THE PSNI is to bring in detectives from outside Northern Ireland to investigate the activities of British Army agent and IRA mole hunter Freddie Scappaticci – codenamed Stakeknife.
Scappaticci has been accused of involvement in up to 50 murders.
The PSNI chief constable has confirmed the decision with the policing board.
The estimated cost of the investigation is £5m per year and it is expected to take at least 5 years.
Families of a number of the agent’s alleged victims had said they did not trust the PSNI to carry out the investigation.
He was second-in-command of the IRA’s so-called ‘Nutting Squad’ which hunted down informants in its ranks.
‘Scap’ was first unmasked over a decade ago as the British Army’s top agent inside the Provisional IRA.
When the story first broke in The Sunday People newspaper, ‘Scap’s handlers whisked him to England for his safety.
But he returned a week later at the behest of his handlers to host a small press conference in the office of his west Belfast solicitor to deny he was ‘Stakeknife’.
Bizarrely, he was later granted a High Court injunction preventing the media from reporting on where lived or worked or anything about any current medical treatment he was receiving.
All the media can report is that ‘Scap’ lives somewhere in the world under a new identity in an MI5 safe house.
‘Scap’ has been quizzed three times last year by detectives investigating his activities over three decades.
This fresh investigation is expected to be the largest ever in the UK.
The PSNI has little resources to carry out the investigation.
It is expected Chief Constable George Hamilton will ask police forces in England, Wales and Scotland to assist in a forming a special detective squad to probe ‘Stakeknife’s’ activities.
One theory being speculated is that former officers who worked on the Stevens Inquiry into collusion could be asked to join the new unit as advisors.
The new team will report directly to Mr Hamilton.
Any decision to prosecution will rest with the Director of Public Prosecutions Barry McGrory.
He has sparked the police inquiry after receiving information from the Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire.