24/11/2015 Spotlight


24/11/2015

He was the British Army's golden egg, but spy Stakeknife and his intelligence masters now face an investigation for his alleged role in multiple murders. Darragh MacIntyre reports.


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Transcript


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Tonight, Freddie Scappaticci,

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the British agent at the heart of the IRA,

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is finally under investigation.

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Why did it take so long?

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It's unacceptable.

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Clearly unacceptable.

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I am Freddie Scappaticci.

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In June, Freddie Scappaticci tried to stop Spotlight

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broadcasting these 2003 pictures.

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He took the BBC to court, but lost.

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I'm telling you, I am not guilty of any of these allegations.

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Back then, we reported on a special Police Ombudsman investigation.

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Now, the Director of Public Prosecutions has intervened.

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I have requested the Chief Constable

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to investigate a range of potential offences,

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which relate to the alleged activities

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of an agent commonly known as Stakeknife.

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It will also include an investigation

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of any potential criminal activity that may have been carried out

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by security service

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and intelligence personnel.

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We told you that Scappaticci was suspected of a role in 24 murders.

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But the police say they now intend to examine many more killings.

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There are other cases that I will want to ensure

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the investigative body that looks at this takes into account.

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We were told it could be as many as 40 killings, maybe more.

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Yeah, that is a possibility. We could be touching on 50.

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Well...that is astonishing.

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Well, it is, but, I mean, it depends how you set the parameters.

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You've just said we are looking at as many as 50 killings, 50 murders.

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Why wasn't this investigated before?

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Well, that is a good question.

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It was clear to me that an investigation

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of a much broader scale was required, and required urgently.

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Because this matter has lain virtually untouched

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by investigative hands now for at least 12 years.

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Given the nature of the allegations that were made,

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given the seriousness and volume of incidents that we're talking about,

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I do think it is unacceptable that we are sitting here in 2015

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having this conversation.

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Why? Why this delay?

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I wish we could explain the delay,

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but it is an unconscionable delay, given the weight of the allegations

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which are contained within this report.

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12 years ago, former IRA man Freddie Scappaticci

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was publicly linked to multiple murders.

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He was also identified as a top army agent - Stakeknife.

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He is now at the centre of one of the biggest murder investigations

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the State has ever seen.

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And the intelligence services are also in the frame.

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This just isn't about who pulled the trigger.

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There are very serious allegations about who was pulling strings.

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Freddie Scappaticci, the British Army's golden egg.

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The informant who hunted down IRA informants.

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Central to the controversy about Stakeknife

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is that he was a British state agent who was involved, allegedly,

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in the murder of other British state agents.

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Clearly, those allegations form the basis of our investigation.

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That a British state agent was involved

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in the murder and killing of other British state agents?

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-Yes.

-That is part of...?

-That is part of our investigation.

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Tonight, the story of Frank Hegarty,

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a British Army informant whose death is alleged to have been overseen

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by another Army agent, Freddie Scappaticci.

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Loving family man.

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Dedicated father.

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We were his life.

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But it turns out he had another life as well.

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Ryan Hegarty was five years old when his father was murdered by the IRA.

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This is the first time he has spoken publicly about his dad's killing.

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It has haunted me my entire life.

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Ryan has had a troubled past, with convictions for assault.

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He was into greyhounds, racing greyhounds, coursing.

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-So dogs was your dad's life?

-It was a major part of his life.

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-You went racing with him one night.

-Yes, I did.

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I can vaguely mind going up to Lifford, which is in Donegal.

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I went there, like.

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I can mind been taken there, like. I definitely mind that, like.

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Frank Hegarty was an active Republican in Derry

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from the start of the Troubles.

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January 1974.

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Two Catholic civilian workers are killed in a bomb attack

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outside Londonderry's Ebrington Barracks.

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Five years later,

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military intelligence cast its net and hauls in Frank Hegarty.

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They met him...on the roads...

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..when he walked his greyhounds and stuff.

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They said that he was responsible for planting a bomb

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over at Ebrington Barracks, and two civilians were killed.

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And if he cooperated with them or worked for them,

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then he would be granted immunity from prosecution.

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So that's how I think they recruited him.

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That was taken in 1978 in West Belfast.

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That's just inside...

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'Patrick Mercer did nine tours of Northern Ireland

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'as a British Army officer,

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'sometimes, in an intelligence role.

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'He knows how informants were recruited.'

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They would be arrested,

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often on a minor charge,

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a motoring offence, tax evasion.

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It would be put to them, "Look, we know, we absolutely know

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"that you shot a policeman six months ago.

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"Now, would you like 10 years in Long Kesh,

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"would you like 20 years in Long Kesh,

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"or on the other hand, would you like to become an informer?"

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And, of course, there are benefits to being an informer

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in terms of pay, in terms of the fact

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that we guarantee we won't kill you.

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Guarantee as best we could.

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So it was a mixture of fear and greed.

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But Frank Hegarty wasn't recruited by the police or the regular army.

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He was working with a secretive army intelligence group

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called the Force Research Unit, or FRU.

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This is the very same organisation that ran IRA man Freddie Scappaticci.

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Patrick Mercer worked alongside it.

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Did they see themselves as being a force apart?

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Well, they certainly saw themselves as being special troops.

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They were used in a highly specialised fashion

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and were extremely effective.

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The Force Research Unit was centred at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.

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From there, it ran agents such as Frank Hegarty

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and Freddie Scappaticci, and many dozens of others too.

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But the ethics of how to run these agents

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was never going to be clear-cut.

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If you allowed the agent to continue carrying on their operations,

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then you were stuck in the position of what they were doing,

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probably endangered the lives of policemen, soldiers

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or other civilians.

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On the other hand, if they didn't allow them to run,

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you weren't going to get the intelligence that you wanted.

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There were no...

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There were no firm rules.

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It wasn't the sort of thing

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about which rules could be rigidly applied.

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In the 1980s, successive Conservative governments

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were asked, but declined, to bring in proper guidelines

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on handling informers.

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Recent enquiries suggest this explains, at least in part,

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why some informants appeared to get away with murder.

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Informants like, it is alleged, Freddie Scappaticci.

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The Belfast man was an IRA veteran, twice interned in the 1970s.

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He was in the same cage in Long Kesh, cage five.

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He was a small, burly fellow.

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Very tough, very self-assured,

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and very quick to throw a punch in an argument.

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In the late 1970s, when the IRA's Northern Command

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set up its own dedicated internal security team,

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Scappaticci joined it.

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It was known as the Nutting Squad,

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for shooting its victims through the head.

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But Freddie Scappaticci's speciality wasn't killing people.

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It was breaking them.

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Former senior members of the IRA

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have told me that he was the interrogator.

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That was his job.

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He had another job with the British Army,

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where he was known as Stakeknife.

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It was S-T-E-A-K K-N-I-F-E,

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in other words, the instrument that you used

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-for cutting a piece of steak.

-How do you know that?

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Because I saw that printed on several documents -

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that the information had come from Agent Steak Knife.

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You had came across Agent Steak Knife in your time...?

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I saw the code word used. I never met the man.

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Steak Knife was thought to be a very high-grade agent

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who was producing very reliable intelligence.

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I was never personally involved with Steak Knife,

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but his reputation preceded him.

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If Stakeknife, Freddie Scappaticci, was a star recruit

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for military intelligence, then Frank Hegarty wasn't far behind.

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By the mid-1980s, the Derry man was a key figure

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in the IRA's efforts to procure and hide weapons,

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part of its Quartermaster staff.

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And because he was also a British Army agent,

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the Security Forces would potentially have known

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where many of those weapons ended up.

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Intelligence experts say most informants have a best-by date.

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And we now know Frank Hegarty's time was running out.

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August 1985.

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This boat, the Casamara, sails to Ireland

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with a large shipment of weapons for the IRA.

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It is the first of four such shipments,

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all from Libya.

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Some of the weapons are hidden in three arms dumps

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in Sligo and Roscommon, south of the border.

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Frank Hegarty, as part of the Quartermaster Team, is involved.

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Just months later, Margaret Thatcher signs the Anglo-Irish agreement

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with the Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald.

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We are both resolved to take every step

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to end violence in Northern Ireland.

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It marks a seismic shift in relations between the two islands.

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But at the heart of the deal, from the British perspective,

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is the promise of increased cooperation

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in the battle against the IRA.

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Two months later, Sunday morning, January 26th 1986,

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Frank Hegarty is spirited out of Derry by his handlers.

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Frank Hegarty was at the centre of a game of political chess,

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and it seems in this game,

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he was the pawn that was required to be sacrificed.

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His information had been shared with the Dublin authorities.

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The arms dumps were raided that same day.

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-NEWS REPORTER:

-More than 140 rifles and handguns were seized -

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a serious blow to the IRA's terrorist campaign.

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It is one of the biggest arms finds ever made in the Republic

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and is the first major success for the Special Police Task Force

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sent to border areas as a result of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

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The two governments celebrated the security success,

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but Ryan Hegarty sees it differently.

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My father was sacrificed to keep the Anglo-Irish Agreement alive.

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-How do you work that out?

-How do I work that out?

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Because it would have proved to everybody...

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..the public, that the authorities were getting tough on the IRA

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with these weapons seizures.

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In Derry, the IRA only took hours to work out who had betrayed them.

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They kidnapped Frank Hegarty's family -

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an insurance policy.

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We were taken to Ballyshannon and held for ten days.

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I just think they were holding us there

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as some kind of bargaining chip.

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-A bargaining chip?

-Yes.

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I think...they were afraid.

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If he had went supergrass

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or went into the witness box and talked,

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a lot of people in high places

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would have been...would have been or had gotten nervous,

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so by taking us down there and holding us there,

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that is what I believe what the IRA was up to.

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The family were released unharmed.

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Seven weeks later, Ryan's mother was flown to London to meet Frank.

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British intelligence officers were there too.

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They said to my mother...

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They offered my mother over £100,000

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if she would go off with my father.

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And she says she refused,

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because she knew if she took the money,

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she was never getting back to Derry again.

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That was it. It was over.

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Her life here was over, finished.

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We'd have been looking over our shoulders

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for the rest of our lives.

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So what did she do?

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She walked out on my father.

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Did she make the right decision?

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As a mother, yes.

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My mother was thinking about us.

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April 1986.

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Frank Hegarty returns to Derry.

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His family have long insisted

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that Republican leader Martin McGuinness

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persuaded him to come back, assuring him he would be safe.

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He came back for my mother, he came back for me

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and he came back for my sister, cos he missed us,

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which any father would.

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Was he foolish to come back?

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Very.

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Frank Hegarty spent the next three weeks

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hiding in a room in his mother's home.

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'Ryan saw him just the once -

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'a planned trip to an ancient fort in nearby Donegal,

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'Grianan Ailigh.'

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-It's an impressive place.

-It is. It's lovely.

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But it's very sad for me.

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It's where you last saw your dad.

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I remember it well.

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We walked around, we just walked round there.

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He took my hand and we just walked around it.

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I can remember it, because I mind the clothes that I was wearing.

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-He was in disguise.

-In disguise?

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Yeah. Cos he didn't usually wear...

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-..sunglasses.

-So he had sunglasses on?

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And he had a flat cap on him and a brown leather coat.

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I think he was happy that he saw us.

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He was happy.

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The following day,

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Frank Hegarty met with the IRA

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at a hotel car park in Buncrana, County Donegal.

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He was taken away and not seen by his family again.

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He could have stayed in England.

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He could have stayed where he was, but he came down here to...

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He came down here and faced them.

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He faced them.

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That's being very brave, in my eyes.

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The army agent was going to his death and may well have known it.

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What he didn't know was that another army agent

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was almost certainly waiting to interrogate him -

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Freddie Scappaticci.

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Ryan says it was a rendezvous with death.

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Three days later, Frank Hegarty was found dead on the border,

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shot four times in the head.

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Ryan believes military intelligence could have saved him

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but chose not to.

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They washed their hands of my father, I believe.

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But what of Freddie Scappaticci's role?

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The man accused of overseeing multiple murders

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was secretly recorded explaining how and why Frank Hegarty was killed.

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'We played the recording to Ryan

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'and clearly heard a man asking Freddie Scappaticci

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'about his father.'

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It gets to the stage where he starts to talk about your dad.

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Freddie Scappaticci was then asked

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how he knew about Frank Hegarty's death.

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As far as Ryan is concerned,

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this is evidence that Freddie Scappaticci

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was instrumental in his father's murder,

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and whatever he knew, so did his handlers.

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When my father went to meet the IRA,

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Freddie Scappaticci would have had informed,

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or would have had the information, his handlers...

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What the procedure was,

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where they were going to take my father,

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who was all there...

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..and what was going to happen to him.

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They would have known everything.

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Key members of the Force Research Unit

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would later receive a slew of promotions

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and a raft of Queen's medals.

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But the unit was also coming in for scrutiny.

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In 1989, a senior English policeman, Sir John Stevens,

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began investigating allegations of collusion.

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Remarkably, at first,

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the British Army lied to his investigators,

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claiming they didn't run any informants - none.

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In 2003, Sir John Stevens completed his third inquiry,

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concluding, in fact, that there was widespread collusion

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between loyalists and the security forces.

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This was when, for the first time,

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he confirmed that Stakeknife was on his radar.

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In relation to the so-called Agent Stakeknife -

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yes, we are investigating those matters.

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Soon after, Freddie Scappaticci was outed as Stakeknife.

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But unlike many other alleged informers,

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he was given the benefit of the doubt by senior Republicans.

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What we are dealing with is unsourced,

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unsubstantiated accusations and let me repeat again,

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large sections of the media, unprecedented

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in this case, named the person and followed up these accusations

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as if they were fact,

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yet no proof has been brought forward.

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Behind the scenes,

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Sir John Stevens geared up for another major investigation -

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Stevens 4.

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That investigation's going ahead,

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we're getting together the documentation,

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we've got a team of 28 officers working on that

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and in due course, we'll be reporting

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to the Director of Prosecutions.

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But that's not what happened - no paperwork ever reached the DPP.

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Instead, the investigation ended,

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all the paperwork and files on 25 cases

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were sent on to the newly formed Historical Inquiries Team.

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Over the next years, the HIT sent on

0:24:300:24:32

18 cases to the Police Ombudsman for investigation

0:24:320:24:36

but the ombudsman can only investigate the police -

0:24:360:24:39

no-one else.

0:24:390:24:40

Michael Maguire believed more was at stake.

0:24:430:24:47

There were other agencies involved,

0:24:470:24:49

so by looking exclusively at the police,

0:24:490:24:51

that was only a partial picture

0:24:510:24:53

which is why we began to take a broader view

0:24:530:24:56

of what was happening.

0:24:560:24:57

His office had spent two years reviewing Stakeknife.

0:24:590:25:02

The final report put a spotlight on the intelligence services

0:25:040:25:07

and their agent.

0:25:070:25:09

The allegations that we're dealing with aren't just about the police,

0:25:110:25:14

which is solely within my remit,

0:25:140:25:16

but potentially involving other agencies as well

0:25:160:25:18

and indeed individuals who actively participated in murder.

0:25:180:25:22

It raises very serious questions about the nature

0:25:220:25:24

of the relationship with people

0:25:240:25:26

who are alleged to be informers -

0:25:260:25:27

whether those individuals are protected from justice

0:25:270:25:30

as a consequence for being an informant.

0:25:300:25:32

Finally, on June 18th last,

0:25:340:25:36

the Director of Public Prosecutions was called in and shown the report.

0:25:360:25:41

I was profoundly shocked about the sheer scale

0:25:430:25:47

of the criminal...alleged criminal conduct of the agent.

0:25:470:25:54

That in itself raises some significant questions

0:25:540:25:58

about where the...responsibility for the criminal conduct lies,

0:25:580:26:03

beyond the agent's personal responsibility.

0:26:030:26:07

-It also...

-What do you mean by that?

0:26:080:26:11

Well, the...

0:26:110:26:14

These individuals don't work on their own. They...

0:26:140:26:17

They are...people who are permitted

0:26:170:26:23

to act in the way they act

0:26:230:26:25

by those who manage them within the security services,

0:26:250:26:32

and military intelligence.

0:26:320:26:35

So, it raised questions as to where the ultimate accountability lay

0:26:350:26:43

for the apparent criminal conduct of the agent.

0:26:430:26:47

'The DPP says that this should all have been dealt with years ago.'

0:26:490:26:54

Should the police have pushed this investigation back in 2003?

0:26:540:26:58

This investigation should have been taken forward

0:26:580:27:03

thoroughly and expeditiously as soon as the information became known

0:27:030:27:08

to those whose statutory responsibility it was

0:27:080:27:11

to carry out investigations.

0:27:110:27:13

-That's the police.

-That's the police.

0:27:130:27:15

Sir Hugh Orde was the Chief Constable then.

0:27:210:27:24

He told us that the current Chief Constable could speak for him.

0:27:240:27:28

Shouldn't a comprehensive investigation have begun

0:27:300:27:32

much earlier than this?

0:27:320:27:33

You're talking about as many as 50 killings.

0:27:330:27:36

I have said many times I'm not going to try to defend the indefensible,

0:27:360:27:40

but it would also be wrong to say there has been no investigation

0:27:400:27:43

or that people have not acted with integrity around this.

0:27:430:27:46

There has been no comprehensive investigation into Stakeknife

0:27:460:27:50

since those allegations were first become known generally -

0:27:500:27:53

to the police and to the public, indeed, back in 2003.

0:27:530:27:56

There have been individual investigations

0:27:560:27:59

where the person known as Stakeknife has been a suspect

0:27:590:28:01

that have been thoroughly investigated.

0:28:010:28:03

I'm not trying to say that the job was done

0:28:030:28:06

and that this is a misunderstanding -

0:28:060:28:08

the Police Ombudsman, the Director and I share a concern about this.

0:28:080:28:12

The Chief Constable says

0:28:150:28:16

the investigation will span the years 1978 to 1995.

0:28:160:28:22

The problem I have at the minute, this is so big,

0:28:240:28:27

it's so vast-ranging,

0:28:270:28:28

it's a time period of about 17 years -

0:28:280:28:31

everyone is fixated on the individual

0:28:310:28:34

known as the agent Stakeknife,

0:28:340:28:37

and I'm quite sure he will be the subject of investigative rigour,

0:28:370:28:40

but actually there will be other suspects in all of this,

0:28:400:28:43

and there will be implications for other people in all of this.

0:28:430:28:46

All this will take resources - money - which is in short supply.

0:28:480:28:52

-Do you have the resources to do such an investigation right now?

-No.

0:28:540:28:58

Or anything like the resources?

0:28:580:28:59

No.

0:28:590:29:00

The Secretary of State doesn't seem enthusiastic to help.

0:29:040:29:08

She told Spotlight funding was a matter for the PSNI.

0:29:090:29:12

But after years of silence,

0:29:180:29:20

the relatives of Scappaticci's victims have found their voice.

0:29:200:29:25

People like Frank Mulhern, whose son was shot dead in 1993.

0:29:260:29:30

The PSNI here have had long enough to investigate this,

0:29:320:29:35

and they haven't done a thing.

0:29:350:29:36

So it needs to be an independent police force.

0:29:360:29:40

It seems the families are pushing at an open door.

0:29:410:29:44

I accept - and realistic - that it is unlikely that the PSNI

0:29:450:29:49

would garner the confidence and the support

0:29:490:29:51

from families of those who have lost their lives

0:29:510:29:54

to do this investigation at this point in time.

0:29:540:29:58

So, if that's the case, we need to look at other options,

0:29:580:30:00

and those are things I need to talk to the Northern Ireland Office

0:30:000:30:04

and the Department of Justice about.

0:30:040:30:05

Sources have told the BBC

0:30:090:30:11

that one option may see as many as 50 detectives

0:30:110:30:14

drafted in from across the UK.

0:30:140:30:17

The investigation could run for five years.

0:30:170:30:20

The Ministry of Defence has told us that collusion in murder

0:30:250:30:29

never was and never can be acceptable.

0:30:290:30:32

Any such allegations should be investigated.

0:30:320:30:35

We put a number of questions to Martin McGuinness.

0:30:390:30:42

Today, he told us that he had absolutely no role

0:30:420:30:45

in the death of Frank Hegarty.

0:30:450:30:47

It's almost 30 years

0:30:570:30:59

since Frank Hegarty was driven along this same road outside Castlederg,

0:30:590:31:05

skirting the Tyrone-Donegal border.

0:31:050:31:08

It's pretty isolated.

0:31:110:31:12

His last moments on this...this earth.

0:31:140:31:18

-You haven't been here before...

-Never, this is my first time.

0:31:350:31:38

..but still, you're able to point out the spot.

0:31:380:31:41

Oh, aye. Definitely. I seen it on the TV.

0:31:410:31:44

Where the British Intelligence

0:31:460:31:49

dug his grave,

0:31:490:31:51

and the IRA put him into it.

0:31:510:31:52

If the allegations surrounding Stakeknife are true,

0:32:050:32:09

it suggests the State was associated with murder

0:32:090:32:13

on an industrial scale.

0:32:130:32:15

As every day passes,

0:32:210:32:23

the failure of the State to get to the bottom of these allegations

0:32:230:32:27

becomes more glaring.

0:32:270:32:29

Truth, if it comes, will come dropping slow.

0:32:310:32:35

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