Category: Archive

RUC double agent supplied Finucane gun, court is told

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — A court in Belfast has been told that a former journalist now working in the Northern Ireland civil service told the RUC in 1990 that a police double agent had supplied the guns used to murder Belfast human rights lawyer Pat Finucane.

The disclosure came during a recent High Court bail application by 48-year-old William Stobie, a former UDR man from Belfast who has been charged in the Finucane murder. Stobie claims he was an RUC Special Branch informer at the time Finucane was shot by the UDA in front of his wife and three children in February 1989.

A prosecution lawyer said the man who told the police in 1990 about Stobie’s role is former journalist Neil Mulholland, who used to work for the Sunday Life and is now employed as a press officer in the Northern Ireland Office.

Opposing Stobie’s application for bail, the lawyer said that Mulholland made a lengthy statement to detectives from the Stevens Inquiry team brought over from England to reopen the Finucane murder investigation.

She said that Mulholland had been interviewed by the RUC in 1990 about a meeting he had with Stobie about the Finucane murder but had then declined to make a statement. Although Stobie was arrested at the time, he was not charged.

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Mulholland had interviewed Stobie on the understanding that he would not write the story unless something "happened" to Stobie. At the time, Stobie believed he had become a liability to his police handlers and that he might be sacrificed.

Counsel for Stobie claimed that as a Special Branch informer, he had told his handlers that a "top Provo" was to be murdered, but did not know who it was to be. He said that there was no new evidence against Stobie.

"The only difference is that Mulholland has given a written statement in 1999 as opposed to an oral one in 1990," he said.

The court was also told that a second journalist had since refused to answer police questions and hand over details about another meeting with Stobie and that lawyers for this journalist are contesting the court’s right to order him to do so.

A prosecution lawyer said that police had obtained a court order to this effect, but the journalist concerned was due to challenge the ruling at a hearing on Aug. 23.

After considering the matter, Justice Sheil refused Stobie bail. He said that he was doing so in the light of the seriousness of the charge.

The arrest of Stobie follows repeated charges from Amnesty International, the United Nations special rapporteur, and other human rights groups that sufficient evidence exists to implicate the security forces of colluding with loyalist paramilitaries in carrying out the murder.

Since Stobie’s arrest in June, it would seem that there are now at least three links have been established between British military intelligence and the RUC Special Branch in relation to the Finucane murder. They are:

€ Brian Nelson, the UDA chief intelligence officer who scouted Finucane’s house and who, three days before the murder, provided a photo of the slain lawyer to the murder squad, was a British Army double agent.

€ The UDA quatermaster, Stobie, who provided the weapons used in the attack, was an RUC double agent.

€ The weapon used to kill Finucane was a British Army-issue pistol stolen from a UDR arsenal by another serving UDR man.

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