Sunday Life

Scap file bombshell revealed

06 March 2005

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Senior cops knew of a plot by a notorious Army spy to kill one of their own agents - NINE months before the murder.

The shock revelation is contained in secret security files, which also show that two Special Branch officers weren't told of an IRA plot to kill them.

The leaked documents - described as "devastating" by a senior security source - also indicate that an IRA informer was sacrificed to protect a more highly regarded informer.

The allegations relate to three key spies inside the IRA:

--Freddie 'Stakeknife' Scappaticci, who ran the IRA's notorious 'nutting squad' while working for the Force Research Unit.

--Joseph Fenton, a Lenadoon man codenamed 'The Driver', who was shot dead by Scappaticci's squad in February 1989.

--Charles McIlmurray from Andersonstown, Special Branch agent 'Sealink', who was abducted and killed by Stakeknife's gang in April 1987.

One RUC source report reveals the IRA suspected they'd been "given" Mcllmurray to protect Fenton, and, ironically, got Scappaticci to investigate.

The document, authenticated by a senior security source, was dated June 6, 1988 - nine months before Fenton was killed and 14 months after Mr McIlmurray was shot dead.

It reads: "Source states that Fred Scappaticci has been asked to carry out an indepth inquiry into Joe Fenton in an effort to establish whether he is a tout or not.

"Source states that they are going to go back over every job Fenton has been involved in over the years...

"Source states that another thing being looked at is the reasons why or how Fenton gave them (the IRA) intelligence relating to Charlie McIlmurray being a Special Branch tout, which ended in McIlmurray being executed (by the IRA)."

Another section of the report will send shockwaves through Special Branch.

It reveals how an IRA team set out to shoot McIlmurray and his two handlers in Belfast, but aborted when they spotted a police traffic car.

One of the two Branch officers used his own car for meetings with informers.

But, like his colleague, he was never told of the IRA operation, and continued using the same car.

A senior security source said: "Questions need to be asked and answered on several fronts. Most worryingly . . . are the circumstances surrounding the two officers and their meeting with McIlmurray, which was watched by armed PIRA members.

"If, as this source states, McIlmurray was given to the IRA, why were his handlers never told? Two police officers could have lost their lives, as well as Mr McIlmurray, in an IRA ambush.

"The fact these officers were not even told of the attempt on their lives after the event, is reckless."

Some relatives of both Fenton and McIlmurray are considering taking legal action, seeking compensation for their loss.

Last night we handed over a copy of the documents to a solicitor representing relatives of both men.

Greg Harkin is co-author of Stakeknife: Britain's Secret Agents in Ireland, and is the Editorial Director at Local Press Limited in Northern Ireland.

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