15 January 2004 Edition

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Scappaticci launches libel action

Scappaticci launches libel action

Freddie Scappaticci, the man accused by the British media of being the British Army spy 'Stakeknife', who is said to have infiltrated the IRA, has launched a libel action against the tabloid Sunday People newspaper.

57-year-old Scappaticci, from West Belfast, who has also lodged a complaint with the PSNI, has accused the paper of the common law offence of criminal libel. The complaint states that stories printed by the tabloid put Scappaticci's life in danger.

Solicitor Michael Flanigan, acting for Scappaticci, has written to the newspaper calling on it to retract the allegations that Scappaticci was the informant who ordered the deaths of 40 people and also called for a Hutton-style public inquiry into the case.

"The issues looked at by the Hutton Inquiry are almost identical to those that have arisen in the Scappaticci case," he said.

In November, Scotland Yard's Metropolitan Commissioner John Stevens said he would be extending his probe into collusion between British security services and loyalist paramilitaries to investigate the existence of a 'Stakeknife' informant.

Flanigan said that an inquiry should be established to investigate the source of the initial information about Scappaticci. "It may be argued that the Stevens inquiry is already investigating Stakeknife but the reality is that they have no interest in Scappaticci."

The Stevens team have told Flanigan they are not prepared to interview Scappaticci on the basis of speculation in the press.

Scappaticci wants the British Government to confirm or deny that he is 'Stakeknife' and is appealing a decision by Diplock Judge Carswell who, last year, ruled against Scappaticci and refused to order the British Government to state publicly whether or not the allegations were true or false.

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