Northern Ireland news

PPS decide not to take action against British agent Stakeknife

Freddie Scappaticci denies being the IRA agent Stakeknife
Connla Young

PROSECUTORS have decided not to take criminal action against the British agent Stakeknife and two former MI5 officers as part of an probe into the informer's activities.

Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron said yesterday that the high-profile informer will not be prosecuted with perjury.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) chief also confirmed that two former MI5 officers and a former deputy director of the PPS, Pamela Atchison, will also not be prosecuted for misconduct in public office.

In her case, the PPS said "there was no evidence of any bad faith or impropriety in terms of how the prosecutor sought to fulfil their responsibilities".

Ms Atchison has previously said she acted appropriately at all times.

It has been reported in the past that Stakeknife is west Belfast republican Freddie Scappaticci, a claim which he denies.

Stakeknife is believed to have been the British army’s highest ranking agent within the IRA during the Troubles.

It has been claimed that he was involved in multiple killings in his role as a senior figure in the IRA's internal security unit.

His activities are currently being investigated by Operation Kenova, which is headed by former English police chief Jon Boutcher.

The agent had been accused of lying under oath in affidavits between 2003 and 2006 following files sent by the Operation Kenova team.

Mr Herron last night said the PPS found there is not enough evidence to prosecute.

“After a thorough analysis of all available evidence and with the benefit of independent advice from highly experienced senior counsel, I have concluded that in each case there is insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence,” he said.

Mr Herron said that the evidential test for prosecution was not met.

The PPS also said it reviewed the circumstances in which a decision was taken not to prosecute Stakeknife in 2007.

The PPS last night said its decision sought to balance public interest matters being investigated by Operation Kenova with “the potential for the provision of detailed reasons to create or increase any risk to life or cause damage to national security”

It added that the director is “required to weigh the risk of damage to national security arising from any departure from the ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) policy, including any negative impact upon the ability of the security forces to recruit and retain informants as part of their intelligence gathering efforts”.

Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice, who has worked with the families of people believed to have been killed by the agent, voiced disappointment at the PPS decision.

“It always comes down to NCND,” he said.

“Why do these matters of agents and their handlers never end up in the courts?

“The PPS should let a court decide.

“We believe the PPS have become a safety valve for the security service.”

Jon Boutcher last night said he remains committed to providing individual findings to families and delivering a public report.

"Legacy should not be judged simply through the prism of prosecutions, it must be considered as a process which provides the truth to those families who have lost loved ones," he said.

“Operation Kenova has submitted a number of files relating to its Terms of Reference including murder, false imprisonment and assault, these remain with the PPS for consideration.”

In 2018 Scappaticci was convicted by a London court of possessing extreme pornography after images were found on a laptop seized by officers from Operation Kenova during a search of his home.


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