The father of an IRA murder victim has failed in a legal attempt to secure a fresh inquest

Posted By: June 18, 2016

Frank Mulhern, whose son Joseph Mulhern was shot by the IRA in July 1993. Picture Mal McCann.

Irish News, Friday, June 17, 2016 17:16

Freddie Scappaticci. Picture by Pacemaker.

THE father of an IRA murder victim has failed in a legal attempt to secure a fresh inquest amid claims the British agent Stakeknife was involved in the execution.

Frank Mulhern was seeking a ruling that Nothern Ireland’s top law officer must direct a new probe into the circumstances surrounding the 1993 killing of his son Joseph – one of 40 cases said to be linked to west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci.

But a High Court judge yesterday dismissed his case after ruling that Attorney General John Larkin QC was entitled to decide criminal investigations should be carried out first.

Joseph Mulhern (23) was abducted, interrogated and shot by the IRA, who accused him of being a police informer. His body was dumped on a remote hillside near Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

With no-one ever convicted of the murder, the victim’s father was seeking to judicially review a decision to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Papers lodged as part of the case claim the police have been aware of evidence that Mr Mulhern was killed “by or at the instigation of a British agent, Freddie Scappaticci”.

Scappaticci left Northern Ireland in 2003 when he was named in the media as being the spy, codenamed Stakeknife.

Before quitting his home, however, he vehemently denied being the agent who allegedly headed up the IRA’s internal security unit, known as the ‘nutting squad’.

In October last year Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC called for police to examine Stakeknife’s activities, along with what was known by RUC Special Branch and MI5.

An investigation into the spy is now set to be headed up Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

Mr Mulhern’s lawyers contended there is an obligation to hold a new inquest under Article 2 of the European Covention on Human Rights.

They claimed Scappaticci will not be brought out of a witness protection programme and is unlikely to ever face prosecution.

But counsel for Mr Larkin countered that the legal challenge was premature because has not refused to order an inquest at some later stage.

The court heard that the Attorney General wrote to the DPP in July last year suggesting he may wish to consider exercising powers in relation to a decision by the PSNI not to charge Scappaticci or “person J” with any offence connected to Joseph Mulhern’s murder.

It was also stated in papers forming part of the legal challenge that, based on documents supplied by Mr Mulhern, the Attorney favoured the criminal justice route.

The correspondence added: “The material supplied tends to support the proposition that Freddie Scappaticci has been involved in the murder of Joseph Mulhern.”

Rejecting the application for leave to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Maguire held that Mr Larkin legitimately decided on the course adopted.

Mr Mulhern, who was present for the verdict, vowed to continue his fight. He said outside court: “I have been disappointed in the past, but eventually in the end the truth will come out no matter how they try to hide it.”