Newspaper reports on the ‘Stakeknife’ spy, who was reputedly the British Army’s highest-ranking double agent within the IRA, are being censored by the British government.
West Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci was named in media reports in May 2003 as the double agent ‘Stakeknife’. He is said to be responsible for dozens of killings on behalf of the British state, including a large number of genuine republicans wrongly accused of working as informers.
A Sunday newspaper was last week threatened with a court gagging order when MI5 was alerted that the paper planned to reveal details about Scappaticci’s new life.
Scappaticci was an agent for the British Army’s murderous Force Research Unit (FRU) and was able to use his position inside the IRA’s internal security unit to gather information and select targets.
The Sunday Herald has an agreement with the British government to give advance notice to a censorship committee about articles the paper may run which could identify Crown agents. The committee has refused to allow photographs or details about Scappaticci’s whereabouts to be published, the paper said.
According to the newspaper, Scappaticci has been given a new job, a new identity and plastic surgery and a million pounds as a reward for betraying his community.
It is thought he is the only spy who operated in Ireland to be given facial surgery as part of a resettlement deal.
Jane Winter, the director of the human rights organisation British Irish Human Rights Watch, said: “This case is one of many that has left many very serious questions unanswered.
“We have a number of clients ... with both interests in this case and others who want answers but are hitting a brick wall. One of the problems of the aftermath of the conflict is that no-one wants to tell the truth about what went on.
“How can all sides of the community be expected to walk into a brave new post-conflict world while the answer to these questions are still outstanding?”
An FRU agent told the newspaper that there was “little real will” by the British government to go down the path of seeking truth and reconciliation in Ireland because of what “skeletons” it would bring out of the cupboard.
“The British state will not allow him to be interviewed by anyone as it would implicate the state. Can you imagine the financial consequences of up to 40 widows suing the state? It’s never going to be allowed to happen.
“Freddie Scappaticci will never be subjected to the courts, but if he is he shouldn’t be there alone,” the FRU source said.