lawyer, said the information was “substantially accurate, which is what I find so deeply shocking.”

Meanwhile, the new Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland has said it is “vital” to maintain an effective Special Branch. Hugh Orde said he was determined to oversee the policing reforms outlined in the Patten Report but he would not make changes in a “knee-jerk” fashion.

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