Northern Ireland

Family of victim calls for inquiry into how PPS handled Operation Kenova Stakeknife files

No prosecutions to come despite £40m report

Kenova package
Freddie Scappaticci pictured in west Belfast in 2003 after he was outed as Stakeknife

The son of a Workers Party member shot dead by the Provisional IRA has called for an inquiry to be held into the PPS handling of files passed to it by operation Kenova.

Paul Wilson was speaking after the £40m report into the activities of the British army agent known as Stakeknife was published earlier this month.

In 2003 it emerged that the notorious Force Research Unit agent Stakeknife was Freddie Scappaticci.

Father-of-four Thomas Emmanuel Wilson (35) was killed by the Provisional IRA in June 1987 after being branded an informer.

As with other cases highlighted by Operation Kenova, some republicans now say the accusation made against Mr Wilson was untrue

Mr Wilson’s family, who have also maintained his innocence, voiced concern last year after the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) reached a “no decision outcome” in their case after the death of Scappaticci.

Files linked to the investigation were sent to the PPS in 2019, but despite this no decision had been made by the time of Scappaticci’s death last April.

A former commander in the IRA’s Internal Security Unit, it was responsible for hunting down and killing suspected informers.

Thomas Emmanuel Wilson was shot dead by the Provisional IRA in June 1987
Thomas Emmanuel Wilson was shot dead by the Provisional IRA in June 1987

The only prosecution to arise from the £40m Operation Kenova investigation into Stakeknife was brought against Scappaticci in 2018 for watching extreme pornography.

In total 28 files have been sent by Operation Kenova to the Public Prosecution Service linking 32 people to a series of incidents, including abduction and murder.

Of that figure 12 were military, two were members of MI5 (Security Service), one was a police officer and one a prosecutor.

The overall figure also includes 16 civilians, believed to be republicans.

Mr Wilson’s son Paul said the PPS only contacted his family once to inform them that there would be no prosecution adding that various attempts to contact officials went unanswered.

Mr Wilson, who was just nine months old when his father was killed, believes there needs to be an inquiry into the role of the PPS approached in the Stakeknife files.

“I think there needs to be an inquiry into how they handle stuff like this,” he said.

“An inquiry about how they came about these decisions.”

Mr Wilson believes the Scappaticci files didn’t receive full attention.

“If you take collusion and the Provisional IRA out of it, this guy was a serial killer,” he said.

“When he was lifted, he was still involved in criminality, albeit extreme pornography.”

“They had cases waiting on this guy and they let him die peacefully.”

“He was a serial killer, lets not dress it up any other way.”

Mr Wilson added that his family believe they have been let down.

“We had a lot of hope and faith in the system doing us right this time,” he said.

“And 37 years later we feel let down again.”

Jon Boutcher was the original head of Operation Kenova before he left to become Chief Constable of the PSNI
Jon Boutcher (Liam McBurney/PA)

In his report, former Operation Kenova head and current PSNI chief constable, Jon Boutcher called for the views of victims to be taken into account by prosecutors when considering public interest factors in cases.

Kevin Winters of KRW Law said there is “real disquiet with the Wilson family over the failure of the PPS to provide detailed reasons why a decision was taken not to prosecute anyone”.

“They are equally annoyed at the refusal to name Freddie Scappaticci as a suspect given his connection to the killing,” he said.

“We’ve asked the PPS for an immediate review and as part of that to have an immediate meeting.”

A PPS spokesperson did not name Scapatticci but said “consideration of all files was at an advanced stage when this individual died”.

“We strongly refute any suggestion that delays in decision-making were for any reason other than the limited prosecutorial resource available for legacy cases.

“This was expressly recognised in the Operation Kenova Interim Report.”

The spokesman said families directly affected were contacted last year.

“In this specific case, we have also provided further explanation and context on request to the next of kin’s legal representatives and offered a meeting should they wish,” the spokeswoman added.

“We remain happy to meet with any victim or their next of kin to answer any questions they may have.”