Northern Ireland's Secretary of State has defended the British Government's decision to opt for a review of Pat Finucane's murder instead of the family's long campaigned for inquiry.

Even though he apologised again for state collusion in the 1989 killing, Owen Paterson insisted that the proposal to have a senior lawyer review the case was the best way forward.

Mr Paterson told the Commons today: "I want to reiterate the Government's apology in the House today. The Government is truly sorry for what happened."

He said the lawyer who will lead the review, QC Desmond de Silva, was a "man of extraordinary integrity".

The lawyer is to report back to the British government with his findings in December 2012.

Pat Finucane was 39 when he was shot 14 times by Ulster Defence Association paramilitaries at his Belfast home.

Tony Blair promised the family that the allegations would be investigated, but no inquiry was set up.

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, asked by the British and Irish Governments to examine allegations of collusion surrounding Mr Finucane's and other controversial killings, recommended a public inquiry into the death.

A separate report by former Met commissioner Lord John Stevens in 2003 said there was collusion.

Mr De Silva, an internationally recognised QC who has worked in Serbia and Sierra Leone dealing with those countries' violent histories, will carry out the review to be handed to Mr Paterson by December next year.

The Northern Ireland Secretary pledged that he would have full PSNI co-operation and access to documents.

Mr De Silva's job will be to produce a full public account of any involvement by the army, RUC, security services or any other UK government body in the murder of Mr Finucane.

Mr Paterson said the review would have full access to the Stevens archive, which runs to more than 1m pages.

Government papers from the Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Cabinet Office and Northern Ireland Office that the QC believes are relevant will also be made available. He will also be free to meet any individuals who can assist him.

Mr Paterson said: "The Government accepts the clear conclusions of Lord Stevens and Judge Cory that there was collusion."