Belfast Telegraph

Victim's father in legal bid to have Scappaticci face perjury charges

By Alan Erwin

The father of an IRA murder victim is mounting a legal bid to have perjury charges brought against a west Belfast man for denying he was the top British agent Stakeknife.

Frank Mulhern wants to judicially review the Public Prosecution Service over its alleged failure to have Freddie Scappaticci face criminal proceedings.

The High Court challenge centres on an affidavit sworn by Scappaticci in 2003 during his own failed attempt to force the Government to state publicly that he was not the spy.

Mr Mulhern's lawyers contend that the PPS acted unlawfully when it originally decided not to prosecute on the basis of that statement.

Even though the decision was later set aside, they argue that the continued failure to charge 70-year-old Scappaticci with perjury cannot be justified. The case was due to get under way in Belfast tomorrow, but has now been put back to a hearing before the end of March due to the potential involvement of a senior police officer leading a major and ongoing investigation into Stakeknife's activities. Codenamed Operation Kenova, the probe headed up by Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is examining dozens of IRA murders linked to the undercover agent - including the killing of Mr Mulhern's son in 1993.

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 in Co Tyrone.

Scappaticci (left) left Northern Ireland in 2003 after he was named in the media as Stakeknife. Before quitting his home he vehemently denied being the spy while in charge of the IRA's internal security team.

In court yesterday details emerged of the challenge against the PPS.

Hugh Southey QC, for Mr Mulhern, claimed the authority originally concluded there was sufficient evidence to prosecute for perjury, but decided against it because of a potentially viable defence that Scappaticci acted out of necessity based on fears for his life.

"The decision apparently has been withdrawn, and there's no (new) decision as to whether there's sufficient merit in a prosecution," Mr Southey added.

Tony McGleenan QC, representing the PPS, confirmed the legal challenge will be resisted due to Operation Kenova's continuing inquiries. He told the court: "The relief the applicant seeks is to compel the Director (of Public Prosecutions) to take a prosecution decision before that exercise is completed.

"We have an ongoing process of investigation and information gathering, it's looking specifically at the issue the applicant raises, the perjury allegation, and the Director will in due course, when that exercise is completed, consider whether a further decision needs to be taken."

Belfast Telegraph

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