Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Geraldine Finucane's application for judicial review - Supreme Court

"The abiding impression of this period in Northern Ireland must be of an extremely dark and violent time in which a lawyer could so callously and tragically be murdered as a result of discharging his professional legal duties" - report by Sir Desmond de Silva QC December 2012.

On 26th and 27th June, the Supreme Court hears  Geraldine Finucane's application for Judicial Review.   The judgment under appeal is HERE.

Here is a story of undoubted gross misconduct, abuse of power and involvement by the State in the murder of its own citizens and nobody has been held accountable for it.  The State, having held out the promise of a public inquiry, decided to hold a paper based review.  The Executive subverted the rule of law and it is precisely in this type of case that the court - as "guardians of the rule of law" - must not look the other way.  Those were points made in opening the appeal on 26th June by counsel for Mrs Finucane.

The following is the Supreme Court's description of the case -

Geraldine Finucane was the wife of Patrick Finucane, a solicitor murdered in his home in North Belfast by an illegal paramilitary group on 12 February 1989.  The State colluded in the murder by using its agents deliberately to manipulate loyalist paramilitaries so that they targeted suspected republican terrorists. The appellant’s husband, who was not connected with terrorism, was targeted in this way leading to his murder.  The State knew of the plan to murder him and either took no action to prevent his death or was complicit in it.

In July 2001, following a political agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland (shared with the political parties in Northern Ireland), the two governments announced that an international judge would be appointed to undertake a review of six incidents which resulted in the deaths of 8 individuals, including the murder of Patrick Finucane, in which there were allegations of collusion by the agents of the UK or Irish state.

It was further announced that in the event the appointed judge recommended that a public inquiry be held in any of the cases, the relevant Government would implement that recommendation. Judge Cory was appointed to conduct the reviews in relation to all six cases. His reports were presented to the two governments in April 2004.

He recommended that a public inquiry should be held in five of the six cases, including the murder of Patrick Finucane. On 23 September 2004, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland made a statement in the House of Commons announcing that a public inquiry would be established in relation to the murder of Patrick Finucane under new legislation which would shortly be introduced in Parliament. The Inquiries Act 2005 was later enacted and received Royal Assent on 7 April 2005.

A new Government was elected in May 2010 and the Secretary of State announced a decision making process, by which it would be decided whether it was in the public interest to establish a public inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane.  In October 2011, it was decided not to establish a public inquiry, but instead to appoint Sir Desmond de Silva to conduct an independent review into the circumstances of the murder. The appellant challenged this decision arguing that the decision-making process was a sham and had been pre-determined and that the commitment to establish a public inquiry had been unlawfully frustrated. She also argued that art.2 ECHR required a public inquiry to be held rather than the review established by the Government.

The UK government, represented by Sir James Eadie QC, resisted the Finucane case and argued that the government had been entitled to change its mind regarding whether to hold an inquiry.  Furthermore, Article 2 did not demand a public inquiry.  The process undertaken met the UK's Article 2 obligations.   Mrs Finucane, represented by Mr Barry MacDonald QC SC, pointed out that the case was about who pulled the strings of the "puppets who pulled the trigger."  The process undertaken was ineffective in Article terms and nobody had been held to account despite the involvement of senior personnel in government, Armed Forces, Police and the Security Services

Judgment was reserved with Lady Hale describing it as a "very anxious case."

Earlier posts - Patrick Finucane - decision not to hold Public Inquiry reaches the Supreme Court (8th August 2017) and Northern Ireland - the 1989 Finucane murder - Independent Review Report (12th December 2012).


No comments:

Post a Comment