NI inquiries terms announced

The government will hold inquiries into four murders

The terms of reference for inquiries into three controversial murders have been announced by the Northern Ireland secretary.

Paul Murphy also released the names of the panel members who will look into the killings of Robert Hamill, Billy Wright and Rosemary Nelson.

They will be asked not to just consider allegations of security force collusion that have been made, but also to consider the issue of possible negligence.

A judge who served in the 1974 Gardiner commission on internment has been appointed to head the inquiry into the murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson.

Sir Michael Morland also acted for the Crown in 1973 in internment proceedings.

The secretary of state revealed the details in a written answer in Parliament on Tuesday.

In April, the government announced inquiries into the three murders following recommendations by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory.

Each panel of inquiry will be chaired by a judge, a lay member and a specialist expert.

Six reports

The Robert Hamill inquiry will be chaired by Sir Edwin Jowitt, a retired member of the English and Welsh High Court.

Mr Hamill, a Catholic, died in hospital after being attacked by a loyalist mob in his home town of Portadown in 1997.

The Billy Wright inquiry will be headed by Lord Ranald MacLean of the Court of Session in Scotland.

Wright, the LVF leader, was targeted and murdered inside the Maze Prison by jailed members of the Irish National Liberation Army in 1997.

Last October, Judge Cory delivered six reports to the London and Dublin administrations about a total of eight killings on both sides of the border.

The terms of reference of the inquiry into murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane will be outlined in special legislation set to be put before parliament.

The retired Canadian judge was appointed by the British and Irish Governments in 2001.

The inquiries would begin as soon as possible, said the secretary of state.

"As I said in my statement of 8 July, all three inquiries will have full powers to compel disclosure of documents and attendance of witnesses," said Mr Murphy.

- The Robert Hamill inquiry will be chaired by Sir Edwin Jowitt, who will be joined by Sir John Evans - former Devon and Cornwall chief constable - and Reverend Baroness Richardson of Calow - former Moderator of the Free Churches' Council of England and Wales.

- The Billy Wright inquiry will be chaired by Lord Ranald MacLean, who will be joined by Professor Andrew Coyle - of King's College, London - and the Right Reverend John Oliver - retired diocesan Bishop of Hereford.

- The Rosemary Nelson inquiry will be chaired by Sir Michael Morland, who will be joined by Sir Anthony Burden - former chief constable of South Wales Police - and Dame Valerie Strachan - vice chair of the Big Lottery Fund.

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