Force Research Unit (FRU)

The Force Research Unit and the murders of Pat Finucane, Gerald Slane, Terence Mc Daid, Patrick Hamill and Francisco Notorantonio


Some background on The Force Research Unit (FRU) and loyalist death squads.



Following years of speculation that the British army Force Research Unit had a high level mole within the Republican movement (codenamed Stakeknife) a number of newspapers named west Belfast man Fred Scappaticci as the alleged agent.

For a comprehensive review of the media speculation surrounding the "Stakeknife" issue go to:

Stakeknife: MI5 agent's ex-wife sues Scappaticci (BBC news article, April 2011)  


Full transcript of BBC Panorama programme "A LICENCE TO MURDER PART I" is available HERE. PART II is available HERE.

Reactions to the Panorama programme

Only truth can heal, Mr Blair. Lies fester
by Michael Finucane, Sunday Business Post

Did the army's secret weapon get too close to Ulster's death gangs?
by John Ware, The Guardian

Panorama missed the real story of collusion in Ulster
by Ed Moloney, Sunday Tribune journalist writing in the Daily Telegraph

Why MI5 sanctioned the murder of a pensioner
by Harry McGee, Sunday Tribune

So the State ran death squads ?
by Paul O’Connor, Pat Finucane Centre


Individual cases



The Scottish Sunday Herald published a number of articles on Colonel Kerr and the activities of the FRU
Colonel Gordon Kerr
Gordon Kerr

November 2000

December 2000

January 2001

February 2003


Further FRU allegations prompt gagging orders on press

In February 2001 the US based cryptome website published an article on the Force Research Unit. The article named a woman who is alleged to have been Brian Nelson's FRU handler. Attempts by British newspapers to report details of the allegations contained in the feature have unleashed a flood of gagging orders and threatened prosecutions by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the D-Notice committee even though the cryptome article has been in the public domain since early February. On Friday February 16 the North Belfast News (NBN) defied the MoD and published a report on the alleged FRU operative. We have put through a request to the MoD that a member of the D-notice committee contact us to confirm or deny whether the officer named was in fact a FRU operative. The MoD has issued this response to the PFC:

"in reply to fevered speculation on the internet and in newspapers about the alleged identity of Brian Nelson's former handler commonly referred to as Captain M...the Ministry of Defence will not comment on whether the name is correct or not because we firmly believe that no responsible organisation or media company would willingly wish to place at risk the life of any individual. To allege publicly that a particular individual was engaged in agent handling in Northern Ireland, whether true or not, would place that individual's life at risk and giving wider publicity to information alleged by others can only increase that risk."
Further articles on the gagging orders: