Authorities in bid for secret court hearings over Stakeknife case
A landmark bid for secrecy in a legal action against the man said to have been the top Army agent inside the IRA is to be heard in December, a judge confirmed.
Police and the Ministry of Defence are seeking closed material procedures (CMPs) in a lawsuit involving west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci.
The so-called secret courts would involve intelligence documents being assessed only by a judge and special advocates there to protect the interests of plaintiffs behind closed doors.
The case is one of a number before the High Court.
Attempts to secure CMPs are being advanced by the PSNI and MoD under powers contained in the Justice and Security Act 2013.
Applications are being made on the basis that the cases involve material so sensitive it could potentially damage national security.
But some lawyers have claimed it is a draconian step.
One of the cases involves an action by Margaret Keeley against the Chief Constable, MoD and Scappaticci, the 69-year-old who denies allegations that he was the military spy inside the Provisionals codenamed Stakeknife.
The Newry woman's former husband is Peter Keeley, an ex-MI5 agent who uses the pseudonym Kevin Fulton.
She alleges she was wrongfully arrested and falsely imprisoned during a three-day period at Castlereagh police station in 1994 following an IRA attempt to murder a senior detective in east Belfast.
She believes her detention was part of an elaborate sham to protect her husband's cover. Mrs Keeley was released without charge, but claims to have then been taken with Fulton to a flat in the New Lodge area of north Belfast and interrogated by an IRA security team.
Scappaticci was one of the men who carried out two debriefing sessions, she has previously alleged in court.
Lawyers for Mrs Keeley have claimed she was "theatrically" detained as a ruse to cover both for her husband's status and the alleged kidnap and interrogation by Scappaticci.
In court yesterday Mr Justice Stephens listed the application for a CMP in the case for hearing on December 12.
He is also assessing the merits of having a closed session in a separate lawsuit Eilish Morley has brought against the MoD, the Chief Constable and Peter Keeley.
Her son Eoin was shot dead by IRA men in the Derrybeg estate, Newry, on Easter Sunday 1990.
Mr Keeley is believed to have already infiltrated the Provisionals on behalf of MI5 at the time of the murder of the republican activist.