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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Scappaticci wins legal bid
Freddie Scappaticci
Freddie Scappaticci has applied for a judicial review

A Belfast man alleged to be the army spy Stakeknife has won the right to try and force the government to clear his name.

Freddie Scappaticci, 59, was given leave in the High Court in Belfast on Tuesday to apply for a judicial review of Security Minister Jane Kennedy's refusal to confirm that he was not a British Agent.

Mr Scappaticci has strenuously denied allegations that he was an Army informer inside the IRA.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kerr ruled that Mr Scappaticci could proceed with his bid to make Ms Kennedy break her silence.

Mr Justice Kerr said he was satisfied there was at least an arguable case that Mr Scappaticci's life was in "real and immediate danger as a result of the disclosures that have been made about him in the press".

"The history of the murder of informers is too well known to allow any other conclusion," Mr Justice Kerr said.

"The critical issue, therefore, is whether the minister is under a duty to make the statement sought.

Where claims have been made in the media that Mr Scappticci is Stakeknife, the silence of the authorities on those claims must surely add credence to them
Mr Justice Kerr
"Where claims have been made in the media that Mr Scappticci is Stakeknife, the silence of the authorities on those claims must surely add credence to them.

"A statement that the claims are untrue would at least cast doubt on their accuracy."

Rejecting the argument that Mr Scappaticci could proceed under the Data Protection Act, the judge said: "The manner in which the government reacts to a demand by one of its citizens to have a statement made that might enhance his safety or at least reduce the threat to his life is a matter of acute public interest that ought to be considered in public law proceedings."

Granting leave, the judge said: "It cannot be said that the applicant has not failed to raise an arguable case that it is reasonable to require the minister to make the statement that he seeks."

Mr Scappaticci was not in court for the ruling.

His solicitor Michael Flanigan said afterwards: "We are very pleased to be granted leave and the matter will now proceed to a full judicial review hearing."





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