By Philip BradfieldNews Letter
20 Oct 2016The chief constable of Bedfordshire has addressed concerns that a probe into Stakeknife will focus on state actors at the expense of IRA personnel involved in some 50 related murders.
Stakeknife was an Army agent within the IRA who has been linked to some 50 murders. Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci has denied he is the agent.
Victims’ campaigners have expressed concern that the probe unveiled in recent days may focus primarily on the role of the state, at the expense of IRA members – and have asked how panel members were selected.
Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher has appointed two independent groups of experts to support the investigation, code name Kenova.Freddie Scappaticci in Belfast 2003 (Photo: Pacemaker via The Sun)
An Independent Steering Group (ISG) of senior law enforcement figures, has three members from the US and one each from Scotland, Australia and Northern Ireland – Baroness Nuala O’Loan.
A further six people will address the needs of the victims and their families via the Victims Focus Group (VFG). They are:
• Judith Thompson – the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Victims
• Maria McDonald – an Irish barrister who has acted as a consultant on international criminal law and victims’ rights
• Sue O’Sullivan – a former deputy chief of police (Ottawa) and Canada’s Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
• Mary Fetchet – a social worker who co-founded Voices of September 11th following the death of her son in the attacks
• Levent Altan – a former UK Ministry of Justice official who developed the European Union’s policy on victims’ rights
• Alan McBride – whose wife and father-in-law were killed in the IRA Shankill bomb in 1993. He is now a peace builder.
But victims’ campaigner Anne Travers expressed reservations.
“The only real victims on it are the lady from America and Alan McBride,” she said.
“I wonder how they were chosen? I would have liked to have seen more victims from Northern Ireland who lived through the Troubles, can empathise with families and who have a lived understanding of life here.
“I’m sure the panel chosen will do their very best but I feel something is missing.”
Another campaigner, Ken Funston of the South East Fermanagh Foundation, whose brother was also murdered by the IRA, said the probe would remove further resources from legacy policing.
“The confidence in the PSNI doing anything for ‘ordinary’ victims is ebbing away, the only way you can get anything done is to allege ‘collusion’,” he said.
Victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer accepted the right of the families concerned to the investigation, but insisted it would have to be fair and focus equally on state and IRA actors.
For each murder involving Stakeknife, he said, the victim will have been chosen by senior high-profile republicans, as will the killers and support staff.
“All this will have been reported back to Stakeknife’s handlers and will have been recorded in intelligence files,” he said.
Senior republicans must therefore be arrested and charged, he added.
But Mr Boutcher told the News Letter he would go wherever the evidence takes him.
“The remit of this investigation is clear – Operation Kenova will seek to establish if there is any evidence of criminal offences by any party in relation to cases connected to the alleged agent known as Stakeknife.
“We will go wherever the evidence takes us, regardless of who that might potentially implicate,” he said.
“I have made a pledge to the victims’ families that I will do everything in my power to establish the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and bring anyone who had any involvement in these crimes to justice.”
Explaining how the panel members were chosen, he said: “I have carefully put together the Victims Focus Group and the Independent Steering Group, as I believe the members are among the very best in their field.”
They have championed victims’ rights “in complex and challenging situations” he added.
Press AssociationBelfast Telegraph
14 Oct 2016Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, who is heading up the investigation into IRA agent StakeknifeSignificant new evidence has been uncovered by an English police chief investigating more than 50 murders linked to the Army's notorious IRA agent Stakeknife.
Victims' families have told stories never divulged before at the start of an independent probe 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 state.
A group of six international policing experts has been appointed to inform the investigation on a voluntary basis. They include senior police officers from the US, Scotland, an Australian ex-officer and ex-Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.
In 2003 Stakeknife was widely named as west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci but he has always strongly 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 and recover 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."
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 probe.
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 expert advisory group.
It will also include Kathleen O'Toole, part of the Patten Commission which reformed policing in Northern Ireland.
Iain Livingstone, 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 on a Hezbollah probe in the Middle East, complete the group.
A second team of six victims' representatives have been appointed to address the needs of Stakeknife's alleged victims and their families. It includes: Alan McBride, bereaved in the IRA's Shankill Road fish shop bombing; Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson and Mary Fetchet, who founded Voices of September 11 following the death of her son at the World Trade Centre in 2001.
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 ex or serving Ministry of Defence or Security Service personnel.
It is funded by the PSNI.
Daughter of woman shot dead by Provos as an alleged informer after being held 15 days speaks out as battle for justice gathers pace
By Suzanne BreenBelfast Telegraph
18 May 2016Shauna Moreland, whose mother Caroline was abducted and murdered by the IRA in June 1994 - (BBC image)A daughter has described the emotional meeting she had with the elderly woman who found her murdered mother's body lying on a lonely border road.
Shauna Moreland also revealed how police had let the body of 34-year-old Caroline lie on the roadside near Roslea, Co Fermanagh, for 13 hours because they feared the IRA had booby-trapped it.
The heartbreaking delay was also caused by the fact that half of Caroline's body was on the northern side of the border and the rest was in the South, leading to lengthy talks between the RUC and Garda over which jurisdiction her murder fell.
In a powerful interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Shauna - who was only 10 when her mother was murdered as an alleged informer in July 1994 - described the horrific details of her killing.
"She was taken from west Belfast and brought to Fermanagh in the boot of a car where she was held for 15 days," she said.
"She was killed, on her knees and blindfolded, with tissue under the blindfold. She was shot three times in the side of the head. I've pictured what happened in my mind 50,000 times."
Last year Shauna met the woman who found her mother's body when she was out walking her dog at 7am that summer morning.
"The lady was bed-bound and in her 80s," she said. "It was very emotional for me. I brought her a bunch of flowers and I apologised to her for what she had to see on the road. It devastated our lives, but that woman was traumatised too."
Caroline, a single mother-of-three from west Belfast, was shot dead by the Provos six weeks before the 1994 ceasefire for allegedly working as an informer.
Her family believe she was a victim of Freddie Scappaticci - named in the media as the high-ranking British agent codenamed Stakeknife - and are seeking truth and justice through the courts.
The Morelands maintain that the authorities had ample opportunity to step in and save Caroline's life, but chose to let her die in order to protect a more senior and valuable alleged informer.
The last time Shauna saw her mummy was at home ironing. "I miss her so much," she said.
"I'm a chef and on Mother's Day I stand in the kitchen cooking food for God knows how many mothers.
"It makes me sad and angry that I never had the chance to cook a meal for my own mother."
Shauna explained how her two big brothers, then aged 13 and 14, also grieved for Caroline but that she felt her loss differently.
"There are things for which daughters need mothers and she wasn't there, like buying my first bra and getting my first period," she said.
"I had my grannies and my aunts, but it wasn't the same. Even now I feel that void. I'm not able to buy her presents. For 22 years on Mother's Day and on her birthday, all I can do is bring flowers to her grave.
"On my 18th and 21st birthday parties I looked around the room at all the people who were gathered to celebrate with me, but the most important person wasn't there."
It is not just on the big occasions that 31-year-old Shauna misses her mother most.
"The smaller stuff is even harder," she said. "I called in on a friend the other day as she was making her mummy a cup of tea and it hit me that I'd never done that for my mother. I wouldn't have a clue how she liked her tea, if she took milk or sugar.
"I get jealous when I see other people with their mummies. I had mine for just 10 years. She's been dead twice as long as she was with me."
Shauna also told this newspaper how Caroline could not have been a better mother.
"She was warm and affectionate," she said. "We always knew that we were loved. We felt safe with her, like nothing or nobody could harm us.
"Other mothers can complain a lot about their kids, but mummy loved being with us.
"She would have shouted at us for making a mess or being boisterous, but my strongest memories are of a house filled with fun and laughter.
"During the summer holidays she wouldn't have the money to take us to Spain or Turkey, but she organised countless days out. We went on the bus to Newcastle or the train to Crawfordsburn. She packed sandwiches and took us to the Ulster Museum.
"On Christmas Eve she had her rituals. She'd put a Christmas film on the TV and make hot chocolate for us. Then we'd be allowed to open two presents each - it was always the selection boxes and the pyjamas."
When Caroline was abducted by the IRA relatives told the children she was in hospital.
"She had a difficult birth with me - her spine crumbled and she had metal plates inserted - and she was in and out of hospital regularly, so we didn't doubt what we were told," said Shauna.
"But I remember the phone ringing and my granny and daddy going upstairs afterwards to talk to my brother. I heard him crying, and he never cried. When they told me mummy was dead; I was hysterical."
Shauna remembers being brought to the wake in her granny's home. "Mummy had auburn hair and her curls tumbled around her face," she said. "The woman in the coffin had her hair pulled back, so I said to myself: 'That's not my mummy'. I tried to escape from her death, to blank it out, rather than deal with it.
"I told myself that mummy had just gone away on a wee break because she was tired of my brother and I fighting. I convinced myself she wasn't dead, that it was a dream and I'd wake to see her standing over the bed saying: 'Ready for school?'"
After talking to relatives, Shauna and her brothers decided not to go to their mother's funeral. "I still don't know if it was the right call," she said. "I go to the funeral of relatives of friends and say to myself: 'I'm at the funeral of someone I barely knew and I wasn't at my mum's'."
Shauna's one consolation is that the IRA did not try to hide Caroline's body. "At least they left mummy on the road. They didn't 'disappear' her like Jean McConville," she said.
But Shauna is tormented by thoughts of the 15 days the IRA held Caroline. "I've gone over what could have happened and I probably imagine it 100 times worse than it was," she said. "The inquest found nothing to suggest she was tortured or assaulted, but they had her two weeks - they hardly did nothing."
In her 20s Shauna started to Google her mother's name. "The words that constantly came up were 'IRA informer'," she said. "I hated that because it was the label the IRA had created to try to excuse or lighten murdering her.
"Caroline Moreland wasn't just an IRA informer, she was a mother, a daughter and a sister. They tried to write her story, but I am here now to tell what they omitted."
Shauna is particularly proud that her mother, along with her grannies, raised thousands of pounds for muscular dystrophy.
And although she grew up in a working-class nationalist area, she was never taunted about her mother. "I wasn't filled with hate against the IRA, but when I heard people condemn the British or loyalists for what they did, I'd think: 'My own ones hurt me more'," Shauna explained.
"Some media have wanted to steer me down the road of battering only the IRA, and I won't do that. The State was equally to blame for my mother's death. It made the bullet, the IRA fired it."
Shauna has been told that she has a similar temperament to her mother. "That makes me happy, but I think mummy was more confident," she said.
"She was a very strong woman. If she walked into a room, people knew she was there. She's my role model. I find the strength to fight for my mother from my mother."
Many bereaved relatives pose for media photographs holding a picture of their loved one. Shauna refuses to do that. "It's too painful," she said. "I don't want to hold a photo, I want to hold her. I want to give her the biggest hug in the world and never, ever let her go."
The family of a murdered Belfast mother-of-three has won High Court permission to challenge the PSNI for not including her killing in a major investigation into a top British spy in the IRA.
Alan Erwin, Belfast:::u.tv:::
17 May 2016Freddie ScappaticciA judge granted leave to seek a judicial review of the Chief Constable's decision not to have Caroline Moreland's abduction and shooting form part of the inquiry into the activities of agent Stakeknife, named widely as Freddie Scappaticci.
Mr Justice Colton ruled that police are arguably under a legal obligation to carry out a probe into the circumstances surrounding Ms Moreland's death.
Ms Moreland, a 34-year-old Catholic, was tortured and killed by the IRA in July 1994 for being an alleged British informer.
Despite an RUC investigation no-one has ever been charged or convicted of her murder.
Her children have issued proceedings in a bid to secure a fully independent probe. At an earlier hearing it was claimed that west Belfast man Scappaticci was permitted to engage in a murder campaign in order to strengthen his position as a British spy.
It was claimed the relatives of up to 50 victims are waiting for answers.
Scappaticci left Northern Ireland in 2003 when he was identified by the media as Stakeknife.
Before quitting his home he vehemently denied being the agent.
In October last year Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC called for police to examine Stakeknife's activities, along with what was known by RUC Special Branch and MI5.
Relatives of those allegedly killed by the IRA's internal security team, the so-called 'Nutting Squad', have backed that move. But they are opposed to the PSNI taking charge amid suspicions of security force collusion.
Chief Constable George Hamilton has decided detectives from an external force should handle the inquiry, with confirmation of who will take charge expected next month.
Any investigation into Stakeknife could last five years and cost up to £35million.
With Ms Moreland's murder currently not featuring in the planned inquiry, lawyers for her family claimed it was an unlawful exclusion.Caroline Moreland (Photo: Irish News)
They insisted police are obligated by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to investigate the killing in the Stakeknife probe.
Counsel for the PSNI argued that the legal challenge was premature and insisted no decision has been made to exclude the Moreland murder.
But Mr Justice Colton held today that the Chief Constable has arguably acted unlawfully by failing to include her death in the examination into the agent.
He also granted leave on points about delay, the requirement to ensure an independent investigation, and an alleged failure to properly involve the next of kin.
Stressing that his decision was no indication of a final outcome in the challenge, Mr Justice Colton listed the case for a further review next month.
The Moreland family's solicitor described the ruling as "a vindication of their fight for justice".
Kevin Winters also claimed others in the same situation were having to resort to the courts to contest "regressive decisions".
Speaking outside court he said: "There are currently over 40 such challenges pending before the courts with no sign of any let up in the near future.
"Those statistics are a depressing reminder of the ongoing political failure to deal with the past compounded by recent pronouncements about lack of money."
Mr Winters added: "We look forward to the next stage of the proceedings and hope that today's ruling will help get the outside police force off the ground in what will be a massive inquiry."
The army double agent was known as Stakeknife, responsible for finding and killing those it believed passed information to the British security services during the Troubles
By AgencyThe Telegraph
22 Oct 2015Fred Scappaticci pictured in west Belfast in 2003 (Photo: PACEMAKER BELFAST)The IRA's most senior security force informer is to be investigated over at least 24 murders.
The army double agent was known as Stakeknife, a shadowy figure himself responsible for finding and killing those it believed passed information to the British security services during the Troubles.
At the heart of victims' concerns is whether those deaths could have been prevented and whether collusion in murder penetrated to the top of the British Government.
Freddie Scappaticci has strongly denied being the man behind the codename.
A police watchdog has passed information to prosecutors after examining the circumstances of murders attributed to Stakeknife's IRA "internal security team".
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory QC, asked police to investigate potential offences committed by Stakeknife.
He said: "I have outlined today extremely serious matters, perhaps the most significant in my time as DPP.
"I have not taken the steps to commence investigations lightly but, rather, consider they must be taken to ensure that public confidence can be maintained in the office of the DPP and in the wider criminal justice system."
He added a common link across a significant number of potential crimes, including murder, was the alleged involvement of Stakeknife.
"I confirm today that I have requested that the chief constable investigate a range of potential offences which relate to the alleged activities of an agent commonly known as Stakeknife."
Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman is investigating the murders of alleged informers by the IRA and the potential role of Stakeknife. It passed information to the DPP, which resulted in today's announcement.
Former Met Police commissioner Lord Stevens led three government investigations into security force collusion.
Relatives of the victims have pressed for a fourth more comprehensive and independent probe or public inquiry.
Frank Mulhern, whose IRA member son Joe was discovered in 1993 in a ditch near the Irish border in Co Tyrone with his body riddled by bullets, said there needed to be an independent investigation by an international police force.
He added: "It will continue to be covered up until we expose it and put a stop to it."
He said he had been pursuing the matter for many years and still hoped to receive justice.
"If he (the killer) was not being protected he would be in jail now. Of course he is being protected, even a blind man can see that."
Mr McGrory requested two separate investigations.
"The first will be an investigation of broad scope. This will seek to examine the full range of potential offences that may have been committed by Stakeknife.
"It will also include an investigation into any potential criminal activity that may have been carried out by security service agents."
• I'm no spy, says the man named as Stakeknife
PSNI ACC Will Kerr said police had received a referral from the Director of Public Prosecutions which the service was addressing.
"It would be inappropriate to comment further," he added.
Mr McGrory said Northern Ireland's attorney general John Larkin QC had recently been in contact with his office asking what action prosecutors may take about a particular murder implicating Stakeknife.
• What is the truth behind the story of Stakeknife?
"I have identified one case where I consider that there is now sufficient information available at this point to review a prosecutorial decision. This relates to a case involving an allegation of perjury in 2003.
"I have serious concerns in relation to this decision. Having reviewed all the available evidence I consider that the original decision did not take into account relevant considerations and also took into account irrelevant factors.
"I have concluded that the original decision was not within the range of decisions that could reasonably be taken in the circumstances."
The decision has been set aside and the DPP asked the chief constable to provide further material.
Prosecutor tells police to open inquiry into crimes including murder allegedly linked to British state’s agent inside IRA, named as Freddie Scappaticci
Henry McDonaldThe Guardian
21 Oct 2015Freddie Scappaticci in 1987. (Photograph: Pacemaker) One of the British state’s most important spies inside the Provisional IRA codenamed “Stakeknife” is to be investigated by police over a range of serious offences, including murder, while operating as an agent.
Northern Ireland’s director of public prosecutions, Barra McGrory, announced on Wednesday that he had instructed the region’s chief constable to open an inquiry into crimes allegedly linked to the spy named as Freddie Scappaticci.
It is understood the DPP has informed the chief constable that the police investigation should include a fresh look at up to 20 killings by the IRA in connection with the Stakeknife controversy.
McGrory’s decision has opened up the possibility that the Belfast republican accused of being a key informer for Britain while running the IRA’s “spy-catching” unit could be questioned about his secret career in open court.
McGrory said he had taken the decision after receiving information from the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, whose office investigated complaints about the police handling of murders and violent interrogations which families alleged were linked to the state agent.
McGrory said: “The ombudsman has carried out a comprehensive analysis of material emanating from the three investigations carried out by Lord Stevens into allegations of collusion. A common link across a significant number of potential crimes, including murder, was the alleged involvement of an agent of military intelligence codenamed ‘Stakeknife’.
“In addition, the attorney general of Northern Ireland, John Larkin QC, has recently contacted me about a murder case to inquire about any action the Public Prosecution Service may be considering. This is a case in which the same agent is potentially implicated.
“In the light of all of this information, I concluded that I must exercise my power to request that the chief constable investigates matters which may involve offences committed against the law of Northern Ireland and did so on August 11, 2015.”
The DPP confirmed he was also instructing the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, George Hamilton, to hold a separate investigation into allegations of perjury relating to a case connected to the “Stakeknife” scandal back in 2003.
Stakeknife was allegedly in charge of the so-called “head hunters”, the IRA unit that searched for, tracked down, brutally interrogated and then killed suspected informers.
Stakeknife was said to command a tightly knit group of men who were responsible for the deaths of many IRA members, some informers, others who it turned out were “set up” by the agent, who were murdered, their bodies normally dumped on side roads along the south Armagh border after hours and days of torture.
A number of families of IRA members shot dead as informers after interrogation by the “head hunters” have made complaints to the police ombudsman claiming that Stakeknife’s handlers in the security forces failed to use their agent inside the Provisionals to prevent their murders. Many of these families have alleged that their loved ones were “sacrificed” by the security forces to keep Stakeknife at the head of the IRA’s counter-intelligence unit where he could provide the state with invaluable insider information.
Meanwhile the DPP and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland said they had agreed that each of the two investigations be referred back to the police ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, so he can consider if any further inquiry should be made into the actions of the police in this controversy.
McGrory concluded: “Before making this announcement, I have had a number of meetings with the chief constable, the police ombudsman and the attorney general and we are agreed in our commitment to ensure that the public should be able to have full confidence in the criminal justice system. We will each play our role independently, openly and with integrity.”
After being named as one of Britain’s key spies inside the Provisional IRA in 2003, Scappaticci left Northern Ireland. He publicly denied he was an agent. Since then he has gone to court to prevent the media from identifying where he now lives and barring journalists from approaching him for interviews.
Scappaticci, the grandson of Italian immigrants now in his 70s, was said to be a “walk-in” agent who volunteered to work for the army’s military intelligence branch the Force Research Unit in the 1980s after a major falling out with IRA leaders in Belfast.
An audio tape posted on the internet, allegedly from General Sir John Wilsey, who was commanding officer of the British army in Northern Ireland between 1990 and 1993, recorded that the military regarded Scappaticci as “our most important secret”.
Wilsey is reported to have said on the tape: “He was a golden egg, something that was very important to the army. We were terribly cagey about Fred.”
Relatives believe victims sacrificed to preserve position of British army agent Stakeknife
Owen BowcottThe Guardian
1 June 2015**Photos and links onsiteRelatives of people “executed” by the IRA for allegedly betraying the republican movement by acting as informers have begun legal action to discover the truth, as they prepare to tell their harrowing stories to an official investigation into at least 20 murders stretching back to the 1980s.
The revelation in April that Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman is conducting an investigation into whether the murders could have been prevented has triggered legal claims against the Ministry of Defence and the man identified as the army’s highest ranking agent in the IRA.Detail of a mural on the corner of Falls Road, west Belfast, with an IRA warning for informers, in 1985. (Photograph: Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
At the heart of the tortuous history of double-crossing is Freddie Scappaticci, known as Stakeknife, who fled Belfast after being unmasked as a senior IRA commander during a terrorist trial in 1991. Scappaticci was later identified as an agent for British military intelligence, but has consistently denied being Stakeknife.
For decades, the victims’ families – smeared by accusations of disloyalty and reluctant even after the end of the Troubles to talk to the police – were left alone with their grief and disbelief.
That their relatives may have been sacrificed to protect the army’s most productive agent – Stakeknife – inside the IRA’s Internal Security Unit, or “nutting squad”, has begun to emerge only recently.
The ombudsman’s office is investigating about 300 cases of alleged collusion. The key issue is whether double agents within the IRA were permitted to commit crimes – even murder – in order to gain the trust of paramilitary organisations or sacrifice IRA members to protect their own position.
Among the victims were:
• Joseph Mulhern, whose bullet-pierced body was discovered in a ditch beside a remote border crossing in County Tyrone. The IRA volunteer’s hands had been tied with wire. Three weeks later, in July 1993, his father was handed a tape of the 22-year-old supposedly confessing to informing on IRA activities.
• Caroline Moreland, 34, a single mother of three, was last seen alive ironing in her kitchen. Six weeks before the IRA announced its 1994 ceasefire, she was abducted, tortured and shot dead in County Fermanagh. The family received a recording in which she admitted betraying the location of a hidden IRA rifle.
• Paddy Trainor, 29, disappeared from a drinking club in February 1981. He was blindfolded before being shot in the back of the head; his body was marked by cigarette burns. His sister could not bear to listen to the cassette tape.
Weeks after burying his son, Frank Mulhern said, Scappaticci came up to him. “He shook my hand and asked how things were,” Mulhern said. “He was asking if anyone was giving me hassle.
“I knew he was with the nutting squad. He told me he had been up [in Donegal] where my son was being held. When he got there [Joseph] was only wearing a cross and chain – no clothes. He said my son looked really tired and ordered he be given a wash, a shave and something to wear.Freddie Scappaticci - 'Stakeknife'
“Scappaticci knew about the two bullet wounds – to my son’s neck and head. I felt sick. Scap could have had me taken out and shot me if I did anything. He was a very powerful figure. If you were in the IRA and Scap was looking at you, your knees turned to water.”
The voice on the tape handed to the Mulhern family alternates between anxiety and resignation. Such recordings were meant to prove treachery but Joseph Mulhern’s statement was reminiscent of newsreel clips of a Stalinist show trial. In the confession, clearly extracted under duress, the young man introduces himself in a hesitant voice: “I’m a volunteer. My name is Joseph Mulhern. I’ve been working for the Special Branch this past three years.”
The tape stops and restarts several times. It ends in what sounds like a scripted plea: “I bitterly regret this past three years. I would urge anyone in this same predicament to come forward as there is no other way out.”
His father dismisses the recantation as fictitious. “I did not believe it,” Frank Mulhern said. “A few weeks earlier, Scappaticci had called around to see my son and had taken him to places where there were arms and explosives. The army later seized them.
“The IRA launched an investigation. The last two people to see the weapons had been Scap and my son. Obviously Scap did not fall under suspicion but my son did. His comrades in the IRA didn’t believe it. They all turned up for his funeral.” Some people nevertheless called his son a “tout” – slang for an informer.
Even after Stakeknife was exposed, the republican movement made no public apology. “The IRA will never admit anything,” Mulhern said. “They are like the British army; they are never wrong.”
He believes that, with an agent inside the IRA’s counter-intelligence unit, his son’s life could have been saved. “[Joseph] was held for two weeks, across the border. Why didn’t the handlers notify the Garda Síochána? They could have saved others’ lives, too. British intelligence was that far into the IRA, you wouldn’t know who was working for them.”
As evidence emerges, the scale of the security forces’ penetration of the province’s paramilitary organisations grows ever more astonishing. One informed source has estimated that by the end of the Troubles as many as 90% of loyalist and 50% of republican active paramilitaries had been recruited as informants.
The most thorough investigation into collusion, the De Silva report into the loyalist killing of the Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane, published in December 2012, described agent-handling guidelines for the army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) – which controlled Stakeknife – as “contradictory”.
MI5, Special Branch and the FRU operated separate regimes, Sir Desmond de Silva said. “Agent-handlers and their superiors were expected to gather intelligence without clear guidance as to the extent to which their agents could become involved in criminal activity,” he concluded. “Intelligence officers were … asked to perform a task that, in some cases, could not be achieved effectively in ways that were lawful.”
Scappaticci was allegedly not the only agent operating inside the provisional IRA’s security department. Other names have surfaced. An informer who survived an IRA execution squad, Martin McGartland, has alleged two of the guards who held him were also from “a protected species”.
Kevin Winters, at the Belfast firm KRW Law, which is coordinating relatives’ compensation claims against Scappaticci and the Ministry of Defence, suspects the absence of a legal framework was deliberate. “De Silva confirmed that collusion as a state practice did exist,” he explained. “It showed there was no oversight, no protocols and the cynical view was that that allowed agents to thrive.
“By killing people at a low level in the organisation, they were ingratiating themselves into the paramilitary structure. The families of those shot dead as informers felt they were beyond victim status because of the stigma attached to the deaths. That has now changed.”
Shauna Moreland, 30, last saw her mother ironing in the family’s kitchen in west Belfast. “My mother had trained as a nurse so if anybody [in the IRA] was injured and couldn’t go to hospital, they would be brought to her,” Shauna recalled.
“I said ‘cheerio’. She gave me a hug and a kiss. I went off to my grandmother. She said ‘See you tomorrow’. She was missing for 15 days. They tortured her. I was first told it was a case of mistaken identity. I never felt the stigma because I was too young. Years later I found letters from IRA men in prison sending condolences; they knew it was an injustice.
“I want answers. I’ve listened to the tape they sent. It keeps stopping and starting. I don’t believe she did it. Why didn’t the police go and free her? [Stakeknife’s] handlers must have known. MI5 made the bullets and the IRA fired them. She was a sacrificial lamb.”
Her older brother, Marc Moreland, 34, understood more at the time. “I was heartbroken,” he remembers. “It was born into us that we were republicans. You hated the army, you hated Protestants, you hated the Brits. The IRA was meant to be on your side; they were meant to protect you.
“I went round to the house of a local IRA man after my mother was killed. He had steel security gates at the bottom of his stairs. I must have been 14 or 15. He wouldn’t come out but his son, who was 18, did. I [hit] him. The next day, four or five guys in balaclavas came round and told me to get out of the area.”
Eileen Hughes, 68, remembers snow falling the day the body of her brother, Paddy Trainor, was found. “My mother was in hysterics,” she said. “Another brother went to identify him. He said [Paddy] was covered in cigarette burns.
“He was shot to cover up for someone else. My brother listened to the tape. It was Paddy’s voice but we didn’t believe it. They accused him of being an informer. He had been lifted a few times by the police and may have got the price of a drink off them but he was not an informer.”
Hughes’s son, Tony Kane, was shot dead in 1995 by a republican group linked to the IRA, supposedly for drug dealing. She had been summoned to a meeting some time before at which, she said, Scappaticci told her: “The next complaint I get about your son, I will put one in his head.” She added: “I would like to see Scappaticci charged. I used to know him; my best friend used to go out with him. His father sold ice-creams around the area. I blame the police and the government. They knew these kids were getting shot to cover for [Stakeknife].”
The MoD declined to comment on the allegations. Lawyers for Scappaticci did not respond to requests for comment. Scappaticci’s whereabouts is unknown.
The dead have a habit of haunting Northern Irish politics. “If a truth and reconciliation process had been delivered years ago,” said Winters, “we wouldn’t have all this civil litigation. If the government had said: ‘Yes, we saved lives, but we got things wrong as well … ’ It’s the blanket denial that’s the problem. The families just want to know what happened.”
Case of Marty McGartland, who says he survived two attempts on his life by republicans, is one of 20 being examined as part of ‘Stakeknife’ inquiry
Henry McDonald and Owen BowcottThe Guardian
22 April 2015Martin ‘Marty’ McGartland claims two of the guards who interrogated him were recruited to work for the security forces as double agents. (Photograph: Rex Shutterstock)The only informer ever to have survived an IRA execution squad has accused the police services in Northern Ireland of abandoning him to be killed. The allegations by Marty McGartland, who escaped an IRA interrogation in 1991 by jumping out of a window in west Belfast, will form part of a new inquiry by the police ombudsman into one of the most controversial episodes of the Troubles.
The inquiry will focus on the role of a double agent known as Stakeknife, who ran the republican movement’s so-called “nutting squad”, or counter-intelligence section. Around 20 cases will be examined where the security forces in Northern Ireland stand accused of failing to rescue “prisoners”.
McGartland’s claims that he believes two of the guards who interrogated him were a “protected species” – recruited to work for the security forces as double agents – will reinforce suggestions that the republican movement’s key departments were thoroughly penetrated by the intelligence services.
Speaking from a secret location outside Northern Ireland, McGartland said: “It’s my understanding that for 15 years, first the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and later the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI), sat on evidence that could have led to the arrest of both men. I have consistently said I would go as an eyewitness naming these two people as the ‘guards’ that held me in the flat in Twinbrook before I was to be tortured and then shot dead,” he said.
“I also know for a fact that for 15 years the RUC and then the PSNI failed to make it public that there was fingerprint and DNA evidence from that flat in Twinbrook which belonged to these two men. They even could have been arrested shortly after my escape, and yet nothing was done about them. This pair later took part in the interrogation of another IRA member accused of informing, also in west Belfast.”
McGartland was a former petty criminal whom Special Branch persuaded to infiltrate the IRA in the city. After he escaped the interrogation at which he belives he was to be killed, he went into hiding. He wrote an autobiography about the events, called 50 Dead Men Walking, which was later made into a film starring Jim Sturgess and Sir Ben Kingsley.
McGartland had a second narrow escape in 1999 when an IRA hit team tracked him down to his home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside. During a confrontation with an IRA gunman, McGartland put his hands over the gun barrel and sustained injuries to prevent his attacker from firing into his upper body or head. He is currently taking legal action against MI5 over the security service’s alleged neglect in protecting him from the 1999 attack and for failing to provide him with medical help in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Speaking to the Guardian, McGartland said: “A very senior member of Special Branch, Ian Phoenix, in his posthumous memoirs – Phoenix: Policing the Shadows – revealed that undercover officers were watching and filming me on the day the IRA ‘arrested’ me. From the moment I entered the Sinn Fein office in Andersonstown to me being driven away by these two men for the interrogation in Twinbrook, I could have been rescued at any time, and yet they did nothing. I think it was a case of ‘Well, we’ve got four years out of Marty and now we need to recruit some new informers’ … or else protect other agents.”
McGartland’s claims form part of the inquiry into the role of Stakeknife, who has been identified as Freddie Scappaticci, a republican activist who fled Belfast more than a decade ago. Scappaticci has always denied working for British military intelligence and continues to deny being Stakeknife.
Relatives of those tortured and then killed for being state agents have told the police ombudsman that in some instances their loved ones were “set up” in order to protect the identity of higher-grade informers at the top of the IRA.
McGartland said he would be providing material related to his allegations to the police ombudsman, but had “little faith in anyone taking on the security machine”.
The two men McGartland has named as his guards before his planned execution are veteran republicans who at one time were part of a security team protecting the Sinn Féin president and former west Belfast MP Gerry Adams.
In 2003, when the Stakeknife story broke, Michael Flanigan, a solicitor for Scappaticci, threatened legal action over allegations that his client had operated as a spy at the heart of the IRA. Scappaticci confirmed at the time that he had been involved in the republican movement but had since left.
Story by UTV Staff, Belfast:::u.tv:::
25 February 2015**Video onsiteMore links and information on Scappaticci here at CryptomeFrank Mulhern's son was killed by the IRA in 1993A man whose son was murdered by the IRA in 1993 has called on Freddie Scappaticci to be investigated for his alleged involvement in the killing.
Frank Mulhern's solicitor Kevin Winters, who is representing a number of victims' families in civil cases against the alleged Army agent, the Ministry of Defence and the Chief Constable, is urging more people to come forward.
Joe Mulhern was just 22 years old when he was abducted by the IRA.
He was accused of passing information to Special Branch, interrogated for 10 days, shot and his body dumped near Castlederg, Co Tyrone.Joseph Mulhern (Photo: CAIN)
No one has ever been charged or convicted of the murder.
Six weeks after he was buried his father Frank – who first spoke to UTV’s Insight programme in 2013 – said Freddie Scappaticci, who at the time was alleged to be a senior member of the IRA's internal security unit, told him about his son's murder.
Frank Mulhern said: “I asked him again how he died and Scap said that the first shot had hit my son in the back of the neck and he told the guy whoever shot him to shoot him again, so the second shot hit him on the back of the head and apparently that’s what killed him.”
Scappaticci was named in 2003 as the highest ranking Army agent working inside the IRA, a claim he consistently denies.Freddie Scappaticci (Photo: Cryptome)
Frank Mulhern is convinced the security forces could have saved his son but chose to protect their spy codenamed ‘Stakeknife’.
“It’s about time Scap was brought to court and that’s all I really want,” he said.
Frank Mulhern, together with a number of other families, are now taking a civil action against Freddie Scappaticci, the Ministry of Defence and the Chief Constable.
Their solicitor Kevin Winters believes all the abductions and killings allegedly linked to Scappaticci, along with the role of the state in protecting the agent from prosecution, need to be fully investigated.
Frank Mulhern continued: “The PSNI have files which could solve a lot of these murders but for one reason or another they’re not acting on them, probably because Freddie Scappaticci is involved.Scappaticci, also known as 'Stakeknife'
“I say my prayers at night and one of the prayers includes Scap, that he is brought to court and charged or whatever. I mean all I want is my day in court with Freddie Scappaticci – I want absolutely nothing else.”
The PSNI said it would not be making any comment.