18:36 GMT22 June 2021
Listen Live
    Get short URL

    Recruited in the late 1970s, Stakeknife rose through the IRA’s ranks in Belfast to become head of the paramilitary group’s informer-hunting unit known, dubbed “the nutting squad”, a highly feared and secretive branch of the organisation.

    Operation Kenova, the official inquiry into one of the biggest spy scandals in British history, has recommended over 20 people - including senior security force personnel and former IRA operatives - be considered for prosecution, The Guardian has reported.

    The multimillion-pound probe into the activities of ‘Stakeknife’ – one of British intelligence’s most valued assets, operating inside the Provisional IRA - has sent files of evidence relating to murder, kidnap, torture, malfeasance in public office and perverting the course of justice to the Public Prosecution Service in Belfast. It’s suggested he carried out a great many serious crimes with the knowledge, if not consent, of the British state, which could extend to at least 18 murders of IRA members accused of being informers.

    Sources close to the inquiry have revealed its chief Jon Boutcher, ex-chief constable of Bedfordshire, was granted access to all secret briefing papers given to every Prime Minister from Margaret Thatcher onwards relating to the activities of Stakeknife within the IRA. 

    ​Freddie Scappaticci has been repeatedly named as Stakeknife since 2003 - although despite his strenuous denials, it’s understood his is among the names forwarded by Boutcher. Whatever the truth of the matter,

    A number of families of IRA members shot dead after being accused of treachery have made separate complaints to Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman, claiming that Stakeknife’s handlers in the security forces failed to use their agent to prevent the killings.

    General Sir John Wilsey, commanding officer of the British army in Northern Ireland 1983 - 1990, has described Stakeknife as “the golden egg” of military intelligence agents during the Troubles, who saved “hundreds and hundreds of lives”. The military intelligence operative who recruited Stakeknife was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry medal in part for his efforts.

    ​Boutcher’s files to the PPS is likely to again inflame controversy over  so-called ‘get out of jail’ cards granted by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government to dozens of IRA fugitives during the peace process during the late 1990s, as part of a secret concession to Sinn Fein meaning a large number of wanted men and women wouldn’t face investigation or punishment for crimes committed during the Troubles. One source close to the Kenova investigation has made clear “it makes no difference” to Operation Kenova investigators whether anyone named in the files handed to the PPS has such a document.

    If prosecuted, Stakeknife could end up appearing in court and compelled to tell his unbelievable story publicly for the first time, exposing his handlers and the way British intelligence conducted covert operations during the Troubles, potentially implicating current and former British officials at every level and other informants along the way.


    Troubles Ahead: N Ireland Police Chief Warns of Brexit Border Security Concerns
    Father of Troubles Victim Says No Deal Brexit Will Send Northern Ireland Back to 'The Bad Old Days'
    Seven Men Arrested in Northern Ireland Suspected of IRA Ties
    Northern Ireland Politics in Meltdown Over IRA Murder Links
    the Troubles, "Troubles", MI5, Northern Ireland, IRA
    Community standardsDiscussion