British spy hunted by IRA flees refuge

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The Independent Online

A British spy at the top of the IRA's most-wanted list has been forced to flee his holiday island hideaway after his cover was blown.

Freddie Scappaticci, known as "Stakeknife", left his rented villa in Tenerife after being recognised by holidaymakers from his native Belfast.

News of the incident emerged yesterday, four days after the murder of another British agent Denis Donaldson, who spent two decades spying for Downing Street inside Sinn Fein.

Mr Scappaticci, the former deputy head of the IRA's internal security unit, known as the Nutting Squad, passed on information to a secret Army intelligence unit for more than 20 years.

Outed as a spy in 2003, he was thought to be living in Manchester or the Italian town of Cassino, where he has relatives. He had also been sighted last year in Gran Canaria.

He fled Tenerife three weeks ago after being recognised. One eye-witness told The Independent on Sunday: "He was in Lineker's bar in Playa de las Americas having dinner with his wife. I found it incredible that he would choose to hide out in a resort that is so popular with Irish holidaymakers."