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Stakeknife allegations: Call for police investigation into IRA double agent Scappaticci's alleged role in at least 24 murders

Published 21/10/2015

Freddie Scappaticci
Freddie Scappaticci

Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory has called for police to investigate allegations of security force collusion in at least 24 murders connected to the activities of Freddie Scappaticci, the alleged spy known as "Stakeknife".

Scappaticci was a member of the IRA’s feared internal security team responsible for rooting out other agents but, it's claimed, reported everything to the British Army.

He has denied being a British agent before leaving Northern Ireland in 2003, although he admitted to being an “active republican”.

Some victims believe double agents within the republican organisation were permitted by the security forces to commit crimes including murder to gain the trust of gunmen.

In April it was revealed that Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman, which investigates complaints against the police, was probing whether the killings, thought to date back to the 1980s, could have been prevented. The Ombudsman has now contacted prosecutors.

It is understood criminal reviews of the matters stopped some time ago.

Today, Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC requested two new investigations into his activities.

He said: "The first will seek to examine the full range of offences alleged to have been committed by this individual and will also include an investigation into any criminal activity that may have been carried out by security service personnel."

Outlining his decision to require the Chief Constable to carry out the investigation the director said: “I have been made aware of the scope and range of possible offences that may have been carried out by this individual and also members of Intelligence Agencies.

“This information has been provided to me by the office of the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, which is now concluding a painstaking review of all available material.

“The Ombudsman has carried out a comprehensive analysis of material emanating from the three investigations carried out by Lord Stevens into allegations of collusion. A common link across a significant number of potential crimes, including murder, was the alleged involvement of an agent of military intelligence codenamed ‘Stakeknife’."

Mr McGrory continued: "In addition, the Attorney General of Northern Ireland John Larkin QC, has recently contacted me about a murder case to enquire about any action the Public Prosecution Service may be considering. This is a case in which the same agent is potentially implicated.

“In the light of all of this information, I concluded that I must exercise my power to request that the Chief Constable investigates matters which may involve offences committed against the law of Northern Ireland and did so on August 11, 2015.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions has also carried out a review of relevant papers and information within the Public Prosecution Service and has identified one case where he now considers there is sufficient basis to review a prosecutorial decision.

This relates to a case involving an allegation of perjury in 2003.

The Director added: “I have serious concerns in relation to this decision. Having reviewed all of the available evidence I consider that the original decision did not take into account relevant considerations and also took into account irrelevant factors.

"I have concluded that the original decision was not within the range of decisions that could reasonably be taken in the circumstances. This decision has been set aside.

“In accordance with our Code for Prosecutors, I have asked the Chief Constable to provide further materials so that the matter may be reconsidered.”

The terms of each investigation have been referred to the Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire so that he can consider if any investigation into the action of police should take place.

The director concluded: “Before making this announcement, I have had a number of meetings with the Chief Constable, the Police Ombudsman and the Attorney General and we are agreed in our commitment to ensure that the public should be able to have full confidence in the criminal justice system. We will each play our role independently, openly and with integrity.”

The investigation requests follow two previous requests made by a DPP.

Sir Alasdair Fraser QC made a related request on 26 January 2009 with a second made by the current DPP on January 29, 2013.

Each of these requests focuses on a small number of identified cases.

The respective police investigations are understood to be at an advanced stage.

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