Northern Ireland

Stakeknife: Six international policing experts to oversee investigation

Fred Scappaticci Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption West Belfast man Fred Scappaticci denies he was an Army agent within the IRA

Six international policing experts have been appointed to oversee an investigation into the activities of the alleged IRA spy, Stakeknife.

Stakeknife, named in the media in 2003 as Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci, was alleged to have infiltrated the IRA but has also been implicated in 50 murders.

He denies all the allegations.

The six international experts include senior police officers from the US, Scotland, an Australian ex-officer and ex-NI police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

They have been asked to "provide a layer of critical scrutiny" to the complex Stakeknife investigation, known as Operation Kenova.

Victims' representatives

It is to examine possible crimes by paramilitaries, agents and Army and police handlers linked to the man who was alleged to have been the Army's highest-ranking spy within the IRA.

In addition to the policing experts, a second of team of six victims' representatives has been appointed to address the needs of Stakenife's alleged victims and their families.

Due to the allegations of misconduct by members of the security forces, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) asked for the investigation to be conducted externally.

Financial support

Operation Kenova is now being led by the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Jon Boutcher, who was appointed in June.

Image caption The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Jon Boutche (left), is leading the investigation with the delegated authority of the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

Under the terms and reference of the investigation, which were published on Friday, Mr Boutcher will "have the full delegated authority" of the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton to direct the operation.

The terms prohibit anyone who currently or has previously served in the PSNI, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the Ministry of Defence or the UK security services from joining the investigation team.

However, the PSN will still be "responsible for financial support to all elements of the investigation".

If the investigation team finds evidence of wrongdoing on the part of former or current police officers, they will refer it to the PSNI chief constable, who in turn report the matter to the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

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