The Search for Truth: British Style


By Mike Cummings – IAUC Board Member  LATELY, there have been some unflattering portrayals of the British government in action.   There were the public inquiries:  the Leveson Commission examining newspaper illegality and collusion with government officials and the Hillsborough Commission revealing police incompetence and deceit related to the deaths of nearly 100 fans at a Liverpool soccer match.  These yielded the usual report from Her Majesty’s Government:  mistakes were made, things will change..yadda, yadda! 

 Recently a much different report was released.  It purportedly examined the Governments collaboration in the 1989 killing of Irish attorney Patrick Finucane.   So as not to reveal what really happened, the Cameron government crafted a new device called a “private review” in which papers the government feels relevant are re-examined.    A proposal for such an inquiry in America would be laughable as a farce from the start but British subjects are much accustomed to their government lying about Northern Ireland.  This “review” was conducted by Sir Desmond de Silva but was more likely scripted from start to finish by military and security apparatchiks.  The gratitude of the Cameron government will no doubt be reflected in the client portfolio of Sir Desmond’s law firm. 

 It was, in fact, a useless charade and rivaled in style if not in substance Lord Widgery’s fabrications and conclusions of what happened on Bloody Sunday in 1972. It took 40 years for the Crown to admit that fraud so don’t expect the truth on Finucane’s murder anytime soon from Prime Minister Cameron.   The primary use of the report was to create a credible scenario of how the Government got it wrong and to apologize for the killing of an officer of the court.  Why?  The US Congress recently adopted sanctions against Russian officials for their role in the murder of Sergei Magnitsky a lawyer who fought Russian corruption, was imprisoned and died under mysterious circumstances. The British needed to show to inquiring Members of Congress that the murder of Finucane was different from Magnitsky‘s.  His death resulted from mistakes, carelessness and “fog of war,” a phrase Britain virtually invented to explain its lawlessness.  Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  His murder and the killing of Solicitor Rosemary Nelson 10 years later, was government planned and purposeful.        

Truth, however, is a precious commodity when discussing England’s actions in NI and every British government since partition has used it sparingly.  “We can talk to every ruler,” noted Vaclav Havel explaining success in achieving Czech freedom, “but first it is necessary to tell the truth.” Fortunately for Havel he only had to deal with Russian treachery and not Her Majesty’s malevolence.  England has never had to worry about being truthful with the hapless Irish government but America has proven to be less trusting of the British, especially when questioning the causes of violence and injustice in Ireland. 

British untruths about its actions in Ireland?  Most Americans would find this hard to believe what with the Queen Mum in Ireland and those lovely scones? But England seems to have an inexhaustible supply of ways to hide the truth, the de Silva review scheme being but the latest.  Consider these few examples of how Britain ensures the truth of their garrison rule in Ireland will not be known for generations, if ever. 

Murder:  Dozens of loyalist killers were put on the payroll of MI-5 and the British Army.Seven of them alone resulted in the killing of over a hundred innocent Catholics and Protestants.  The murderers of Terrence McDaid and Gerald Slane were known to the British but simply never arrested or brought to justice.  Other loyalist killers have been issued Personal Immunity Certificates by Her Majesty’s Government to insure they will never have to testify to the truth.

Delay:  It took 40 years after the Lord Widgery whitewash for England to produce a report about Bloody Sunday.  It absolved the victims but failed to tell the truth of those who planned the murderous rampage and or names those who did their bidding.   The Ballymurphy and McGurks Bar murders remain uninvestigated along with hundreds of killings of Catholics.  What better way to avoid unpleasant truths then to never fully investigate or ever prosecute crimes?

Bait & Switch:  When Coroners in N. I. were getting too close to the truth of the many killings involving government forces, Parliament passed a law to make them optional only in N. I. and exempted the Royal Ulster Constabulary from testifying.   A Police Ombudsman reform was adopted but then crippled by a new ‘insight’ into its restrictions.   The Ombudsman could no longer investigate cases the Royal Ulster Constabulary had investigated no matter how poorly conducted or contemptuous of fact.

Destruction & Denial: Imprisoned Marian Price, a Republican dissident and victim of every form of Britain’s legal sorcery, was given a Royal Prerogative of Mercy which would have compelled her release.  The government however claimed its terms did not apply. When asked to back up the truth of its assertions, the prosecution claimed the Royal pardon had “gone missing.”  With “shoot to kill” inquiries increasing, former RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan had the records at the Gough Barracks station destroyed because of “asbestos.”  Who destroys police records and evidence because of “asbestos?”  A murdering liar does!

Prime Minister Cameron claimed when commissioning de Silva that “…the really important thing is to open up and tell the truth.”  In the review report Sir Desmond marvels at the cooperation provided by the Ministry of Defense, the police and security services.  It is important to note here that no such cooperation was provided by the British Ministry of Defense to the Irish Government in connection with the largest act of carnage in the entire conflict, the 1974 no-warning bombing of Dublin and Monaghan.  All six of the prime loyalist suspects had British Army handlers or were members of the Ulster Defense Regiment.   

The grand conclusion of Sir de Silva, the one pushed in media summaries, is that “there was no institutional or over-arching conspiracy …” in Finucane’s assassination. Was Sir Desmond de Silva duped? Did he expect to come to any other conclusion from documents the government handed him?  The Prime Minister did NOT want a public inquiry with subpoena powers like the 1970 Knapp Commission investigation into NYC police corruption in 1970. That body concluded the problem was not just a few bad apples but systemic corruption. Cameron knows lawlessness in NI has been systemic and the hallmark of British government policy there since its creation as a ‘state’ in 1920.  But to acknowledge that would legitimize the armed resistance they have so long claimed is terrorism. 

The United States could show its displeasure with this latest whitewash. Recently Britain not only declined to extradite Gary McKinnon, a computer hacker wanted pursuant to an US/UK Extradition Treaty by the Obama administration but determined it will not even prosecute him. The UK has also misused a US/U K Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) by demanding Attorney General Holder produce records from the Irish Archives of Boston College.  The US should tell the UK to keep their subpoenas of Boston College and conduct hearings on both the extradition and MLAT treaties and the 1998 Belfast Agreement so fundamental to peace in Ireland.  America’s history with Great Britain is a complicated one.  A new Secretary of State should forge a different relationship with England, one which does not require the US to turn a blind eye to its collusion in the murder of two lawyers and other mayhem in Ireland or its corruption of US law, treaties or invasion of academic institutions.

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