Former British spy in IRA who allegedly admitted murder will not be prosecuted

The agent, who is not Stakeknife, had assisted the British security forces by giving lectures to ‘new agent handlers and other security force personnel’

Victims’ families have reacted with anger after it emerged that a former British double agent in the IRA who allegedly admitted to murder while giving training presentations to members of the security services will not be prosecuted.

The case had emerged during an investigation by officers into the activities of the British spy known as Stakeknife and a criminal file was passed to the prosecution service of Northern Ireland.

According to the officers, the agent, who is not Stakeknife, had assisted the British security forces by giving lectures to “new agent handlers and other security force personnel” after being resettled outside Northern Ireland.

The training presentations included alleged admissions to serious criminal offences, including murder, but the British agent was not investigated or charged at the time for any crime.


The case was subsequently investigated by officers working under chief constable Jon Boutcher, who until March this year led Operation Kenova’s inquiries into Stakeknife, a notorious agent named in 2003 as former IRA security enforcer Freddie Scappaticci.

A file on the alleged admissions of the agent during his training presentations was one of 35 passed to Northern Ireland’s prosecution service but it has now been dropped.

A spokesperson for Northern Ireland’s public prosecution service (PPSNI) said they had decided against charges with regard to the case on “evidential grounds”.

A PPSNI spokesperson said: “We received an investigation file, and after careful consideration of all available evidence, a decision not to prosecute was taken on evidential grounds. We are unable to make any further comment in relation to this matter.”

Kevin Winters, who represents the families of victims affected by the activities of British agents in the IRA, said the failure to prosecute the individual was “seismic in significance”.

He said: “What does it say about the state of our criminal justice system when something so obviously criminal isn’t the subject of a major prosecution and I include within that the security forces attendees listening to such admissions? It is beyond farcical and plumbs new depths of injustice.

“Having just learned of this news we ought to be shocked but, to be blunt, we aren’t. The latest decision is entirely consistent with all other similar decision-making to date.”

Winters is seeking a judicial review of the prosecution service decision not to prosecute anyone over the 1983 murder of Anthony Braniff, 22, who was falsely accused by the IRA of being a British informant.

He said of the latest development: “This will be added into our pending high court judicial review challenge against the PPS.”

A Kenova spokesperson confirmed that a full investigation had been carried out into the allegations.

Operation Kenova was launched seven years ago but, after 1,000 witness statements, 50,000 pages of evidence and £40m, there is yet to be a conviction.

Officers have examined 101 murders and abductions associated with the IRA’s “nutting squad”, a unit in which Scappaticci was a leading figure responsible for interrogating and torturing those suspected of passing information to the British security services.

The IRA unit was thoroughly penetrated by the British security services.

Operation Kenova found that “preventable and serious crimes took place” and that these included “murders committed by agents, including cases in which one agent murdered another”, according to an interim report published in March.

Officers found “no evidence to suggest that the authorities considered holding these agents liable for their criminal acts”.

Boutcher, a former chief constable of Bedfordshire police who has recently become chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, had published his report due to the slow progress of prosecutions.

He wrote at the time that he was “aware of the strength of evidence in many of those cases and believe timely prosecution decisions are vital to retain public confidence”.

Boutcher noted the difficulties of legacy prosecutions but he was also highly critical of the lack of capacity at the prosecution service to deal with such cases, writing that the organisation lacked “a sufficiently resourced specialist unit capable of dealing with the high volume of extremely complex legacy casework which it faces.”

“PPSNI has not had the funding to deliver the legal process to achieve best and timely outcomes for families in Northern Ireland,” he wrote. - The Guardian