No one to be prosecuted after Stakeknife probe

1 month ago 32

Fred ScappaticciImage source, Pacemaker

Image caption,

Fred Scappaticci denied he was an Army agent within the IRA

By Julian O'Neill

BBC News NI crime and justice correspondent

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has issued the last decisions in the agent Stakeknife case and the result is no-one will face court following a multi-million-pound investigation.

The final deliberations involved five retired soldiers and seven alleged IRA members.

They related to three murders and two abduction cases between 1987 and 1994.

The PPS said there was "no reasonable prospect of conviction" in respect of any of the 12 individuals.

Stakeknife was an IRA member who became one of the UK's most valuable spies during the Troubles.

Run by the Army's Force Research Unit (FRU), he is widely believed to have been Freddie Scappaticci who died in 2023.

The agent's actions formed a major part of a six-year legacy investigation known as Operation Kenova.

It began in 2016 under Jon Boutcher, who stepped down from the role on becoming chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) last year.

In all, the PPS has been assessing 28 files of complex evidence relating to Stakeknife.

It began issuing decisions in 2020, but the majority have been made in the past three months.

Every decision reached was not to prosecute.

'Deep disappointment' for victims' families

In the latest cases, the five retired soldiers worked within FRU - three of them were agent handlers and two held more senior positions.

Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron accepted there will be "deep disappointment" among victims' families over decisions not to prosecute anyone in relation to Stakeknife.

He added: "The value of the investigation should not be measured solely in terms of any prosecution decision outcome.

"I am mindful that an interim Operation Kenova report is to be published next week and is to be followed by individual reports to families who suffered a bereavement.

"I hope that these reports will demonstrate the wider value of Operation Kenova investigations in providing answers to families and also setting out a fuller context and narrative on what are no doubt very challenging and significant issues of understandable public interest".

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