Northern Ireland

Woman sues Stakeknife accused Fred Scappaticci

Freddie Scappaticci
Image caption Fred Scappaticci denies being the agent known as Stakeknife

A woman who claims she was interrogated and falsely imprisoned by Fred Scappaticci, the man alleged to be the British agent in the IRA Stakeknife, has launched legal action against him.

Margaret Keeley, who was married to the former MI5 informer Kevin Fulton, is already suing the Ministry of Defence and the police.

She alleges they allowed her to be interrogated by a man working as an agent of the state.

Mr Scappaticci denies being an agent.

Mrs Keeley, who is from Newry, is claiming damages for personal injuries, false imprisonment and assault.

An initial request to include Mr Scappaticci in the legal action was refused. The decision was overturned on appeal and a writ has now been served.

Mrs Keeley told the BBC that over three days in 1994, she and her husband were taken to Castlereagh police station and questioned by detectives about an attack on a senior RUC officer.

'It's unreal'

When she was released, the IRA took her to a house in the New Lodge area of north Belfast and interrogated her for two days.

She said she had no doubt about who was in charge during the IRA interrogation.

"Freddie Scapaticci," she said. "I knew him from Dundalk and then I seen a photo of him as well and I said that's him, one of the ones that was there interrogating me.

"He interrogated me on two different occasions."

She said she "couldn't believe it " when she saw stories in the media alleging that the man who interrogated her was, in fact, an agent for the security services.

"It's unreal and he should be brought to justice for what he has done to people and myself."

In his judgement, which overturned the initial decision not to include Mr Scappaticci in the legal action, Mr Justice McCloskey said the allegations gave rise to "acute public concern and interest... and raise the spectre of a grave and profound assault on the rule of law and an affront to public conscience".

The man at the centre of the case is the grandson of an Italian immigrant who came to Northern Ireland in search of work.

Fred Scappaticci was a bricklayer, who was accused of leading a secret double life.

He has admitted in the past to being a republican but denied claims that he was an IRA informer.

Unprecedented

Interviewed by the BBC in May 2003, he said: "I am Fred Scappaticci. I'm telling you I am not guilty of any of these allegations."

When he was asked if he was a member of the IRA and involved in the republican movement, he replied: "I was involved in the republican movement 13 years ago, but I have no involvement this past 13 years."

Fred Scappaticci's west Belfast solicitor has now been given a writ stating that his client is being sued, and giving him two weeks to respond.

A solicitor acting for Margaret Keeley, Kevin Winters, said the case was "unprecedented".

"It's hugely significant. It marks the first time that the courts have intervened in a case of this nature. Indeed, quoting the words of the judge, that's what he confirmed."

Fred Scappaticci's solicitor on Wednesday confirmed that a writ has been served, and said the allegations would be "vigorously denied".

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