Further thoughts on the Freddie Scappaticci or Stakeknife affair from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous but who makes these interesting points.
Your post on the 25th of April 2017 raises a number of questions in relation to the British Army’s wartime recruitment of Freddie Scappaticci, the deputy head of the Internal Security Unit of the Irish Republican Army from the 1980s to early 1990s (codenamed Stakeknife by his “handlers” in the counterinsurgency Force Research Unit). However I might suggest that there are more pertinent questions at the moment. These concern the statements by the journalist who made the BBC’s Spy in the IRA documentary, John Ware, featured in a recent “Soapbox” response to questions on the Irish news and current affairs website, Slugger O’Toole.
1. Why was the British Army’s FRU intelligence officer, David Moyles, not approached for an interview by John Ware during the BBC investigation? We know from public disclosures of court documents on cryptome.org that Moyles was the “handler” who took over the management of Stakeknife (Steakknife) from his predecessor, Peter Jones (who supposedly recruited Scappaticci in the late 1970s). This was likely in the period of 1982-1984 if the timelines reported in the book by General Wilsey, commander of UK Forces in the north-east of Ireland, are to be believed. Hence, this new handler would have overseen a significant number and maybe even the majority of questionable activities by Scappaticci during his career in the IRA. These included a number of detentions, executions, false flags incidences, and the protection and/or promotion of other British agents to key staff positions within the Irish Republican Army. For me David Moyles is probably more important than Scappaticci’s initial contact, Peter Jones, and should have been approached for questioning. Why was this not done since Ware had approached Jones and was refused an interview?
2. The reporter John Ware claims to follow the evidence, which is good, but the absence of evidence does not always mean that there was no evidence to be found. It should be remembered that Lord John Stevens, the senior police officer investigating “Dirty War” activities in Ireland on behalf of the authorities in the United Kingdom, stated publicly that the British Army had destroyed a significant amount of their records in relation to an agent called Stakeknife, excusing this as a standard procedure. So the determinations of Stevens and Sir Desmond de Silva, the UK judge who investigated the Pat Finucane assassination by a British FRU-run death squad, are missing large pieces of evidence. One can presume that there may have been revealing information in the files. Especially in light of the British Army’s big lie to Stevens that they did not run spies and informers in the UK-occupied Six Counties (it is very likely that the “standard procedure” destruction of data was also a lie). These facts and their potential effect on the evidence trail should have been mentioned. Why were no charges brought against members of the British Forces, specifically the repeatedly dishonest Force Research Unit within the Intelligence Corps, in relation to perverting the course of justice? Why were soldiers – and allied police officers – not interviewed to try and recover the information that may have been in the destroyed documents?
3. No actual evidence was presented in the BBC documentary to support the claim that the Irish Republican Army had reached a quid pro quo agreement with the uncovered Stakeknife double-agent in the early 1990s. If that evidence exists then it should have been provided. Or it should have been stated that the claim was speculative in nature, the opinion of some observers, biased or otherwise. Without any solid evidence, a difficult task admittedly in relation to a guerrilla army, all this is just speculation and rumour.
4. Why did the BBC’s John Ware not seek to interview the family of Freddie Scappaticci, some of whom are still resident in Belfast? While entirely innocent and suffering a horrible stigma for the past fourteen years, his family have been silent on the matter despite knowing at least some of the truth behind the controversy. An open disclosure by Scappaticci or his relatives would help many of his victims’ families. While some individuals close to the alleged double-agent may have been justified in accepting his denials of treason at the beginning, it is an untenable position to hold now. Especially since the Cook Report audio tapes from the 1990s and the telephone interview with General Wilsey from the 2000s went online. Other events in recent times remove any doubt of his guilt on this matter, including the decision not to prosecute him for perjury in relation to the legal tussles and denials around the Stakeknife affair.
5. The apparent refusal by the Irish Republican Army to publicly denounce Freddie Scappaticci is concerning given the evidence in the public arena. The leadership of the IRA has a moral duty, an obligation, to help the families effected by the actions of Scappaticci during his tenure as the deputy-head of the organisation’s Internal Security Unit. Serious question marks now hang over the actions of the ISU from 1978 until 1992. People who have been protesting the innocence of loved ones, of court-martialed volunteers, whose lives were taken due to the counterintelligence operations of the ISU have every right to expect the leadership of the Republican Movement to come forward with a clarification. The demands for posthumous pardons from the Army Council are the least that can be expected in some cases.
6. Finally, the victims’ families and their legal teams should consider approaching Stakeknife’s ex-handlers from the now defunct Force Research Unit, then part of the British Army’s Intelligence Corps, to seek answers from them. Peter Jones is living openly in the United Kingdom while David Moyles can be traced in that country as well (he was apparently under Brigadier Peter Everson and based at (DISC) Intelligence Corps, Chicksands, Shefford, Beds SG17 PR, according to legal papers on cryptome.org).