Belfast Telegraph

IRA victim's father fails in legal bid for fresh inquest

By Alan Erwin

The father of an IRA murder victim has failed in a legal attempt to secure a new inquest amid claims the British agent Stakeknife was involved in the execution.

Frank Mulhern was seeking a ruling that Northern Ireland's top law officer must direct a new probe into the circumstances surrounding the 1993 killing of his son Joseph - one of 40 cases said to be linked to west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci.

A High Court judge yesterday dismissed his case after ruling that Attorney General John Larkin QC was entitled to decide criminal investigations should be carried out first.

Joseph Mulhern (23) was abducted, interrogated and shot by the IRA, who accused him of being a police informer. His body was dumped on a remote hillside near Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

With no one ever convicted of the murder, the victim's father was seeking to judicially review a decision to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Papers lodged as part of the case claim the police have been aware of evidence that Mr Mulhern was killed "by or at the instigation of a British agent, Freddie Scappaticci".

Scappaticci left Northern Ireland in 2003 when he was named in the media as being the spy codenamed Stakeknife.

Before quitting his home he vehemently denied being the agent who allegedly headed up the IRA's internal security unit, known as the 'nutting squad'.

In October last year Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC called for police to examine Stakeknife's activities.

An investigation into the spy is now set to be headed up by Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher. Mr Mulhern's lawyers contended there is an obligation to hold a new inquest under Article 2 of the European Covention on Human Rights.

They claimed Scappaticci will not be brought out of a witness protection programme and is unlikely to ever face prosecution.

Counsel for Mr Larkin countered that the legal challenge was premature because he has not refused to order an inquest at some later stage.

The court heard that the Attorney General wrote to the DPP in July last year suggesting he may wish to consider exercising powers in relation to a decision by the PSNI not to charge Scappaticci.

Rejecting the application for leave to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Maguire held that Mr Larkin legitimately decided on the course adopted.

Mr Mulhern, who was present for the verdict, vowed to continue his fight.

He said outside court: "I have been disappointed in the past, but eventually in the end the truth will come out no matter how they try to hide it."

Belfast Telegraph


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