Trimble in plea for caution on Nelson report

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The Independent Online
NORTHERN IRELAND'S First Minister, David Trimble, urged caution yesterday over a human rights report accusing the Government of failing to protect the murdered solicitor Rosemary Nelson. "It's not the first time on this issue that people with an axe to grind have been putting allegations in the public domain which subsequently don't stand up," he said.

Mrs Nelson was one of Northern Ireland's most prominent defence lawyers, with nationalist groups among her clients. She had claimed she was the victim of death threats, harassment and intimidation by the RUC and loyalists. She was killed in March by a bomb which exploded under her car near her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh. Loyalist paramilitaries were blamed but nationalists claimed British security forces may have colluded in the planning.

Six human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, accused the Northern Ireland Office of failing to ensure the protection of the solicitor. The groups, based in Belfast, London, Geneva and New York, claimed the official investigation headed by the Deputy Chief Constable of Norfolk was inadequate. He took control of the inquiry from the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The groups said his investigation was "limited to the circumstances" of the murder, and would not be able to "address government responsibility and the crucial issues of impunity and accountability of the RUC". They called on the Government to carry out a "thorough, impartial and independent" inquiry into Mrs Nelson's death.

Peter Mandelson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, said the matter was being "properly examined at the very highest level by a very senior police officer".