LEGAL action against the British Government over its failure to hold a public inquiry into the assassination of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane is set to be put back to next year.
A challenge by the murdered lawyer's widow, Geraldine Finucane, was scheduled for a five-day hearing at the High Court in Belfast next month.
The case has been delayed by British Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, who has not lodged all necessary documents for the defence. The NIO has said it will need more time to prepare for the case.
Father-of-three Pat Finucane (39) was shot dead in his family home in North Belfast on February 12, 1989 in one of the most high profile cases of British State collusion.
In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that there had never been an “effective” human rights compliant investigation into his murder. In February 2019 the Supreme Court held that previous probes into the killing failed to meet Article 2 human rights standards.
After being forced through the courts to make a decision on the ruling, the British Government said in November that it would not hold a full public inquiry. At the time, the Secretary of State said the Government would instead wait on the outcome of reviews by the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch and the Police Ombudsman.
Geraldine Finucane has since mounted a legal challenge against the decision, with the case due to be heard next month.
Following the latest delay, a new 2022 hearing date is is expected to be fixed in November.
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has called on the British Government to end their “stalling tactics”.
“The Finucane family has campaigned with courage and dignity for decades,” he said. “They simply want the truth behind the murder of their father, husband and brother.
“The British government’s refusal to honour its promises has frustrated the families of victims who are searching for the truth about the killings of their loved ones.
“It beggars belief that the British government claim that it needs more time to make its case to the courts, 32 years on from the killing of Pat Finucane. More than three decades on a full and properly human rights compliant investigation into Pat Finucane’s killing has yet to be carried out.
"The British Government need to end their stalling tactics and fulfil the promise it made many years ago and hold a full and independent public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.
“People would be forgiven in thinking this is the latest attempt by the British government at running down the clock to bring in their amnesty proposals recently outlined in its Command Paper which would prevent any family getting truth and justice.
“If we are to properly address the past, the British government must live up to its commitment and obligation to implement the legacy mechanisms agreed in the Stormont House Agreement in a human rights compliant manner.”
The latest development has happened in the same week as Geraldine Finucane was presented with Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award by the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the US.