[Sinn Fein]

Collusion - Britain's involvement in the murder of Pat Finucane

Updated December 2001

In light of the recent collapse of the Stobie case and further revelations about the role of Brian Nelson Sinn Fein reiterates our support for the demand for an International Public Judicial Inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and other related cases will not go away.

William Stobie was an RUC Special Branch Agent, Brian Nelson was a British Army agent, both were active members of the UDA and have admitted to involvement in a series of murders. In Brian Nelson's case Colonel 'J' the head of FRU gave evidence in his support and the British Defence Secretary and former Secretary of State Tom King submitted a mitigation plea to the Nelson trial in 1992 on behalf of Nelson who he described as a 'valuable agent'.

Collusion between the British and the loyalist death squads spanned all of their organisations _ the RUC, the UDR/RIR, MI5, the UDA, UVF, Ulster Resistance and others and of course the British Army through FRU.

Sinn Fein fully supports the families of victims who are calling for International Public Judicial Inquiries into the deaths of their loved ones.

During the Weston Park talks our party made clear our opposition to the proposal of the two government's to appoint an international judge to investigate allegations of collusion in a number of specified cases. In fact Sinn Fein refused to make these high profile cases a matter for bargaining in negotiations on policing. We viewed the proposal to appoint a judge as a cynical attempt to long finger the demand for an Independent Public Judicial Inquiry.

Sinn Fein presented Tony Blair with this document four years ago. He has also read the various reports produced by Stalker, Sampson and Stevens. So he and his colleagues are aware of these matters. They are also no doubt aware that this is not a case of a few bad apples. This is an example of the out-workings of a structured strategy by the British government and its agencies.

Pat Finucane was killed as a matter of British policy.


John Stevens told us he knew 'beyond a shadow of a doubt' who was responsible.

He also said he knows the truth about Brian Nelson and 'the full facts concerning his involvement in collusion and murders'

- Report of the International Human Rights Working Party for the Law Society of England and Wales. (A 1995 report into the murder of Pat Finucane)

In the north of Ireland citizens are compelled under emergency legislation and at the point of British guns to provide details about themselves. The details relating to nationalists and republicans are computerised, filed and passed on to loyalist paramilitaries.

Thousands of such files have been handed over to loyalist murder gangs by serving members of the British army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Not a single member of the RUC the primary source for security and intelligence documents was charged as a result of the official inquiry into such collusion the Stevens Inquiry. Such files continue to be leaked to this day.

The man responsible for a period of several years, for collating the information thus provided and targeting individuals for assassination by loyalist murder gangs was British military intelligence agent Brian Nelson. Nelson was a member of the British Army and given a leading role in loyalist assassinations of nationalist and republicans and others who were considered to be enemies of British rule in Ireland.

He was assisted in his deadly work by British Military intelligence who weeded out his files so as to make them more selective, provided him with addresses of targets and a car to conduct his surveillance activities.

He was directed in the supply of modern arms from South Africa to loyalist groups in an increased loyalist assassination campaign at a period in which killings by the RUC and British army were coincidentally reduced.

Nelson played a very important role in all of this. He is undoubtedly culpable. But the major culpability rests with his controllers and with those in political authority at the highest levels of the British political, military and legal system who moved decisively and effectively to reduce the effect of their responsibility by concealing the facts.

The political and moral enormity of what is involved is surpassed by the toll in human lives and suffering inflicted. The precise overall number of fatalities resulting from collusion between British forces and the loyalist murder gangs over a period of 25 years is unknown. But what is for certain is this. In the six years before the arrival of the South African weapons, from January 1982 to December 1987 loyalist murder gangs killed 71 people. In the six years following, from January 1988 to 1 September 1994, loyalist killed 229 people.

Defining Collusion

In the context of the north of Ireland the term collusion has come to embrace a number of illegal activities on the part of the British forces the British army, the RUC and the intelligence services. These include:

Various organs of the British state, such as the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, have:

An Appalling Vista

To borrow a phrase from Lord Denning, a senior member of the British judiciary, in relation to the Birmingham Six defence at their trial; what has been stated above represents an appalling vista. The facts documented below bear this out.

Justice for the Birmingham Six and their families took 16 years to secure. This dossier deals with only a very narrow band of the full spectrum of the whole issue of collusion yet it involves a demand for justice for a thousand relatives of hundreds of victims of the Nelson affair. Justice cannot wait another 16 years. This appalling vista must be laid bare now.

There is nothing new in this dossier nor does it purport to represent all that is in the public domain in relation to the subject matter. But what is clear is that it is wholly unacceptable that the often publicly stated serious allegations it contains should go uninvestigated, that the truth remains concealed and that those responsible are not held publicly accountable for their actions.

Nelson: Panorama's Research

In June 1992, two and a half years after his arrest and four months after Brian Nelson's trial the BBC's Panorama broadcast a programme on the Nelson affair.

The Panorama teams researches had secured a prison journal Nelson had written in the previous twelve months.

Nelson's prison journal was a mainstay to the programmes research. Many of the claims made by the programme are indeed based on this.

The main points of the Panorama teams research state that:

It goes on to say:

A thorough, wider investigation is required!

Reference to the latter in particular, statements by the British authorities repudiating the existence of a shoot-to-kill policy by British forces are not substantiated by evidence of an official will

Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson was a former British Army soldier a member of the Black Watch regiment. He was discharged in 1970.

He was a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). He joined the UDA in 1972. In 1974 he was jailed for 7 years for kidnapping Gerald Higgins, a partially sighted catholic man who was tortured by electric shocks by his kidnappers. He died shortly afterwards. Nelson served just over 3 years in prison for the offence. Sometime after his release from prison Nelson was appointed as an intelligence officer in the UDA.

Nelson was an agent of British Military Intelligence. They have confirmed this to be the case in open court. The British Defence Secretary and former Secretary of State, Tom King, in a mitigation plea submitted at the Nelson trial in 1992 described him as having been a valuable agent

Nelson who was convicted and sentenced to 110 years imprisonment is now a free man. His concurrent prison sentences meant that he served less than six years in prison.

Nelson was recruited by British Military intelligence around 1983. He worked as an agent for some years before ceasing his activities and moving to work in Germany. There he was pursued by British intelligence to Regensberg and persuaded or pressed into returning to Belfast in 1987 to resume his work as an agent of British Military intelligence inside the UDA.

Allegations of Collusion between British forces and Loyalist Paramilitaries
Nelson's role emerges

The Trial
Due Process and Brian Nelson

In his submission, the sole witness called the British Military intelligence officer known as Colonel j portrayed Nelson as very courageous man, a hero, and a victim of the system to which he was loyal. At no stage did Colonel J suggest Nelson was a rogue agent. On the contrary he asserted that Nelson's information was always passed on to the RUC Special Branch, and at monthly briefings, to the General Officer Commanding the British Army in the 6 counties as well as to other senior officers. Colonel J said:

"It would be normal for Nelson's information to be referred to these security briefings. In other words, his information was passed around throughout the intelligence community and at high level. Because of that he has to be considered a very important agent of high standing. His product was appreciated. He added: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland might also be interest in such information."

Colonel J also made clear:

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Brian Nelson was not loyal to the UDA, but loyal to the army."

Nelson and the South African Arms


John Stevens told the authors of the report cited at the beginning of this dossier that he knew the 'full facts concerning Brian Nelson's involvement in collusion and murders.'

The public does not. This needs to be urgently redressed.

Amnesty International in its report Political Killings in Northern Ireland provides a succinct summary of what is involved.

"The trial of UDA intelligence chief Brian Nelson revealed that a very high level of information on both loyalist personnel and operations was held by the army and the RUC. The trial also obliquely highlighted that little was done to disrupt these operations, to save lives, to dismantle loyalist groups and to take severe measures to deter known collusion in the passing of security information. Brian Nelson's military handlers who allegedly provided information which assisted in targeting some individuals for murder, were not charged with any offence."

The claims by Brian Nelson place him at the centre of the wider picture which needs to be the subject of a comprehensive public and independent inquiry. That is, collusion between British forces and loyalist paramilitaries including a full investigation of the shipment of South African arms used to rearm the loyalist paramilitaries in the late 1980s.

The latter resulted in the deaths of 229 people between January 1988 and September 1994. Justice for the victims and relatives must be comprehensively and urgently addressed.

This matter, too, has a direct bearing on the current peace process.

The 'decommissioning' issue was deliberately erected by the government of John Major and the unionist parties as a tactical device to prevent the commencement of negotiations, to keep Sinn Fein out of the talks and to delay the start of the substantive phase of the talks.

Sinn Fein's position on this issue is simple and straightforward. We want to see the removal of all the guns from Irish politics; the disarming of all armed groups to the conflict British, loyalist and republicans. That has to be an objective of the peace process.

In this the Sinn Fein position goes much further than the remit with which the two governments tasked the International Body. This was to take into consideration only those guns held by paramilitary organisations. That said, it is clear that even this narrow, and therefore incomplete, focus cannot be fully considered unless the full extent of the role of the British military and intelligence agencies in arming loyalist paramilitaries is laid bare as part of that consideration.

In particular the role of the British security and intelligence apparatus supported politically and legally at the highest levels of the British government in arming the UDA, the UVF and Ulster Resistance through the activities of British Intelligence agent Brian Nelson must be fully exposed.

There is clearly a direct linkage from the British government, through its military and intelligence apparatus, intelligence agent Brian Nelson to the loyalist paramilitaries and the 229 murders perpetrated by the latter after they received the shipment of South African guns in January 1988.


Ginger Baker

Allegations of collusion between British forces and loyalist paramilitaries have been made since the early 1970s. No independent public inquiry has ever been conducted.

Former British soldier Ginger Baker was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for killing 4 catholics in the early 70s. Baker has consistently claimed that the RUC members drove weapons through checkpoints, regularly gave RUC files to the UDA and tipped off loyalists to prevent the seizure of their weapons.

On 27 September 1989 the Irish News received a letter from Baker stating that he had been in contact with the Stevens Inquiry. Shortly before this Baker had claimed that an RUC officer was second in command of a UDA battalion in 1972 73. Baker claimed he has vital evidence and can name RUC officers who passed information to loyalist paramilitaries in the early 70s.

In his letter from Long Lartin prison Baker stated:

"In a telephone call from this prison on Friday 22nd September, I informed a female member of John Stevens investigative team that on returning to Northern Ireland I would name the RUC moles."

Collusion between security forces and loyalist extremists in Northern Ireland has always existed. I can prove this absolutely. However the terrible truth which I can reveal may well result in another cover-up.

A spokesperson for the Stevens Inquiry confirmed that Baker had contacted them. When asked if the inquiry would interview Baker the spokesperson replied: "What Mr Baker has told us is being considered by senior officers and a decision will be made."

Nothing more has been publicly heard of the matter.

Baker was, however, speedily transferred to Ireland. Later he was transferred to England again and released in February 1992 from Frankland Prison.

The Baker era of the early 70s heralded an unbroken chain of events ever since of allegations and proof of British forces collusion with loyalist paramilitaries. This has been documented in court cases, newspaper stories and television documentaries over the past twenty-five years.

However, no comprehensive public independent inquiry has ever taken place.

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