Belfast Telegraph

No proof that Stakeknife took part in 'barbaric' IRA killing of young mum, court hears

By Alan Erwin

No evidence has been produced to back claims that a west Belfast man who denies being Britain's former top spy within the IRA was involved in the "barbaric" execution of a mother-of-three, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for the Chief Constable insisted during the hearing yesterday that nothing links Freddie Scappaticci or any State agent to the abduction and shooting of Caroline Moreland.

Ms Moreland, a 34-year-old Catholic, was tortured and killed by the Provisionals in July 1994 for being an alleged British informer.

Her family are now taking legal action in a bid to ensure the murder features in a major new investigation into the activities of the agent Stakeknife - named widely as being 69-year-old Scappaticci (right).

They are seeking a court declaration that there is an Article 2 obligation under legislation protecting the right to life.

Scappaticci, who is now facing at least 20 separate civil lawsuits, left Northern Ireland in 2003 after he was identified in the media as Stakeknife.

Before quitting his home he vehemently denied being the agent while in charge of the IRA's internal security team, the so-called 'Nutting Squad'.

With Stakeknife linked to dozens of murders, Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher has been appointed to lead the new criminal probe into the spy's activities, codenamed Operation Kenova.

Lawyers representing Ms Moreland's children argued that the circumstances surrounding her killing must also be independently investigated.

The court heard her alleged confession to being an RUC informer was recorded shortly before her death.

An unnamed source also claims to have seen Scappaticci escorting the victim prior to her murder, Mr Justice Colton was told.

Hugh Southey QC, for the Morelands, argued: "It raises the issue of the role of the IRA internal security unit in relation to the death."

Detectives from the Operation Kenova team have met with the Moreland family as part of efforts to establish the scope of their enquiries.

But Mr Southey contended that even if Stakeknife's involvement was not confirmed, other spies were operating inside the IRA team.

"It seems unlikely that Mr Scappaticci was the only person being handled by the security forces as an agent," he added.

Tony McGleenan QC, for the Chief Constable, countered that the Article 2 claim should not feature for a death that occurred six years before the Human Rights Act came into force.

If the legislation should apply, however, he contended that Operation Kenova meet any obligations. The barrister acknowledged: "The factual background involves the barbaric murder of a young mother by the Provisional IRA."

He also stressed that Stakeknife should not be definitively treated as being Scappaticci.

"The official Government position in respect of Mr Scappaticci is that they neither confirm nor deny whether or not he was a State agent," he told the court.

Focusing on the legal challenge, Mr McGleenan argued that nothing had been advanced to establish any alleged spy's role in Ms Moreland's murder.

He challenged claims that Scappaticci was involved in the interrogation and execution.

The case continues.

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