English police chief to lead Stakeknife probe in NI

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton pictured at this Friday's press conference to announce that the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police John Boutcher will lead operation Kenova which will investigate the activities surrounding the army agent known as Stakeknife
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton pictured at this Friday's press conference to announce that the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police John Boutcher will lead operation Kenova which will investigate the activities surrounding the army agent known as Stakeknife

The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Jon Boutcher, will lead the investigation into a range of alleged activities surrounding an alleged army agent known as Stakeknife.

The news was revealed at around 10am on Friday.

Freddie Scappaticci was named as Stakeknife but denied the allegations

Freddie Scappaticci was named as Stakeknife but denied the allegations

The detail is called ‘Operation Kenova’.

The investigation team will not include personnel who are serving in or have previously served in the RUC, PSNI, Ministry of Defence or security services.

The PSNI will not have any investigative responsibility.

However, a statement announcing the move from Bedfordshire Police said that “Chief Constable Boutcher will report to the Chief Constable of the PSNI who will be accountable to the Policing Board for the investigation”.

The statement adds: “It is envisaged that Chief Constable Boutcher will accompany senior officers from the PSNI to brief Policing Board members as appropriate on governance and logistical issues.”

The focus of the investigation will be as follows:

Whether there is evidence of criminal offences being committed by “the alleged agent known as Stakeknife”, including murders.

Whether there is evidence of criminal offences having been committed by members of the security forces, government, or anyone else in connection with Stakeknife.

Making the announcement, Chief Constable George Hamilton said in a statement: “After taking a number of issues into consideration, I have decided that a team resourced with external officers and staff funded by the PSNI is the most appropriate way forward, given the size, scale and complexity of the investigation.

“Chief Constable Boutcher will have the delegated authority of me as the Chief Constable of the PSNI. He will appoint a Senior Investigating Officer and a team of detectives from other UK law enforcement agencies to progress this investigation.

“I believe this option contributes towards community confidence and reduces the impact on the PSNI’s ability to provide a policing service today.

“I have every confidence in Chief Constable Boutcher and I have no doubt his previous experience when it comes to dealing with highly complex and sensitive investigations will be of great benefit to him as this investigation progresses.”

Chief Constable Boutcher said he was “humbled” to be given the tyask.

“I do not underestimate the huge task of establishing the circumstances behind how and why these murders occurred during those dark days.,” he said.

“My principle aim in taking responsibility for this investigation is to bring those responsible for these awful crimes, in whatever capacity they were involved, to justice.

“The recruitment process for the investigation team will begin immediately, this will require time and I ask for a degree of patience as I do this.

“As soon as officers and staff are in place the investigation team will begin reaching out to victims, victims’ families and all interested parties to receive information. Updates regarding this will be provided on an Op Kenova Investigation website.

“I am committed to doing all I can to find the truth for the victims and their families. It is they who we should be thinking of throughout.

“It must be extremely hard to have listened to various commentaries within the community and the media about how and why their loved ones died.

“I hope this investigation ultimately addresses the uncertainties and rumours. All I can promise is an absolute commitment to pursuing the truth.”

In a statement, Bedfordshire Police said: “If the team identifies matters which indicate that former or current police officers may have committed criminal or misconduct offences, they will be formally and expeditiously referred to the Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI who will refer the matter to the Office of the Police Ombudsman.

“Any other matters falling outside the parameters of the investigation will be brought to the attention of the Chief Constable of the PSNI by Chief Constable Boutcher for consideration.

“The Chief Constable of the PSNI will, if necessary, consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Police Ombudsman as to the appropriate basis on which to address these additional matters.”