Man accused of being double agent Stakeknife warned of threat to life

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The man accused of being the Army's most prized spy at the heart of the IRA has been repeatedly warned by police in Belfast that his life is in danger, he claimed yesterday.

Freddie Scappaticci, 57, a builder from west Belfast, described as "ridiculous" allegations that he was the agent codenamed Stakeknife who operated for British military intelligence within the IRA's senior ranks.

He blamed faceless military sources for the avalanche of stories which have identified him as Stakeknife since May.

"I have received numerous warnings from the police saying my life is in danger and eventually you have to take them seriously," he said. "The couple of times I have gone out, I've found people staring at me in the shops. People are looking at me because my picture's been everywhere. They're calling me a mass murderer. My family has been under enormous pressure."

He has become a recluse after having his windows broken five times and a pipe bomb planted in his garden, he told the Irish Republic's Sunday Business Post.

Mr Scappaticci has lost two High Court attempts to force the Northern Ireland security minister, Jane Kennedy, to clear his name and has vigorously denied being Stakeknife.

Sinn Fein leaders have claimed the allegations against him are the result of mischievous press briefings by faceless intelligence chiefs.

Senior IRA figures have assured him they knew he was not Stakeknife, he said.

But he was forced to get police protection after being told several times by the Police Service of Northern Ireland that it had information from credible sources that people were plotting to kill him, he said. "There are people out there who are mixing it for me. I honestly don't know who's behind these threats, but I'm sure who was behind all this in the first place."

Commenting on the manner in which the story broke, he said: "It was like JFK was killed. It was co-ordinated. There's something smelly about it. It's the Brits. MI5, MI6, the British Army, take your pick. It had to be co-ordinated." Mr Scappaticci said he made a bad mistake by running away from the story. "I got advice and I was told that the first 48 hours are crucial," he said. "But it's easier said than done. Once a lie gets a head start the truth has a hard time catching up."

Mr Scappaticci said he would appeal against the court ruling which turned down his application for a categoric statement from the British government, confirming or denying he was Stakeknife.