Alleged British secret agent in the IRA, who denied in court that he was a spy, is focus of £35m investigation

An alleged British secret agent in the IRA who is accused of being linked to at least 20 murders while working for military intelligence could be charged with perjury for denying in court he was a spy, a senior UK police officer has told the Guardian.

Stakeknife, whose real name is believed to be Freddie Scappaticci, was the IRA’s chief spy catcher and received £80,000 each year as one of Britain’s most important agents within the terror group. It is alleged that his army and police handlers turned a blind eye to murders in order to promote their agent inside the IRA’s ranks.

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