STAKEKNIFE: THE CONTINUING CONCERNS OF THE VICTIMS
A policeman from England has been invited to conduct an investigation into the British agent known as Stakeknife. The announcement was made today. The PSNI had intended to make the announcement yesterday – the day of the publication of the OPONI Report on the Loughinisland Massacre 1994 which was a damning indictment of the RUC – which would have meant that attention would have been on the Ombudsman and not the Chief Constable. That decision was publically criticised. The announcement does little to assuage the on-going concerns of our clients.
In a Press Conference today, to which our clients including the relatives of Caroline Moreland and Joe Mulhern were not invited, it is reported that the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton stated that the investigation will be led by the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police Jon Boutcher. The PSNI Chief Constable said he “not seek to direct or control, or in any way interfere” with the inquiry, which could take five years and apparently will not include any current or former members of the RUC, PSNI, MOD or MI5.
The investigation has been costed at £30 million and will take five years. It is unclear what the Terms of Reference for this investigation will be or where the £30 million will come from. Money has been a route cause for delay in Dealing with the Legacy of the Conflict in the North of Ireland (most recently with the Executive blocking a request for money to fund Legacy Inquests made by the Lord Chief Justice) but £30 million now has become available – £150 million was set aside to fund the proposals of the Stormont House Agreement, which have not been implemented. Will this £30 comes from the PSNI budget, as a direct grant from the Executive or from Westminster? – this requires clarification.
On behalf of our clients – the victims of Stakeknife and of collusion between the British security forces and paramilitary agents – we maintain that once again our clients have been excluded from the process of establishing the scope of this investigation and that, despite the reported remarks of the PSNI Chief Constable regarding non-interference and independence, there is no certainty that this investigation will be conducted in accordance the human rights standards demanded to be discharged by the government when Article 2 of the ECHR (the right to life) has been violated. The Chief Constable said: “Chief Constable Boutcher will have the delegated authority of me as the Chief Constable of the PSNI” which we interpret to mean that Mr Boutcher will be accountable to Mr Hamilton, therefore undermining independence. The role of the Policing Board in this is also unclear.
Kevin Winters of KRW LAW LLP said:
“The announcement today by the PSNI regarding its investigation of Stakeknife, at a media event to which the relatives of the victims of Stakeknife were not invited, is unsatisfactory. The scope and independence of the investigation is unclear, the source of the money is unclear but it is clear that the investigation will not be compliant with human rights standards which we continue to litigate for.”