Belfast Telegraph

Scappaticci ‘faces 30 lawsuits’ but cases may be held in secret

Freddie Scappaticci
Freddie Scappaticci

By Alan Erwin

A west Belfast man who denies being Britain's former top spy inside the IRA is potentially facing more than 30 lawsuits, the High Court heard yesterday.

Writs have been issued against Freddie Scappaticci (72) in 24 separate cases, with legal action also threatened by a further seven individuals over alleged kidnappings and interrogations.

The litigation was revealed as police sought to protect material produced by a major probe into the notorious agent codenamed Stakeknife.

Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, who is heading the Operation Kenova investigation, believes he has uncovered evidence of criminal wrongdoing by both IRA and security force members. A judge was told he now intends to submit a report for consideration on potential prosecutions either by the end of the year or early in 2020.

Scappaticci left Northern Ireland in 2003 after he was widely named in the media as Stakeknife, a British agent linked to dozens of murders. 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'.

He is being sued, along with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the PSNI, by Newry woman Margaret Keeley. She alleges that she was wrongfully arrested and held 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 to a flat in the New Lodge area of Belfast and questioned by an IRA team. Scappaticci was one of the men involved, according to her account.

In court yesterday, counsel for the MoD revealed the current total number of lawsuits against the alleged spy. Tony McGleenan QC said: "There are 31 claims. Some have taken the form of correspondence [but] 24 writ actions have been issued. All of these name the second defendant [Scappaticci]."

Mr Justice Horner was told applications for closed material proceedings - so-called 'secret court hearings' - are being considered for some of the cases due to issues of national security.

Adjourning proceedings, Mr Justice Horner acknowledged potential delays.

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