Northern Ireland

Call for inquiry into Stakeknife-linked killings carried out after he was sidelined by IRA

British army agent named in 2003 as Freddie Scappaticci

No prosecutions arose from the Operation Kenova report
A copy of the Operation Kenova Interim Report (Liam McBurney/PA)

A lawyer acting for families impacted by the interim Operation Kenova report says any potential inquiry into the Stakeknife controversy must include killings carried out after Freddie Scapaticci was sidelined by the IRA.

Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said on Friday that the Kenova Report raises “some really significant issues of a wider systemic nature”.

Among the shocking claims made in the report, which investigated 101 murders and abductions, is that British agents within the unit were involved in the deaths of other informers.

West Belfast man Freddie Scapaticci was exposed as the agent Stakeknife in 2003 and was considered a prized asset of the British Army’s Force Research Unit.

Scappaticci, who died last year, was a former commander of the IRA’s Internal Security Unit (ISU), which was responsible for tracking down and interrogating suspected informers inside the IRA.

Some of the cases considered by Operation Kenova include killings carried out by the IRA in the early 1990s after Scappaticci is thought to have been ousted from his ISU role due to suspicions he was working for British intelligence.

In a recent letter to Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris Mr Winters said that it was clear that “a number of other members of the PIRA Internal Security Unit had a same or similar status as that of Fred Scappaticci as an informer and /or state agents”.

He also raised the issue of a public inquiry.

Speaking to The Irish News he said “Kenova’s findings on state failure to intervene and save lives isn’t confined to Fred Scappaticci”.

“The report opens up the door to the wider assessment that those state failures extend to other agents in PIRA ISU at this time in the conflict,” he said.

“That suggests very strongly that the lives of……others not linked to Fred Scappaticci could have been saved.

“Today we have placed these wider sensitive concerns with the Secretary of State for his urgent consideration.

“When you look at this it’s easy to see why an apology won’t work for many families.”

“They are understandably asking for an inquiry to take the work of Kenova to the next stage.”

Solicitor Kevin Winter who represents some of the families speaks to the media after The newly published report by Jon Boutcher on Friday.
Solicitor Kevin Winter

Mr Winters added that “wider political sensitivities ought never to get in the way of telling the truth”.

“For far too long that has happened here,” he said.

“For evidence of that we need look no further than the Legacy Act.

“Kenova has proven a robust antidote to that.”

He said that he has reminded the Secretary of State “that inquiries aren’t caught by the Legacy Act”.

“He needs to do the right thing and look at this now,” he said.

“Never mind an apology, these issues demand his immediate intervention now.’’

A spokesman for Operation Kenova said: “Operation Kenova was contacted by a number of families and their representatives asking for cases to be considered.

“Each matter was reviewed to see whether it fell within the Terms of Reference of the investigation.

“Any matter connected to the agent Stakeknife was brought into Operation Kenova.”

The Northern Ireland Office was contacted.