Sunday Business Post

**If "lawfully killing" someone means shooting-to-kill, without warning, an unarmed woman with her hands in the air...

Farrell was 'lawfully killed' by SAS - Gibraltar papers
01/02/04 00:00

By Paul T Colgan

British papers relating to the killing of Mairead Farrell by the SAS in Gibraltar state that she was lawfully killed, despite a ruling by the European Court that overturned the findings of the original inquest into her death.

IRA members Farrell, Sean Savage and Danny McCann were killed by undercover SAS men in Gibraltar in March 1988. All three were unarmed. According to Farrell's official death certificate, lodged in the Gibraltar coroner's office, Farrell was "killed lawfully."

The European Court ruled in 1995 that the British government had been in breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and that "excessive force" had been used in the killings. It ruled that the British government had failed to uphold "the standard expected of a democratic government," and said there was "no justification for such use of force". The British government was ordered to pay £40,000 in damages to the families of the deceased.

The coroner's office in Gibraltar has refused to release a copy of the death certificate to The Sunday Business Post. However, a copy of the document was supplied by a source in Gibraltar.

Savage was shot at least 16 times. Farrell was killed with five bullets and the certificate shows that she died as a result of gunshots to the heart and the liver.

The three had been under surveillance for days before being shot down on Winston Churchill Avenue in the British colony.

Witnesses reported that the three had been killed without warning and that Farrell and McCann had their hands in the air. The British government instigated an immediate cover-up of the killings, falsely claiming that the three were attempting to detonate a car bomb and that a gunfight had ensued.

A subsequent documentary by Thames Television that exposed the cover-up, Death on the Rock, was also subjected to intense pressure from the Tory government of the time. A smear campaign was conducted against the journalists and witnesses involved in its production. The campaign was waged most vociferously by the Sunday Times and Sun newspapers.

An inquiry carried out by a former Conservative Party minister later found the documentary to be accurate.

British deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine rejected the ruling of the European Court in 1995, saying: "We shall do absolutely nothing at all . . .we will not be swayed or deterred in any way by this ludicrous decision."

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