CAIN Web Service
Collusion - Chronology of Events in the Stevens Inquiries
Text and research: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change
The following is a rough draft of the main events in the Stevens inquires into collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces in Northern Ireland. This page will be extended later.
The Force Research Unit (FRU) identified Brian Nelson, a former member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), as a potenital recruit. FRU persuaded Nelson to return to Northern Ireland and rejoin the UDA. The FRU initially paid him £200 a week to supply information. [The FRU was a special unit of Military (Army) Intelligence that was probably set up during 1979. FRU was a highly secret unit which sought to identify and recruit members of Republican and Loyalist paramilitary groups who could be persuaded to work as double agents on behalf of Military Intelligence.]
Brian Nelson, codenamed 6137, began supplying Army Intelligence with the Ulster Defence Association's (UDA) list of possible targets. Nelson also became the head of the UDA's intelligence gathering activities.
Sunday 12 February 1989
Patrick Finucane (38), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Finucane was a Belfast solicitor who had represented a number of Republicans. He was killed at his home, Fortwilliam Drive, off Antrim Road, Belfast, in front of the members of his family. The shooting followed comments made (on 17 January 1989) by Douglas Hogg, then a British Home Office Minister, about a "number of solicitors in Northern Ireland who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA". [There were a number of accusations that there had been collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces in the killing of Finucane. There were futher claims of collusion on 29 August 1989. On 17 April 1999 John Stevens, then deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, returned to Northern Ireland to launch a third Inquiry specifically into the killing of Finucane. He also began to investigate allegations raised by campaign group British-Irish Rights Watch and the United Nations. Stevens' third report was presented to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on 17 April 2003. The report concluded that there had been collusion in the killing of Finucane between members of the security forces, especially the Force Research Unit (FRU), and Loyalists. See: Stevens summary report.]
Friday 25 August 1989
Loughlin Maginn was shot and killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). [Claims were made on 29 August 1989 that the UFF had received security force details on Loughlin Maginn.]
Tuesday 29 August 1989 (?)
Claims of Collusion between Loyalists and Security Forces
The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) claimed that they had received
security force files on Irish Republican Army (IRA) suspects.
It was claimed that the death of Loughlin Maginn on 25 August
1989 was due to information supplied to the UFF by members of
the security forces. [These claims revived accusations of security
force collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries.]
Wednesday 10 January 1990
Stevens Inquiry Fire
The room being used by the Stevens Inquiry, into allegations
of collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and the security
forces, was destroyed by a fire. The room was in a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Belfast. [A later RUC investigation concluded that the fire was an accident. Many commentators felt it unlikely that the fire was simply a coincidence. On 17 April 2003 Stevens wrote in the summary report of his third inquiry: "This incident, in my opinion, has never been adequately investigated and I believe it was a deliberate act of arson." (paragraph: 3.4).]
Thursday 17 May 1990
Summary of Stevens Report Published
A summary of the report of the Stevens Inquiry was published (first inquiry).
The main finding of the report was that there had been evidence
of collusion between members of the security forces and Loyalist
paramilitaries. However it was the view of the inquiry that any
collusion was "restricted to a small number of members of
the security forces and is neither widespread nor institutionalised".
Wednesday 22 January 1992
Nelson Pleaded Guilty
Brian Nelson, who had operated as a British Army agent and a Ulster Defence Association (UDA) intelligence officer, pleaded guilty to five charges of conspiracy to murder and 14 charges of possessing information useful to terrorists. [Nelson was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. His decision to plead guilty meant that the security services did not have to justify their actions in court.]
Monday 8 June 1992
A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme made a number of claims about Brian Nelson, who had operated as a British Army (BA) agent and a Ulster Defence Association (UDA) intelligence officer. The programme claimed that Nelson had been involved in 10 murders, attempted murders, or conspiracies to murder, and that his BA controllers had know of the events. The programme further claimed that in some instances BA intelligence had failed to pass on information about planned attacks to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
Wednesday 3 March 1993
Six Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers were awarded undisclosed damages against Hugh Annesley, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), as a result of their arrest on 8 October 1989. The men had been arrested on the orders of the Stevens inquiry into allegations of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitary groups.
Wednesday 9 February 1994
Amnesty International published a report which claimed that there was "mounting evidence" of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries. The RUC said that the claims were "utter nonsense".
Sunday 8 May 1994
Rose Anne Mallon (76), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at her relatives home, Cullenramer Road, Greystone, near Dungannon, County Tyrone. [On 27 July 1994 a neighbour discovered in a nearby field two security force surveillance cameras pointing at the house where the shooting took place. There were subsequent claims of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries.]
Wednesday 18 February 1998
The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) published a video entitled Policing the Police which highlighted a number of complaints against the RUC in relation to their policing of controversial parades in Nationalist areas. One clip showed Rosemary Nelson, then a solicitor based in Lurgan, County Armagh, who alleged she was physically and verbally abused by RUC officers when she tried to speak to them about their handling of a Nationalist demonstration against an Orange Order parade down the Garvaghy Road, Portadown. Nelson claimed that the RUC officers had called her a "Fenian fucker" and had told her to "fuck off" when she had asked for an officer's number. [Rosemary Nelson was killed by Loyalist paramilitaries on 15 March 1999 amid claims of security force collusion in her death.]
Thursday 11 February 1999
A new report on the death of Patrick Finucane, a Belfast solicitor who had represented a number of Republicans, claimed that there was collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and British security forces in his death on 12 February 1989. More than 1,100 lawyers signed a petition calling for a independent judicial inquiry into the killing. The appeal for the inquiry was also supported by Amnesty International.
Monday 12 April 1999
UN Report on RUC
Param Cumaraswamy, then United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur, published a report that criticised Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), over the alleged harassment of defence solicitors. Cumaraswamy also called for an independent inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane because there was evidence of collusion between members of the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries. Flanagan rejected an accusation of indifference over the matter. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said she would have talks with Cumaraswamy, about his report.
Wednesday 28 April 1999
John Stevens, then Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, stated that during one of his earlier investigations of collusion between Loyalists paramilitaries and the security forces had found a connection to the killing of Pat Finucane that had caused him "concern".
Tuesday 4 May 1999
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that there would be a new police investigation into allegations of collusion between the security services and Loyalist paramilitaries in the killing of Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, on 12 February 1989. The Independent (a newspaper published in London) published details of an Irish government document that alleged collusion in the killing of Finucane.
Thursday 23 August 2001
Three men were charged with the possession of documents, between 1987 and 1990, that would have been useful to anyone planning or carrying out acts of terrorism. The charges were brought about as a result of the work of the Stevens Inquiry which is investigating allegations of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. The documents contained details of "suspect" Republican paramilitary members in Newry, County Down, and Dundalk, Republic of Ireland. [The men appeared before Belfast High Court on 24 August 2001 and were released on bail.]
Monday 26 November 2001
The trial of William Stobie (51) collapsed when a central witness was considered incapable of giving evidence. Stobie had been accused of aiding and abetting in the murder of Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor killed on 12 February 1989. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had decided that Neil Mulholland, a former journalist, was no longer a credible witness due to his mental state. In the absence of evidence the judge, Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell, returned a verdict of not guilty. [Stobie was a self-confessed Ulster Defence Association (UDA) quartermaster and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) informer. He was also accused of aiding and abetting in the murder of Adam Lambert (19), a Protestant civilian, who was shot dead on 9 November 1987 because he was mistaken for a Catholic. Stobie had been arrested as a result of investigations by the Stevens (III) Inquiry.] Following the collapse of the Stobie trial the British government announced that it would appoint a judge of international standing to begin a fresh investigation into the Finucance killing and several other killings. There had been agreement during the Weston Park talks, which began on 9 July 2001, that such a judge would be appointed to investigate a series of killings where there were allegations that the security forces in Northern Ireland had colluded with Loyalist paramilitaries in the killings.
Wednesday 12 December 2001
Loyalists Kill William Stobie
William Stobie (51) was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries as he left his home, at approximately 6.15am (0615GMT), in Forthriver Road, in the Glencairn area of Belfast. Stobie was a self-confessed former Ulster Defence Association (UDA) quartermaster and a Loyalist police agent. The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the UDA, claimed responsibility, however some nationalists alleged that there had been security force collusion in the killing. [Stobie had been accused of aiding and abetting in the murder of Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor killed on 12 February 1989, but the case against him collapsed on 26 November 2001.]
Tuesday 12 February 2002
The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, a group based in the United States of America (USA), published a report in to the death of Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor killed on 12 February 1989. The report was entitled: 'Beyond Collusion: The UK Security Forces and the Murder of Pat Finucane' [PDF FILE 324KB]. The report repeated earlier allegations of collusion between security forces and Loyalist paramilitary groups and also claimed to have found new evidence to support the claims.
Monday 27 May 2002
The family of Pat Finucane, killed on 12 February 1989, held talks with John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Following the meeting the family said they believed the appointment of an independent judge to review the case was a delaying tactic.
Monday 10 June 2002
Mr Justice Peter Cory, the former Canadian Supreme Court Judge, said that his investigation into six controversial killings in Northern Ireland could take two years. Cory was asked to look at six deaths including those of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright, and decide whether or not a public Inquiry should be undertaken.
Wednesday 19 June 2002
The BBC screened a 'Panorama' programme which looked at the evidence of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries. Following the screening there were calls for a full international independent judicial inquiry into the allegations. [See transcript of programme.]
Thursday 20 June 2002
Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, said that details of any alleged collusion between the Northern Ireland security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries will be fully uncovered.
Tuesday 25 June 2002
It was announced that the report by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens into allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland would be delayed until the autumn. Scotland Yard said the delay was because Sir John was determined that the report would be what it called "absolutely thorough".
Monday 2 September 2002
Hugh Orde began his first day as Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Orde had stepped down as the dective in charge of the day-to-day running of the Stevens Inquiry.
Wednesday 23 October 2002
It was announced that the publication of the report by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens into allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland would be delayed for a second time.
Thursday 13 February 2003
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens confirmed that he was preparing papers for the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to Gordon Kerr, former head of Force Research Unit (FRU). Kerr had been promoted to Brigadier and made the British military attache in Beijing.
Friday 11 April 2003
Brian Nelson died in Canada.
Thrusday 17 April 2003
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens published a summary of his (third) inquiry. [Stevens Enquiry: Overview and Recommendations, 17 April 2003. By Sir John Stevens QPM, DL, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. This summary report was also made available as a PDF File; 243kb]