An investigation into the alleged activities of the person known as Stakeknife
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Opening remarks 

Making the announcement, Chief Constable George Hamilton said: “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 Jon Boutcher
Delivered in a private meeting to the Northern Ireland Policing Board on
9 June 2016
Good Afternoon. I am Jon Boutcher and I will be leading an investigation into the activities of the alleged State agent Stakeknife. I will be unable today to speak in any detail about the investigation but I did want to take this opportunity to provide the historical background to me taking on this responsibility.

During his investigations into Brian Nelson, Lord John Stevens became aware of the activities of an alleged British Army agent, known as Stakeknife.  This led to early discussions to expand the Stevens Investigation when the matter was passed to the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team.  Subsequent to this the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred a case to the Court of Appeal in respect of convictions relating to the kidnapping of a Mr Alexander Lynch.

Following the quashing of the convictions relating to the Alexander Lynch abduction by the Court of Appeal in January 2009, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Alasdair Fraser QC, issued a direction pursuant to Section 35(5) of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 requesting information from the Chief Constable in relation to potential criminal conduct of police and military personnel in relation to the Alexander Lynch case. 

A second referral pursuant to Section 35(5) was made by the current Director of Public Prosecutions on 29 January 2013, following the quashing of the convictions of Messrs. Ryan and Martin in relation to the murder of Joseph Fenton in 1989.

In June 2015 the Office of the Police Ombudsman contacted the Public Prosecution Service and indicated that they had completed a review of papers relating to the alleged agent Stakeknife referred to them by the Historical Enquiries Team in 2012.  The Director of the Public Prosecution Service then issued a third Section 35(5) referral on 11 August 2015 seeking information on the affairs of an alleged agent known as Stakeknife.

Chief Constable of PSNI George Hamilton
Chief Constable Jon Boutcher
Chair of the investigation

A fourth Section 35(5) referral was issued in October 2015 regarding the possible commission of criminal offences in respect of allegations of perjury connected to the alleged agent.

Following a Historical Enquiries Team review of the 1993 murder of Mr Joseph Mulhern, the Police Service of Northern Ireland Serious Crime Branch reopened the investigation into his death in 2011.  This investigation is still progressing and an interim report was forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service in January 2016.

All these matters now form the basis of my investigation and fall within the Terms of Reference .

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for the investigation will be made available today and are available on this website that has been set up to provide as much information as I am able to within the context that this is a criminal investigation.

The investigation team will be based in London and will carry out enquiries in Northern Ireland as necessary.  This external investigation team will be gathered from across UK law enforcement services.  It will not include personnel who are serving in or have previously served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Ministry of Defence or the Security Services. 

Investigative remit

The investigative remit will be to establish:

a) Whether there is evidence of the commission of criminal offences by the alleged agent known as Stakeknife, including but not limited to, murders, attempted murders or unlawful imprisonments.

b) Whether there is evidence of criminal offences having been committed by members of the British Army, the Security Services or other Government agencies, in respect of the cases connected to the alleged agent known as Stakeknife.Regard in this context will be given to the Article 2 (ECHR) rights of victims and the associated responsibilities of the British Army, the Security Services, or other Government agencies.

c) Whether there is evidence of criminal offences having been committed by any other individual, in respect of the cases connected to the alleged agent.

d) Whether there is evidence of the commission of criminal offences by any persons in respect of allegations of perjury connected to the alleged agent.

e) If the Op Kenova investigation 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 Police Service of Northern Ireland who will refer the matter to the Office of the Police Ombudsman via the statutory requirements of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

f) Any matters falling outside these parameters will be brought to the attention of the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland by Chief Constable Boutcher for consideration.The Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland 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.

This website will provide general information regarding the investigation that is capable of being placed in the public domain.  Terms of Reference for the investigation can be found here . When the investigation team is established this website will also explain how to contact the investigation team for those with information regarding matters that fall within the Terms of Reference.

I welcome information from any parties that can assist me in understanding the circumstances in which the murders and serious crimes I am investigating occurred. My team and I will happily speak to anyone including but not limited to; non-governmental organisations, whistle blowers, academics, investigative journalists, human rights specialists, and crucially the families of the victims, as well as others who might be able to assist the investigation. I will be reaching out to people as soon as the investigation team is established.

The families

The most important aspect of this investigation and the reason that I have agreed to do it is to get the truth for the victims and the families of those that were murdered and tortured.

I would ask that each of us remembers the very personal tragedies that each one of these murders represents. The very announcement of this investigation will cause the hurt and sadness of the loss of a loved one to be revisited again by those closest to them.

I ask that the media take care not to show photographs of those that it is rumoured died at the hands of the alleged agent Stakeknife. Those images are of someone’s loved one. Please report this issue with care and respect to the families.

In that regard Family Liaison is a critical element of the investigation. The liaison with victims’ families will be the exclusive responsibility of the Op. Kenova investigation team. The families of the victims will be updated directly by the Op. Kenova team and a family liaison strategy will be published on the investigation website shortly. Families will be provided with a single point of contact and direct link to the investigation team. Once the Op. Kenova team is in place I will schedule a meeting with the victims’ families to discuss the investigation and answer any questions about the process.  Families will be updated throughout the investigation as information becomes available.

I am seeking to establish an International and Independent Victims Focus Panel to guide the Op. Kenova investigation team regarding the support and information to be provided to the families of victims. I am determined that the investigation is conducted in a way that recognises and understands the needs of the victims’ families. I will update people of progress regarding the Victims Panel through the investigation
website. Any such panel will be utterly independent and will have no operational role or information related to the investigation. 
I will be seeking to apply the Department of Justice (Northern Ireland) Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.

Initial actions

My first task is to recruit the Investigation Team that will be based in London. The recruitment process will begin today but will require time and careful consideration and I ask for a degree of patience as I do this. It is essential that I recruit the right staff with the necessary skills and commitment. 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 gather information. Updates of this progress will be provided on the website.

I will also be contacting the various government agencies with information that will assist my investigation and will recover all available records held by such agencies to establish what information and potential evidence is held in the archives of those agencies. This process will inevitably also take some time.

Many people will wish to know how long the investigation will take. Until I have had the opportunity to properly assess the information held by the various agencies and begun to scope what victims and other interested parties have to say it is difficult to predict how long the investigation will last. However it is currently my view that this investigation could take up to five years.

The most important thing that we have to ensure is that the investigation is conducted properly. The overriding priority of the investigation is to discover the circumstances of how and why people died, to establish the truth regarding those offences covered within the Terms of Reference.

I have read with interest inspection reports into previous historical inquiries and will devise a means whereby this investigation is assessed regarding its progress and quality.

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

I do not underestimate the challenge of this and ask for some patience as the first phase of establishing the investigation team and recovering existing material held by agencies takes place.

My last comments are reserved for the victims and the families of the victims. I am determined to lead a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the offences committed against you and your loved ones. I do not underestimate the task. With both the passage of time and the very nature of these crimes the truth will be a difficult and elusive prey.  I undertake to pursue every line of enquiry and leave no stone unturned in a search for the truth. I realise the very announcement of this investigation will cause pain and bring back terribly sad memories. It must be extremely hard to have listened to various commentaries within the community and the media about how and why your loved one died. I hope this investigation ultimately addresses the uncertainties and rumours. All I can promise is an absolute commitment to trying to find the truth.
Thank you.