Stakeknife: Top English officer to head probe into IRA double agent
An outside police force has reportedly been appointed to probe the allegations of murder and collusion surrounding the top agent within the IRA during the Troubles known by the codename Stakeknife.
Stakeknife was a prized intelligence asset within the IRA, but allegations surfaced following the ceasefires and Good Friday Agreement that the agent was involved in the murders of dozens of people, many being accused of being informers.
Leading republican Freddie Scappaticci was widely reported to have been Stakeknife and was also accused of being in charge of the IRA's internal security unit - also known as 'the nutting squad'.
It tracked down and interrogated members of the IRA accused of being informers or double agents before executing them.
Scappaticci has strenuously denied being the agent, and fled the country after the accusations were made.
It's expected a formal announcement on the identity of the force and chief investigator will be made soon.
UTV reported that the Chief Constable of an English force will head the investigation and named him as Jon Boutcher, the head of the Bedfordshire force.
The senior officer has 31 years of police service, most of it spent as a top-level detective.
It's understood the set-up and role of the Stakeknife investigation will be laid out early next month.
It will examine the alleged role of Stakeknife in a series of IRA killings and look at what information was available to the various intelligence agencies.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton of the PSNI Legacy and Justice Department released a statement on the Stakeknife investigation.
He said: "The PSNI is at an advanced stage of progressing the referral from the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate a range of activities surrounding an individual codenamed Stakeknife and an announcement will be made in early June."
Bedfordshire Police did not make any comment.