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Freddie Scappaticci: Man accused of being British Army’s top IRA informer ‘Stakeknife’ dies | UK News

The man accused of being ‘Stakeknife’ – the British Army’s top spy in the IRA – has died.

Freddie Scappaticci always denied being the mole – who’s said to have worked as a double agent, torturing and murdering other suspected informants for the IRA’s “nutting squad”.

It’s been claimed he was allowed to commit the violence to gain the trust of the organisation’s leadership and maintain his cover.

Joe Biden visit latest: ‘Sinister development’ as president sets off for Northern Ireland

Retired police chief Jon Boutcher has been investigating dozens of murders linked to Stakeknife and the role played by his handlers and the security services, including MI5.

The Operation Kenova report was due to be published early this year but has been delayed.

Mr Boutcher said he was made aware of Scappaticci’s death last week and his team were looking at the implications.

“We remain committed to providing families with the truth of what happened to their loved ones and continue to actively pursue criminal charges against several individuals,” he said.

“We will publish an interim report on Kenova’s findings this year.”

He urged anyone who might now want to talk to investigators following Scappaticci’s death to “contact us in confidence”.

Scappaticci, from West Belfast, was in his late 70s and is understood to have already been buried.

He left Northern Ireland in 2003 after being widely named as Stakeknife.

In 2018, Scappaticci appeared at a London court and admitted possessing extreme pornography.

His death comes as suspected pipe bombs were found in a cemetery in Northern Ireland, hours ahead of Joe Biden’s visit to the country.

The US president is due to arrive in the country between 9pm and 10pm in a much-anticipated trip watched over by a huge security operation.

Sending Ukraine tanks weakens UK forces, says Army’s top general | UK News

The British Army will become temporarily weaker and less able to combat Russia after giving away tanks and artillery to Ukraine, its top general has said in an unusually blunt admission.

General Sir Patrick Sanders told his troops that the decision to help the Ukrainian military defeat Vladimir Putin’s invasion would make the UK safer.

But he also stressed the “vital” need to restore his army’s warfighting capability.

The comments were made in an internal message to the Army – seen by Sky News – that appeared designed to put pressure on the Treasury to commit more funding to defence.

“Wars are won and lost on land,” the chief of the general staff wrote in his statement, which was issued after Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, confirmed to Parliament on Monday that the UK would be sending 14 Challenger 2 tanks as well as artillery guns to Ukraine as part of a significant new package of military support.

Commander of Strategic Command, General Sir Patrick Sanders after a live exercise demonstration at Bovington Camp in Dorset. Picture date: Friday March 19, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story DEFENCE Review. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
General Sir Patrick Sanders

“Ukraine needs our tanks and guns now. I know they will put them to good use. And there can be no better cause,” General Sanders said.

He said the UK pledge would encourage other allies to follow suit with more “battle-winning” weapons in greater numbers.

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UK to send tanks to Ukraine

However, the well-regarded officer admitted: “Giving away these capabilities will leave us temporarily weaker as an army, there is no denying it.

“But ensuring Russia’s defeat in Ukraine makes us safer and, as a leading member of NATO, the world’s most powerful defensive alliance, we are protected by the principle of collective defence.”

The top general continued: “There is no doubt that our choice will impact on our ability to mobilise the army against the acute and enduring threat Russia presents and meet our NATO obligations.

“Our tank crews and gunners will feel the impact the most, but the decision also brings the opportunity to accelerate the modernisation and transformation of the army ahead of Russia.”

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How will UK tanks help Ukraine?

Rishi Sunak’s government is refreshing a sweeping review of UK defence and security with the army in need of billions of pounds more in funding to fulfil plans to transform with upgraded tanks and artillery as well invest in vital weapons such as long-range missiles and air defence systems.

But the prime minister has yet to commit even to maintaining defence spending flat in real terms – when the impact of inflation is taken into account.

Read more:
Is Russia pushing Belarus to join Ukraine war?
UK reveals number of tanks to be sent to Kyiv

A failure to inject significant new money into the defence budget would result in real-term cuts.

The results of the refresh are set to be published in March around the time of the Budget.

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“It is vital that we restore and enhance the army’s warfighting capability at pace to reinforce our combat credibility and retain our position as the leading European ally in NATO,” General Sanders said.

“To that end, I am also determined that we do our utmost to maintain the currency and competency of those affected by our decision to gift these platforms.

“The government is committed to a modernised army that has learnt the lessons of the war in Ukraine and emerges from a period of accelerated investment more lethal, more survivable and able to fight more effectively as part of a joint force.

“This is the army our nation needs; this is the army you deserve.”