By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan came under intense pressure in a BBC TV documentary Monday, struggling to answer questions about what he knew of threats to lawyer Rosemary Nelson’s life before her murder.
However, the following day, after Sinn Féin demands for Flanagan’s resignation, Northern Secretary Mo Mowlam rushed to Flanagan’s defense, calling the BBC program a "rather unfair attack," while admitting she had not seen it.
The "Panorama" documentary made a number of allegations, including:
€ the RUC was aware in advance of Nelson’s murder that she was at risk and did nothing to protect her;
€ senior RUC officers briefed a British minister that some solicitors were too close to the IRA, four weeks before the UDA murdered solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989;
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€ there was collusion between the RUC, British Army and loyalists in the murder of republican Sam Marshall nine years ago
€ loyalist "Tucker" Lyttle admitted five years ago that the RUC had incited the UDA to target Finucane;
€ Flanagan had denied saying some solicitors were making allegations about RUC threats because they had a political agenda, despite a United Nations note takers record of the claims during an interview.
Flanagan came under most pressure from the BBC’s "Panorama" reporter, John Ware, when responding to suggestions that he had told UN Special Rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy that solicitors were politically motivated in making claims about RUC threats against them.
Flanagan said, first, he had not made the comments and, second, that he had not tried to remove the comments from the UN report. The first claim is in direct contradiction to the UN note-taker’s report.