I don’t pretend to be able to follow the tortuous complexity of “Stakeknife” and Freddie Scappatacci, assuming they are entirely one and the same. Danny Morrison who has a deep personal interest in these matters, seems to want us to believe Stakeknife might be part of a huge British security blind double blind and claims he barely knew the actual Scap – in spite of that notorious overturned conviction. I only know that the whole cat’s cradle of allegation and murder is getting more expensive by the day, The DDPs’ decision to reopen the entire Scappaticci file won’t make it any cheaper. See today’s Times (£) for the latest. Stand by for the inevitable public row.
Seven men and a woman convicted of being part of an IRA execution squad will each receive hundreds of thousands in compensation because the evidence used against them was based on information from Freddie Scappaticci, allegedly the double agent known as Stakeknife.
The eight, who include Danny Morrison, a former IRA commander and ex-director of publicity for Sinn Fein, were convicted and jailed in 1991.
Their convictions were overturned on appeal in 2008 and 2009 after it emerged that police did not disclose the role in their cases of Mr Scappaticci, a former IRA head of internal discipline.
The Northern Ireland Office confirmed yesterday that the eight would receive payments. “We fully understand and share the public concern and anger there will be over this,” it said.
The Northern Ireland Office said that the payments had to be authorised because the cases fell under legislation that was found not to be fit for the purpose of defining a miscarriage of justice by the Court of Appeal in 2008 and a Supreme Court judgment in 2011.
“This is why the government acted decisively last year to tighten the law to make it more difficult for these cases to succeed in future. The law now makes very clear that only in cases where newly discovered facts show beyond reasonable doubt that the person did not commit the offence will an applicant be eligible for compensation,” it said.
It is understood that the Northern Ireland Office is close to settling a separate case with James Martin and his wife, Veronica Ryan, who were the occupiers of the house where Mr Lynch was found.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London