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Stakeknife: prominent solicitor calls for major investigation

Kevin Winters says all abductions and killings linked to Freddie Scappaticci, along with the role of the state in protecting the double agent from prosecution, need to be fully investigated. Picture by Hugh Russell

A PROMINENT solicitor has called for a major investigation into the activities of an IRA double agent believed to have been involved in more than 30 murders during the Troubles.

Kevin Winters said that all abductions and killings linked to Freddie Scappaticci, along with the role of the state in protecting the double agent from prosecution, needed to be fully investigated.

The KRW Law solicitor, who is representing a number of victims' families in civil actions against Scappaticci, the Ministry of Defence and the Chief Constable, has urged more people to come forward to lend weight to the campaign for a major probe saying there will be "greater strength in numbers".

Scappaticci, who has consistently denied being the spy codenamed Stakeknife, has been in hiding since reports naming him as the double agent first emerged in 2003.

After he was exposed details also emerged of an interview he gave to journalists from ITV's Cook Report in which Scappaticci - who was a member of the IRA's notorious internal security unit - made a number of revelations including giving details about the murder of Derry man Frank Hegarty, who was shot dead in 1986.

Scappaticci fled his home in west Belfast a short time later and is now believed to be living in the north of England.

Revealing his exact whereabouts or showing up-to-date pictures of the former IRA man is banned under the terms of a court injunction.

During his time in the IRA Scappaticci was thought to have been involved in the torture, interrogation and murder of alleged informers.

It is estimated that he played a role in the deaths of more than 30 people.

He is believed to have played a role in the shooting of postal worker and part-time UDR corporal James McFall who gunned down at his home in the Shankill area of Belfast in July 1977.

While the murder of the 38-year-old father-of-five was not linked to Scappaticci's later role as head of the IRA's 'internal security unit', Mr Winters believes it also should be included as part of a "collective investigation".

It is widely believed that Scappaticci was recruited as a British army agent in 1978, the year after the McFall murder.

Mr Winters, who has called on PSNI chief constable George Hamilton to launch a investigation into the murders linked to Scappaticci, urged more people to come forward.

"The state has been quite clever on this one because they know people are reluctant to come forward," Mr Winters said.

"We are representing a number of people but there are many more - and we would say there is greater strength in numbers.

"For it to be a proper investigation all these cases need to be looked at in a linked basis along with all the other allegations connected to Scappaticci.

"The approach taken by the state generally and by the chief constable falls way short of the type of investigation that is needed in these cases.

"We are also asking the Police Ombudsman to take a themed approach."

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