Stakeknife investigator uncovers ‘significant’ new evidence

English police chief is examining over 50 murders linked to British army’s IRA agent

Bedfordshire police chief constable Jon Boutcher, who is heading up the investigation into IRA agent Stakeknife, at the Culloden Hotel in Belfast. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Bedfordshire police chief constable Jon Boutcher, who is heading up the investigation into IRA agent Stakeknife, at the Culloden Hotel in Belfast. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Significant new evidence has been uncovered by an English police chief investigating more than 50 murders linked to the British army’s notorious IRA agent Stakeknife.

Victims’ families have told stories that have never been divulged before at the start of an independent inquiry by Bedfordshire police chief constable Jon Boutcher into the high-ranking mole, who led the IRA’s “nutting squad” internal security unit while in the employ of the British army.

A group of six international policing experts has been appointed to inform the investigation on a voluntary basis.

The group includes senior police officers from the US, Scotland and former Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan.

In 2003, Stakeknife was widely named as west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci, but he has always denied the allegation.

Mr Boutcher said: “This week we have heard things that from what the families have told me they have never told anyone before, because nobody has asked them.

“What I have been told this week is significant evidence against the people responsible for these offences.”

He has asked the victims’ families to give him time to investigate the evidence.

“It is incredible what I have heard.

“There is a pessimism, which I understand, I completely get, because people felt let down and almost abandoned.

“It almost feels like their rights were taken away from them because of the nature of what happened to their loved ones.

“They have now got a voice and that is this investigation, and they told me of what they saw at that time that they have never been able to tell anybody before and we need people to do that.”

Possible crimes

The investigation is centred on possible crimes by paramilitaries, agents and army and police handlers linked to Stakeknife, allegedly the military’s highest-ranking spy within the IRA.

Multiple murders, attempted murders and unlawful imprisonments are included in the inquiry.

A team of six victims’ representatives has also been appointed to address the needs of Stakeknife’s alleged victims and their families.

The Stakeknife investigation was launched after Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory referred the multiple allegations to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton asked external police to undertake the probe in an effort to ensure its independence.

No former or current officers who have served in Northern Ireland will work on the investigation, nor will former or serving British ministry of defence or security service personnel.

It is funded by the PSNI.

PA