Judge says prosecution of alleged IRA ‘Nutting Squad’ leader Freddie Scappaticci can go forward
Judge Horner has refused to stay the civil actions brought for alleged wrongdoing by Freddie Scappaticci, who denies being the agent named Stakeknife.
Scappaticci’s alleged activities while in charge of the IRA’s internal security unit – commonly known as the “Nutting Squad” – are at the center of an ongoing police investigation into a series of killings, kidnappings and possible state misconduct.
Jon Boutcher, the former Bedfordshire Police Chief leading the Operation Kenova investigation, wanted the court to postpone all civil proceedings until its investigation and any related criminal proceedings
But the request was rejected due to potential delay and the right to a fair and expeditious trial of actions under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Justice Horner noted that the alleged offenses occurred up to 35 years ago.
“The memories inevitably fade, some of those involved in the litigation or those who will be important witnesses are dead and some are not in good health,” he said.
“Further substantial delay would affect both the nature of the witness statements available to the tribunal and the quality of that evidence. “
Scappaticci, 75, faces a total of 32 separate lawsuits for his alleged activities as part of the IRA’s so-called “Nutting Squad”.
He left Northern Ireland for a secret location in 2003 after being widely referred to as Agent Stakenife.
Before leaving his home, he vehemently denied that he was the popular British spy in the ranks of the Republican movement.
In one case, he is being sued, along with the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the PSNI, by Newry’s wife Margaret Keely.
She alleges that she was wrongly arrested and detained at Castlereagh Police Station in 1994 following an IRA attempt to assassinate a senior detective in east Belfast.
Ms Keeley was released without charge, but claims she was then taken to an apartment in the town’s New Lodge neighborhood and questioned by an IRA team.
Scappaticci was one of the men who conducted two debriefing sessions, according to his account.
During the police request for a stay of civil proceedings, the court heard that Operation Kenova detectives were preparing files on more than 20 murders to be submitted to the prosecution by the end of this year.
Detectives believe they have uncovered evidence of criminal acts committed by members of the IRA and security forces.
Fears have been expressed that this could have a “chilling” effect on the cooperation of victims and witnesses if documents are disclosed during the civil litigation.
Terrorist organizations are still actively trying to prevent prosecutions against their members, as well as identify those who could help with ongoing investigations, the court was told.
An affidavit from Mr. Boutcher revealed that his investigative team dealt with: 20 murder cases involving 21 victims; 19 kidnapping cases involving 20 alleged victims; category two cases involving 16 persons of interest in state misconduct matters; and a case of perjury.
Decisions must also be taken on 27 suspects cited in files already transmitted to the prosecution.
The Operation Kenova team has yet to finalize two other sets of files relating to eight murders and four kidnappings, so it was claimed that the integrity of the investigation was at stake.
They argued that substantive closed-door proceedings – so-called secret hearings – could deal with any problem with sensitive documents and avoid further delays.
Dismissing the stay request, Justice Horner said it was imperative that progress be made on all civil claims.
He laid out the way forward, including a case management hearing next month and instructions to the parties to try to reach agreement on how to move the claims forward.
Lawyers for those involved in the civil proceedings against Scappaticci welcomed the court’s decision.
Claire McKeegan, who represents Ms Keeley, said her client was relieved and reassured that a case started in 2008 will finally go to trial.
Ms McKeegan said: “She was kidnapped and tortured by a state agent, Frederick Scappaticci, and finally deserves justice and accountability.
“At all times, the PSNI and the Ministry of Defense have tried to delay the hearing of these cases in open court. “
KRW Law’s Setanta Marley, who acted in 25 of the cases, described it as a step towards closure for some of those affected by the unrest.
He said: “This is a huge boost for all these families and many more who are taking legal action alleging IRA-state collusion, and it is a timely reminder to the government that the courts will take all of them. measures to protect and advance their right to litigate the conflict. “ends
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