Statement in relation to Fred Scappaticci
“We act on behalf of a number of families of murder victims killed by PIRA Internal Security Unit [ISU] during The Conflict.
All of the cases are linked directly or indirectly to the terrorist activities of Fred Scappaticci, the agent allegedly known as ‘Stakeknife’.”
Today Jon Boutcher who leads the inquiry into Scappaticci confirmed with us the central figure in his inquiry died last Thursday.
The news will frustrate many families who have been waiting for over 6 years on the imminent publication of Mr Boutchers independent report known as Operation Kenova. Some initial feedback from clients suggests annoyance about the timing of the death coming as it does on the cusp of the Reports publication later in the summer.
Not only that but the PPS have been deliberating on prosecution decisions in 33 cases referred by Kenova nearly 3 years ago. Clearly the death will have an impact on both the content of the report and whether or not criminal prosecutions go ahead. Families of victims will rightly ask questions. Their cynicism is heightened upon learning that news of Scappaticci burial seems to have been kept quiet by the Authorities over the Easter weekend. People just aren’t happy and that’s only to be expected given the unexpected news. Answers will be needed sooner rather than later given heightened expectations that after all these years they would finally get some degree of closure.
There is a significant volume of litigation ongoing all of which is linked to the deceased. That includes over 35 high court civil actions alleging collusion against him and State agencies together with judicial review challenges touching upon his status as a protected State intelligence asset.
We have seen it before so many times previously with agents and informants dying before legal processes played out and robbing victims of some semblance of justice. Unfortunately, we may now be seeing that again.
Key to keeping families engaged and on board with the final out workings of the inquiry is a positive indication that the latest news won’tserve to undermine or prejudice decision making. The terms of reference of Kenova were narrowly drawn up to keep the inquiry Freddie Scappaticci – centric thereby removing any spotlight on other alleged high profile PIRA ISU agents. It remains to be seen whether or not the untimely death of the key witness in all of this serves to further constrict any focus on wider allegations of Republican – State collusion.’’