WATCH: Four to avoid prosecution as part of Operation Kenova investigation into Stakeknife

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by Q Radio News

Four people are to avoid prosecution as part of an investigation into the alleged criminal activities of a suspected British agent during the Troubles.

Operation Kenova is examining the supposed crimes of Freddie Scappaticci - also known as Stakeknife.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) came to the decision following an allegation of perjury against an individual. It also focused on the decision of not prosecuting that person 13 years ago.

Freddie Scapppaticci

Three others - including two from the Security Service and a former PPS prosecutor - were considered for the potential offence of misconduct in public office.

Further files from Operation Kenova are under continuing prosecutorial consideration concerning a range of potential offences including murder, false imprisonment and assault. The PPS says decisions on these additional matters will issue in due course.

PPS Director, Stephen Herron said: “In respect of these initial perjury related matters, I have carefully considered the evidence provided by Operation Kenova investigators in relation to the four individuals reported.

“After a thorough analysis of all available evidence and with the benefit of independent advice from highly experienced Senior Counsel, I have concluded that in each case there is insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence. In these circumstances the Evidential Test for Prosecution was not met. The second limb of the Test for Prosecution, which relates to the public interest in bringing proceedings, did not therefore fall to be applied.”

The Director added: “There are constraints on being able to fully explain my decision making rationale at this time. In view of this, I wish to assure the public that decisions have been taken with absolute independence and impartiality, and fully in accordance with our Code for Prosecutors.”

Stephen Herron emphasised that prosecutorial consideration of all remaining matters is ongoing and that families directly affected by these cases will be kept informed as they progress.

Former Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police Jon Boutcher, who is leading the investigation, said: "This is the first decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions on a number of files submitted by Operation Kenova.

Jon Boutcher, former Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police

"The challenges of bringing a prosecution for Northern Ireland legacy cases, both from a legal and practical perspective, are well-known and have been described in my evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee.

"Today’s decision and such challenges does not mean that prosecutions are out of reach however, and we await the remaining decisions with keen interest.

"Most importantly, at the outset of Operation Kenova I made commitments to provide families with our findings as to what happened in their individual cases and to deliver a public-facing report. These two key commitments remain at the forefront of our endeavours.

"Legacy should not be judged simply through the prism of prosecutions, it must be considered as a process which provides the truth to those families who have lost loved ones."

Operation Kenova has submitted a number of files relating to its Terms of Reference including murder, false imprisonment and assault, these remain with the PPS for consideration. 

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