An inquiry into the murder of lawyer Rosemary Nelson in 1999 was published yesterday and found no evidence of direct collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

However the finding was immediately dismissed by members of Sinn Fein and the SDLP, who spoke of the years of harassment and abuse Nelson suffered from the local police.

A bomb was secretly planted under Nelson's car by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) a splinter group of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA).

What both paramilitary organizations had in common, critics say, was that a large number of their members or associates were working for one or other branches of the security forces at the time.

The inquiry noted that local police officers operating in the Mid Ulster area had continually threatened the solicitor over her championing of nationalist residents in Portadown.

Two years before Nelson was murdered, an identical explosive device was used to kill the UDA man Glenn Greer in 1997. Greer had previously confessed to his C Company paramilitary members that he had been a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch informer.

The inquiry found that the same kind of booby-trap bomb that had been planted to kill Greer was used in Nelson's death.

One of the biggest questions that the Nelson Inquiry had to ask was how and why the RUC Special Branch, the security services and military intelligence knew nothing of the murder plot, when it was plain they had so many informers working for them, some of whom must have had some knowledge of the plans to kill the lawyer.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson told the House of Commons on Monday that there were failings in the measures that had been taken to protect the lawyer. Paterson said that the British government was "profoundly sorry" for these failures.

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