An investigation into the alleged activities of the person known as Stakeknife
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Terms of Reference
The purpose of the ISG is to ensure that the investigation is:

  • Being properly conducted
  • Following a robust process
  • Taking all possible steps to establish the truth
  • Delivering a professional response across each strand of the investigation
  • Being independently conducted and in such a way that everything possible is being done to uncover the nature and extent of the activities of the alleged agent Stakeknife
  • Working to establish what offences were committed by the alleged agent and the extent of any involvement and/or knowledge of the State in the activities of the agent
  • Seeking to establish the involvement of paramilitary groups in any offences committed by the alleged agent
  • Addressing the Terms of Reference of Op. Kenova

It is important to state from the outset that the ISG does not have any statutory or regulatory function. The group has been commissioned as this is viewed as best practice by Chief Constable Jon Boutcher

Make up of ISG

It is important that those nominated to be members of the ISG are as independent as the investigation itself, whilst also bringing skills and knowledge of their particular field to the group. Therefore it will include those who have experience in law enforcement, experience and knowledge of the ‘troubles’ in NI from both sides of the divide and those with previous oversight experience.

The membership of the group will be kept under review and subject to potential additions or changes dependent on the requirements of the investigation.

The members are volunteers and will have any out of pocket expenses paid for being part of the ISG.

Meeting Timetable

Members of the ISG come from diverse professional backgrounds, from the UK and other countries. Therefore expecting the group to meet ‘in person’ on a regular basis would be impractical, would not be cost effective and may stymie the work of the group. It is anticipated that ‘virtual’ meetings will take place once every three months and an ‘in person’ meeting would convene once per year.

As already stated this timetable would also need to be flexible and there may be occasions when an urgent meeting will need to be convened either at the behest of the ISG or Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

Expectations of the ISG

This list is not exhaustive and will develop in parallel with the progression of the investigation. In the first instance the ISG would:

  • Explore the expectations (ToR) of the investigation and identify where there is a risk of the investigation team not meeting those expectations.
  • Offer guidance of the conduct of the investigation
  • Explore the processes required to ensure a robust investigation
  • Ensure those conducting the investigation have the requisite skills and experience
  • Ensure the investigation is properly set up and resourced
  • Offer advice and where requested resolve obstacles that the investigation team may face. This might be especially relevant when dealing with other agencies.
  • Consider matters such as Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) principles regarding alleged informants (there will also be bespoke legal advice on these issues)
  • Explore that various investigative strategies are in place and being adhered to. For example communication strategy, intelligence strategy, victim/witness strategy.
  • Assist with high level strategic issues.


This investigation will be routinely dealing with and relying on highly sensitive material and documents. There will be Information Handling Protocols in place with regards to the management of those documents between the agency owning the document and the Op. Kenova investigation.

The members of the ISG will be given access to the Op. Kenova investigation team.

Jon Boutcher QPM Mst (Cantab)
Chief Constable

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