Pitchford Inquiry Brands the Met ‘Incompetent’

'Undercover is no Excuse for Abuse' banner at the High CourtLast week a crucial battle in the undercover policing scandal saw unprecedented moments when the Inquiry chair labelled the Metropolitan Police incompetent and ill-prepared. Pitchford Watcher was in court and looks at what led to this and what it may mean for the future direction of the Inquiry.

At the heart of the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing one issue towers above all: the release of the cover-names of the undercover officers who targeted protest movements.

For many involved there can be no truth or justice without answers – and for that they need to know who spied on them. Not necessarily who the cops are in real life, but the cover-names used by police posing as activists to infiltrate their campaigns, their friendships, their families and beds, who deceived and abused them. From the start, for the ‘Non Police, Non State Core Participants’ as the subjects of police spying are awkwardly termed, meeting this has been the primary pre-requisite for justice.

It is fair to say that the Metropolitan Police blanched at this demand. This sort of scrutiny of their dark arts is their worst nightmare, one they go extraordinary lengths to avoid. Over the last few decades they are known to have let large cases collapse rather than provide this disclosure.

It is no less true of the six-year civil case brought by women deceived into relationships. There, in a highly unusual move, the Met conceded and gave an unconditional apology. It effectively ended the case, just at the moment when the police were about to be forced to disclose. However, without answers, there was no closure for the women.

The women who fought that long battle do not give up so easily. Two of them, Helen Steel and Kate Wilson, spoke at last week’s hearing. It was their sometimes emotional (and rightfully so) submissions, that brought the damning statements from Pitchford. Though tetchy and constantly interrupting the pair, who were clearly frustrated with the police delays, he was unstinting in his own criticism of the police.

POLICE RESISTING ACCOUNTABILITY

To understand the significance of those comments, we need to take a step back and understand the lead-up to the issues facing the Inquiry. Since the Inquiry began in 2014 it has been dogged by problems, many of a legal nature. The police have constantly fought the release of any details, claiming the need to protect both undercover policing as a tactic and the welfare of undercover officers. It is an uphill battle as they are clearly defending the indefensible in this case. However, as the women in their court case discovered, the police are nothing if not tenacious, and are equally willing to spend large amount of taxpayers’ money to defend their reputation.

For some non-state/police core participants, it feels like a rugby match, each scrum a bruising push towards the final line. Though slowly advancing, each gain in the fight comes with personal costs in what is already a horrendous story. The interventions by Steel and Wilson last week attested to this. It was little surprise that every time the police promised co-operation, those in the public gallery laughed bitterly.

Though, what emerged is that the Inquiry is having its own direct experience of the police failing to meaningfully deliver, despite said promises.

Last year the Inquiry overruled police applications to have the Public Inquiry in private. Pitchford said cover-names would be released unless there was good reason not to. Where arguments to not release existed, these would be dealt via Restriction Orders – in turn evidenced with risk assessments setting out the dangers facing officers if cover and real names were revealed. Thus, risk assessments became pivotal to the process.

DELAYS UPON DELAYS

The first tranche of restriction order applications were due October 2016. Instead, what happened was a farce: friends of undercovers were chosen as risk assessors and had to be dropped; others fell by the way for different reasons. The Inquiry itself had to intervene heavily in the process, including providing specific guidance on what an acceptable risk assessment amounted to. In Pitchford’s words:

the Metropolitan Police were not the experts in risk assessment they claimed to be.

Pitchford has been clear that without the cover-names released the Inquiry cannot proceed. The suspicion in some quarters is that the Met are taking this as that is a guide on how to obstruct. Again, as the Chair told their barrister last week:

This process does not work if you take a year to give me a risk assessment.

For the normally highly restrained language of courts, all these are all harsh words, and damaging to the Metropolitan Police’s reputation. The Met had no real response either: the process had collapsed and needed rebuilding. The October 2016 deadline passed and a new one, the 31st March this year was put in place. At the Inquiry’s request, progress updates moved from monthly to fortnightly. Still, the March deadline was missed as the Metropolitan Police were unable to submit any risk assessments, and worse, applied for an extension until October 2017.

If Pitchford and the Inquiry team were frustrated, those spied upon were incensed. Not least as the Inquiry seemed to be accepting the for now familiar police stalling tactics. However, when Dan Squires, counsel for the non-police/state participants, raised that the police delays were deliberate, Pitchford was quick to step in and disapprove of the suggestion.

However, Pitchford perhaps underestimated, as the police had, the tenacity of those most affected. They were not having it, and were prepared to say so. Kate Wilson and Helen Steel stood up and reiterated the core demands: stop the delays and release the cover names.

Addressing court was clearly a painful experience for them, and frequent interruptions by a seemingly irascible Pitchford made it harder. They were talking from personal experience of having their lives invaded, but this was not simply an account of wrong doing: they had serious points to make about police behaviour.

Building on Squires’ points, they went further, demanding the Inquiry took a stronger grip of the situation and to stop leaving all the power in the hands of the police, the very people being charged with abuse. It was in the face of this that Pitchford’s clear irritation finally broke through. He acknowledged their distress, but again refuted the allegation that it was deliberate. However, this time he tempered it with his trenchant criticism levelled against the Metropolitan Police of incompetency, failure to plan and lack of foresight.

SELECTIVE SECURITY

The police tried a number of tactics, including pleading anxiety on behalf of some officers, and the claim of the need to protect operational secrets. Yet, they had no answer for the point that there had recently been a steady release of court cases and news stories where cover-names have been published as part of prosecution evidence. This included cases involving ISIS and serious organised crime. As Helen Steel remarked, it smelled more of a fight over reputation.

There is little doubt she was right. The Metropolitan Police had scored an own goal, seeking to protect its reputation on one front resulted in it being damaged overall. Pitchford for the most part gave them an easy ride, but when pushed it finally became clear that the Met had not just been given enough rope to hang themselves, but had put their neck into the noose.

Other police forces are clearly paying attention and looking at more nuanced approaches. For instance, the National Police Chiefs’ Council submitted that cover-names could be released if the real names were given automatic anonymity.

Just before the hearing it appears the Met realised the danger it faced. It would not be good if the new Commissioner was formally summoned to give explanation in person, as the Inquiry has the powers to do (a possible outcome of a Section 21 Order under the Inquiries Act). Thus, on the first day of the hearing they produced a much revised and more ambitious timetable. They went from complaining how difficult it would be to get anything in place before October, to promising the first tranche of 22 applications by 1st June, more by 1st August, and by 1st October all 150 affected SDS officers (undercovers and back-room alike) to be risk assessed, and where necessary restriction order applications submitted.

This is just the Special Demonstration Squad officers, and does not include the officers from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, whose 50+ undercovers have apparently all indicated they want to make restriction orders. Nevertheless, where the Met goes, other forces are likely to follow.

The battle of the cover names has taken a big step forward, though is only half-completed. Pitchford has still to agree to this new timetable, then the police need to actually make the applications. There will then follow hearings to determine what will be restricted and what will be released, possibly using a system of benchmarks rulings to guide the police.

IT’S NOT GOING AWAY

The Inquiry was supposed to be completed by 2018. Now, evidence will not be heard until 2019, and as one barrister noted, at this rate the final report will not be submitted until 2022. That is eight years after it was first announced, eleven after Mark Kennedy, Jim Boyling, Bob Lambert and others were all first exposed. Few are surprised by this, after all Pitchford is relatively new to a fight that started four years before he became involved, and for some a cause spanning over two decades.

The spycops scandal continues to be a poison pill for the Metropolitan Police. Last week, it path walked them into a quandary over their reputation. Either they were incompetent and terrible at risk assessment; or they are not, in which case the delays have all been deliberate. It is clear there is a divide between those spied upon and the Inquiry who believes which.

One wonders how much it played a role in the recent sideways move for the man charged with heading up the Met’s response, Martin Hewitt. He has since moved sideways to head up Territorial Policing, with his role now occupied by Fiona Taylor.

Another open question is what incoming Commissioner Cressida Dick makes of it all. She has inherited a problem from her predecessor Bernard Hogan-Howe who took a somewhat belligerent approach to the issue. Yet, it was on her watch that the report that finally buried the Special Demonstration Squad was drawn up, labelling it a rogue unit without moral compass. However, she has her own skeletons and inconvenient connections into the spycops scandal, not the least being that the Special Demonstration Squad spied upon the de Menezes family justice campaign, a shooting she gave the go-ahead for. How much this will come back to haunt her remains unknown.

In the meantime, campaigners are waiting for the 1st June deadline to come around, in equal measures sceptical and hopeful that answers will finally start emerging.

The submissions made by all core participants and transcripts of the hearings of 5th & 6th April can be found at UCPI.org.uk.

The author attended the two hearings in person on 5th & 6th April.

Originally published on Pitchford Watcher.

Help Force a Proper Spycops Inquiry for Scotland

John Dines on Barra

SDS officer John Dines whilst committing human rights abuses on Barra in the 1990s. This will be ignored by the public inquiry & the Scottish police self-investigation.

Most known officers from Britain’s political secret police were in Scotland. It happened over a period of decades and included the targeting of women for relationships that the Metropolitan Police have conceded were ‘a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’.

Despite this, the public inquiry is limited to events in England and Wales. The Scottish government formally asked for the remit to be extended to Scotland but was refused. They have commissioned a police self-investigation instead which will only look at events since 2000, a gesture so inadequate that it is insulting.

The same abuses were committed by the same officers, and if people deserve answers in England they should get them in Scotland too. More than that, we can only understand what happened by seeing the full picture. To look at officers or campaigns in an isolated way means we cannnot get the full truth.

On 24th October 2016 the Public Interest Law Unit through solicitors in Scotland launched Judicial Review proceedings against the Home Office and the Scottish government. The proceedings filed in Edinburgh challenged:

  1. the decision of the UK Government to refuse to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry into undercover policing to cover Scotland; and separately
  2. the decision of the Scottish Ministers to refuse to set up a Scottish Inquiry under and in terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 with terms of reference equivalent to those of the Inquiry but covering Scotland.

Despite this being a strong case, with good facts, supported by clear domestic and human rights law, in March the Scottish Legal Aid Board have refused the legal aid application.

This is where you come in.

A crowdfund campaign has been launched to raise £5,000 to take this case forward and to get the Court to grant permission for it to proceed to a full Judicial Review. We have a month to do it. Please share this widely and donate if you can afford to.

More information and donation details here.

Update on Seeking Spycops Justice Outside England & Wales

Most Known Spycops Worked Outside England & WalesAs children in school we are taught that the best way to organise a nation in the interest of its citizens is with a democratic system, and that this system can’t be flawed because of its checks and balances. Yet recently the Irish government has been proving that the opposite is true, it is operating to protect itself and its security apparatus against the best interests of the people.

This situation has arisen after British police admitted human rights abuses done by their undercover police officers who violated human rights of a number of women by having intimate relations with them during operations.

Four of these officers so far have also been exposed as having operated in Ireland, and victims now demand answers about who was responsible for such international political policing. Yet despite being confronted on the topic by oppositional MPs, Irish government representatives repeatedly say that the issue of exposing the truth and having a transparent inquiry into the abuse ‘does not arise’. Such a position made by any elected official can only serve to chip away at faith in the system they represent.

The continually growing secret policing scandal led then-UK Home Secretary Theresa May to create the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) to look into two political undercover policing units, but with a remit limited to England and Wales. It had also been revealed that most outed undercover officers had operated abroad in a total of at least 17 countries, including the officers who were in Ireland: Mark Kennedy, John Dines, Jim Boyling and Mark Jenner.

Among targeted Irish groups were those opposed to genetically engineered crop testing and Shell to Sea, a group concerned with protecting fisheries and the environment in County Mayo.

Despite the fact that most known officers went abroad, due to its remit the UCPI refuses to properly examine activity outside England and Wales. Civil rights campaigners and parliamentarians outside England and Wales have responded with demands for answers.

On 8 February 2017 the Irish Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald replied to a Parliamentary Question by answering

‘should anything emerge from the findings of the UK’s Undercover Policing Inquiry that would be relevant to policing in this jurisdiction I will consider it fully and take any action that may be required’.

However, the minister is either bluffing or is not aware that nothing relating to any events occurring outside England and Wales will be investigated by the UCPI, thus rendering her argument meaningless.

Further problems have arisen from excluding jurisdictions outside England and Wales. High-level German interest in being included in the UCPI stems from scandal around illegal activities by undercover officer Mark Kennedy. On this basis, German MPs Andrej Hunko and Hans-Christian Stroebele moved to have the Home Office include Germany in the UCPI.

The Home Office Minister of State for Policing, Mike Penning, responded on 13 November 2015. He referred to the original terms being limited to England and Wales, and continued,

‘The Inquiry team has confirmed that they would encourage witnesses to provide a complete picture when submitting their evidence, although they will need to consider evidence against the terms of reference’.

This clearly meant evidence of events occurring outside England and Wales could be submitted, but would not be examined fully by the Inquiry. More, it meant that issues around activity abroad cannot be mentioned if they don’t directly connect with actions in England and Wales.

After further scandal about UK undercover operations in Germany were exposed in the press and questioned in Parliament, the German Interior Ministry confirmed that on 31 May 2016 they had formally asked the UK Home Office to extend to the UCPI to include British undercover operations in Germany.

However on 14 September 2016 the German Interior Ministry wrote to MPs Hunko and Stroebele, saying that he had received a communication from Brandon Lewis in the UK Home Office stating that in order to prevent further delay to the UCPI and improve public trust in the work of the police, they refused to include undercover operations in Germany into the remit of the Inquiry.

A legal action was begun in Germany by UCPI witness and Core Participant Jason Kirkpatrick on 20 July 2016, based upon Kirkpatrick’s having been targeted numerous times in Germany by Mark Kennedy. The UK government flatly refused to extend the UCPI to Germany, stating:

‘The particular high profile allegations which prompted the decision to commence an Inquiry were primarily if not exclusively about events said to have originated from English and Welsh police forces, and alleged to have occurred in England and Wales. They were about alleged miscarriages of justice, alleged sexual relationships between male undercover officers and members of the public’.

The sexual relationships are, by the police’s own admission, a violation of human rights and an abuse of police power. The fact that women (British and otherwise) have suffered the same abuse outside of England and Wales appears to be something the Home Secretary hopes to not hear, see or speak of.

Education of the Irish Justice Minister is ongoing, and it is hoped she will also soon request inclusion in the UCPI just as her German, Northern Irish and Scottish counterparts have done.

Despite Irish government intransigence and the UK’s rebuffing of German and Scottish attempts to be included in the UCPI, there is still hope elsewhere. A case brought in Northern Ireland recently has led to judicial review of the British government’s refusal to widen the UCPI. That court date is expected to be towards the end of 2017.

Amidst growing concern about whether the UCPI would ‘follow the evidential trail’ beyond England and Wales, solicitors for the activist Core Participants in the Inquiry recently sought clarification from UCPI staff. On 1 November 2016 the UCPI solicitor Piers Doggert wrote,

‘it is likely that the activities of some of the undercover police who will be examined by the Inquiry will have taken them outside of the jurisdiction of England and Wales during the period in question. They may have travelled with other non-state witnesses and both may wish in due course to give evidence about this. In so far as what occurred during that period forms part of the wider narrative of tasking of the officer, or the relationship under consideration, then that evidence will be received by the Inquiry and may form part of the narrative within the final report.

‘However, the Inquiry will not attempt to form any judgement about the legality or propriety within a jurisdiction outside of England and Wales of the actions of an undercover police officer from England and Wales; the terms of reference preclude it from doing so’.

In other words, no matter what crimes and abuses an officer committed abroad, if it can’t be made to relate to actions in England and Wales the Inquiry won’t even hear it; and even the deeds they do hear about cannot be properly taken into account.

Clearly this situation is absolutely unacceptable. If justice is to be done by the UCPI, then it needs to truly follow the evidential trail wherever these spycops have committed their abuses. To force this to happen, more victims of their spying will have to continue telling their stories to the press, speaking out in public, pushing supportive politicians to fight for us, and bringing forward legal actions.

As the public continues to hear our stories and our voices grow stronger, we can already start to savour a taste of the justice that we can create for ourselves, as we begin to see this corrupt political policing house of cards tumbling down.

Spycops Inquiry: Children & Young Adults Group

#Spycops inquiry - Children and Young Adults GroupThis post originaly appeared on the Undercover Research Group site.

One of the untold aspects of the spycops saga has been the effect of undercover police on children and young adults.

People have been affected in different ways. For some it is betrayed friendship with people they trusted, for others it is the affect on their family life. Others will have been directly targeted as young activists.

We are aware that there has been a considerable impact to a number of people as a result. In some cases vulnerable people were placed in inappropriate situations, having been deceived by undercover police lying about who they were.

We feel this story is best told by those affected. As a group we wish to bring together and support those in this situation. There is strength in a collective approach, we can be more effective, stronger and we can also ensure that the fullest support is given to those in the group.

What we are looking to achieve is:

  • Mutual support, as those most directly affected will fully understand each other.
  • Document what happened so we can understand better how spycops infiltrated family and personal life, and the effect that happened.
  • Create a strong set of messages that reflects everyone’s needs and ensures that this aspect of the story is not forgotten. This includes putting pressure on the Pitchford Inquiry and the mainstream media to ensure the group is being listened to and being represented properly.
  • That no one person is singled out to carry the message of everyone.
  • Ensure that everyone gets the level of communication they need.
  • Deal with issues of anonymity.
  • As a group we feel that we can get better access to resources, including, where needed, counselling and funding for travel.

A few of us have come together to facilitate this happening, based on our conversations with those affected and their parents. We feel this group should be lead by those affected but recognise that time, energy and emotions all need to factored in. So we are prepared to help out where possible, and lift much of the effort, facilitating it as much as possible.

This group is open to all affected, whether or not they are core participants in the public inquiry. Whilst the main focus will be on people who were under 18 at the time they encountered spycops, we are not going to be rigid on this, recognising that people do not magically change once they hit their birthday. Likewise, while we would like to focus primarily on those children and young adults affected, we will need the input of parents / guardians who have their own perspectives to contribute.

If you would like to be part of this process please let us know, tell us what you’d like to see happen and particularly how you would like us to communicate with you. We would like to arrange a meeting for everyone, let us know if that is something you would like to do. If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch.

Kim Bryan
Dónal O’Driscoll

Reach us by email.

This is a project initiated by core participants in the inquiry, and is being facilitated by the Undercover Research Group.

 

Lord Pitchford has Motor Neurone Disease

Lord Justice Pitchford

Lord Justice Pitchford

Lord Pitchford, chair of the public inquiry into undercover policing, has motor neurone disease (MND).

The incurable degenerative condition damages parts of the nervous system. As it progresses, symptoms spread to other parts of the body and the condition becomes more debilitating. Life expectancy for about half of those with the condition is three years from the start of symptoms.

However, some people may live for up to 10 years, and in rarer circumstances even longer (for example, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed in 1963).

Eventually, a person with motor neurone disease may be unable to move. Communicating, swallowing and breathing may also become very difficult. In up to 15% of cases, MND is associated with frontotemporal dementia that can affect personality and behaviour.

His diagnosis has implications for the long-term process of the public inquiry. Last week the Inquiry conceded it was ‘increasingly unlikely that the Inquiry will undertake evidence hearings in 2017’, projecting it to begin in 2018, four years after the Home Office announced it.

Today they Inquiry issued a statement explaining:

‘Sir Christopher is keen to continue for as long as he is able to do so, and the Inquiry and Home Secretary are committed to supporting him to do so. Alongside the continuation of our work, contingency arrangements are being made for the appointment of a further judicial office holder as an additional panel member with a view to that panel member succeeding Sir Christopher as chairman of the Inquiry at an appropriate time.’

Lord Pitchford added

‘I very much regret that my diagnosis and the progression of my physical symptoms mean that I shall not be able to complete the work of the Inquiry. However, I wish to assure the Inquiry’s core participants and the public that the Inquiry’s work continues unabated and that, with the support of the Home Secretary and the Lord Chief Justice, for which I am grateful, the transitional arrangements that are being put in place will ensure its continuity when the time comes for me to step down as Chairman.’

Our sympathies are with Christopher Pitchford and his family.

Union Leaders Call for Hogan-Howe to Explain Shredding

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Last week the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed that the Metropolitan Police destroyed ‘a large number of documents’ from the spycops’ files.

It took place in May 2014, shortly after the Home Secretary had announced the public inquiry into undercover policing, and Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe had promised full co-operation.

It’s well established that, despite being legal, democratic organisations, trade unions were a prime target of spycops. Special Demonstration Squad officer Mark Jenner joined construction union UCATT under his false identity of Mark Cassidy and was a regular on picket lines. This Wednesday sees our Spycops & Strikers event in London, marking the 40th anniversary of the iconic Grunwick strike and the prolonged repression of unions then and since.

Every constabulary’s Special Branch has routinely supplied the construction industry blacklist with personal information about political activists. That activity, like the shredding is police officers actively breaking the law to uphold things they appear to feel are more important, corporate profit and police power.

Bernard Hogan-Howe has a history of covering up the spycops scandal. It’s time he told the truth.

This open letter from union leaders was released this morning.


We the undersigned are outraged at the news that despite court orders to the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service has destroyed evidence required for use in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry. State spying on trade unions and political campaigns is a human rights scandal that affects millions of British citizens.

Despite continued reassurances, the Pitchford Inquiry has failed to secure the documents that will be central to the investigation. Trade union core participants are beginning to question whether the Inquiry team has the ability to stop the police from obstructing the pursuit of justice. Lord Justice Pitchford needs to act now to restore our faith.

We are calling on Lord Justice Pitchford to announce an urgent Inquiry hearing to examine the destruction of evidence by the police. The Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe should be forced to give evidence under oath to explain why, how and under whose authority documents have been destroyed.

Lord Justice Pitchford needs to take immediate measures to secure all documentation held by the police, in order to prevent future destruction and avoid the entire inquiry descending into a hugely expensive cover-up on the part of the Metropolitan Police.

SIGNED:

Len McCluskey (General Secretary) and Gail Cartmail (Acting General Secretary) UNITE the Union, incorporating UCATT

Matt Wrack (General Secretary) Fire Brigades Union

Chris Kitchen (General Secretary) National Union of Mineworkers

Tim Roache (General Secretary) GMB union

Mick Cash (General Secretary) Rail Maritime and Transport union

Dave Ward (General Secretary) Communication Workers Union

Michelle Stanistreet (General Secretary) National Union of Journalists

Dave Smith and Royston Bentham (joint secretaries) Blacklist Support Group

Dave Smith, blacklisted construction worker and himself a core participant in the undercover policing inquiry commented:

‘The Pitchford inquiry has been running for nearly two years and so far not a single document has been disclosed to our lawyers and not a single witness has given evidence. The delay is entirely due to police attempts to try and keep their dirty secrets away from public scrutiny. The police are no longer just obstructing justice, by shredding evidence they are in contempt of court.

We demand to know who gave the order and whether criminal charges will be brought against them. The more this scandal unfolds, the more apparent it is that the Met Police think they are above the law. This has got to stop.’

Victim of Spycops in Ireland Demands Taoiseach Action

Sarah Hampton (left) with Mark Kennedy, Dublin, 2005

Sarah Hampton (left) with Mark Kennedy, Dublin, 2005

Sarah Hampton, deceived into a relationship by undercover police officer Mark Kennedy, finally got an apology from the Metropolitan Police last week. She met Kennedy in Dublin in 2005.

Yesterday she wrote to the Irish prime minister insisting that his government raise the issue of spycops in Ireland with their British counterparts and demand Ireland be included in the forthcoming undercover policing inquiry.

This morning we issued this press release to the Irish media, including her full letter:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A woman who unwittingly had a relationship with a British undercover police officer in Ireland is demanding the Taoiseach raise the issue with the British government. Sarah Hampton, a US citizen, met Mark Kennedy in Dublin in 2005 but only discovered his true identity five years later.

Kennedy is one of several officers from the disgraced ‘spycops’ secret political policing units to known to have been in Ireland. He spied on a number of campaigns including the Shell To Sea gas pipeline protest in Enda Kenny’s constituency of Mayo.

In a letter to the Taoiseach, Hampton insists he honour his proposal to have the controversy raised as part of a State meeting this week between Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan and the British Secretary of State.[1]

The Metropolitan Police apologised to Hampton last month, admitting ‘the relationship between you and Mark Kennedy was abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong… an abuse of police power that resulted in a violation of your human rights, a breach of your privacy and trust, and the source of significant trauma to you’.[2]

Ms Hampton is one of 200 ‘core participants’ at the British Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI), set up in 2015 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May to examine systematic abuses by officers of the secret political policing units, including those of Mark Kennedy.

However, the UCPI is restricted to events in England and Wales. Ms Hampton and other victims of British police spying have been campaigning with support of TDs Paul Murphy[3], Clare Daly[4], Jonathan O’Brien and MEP Lynn Boylan[5] to have British officials extend the UCPI remit to include Ireland.

Hampton’s letter to the Taoiseach said,

‘Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I have almost given up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I felt I had been raped, I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.’[6]

Other officers from the units, named in the Dáil last week as John Dines[7] and Mark Jenner[8], had similar relationships whilst in Ireland. The women concerned have received similar apologies from the Metropolitan Police[9].

In a related matter, UCPI core participant Jason Kirkpatrick was in Belfast High Court last week where he secured a judicial review of the UCPI’s exclusion of activities in Northern Ireland.

Kirkpatrick, a former Vice Mayor from Arcata, California, was spied upon by Mark Kennedy during a 2005 anti-globalisation informational tour driven by Kennedy from Dublin via Co Clare to Belfast.[10]

Kirkpatrick said:

‘We’re not dealing with suspicions or allegations but what the Metropolitan Police have admitted is an abuse of police power and a breach of human rights. The weak internal Garda review recently commissioned by Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald to look into Kennedy’s actions in Ireland appears to be a whitewash. It lacks transparency and prioritises abusers over victims by excluding us entirely from the process.[11]

‘We insist the Taoiseach and Irish ministers work to reverse Theresa May’s decree and have Ireland included in the formal British UCPI. If people abused in England deserve the truth, so do those in Ireland. We all have a right to know what has really been going on with this illegal, immoral British international political policing’.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is an alliance of people known to have been targeted by Britain’s political secret police.

[1] Paul Murphy challenges Taoiseach about Mark Kennedy & Spycops, Leaders Questions, 8 Feb 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlyTY2408zQ

[2] Letter from Assistant Commissioner Fiona Taylor, Metropolitan Police, 19 January 2017
https://www.yumpu.com/xx/document/view/56826058/letter-from-ac-taylor-to-bindmans- llp-19jan17

[3] The curious case of how a British cop went undercover among Irish protesters, The Journal, 11 February 2017
http://www.thejournal.ie/british-cop-undercover-3230569-Feb2017/

[4] ‘Germany and Scotland have both demanded inclusion in #spycops inquiry but Ireland refuses to do the same – Why??’, Clare Daly, Twitter, 26 January 2017 https://twitter.com/claredalytd/status/824620305389944833

[5] Gardai knew UK police spy was in Republic, The Times, 24 September 2016
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/gardai-knew-uk-police-spy-was-in-republic-586nqkg53

[6] Sarah’s Statement, Sarah Hampton, Police Spies Out of Lives, 7 February 2016 https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/sarahs-statement/

[7] John Dines profile, Undercover Research Group
http://powerbase.info/index.php/John_Dines

[8] Mark Jenner profile, Undercover Research Group
http://powerbase.info/index.php/Mark_Jenner

[9] Claimants in civil cases receive MPS apology, Metropolitan Police, 20 November 2015
http://news.met.police.uk/news/claimants-in-civil-cases-receive-mps-apology-138574

[10] Undercover London police present at NI murder protest, RTE, 7 February 2017 http://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0207/850802-undercover-northern-ireland/

[11] Minister orders report on British police spy, The Times, 19 October 2016
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/minister-orders-report-on-british-police-spy-jtnrjkb7t

The full text of Sarah Hampton’s letter to the Taoiseach:

12th February 2017

Dear Taoiseach Enda Kenny,
Dear Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD
Dear Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald TD

My name is Sarah Hampton, you may have first heard my name when I was quoted on the Parliament floor by TD Paul Murphy on 8 February 2017. In 2005 I was on holiday on Ireland when I met Mark Kennedy. I subsequently went onto have a one year relationship with the man I then knew as ‘Mark Stone’ without any idea of his true identity. In 2010 I found out that he was a British undercover police officer working in Ireland as a member National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I have almost given up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I felt I had been raped, I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.

On the 3rd February 2017 I received a written full apology from the Metropolitan Police
Service (MPS).Assistant Commissioner Fi ona Taylor wrote me to acknowledged the pain and stress I have endured as the result of the deceitful relationship. The MPS Assistant Commissioner stated,

“The relationship between you and Mark Kennedy was abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.” “The relationship should never have happened”. “I recognise that what happened in your case was an abuse of police power that resulted in a violation of your human rights, a breach of your privacy and trust, and the source of significant trauma to you”.

I note the Parliamentary Answer that TD Clare Daly received from the Tánaiste, 8th February 2017, stating “should anything emerge from the findings of the UK’s Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) that would be relevant to policing in this jurisdiction I will consider it fully and take any action that may be required.”

However at this point the UCPI excludes Ireland completely, so this Parliamentary Answer is illogical and does not satisfy my concerns in the least. We don’t need to wait for the findings of the UK undercover policing inquiry to know that there are significant grounds for taking action on this matter. I am a US citizen, I was on holiday in Ireland when our relationship began, and despite the British MPS apology I have received, I have many unanswered questions regarding Ireland. I want to know if Irish authorities knew what Mark Kennedy was doing, and I want details about his operations in Ireland.

– Did you allow him to develop intimate relationships with women in your jurisdiction?
– Was he operating with the full permission of the Irish authorities?
– Do you have police files on me?
– To what extent has my right to privacy been invaded by the Irish authorities?

It is my belief that Police and government are supposed to be here to serve the people and they need to be held responsible when they themselves have even admitted to being negligent and violating human rights. I believe that by not taking action on this matter you are perpetuating the trauma I have experienced and that my human rights are continuing to be violated.

Further I find it shocking that via my solicitor Darragh Mackin of KRW Law I have informed the Minister of Justice about such issues via legal letters dated 17 May 2016 and again on 20 December 2016, yet to date I have received no reply although both letters were even reported in the media.

On 8 February the Taoiseach stated in Parliament that he would have his Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD, raise the issue with British officials within the coming week. I firmly request that you take action to insist to British officials that the UCPI be extended to include the activities of undercover activities in the Republic of Ireland.

Yours sincerely,
Sarah Hampton
Core Participant in the UK Undercover Policing Inquiry

Judicial Review of NI Exclusion from Spycops Inquiry

Jason Kirkpatrick & Kate Wilson, Belfast High Court, 7 February 2017

Jason Kirkpatrick & Kate Wilson were both spied on by Mark Kennedy. Belfast High Court, 7 February 2017

A judge at Belfast High Court gave permission yesterday for a Judicial Review of the Home Secretary’s insistence that the Pitchford Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) should not consider activities of police spies in Northern Ireland.

The case was brought by Jason Kirkpatrick, an anti-globalisation activist who is a Core Participant in the UCPI because he was spied on by Mark Kennedy in England.

However, Kennedy also spent more significant time spying on Kirkpatrick in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Germany. He has been told that although he can give evidence on that to the Pitchford inquiry if he wants, it will not be followed up, and it will not be included in the Undercover Policing Inquiry report because the terms of reference only cover England and Wales.

His legal representatives, Darragh Macken from KRW Law and Ben Emmerson and Jude Bunting of Doughty Street, argued that it is absurd for Pitchford to investigate the activities of officers such as Mark Kennedy in England and Wales but for that investigation to simply stop at the border when he enters Northern Ireland and restart again when he gets back to England or Wales.

This argument has been supported by two different Northern Irish Ministers of Justice who have written to the Home Secretary stating that it is ‘imperative‘ that the inquiry be able to follow the evidence of the activities of undercover officers working for UK units such as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) if they are found to have crossed into Northern Ireland.

The court then heard that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have now been told by the Metropolitan Police in London that officers from the SDS and NPOIU entered Northern Ireland on a number of occasions and also spied on the families of people murdered in Northern Ireland.

At least one Northern Irish family has already been approached by the Metropolitan Police to inform them officers from the SDS attended demonstrations supporting their campaign, and another family will be contacted soon.

PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton says they were ‘completely blind’ to the fact that that undercover officers from these controversial undercover units were even entering Northern Ireland, let alone spying on political activists there. This raises serious questions about authorisation and accountability, as well as the dangers officers put themselves and others in. Hamilton described the deployments as ‘an act of madness’.

The PSNI have now reviewed thousands of documents provided by the Met relating to activities of these officers in Northern Ireland of which, they say, they were previously unaware, and there is still a lot of material to review. They warned that there is a possibility some of those activities may have implications for legacy investigations into the Troubles. Because of this, the PSNI has also written to the Home Secretary to say that the terms of reference of the Pitchford Inquiry must be opened up to include Northern Ireland.

Ben Emmerson QC bluntly accused the Home Office of taking a ‘brass monkey attitude’ of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – just turn a blind eye’ and described their decision-making process as ‘hopeless… flawed from the top to bottom and frankly embarrassingly bad’.

For their part, counsel for the Home Secretary appeared to have little to say, although they did claim that there is no need to expand the terms of reference. Apparently they believe the Pitchford Inquiry was not set up to consider ‘every specific incident’, and that the terms of reference only require it to look at ‘more general, systemic issues’, for which, counsel claimed, a few examples of incidents from England and Wales would be sufficient.

Letters from the Home Office also indicated that the ‘particular history of Northern Ireland’ means that extending the investigation to Northern Ireland could be ‘costly’ and is ‘not in the public interest’.

The judge, Mr Justice Maguire, seemed to disagree, and granted leave to have a full Judicial Review, which will take place in about 10 weeks’ time.

He commented that perhaps, in the future, the Home Office will be able to provide compelling reasons why they should not open the inquiry up to include this jurisdiction. They certainly did not manage to do so yesterday.

All this raises the question of Scottish inclusion in the Pitchford Inquiry. The majority of known spycops were in Scotland. Every party in the Scottish Parliament backed their government’s call to be covered by the Inquiry, but the Home Office refused.

The Scottish government responded by commissioning a whitewash from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland. This self-investigation by police, including those implicated in undercover work, could scarcely be less credible, even before the government restricted it to only looking at the last few years of police spying.

It has been derided by campaigners who insist that if abuses are serious enough to warrant a proper public inquiry in England and Wales then they must not be ignored elsewhere. Scottish eyes will be watching Belfast in ten weeks’ time.

Apology for US Citizen Targeted by Mark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy and Sarah Hampton in Dublin 2005

Mark Kennedy (left) and Sarah Hampton (right) in Dublin, 2005

Sarah Hampton becomes the latest woman abused by undercover police to secure an apology.

After years of obfuscation, in 2015 the Metropolitan Police finally apologised to seven women deceived into relationships by undercover officers. Three of the women in the group had relationships with Mark Kennedy. Despite the admission, the Met refused to settle a claim from another woman abused by Kennedy, Sarah Hampton.

Hampton is a US citizen who met Mark Kennedy whilst on holiday in Ireland in 2005. She subsequently went onto have a one year relationship with the man she knew as Mark Stone without any idea of his true identity.

Having substantially dragged out her case the police have, at last, run out of excuses, caved in and apologised. As with the other women, the Met compounded their abuse by subjecting Hampton to a gruelling legal battle to try to avoid accountability and then had the gall to pay tribute to her tenacity in their apology.

Sarah Hampton issued this statement:

Love is one of the most sacred things we have in our society and I fell in love with Mark Stone. He was supportive, attentive and generous, he behaved like he was in love with me. It tortures me knowing he was paid to be with me and because it was such a loving relationship, it was so devastating to find out it was all a lie.

I have wondered so many times if his superiors have kids; what would they think if their daughters were preyed upon like this? I have so much anger inside about this crime against me and it is only exacerbated by the fact that a government institution that is there to protect me is responsible. How do you trust men after this? How do you trust government?

Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I almost gave up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I didn’t know how was I going to stand up to the Metropolitan Police Force. I felt I had been raped, I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.

I kept on fighting the case, using my life as an example of what should never happen to anyone.

No one should ever be under any circumstance coerced, invaded, violated and deceived by an undercover police officer through sexual relationships. Despite the apology I have many unanswered questions. I have not received the files the police have on me. I want to know to what extent my private life has been invaded by the UK police force and what justification is there for it?

Who gave permission for a British undercover officer to form and have
a relationship with a US national in Ireland, in the UK, in Scotland and in Spain?

The police have now apologised to me, saying that the relationship between Mark Kennedy and I was wrong, deceitful, manipulative and abusive, that it should never have happened. That it was an abuse of police power and a violation of my human rights

It is our responsibility now to make sure that this never happens again. We are continuing to fight for the truth to be revealed in the undercover policing inquiry, but it is currently only looking at events in England and Wales. My experience shows that the inquiry must be extended to include in Scotland, Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and other countries where we know Mark Kennedy and many other undercover police officers were active.

The Police and government are supposed to be here to serve the people and they need to be held responsible when negligent and violating human rights.

Activists Demand Irish Inquiry

Mark Kennedy (centre) at Shell to Sea protest in Co Mayo

Mark Kennedy (centre) at Shell to Sea protest in Co Mayo

Activists targeted by British undercover officers in Ireland held their first press conference this morning in Dublin. Here is the press release.

Victims of British police spying in Ireland have condemned the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, for refusing to commission a complete inquiry into the unravelling scandal.

They are demanding to be included in any investigation about infiltration of political campaigns targeted by undercover British officers operating in Ireland. Mrs Fitzgerald has not replied to their letters, including a legal letter sent in December 2016. The activists have branded an internal Garda review as a whitewash, saying it lacks transparency and prioritises abusers over victims.

Several officers from the disgraced British units were involved in political groups and events in Ireland, and London’s Metropolitan Police admit that English officers who operated on Irish soil committed human rights abuses. Some of them deceived women into sexual relationships, a practice that led to an abject apology by the Metropolitan Police.[1]

After officer Mark Kennedy was exposed in 2010, a slew of revelations led to the establishing of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) in England and Wales, led by Lord Justice Pitchford. Mark Kennedy is known to have made numerous trips to Ireland, and so far at least 56 wrongful convictions have been overturned related to Kennedy and secret police units in the UK.[2] However, events in Ireland are outside the British UCPI’s remit at present.

One of the Irish campaigns targeted was Shell To Sea, which opposed a new gas pipeline in Mayo. Last year they wrote to Mrs Fitzgerald asking for Ireland to join Germany and Scotland on the list of countries demanding inclusion in the UCPI.[3]

In December 2016 three of the 200 campaigners designated ‘core participants’ by the UCPI [3] wrote to the Justice Minister to begin legal action to force a proper investigation in Ireland by insisting the Irish government request inclusion in the UCPI.[4]

They said, “The many Irish press reports on the topic, [5] and multiple questions in Parliament,[6] prove that this topic lies firmly in the public interest. People and politicians in Ireland have only asked to have the same disclosure about abuses as is promised to people in England and Wales. The Metropolitan Police have acknowledged that aspects of the officers’ actions were an abuse of police power and a breach of human rights. These deeds are just as serious wherever they were committed.”

One of those taking legal action, communications consultant Kim Bryan, explained:

‘I am bitterly disappointed by the closed process Frances Fitzgerald has established, with an internal Garda report into undercover policing. It makes a mockery of the justice process if this review examining undercover policing in Ireland does not take into account the evidence of those that were spied on, and as such I would seriously question its legitimacy.’

Jason Kirkpatrick, a former Vice Mayor from Arcata, California, was spied upon during one of Mark Kennedy’s visits to Ireland. He said:

‘We’re not dealing with suspicions or allegations but what the Metropolitan Police have admitted is an abuse of police power and a violation of human rights. We insist that the Minister Fitzgerald work to have Ireland included in the formal UCPI.’

Mr. Kirkpatrick has a related legal action being heard in Belfast High Court, on 7 February. [7]

ENDS

Press Conference:

Speaking at a press conference for the first time are Jason Kirkpartick, who was targeted in Ireland by undercover officer Mark Kennedy, and Maura Harrington of Shell to Sea, a Mayo campaign group Kennedy infiltrated. The two will speak of their experiences, and explain why activists have condemned the closed report commissioned by the Justice Minister.

11am, Monday 6 February

Buswells Hotel
23-27 Molesworth Street
Dublin 2
D02 CT80
www.buswells.ie

NOTES TO EDITORS

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is an alliance of people known to have been targeted by Britain’s political secret police.

  1. Claimants in civil cases receive MPS apology’, Metropolitan Police Service, 20 November 2015
  2. Prosecutors forced to admit covert operation caused miscarriage of justice‘, The Guardian, 24 September 2014
  3. Fitzgerald should seek answers on undercover British police in Ireland‘, Shell To Sea, 16 December 2016
  4. A full list of core participants is on the Pitchford inquiry’s website
  5. Inquiry urged into undercover British agent Mark Kennedy‘, Irish Times, 16 June 2016
  6. Germany and Scotland have both demanded inclusion in #spycops inquiry but Ireland refuses to do the same – Why??‘, Clare Daly TD, Twitter, 26 January 2017
  7. Man in legal bid to extend Pitchford Inquiry to Northern Ireland‘, Irish Legal News, 25 October 2016