Prosecutors continue to consider Stakeknife files for other suspects after Scappaticci's death

Freddie Scappaticci, the man accused of running the IRA's 'nutting squad' who died last week, was also accused of being Stakeknife, Britain's highest profile spy within the Provisional IRA. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Prosecutors are continuing to consider a number of files around crimes associated with the former British Army agent known as Stakeknife for other suspects.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) made the statement after the death of west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci, who was alleged to have been the Army’s top mole in the Provisional IRA.

Mr Scappaticci, who recently died in his 70s, always denied he was Stakeknife.

Stakeknife worked in the IRA’s notorious “nutting squad”, interrogating suspected informers during the Troubles.

The alleged activities of Stakeknife are under investigation in Operation Kenova, led by former Bedfordshire chief constable Jon Boutcher.

Former Bedfordshire chief constable Jon Boutcher Credit: PA

The probe is examining crimes such as murder and torture linked to Stakeknife and the role played by the security services, including MI5.

The investigation continues and is set to issue an interim report this year.

The PPS said on Thursday a significant number of files submitted by Operation Kenova concerning the alleged criminality of Stakeknife and a large number of other suspects remain under active consideration.

It described the suspects as including alleged paramilitaries, former police officers and former members of the intelligence and security forces, saying the files concern a range of potential offences including murder, false imprisonment, serious assaults and misconduct in public office.

PPS assistant director Martin Hardy said that when it is made aware of the death of a suspect under consideration in any case, no decision is issued and it is the end of any potential prosecution in relation to that individual.

“The test for prosecution is applied only to living individuals,” he said.

“Where there are other suspects reported in relation to such a case, those suspects remain under consideration. The available evidence is considered carefully and the test for prosecution is applied impartially, independently and in line with the PPS code for prosecutors.”

He said the PPS has made steady and significant progress on 26 investigation files received from Operation Kenova and which remain under consideration.

In 2020, the PPS announced a decision not to prosecute four individuals investigated by the operation.

They included an individual being considered for the offence of perjury while three others – two former members of the security service and a former PPS prosecutor – were considered for the potential offence of misconduct in public office.

Mr Hardy described the volume of material generated in the Kenova investigation as “vast”.

“It includes over 1,000 witness statements and approximately 12,000 documents comprising more than a million pages,” he said.

“Due to the cross-cutting nature of the evidence and information across multiple cases, it is not considered appropriate to take decisions in respect of individual cases in isolation.

“The intention has been that decisions as to prosecution in all of the outstanding cases will follow consideration of the totality of the evidence relevant to each.

“The complex and extensive work involved is being progressed as quickly as possible in light of the limited resources available to the PPS for dealing with legacy casework.

“The need for bespoke handling arrangements due to the sensitivity of the material under consideration is also a factor which impacts on the pace at which decisions can be progressed.”

He added: “We recognise, however, that this is a long and difficult process for the families and victims who await decisions in these cases.

“The PPS will continue to work closely with the Operation Kenova team as our consideration of these files continues.

“We will also continue to keep families and victims updated as we move closer to the time when the outstanding decisions can issue.”

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