Rosemary Nelson Inquiry Report

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 4:05 pm on 23rd May 2011.

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Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 4:05 pm, 23rd May 2011

I have to say that I regret the shadow Secretary of State’s tone. I made it quite clear in my statement that there were criticisms of state agencies, and on his basic question—if there was a question—of why Mrs Nelson was not protected, I made it quite clear that there were analyses of her security status by the RUC and she was twice deemed not to be at risk. However, the key point is that she did not ask for protection.

It is not for me, who read the report overnight, or the right hon. Gentleman, who has had a shorter time than I had to read it, to second-guess this enormous work. What comes out quite clearly from this very lengthy report is that there were omissions, and that if they had not happened, the risk to Mrs Nelson would have been reduced. However, the report is quite clear that, sadly:

“There is nothing that any organisation can do that will infallibly prevent a murder. What can be reasonably looked for is a reduction in the risk.”

It is the fact that we did not reduce the risk—his Government was in charge at the time—for which I have apologised on behalf of the British state.