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May 23, 2011

Rosemary Nelson Inquiry: 'no collusion' in murder
Rosemary Nelson Rosemary Nelson had represented several high-profile clients

A public inquiry has found that state agencies did not collude with loyalists who murdered Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson in 1999.


It said that it could not exclude the possibility that a rogue member of the security forces had been involved.


Secretary of State Owen Paterson told the House of Commons that there were failings in the measures taken to protect the lawyer.


He said that the government was "profoundly sorry" for these failures.


"It is also deeply regrettable that despite a very thorough police investigation no-one has been charged for this terrible crime," Mr Paterson added.


Mrs Nelson represented several high profile clients including prominent republican Colin Duffy and the Garvaghy Road Residents Association.


Loyalist paramilitary group, the Red Hand Defenders, claimed responsibility for killing Mrs Nelson in a booby-trap bomb attack.


For several years after the attack, Mrs Nelson's family campaigned for an inquiry, amid allegations that members of the security forces had threatened her prior to her death.


The inquiry report detailed how RUC members had "legitimised her (Mrs Nelson) as a target" by publicly abusing and assaulting her in Portadown two years before her death.


It added that officers within Special Branch and at RUC headquarters regarded Mrs Nelson as an active supporter of the IRA.


It also said that "in assessing whether or not Rosemary Nelson's life was at risk, RUC Special Branch failed to take into account all the intelligence and the open information available to them".


Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward told the Commons that the report was "disturbing" and had raised serious issues about the police and Northern Ireland Office.


The inquiry was conducted by a panel of three: retired judge Sir Michael Morland, former chairman of the Board of Customs and Excise, Dame Valerie Strachan, and Sir Anthony Burden, former Chief Constable of South Wales police.


The panel heard 130 days of testimony, gathered tens of thousands of documents, and took witness statements from more than 350 people.

Rosemary Nelson's car Rosemary Nelson died in the booby-trap bomb attack on her car in March 1999


They were asked to determine "whether any wrongful act or omission by or within the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Northern Ireland Office or Army or any other state agency facilitated her death or obstructed the investigation of it".


They were also asked to consider whether whether any such act or omission was intentional or negligent, whether the investigation was carried out with due diligence and to make recommendations.


In September 1998, six months before she was killed, Mrs Nelson travelled to Washington and outlined her concerns while giving evidence to a US government committee hearing on international human rights.

In her testimony, she said she had begun to experience difficulties with the RUC while representing "clients detained for politically motivated offences".


Others also expressed concern, and called on the RUC and the government to take steps to protect her.

In a report published five years after Mrs Nelson's death, a retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory, said that he was satisfied there was evidence of collusion which warranted an inquiry.

Rosemary Nelson's funeral Mourners at the funeral of Rosemary Nelson.


Speaking on Monday morning as he arrived at a Belfast hotel to see a copy of the inquiry report, Mrs Nelson's brother Eunan Magee said: "We're very hopeful - we've been calling for this report for 12 years.


"The inquiry has been established, facts have been sought and we're hoping that our stance in calling for the inquiry in the first place will be vindicated. We do believe that questions needed answered."

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Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

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