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Freddie Scappaticci facing 'up to 20 lawsuits', court hears

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Freddie Scappaticci, who is alleged to be the Army agent Stakeknife

Freddie Scappaticci, who is alleged to be the Army agent Stakeknife

Freddie Scappaticci, who is alleged to be the Army agent Stakeknife

Attempts are being made to resume up to 20 lawsuits against a west Belfast man who denies being Britain's former top spy inside the IRA, it has emerged.

Legal actions against Freddie Scappaticci have been on hold while a major police investigation into the activities of the agent codenamed Stakeknife continues.

Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is heading up the probe into dozens of murders linked to the spy.

But lawyers for one alleged victim claimed in the High Court today that her right to a fair trial was being breached by the uncertainty over the civil litigation.

Margaret Keeley is suing Scappaticci, the Ministry of Defence and the PSNI.

The Newry woman's former husband is Peter Keeley, an ex-MI5 agent who also 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.

Mrs Keeley was released without charge, but claims she was then taken with Fulton to a flat in the New Lodge area of north Belfast and questioned by an IRA team.

Scappaticci was one of the men who carried out two debriefing sessions, she has alleged.

Her case is among 20 actions against the 72-year-old over alleged kidnappings and interrogations.

Scappaticci left Northern Ireland in 2003 after he was identified as Stakeknife.

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

In 2017 police went to court in a bid to stop the disclosure of material produced by Mr Boutcher's detectives until his investigation is completed.

They argued that handing over the working papers for the civil litigation could compromise the ongoing criminal probe, known as Operation Kenova.

A ruling on that application has not yet been made.

Mr Boutcher is expected to submit files to Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions sometime this year.

However, Mrs Keeley's legal representatives argued that her case should be progressed.

Mr Justice Horner was told Mr Boutcher is expected to be in contact with her lawyers later this month.

Adjourning for two weeks, the judge said: "If we could have some idea as to when he's likely to report."

Outside court Mrs Keeley's solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW Law, confirmed he is "engaging with Mr Boutcher as part of ongoing consultations on behalf of the families of victims". 

Mr Winters stressed: "This case has been in cold storage for too long.

"Pivotal to it moving forward is an updated position from Operation Kenova; we are confident we will get that in the next two weeks and we will be back in court to try to get this action moving again."

Belfast Telegraph