15 December 2005

Nelson inquiry is delayed to 2007

BBC


The solicitor died after a booby-trap bomb attack on her car

The inquiry into the murder of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson is to begin its full hearings in 2007, nearly a year later than originally planned.

One of the lawyers acting for the Nelson family said the delay had been expected as it was taking a long time to gather and sift through evidence.

Mrs Nelson died after loyalists planted a booby-trap bomb underneath her car outside her Lurgan home in March 1999.

The inquiry intends to begin the full hearings on Tuesday, 16 January, 2007.

In a statement the inquiry said a "further year of hard work" would be needed to prepare properly for the full hearings in Belfast.

The inquiry into the murder opened at the Craigavon Civic Centre in County Armagh in April.

WHO WAS ROSEMARY NELSON?

*A Catholic solicitor who came to prominence representing high profile cases
*These included working for the nationalist Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition in the dispute with Orangemen over Drumcree
*The 40-year-old mother-of-three was killed in a booby-trap car bomb near her home on 15 March 1999
*A splinter loyalist group, the Red Hand Defenders, said it carried out the murder
*>>A lawyer with high-profile clients
*>>'Past haunts the peace process'

There have been allegations of security force collusion in the killing of the 40-year-old solicitor because of her role as the legal representative for the nationalist Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition and other high profile cases.

Retired judge Sir Michael Morland is chairing a three-strong panel examining the allegations.

Sir Michael and his colleagues - ex-chief constable of South Wales Sir Anthony Burden and Dame Valerie Strachan, former chair of the board of Customs and Excise - will examine claims that police ignored death threats against Mrs Nelson.

Her murder was carried out by the Red Hand Defenders, which is a cover name for the Ulster Defence Association and Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The government agreed to set up an inquiry into Mrs Nelson's death following the recommendations of retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory.

In May, a retired senior English police officer was appointed to head a small police team set up to assist the inquiry.

Robert Ayling, a former acting chief constable of Kent police, also led the Police Complaints Authority investigation into the Metropolitan Police's handling of Stephen Lawrence's murder.

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