The Met’s Chaotic and Dysfunctional Record Keeping

Shelves full of disordered filesStorage facilities with most documents missing or misfiled, systems repeatedly described as ‘chaotic’ by the police themselves – internal documents reveal that the Met is having big problems sorting out its records management before it can even tell the Pitchford Inquiry what’s gone on.

Guest blogger Peter Salmon of the Undercover Research Group unpicks recent statements from the force.

The issue of police disclosure and how public it can be is a matter taxing all involved in the Pitchford Inquiry. We know that behind the scenes there has been considerable discussion between the Inquiry team and the Metropolitan Police over how the Inquiry accesses the vast amount  of police material.

Recently, the Inquiry website published two statements from Det Supt Neil Hutchison, responding to questions from the Inquiry team. With dozens of supporting documents, they shed some light on what has been happening within the Metropolitan Police. The first statement deals with conflicts of interest and the prevention of the destruction of relevant records. The second focuses on the state of the Met’s record keeping and what is being done about it through Operation FileSafe. In this post we look at the latter issue.

Inadequate record management

What jumps out is just how much embarrassment was caused at the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) by Mark Ellison’s seismic 2014 report, the Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, in which he criticised the force’s inadequate record keeping.[1]

Ellison’s concern was that part of the difficulty in getting to the truth was the necessary records were not available. The force’s own internal follow-up reviews of record keeping used the word ‘chaotic’.[2] A supporting document states, remarkably, that the reviews had: identified wholesale dysfunctional, inconsistent handling of unregistered material across the MPS.[3]

Another document notes that of the material held in ‘deep storage’ on a site controlled by logistics contractors TNT, 54% of the records supposedly there were missing or misfiled.[4]

And all that before one gets to the actual material of concern. The importance of locating police records impacts not just on the inquiry into undercover policing, but on historical anti-corruption / child abuse cases, the related disclosure required by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel and the  Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry and any similar investigations in the future.

As a result, since late 2014 the Metropolitan Police Service has been doing a ‘clean sweep’ of all its buildings and systems, in what is known as Operation FileSafe, not expected to be complete until 2018.

FileSafe is an off-shoot of the catchy acronym AC-PIT (Assistant Commissioner – Public Inquiry Team), formerly known as Operation Beacon. Headed by Neil Hutchison, AC-PIT was set up to co-ordinate responses to the issues raised by the various public inquiries. It answers to the Assistant Commissioner for Professionalism, Martin Hewitt, and is a sister unit to the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) which provides most of the team for Operation Herne, the police’s own investigation into the spycop abuses, and which would oversee any future disciplinary cases if they were happen.

AC-PIT, working with the Directorate of Legal Services, is the Met’s point of contact for the Pitchford Inquiry and has responsibility for disclosure: it is they who will do the actual searches for material and redact it before passing it to the inquiry, via Legal Services.[5] Thus, its first job was to understand what the Met actually has – leading to the realisation that the records system needs cleaning up and sorting out if disclosure obligations are to be met. So, according to Hutchison, AC-PIT was split into two strands; the first dealing with Pitchford and Op FileSafe, the second with anti-corruption issues, such as the Daniel Morgan murder.[6]

Hutchison spends a lot his statement and its exhibits detailing how much effort is being put into FileSafe and the clean up of records across the Metropolitan Police. For example, they’ve identified ’83 different digital and paper based archives of potential relevance’.[5]

He also emphasises how much training and briefing is being given to relevant officers at all levels on retention of relevant documents. This focuses on Counter Terrorism Command (now in charge of the spycop units) and the Covert Intelligence Unit / SC&O35, but also encompasses every local police station.

Preventing destruction of documents

Following the publication of the Ellison Review in July 2014 there was a temporary halt on file disposal, which was lifted when new protocols were put in place in January 2015.[7][8]

These new protocols require that the heads of units give permission before any files relevant to issues covered by AC-PIT are destroyed. Where there is doubt, AC-PIT should be consulted directly. Hutchison mentions a number of examples of these requests being passed to him for final decision.

But what happened prior to January 2015? We learn that the when it comes to Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) which now has responsibility for the legacy of the spycop units, that he asked whether any relevant documents may have been destroyed. He talked directly to two of heads of SO15, Duncan Ball and Dean Haydon, but interestingly failed to ask Richard Walton, in charge for a key bit of this period and who retired from the police following criticism of his role the saga.

For Hutchison, it is sufficient that an unnamed Head of Compliance and Assurance through whom such requests would have supposedly been routed, has said nothing relevant had been destroyed while Walton was in his post.[9] All in all, we are reliant on the word of the commanding officers as given to Hutchison only.

Likewise, Hutchison provides us with a considerable amount of material on the standards officers are expected to adhere to, but given that it’s misconduct in office which is at the heart of this and other inquiries, this rings loud and hollow. If we could blithely trust the probity of Metropolitan Police officers there would be no need for a public inquiry in the first place. No other organisation would allow people who committed serious abuses to be custodians of the evidence against them.

If there is one concern he has met, it is that they are aware of conflicts of interest. To that end they have taken appropriate steps and ensured that no member of AC-PIT has been an undercover or served in the Special Demonstration Squad / National Public Order Intelligence Unit. They are, however, a bit more woolly on whether AC-PIT members have been involved in the management of undercovers.

Disclosure Still Isn’t Happening

So where does this leave us on the all-important issue of the Inquiry getting actual access to the material? Hutchison’s statement provides useful insight on a number of issues.

For a start, there still does not appear to be a formally agreed protocol for the Metropolitan Police to release documents to the Inquiry. Draft versions have gone back and forth between the MPS and the inquiry, which have yet to be circulated for comment to the ‘non-police/state core particpants’ (NPSCPs) – the people admitted to the inquiry because they were significantly targeted by spycops.

This is of considerable concern, not just in terms of time scale, but because the process is not being facilitated by input from the NPSCPs, a key stakeholder in the inquiry, who needless to say have issues with what they have seen so far.

At The Monitoring Group / Centre for Crime and Justice Studies conference in April 2016 attended by many NPSCPs, representatives of the inquiry pointed out that the MPS and the undercover policing Inquiry (UCPI) were still negotiating various obstacles. In particular, the access that the UCPI team themselves would have in order to conduct searches or supervise them.

It remains a very serious concern that there is not oversight to ensure the MPS is delivering all relevant material, and that vast tranches of important material remain in the control of the police rather than being turned over to the Inquiry.

It is also a concern that decisions to restrict evidence may be agreed only between Pitchford and the police, with NPSCPs having to apply retrospectively to have them lifted. This is seen by NPSCPs, and the wider public,as damaging to the transparency of the inquiry. While a lot of effort is going in to meet the needs of the police, there is a growing feeling that the victims in all this are being excluded from important decision-making processes that affect them.

Against Their Nature

Hutchison makes an interesting admission about the way this is challenging to the police instinct for defensiveness and secrecy when he writes:

‘The UCPI should be aware that the extent of disclosure of sensitive material required by AC-PIT is unprecedented and liaison is required to ensure staff comply with disclosure demands which run contrary to their training and previous experience’.[12]

This is reinforced by an alarming note, buried in exhibit D754[10] – an internal briefing on the public inquiry and record keeping by Counter Terrorism Command (which has taken over responsibility for the old spycop units) – that the head of Operation Herne, Mick Creedon, is critical of CTC’s lack of compliance with Metropolitan Police policy on review, retention and destruction of records. The implications of Creedon’s criticism do not appear to be addressed anywhere by Hutchison, implying he seems to think everything is fine. Interestingly, the briefing was signed off by one Richard Walton.

Earlier this year that a police whistle-blower came forward to let leading Green Party politician Jenny Jones know that her files were being wrongfully destroyed. The allegations say a number of officers shredded files they knew should have been retained but whose existence would embarrass the MPS. Hutchison only gives a short paragraph dealing with this concern, raised by the UPCI with him in a separate request. Half the paragraph is redacted; the gist of the rest is that, if substantiated, it will lead to charges. We are not even told if it is subject to an ongoing investigation by AC-PIT.

Hutchison only presented directly to senior managers in the spycop unit (now called National Domestic Extremist and Disorder Intelligence Unity) to brief them on FileSafe on 13 May 2015,[11] yet the whistle-blower came forward six months later, when all the new preservation protocols were supposed to be firmly in place. It does not appear therefore that the NDEDIU is taking this seriously or that AC-PIT is adequately overseeing things.

If that is the case, the Inquiry is failing at its first challenge. If it is prevented from getting the facts about what police have done, it cannot investigate.

=====

Part two to this article, focusing on other points of interest to those following the inquiry closely and a brief timeline shall appear on the Undercover Research Group blog.

References

  1. Ellie Pyemont & Penny Coombe, MPS Progress in the field of Information Management since the publication of the Stephen Lawrence Independent Review (exhibit D759), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police Service, 13 July 2015.
  2. Penny Coombe & Ellie Pyemont, Operation FileSafe – Information Management: briefing for the Information Assurance and Security Board (exhibit D758), Metropolitan Police Service, 15 July 2015 (accessed 20 July 2016).
  3. Penny Coombe & Ellie Pyemont, An overview of activities undertaken as part of Operation FileSafe between July 2014 and March 2015, hightlight key milestone and future risks (exhibit D786), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police Service, 6 March 2015 (accessed 20 July 2016).
  4. Penny Coombe & Ellie Pyemont, Operation FileSafe – Options Paper regarding MPS unregistered archives – Version 8 (exhibit D788), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police, 2 March 2015 (accessed 20 July 2016).
  5. Neil Hutchison, Briefing to Management Board on Public Inquiry into undercover policing (exhibit D748), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police Service, 10 July 2016 (accessed 20 July 2016).
  6. Neil Hutchison, Witness Statement on Rule 9-12 (PARTIALLY REDACTED) to Undercover Policing Inquiry, Metropolitan Police Service, 17 June 2016.
  7. Jeremy Burton, FileSafe Update (exhibit D777), email of 10 September 2014, Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police Service (accessed 20 July 2016).
  8. Following the paper trail (exhibit D780), Metropolitan Police Service (intranet article), 26 January 2015.
  9. Neil Hutchison, Witness Statement on Rule 9-10(a) to Undercover Policing Inquiry, Metropolitan Police Service, 6 June 2016.
  10. Counter Terrorism Command, Management of Information within SO15 version 1.0 (exhibit D754), Metropolitan Police Service, 11 June 2015.
  11. Neil Hutchison, Briefing note re Records Management (exhibit D767), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police, 30 June 2014.
  12. Neil Hutchison, Witness Statement on Rule 9-12 (PARTIALLY REDACTED) to Undercover Policing Inquiry (paragraph 46), Metropolitan Police Service, 17 June 2016.

Kennedy in Scotland and Denmark, Working for USA?

Harry Halpin, graduating from Edinburgh University

Harry Halpin, graduating from Edinburgh University

A call for a proper spycops inquiry in Scotland has illustrated how the scandal also goes well beyond British shores.

Writing in The Scotsman, Chris Marshall reports that the Scottish government is ‘extremely disappointed’ events in its country are to be excluded from the public inquiry, and he has a blunt response.

If the UK government is to remain implacable about Scotland’s role in Pitchford, then the Scottish Government has no other option – it must set up its own inquiry.

The article points further afield. American citizen Dr Harry Halpin was spied upon by Mark Kennedy in Scotland. This surveillance continued when they travelled to Denmark together for a meeting of climate activists ahead of a UN Climate Change Summit in 2009.

Harry Halpin was a student at Edinburgh University when he believes undercover police officers began spying on him. Mr Halpin, now a respected computer scientist, says he was badly beaten by Danish police after travelling to a 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen and placed on “domestic extremist watch list” in the UK.

A 2012 report into Kennedy by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said he disobeyed orders twice during his seven year deployment.

BEATEN INTO DISOBEDIENCE

Mark Kennedy's injuries after being beaten by police, 2006

Mark Kennedy’s injuries after being beaten by police, 2006

The first occasion was in 2006 when he refused to leave the care of activists after being beaten up by uniformed officers.

Kennedy had been a key organiser of the first Climate Camp, held at Drax power station in North Yorkshire, the UK’s largest single source of carbon emissions.

Amongst the activists, he was part of a group of people attempting to breach the perimeter fence. Somewhat ironically, the vast numbers of police were there due to information provided by Kennedy.

Kennedy’s machismo escalated the sitation and a group of officers set upon him.

They kicked and beat me. They had batons and pummelled my head. One officer repeatedly stamped on my back. I had my finger broken, a big cut on my head and a prolapsed disc.

The incident left him with numerous injuries and needing surgery for the prolapsed disc in his back.

ON WHOSE ORDERS?

The HMIC report says his second breach of orders came when

he defied instructions and worked outside the parameters set by his supervisors by accompanying a protestor abroad in 2009

The only known instance of Kennedy traveling abroad with anyone in 2009 was that trip to Denmark with Harry Halpin.

Disobeying orders was clearly a rare and serious decision. Did he do it to travel to Denmark on a whim? Or at the request of someone whose orders trumped those of his bosses? Could that have been the American authorities asking him to watch Harry Halpin? Was Halpin’s beating by Danish police at the behest of Kennedy? Or the Americans? Or just a coincidence?

To know the whole truth, we clearly have to look far beyond events in England and Wales. If the Pitchford Inquiry is to have a hope of achieving its stated aim, it must work with the governments of other countries affected by Britain’s political secret police.

Chris Marshall observes

While the activities of Kennedy et al may have taken place more than a decade ago in Scotland, they are continuing to be felt to this day by those who were targeted.

The HMIC report tells us Kennedy professionally visited 11 countries on more than 40 occasions, including 14 visits to Scotland. He was responsible for 49 wrongful convictions and had significant relationships with five women who have taken legal action.

He is the just the best documented of the estimated 140 officers who worked for these units. If those he spied on hadn’t stumbled upon the truth all this would still be unknown, as is the case with 90% his colleagues.

Until we have the cover names of all the officers, and until the foreign authorities are allowed to contribute as fully as possbile, the Pitchford Inquiry will continue to appear to be merely firefighting revelations of victims.

Scotland Excluded from Pitchford Inquiry

Most Known Spycops Worked Outside England & Wales

After months of stalling, the Home Office has finally decided to exclude spycops activities in Scotland from the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.

In a letter to Neil Findlay MSP on 25 July 2016, Policing Minister Brandon Lewis said that Theresa May had taken the decision as one of her final acts as Home Secretary.

Rather like an American president’s cluster of controversial pardons or David Cameron’s showering of honours on undeserving acolytes, it appears to be the act of pulling the pin out and running, knowing they will be out of the blast radius when it goes boom.

Scotland was not merely incidental to the Special Demonstration Squad and National Public Order Intelligence Unit. The majority of known officers worked there. Officials admit Mark Kennedy made 14 authorised visits to the country. During these, he had numerous sexual relationships that the Met themselves have described as ‘abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong’ and a breach of human rights. He was far from the only one – Mark Jenner, Carlo Neri and John Dines all did the same.

The letter confirming Scotland’s exclusion goes on at length about how the Inquiry is unable to change the terms of reference. We know, that’s why we didn’t go to the Inquiry but instead addressed the Home Secretary who made up the terms of reference and can change them at will. This isn’t the law of gravity we want altering.

The Home Office say the Inquiry will get the general idea of undercover policing from only looking at events in England and Wales. This is an outright betrayal of the people and campaigns abused by spycops in Scotland and elsewhere.

The Pitchford inquiry should not be about getting a rough idea of what happened in order to ‘learn lessons’. It should give the public and victims the truth and, from there, the chance of justice.

The spycops committed crimes in England and Wales, some of them serious. They were agents provocateur, lied in court and set people up for wrongful convictions. They are known to have engineered dozens of miscarriages of justice, and the true figure may be in the thousands. They systematically sexually and psychologically abused women, in some cases fathering children with those they spied on. They stole the identities of dead children from unwitting bereaved families.

Every instance of these things should be exposed wherever it happened, every officer should be held accountable. Every person affected deserves to know what was done to them and the state should give them all the support and opportunity for redress that they need.

It was the same officers doing the same things in Scotland. No other organisation would be allowed to say ‘we have apologised to a few of the people we harmed, so let’s keep all the rest secret’.

The Home Office letter says the inquiry may choose to take information about miscarriages of justice seriously and pass them on to other agencies. It says nothing about the inquiry seeking out such information as part of its inquisitorial role. Given that events in Scotland are outside its remit, Pitchford may even feel bound to deny the chance for such evidence to be given.

The Home Office refer to the lack of time to fit any change in, even though the Scottish government formally requested inclusion seven months ago and the inquiry hasn’t started yet.

This is also a constitutional issue. The snub will appear to many in Scotland as further proof of Westminster treating the nation as a second class part of the United Kingdom.

In the Scottish Parliament debate a month ago, all parties were united in their desire for inclusion in the Pitchford inquiry. The SNP were repeatedly asked if, as the four opposition parties desired, there would be a separate Scottish inquiry in the event of exclusion. The spokesperson for the government dodged the question on the grounds that there was no exclusion yet. That time is over.

Seen in tandem with the recent denial of ‘core participant’ status to people who have been intensively targeted by spycops, the refusal to include Scotland suggests a worrying trend in the inquiry’s organisation, shutting out essential elements before it has even begun.

Those who know they were spied upon will surely be willing to tell their stories in an arena that takes them seriously. Perhaps a Scottish inquiry would take a more open approach than Pitchford and may even become the more credible of the two.


The full text of the letter to Neil Findlay MSP:

Brandon Lewis MP
Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service

25 July 2016

Dear Neil,

Thank you for your correspondence of 1 June addressed to the former Home Secretary on behalf of your fellow MSPs regarding your position that the scope of the undercover policing inquiry should be extended to include Scotland. I am replying as the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service.

The current terms of reference for the undercover policing inquiry specify that it should ‘…inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales’. This geographical limitation reflects both the police forces involved and the scope of the Home Office’s responsibility for policing.

For a number of reasons, it is not possible to expand the geographical scope of the inquiry without formally amending the terms of reference. The Inquiry chairman has a wide discretion as to which documents he reviews as being appropriate within the terms of reference. However, given the parameters of the inquiry established by the terms of reference, he will not be able to make any determinations or recommendations with regard to activities within any other jurisdiction, even if such evidence is submitted. If the inquiry were  to look at evidence relating to another jurisdiction, for example because it was implied that they should do so, a risk arises that it would be acting outside of its powers, as defined in the terms of reference.

The former Home Secretary carefully considered the representations made regarding the extension of the undercover policing inquiry beyond England and Wales. The inquiry as it stands is extensive and complex, with around 200 core participants. Amending the terms of reference at this stage would require further consultation and delay the progress of the inquiry. In the interests of learning lessons from past failures and improving public confidence, it is important that the inquiry can proceed quickly and make recommendations as soon as possible. The Home Office is confident the inquiry can both gain an understanding of historical failings and make recommendations to ensure unacceptable practices are not repeated without the need to consider every instance of undercover policing, wherever it was under taken. On balance, therefore, the former Home Secretary has confirmed she does not intend to amend the terms of reference.

You may be aware that there have been suggestions that, as an alternative to changing the terms of reference, the inquiry could pass any relevant evidence it receives to another organisation to consider. As the inquiry is independent, it can not be directed to do so – although the Inquiry may, of its own volition, do this if it considers this appropriate (for example, because evidence received reveals a potential miscarriage of justice or criminal conduct). During the lifetime of the Inquiry any material which it receives will only be passed to a third party with the express permission of the supplier of that information.

Once the Inquiry is concluded, all material will be lodged with the National Archives and the usual rules of access to archived material will then apply.

Brandon Lewis MP

 

Core Participants Condemn Scotland Exclusion

Pulling at a door being held shutIn the wake of the Home Office decision not to extend the Pitchford inquiry to Scotland, a group of core participants who were spied on there have issued this statement:

We are core participants at the undercover policing inquiry. We are extremely frustrated that Theresa May decided to exclude events in Scotland from the inquiry.

We have all been personally chosen as core participants because we were significantly targeted by officers in England and Wales. We were also all spied upon in Scotland. We cannot have faith in the ability of the inquiry to deliver an opportunity for truth and justice when it is prevented from fully establishing what happened to us.

The inquiry will focus on the disgraced units the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. The majority of known officers from these units were active in Scotland for several decades. To ignore that is to prevent the inquiry from dealing with a significant part of its remit. It sets the inquiry up to fail before it begins.

The decision is a flat denial of the Scottish government’s request for inclusion, which was supported by every party in parliament. Scotland has only asked to have the same disclosure about abuses as is promised to people in England and Wales.

We request that the Scottish government work further to ensure Scotland is included in the inquiry. If this is not forthcoming, the Scottish government should set up its own independent inquiry, a proposal that already has cross-party support. We would be happy to participate in this and help reveal the truth that the Pitchford inquiry keeps hidden.

Alice Cutler
Alison (RAB)
Andrea
Chris Dutton
Claire Fauset
Donal O’Driscoll
Harry Halpin
Helen Steel
Indra Donfrancesco
Jason Kirkpatrick
John Jordan
Kate Wilson
Kim Bryan
Lisa (AKJ)
Martin Shaw
Megan Donfrancesco
Merrick Cork
Naomi (SUR)
Olaf Bayer
Oliver Rodker
Sarah Hampton (HJM)
Simon Lewis
VSP
Zoe Young

Women Speak Out on Spycops

We’ve just uploaded video on our Youtube channel of four women speaking about their different involvement in the undercover police scandal at a seminar in Manchester earlier this year.

‘Alison’ gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on her experience of having been deceived into a five year relationship by undercover officer Mark Jenner, and previously told her story to Newsnight in 2014. As she emphasises here, the overwhelming majority of Jenner’s time was not spent on political work, but on domestic time with Alison and her family.

 


Harriet Wistrich, Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2014, represents numerous women (including Alison and Helen Steel) who had relationships with officers and successfully brought legal cases and obtained an apology from the Metropolitan Police. She also represents others that will be giving evidence to the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

 


Dr Eveline Lubbers is a member of the Undercover Research Group who do a peerless job of researching and exposing Britain’s political secret police, and has published research on the activities of undercover police officers. She is also the author of Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark: Corporate Spying on Activists and Battling Big Business: Countering Greenwash, Front Groups and Other Forms of Corporate Deception.

 


Helen Steel was deceived into an imtimate relationship by ‘John Barker’, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer John Dines. Her story follows a startlingly similar trajectory to those of Alison and the other women, showing that this was no aberration by rogue officers but a long-term deliberate strategy by an institutionally sexist police force.

 

Tlks given at Undercover Policing, Democracy and Human Rights seminar, University of Manchester school of law, 14 April 2016. Video by Reel News.

No Hiding Place for Spycops in Scotland

SaltireGuest blogger Harvey Duke with the view from Scotland:

——

Support is growing for a Public Inquiry into the activities of undercover police in Scotland. Victims of blacklists, fellow trade unionists, environmentalists, Amnesty International, and politicians across the spectrum believe there should be some kind of Inquiry.

The main demands from campaigners are for an expansion of the Pitchford Inquiry (which is currently limited to England and Wales); or, for the Scottish government to launch a parallel Inquiry. Even the Scottish Tories support the call!

So, if all that were required was broad verbal support from politicians and others, then an Inquiry would be underway. Yet, so far, there is nothing; and former Home Secretary, and now recently crowned Prime Minister, Theresa May is at the stodgy heart of the inaction.

Left wing Labour MSP Neil Findlay has led the charge within the Scottish Parliament to get the issue of undercover policing in Scotland recognised as a priority for public examination. He has organised two debates in Holyrood.

SATURATION SPYING IN SCOTLAND

At the first of these, in January this year, he made a clear case for action:

We know that at least 120 undercover officers have been deployed by the Special Demonstration Squad since its formation in 1968, but so far only 12 have been exposed, half of whom worked in Scotland. The most infamous of these is Mark Kennedy, who was deployed here 14 times in his seven-year career.

Police officers have been operating in our country under the identity of a dead child to victimise people whose only crime is to want a fairer, cleaner and more just society.

Potentially, there are decades of such activities waiting to be uncovered in Scotland. At the June debate in the Scottish Parliament, Neil Findlay also referred to another spy in Scotland: “We also know of the involvement during the 1984 miners’ strike of Stella Whitehouse, now Dame Stella Remington, the former head of Mi5, who was regularly on the picket line at Polkemmet colliery, not 3 miles from my house, during that period.

Were spycops also on miners picket lines?

Former MSP Tommy Sheridan took up this same theme. His name is on the notorious Blacklist compiled by the Consulting Association, which is known to have used information from spycops. He told us:

The State has always been determined to infiltrate and spy on the labour and trade union movement, peace campaigns and socialist parties. If anyone doubts it, they should waken themselves up by reading the excellent book The Enemy Within.

It is therefore imperative that either the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing be extended to Scotland or a separate and independent enquiry involving labour movement figures be established. The Establishment protects its vast interests by constantly undermining and destabilising anyone or anybody which threatens it.

 

The majority of known spycops worked in Scotland. Mark Kennedy, ‘Lynn Watson‘, ‘Marco Jacobs‘, ‘Jason Bishop’ and Dave Evans – another suspected Special Demonstration Squad officer – were all at the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005.

Also, as the Undercover Research Group has explained:

Two SDS undercovers John Dines and Mark Jenner were in Scotland as part of their relationships with women being targeted. Kennedy is known to have conducted relationships with at least three women in Scotland, including long term partners. In all cases, this amounts to a breach of their human rights being as well as abuse of police power being committed on Scottish soil.

Addtionally, the recently exposed officer Carlo Neri also travelled to Scotland with his unwitting partner ‘Andrea’.

One of the spycops’ leaders, Bob Lambert, was rewarded with a teaching position in Scotland at the University of St Andrews – until he resigned after pressure from campaigners. Whilst a boss of spycops, Lambert authorised officers who travelled to Scotland as spies.

FACING STASIS

In December last year the Scottish Government, responding to demands raised by supporters of the Blacklist Support Group and others, asked then-Home Secretary Theresa May to expand Pitchford to include Scotland.

Now PM, May is still sitting on the issue seven months later. Yet, waiting for a response seemed to be the main focus of the Scottish Government at the latest debate in Holyrood, on 30th June.

Annabelle Ewing MSP, Scottish Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, said:

we are focused at this point on having the (Pitchford) inquiry extended to activities of the Met in Scotland, if that is where the evidence leads.

This was exactly the type of response given by Annabelle Ewing’s Ministerial predecessor, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, six months previously. There is no commitment yet to a Scottish Inquiry by the Scottish Government should the call for an expanded Pitchford fail.

In January, this led to some goading of the Scottish Government by then-Independent, now Green, MSP John Finnie, who said:

Uniquely on this issue, the Scottish Government seems keen to cede any involvement or control to the UK Government.

It would indeed be a huge lost opportunity to allow the new Tory Prime Minister to have the final say on which cases of injustice are investigated in Scotland.

Following the most recent Scottish debate, Neil Findlay told us:

The debate showed wide-ranging support for a stand alone Scottish inquiry in the event that Theresa May refuses to include Scotland in the remit of the Pitchford inquiry. We now have Labour, Green, Liberal and Tory MPs, MSPs and MEPs supporting this call.

SNP MPs offered support in a motion at Westminster yet not one of their MSPs spoke in my debate or supported my motion at Holyrood. We now need the Justice Secretary to step up to the plate and confirm that he will not allow Scots victims to be denied access to justice.

The current Scottish Government demand is for Pitchford to ‘take account of any activity by Metropolitan Police units that took place in Scotland.’ This could be a step forward – certainly as long as Scottish Police Officers who signed off on such ventures and forces which collaborated with these anti-democratic activities are not shielded or prevented from giving evidence.

The Undercover Research Group has identified four top Scottish police officers who also played key roles in managing spycops. They include:

Phil Gormley, now Scotland’s Chief Constable (who) was in the Met from 2003 to 2007. From 2005, he was head of Special Branch and was on the committee who oversaw the NPOIU (National Public Order Intelligence Unit) and the Special Demonstration Squad.

These were the main political secret police units.

BUILDING THE PRESSURE

Nick McKerrell, a law lecturer in Glasgow, was active in an anti-poverty campaign during the G8 protests in 2005. He recently found that his name was on the Consulting Association’s blacklist, purely because of these activities. We asked him for his views on attempts to gain a public inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland. He said:

Every day seems to throw up a new revelation on the undercover policing scandal. It is clear the Special Demonstration Squad operated way beyond their jurisdictional boundaries of England and Wales.

The setting up of the Pitchford Inquiry was a major concession by the British state but currently its remit is very limited. For us in Scotland it has been shown that people were monitored (and blacklisted) for at least 20 years.

Further actual undercover cops were actually on active duty in Scotland throughout the same period, for example in the G8 demos in Perthshire in 2005.

Pitchford needs to be expanded into Scotland – where the links between Scottish police forces and the undercover work can be fully explored. Neil Findlay MSP has been campaigning hard on this issue as have MPs in Westminster and nominally the Scottish Government also support this position. It needs to be pushed though and if not carried through we urgently need a Scottish Inquiry.

Some of the most horrific aspects of the spycops scandal involve the way in which undercover police deliberately targeted women, and developed intimate relationships to aid their cover story, only to later abandon the women activists, with devastating psychological effects.

We spoke to Sinead Daly about this. Sinead is a leading socialist in Scotland who is also an expert in supporting women victims of abuse. She told us:

As a socialist, trade unionist and women’s rights activist in Scotland, I believe it’s essential that the Pitchford Inquiry is extended to Scotland; or failing that the Scottish Government order a separate independent Inquiry.

I am particularly concerned at the sexual abuse of women by undercover police officers over many years. The trauma that these women must be feeling is unimaginable. The law is very clear about consent with regards to sexual activity. The Sexual Offences Act 1956 states that consent cannot be given if ‘The complainant was deceived as to the identity of the person with whom (s)he had intercourse.’

It is undeniable that these women were sexually assaulted and abused. I truly hope that all of these women who have been sexually violated get the justice and support they deserve.

But we in Scotland also need to be assured that such actions will be investigated thoroughly to ensure accountability and that this never happens again!

In order to push forward demands for justice in Scotland, COPS is working with Scottish activists to organise a series of public events. Lois Austin from COPS (who was spied on by spycops whilst an activist in Youth against Racism in Europe), stressed how important it is to build the campaign in Scotland.

Undercover police who sought to undermine all kinds of campaigns did not care about national borders. They went wherever their targets went: across Europe, and very often in Scotland. Only by having a full Public Inquiry into what spycops did in Scotland, will we get to the truth.

It is hoped that the planned campaign events will give opportunities for people across Scotland to come together and hear about the experience of trade unionists, environmentalists and others who were spied upon by undercover police. We will also discuss the best way to make sure that a Public Inquiry is set up and looks at these issues as soon as possible.

Core Participant? Your Name’s Not Down, You’re Not Coming In

BouncersIn the early 1990s it seemed like every dance track needed to have a sample. The Prodigy – the now stadium band famous for ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Invaders Must Die’ – started out with a track that sampled Charlie the Cat from a government safety information advert.

It was probably this track that launched a thousand copies of that sampling template. Another ‘memorable’ track was one called The Bouncer. This again had a typical dance backing track of the 1990s era – and it sampled a bouncer saying ‘your name’s not down you’re not coming in’. Hard to believe this was a big hit.

The reason why this is mentioned is that recently COPS held its monthly meeting and discussion. Our concern is based on recent decisions being pumped out from the Inquiry particularly regarding those who have applied for Core Participant (CP) status and the fact that despite a supposed ‘open door’ policy, the Inquiry is increasingly turning applications away. Not just any applications – but extremely compelling applications. We are worried.

Let us remember that the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and its later manifestations have been involved in undercover policing of political activists since 1968. The Met themselves admit the SDS spied on over 460 groups at one time or another. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference refers to undercover policing and does not restrict itself to the SDS. It therefore should, we believe, have a remit to look at how police forces have used undercover policing in the classic sense – that is, the way in which Mark Kennedy, Peter Francis and Marco Jacobs operated – with a new identity and ‘deep swimming.’ Yet it is not just that.

Terms of reference and an open approach?

The Terms of Reference prefers a broad definition of undercover policing. This would, it seems, include undercover policing carried out by non-SDS Special Branch and also regional police authorities. It should and could even refer to that type of state policing by MI5

A core participant broadly speaking is an individual or an institution that played, or may have played, a direct or significant role in relation to the matters to which the Inquiry relates; has a significant interest in an important matter to which the Inquiry relates; or may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the Inquiry proceedings or in a report prepared by the Inquiry.

When the Inquiry was established there were over 200 applications for CP status. Most were accepted. A judgement made in October 2015 illustrates the open character of the Inquiry.

Based on this initial ruling we felt that the Inquiry was going to do two things, listen to those of us who were spied upon and investigate undercover policing of political groups who were engaging in their right to protest.

It was also said that there would continue to be an open door for those who wish to seek Core Participant status. We now question that initial promise, as recent refusals have thrown it into doubt.

High profile cases rejected

In the last few months a number of high profile, and not so high profile applications have been made. Many have been rejected, or should we say in legal speak they are not rejected but ‘being kept under review’.

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones is a high profile Green Party figure. She has run for London mayor, was a Greater London Assembly member for 16 years and now sits in the House of Lords.

She was spied upon for many years and has been told by a whistleblower that some of her ‘domestic extremist’ files were shredded by the Metropolitan Police.

Apparently this was not good enough to secure Core Participant status.

Tony Mulhearn

Tony Mulhearn

Tony Mulhearn is a high profile member of the Socialist Party (formerly Militant) in Merseyside. Previously he was a Labour councillor and one of the leaders of the Liverpool Labour council that battled the Thatcher government in the 1980s.

In the True Spies documentary undercover officers explain that they spied on Militant. Stella Rimington and David Shayler have also advised that MI5 spied on Militant’s leading figures in Liverpool.

Again, this application for CP status was rejected.

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell is a lifelong campaigner for LGBT equality, starting with the Gay Liberation Front and helping to organise London’s first Pride march in the early 1970s.

The gay rights movement was a new political force, challenging the status quo and with the potential to hugely embarrass establishment figures who were in the closet.

He renewed his commitment to LBGT direct action in the 1990s with FROCS (Faggots Rooting Out Closeted Sexuality) who exposed public figures who made homophobic pronouncements whilst having a secret gay life. He also famously attempted a citizen’s arrest of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in London.

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson was imprisoned because of his trade union activities. He is one of the Shrewsbury 24, and along with Des Warren was sentenced to 3 years in prison. The first episode of True Spies – ‘Subversive – My Arse’ opens the trilogy about him. A police officer accepts there is a file on Ricky Tomlinson.

He also had a file with illegal blacklisters Economic League file, and it is well established that the Metropolitan Police had close links with them and shared information.

Despite the evidence provided to the Inquiry, these four high profile cases have all had their applications for Core Participant status refused.  An impartial observer would probably be surprised at this. (Core participant rulings can be found here).

Spied on – balance of probabilities? Or beyond doubt?

In the initial period of consideration Core Participants were not only encouraged, but assessed on what can be best described as a balance of probabilities. That is to say, whilst many were able to point to an actual officer who spied on them, some CPs were unable to do so but had sufficient evidence to show that in all likelihood, given membership of a particular campaign, they would have been spied on. The Inquiry appeared to accept it had an inquisitorial function.

Since allowing 200+ people to be CPs, has there been a panic at Inquiry HQ? Recent applications have been given a much tougher time. It would appear that the assessment has gone from one of probabilities to certainty. Now it appears – particularly in the matter of the high profile cases listed above – the weight of evidence showing an overwhelming probability of being spied upon has been replaced by those applicants having to literally name the officer or officers who spied on them. For many targets of political policing, this is impossible.

The Inquiry seems to have moved the assessment goal posts without providing any announcement or guidance.

An Inquiry with an old style bouncer?

There appears to have been a change in emphasis. The Inquiry appears to have forgotten that it is inquisitorial. Its purpose is to uncover police wrongdoing, it should be assisting victims of the political secret police, rather than insisting they do their own detective work before being allowed to hear more.

This Inquiry is an extremely important. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the state to come clean, for the undercover officers of the SDS, National Public Order Intelligence Unit and Special Branch to come clean, and for the upper reaches of government responsible for these abuses to be held properly accountable.

For this to happen the Inquiry needs to be not only open and transparent but comprehensive too. Our fear is that, by insisting that new CP applications prove beyond doubt that they were spied upon rather than on the basis of a reasonable probability, this Inquiry – our Inquiry – is turning away from its true purpose and the demands of justice.

If these refusals continue for the flimsiest reasons it would appear that the Inquiry and the stewards of it are acting like the worst kind of bouncer –they may be registered and may have passed all the tests to become a ‘proper security’ guard but one that is still old school, still one that refuses entry on a whim – ‘you’re name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in!’.

Scottish Parliament Debates Spycops Again

 

Neil Findlay MSP addresses the Scottish parliament, 30 June 2016

Neil Findlay MSP addresses the Scottish parliament, 30 June 2016

Last week the Scottish Parliament had a second debate about Britain’s political secret police.

Although the majority of exposed officers from the disgraced units concerned – the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit – were in Scotland, the forthcoming public inquiry is set to only cover events in England and Wales.

It has been six months since the first debate, which came shortly after the Scottish government formally asked to be included in the Pitchford Inquiry, and nothing seems to have happened.

Once again, the issue was brought to the floor by Neil Findlay MSP. In the intervening time he has marshalled a call from Scottish parliamentarians from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties for the inquiry to include Scotland and, if this doesn’t happen, for Scotland to mount its own investigation. The SNP supports the first but not, as yet, the second point.

Findlay pressed the issue in Parliament

I know that the police, the judiciary and others will pressure the cabinet secretary to resist. Those are the very same forces that pressured politicians not to go near the Lawrence case, the Birmingham and Guildford cases, and the Hillsborough case, but brave decisions were made in the interests of truth and justice.

So, I urge the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs and the cabinet secretary to do the right thing: take the brave and right decision to initiate an independent public inquiry in Scotland, should it prove to be not possible to extend Pitchford.

The call was endorsed by Green and Conservative MSPs. Speaking for the government, the SNP’s Annabelle Ewing affirmed

the Scottish Government absolutely agrees that the inquiry should look at events that took place in Scotland if that is where the evidence leads. A single, comprehensive inquiry that was able to gather all the evidence in a coherent manner would best serve the public interest on this occasion. An inquiry that was limited to England and Wales would risk doing a disservice to those who believe that they have been adversely affected by the operations of Metropolitan Police units in Scotland.

However, she simply ignored the issue of the Home Office stalling for six months and what to do if Scotland is shut out of the inquiry. Neil Findlay seized on the omission, asking

Is the minister saying that, if the Home Secretary does not expand the Pitchford inquiry, there will be no Scottish inquiry? If that is the case, can she say very clearly today that victims in Scotland will have no route to justice? Let us be up front and straight about it. Let us not be choosy with our language; let us make it very clear what she means.

But, again, Ewing avoided answering the question and repeated that they were concentrating on inclusion in Pitchford. Conservative MSP Douglas Ross asked the question for a third time, and Ewing simply repeated her previous point once more. Labour’s Claire Baker asked it a fourth time and was also subjected to repetition of a point that did not answer the question.

The session was not entirely fruitless, however. Findlay didn’t just highlight the stasis regarding the Pitchford Inquiry, he also put sensational new information into the public domain.

Today, under the privilege that this Parliament gives me, I can name Gayle Burton, who is a former head of human resources at the Costain construction company, who now works for the Jockey Club and who has been identified as the key link between the construction industry, the Consulting Association and Special Branch. Her name is identified as the source of information on files of blacklisted Scottish workers.

We also know of the involvement during the 1984 miners’ strike of Stella Whitehouse, now Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, who was regularly on the picket line at Polkemmet colliery, not 3 miles from my house, during that period.

The illegal links between police, private surveillance and big business underpin much of the spycops’ targeting of political activists. It is as great an injustice whether perpetrated in England or Scotland, so all its victims deserve the truth.

As we said last month, it does not take six months to make a simple alteration to the terms of the Pitchford Inquiry. The start date looms ever closer and it is beginning to look like the Home Office is stonewalling and that the lack of a response will effectively become a refusal once the inquiry begins.

If the Scottish government – along with the German, Northern Irish and others who have made similar demands – do not set a deadline soon, they are effectively accepting this. They are running the increasing risk of being left behind, unable to secure the truth for their citizens abused by English spycops.

Video of Thursday’s debate is on our Youtube channel, and a full transcript can be found here.

 

Germany Asks to Join Spycops Inquiry

Most Known Spycops Worked Outside England & WalesThe German government have formally asked to be included in the forthcoming Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing. Five officers from Britain’s political secret police units are known to have been in the country.

Special Demonstration Squad whistleblower Peter Francis says he was the first officer to work abroad when he was sent to an anti-racist gathering in Bavaria in 1995. Francis was accompanied by his handler who stayed in a nearby hotel – the infamous former officer turned overseer Bob Lambert. The recently exposed officer known as RC is also reported to have been in Germany around ten years after Francis.

Mark Kennedy was also a frequent visitor to the country, and in 2007 went with fellow officer Marco Jacobs. Kennedy was arrested in 2006 in Berlin for arson after setting fire to a dumpster, and again at an anti-G8 protest in 2007. He gave his false name to authorities which – along with arson, of course – is a crime in Germany.

Like the Scottish government’s similar request, the German demand follows years of sustained effort by parliamentarians from the left-wing and Green parties. Tenacious parliamentarian Andrej Hunko has been working on this since Kennedy was first uncovered, and this week he welcomed his government’s call and spelled out the seriousness and breadth of the issue.

SCOTLAND WAITS AND WAITS

The forthcoming Pitchford inquiry is planning to only examine actions of spycops in England and Wales. As the majority of exposed officers were active in Scotland (and Scottish chief constable Phil Gormley had oversight of both spycops units at the key time) it is patently absurd to exclude Scotland from the inquiry.

Despite their government formally asking to be included last year, and even Tories demanding Theresa May accede, there has been no real response. It has been six months now, yet we have merely been told time and again that “talks are ongoing”.

With the preliminary sessions of the inquiry mostly over, it is starting to look like the Home Office is simply stalling and that the lack of a response will effectively become a refusal once the inquiry begins.

For their part, two representatives of the inquiry fielded questions at the recent conference hosted by the Monitoring Group and Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. They told those attending that it would be nonsense to exclude part of an officer’s story just because it happened abroad, and the inquiry would want the full picture.

Whilst this is some comfort, it is far from good enough. Firstly, the spoken assurance of underlings is very different to the declared decision of the Chair.

More importantly, it avoids many of the real issues. Spying abroad raises questions far beyond the officers’ own stories. Who organised it? Who decided their remit and purpose? How much did the host country know? Who is responsible for crimes committed by officers whilst abroad?

Peter Francis says SDS officers were given

absolutely zero schooling in any law whatsoever. I was never briefed, say for example, if I was in Germany I couldn’t do, this for example, engage in sexual relationships or something else.

NORTHERN IRELAND ALSO IN THE QUEUE

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) says police weren’t even told that spycops were being deployed there. Yet German police confirmed to Andrej Hunko that Mark Kennedy was directed and paid by German police. Which operations were done which way, and why?

That mention of ignorance is the first official comment from police about spycops being in Northern Ireland. SDS officer Mark Jenner was there in August 1995 fighting with nationalists in a violent clash with the loyalist Apprentice Boys of Derry march.

This week PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the BBC that nobody in the Northern Ireland police was ever aware the SDS were there, nor of any information being passed to them from the SDS.

With myriad other undercover operations going on in Northern Ireland during the conflict, to have sent Met officers in seems dangerously blase at best. Hamilton said

risk assessments have to be carried out. Anybody who’s deployed here without those assessments would be, in my view, an act of madness.

It seems hard to believe the SDS were so cavalier as to send their officers blundering in like that. Perhaps their contacts in the Northern Irish police aren’t admitting anything. Perhaps the SDS was working with some other arm of the British state. Or maybe this really is another area where the SDS simply didn’t think about the possible impacts on the people it worked among.

All this only refers to the SDS in Northern Ireland. Mark Kennedy, of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, was active in Belfast in 2008. He was there with activist Jason Kirkpatrick who has had confirmation that the Northern Irish government has also asked to be included in the Pitchford inquiry.

ALL IRELAND SPYING

Kennedy was a repeat visitor south of the border as well, notably fighting with police in a Mayday demonstration in 2004. It’s been five years since this was made public knowledge and Michael D Higgins TD – now president of Ireland – demanded an explanation.

SDS officer Jim Boyling was there in the mid 1990s so it’s clear the Republic, like the North, has a long history of being targeted by both of Britain’s main spycops units.

HOW MUCH MORE?

Last year we compiled a list of 17 countries visited by spycops over a period of 25 years. It is barely the beginning. All of these instances come from the fifteen exposed officers from the political secret police units. There are over a hundred more about whom we know nothing.

How much more of this – and what else that we haven’t even imagined – did they do? What campaigns did they infiltrate? Whereabouts were they? What crimes did they commit? Which children are still looking for disappeared fathers under false names?

Their actions – which the Met itself describes as “manipulative, abusive and wrong” – were perpetrated against uncounted numbers of people. The apologies and inquiry apply to actions in England and Wales, but it is no less abhorrent if the victim is abroad and/or foreign.

The German request is a major event. The extensive incursion of spycops into politically sensitive Irish territories surely means there will surely be more demands for inclusion and information coming from there as well. Affected activists have also initiated a legal case in Northern Ireland to force inclusion in the inquiry, a tactic that may well spread to other countries. Yet the disdain with which the Scottish government’s long-standing demand has been treated by the Home Office means the fight is far from over.

The arrogant disregard for the personal integrity and wellbeing of individuals was carried over to the laws and statutes of entire countries. Everyone who has been abused by spycops deserves the full truth, be they a solitary citizen or a sovereign nation.

Spycops Investigator was Spycops Overseer

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

As the full scale public inquiry into Britain’s political police continues to limber up, it’s worth noting that they’re reliant on the same police that committed the abuses.

New evidence this week shows that’s not institutional, but that a individual senior officer responsible for spycops is posing in a key role as a neutral trustworthy figures.

OPERATION HERNE

The first serious attempt at inquiring into the spycops scandal was a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing in February 2013.

It took testimony from three women who had relationships with undercover officers, Helen Steel (anonymised as ‘Clare’), Lisa Jones and Alison.

It also heard from Assistant Chief Constable Pat Gallan of the Metropolitan Police, then-head of the police’s self-investigation into the issue, known as Operation Herne.

The three women who had relationships had done successful investigations to prove that their former partners were Metropolitan police officers. In contrast Pat Gallan, with a staff of several dozen, said she had uncovered very little indeed.

The hearings were the day after the Guardian revealed that Mark Kennedy’s predecessor officer had stolen the identity of a dead child called Rod Richardson. The report estimated it had happened in around eighty other cases.

Gallan, who admitted being aware a case of theft of dead children’s identities five months earlier, had somehow found no further instances and cast doubt on the Guardian’s guess.

She says she does not know if the figure of 80 children’s identities being used is accurate.  She knows of two cases.

Gallan’s numeracy is clearly as strong as her detective ability. Even by that time, there had been published stories about three officers who used dead children’s identities – Rod Richardson, John Barker (aka officer John Dines) and Peter Black (aka Peter Daley, aka officer Peter Francis).

Gallan flatly refused to apologise for the practice of stealing dead children’s identities, or for anything else. It was a PR disaster and she was removed from her post at Operation Herne by the end of the week.

With a new layer of scandal to fend off, they needed to front it someone ‘independent’.

DECAPITATE THE HYDRA

They brought in Derbyshire’s top cop, Chief Constable Mick Creedon.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has said revelations that police used the identities of dead children will be investigated by an independent police chief with an expertise in corruption.

Well that is certainly true, though perhaps not in the way Theresa May meant. Yet again we see the exceptionalism afforded to police. No other industry would regard a sister company whose top brass frequently transfer between one another as independent and free from bias.

It continues to this day – the police are still holding the spycops files that will be wanted by the Pitchford public inquiry. Even though a whistleblower officer has reported ‘domestic extremist’ files being destroyed by fellow officers, even though the Met corruptly destroyed a ‘lorry-load’ of documents relating to its own corruption including the Stephen Lawrence case, the public inquiry has not requisitioned the relevant documents.

What other organisation found to have committed systematic abuse of citizens would be treated this way? Which other criminals get to be custodians of the evidence that incriminates them?

The Home Affairs Select Committee issued an interim report (it never did a full one). They emphatically insisted that all families whose dead children’s identities were stolen by spycops be informed. They expected it to happen by the end of 2013. We are still waiting.

At that time Creedon, keen to calm the furore and retain credibility, rapidly produced an Operation Herne report rubbishing the idea of there only being two isolated instances of dead children’s identity theft. He said that for around 20 years – mid 1970s to mid 1990s – it was standard practice in the Special Demonstration Squad.

At this stage one hundred and six (106) covert identities have been identified as having been used by the SDS between 1968 and 2008.

Forty-two (42) of these identities are either confirmed or highly likely to have used the details of a deceased child. Forty-five (45) of these identities have been established as fictitious.

Work continues to identify the provenance of the remaining identities.

There are definitely more, though. For one, the officer known as Rod Richardson wasn’t in the SDS, he was from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. Who knows how many of their officers did it?

THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS

The proof that Operation Herne was just a figleafing exercise came in March 2014. After whistleblower SDS officer Peter Francis revealed his unit had spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence, Mark Ellison produced his comprehensive and damning report into the matter. His findings eventually forced the resignation of the head of Counter Terrorism Command, Richard Walton, a classic case of ‘go before they bring misconduct charges and thereby preserve your pension’.

On the very same day as Ellison’s report was published, Creedon issued his Operation Trinity report. It looked at the same issue and reached essentially opposite conclusions. He basically said that if there isn’t documentary proof of spying on the Lawrences we can’t say it happened.

So immersed was Creedon in protecting the police from exposure that the 84 page report subtitled Allegations Of Peter Francis said it

will neither confirm or deny if Peter Francis was an undercover police officer.

Four months later came a third and seemingly final Herne report, into the spying on similar racial and family justice campaigns. Two years on, the 18 families identified are still waiting for answers. Creedon and Herne are publicly silent on that and all other matters.

BY HIS OWN HAND

But this week there’s a new twist in the tale. When spycops were active, they had to be authorised by a senior officer from the constabulary they were in, as well as their bosses at the Met. More than one of the exposed undercover officers was in Derbyshire; Mark Kennedy was there many times. We know from leaked papers of Kennedy’s deployments in North Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire that the proper protocol of these authorisations was meticulously adhered to.

As Derbyshire’s Assistant Chief Constable (Operations), Mick Creedon will have been briefed on these deployments and he will have personally authorised them to go ahead. It’s quite possible that Operation Herne has custody of documents authorising Kennedy’s abuses and bearing Creedon’s signature, unless they too have been deliberately lost or destroyed.

The Undercover Research Group have just published a profile of Mick Creedon that maps his career and shows a particular involvement in protests by environmentalists, anti-fascists and other groups who were infiltrated by spycops.

Far from being a clean, neutral figure, Creedon came to Operation Herne as an insider of many years’ standing. Once again, having been proven to have abused citizens the police are shown to respond with deceit.

These attempts at self-preservation backfire by undermining any idea that the police could have a  serious commitment to honesty and integrity, let alone justice. Top to bottom and side to side, we’ve seen brand protection as their highest priority – indeed, that is the very thing that led to them undermining the justice campaigns in the first place.

There can be no faith in Operation Herne, nor any police self-investigation. There can be no trust in the people whose wrongdoing is the subject of the public inquiry being allowed to decide what does and doesn’t get revealed. The problems highlighted by the spycops scandal are endemic and institutional. The revelation of Mick Creedon’s true history proves that there is no independence in the police.