A father of a man allegedly murdered by notorious British Crown informer and double agent, Freddie Scappaticci, is behind a new effort to bring the state to book for Scappaticci’s secret crimes.
Joe Mulhern was just 22 years old when he was allegedly shot by Scappaticci’s unit and his body dumped near Castlederg, County Tyrone. He was accused of passing information to the RUC police, an allegation now widely discounted. No-one was ever charged or convicted of the murder.
Six weeks after he was buried his father Frank said Scappaticci (pictured), who at the time was a senior member of the Provisional’s IRA’s internal security unit, told him about his son’s execution in shocking detail.
Scappaticci was named in 2003 as the highest ranking British Army agent working inside the Provisional IRA, and it is now widely accepted that he is the British spy referred to in the mainstream media as ‘StakeKnife’.
It is believed that British agents in the IRA may have advocated or directed the execution of genuine republicans as informers, while encouraging support for those supporting a pro-British agenda.
Scappaticci is alleged to have either ordered or directly carried out more than 30 killings.
Frank Mulhern, together with a number of other families, are now finally taking a civil action against Scappaticci and the British Crown forces.
Mr Mulhern is convinced the Crown forces could have saved his son but chose instead to protect their spy.
“It’s about time Scap was brought to court and that’s all I really want,” he said.
“The PSNI have files which could solve a lot of these murders but for one reason or another they’re not acting on them, probably because Freddie Scappaticci is involved.
“I say my prayers at night and one of the prayers includes Scap, that he is brought to court and charged or whatever. I mean all I want is my day in court with Freddie Scappaticci - I want absolutely nothing else.”
He said there seemed to be no way to get Scappaticci to court.
“As far as I’m aware his still being protected. People have nothing to fear by coming forward and speaking out.”
Kevin Winters of KRW Law, who is representing the families in their civil action, has called for a major police investigation.
Scappaticci, who has denied all claims against him, fled his west Belfast home shortly after he was exposed in 2003.
Trusted by senior republicans and a friend of Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein initially defended him from the accusations that he was the highest ranking member of the Provisional IRA to be uncovered as a British agent. A newspaper published by the party’s Mairtin O Muilleoir interviewed him at length to deny the claims, but it failed make an impact.
Scappaticci later fled to Italy and is now said to be in England.
Sinn Fein has since remained silent on the allegations, as has the PSNI police.
A former hunger striker, Gerard Hodgins, was also allegedly set up by Scappaticci as part of an infamous arrest operation in which former Sinn Fein press officer Danny Morrison was also involved, has no doubt about his guilt.
“[Scappaticci] was their prize asset,” said Hodgins. “They protected him at all costs, and that protection continues to this day.”
He said the families of his victims shouldn’t feel any “stigma” about being pronounced guilty of being informers “by a man who was basically one of Britain’s top agents within the IRA”.
Mr Mulhern said he still felt angry knowing that his son’s life could have been saved.
“Him being Stakenife, the jewel in the crown so to speak of British intelligence here in Northern Ireland, he would have had to have kept in touch with his handlers every day and he would have had to let them know what he was up to,” Mr Mulhern said.
“He was obviously at the house where my son was being held and he must have reported that to his handlers who for some reason didn’t want to go any further because they didn’t want their informant compromised.
“There must have members of RUC Special Branch who knew where my son was and who could have contacted the Garda and they could have gone and saved his life.
“But he was a prized state agent and they didn’t want to risk blowing his cover.”
Mr Mulhern has urged anyone who believes Scappaticci may have been involved in the murder of their loved one to come forward so they can mount a group legal case against the state.
“If the PSNI are supposed to be an independent policing organisation why are they not investigating this?” he asked.
“There are crimes that have been committed. The circumstances are there for all to see.
“They claimed my son was an informer but that has never been proven.
“I don’t feel any stigma and neither should any other family. But what does worry me is that I can’t get this man Scappaticci to court. As far as I’m aware his still being protected.
“People have nothing to fear by coming forward and speaking out.”