The West Belfast man named as IRA double agent Stakeknife has said the media blitz surrounding the revelation forced him into hiding.
Freddie Scappaticci’s only concession to the press interest was a brief statement three days after the story broke.
But his local weekly paper, the Anderstown News, broke through his barrier of silence to carry a world exclusive interview this week.
Managing editor Mairtin O’Muilleoir said: “We went to work to convince Mr Scappaticci and his advisers that he should tell his story through his local paper. That task was made easier by the fact that, unhappy with the lack of confirmation from the MoD and unwilling to rely on anonymous sources, we hadn’t named him as Stakeknife in the previous Monday’s edition of our newspaper.
“On Saturday, we received word that he would come out of hiding to do an interview and on Sunday, editor Robin Livingstone went to a house in Belfast where he spoke with him for around an hour-and-a-half.
“Afterwards Mal McCann photographed him outside our offices. We felt it was important that Mr Scappaticci be pictured in the open in West Belfast, as questions about his whereabouts continue to be central to the story.
“Those pictures and the 2,500-word interview formed the bulk of the next day’s coverage, which filled pages one to five and provided a lead for our sister paper, the daily Irish-language title LÃ .”
The copy went up on the News’s website at midnight, too late for morning rivals to run a spoiler.
Livingstone said: “Our feeling was that in the Scappaticci story there was a huge over-reliance on unnamed sources who were accountable to no-one.
“We thought it was vital that some hard information be finally put on the record. In this interview we did just that by allowing one source – Mr Scappaticci – to reply at length to the allegations made against him.”