Senior international policing figures involved in Stakeknife probe

By Brian Rowan

Some of the most senior figures in international policing will act as advisers to the officer heading the Stakeknife Investigation.

Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is leading Operation Kenova, investigating dozens of IRA murders, the alleged role of the Army agent Stakeknife and what was known across the intelligence agencies – Military, MI5 and the then RUC Special Branch.

Since his appointment was confirmed in June, Boutcher has been assembling an outside detective team which will number almost 50 officers.

He will also have an Independent Steering Group.

UTV reported in August that it was expected to include international policing figures.

Now, it has been confirmed that NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism John Miller and Mike Downing, Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department will be part of the group.

It will also include Kathleen O'Toole, part of the Patten Commission which brought about sweeping reforms within policing here.

There are three other members - former Police Ombudsman Dame Nuala O'Loan, Iain Livingstone, who is Deputy Chief Constable with Police Scotland, and Nick Kaldas a former Deputy Commissioner of Police in New South Wales who has been working with the UN.

"Each of those members has experience of complex investigations that will have engaged similar legal challenges and have involved historical cases," Boutcher said.

The group will act as a "sounding board" or "critical friend" to use Boutcher's words.

"There is an absolute determination to get to the truth for the families," he said - and he promised "a meaningful, honest, authentic investigation to get to the heart of what happened".

Stakeknife was an Army agent operating inside IRA "internal security" - the part of that organisation responsible for the interrogation of suspected informers often leading to so-called executions.

Freddie Scappaticci, a Belfast republican interned in the 1970s, has denied he was the agent.

One of the first tasks of the investigating team will be an assessment of relevant documents and information held across the intelligence agencies - information detectives will start to gather into the Operation Kenova Headquarters next month.

This week, Boutcher has been meeting families and briefing them on progress.

The Bedfordshire Chief Constable has also assembled a Victims Focus Group to advise his investigation.

It includes Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson, Alan McBride from the WAVE Trauma Centre and Mary Fetchet founding director of Voices of September 11.