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Military intelligence prolonged 1980s conflict { November 9 2003 }

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Sunday Herald - 09 November 2003
Agent Stakeknife to be grilled by Ulster collusion agents
By Neil Mackay, Home Affairs Editor

SCOTLAND Yard’s long-running investigation into collusion between the British security forces and paramilitaries in Northern Ireland will now focus on Freddie Scappaticci, the man identified by the Sunday Herald as Stakeknife, the army’s top spy inside the IRA.

Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner who is leading the collusion inquiry, says he has finally got to the truth about collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries, and will now centre his inquiry on the role of double-agent Stakeknife.

Files on up to 10 more murders involving alleged security force collusion with loyalist killers in Ulster have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Stevens has already established collusion in the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, killed by loyalist gunmen in front of his family in February 1989, and another loyalist victim named as Adam Lambert.

Finucane was singled out for assassination by Brian Nelson, the outlawed Ulster Defence Association’s intelligence officer, who was a double-agent recruited by the British army’s Force Research Unit (FRU).

As a result of the Stevens inquiry, Sir Alasdair Fraser, Northern Ireland director of public prosecutions, is considering if he should press criminal charges against up to 20 army and police personnel.

They include Brigadier Gordon Kerr, a Scot who once headed the British army’s counter-intelligence FRU in Belfast. The Sunday Herald, as part of its intensive investigations into “the dirty war” in Ulster, was the first paper to reveal Kerr’s role in the FRU.

Stevens did not disclose whether Scappaticci had been interviewed as yet, although sources close to the inquiry team say they want to speak to him “as both a witness and a suspect”. He added: “We haven’t put any documentation to the DPP in relation to Stakeknife yet. Obviously, we plan to.”

He added that “in the course of the next six months we will be putting more (papers) in”.

Nearly 30 officers are still involved in the investigation, which is expected to run until at least the middle of next year. The Stevens inquiry has led to only one man being charged with the murder of Finucane, even though Scotland Yard has been the investigating collusion allegations for 12 years.

Stevens has previously said that British army informants and agents “were allowed to operate without effective control and to participate in terrorist crimes”. A report by the Stevens’ team in April found that military intelligence in Northern Ireland helped prolong the Troubles in the late 1980s.

The killings of Terrence McDaid in May 1988, Gerard Slane in September 1988 and Loughlin Maginn in August 1989 are believed to be among the 10 murders referred to by Stevens. It has also emerged that the infamous loyalist terrorist godfather Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair is to be questioned by the Stevens inquiry over claims that he was involved in the Finucane murder.

Detectives are investigating claims in a new book on Adair that the former UDA commander provided the car used in the assassination. The inquiry team is demanding the name of the source.

A Stevens source said: “This is the first time this allegation has been made and it is our duty to investigate it as part of our inquiry into the murder. We will want to know where this information came from.”

A former soldier in the FRU, who goes by the cover-name Martin Ingram, has criticised the Stevens team for failing to investigate the role of Stakeknife until now.

Ingram turned whistle-blower and gave an interview to Stevens detectives four years ago in which he implicated Stakeknife in murder and other serious crimes. Ingram says he is “baffled” that it has taken until now for Scotland Yard to get round to questioning Scappaticci.

“Both Sir John Stevens and the officer who once led the inquiry on a day-to-day basis, the current chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Sir Hugh Orde, were aware of Stakeknife’s identity and his role almost four years ago.

“Everyone now accepts that Scappaticci was Stakeknife yet this most vital witness to what happened over a 20-year period in Northern Ireland is still not in custody. I fear it is only a matter of time before he is killed. A number of dissident republicans have already targeted him. It would be disgraceful if he was either murdered or allowed to disappear with the help of army intelligence.”

It has been established that military intelligence destroyed hundreds of files relating to Stakeknife. Ingram now wants Scappaticci, who has not been in Northern Ireland in recent weeks, taken into custody. “He should have been in custody four years ago,” he said.

Copyright © 2003 smg sunday newspapers ltd. no.176088

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