A west Belfast man who was alleged to have been the British Army’s top mole in the Provisional IRA has died.
Freddie Scappaticci, who was aged in his 70s, always denied that he was the agent Stakeknife.
He died several days ago and was buried last week.
Stakeknife worked within the IRA’s notorious “nutting squad” interrogating suspected informers during the Troubles.
The probe is examining crimes such as murder and torture linked to Stakeknife, and the role played by the security services, including MI5.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Boutcher said his team were made aware last week of the passing of Mr Scappaticci.
He said his team are working through the implications of the death of Mr Scappaticci in terms of the investigation, and said they will publish an interim report on findings this year,
“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.
“We also recognise that people may now feel more able to talk to the Kenova team following the death of Mr Scappaticci, who had been long accused by many of being involved in the kidnap, murder and torture of potential PIRA informants during The Troubles.
“I appeal to anyone with information that might help those impacted by the events we are investigating to contact us in confidence to help families understand what happened during these difficult times.”
Kevin Winters, a lawyer representing relatives of people killed by the Provisional IRA during the Troubles, said the news “will frustrate many families” who have been waiting for more than six years on the imminent publication of Mr Boutcher’s independent report.
He said: “Some initial feedback from clients suggests annoyance about the timing of the death, coming as it does on the cusp of the report’s publication later in the summer. Not only that but the PPS have been deliberating on prosecution decisions in 33 cases referred by Kenova nearly three years ago.
“Clearly the death will have an impact on both the content of the report and whether or not criminal prosecutions go ahead.
“Families of victims will rightly ask questions. Their cynicism is heightened upon learning that news of Scappaticci’s burial seems to have been kept quiet by the authorities over the Easter weekend.
“People just aren’t happy and that’s only to be expected given the unexpected news.”
The South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) victims’ group said it was “highly regrettable” that the report into the alleged activities of Stakeknife was not published before Mr Scappaticci’s death.
SEFF director of services Kenny Donaldson said many families “will have very difficult feelings to navigate through over the coming period”.
“Our thoughts this evening are with those innocents whose loved ones were callously kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the Provisional IRA’s nutting squad as well as wider crimes alleged to have been committed by Freddie Scappaticci,” he said.