Flash: Brian Nelson is dead
A British Army agent at the centre of collusion between unionist
paramilitaries and the British forces in Ireland has been found
dead in mysterious circumstances.
Brian Nelson worked for the British Army's notorious 'Force
Research Unit', a shadowy department responsible for undercover
killings and assassinations.
Nelson, who also functioned as the intelligence chief of the
paramilitary Ulster Defence Association (UDA), directed the death
squads in attacks on nationalists who appeared on a British hit
list of targets.
Nelson reorganised, redirected and rearmed the UDA. Following his
arrest, the British judicial establishment worked assiduously at
curtailing what was set to be an enormously compromising trial
for the British government.
At the behest of the then British attorney general, Patrick
Mayhew (later to become British Secretary of State), the most
serious charges were dropped and Nelson agreed to plead guilty to
a series of lesser charges. All opportunity to cross-examine the
defendant on the serious issue of collusion was avoided in court.
Most of those involved in the collusion plot have died in
mysterious circumstances, and Nelson is no exception. UDA
members Billy Stobie and John Gregg, who both had some insight
into the 'shoot-to-kill' operation, have met a violent end in
The ongoing inquiry led by British police chief John Stevens
arose after attempts to silence the increasing peace process
clamour for an independent public inquiry into the killing of
Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane were exposed as nonsense.
The British government denied allegations of Crown force
collusion in the killing of Pat Finucane, claiming that Stevens
had already investigated the matter. Stevens admitted he had not,
and he was returned to Belfast to investigate. His report is due
to be released later this month.
Responding to the news that Brian Nelson has been found dead,
Sinn Fein Assembly member Alex Maskey said Nelson was "central"
the British policy of collusion.
"Nelson was involved in the targeting and killing of nationalists
and republicans at the behest of British Military Intelligence.
"He also played a central role in the murder of Pat Finucane.
Despite this the British General who controlled him told his
trial in Belfast that Nelson was a valuable agent.
"Brian Nelson's death, coming just days ahead of the expected
publication of the Steven's Report, adds further weight to the
calls for a full public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.
"Many of those publicly identified as playing a role in that
killing have themselves now died. But the questions for the
British government will remain until the truth behind collusion