Written statement to Parliament

Sir Desmond de Silva’s Report of the Patrick Finucane Review: lessons learnt

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament on lessons learnt by government from Sir Desmond de Silva’s Report of the Patrick Finucane Review.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland appointed Sir Desmond de Silva QC in October 2011 to conduct an independent review into the question of State involvement in the murder of Patrick Finucane in 1989. His report was published on 12 December 2012.

On that day, I told the House that we would study Sir Desmond’s report in detail to see whether any further lessons could be learnt. I said that I would ask the Secretaries of State for Defence and Northern Ireland and the Cabinet Secretary to report back to me on all the issues that arise from this report and publish their responses. The responses take the form of a joint report by the Cabinet Secretary, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which is attached and will be published on gov.uk today. Copies are also being placed in the Library of the House.

As Sir Desmond de Silva said in his Report

a series of positive actions by employees of the State actively furthered and facilitated [Patrick Finucane’s] murder and that, in the aftermath of the murder, there was a relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice.

The government accepts these findings unequivocally.

The joint report describes the action government departments have demonstrated in response to Sir Desmond de Silva’s report and the ways in which their internal processes have changed in the areas de Silva highlights. Significant changes have been made since the time of Patrick Finucane’s murder to improve the situation and today’s framework for operations bears little resemblance to that of 1989. Additionally, there is far more effective independent oversight and control than existed in 1989.

As the joint report concludes, the approach of the police and intelligence agencies to handling of Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) has been completely transformed in the years since the appalling events under consideration in the de Silva Review. Compliance with human rights and other legal obligations has a fundamental place at the centre of activities by the police and intelligence services with the principles of necessity and proportionality now firmly embedded in the culture and systems they apply in their work.