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Stakeknife: Police don't have resources to begin investigation in Army agent implicated in 40 murders

By Deborah McAleese

Published 23/10/2015

Freddie Scappaticci, who has been named as ‘Stakeknife’
Freddie Scappaticci, who has been named as ‘Stakeknife’

The PSNI does not have the resources to launch an investigation into the IRA's most senior double agent, it has been claimed.

Officers from other UK forces will have to be hired by the PSNI to assist in the probe into the activities of the IRA informant Stakeknife, Policing Board member Jonathan Craig warned.

Concern has been raised that the investigation, which may cover more than 40 murders, is going to drain the PSNI's already stretched resources.

The PSNI Chief Constable has been asked by the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the Army agent over a series of killings carried out in the 1980s and 1990s.

On Wednesday, Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said that the matter "is currently being addressed".

However, it has been warned that the PSNI is going to struggle to manage the case load.

"I don't think the PSNI is going to be able to manage this. In addition, the families of those involved have indicated very publicly that they don't want the PSNI doing the investigation," said Mr Craig.

"I don't see where they have the resources and manpower. I believe this is yet another financial drain on police.

"It is legally necessary but it is going to draw officers and resources away from policing."

Mr Craig said he believes that the Chief Constable is going to have to find members of other UK police forces to help carry out this investigation.

"And the cost of that will fall on the PSNI as always. This case should fall into the Historical Investigations Unit and not come out of the policing budget," he added.

The Stormont House Agreement (SHA) proposes to address the legacy of the Troubles with the creation of a number of new agencies, including a Historical Investigations Unit to examine unsolved murders.

However, until the SHA is implemented, dealing with past atrocities remains with the PSNI.

At present the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) is prioritising three major investigations:

The Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry in 1972;

The task of reassessing the evidence in the cases of around 200 individuals sent so-called on-the-run letters by the Government assuring them they were not being sought by police;

Allegations that a defunct Army unit, the Military Reaction Force, carried out indiscriminate shootings during the Troubles.

Now the Stakeknife case will likely come under the remit of LIB also.

Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory announced on Wednesday that he had asked the Chief Constable to launch probes into the alleged activities of Stakeknife.

West Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci has been named as Stakeknife. He has denied he was an agent.

Potential criminal activity by Scappaticci's handlers and other personnel within military intelligence, MI5 and RUC Special Branch is also to be investigated.

While the police probe will originally look at 24 cases, it is understood it could grow to twice that size.

A source close to the probe revealed this case has the potential to be much bigger than that of former British Army agent Brian Nelson and described the size of the allegations as "colossal".

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