Police Special Branch was aware of a UDA plot to kill the family of Pat Finucane but failed to inform them of the threat, The Irish News has learned.
Senior NIO sources last night (Tuesday) confirmed that Special Branch had been alerted that the UDA in north Belfast planned to murder members of the family in summer 2003.
However, despite evidence of a murder plot Special Branch failed to inform the Finucanes that their lives were in danger.
It is understood that:
- the family only learned of the UDA plot through a third party
- when the Finucanes questioned the NIO about the threat, Special Branch denied being aware of any danger
- the security forces only admitted knowledge of the threat following the intervention of the Irish government
- the murdered solicitor's family were put on the key persons protection scheme following confirmation that their lives were under threat.
The UDA murder plot came at a time when retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory was actively investigating allegations of security force collusion in Mr Finucane's 1989 murder.
An NIO spokesman last night refused to explain why police had failed to inform the Finucanes that their lives were under threat.
He would only say the NIO did not discuss the security of individuals.
On Monday the family are due to hold talks for the first time with Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley at Stormont.