Barra McGrory describes Stakeknife report as 'chilling reading'
DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory has described a classified report on the activities of the alleged British agent known as Stakeknife as “very disturbing and chilling reading”.
He makes the comments in a BBC Panorama programme which is due to be screened tonight.
In 2003 Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci was alleged to be Stakeknife, the British army's highest ranking agent within the IRA.
He has denied the allegation.
Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is currently carrying out a major investigation into Stakeknife’s activities codenamed Operation Kenova.
Tonight’s programme claims that Stakeknife was a former IRA commander in the Markets area of south Belfast, who is believed to have taken over the organisation's feared ‘internal security unit’ in the mid-l980s.
It is claimed that he was first recruited as an informer by the RUC after being arrested by police investigating a VAT scam.
The RUC later turned him over to the British army’s undercover Force Research Unit, where it is claimed he became a paid agent and one of Britain’s best placed IRA moles.
As head of 'internal security', Stakeknife had access to details about IRA operations and the people involved.
It is believed that up to 30 people were killed while he was active within the unit, which was known as the ‘nutting squad’ because of its preferred method of executing alleged informers - a shot to the head.
It is suspected by some that people were allowed to die in order to the protect the agent, who was regarded by his handlers as their “golden egg”.
During the programme Mr McGrory confirms that “there is a connection between the agent known as Stakeknife and at least 18 murders”.
Some believe the number of murders could be a lot higher while others have suggested it may only be in single figures.
Military intelligence sources told Panorama that Stakeknife was providing a continuous flow of information that was saving lives.
However, the programme claims that Stakeknife told his military handlers that Special Branch informer Joe Fenton (35) was going to be killed in February 1989.
The father-of-four was shot in the head shortly after being interrogated by Scappaticci at a house in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast, where he was said to have admitted to being an informer.
An estate agent, he allowed some of his houses to be used by the IRA to hold meetings which were then bugged by the security forces.
It is claimed that despite being aware that Mr Fenton’s life was at risk, no action appears to have been taken to prevent his killing.
It is also suggested during the programme that some murders by the ‘nutting squad’ were not properly investigated to protect Stakeknife’s cover.
Mr McGrory voiced concern at the prospect.
“What we’re talking about here are almost parallel processes,” he said.
“We have one in which there’s a police investigation, but all along there is an entirely secret dimension to these events.
“Now that drives a coach and horses through the rule of law.
“It means that the people who carried out these murders were not properly investigated or brought to justice, so for me that is an appalling vista.”
He added that he fears “a potential complete corruption of the judicial and legal process in so far as investigations, prosecutions and trials were concerned”.
The programme also claims that an army report suggests a police officer advised Stakeknife's handlers to arrange an alibi after alleged informer Sandy Lynch, who he helped interrogate, was rescued from the same house in Lenadoon where Joe Fenton had been questioned by the IRA 10 months later.
The programme claims that Stakeknife fell under the IRA’s suspicion after the Lynch affair and was eventually removed from his role.
He later did a deal with the IRA, the programme claims.
Panorama: The Spy in the IRA will be broadcast on BBC One at 11.10pm tonight.