Anti-collusions mural in Belfast (Picture: Wikimedia commons)

The Operation Kenova report last week exposes some of ways British intelligence employed a murderous agent Freddie Scappaticci codenamed Stakeknife of Northern Ireland.
Scappaticci had been working for the British army while head of the IRA’s internal security unit where he committed numerous murders. 
The report headed by Jon Boutcher is a mess of contradictions. Boutcher said Scappaticci had a “fractious” relationship with MI5 and faced an “uphill battle” obtaining intelligence records.
It took the spooks two weeks to let Boutcher know Scappaticci was dead while living under their protection.
Boutcher criticised the government for slavish adherence to the policy of “neither confirm nor deny”. But not enough to break the policy by naming the state murderer. Boutcher critiques the view that Stakeknife’s information saved hundreds of lives.
He argues that too many people in Whitehall viewed the agent’s history through “rose-tinted spectacles” and that “it is likely his crimes as an agent resulted in more lives being lost than were saved”.
At one point Boutcher is critical of how Scappaticci was used without any regard to the European Convention on Human Rights or the rule of law.
Stakeknife was handled during his time as an agent by soldiers from the Force Research Unit (FRU).
One former MI5 director-general told Kenova that FRU handlers were “gung ho, not well managed, with very little meaningful oversight”. A senior FRU commander told the inquiry that “everything was done with MI5’s knowledge and consent”.
One service Scappaticci performed for MI5 was to destabilise the IRA by spreading rumours about the infiltration of the organisation by British agents.
The report does not pursue this line of inquiry at all. And Scappaticci was well managed and well paid. The spooks were tasked with the elimination of the IRA not the saving of lives.
And for all ringing of hands the inquiry didn’t look into a number of things including whether Scappaticci killed Robert Bradford. 
That killing was linked to the cover-up of the Kincora Boys’ Home child abuse sex scandal which involved the security services and loyalist politicians.
Another inquiry with one part of the state looking at another has revealed little. For all the polite turf wars between the cops and the spooks Britain’s dirty war in Ireland is still covered up. 
The British occupation of Northern Ireland was brutal, repressive and murderous. The FRU ran agents imported guns and carried out its own murders.
On one occasion they gave loyalist paramilitaries the name of an innocent pensioner, Francisco Notarantonio, so that they killed him instead of Scappaticci.
British repression kept the IRA going and British Intelligence propped up and armed up the Loyalist terrorists.
The British military both caused the war and prolonged it. Boutcher is now Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
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