Home Office: Time for the Truth

A ySpycops protest at Home Office, 20 November 2016ear ago today the Metropolitan Police apologised to seven women who were deceived into relationships with officers from Britain’s politcal secret police squads.

Since then the Met have continued to drag out identical cases with other women they abused. They have  tried to draw a thick veil of secrecy over the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry, which is so woefully under-resourced that it is behind schedule before it has even begun.

The Met are still refusing to be accountable, compounding the damage done to citizens.

This afternoon campaigners gathered at the Home Office demanding an end to obfuscation with this statement:

Political Undercover Policing: Time For The Truth

In March 2015 Theresa May, as Home Secretary, ordered a Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing in England and Wales. This followed from shocking revelations made by campaigners, whistleblowers and journalists that since at least 1968 there had been secret political policing units in the UK infiltrating protests groups in order to obtain so called ‘intelligence’ on those movements. As part of this, undercover police officers were revealed to have: • spied on people campaigning for social justice and/or environmental sustainability • even spied on grieving families & friends of people who had lost loved ones to racist or police violence or negligence, who were seeking truth & accountability • deceived women into relationships while undercover, even fathering children • illegally given people’s personal details to private companies who blacklist trade unionists and other campaigners • stolen the identities of dead children The Public Inquiry started in July 2015 but victims of this police spying have learned nothing so far about how and why this spying occurred. Instead they have been sidelined by the Inquiry while the police who are responsible for the abuse have been allowed to continue their cover up and delay and frustrate the purpose of the Inquiry. It is exactly a year since seven of the women who were deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers were given a public apology by the police who acknowledged that the relationships amounted to an abuse of the women’s human rights. But despite this, no information has been provided about how these relationships were allowed to happen and the police even still ludicrously refuse to admit the names of some of these officers. Over 180 victims have been granted ‘core participant’ status at the Inquiry, but they are only allowed to represented by one barrister who has to agree responses on important issues without being able to consult. In contrast, the police have been allowed four barristers. Spycops protest at Home Office entrance On top of this, while the Home Office has provided funding for 63 staff for Operation Herne, the police’s own widely discredited investigation into undercover policing, the Public Inquiry team has just 27 staff and so far does not even have a working secure computer on which to store the massive volume of documents created by Britain’s secret political policing units. All this facilitates the police in being able to cover up their abuses and in preventing victims and the wider public from learning the truth about political undercover policing in the UK. The Home Office has also so far refused to extend the Inquiry to include the activities of these officers when they left England & Wales. Even Scotland has not been included – how can the Inquiry gain a true picture when so much remains hidden from it and the public? Enough is enough. We demand: • the release of the cover names of all the officers in these political undercover units and the names of all the groups spied on, so that people can then give evidence to the Inquiry about the actions and effects of these spies • secret files are released to the campaigners and politicians who were spied on • funds are redirected away from Operation Herne to the Inquiry • the actions of these officers are investigated whichever country they took place in • an end to the police cover up We should all be concerned about the existence of secret political police – they undermine and prevent social change so protecting the interests of the wealthy & powerful rather than everyone else.

Official: Marco Jacobs & Carlo Neri were Spycops

UCPI Carlo Neri announcement

Is this the end of the Metropolitan Police stonewalling about the identity of spycops? Yesterday we got official confirmation of the identity of a fifth spycops officer, Carlo Neri, only days after we got the fourth, Marco Jacobs.

The announcements came from the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing, rather than the Met themselves, but it amounts to the same thing.

Although seventeen officers have been identified as belonging to the undercover political policing units, the Met have been at pains to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) it.

This charade has continued long after several have been publicly outed with extensive details, including their real names, and been interviewed by the media. The Met even went as far as saying they ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that whistleblower officer Peter Francis was ever an officer.

The First Admitted Spycops

With Mark Kennedy, the Met had admitted he was an officer before the slew of exposures, so they hadn’t invented their supposed long-standing policy of NCND yet. They have, on occasion, done a merry dance to avoid naming him in court but it was too late to actively try any NCND nonsense.

Two years ago, after three years of obstructions, the courts finally forced the Met to admit that Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling had been in the Special Demonstration Squad.

Marco Jacobs & Carlo Neri

Carlo Neri

Carlo Neri

We’ve all known Marco Jacobs was a police officer since he was publicly exposed by those he targeted in South Wales five years ago.

In March 2015 the police struck a bizarre bargain, saying that whilst they wouldn’t openly admit Marco Jacobs was an officer, they wouldn’t contest anyone saying he was and they’d pay any damages due from his criminal abuse of people he spied on.

Carlo Neri infiltrated anti-racist and socialist groups in London in the early 2000s. He was exposed at the start of 2016. Andrea, who he deceived into a relationship, spoke to Newsnight about what she called the ‘psychological torture’ of being targeted.

Neither Neri nor Jacobs’ real names have been published. Yet other officers, such as John Dines and Mark Jenner, have been even more documented – and with their real names – but still the Met pretend they can’t confirm them. Earlier this year Dines uttered an apology to Helen Steel, who he had deceived into a relationship. What else was that but an admission of his role? How much longer can they keep stonewalling about these spycops?

The Met claim that the officers would be endangered. In the six years of exposure, including some of them being public and locatable, the worst harassment any has suffered is some polite leafleting outside a building Bob Lambert works in, which took place every few weeks on days when he wasn’t there.

Exposure is not a serious threat to their safety. It does not override the public’s right to know, nor the victims’ need for acknowledgement and closure.

The Met have spent sacks of public money sending in lawyers to obstruct the fight for justice. This week’s casual crumbling of NCND is proof it was never needed in the first place, that it was just a ruse which cruelly compounded the damage done to people abused by spycops.

As Pitchford Watcher noted

‘The tactic of NCND has been wielded by the police in both court cases as a way of dragging out matters for five years, adding to the abuse and suffering already experienced by those targeted for relationships…

‘campaigners have been right in consistently pointing out that NCND is not a long standing policy that can never been breached, as the police claim, but something adopted when it suits them, namely when it comes to challenges over their accountability.’

Surely the police have to concede the truth about the rest of the seventeen. Everybody knows they were police officers. Their stories and faces have been online for years. Pretending it’s somehow secret is the act of an institution too petulant or paranoid to be taken seriously.

Release the Names

But it is not enough to merely tell us what we already know. We still don’t have any real details of how and why those people were sent into lives and campaigns.

Furthermore, the seventeen known officers are only a small fraction of the true total. Most of those abused by spycops cannot join the fight for justice because they have no clear idea what was done to them. Unless the cover names of the spycops are released people cannot realise what happened, come forward and tell their story. It also means that the officers’ evidence can’t be examined. If the names remain hidden in the Met and Pitchford’s files, we cannot get the whole truth.

The release of the cover names of officers and the groups they spied upon is the great test of the Pitchford inquiry. Truth is not just deserved by those who, through luck and persistence, have identified their state-sponsored abusers. It must be delivered to everyone subjected to this treatment, be they an individual, a campaign or an institution.

Beyond that, truth and justice are the right of the public who should know what has been done in their name, at their expense, to their society.

Spycops Stealing Dead Children’s Identities

Barbara Shaw, holding the death certificate of her son Rod Richardson

Barbara Shaw, holding the death certificate of her son Rod Richardson

Parents who want to know if their dead child’s identity was stolen by undercover police officers have been invited to ask the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.

Anyone whose child was born between 1938 and 1975 can do it, as long as they have somehow stumbled across the invitation (www.ucpi.org.uk  > Preliminary Issues > Deceased Children’s Identities > scroll to the bottom of a list of 16 PDFs > click the last one) .

The issue came to light when activists exposed their comrade ‘Rod Richardson’ in 2013. The people who had unmasked Mark Kennedy had become suspicious of someone else they had known who now appeared to have been Kennedy’s predecessor. They found that the real Rod Richardson had died as a baby.

How common was dead child identity theft?

In the same week as ‘Richardson’ was exposed, Pat Gallan – Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met and, at that point, head of its spycops investigation Operation Herne – gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. She said that they had only found one case of dead child identity theft and the combined efforts of Herne’s 31 staff had failed to find any more in the subsequent five months until activists exposed ‘Richardson’.

The select committee insisted on the truth about the issue and demanded all parents be told and given an apology by the end of 2013. We’re still waiting.

Later in 2013 Herne reported that, contrary to Gallan’s claim of it being isolated and unauthorised, identity theft of dead children was commonplace, and mandatory in the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), with instructions laid out in the SDS Tradecraft Manual.

The practice began soon after the formation of the SDS in 1968 and continued until the mid-1990s. Herne reported that, of 106 fake identities used by SDS officers, 42 were of dead children, 45 were fictitious and 19 were unknown.

Known as ‘the Jackal run’, after its use in Frederick Forsyth’s 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal, new recruits would trawl the death registers looking for a child with their first name and a similar date of birth. There is some indication that other state agencies such as Customs, also used the practice.

It has been criticised as being ghoulish, but it’s more than that. As Anthony Barker – whose brother John died of leukaemia aged 8 and had his identity stolen by SDS officer John Dinespointed out, it puts bereaved families at risk. After Dines ended his deployment and disappeared, his worried and bereft activist partner Helen Steel traced John Barker and went to the house listed on the birth certificate.

‘Now, imagine that policeman had infiltrated a violent gang or made friends with a volatile person, then disappeared, just like this man did. Someone wanting revenge would have tracked us down to our front door – but they wouldn’t have wanted a cup of tea and a chat, like this woman says she did.’

Why did spycops steal children’s identities?

Time and again we were told that it was done to give officers a credible back story. Operation Herne said

‘As outlined in the SDS Trade Craft Manual, the practice of using a genuine deceased identity was developed to create a plausible covert identity that was capable of frustrating enquiries by activists’

It later reiterates

‘the subject chosen had to have an ‘existence’ to show up in case of basic research by suspicious activists’

Met police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said

‘At the time this method of creating identities was in use, officers felt this was the safest option’

But, as one of the activists who exposed ‘Rod Richardson’ explained, it actually posed a significant risk.

‘How many times have you looked up a friend’s birth certificate because you thought they were actually someone else? It is the rare act of someone with a deep distrust. A real birth certificate wouldn’t allay the reasons for that suspicion. More than that, if an activist is suspicious enough to look for a birth certificate, they can find a death certificate too.

‘There are many reasons why someone might not have a British birth certificate. They may have been born abroad, they may have been adopted. There is, however, no reason for someone who comes round to your house to have a death certificate… Having found Rod Richardson’s birth certificate, the next thing I did was search for and find his death certificate and I immediately knew my friend had in fact been a fraud.’

In truth, the spycops stole these identities for the same reason most other thieves do it. Before passports were commonplace, a birth certificate was the primary proof of identity. Using a real one enabled them to open bank accounts, get tenancies and various other bits of officialdom that construct an ordinary functional life.

More brass monkeys at the Met

Brass monkeys

The Met responded to the revelations with their typical secrecy and cavalier attitude to the damage they have done to citizens they’re supposed to serve.

A number of bereaved families contacted police to ask if their child’s identity had been used. The Met refused to answer. A Freedom of Information request was made asking for the ages of the dead children, not even the exact dates or their sexes. At least with that barest detail, many worried families would be able to rule out their children if there wasn’t a match. The Met refused to do even that.

In August 2014 the Information Commissioners Office declared that the police must release the list of ages. Five months later, the Met admitted they had stolen the identity of dead children of every age between 0 and 17 except for 2, 3 and 15.

Bernard Hogan-Howe personally issued an apology of sorts. It was addressed to nobody in particular, refused to give any names or contact any affected families, and basically said he was sorry he got caught.

‘It was never intended or foreseen that any of the identities used would become public’

Years after the exposure of ‘Rod Richardson’ and John Dines, the Met still ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that either was an officer. The real Rod Richardson’s mother, Barbara Shaw, made a complaint to the police. It was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in February 2013 and they handed it back to the police but said it would be a ‘supervised investigation’. It was then downgraded to a straightforward unsupervised police self-investigation known as Operation Riverwood.

When it was completed the police announced that no action would be taken against any officer. They are still refusing to publish the investigation’s report.

Barbara Shaw’s lawyer Jules Carey said

‘The families of the dead children whose identities have been stolen by the undercover officers deserve better than this. They deserve an explanation, a personal apology and, if appropriate, a warning of the potential risk they face, in the exceptional circumstances, that their dead child’s identity was used to infiltrate serious criminal organisations.

‘The harvesting of dead children’s identities was only one manifestation of the rot at the heart of these undercover units which had officers lie on oath, conduct smear campaigns and use sexual relationships as an evidence-gathering tool.’


What happens next?

Last week’s announcement from the Pitchford Inquiry says it may publish names used by spycops. However, it actively warns that it, too, may join in with the Met’s cover-up practice of Neither Confirm Nor Deny.

‘the Inquiry may be unable to give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to your question, even after the Inquiry has concluded its work and knows the answer. The reason for this is that in order to protect the rights of other individuals or in the public interest the Chairman of the Inquiry may have to make a restriction order under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005 that prevents the Inquiry from releasing information in its possession.’

Bear in mind that this is not disclosing the identity of an officer, just the identity of someone else that they stole and stopped using years ago. But still, they say that your right to know what was done to your family without consent can be trumped by a desire to stop people knowing something that isn’t even about the police officer.

The Inquiry says that it will, later, attempt to contact all families whose children’s identities were stolen. This is a significant step forward and raises the real prospect of names being published.

If the Inquiry decides not to publish, will it also gag the families? Has it considered how secrecy may compound the damage to a family? As we’ve learned from countless justice campaigns, public acknowledgement of state wrongdoing is vital for victims to be able to come to terms with what was done to them.

The Inquiry also says that any families applying will be initially contacted by the police. Once again, we see the police as being placed as trustworthy independent arbiters. The police are the subject of the Inquiry because we proved they ran a sustained, systemic, strategic campaign of counter-democratic subterfuge and brazen abuse of citizens.

The Inquiry’s increasing tendency to side with police perspective and norms is deeply alarming for anyone hoping for truth and justice. We know from other cases of police wrongdoing that ‘liaison officers’ were not friendly faces but actually evidence gatherers used to undermine attempts to find justice. We know that police lied to the family of Ian Tomlinson, telling them a protester may have been their father’s attacker, and warned against contact between the family and journalists seeking the truth.

The Inquiry must recognise that what limited light falls on this murky abuse has been shed by the hard work of victims. The Inquiry should seek to emulate and expand on this approach rather than copying the acts of the perpetrators.

The police have attempted to frustrate justice and cannot be trusted. Although the police have all the files and the answers, they choose to withhold them. Their refusal to tell their victims what was done is an arrogant intensification of torment. They are acting as an enemy of justice.

Video: Voices of the Spied Upon

New on our Youtube channel – video of the speakers at our ‘Voices of the Spied Upon’ meeting at the University of London, 10 October 2016.

Lisa Jones was an environmental and social justice activist. In 2010 she discovered that her partner of six years, Mark Stone, was actually Mark Kennedy of Britain’s political secret police unit, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

She gathered evidence, confronted and exposed him. This began a slew of revelations that dragged the murky world of the political secret police into the light.

Eschewing media exposure, Jones was one of eight women who took legal action against the police and, after a gruelling four years, received an unprecedented apology in November 2015.

In this, her first public speech, she talks about Kennedy, the court case, political policing, the forthcoming public inquiry and her hopes for the future.

‘Lisa Jones’ is a pseudonym. She has been granted an anonymity order by the courts to protect her identity, and this video has been made without breach of that.


Duwayne Brooks was the main witness to the murder of his friend Stephen Lawrence in 1993. This began a campaign of persecution by the Metropolitan Police.

Special Demonstration Squad whistleblower Peter Francis has described spending hours combing footage of demonstrations, trying to find anything to get Brooks charged. He was arrested numerous times and on two separate occasions he was brought to court on charges so trumped up that they were dismissed without him even speaking.

The Met have admitted that, years after Stephen Lawrence’s murder, police were bugging meetings with Brooks and his lawyer.

A veteran of the machinery of inquiries, a repeated victim of spycops, as the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing looms, Brooks’ experience and perspective is especially important and pertinent.


Tamsin Allen has represented many clients who were spied on by political secret police. She is a partner at Bindmans, a law firm who were monitored by the Special Demonstration Squad.

She has represented victims at the Leveson Inquiry into tabloid newspaper phone hacking and improper relationships between police and journalists. She is representing members of parliament who were monitored by spycops.

Her experience of public inquiries held under the Inquiries Act puts her in an invaluable position as we prepare for the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing. Here, she talks about the issues with setting up the inquiry and what we can expect from it.


Ricky Tomlinson, before we knew him on TV as Jim Royle or Brookside’s Bobby Grant, was a construction worker and trade unionist.

In 1972 he took an active part in the first ever national building workers’ strike. Tomlinson was among 24 people subsequently arrested for picketing in Shrewsbury. Government papers now show collusion between police, security services and politicians to ensure these people were prosecuted. Six, including Tomlinson, were jailed.

He is one of several high-profile figures who, despite concrete evidence of being targeted by spycops, has been denied ‘core participant’ status at the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing.

Ireland Commissions Another Police Self-Investigation

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

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

The Irish government has ordered a report on British undercover officer Mark Kennedy’s activity in the Republic. Any hope that this might be useful is obliterated by the most cursory look at the detail.

The police will investigate this police wrongdoing. They will only look at Kennedy, even though three of the other 16 known officers – John Dines, Jim Boyling and Mark Jenner – were also in Ireland. Who knows how many of the remaining 100+ unknown officers went there too?

This self-investigation mirrors the Scottish government’s recent announcement – get implicated police to investigate, give them a narrow remit that is incapable of seeing the full picture, nobody gets disgraced by their systematic human rights abuses being exposed.

The same pattern was followed in Britain five years ago. A year after Kennedy was exposed in 2010 there were 12 separate inquiries going on, all of them run by police or their satellite bodies such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission. None of them were allowed an overview to see systemic issues, even if they had been that way inclined. It was designed to protect the people in charge and portray Kennedy as a rogue officer.

Ireland’s justice minister Frances Fitzgerald asked the gardai to investigate this month. However, the Department of Justice already have a report. In 2011 they got the gardai to investigate Kennedy’s actions. They’ve had the completed report for over five years but are refusing to publish it.

WHAT WAS KENNEDY DOING THERE?

Ms Fitzgerald gave some detail of the secret report to the Dail last month, responding to questions from Sinn Fein.

Refusing to even name Mark Kennedy, she said

‘The report indicated that An Garda Siochana was aware of the presence of the person in question on a number of occasions between 2004 and 2006. They had established no evidence that while in this jurisdiction the person in question was involved in criminal activities’

The claim is somewhat tenuous. Kennedy was arrested during the 2004 Mayday demonstration in Dublin. In his excruciating 2011 documentary he points himself out in a newspaper clipping of black bloc demonstrators.

‘There’s a photograph of me in one of the Sunday newspapers, the headline says something like “Anarchist Terrorists Come to Dublin”, and there’s like five of us in this picture linking arms.’

Mark Kennedy at Dublin May Day protest, 2004

Mark Kennedy at Dublin May Day protest, 2004

Kennedy was back in the Republic in June 2004 for protests at George Bush’s presence in the country.

He visited several more times over the following two years, including participating in the Shell to Sea gas pipeline protest in Co Mayo.

Commissioning the new report is proof that the Irish government is under pressure and feels it must respond. But, as with the Scottish investigation, and the heap of earlier ones from the same mould, it is not credible.

BIGGER QUESTIONS

Frances Fitzgerald is meeting British Home Secretary Amber Rudd this month. Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has asked for Rudd to be questioned about British spycops in the Republic. Specifically:

  • Who authorised Mark Kennedy’s trips to Ireland?
  • Who sanctioned the list of Irish campaign groups that were to be targeted?
  • Were any convictions in Ireland secured by evidence or actions carried out by undercover British police officers?

How much were the gardai involved? They have already admitted they approved Kennedy’s visits in advance (though claim they did not direct him), unlike the Police Service of Northern Ireland who say they were kept unaware of Special Demonstration Squad officers in their jurisdiction.

Did police in the Republic merely rubberstamp all British requests without asking what they were authorising? Or did they – like German police – have a contract and pay for Kennedy to be in their country?

Whose orders was Mark Kennedy acting on? What about the other British spycops? Which Irish citizens were spied on? Which Irish campaigns were stifled? How much Irish taxpayers’ money was spent getting British agents to undermine the work of Irish citizens?

STARTING WITH THE WRONG ANSWER

The Irish government’s decision to keep their 2011 report secret indicates that the new one for public consumption will omit important details. Looking only at Kennedy plays into the myth of him as an isolated figure. The truth is that there’s nothing Mark Kennedy did as a police officer that wasn’t done by others before him. Far from being rogue, he was textbook.

We need to know about the creation of the archtype and the actions of all those who lived it. They were part of a long-term strategy approved from on high. That is now understood as a plain fact. It is why we are having Lord Pitchford’s public inquiry. That only covers events in England and Wales, but the same officers committed the same abuses elsewhere, and it should be taken just as seriously.

We do not need to be insulted by yet another report saying that Kennedy did some bad things but there was no systemic problem. We cannot be placated by more assurances from the abusive organisations that there was nothing malicious in their intent, lessons have been learned and we can all move on. The more they give us decoys and keep secrets, the more guilty they look.

We need to know the names of the groups that were targeted. We need to know who gave the orders and why. Anything less from state agencies is collusion with the counter-democratic deeds of the spycops.

Hogan-Howe: A Legacy of Cover-Ups

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe is to resign as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Among the numerous dubious areas of his career (see the Undercover Research Group’s profile for more), he cultivated the Met’s cover-up and obstruction in the spycops scandal.

When Mark Kennedy was exposed in 2010, Hogan-Howe was working for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). As we detailed last week, he drafted their report into the scandal, which was pulped just hours before publication because new revelations proved it was untrue.

Even the second version, completed by Denis O’ Connor, was essentially a whitewash that blamed Mark Kennedy and absolved management.

By the time that report came out, Hogan-Howe was Commissioner of the Met. He set up Operation Herne, the Met’s self-investigation into spycops, appointing Pat Gallan as its head.

MARKING THEIR OWN HOMEWORK

In February 2013 Gallan testified at a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on spycops. Repeatedly pushed on the fact that officers stole the identities of dead children, she refused to apologise for the practice (or anything else). She said there had only been one instance that she knew of until the Guardian had exposed another the day before the hearing. In actual fact, the practice was mandatory for Special Demonstration Squad officers from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Gallan’s performance was so outrageous that she was rapidly removed from her post. In an attempt to make Operation Herne appear more independent, her replacement was Mick Creedon, a senior officer from outside the Met but who, in all probability, personally authorised some of Mark Kennedy’s deployments.

The Home Affairs Select Committee’s report insisted the Met inform parents whose dead children’s identities had been stolen by spycops. Hogan-Howe – personally and publicly – refused.

Although revealing the names used would only expose an officer’s fake identity, not the real one, Hogan-Howe said it was much too dangerous because activists targeted by the Special Demonstration Squad included

‘criminals behind bars and at large today who would have no qualms in doing serious harm’

This echoes the phrasing in the HMIC report he drafted, firmly asserting that the protesters Mark Kennedy infiltrated

‘were not individuals engaging in peaceful protest, or even people who were found to be guilty of lesser public order offences. They were individuals intent on perpetrating acts of a serious and violent nature against citizens going about their everyday lives.’

ABUSING THE ABUSED

Hogan-Howe was already Met Commissioner when legal action was launched in 2011 by eight women deceived into relationships with undercover officers. The Met’s lawyers threw every obstruction they could at their victims. They tried to have the case struck out. When that failed, they said the Met was not responsible as such relationships were not authorised. When the women pointed out this meant the case could be heard in open court instead of a secret tribunal, those same lawyers said that the relationships were, after all, authorised.

The Met then claimed the relationships were based on ‘mutual attraction and genuine personal feelings’. Throughout all this, they tried to avoid giving any information, saying they would ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) that any officer was in fact an officer, and further lied saying NCND was a ‘long-standing policy’ when it was merely a recent and erratically applied tactic. They would take this as far as referring to Mark Kennedy by code letters.

Eventually, they were forced to concede Kennedy was a police officer and, three years into the case, they were ordered by a court to admit Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling were too. To this day, they block accountability with NCND for all other officers, even those like Mark Jenner who’s been exposed for years and confirmed by a colleague, and John Dines who has even admitted he was an officer and apologised.

After putting their traumatised victims through four gruelling years of these legal obstructions, late last year the Met finally settled seven cases in order to avoid having to go to court and disclose information. As part of the settlement the women negotiated a powerfully worded admission and apology.

How sincere was that apology? The Met are still forcing others with identical cases – in some cases with the same officers as the settled cases – to battle on in court.

In June, people deceived into intimate relationships with undercover officer Marco Jacobs were back in court. One of them, Tom Fowler, said

‘By dragging their heels the police have increased the psychological damage they’ve inflicted on people, made it a lot worse. It just shows that the public statements made by Bernard Hogan-Howe and other police officers… are totally at odds with what they are directing their lawyers to do in court. It shows they can’t really be believed on any of these matters.’

WHEN IS A PUBLIC INQUIRY NOT A PUBLIC INQUIRY?

Earlier this year Met lawyers formally submitted that, at the forthcoming public inquiry, police should not give evidence in public. They alleged that the operations of the political secret police were too dangerous to be revealed, they claimed that being identified might lead to ’emotional unhappiness’ of the officers. By trying to have as much of the public inquiry held in secret, they were attempting to cover up rather than come clean.

This is the true face of Bernard Hogan-Howe’s Metropolitan police. Just as at Hillsborough, it uses the language of concern as part of an armoury to deny truth and justice to its victims and the wider public.

AS AT HILLSBOROUGH, SO EVERYWHERE

Hogan-Howe was personally present at Hillsborough in a role that has been criticised by the families. Hogan-Howe claimed he gave a statement to the 1989 Taylor Inquiry into Hillsborough and claimed to be one of the resolute champions of integrity who refused to change their statement despite being asked by another officer to do so. In real life, Bernard Hogan-Howe never made a statement to Taylor.

The Hillsborough families’ struggle mirrors that of so many bereaved people abused by police for wanting justice. Not only were they smeared, they were also the targets of spycops. Astonishingly, the Hillsborough families have been denied ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming public inquiry.

As is established beyond all doubt, the fault at Hillsborough rested squarely with the police. This was the conclusion of the 1990 Taylor report, as well this year’s inquests who ruled that the 96 people were unlawfully killed by police action. Yet even after all this time and the damning conclusions of multiple investigations, Hogan-Howe cannot fully admit what happened.

‘A lot of officers did their best [at Hillsborough] in very difficult circumstances, but the leadership was sadly challenged’

They were not ‘sadly challenged’, they were irresponsible, reckless liars who unlawfully killed 96 people. His instinct to defend officers – especially senior officers, especially himself – overrides any need to acknowledge the plain truth, let alone facilitate justice.

Earlier this year Hogan-Howe said a cover-up like the one that followed the Hillsborough disaster couldn’t happen these days.

‘It’s about making sure we are open and transparent… You’ve got more accountability than you’ve had for 20-30 years. I don’t think we would see today that sort of cover-up in the way we have in the past.’

There are many police cover-ups still happening today, with huge resources devoted to preventing the truth being examined. Moreover, in the case of the spycops scandal, Hogan-Howe has been the one directing it.

His protection of spycops means that most victims still have no clue as to the reason for their abuse. We have information on barely 10% of the officers, and the work has been done by victims themselves in the face of obstruction orchestrated at public expense by Hogan-Howe, whether at the pseudo-independent HMIC or as Commissioner of the Met.

It would have been more convincing if, before he reassured us, Hogan-Howe started by actually condemning the police action at Hillsborough for once and then stopped actively running the spycops cover-up. But that would have necessitated a break with his whole approach to police abuse of citizens, and the culture of the Met itself.

Scotland Asks Police to Self-Investigate Spycops

John Dines on Barra

SDS officer John Dines on Barra in the Outer Hebrides. His activity is excluded from the Scottish inquiry

The Scottish government has asked a group of senior police officers to investigate spycops activity in their country.

It comes in response to the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing being limited to events in England and Wales. The Home Office refused a request, supported by every party in the Scottish Parliament, to extend the Pitchford remit to Scotland.

As we’ve said previously, Scotland was not merely incidental to the political spying of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). 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.

Having failed to secure Scotland’s inclusion in the main Pitchford inquiry, every party in Holyrood except the SNP backed the call for a separate Scottish inquiry. On Wednesday the Scottish government announced its decision. It has asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to look into it. HMICS is a body of senior police officers.

HMIC’s FIRST BUCKET OF WHITEWASH

Its sister organisation for England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has already got a history of whitewash on the spycops scandal.

The whole issue first hit the headlines in 2011 when Mark Kennedy’s exposure caused the collapse of a trial. Since then, 49 convictions have been overturned due to Kennedy’s involvement. HMIC were asked to look into Kennedy and the two spycops units.

The report was drafted by Bernard Hogan-Howe, on a two year stint at HMIC between his roles as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and Commissioner of the Met. By the time the report came out he was spending huge sums of Met money deploying lawyers to obstruct justice for spycops’ victims.

The HMIC report was completed by Denis O’Connor, who had been Assistant Commissioner of the Met at the time of the MacPherson Inquiry into the killing of Stephen Lawrence.

The report is believed to have portrayed Mark Kennedy as a rogue officer who had strayed from the purpose of his deployment. It was dramatically withdrawn and pulped just five hours before publication because The Guardian published revelations that another officer, Jim Boyling, had caused miscarriages of justice just as Kennedy did.

It underwent four months of rewriting and, when finally published in 2012, it still came out saying senior officers knew nothing, and basically hung Kennedy out to dry.

‘operational supervision, review and oversight were insufficient to identify that his behaviour had led to disproportionate intrusion.’

Kennedy had been in daily contact with his cover officer, who will have known where he was and what he was doing. Documents released since the HMIC report show that Kennedy was sanctioned from on high and people far up the ladder took a keen and detailed personal interest in his work.

Above the spycops units were their authorising officers.

‘it was not evident that the authorising officers were cognisant of the extent and nature of the intrusion that occurred; nor is it clear that the type and level of intrusion was completely explained to them’

What is an authorising officer doing if not asking about the necessity and impacts of the things they authorise?

But the HMIC report, in the classic style of self-investigations, says it was incompetence and ignorance rather than anything more sinister, only the lowlings did any really bad stuff, lessons have been learned and we can all move on.

It is a challenge for anyone to seriously expect anything different from the forthcoming Scottish report.

CHRONOLOGICAL BLINKERS

As if choosing police to self-investigate isn’t bad enough, the Scottish Government’s remit to HMICS is

‘to report on the extent and scale of undercover policing in Scotland conducted by Scottish policing since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act came into force: and the extent and scale of undercover police operations carried out in Scotland by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the Special Demonstration Squad in the same period.’

This means the earlier abuses of officers like Mark Jenner and John Dines – who were committing what their bosses admit were breaches of human rights on Scottish soil – will be ignored.

This isn’t just the police getting to mark their own homework. It is police who have been caught after decades of wrongdoing, with a history of cover-ups on this very topic, being given a narrow section of their misdeeds on which to report. Even if they could see clearly, they are looking at the picture through a toilet roll tube.

The Pitchford Inquiry has designated 200 people who were seriously involved in spycops activity – mostly those who were spied on – as ‘core participants’. A group of 24 of them were also personally targeted in Scotland and demand to know the truth of what was done to them there.

As with the police’s spycops self-investigation Operation Herne, it’s unlikely that victims will lend credibility to HMICS’ inevitably flawed and partisan effort by participating. Not that HMIC asked any victims for the 2012 report anyway.

SCOTLAND’S TOP COP DID IT, HIS WIFE’S AN INVESTIGATOR

Any idea that this will produce mere hopeless bias rather than corruption is largely dispelled by the tangle of personal involvement between Scottish police, the two spycops units and HMIC.

Scotland’s Chief Constable, Phil Gormley, was head of the Met’s Special Branch – and therefore oversaw its sub-unit the Special Demonstration Squad – from 2005-2007. He was also secretary of ACPO-TAM, the committee that oversaw Mark Kennedy’s unit the NPOIU, from 2005-2008.

Gormley supervised both units at the exact time that is under investigation. Beyond the usual bias of police investigating police, will fear of besmirching Scotland’s top cop further influence the report? What about the fact that Phil Gormley is married to Detective Superintendent Claire Stevens who has been at HMIC since 2011 (according to her recently deleted LinkedIn profile)?

If this were happening in some tinpot failed state we would express incredulous outrage. The police chief oversaw disgraced secret units that abused dozens of women, engineered hundreds of miscarriages of justice, illegally gave information on political activists to industrial blacklists, disrupted legitimate campaigns and undermined the struggle for justice by families whose loved ones died at the hands of his constabulary. An inquiry run by his senior officers with links to his wife is touted as credible.

That this is the response of the Scottish government, as it seeks to show itself as a fairer than Westminster, beggars belief.

AN INSULT AND A BETRAYAL

These aren’t suggestions or allegations. They are the established facts of large-scale, systematic sustained abuse of power and violation of the citizens that the police are supposed to serve.

To appoint HMICS to investigate these events places huge trust in those who have emphatically proven themselves unworthy. It is an insult to all those who were abused by spycops in Scotland – the people who have done all the work of exposing these outrages – whilst the police, including HMIC, smeared victims in an attempt to mitigate, justify and deny. It is a betrayal of those who expect truth and justice.

To let HMICS go ahead in light of the facts is frankly corrupt. More than that, it is an acceptance by the Scottish government that abuses serious enough to warrant a public inquiry in England count for less, or even nothing, when done in Scotland.

 

 


COPS Scotland is being launched with two public meetings featuring:

Glasgow, Wednesday 5 October 7.30pm
Jury’s Inn, 80 Jamaica Street G1 4QG

Dundee, Thursday 6 October, 7.00pm
Dundee Voluntary Action, 10 Constitution Road DD1 1LL

Public Meeting: Voices of the Spied Upon

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is proud to announce the next Voices of the Spied Upon public meeting.

On Monday 10 October 2016 at the University of London, we will bring together four very different people who have been affected by Britain’s political secret police. They will speak of their personal experience, allied spycops struggles, and the path ahead to justice.

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson – before we knew him as Jim Royle or Brookside’s Bobby Grant – was a construction worker and trade unionist.

In 1972 he took an active part in the first ever national building workers’ strike. Tomlinson was among 24 people arrested for picketing in Shrewsbury. Government papers now show collusion between police, security services and politicians to ensure these people were prosecuted. Six, including Tomlinson, were jailed.

He is one of several high-profile figures who, despite concrete evidence of being targeted by spycops, has been denied ‘core participant’ status at the Pitchford Inquiry.

Lisa Jones with Mark Kennedy

Lisa Jones with Mark Kennedy

Lisa Jones was an environmental and social justice activist. In 2010 she discovered that her partner of six years, Mark Stone, was actually undercover police officer Mark Kennedy.

She gathered evidence, confronted and exposed him. This began a slew of revelations that dragged the murky world of the political secret police into the light.

Eschewing media exposure, Jones was one of eight women who took legal action against the police and, after a gruelling four years, received an unprecedented apology late last year. Now she is coming forward to tell the story for herself.

Duwayne Brooks

Duwayne Brooks

Duwayne Brooks was the main witness to the murder of his friend Stephen Lawrence. This began a campaign of persecution by the Metropolitan Police.

Special Demonstration Squad whistleblower Peter Francis has described spending hours combing footage of demonstrations, trying to find anything to get Brooks charged.

On two separate occasions he was brought to court on charges so trumped up that they were dismissed without him even speaking.

The Met have admitted that, years after Stephen Lawrence’s murder, police were bugging meetings with Brooks and his lawyer. A veteran of the machinery of inquiries, a repeated victim of spycops, his experience is especially important and pertinent.

Tamsin Allen

Tamsin Allen

Tamsin Allen is a partner at Bindmans, a law firm who were themselves monitored by the Special Demonstration Squad.

She has represented many clients who were spied on by political police.

She has also represented victims at the Leveson Inquiry and is currently representing members of parliament who were monitored by spycops.

Her experience of public inquiries held under the Inquiries Act puts her in an invaluable position as the Pitchford inquiry looms.

DATE: Monday 10 October, 7-9pm

LOCATION: The Venue, University of London, Malet Street WC1E 7HY

Entry is free, but as places are limited it is advisable to book. Reserved spaces will be held until 18.50 on the day, after which people without reservations will be given entry.

Book your place at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/voices-of-the-spied-upon-tickets-27743181603

You can also spread the word through the Facebook event.

 

Voices of the Spied Upon October meeting poster

How Many Spycops Have There Been?

Poster of 14 exposed spycops among 140 silhouettes

Political spying is not new. The Metropolitan Police founded the first Special Branch in 1883. Initially focusing on Irish republicanism in London, it rapidly expanded its remit to gather intelligence on a range of people deemed subversive. Other constabularies followed suit.

But in 1968, the Met did something different. The government, having been surprised at the vehemence of a London demonstration against the Vietnam War, decided it had to know more about political activism. The Met were given direct government funding to form a political policing unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

About twelve officers at a time would change their identities, grow their hair and live among those they spied on for years at a time. They would ‘become’ activists, each infiltrating a particular group on the far left, far right or in other areas of dissent such as the peace movement and animal rights. They were authorised to be involved in minor crime.

The police and the secret state have always used informers, and even private investigators, as part of their surveillance work. However, the SDS was unique in being a police unit set up to focus on political groups with extended periods of deployment. The model was rolled out nationally in 1999 with the creation of the SDS off-shoot, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is primarily concerned with these dedicated political secret police – the long-term, deep-cover officers of the SDS, the NPOIU, and the successor units that subsumed them and their roles.

It’s generally accepted that there have been around 150 of these undercover officers since the SDS was formed in 1968. This figure comes from work by the Undercover Research Group and activists, and extrapolation from details in official reports.

Operation Herne, the Met’s self-investigation into the spycops scandal, said in July 2013

‘To date Operation Herne has verified one hundred and six (106) covert names that were used by members of the SDS.’

This is just the SDS. Last year, Mark Ellison’s report into spycops causing miscarriages of justice asked about the NPOIU, which ran from 1999-2011.

‘Operation Herne has identified fewer than 20 NPOIU officers deployed over that period’

However,

‘Operation Herne’s work to investigate the nature and extent of the undercover work of the NPOIU was only able to begin in November 2014 and has barely been able to ‘scrape the surface’ so far’.

There may well be more spycops from either or both units.

Other, similarly hazy, approaches arrive at a similar number. The SDS ran for 40 years and is understood to have had 12 officers deployed at any given time, usually for periods of four years. This would make a total of 96 undercover officers. However, it’s known that some officers were active for a fraction of the usual time, so the real figure will be somewhat higher.

Assuming the same scale for the NPOIU gives a total of 36 officers. That is a fuzzy guess though – the NPOIU was a new, national unit and may have deployed more officers.

The Operation Herne report from 2013 said that, of the 106 identified SDS officers, 42 stole the identity of a dead child, 45 used fictitious identities, and 19 are still unknown. The practice of stealing identities was mandatory in the unit for about 20 years until the mid-1990s. The NPOIU, starting in 1999, is only known to have stolen a dead child’s identity for one officer, Rod Richardson.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

There are certainly some more spycops from the successor units.

The Met merged its Special Branch (including subsidiaries like the SDS) with its Anti-Terrorist Branch in October 2006 to form Counter Terrorism Command. They reviewed and shut down the SDS in 2008.

Although the NPOIU used a number of Met Special Branch officers, from 2006 it was overseen by the Association of Chief Police Officers as part of their National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU). In 2012, the NDEU was also absorbed into the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. At the same time, the NDEU changed its name and stopped having any responsibility for undercover officers.

Last November the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt issued an abject apology to eight women deceived into relationships with undercover officers. Two months later Carlo Neri, another officer who had similar relationships, was exposed. Assistant Commissioner Hewitt assured the BBC that the Met

‘no longer carries out ‘long-term infiltration deployments’ in these kinds of groups but would accept responsibility for past failings’

That appears to contradict a 2013 report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. It plainly says today’s spycops are deployed by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command and similar regional units.

‘The NDEU restructured in January 2012, and now operates under the umbrella of the MPS Counter Terrorism Command (which is known as SO15). NDEU has also recently been renamed, and is now called the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU)…

‘The NDEU’s remit changed at the same time as its restructure and no longer carries out any undercover operations. All deployments of undercover officers which target the activity of domestic extremists are coordinated either by the SO15 Special Project Team (SPT), or by one of the regional SPTs…

‘The SPTs are in the North West, North East and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Units, and the Counter Terrorism Command in London.’

HOW MANY SPYCOPS ARE KNOWN?

There are 17 spycops who have been named and well documented. There are strong suspicions about several more. Fifteen of the seventeen have been exposed by their victims. One has been exposed by journalists, one by the officer himself – Peter Francis, the only whistleblower. None have come from the police.

Journalists – notably Rob Evans and Paul Lewis at the Guardian – have substantially fleshed out the activists’ research. The Met recently claimed to be having trouble even sorting their records into order.  If that is true then perhaps the best bet would be to allow these tenacious activists and journalists, who have done such sterling work despite police obstructions, to come and have a go.

Although the 17 spycops’ identities are properly established, with most of them having extensive details and numerous photos in the public domain, the Met are reluctant to give any further information.

Until the cover names are known, the majority of people targeted don’t even know it happened. Waiting for victims to investigate and gather evidence is a denial of justice. This is why most people granted ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming public inquiry – mostly activists confirmed as significantly affected – have called for the release of all cover names and the names of the groups who were spied upon.

The Met say they must ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that anybody was ever an undercover officer (for a demolition of their ‘policy’ of Neither Confirm Nor Deny, you cannot do better than Helen Steel’s superb speech to the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing). On many occasions they have even refused to refer to Mark Kennedy by name, as if it’s still a secret. This came long after he hired Max Clifford to sell his story for a tabloid front page splash, which is about as unsecret as it’s possible to get.

After three years of legal wrangling, in August 2014 courts forced the Met to admit that Jim Boyling and Bob Lambert were spycops (again, long after both officers had personally talked to the media).

In March 2014 the Met’s Operation Herne produced an 84 page report concerning SDS whistleblower Peter Francis’ revelations about spying on the family of Stephen Lawrence. It said it

‘will not confirm or deny if Peter Francis was an undercover police officer’

As if they might devote all that time and effort to the ramblings of a fantasist.

It’s an insult to those who have been abused. It’s also a double injustice familiar to other victims of state wrongdoing – there’s what the state does, then how it pours resources to smear, lie and obstruct justice for its victims.

This doesn’t bode well for the forthcoming public inquiry.

Today, Kennedy, Lambert and Boyling are still the only three spycops the Met will officially admit to. Here is the list of 17.

WHO ARE THE SPYCOPS?

  1. Peter Francis AKA ‘Peter Daley’ or ‘Pete Black’
    SDS. Self-disclosed. Initial exposure March 2010, real name given June 2013
  2. Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’
    NPOIU. Exposed by activists, October 2010
  3. Jim Boyling AKA ‘Jim Sutton’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, January 2011
  4. Marco Jacobs (alias)
    NPOIU? Exposed by activists, January 2011
  5. Mark Jenner AKA ‘Mark Cassidy’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, January 2011. Real name given March 2013
  6. Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, October 2011
  7. Lynn Watson (alias)
    NPOIU? Exposed by activists, January 2011
  8. Simon Wellings (alias)
    SDS? Exposed by activists 2005, publicised March 2011
  9. Rod Richardson (alias)
    NPOIU. Exposed by activists, February 2013
  10. John Dines AKA ‘John Barker’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, February 2013
  11. Matt Rayner (alias)
    SDS. Exposed by activists, 2013
  12. Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’
    SDS. Exposed by journalists, June 2013
  13. Jason Bishop (alias)
    SDS. Exposed by activists, July 2013
  14. Carlo Neri (alias)
    SDS? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, January 2016
  15. RC (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, February 2016
  16. Gary R (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, July 2016
  17. Abigail L (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, July 2016

 

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.