PPS issues four decisions in connection with Operation Kenova files

29 October 2020

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Herron, has today confirmed that decisions not to prosecute have issued in respect of four individuals reported on files received from the Operation Kenova investigation team led by former Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

These are the first decisions to issue in relation to a number of files submitted by Operation Kenova concerning the alleged criminality of an agent known as ‘Stakeknife’. The decisions are connected with an allegation that an individual committed perjury in the course of making affidavits sworn between 2003 and 2006, and also concern the circumstances in which a decision was subsequently taken not to prosecute that individual in 2007.

The first individual was considered for the offence of perjury, while three others – two former members of the Security Service and a former PPS prosecutor - were considered for the potential offence of misconduct in public office.

Further files from Operation Kenova are under continuing prosecutorial consideration concerning a range of potential offences including murder, false imprisonment and assault.  Decisions on these additional matters will issue in due course.

The Director has today released a public statement setting out details of the decision-making process that was applied, together with reasons for the conclusions that he has reached. In doing so he has sought to balance the significant public interest in the matters investigated by Operation Kenova with the potential for the provision of detailed reasons to create or increase any risk to life or cause damage to national security.

The Director stated: “In respect of these initial perjury related matters, I have carefully considered the evidence provided by Operation Kenova investigators in relation to the four individuals reported.

“After a thorough analysis of all available evidence and with the benefit of independent advice from highly experienced Senior Counsel, I have concluded that in each case there is insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence. In these circumstances the Evidential Test for Prosecution was not met. The second limb of the Test for Prosecution, which relates to the public interest in bringing proceedings, did not therefore fall to be applied.”

The Director added: “There are constraints on being able to fully explain my decision making rationale at this time. In view of this, I wish to assure the public that decisions have been taken with absolute independence and impartiality, and fully in accordance with our Code for Prosecutors.”

The Director emphasised that prosecutorial consideration of all remaining matters is ongoing and that families directly affected by these cases will be kept informed as they progress.

“I will be contacting families affected by the outstanding decisions in the coming weeks to update them on the progress relating to their cases and to assure them that all future decisions will also be taken by a wholly independent and impartial application of the Test for Prosecution,” he said.

ENDS

GUIDANCE:

  1. Please refer to the accompanying public statement for further detail on the decisions outlined above.
  2. PPS decisions are taken in accordance with the Test for Prosecution, which involves two stages. The Test for Prosecution is met if, in relation to an identifiable suspect, the available evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of a conviction (the Evidential Test) and if prosecution is in the public interest (the Public Interest Test). Further detail is contained in the Code for Prosecutors which can be read here
  3. Media queries for the PPS should be referred to the Communications Unit by emailing ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk inside office hours. The out of hours press officer can be contacted on 07920 271 804 or 07795 480234.
  4. Further information on Operation Kenova can be found here