Finucane report author Sir Desmond de Silva dies aged 78

Sir Desmond de Silva QC
Sir Desmond de Silva QC

The international lawyer who carried out a major review of the Pat Finucane murder investigation has died aged 78.

Sir Desmond de Silva QC produced a report on what was one of the most controversial killings of the Troubles – carried out in 1989 by the UDA with at least one police/security services informant involved.

In his 500-page report published in 2012, de Silva said that one or possibly more police officers had proposed the high-profile solicitor as a potential loyalist target, and that some were involved in spreading malicious propaganda that Mr Finucane was sympathetic to the IRA.

Despite producing a damning indictment of some security force members, and their “serious violations of human rights,” de Silva concluded that there was no evidence of an over-arching conspiracy by government authorities.

De Silva was born in Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, in 1939. Having prosecuted and defended clients all over the Commonwealth, he was appointed a deputy prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which prosecuted war criminals including Liberian leader Charles Taylor.

As the de Silva report on the Pat Finucane case was made public, the then prime minister David Cameron made a public apology in the House of Commons. He said: “Collusion should never, ever happen,” and added: “So on behalf of the government – and the whole country – let me say once again to the Finucane family, I am deeply sorry.”

However, the murdered solicitor’s family immediately branded the review “a sham” and again repeated their demand for an independent public inquiry.