Spycops Inquiry Slammed by Targeted Women

'Undercover is no Excuse for Abuse' banner at the High CourtToday, thirteen women who were deceived into intimate sexual relationships with undercover policemen, over a period spanning nearly 30 years, have written to the Home Secretary to raise their concerns about the progress and recent direction of the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing.

The women noted that, two years into the Inquiry, the names of the 1000+ groups spied on by political policing units have still not been made public, nor have the cover names used by officers while undercover.  These two steps are critical to allow non-police witnesses to come forward and give evidence to the inquiry. 

The women also raised concerns about the recent appointment of Sir John Mitting as Inquiry Chair.

Institutional Sexism

“We are very concerned that Sir John Mitting is a member of the Garrick Club which has consistently voted to exclude women from membership and to remain a men-only club. How can someone who accepts the principles of membership of such a club be suited to a role that will involve making judgements on evidence of institutional sexism within the police and wider legal system?”

“In the ‘Two Year Update’ produced by the Public Inquiry in July, the word ‘women’ does not appear at all, despite the seriousness of the abuses committed against women by undercover police officers. The timeline in that document also failed to include the public apology issued by the MPS which acknowledged that undercover police officers entering into intimate sexual relationships is a human rights abuse.”

“It is clear from these omissions that the serious abuses we suffered at the hands of the police are not taken seriously by the Inquiry.”

“In light of all these matters it is extremely difficult for us to have any confidence that the Inquiry will properly investigate the abuses we have been subjected to, or put in place measures to ensure that they never happen again to anyone else.”

Openness

The Metropolitan Police Service has been allowed to set the pace of the Inquiry with severe and ongoing delays and applications for secrecy.  They also continue to hold the evidence which could demonstrate wrongdoing, and have refused to share any records with victims of abuses despite the need for victims to understand the events they were subjected to.

“We are alarmed by the imbalance in resources between victims of police spying and the fact that the Metropolitan Police Service is currently using public money to impugn those who were spied on and abused. This is a similar tactic – now thoroughly condemned – to that used by the police at Hillsborough, and it must not be allowed to continue.”

“It is critical that the cover names of the officers are released, along with the names of the groups spied upon.  Without this information the public will not be able to come forward to give evidence to the Inquiry and it will be impossible to identify the scale and nature of the abuses perpetrated.”

“In order for us and the public to have confidence in the inquiry the principles of transparency and openness need to be upheld.”

 

The letter in full:

c/o Birnberg Pierce Solicitors
14 Inverness Street
London
NW1 7HJ

19th September 2017

Dear Amber Rudd,

Undercover Policing Public Inquiry

We are writing to request a meeting with you to discuss our serious concerns about the progress and recent direction of the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. We are women who were deceived into long-term intimate sexual relationships with undercover police officers over a time span of nearly thirty years. Our experiences may only be the tip of the iceberg. We are aware of other women who have been similarly deceived and believe it extremely likely that there are still more women, and possibly also children, who have yet to find out. The extent and nature of this practice amounts to institutional sexism.

As you know, the Inquiry was set up in response to revelations about the conduct of undercover police officers in political policing units such as the Special Demonstration Squad and National Public Order Intelligence Unit who had committed serious human rights abuses. These abuses were brought to light not by the police, but through the investigations of women who suffered at the hands of these officers, combined with the actions of the whistle-blower Peter Francis, and investigations by journalists.

In correspondence with the previous Home Secretary, (letter sent 11.2.15 through our solicitor, Harriet Wistrich), we stressed the importance of transparency in the Public Inquiry. This is essential in order for the truth to be known, the victims of undercover police abuses to understand and come to terms with what happened, and for the public to have any confidence in the Public Inquiry. We are alarmed, therefore, that two years into the Inquiry, the public has learned nothing new about the extent of these abuses or how they were allowed to happen. Even the names of the 1000+ groups spied on have still not been released.

In addition we are alarmed by the appointment of Sir John Mitting as Inquiry Chair, and by the fact that this was announced on August 2nd when many lawyers and/or their clients were on holiday making it difficult to raise any objections. We feel that this demonstrates again a lack of respect for those abused by the police. Since Sir John Mitting became Inquiry Chair it appears that there has been a significant shift towards greater secrecy.  We believe that his background as Vice President of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal since 2015 is likely to have influenced this shift and we are concerned that steps need to be taken immediately to rectify this and increase transparency.

Institutional Sexism
We also understand that Sir John Mitting is a member of the Garrick Club which has consistently voted to exclude women from membership and to remain a men-only club.  We question how someone who accepts the principles of membership of such a club can be suited to a role that will involve investigating sexist practices and making judgements on what we consider to be clear evidence of institutional sexism within the police and wider legal system.

It is noteworthy that in the ‘Two Year Update’ produced by the Public Inquiry in July, the word ‘women’ does not appear at all, despite the seriousness of the abuses committed against us and other women by undercover police officers.  While there are references to the sensitive issue of dead children’s identities being used for cover purposes, there are no such references to the long-term abuse of women.  We also note that the recently published timeline in that document failed to include the public apology issued to us by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) which acknowledged that we were subject to human rights abuses by undercover police officers. We attach a copy of this apology in case you are not familiar with it. It is clear from these omissions that the Inquiry is failing to take seriously the grave abuses we and other women suffered at the hands of the police.

In light of all these matters it is extremely difficult for us to have any confidence that the Inquiry will properly investigate the abuses we have been subjected to, or put in place measures to ensure that they never happen again to anyone else.

We seek a meeting to resolve the following concerns:

1. What steps will be taken to ensure that the Inquiry has sufficient knowledge and understanding of sexism and its effects to be able to identify and address the clear institutional sexism which has been revealed by the repeated use and abuse of women (over the course of several decades) who were deceived into intimate sexual relationships by undercover police officers.

2. What steps will be taken to ensure that the Inquiry is open and transparent, so that the public can have confidence in its findings?  In the recent indicative and final rulings by Sir John Mitting on restriction order applications by the MPS, he has repeatedly come down in favour of secrecy for the police at the expense of truth for the victims and public; the secrecy approach taken by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal of which he is Vice President is definitely not an appropriate approach to bring to a public inquiry.

3. Cover names must be released, otherwise it will not be possible to identify the true scale nature of the abuses perpetrated. Women and children may be left unable to make sense of events in their lives, and witnesses will not be able to come forward to give evidence to the inquiry.

4. The MPS has been allowed to set the pace of the Inquiry with severe and ongoing delays and applications for secrecy, and despite a huge budget have been allowed every latitude to delay still further. What steps will be taken to ensure that cover names are released as soon as possible?

5. The Inquiry is an investigation into serious wrongdoing by the MPS yet this same body maintains control of much of the evidence, including that which could demonstrate the guilt of officers and their managers, how can this be appropriate?

6. Evidence controlled by the MPS is not being disclosed to those spied upon. This both impacts on our ability to process what happened and hampers the Inquiry’s progress and likely success: since our investigations were instrumental in bringing human rights abuses to light, clearly if we had access to these documents we could assist with identifying areas for investigation and with correcting inaccuracies. What steps will be taken to speed up the release of material, especially of material over twenty years old, in line with the government’s twenty-year rule?

7. It is wrong that the MPS has unlimited resources to impugn those who were spied on and abused. This is a similar tactic – now thoroughly condemned – to that used by the police at Hillsborough, and it must not be allowed to continue. We are concerned in any event at the significant financial and power imbalance between the MPS resources and those of the victims of police spying. As a result of this imbalance, the non-state core participants (NSCPs) are, in practice, prevented from making submissions on issues of concern to them, whereas the MPS is able to make multiple applications of its choosing.

8. MPS documents served recently, including the Risk Assessment and Mosaic Report, contain multiple inaccuracies and offensive material. They suggest that our motives for searching for our disappeared partners were sinister and malign, rather than acknowledging that the police abuses would not have come to light without our research and that of the Undercover Research Group.

9. MPS reports repeatedly attempt to downplay the abuses committed against us and other women, or even suggest they did not happen, for example Mosaic Effect Report [4.4] uses the word allegedly regarding a woman being deceived into a sexual relationship with Bob Lambert, despite the fact that after women he deceived bravely came forward to report this abuse, even Lambert himself admitted to having four sexual relationships while undercover.

10. Public protests seeking accountability for the actions of police who have committed abuses have offensively been labelled harassment [e.g. Risk Assessment Briefing Note 10.12] despite the fact that protest is a protected right. Furthermore, as none of the officers have been prosecuted or disciplined for the human rights abuses they have committed, the public clearly cannot rely on the state for accountability. What steps will be taken to ensure that this abuse of victims and public resources does not continue?

11. It is insulting that we were required to provide intrusive psychological reports to the MPS which was responsible for the abuse and invasion of privacy we were subjected to, yet neither we nor our lawyers are allowed to see or challenge police psychological reports being used by the MPS to argue for secrecy at the Inquiry.

12. The fact that the Chair is minded to accept secrecy in the Inquiry around the identities and actions of officers and units who committed serious abuses, for fear that openness would cause too much stress or potentially harm those officers, is of grave concern. This is not a privilege generally extended to anyone else accused or under investigation, and looks alarmingly like an attempt to protect the reputation of the police.

13. The disparity between the cavalier approach to the privacy of victims of undercover policing compared to the cautiousness towards the MPS, evidenced by data breaches relating to NSCPs, including the recent publication by the Inquiry of the real name of one of us despite a court order with penal notice prohibiting this.

We request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss our concerns.

Yours sincerely*,

Alison
Andrea
Belinda Harvey
Helen Steel
Jane
Jessica
Kate Wilson
Lisa
“Lizzie”
Monica
Naomi
Rosa
Ruth

* Names in inverted commas are the pseudonyms by which we are known to the Public Inquiry

Spied-on Activist Demands Answers at European Parliament

Jason Kirkpatrick

Jason Kirkpatrick

Whilst the slow progress of the undercover policing inquiry has left most of the important questions unanswered, it nonetheless offers the possibility of a measure of truth and justice. However, as it is limited to examining events in England and Wales, people targeted by Britain’s political secret police in other countries have no such hope.

One of these is Jason Kirkpatrick. On 6 September 2017 he addressed MEPs at the European Parliament:

One day in late 2010 I came home after a long day, turned on my computer, and opened up an email from a friend asking me: “Have you seen this link?”

I clicked on the link, and an article opened up, with two big pictures of my good friend Mark Kennedy on it. The headline read, “Mark Kennedy exposed as undercover police officer.

I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like my head was spinning. I had met Kennedy in Dublin, Ireland, and we had travelled together to Northern Ireland as we gave public lectures about issues of poverty in Africa and climate change, and the coming G8 protests in Scotland. We had met various times in Scotland, and travelled to Germany and Poland together as we shared activist tales and grew closer. He had visited my Berlin home numerous times, and I had visited him in the UK. For a period of five years beginning in 2005, I felt like we were very close friends, and that’s what I was led to believe were his feelings too.

At the time of Kennedy’s outing, I was stunned to find out I had been so intimately targeted for so long. I felt I hadn’t been doing anything worthy of being targeted across European borders by an undercover agent. I had been an activist working on issues of debt reduction for the global south, or issues around the environment and climate change. My background included press and lobby work, and I am a former Vice-Mayor from California.

My activism during the time I was targeted by an undercover officer had consisted mainly of giving public lectures, and writing press releases and giving press interviews. I had never so much as been arrested at any point of the nearly 20 years I’ve lived in Europe, so to this day I’ve wondered why an undercover officer from England targeted me.

I also wonder why Kennedy had intimate relations across Europe with a number of people I knew, and who knew about it? Why is it police repeatedly say they need to use undercover police to catch violent extremist criminals, yet during the five years I was befriended by Kennedy and in the time since, I wasn’t ever arrested for any crime at all.

I currently have lawyers helping me try to get answers to such questions, in European jurisdictions including Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England. So far none of them have even been able to get my police file in any of these countries, which would be the first step to my finding justice.

I’ve written and spoken to Members of Parliament and Government Ministers from many of these jurisdictions about this subject, each time having to explain to them in detail, and educate them from the beginning, just to get them to understand that this is a serious problem. Each time I’m told effectively in the beginning, “That couldn’t happen here, our police wouldn’t do such things.” However, in the end, myself and other campaigners have successfully continued to expose the dirty laundry of these police, to the point where recently even the N. Irish Justice Minister declared that having an Inquiry like the English Undercover Policing Inquiry is “imperative” for Northern Ireland.

Because of this, I have a case coming to the N. Irish High Court in mid-October. Yet, these issues need to be examined at the European level. Cross border operations are informally coordinated at the EU level by secret groups such as the ECG, European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities, or the IWG, the International Working Group on Police Undercover Activities. These groups were not even publicly known in my current home in Germany, until a series of Parliamentary Questions exposed the groups in 2012.

Not only were these organisations unknown to German parliamentarians, but when I’ve spoken to MPs of other nations, they’ve never heard of them either. That’s because the police have successfully and clandestinely organised a way for their undercover officers to operate totally without transparency, accountability, or political oversight.

Whistleblower undercover officer Peter Francis revealed that UK secret police units, at least from his experience, received “absolutely zero schooling in any law whatsoever” before crossing national borders. Not only was Francis not properly informed about differing foreign laws before crossing borders, but he stated,

“I was never briefed, say for example, if I was in Germany I couldn’t do, this for example, engage in sexual relationships or something else.”

Most of the exposed undercover officers from these units had intimate relationships with their activist targets, included taking these unknowing partners across European borders, possibly violating further European Union or other national human rights protections. The British police have unreservedly apologised to women abused in this way, saying that

‘these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’.

Yet these same officers did the same thing to other women across Europe and beyond. Those other women deserve answers and justice just as much as their British counterparts.

When the state wants to tap someone’s phone or search a home, usually a judge’s permission is needed. But police agencies across Europe have found a trick to avoid all oversight and accountability by requesting the use of foreign undercover police to cross borders to act as political police, entering the homes and lives of political campaigners. They are acting as a counter-democratic secret police.

The truth we have recently exposed is just the tip of the iceberg. Barely 10% of the officers who worked in these units have been exposed, yet we already know of dozens of visits to 16 different countries outside the UK. We know that German undercover police have been in the UK. How many more European citizens have been spied on and violated by unaccountable agents of other states?

If these police are going to be held to account, this problem will have to be solved by Members of the European Parliament taking concrete action to find out what is going on, and to change the situation. Cross-border undercover political policing operations must not be allowed to continue completely ignoring the European Human Rights protections that make up the backbone of the European Union, and define core European values.


Jason Kirkpatrick is directing the documentary Spied Upon.

Police Demand Money From Compensated Spycops Victim

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

The Metropolitan Police are demanding £7,000 from a woman they paid damages to after she discovered that her long-term partner was a police spy. The claim is part of their ongoing campaign for secrecy around political undercover police units who have committed human rights abuses.

Helen Steel has been a lifelong social justice campaigner. In the 1990s she was one of the defendants in the McLibel trial, which arose after McDonald’s sued campaigners for libel over a leaflet produced by London Greenpeace. McDonald’s spent millions on the case, but a public support campaign meant the trial was dubbed ‘the greatest corporate PR disaster in history’.

POLICE SPIES AND CORPORATE SPIES

At the trial it was revealed that London Greenpeace had been infiltrated by several corporate spies hired by McDonald’s. But it was only years later that it emerged the group was also infiltrated by undercover police officers from the now-disgraced Special Demonstration Squad. One of them, Bob Lambert, co-wrote the What’s Wrong With McDonald’s leaflet that caused the trial, though this fact was kept from the court. Another officer in the group, John Dines, deceived Steel into a two-year relationship. They lived together, discussed starting a family and planned to spend the rest of their lives with one another. Then Dines feigned a breakdown and disappeared from Steel’s life back into his police career.

In 2011, Steel was one of a group of eight similarly deceived women who brought a legal case against the Metropolitan Police for abuse by five undercover officers. The Met spent many years and huge sums of public money obstructing the case.

NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY

After almost three years of the Met claiming they could ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) that anyone was an undercover officer – a tactic Steel forensically dismantled at a later public inquiry hearing – in 2014 the courts forced their hand.

The women challenged the police use of NCND. In July 2014 they won an important victory when the High Court ruled that there was no legitimate public interest in the Met Police asserting NCND in respect of the allegations that officers had engaged in long term intimate sexual relationships while undercover.

The Court also ruled that as Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling had already been publicly confirmed as undercover officers, the police could no longer maintain NCND in respect of their identities.

MET POLICE CONTINUE TO HIDE THE TRUTH

However, regarding Mark Jenner and John Dines, the Judge said that although the evidence amassed by the women was overwhelming, and it was surely only a matter of time until they were confirmed, he could not force the naming of people who hadn’t outed themselves.

As Steel said at the time

‘It is very disappointing that despite the overwhelming evidence our former partners John Dines and Mark Jenner were also undercover SDS officers, the Judge has allowed the Met to continue to hide the truth about them.’

Steel put in an appeal against this decision. These men were not private individuals, they had been acting as public servants, so the public had a right to know.

A few months after this appeal was lodged the Met held talks with the women to seek a settlement for their civil claims. Just before Christmas 2014 the Met agreed to apologise to the women, though it wasn’t finalised and published for another 11 months.

On 31st December 2014, the Appeal Court agreed that NCND was an important issue and Steel’s argument was well-grounded. They granted her leave to appeal.

COURT GRANTS APPEAL, MET CLAIMS DECEPTION

The Met, with their tactic of trying anything to undermine those they have victimised, attempted to get the appeal struck out. They claimed Steel had misled the appeal court by not informing them that a settlement had been agreed. This was an underhanded trick, given that the settlement hadn’t been finalised, she was unrepresented for the appeal, and the events happened over the Christmas period when people are generally not focussed on legal proceedings.

Steel argued that it was in the public interest to name those responsible for the abuses. A hearing for the Met’s strike-out application took place in July 2015. Steel was unrepresented, and mentally exhausted from the long battle for the truth. She reluctantly acceded to the court’s twofold advice.

Firstly, if she lost the appeal she would be liable to pay the Met’s legal costs, which could wipe out her entire damages in the main claim. Secondly, the forthcoming public inquiry would provide a safer route to argue about the use of NCND and the release of spycops’ names as there were no costs risks. 

STEEL DROPS APPEAL, MET CLAIMS £10,000 COSTS

Letter from Metropolitan Police to Helen Steel demanding £7,000Despite the hearing lasting only about an hour, the police then claimed over £10,000 costs. Although later reduced to £7,000, the ludicrous amounts charged act as a deterrent, intimidating members of the public seeking accountability for wrongdoing committed by police officers. The threat of such an award can be used by the police as a means to intimidate people out of seeking redress.

The police’s whole argument – that a settlement was agreed – rested on them issuing an apology admitting these men were Met officers who inexcusably abused women. The Met concede they were wrong, and that the women who were deceived into relationships were blameless. Why should officers who have abused members of the public be allowed to hide behind a wall of secrecy?

The apology came with damages for the harm caused by the extreme deception. The Met are now trying to claw money back from a woman they victimised because she tried to get them to do something that they should have done anyway.

PARTIAL CONFIRMATION, MORE DENIAL

The Undercover Policing Inquiry eventually confirmed that Dines was a police officer in December 2016 – a grudging and minimal admission that Steel excoriated. To this day, the police won’t admit Mark Jenner was the undercover officer Mark Cassidy, even though he’s been publicly identified since January 2011.

Women deceived into intimate relationships by undercover police officers want to ensure that these human rights abuses never happen to anyone else. This requires the Met to stop protecting the identities of the abusers. It also requires a legal system that allows funding to enable those who have been abused to challenge their abusers without the risk of becoming bankrupt or losing their homes.

For the Met to have abused these women is horrific enough. For them to inflict the second injustice of legal tricks and obstructions compounds their cruelty. To then to go after Helen Steel for money is an utterly outrageous further leap into the shameless bullying and corruption that has driven their response to the spycops scandal from the start.

Why is Spycop Andy Coles Still Silent?

Andy Coles wearing a Conservative Party rosetteFormer undercover police officer Andy Coles will not be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the watchdog announced earlier this month.

He was referred to the IPCC after his exposure as an ex-member of the disgraced Special Demonstration Squad in May, which included details of how he groomed a teenager known as Jessica into a sexual relationship during his time infiltrating animal rights and peace groups.

She described it in a statement:

‘Although I was 19, I had never been in a proper relationship before. Events in my life had taught me it’s best to keep people at arm’s length. So, I didn’t know how to react when he made advances towards me, I was embarrassed, awkward, and what truly makes me feel sick now, is that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I look back now and realise I was naive, idealistic, unsophisticated and a very young 19.

‘Appallingly I also now know my new “boyfriend” was a 32 year old, married undercover policeman working for the SDS, Special Demonstration Squad. I had believed him to be about 24 at the time…

‘Although not legally underage, I feel that my youth and vulnerability were used to target me. I was groomed by someone much older, and far more experienced (he had been an acting police officer for 10 years) and I was manipulated into having a sexual relationship with him.’

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, which is examining the misdeeds of Britain’s political secret police, recently designated Jessica as a core participant, a status given to less than 200 of the most significantly targeted people.

Three days after being publicly exposed on Channel 4 News, Coles resigned as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, despite being less than a year into the £28,000pa part-time role.

But now the Independent Police Complaints Commission, a body largely comprised of people who, like Coles, are ex-police officers, have decided there is nothing worth looking at, just as they did with other abusive spycops. They did not consult Jessica, nor any of the other women Coles sexually abused. Nothing has been investigated.

However, in some ways it does not need to be, because the issue rests on three simple and indisputable facts.

1 – Andy Coles was the Special Demonstration Squad officer known as Andy Davey

2 – He deceived Jessica into a relationship

3 – This was an abuse of police power, a violation of her human rights and far beyond anything police could ever justify

Although that last point is strongly worded, it is the emphatic and unequivocal position of the Met themselves, as explained by Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt [text or video].

‘it has become apparent that some officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.

‘I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service… relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity…

‘none of the women with whom the undercover officers had a relationship brought it on themselves. They were deceived pure and simple. I want to make it clear that the Metropolitan Police does not suggest that any of these women could be in any way criticized for the way in which these relationships developed.’

Coles has promoted himself as a figure of civic credibility, becoming governor at two schools, being the opening speaker at this year’s annual conference of Link to Change (an organisation supporting young people facing sexual exploitation). He personally endorsed the Children’s Society’s Seriously Awkward campaign to protect older teenagers from abuse and sexual exploitation.

Andy Coles promoting the Children's Scoiety's Seriously Awkward campaign

He must have known all this was richly hypocritical but hoped that he would be able to keep his past secret. As soon as he was unmasked, his position as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner became instantly untenable and he resigned.

COUNCIL CANCELLED

Despite all this, Coles is retaining his position as a Conservative member of Peterborough City Council, defying cross-party calls for him to step down from that post too.

Human Rights Abuser Andy Coles banner, Peterborough Town Hall

Human Rights Abuser Andy Coles banner made by Jessica, Peterborough Town Hall, 19 July 2017

Dozens of people attended a protest outside the council meeting on 19 July. Hundreds of leaflets about Coles were given out to those passing or entering the Town Hall. The protest included spycops campaigners alongside LibDem councillors, and representatives of Peterborough’s Labour and Green parties.

The council refused to consider a question, submitted by Jessica, on Coles’ suitability for his role. A banner she made was hung from the public gallery. The Mayor refused to continue the meeting until it was taken down; protesters refused to remove it while Coles was present; he refused to leave. After an hour of this stalemate, the Mayor abandoned the meeting.

IF YOU’VE NOTHING TO HIDE YOU’VE NOTHING TO FEAR

Council leader John Holdich OBE told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire that Coles was ‘not allowed to make a comment about it’, but this is not true. Several exposed spycops have given statements and interviews. It is Coles’ choice not to speak, which is odd if he feels his position were in any way defensible.

Holdich went on to defend Coles’ refusal to resign from the council.

‘Until you’re proved guilty, why should you get out? That’s a sign of your guilt, isn’t it, if you resign?’

But this was two months after Coles had resigned as Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. What was that then, if not a sign of his guilt?

Coles said he was unable to comment on the matter, pending the IPCC’s decision. But now there is to be no criminal trial that could be influenced, he is free to come forward and explain. If it’s possible for him to exonerate himself in the way his fellow Conservative – and an outlier LibDem – councillors say they expect, why isn’t he doing it?

He knows no denial is possible. He knows there is no doubt that if he had been unmasked sooner, he would have been among those that the Met already condemned and apologised for. He behaved in the same way as other sexually abusive officers. There is no excuse. There is no justification.

He grossly abused a position of trust while in public office. He has no place in a public body with any measure of integrity.

There is a meeting of Peterborough City Council on 11 October. If Coles is still a councillor, there will be a protest outside.

Three New Spycops Named – But Others Get Hidden

Troops Out Movement demonstration at military recruitment office

Troops Out Movement demonstration at military recruitment office

The public inquiry into undercover political policing has published three new names of spycops and, for the first time, they’re new names rather than just confirming what activists, whistleblowers and journalists had already revealed.

However, among the hefty tranche of new papers from Inquiry Chair Sir John Mitting are grave indications of that he is seeking to prevent the full truth coming to light.

Having dragged out the process of beginning the inquiry for years, earlier this year the Metropolitan Police were given a firm timetable for applying for ‘restriction orders’ for the anonymity of undercover officers.

As expected, the Met are pushing for maximum secrecy, arguing that it would make officers worried and sad to be publicly known for what they’ve done. The Met also argue that the officers would be at risk of violent reprisal, despite nothing of the kind happening to the swathe of officers who have been very publicly exposed since 2010. With deadlines passing, the Met have had their hand forced and, finally, we are getting a small measure of new information from the Inquiry.

THREE NEW SPYCOPS

As had been suggested by some victims, the new names are all from the early days of the Special Demonstration Squad in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With those involved being of advanced age, there’s some merit in tackling these cases first. Indeed, one of the three newly named officers is already dead.

We’ve been given only the officers’ cover names, but not their real identity. These three releases have major redactions, including whether the officer had intimate relationships or was arrested. Given the long history of SDS officers having such abusive relationships and instigating miscarriages of justice, these are very serious omissions.

John Graham‘ was deployed in 1968, the first year of the Special Demonstration Squad, to infiltrate the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (Kilburn and Willesden Branch), and says the worst thing anyone in the group ever suggested doing was jumping on the back of a police officer. He also spied on the Revolutionary Socialist Students Federation.

In 1969 his deployment was cut short when he refused a senior officers instruction to attend a certain meeting, feeling it would have exposed him. He was moved to other duties shortly after. The Undercover Research Group have produced a profile of John Graham.

Rick Gibson‘ spied on left wing groups between 1974 and 1976. He infiltrated socialist feminist campaign/newspaper Big Flame, and became a prominent member of the south-east London branch of the Troops Out Movement which campaigns to end British involvement in Northern Ireland.

The police say that in 1976 Gibson was confronted by a Big Flame activist who had become suspicious of him and discovered that he was – as was standard for spycops at the time – using the identity of a dead child. Gibson said that he was indeed using a false identity as he was on the run from the police, and his comrades could not be certain that he was a spy. His deployment was ended shortly afterwards. He is now dead.

Doug Edwards‘ was one of the earliest Special Demonstration Squad officers, deployed between 1968 and 1971. He infiltrated anarchist groups, and says that ‘some of them were quite nasty pieces of work’. He then moved on to the Dambusters Mobilising Committee, a coalition opposed to the huge Cabora Bassa dam project in the then-Portuguese colony of Mozambique, a collaboration between apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia and Portugal to supply electricity to South Africa.

Like so many of his colleagues, he was very active in groups he infiltrated, becoming treasurer of Cuban-founded group Tricontinental. He also describes going to a wedding, showing that ‘collateral intrusion’ into the lives of those around the spied-upon has always been part of how spycops work.

He continues

‘Some of the people in these groups were really nice, pleasant, intelligent people. They were different politically in their views, but in this country you can have different political views.’

He says

‘I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion… I don’t have anything to hide and I’ll answer all questions, I won’t mind’

But then he immediately backtracks with

‘I don’t want all this dragging up though when it was 50 years ago… I don’t want the interference at my stage of life.’

 

These three bring the total of exposed undercover officers to 23 out of a total of at least 144.

DOORS CLOSING BEFORE THEY OPEN

The three newly named spycops are among 28 whose anonymity has been considered by the inquiry. The Inquiry has published a brief profile of each of them, with a position on their anonymity.

Of the 25 still unnamed:

  • 2 aren’t being named yet but the Chair intends to release the cover names soon
  • 3 are dead with no known cover name, their real names will be published later
  • 2 have no known cover name and the Inquiry won’t release the real name
  • 3 have both cover and real names known and the Chair intends to withhold both
  • 1 has already had the cover name confirmed, and the Chair intends to withhold the real name
  • 3 are undecided pending further information
  • 3 are having secret hearings with the Inquiry before a decision is made
  • 1 has been given more time to apply for anonymity
  • 7 were backroom staff so had no cover name, their real names will be published later

Put another way, they have taken decisions on eight officers and are withholding the cover names of three. This is not a good ratio. Without the publication of the overwhelming majority of cover names we cannot know who was spied on, so we cannot hear from victims and establish the truth.

Mitting is giving a lot of weight to the possible psychological impacts on spycops if they are named, but since when are abusers given protection because exposure would be detrimental to them?

As Pitchford Watcher’s analysis of Mitting’s statement explained

‘In one case, that of ‘HN7’, he has already given a unilateral order for anonymity on the basis of HN7’s mental health. For others, he is accepting that the minimal risk of press intrusion may be sufficient for such anonymity orders, even when there is no risk to safety. In another instance, his main concern is the effect on the widow of an undercover.

‘He also appears to be of the opinion that he can do what he needs to meet the terms of reference of the Inquiry, just by reference to cyphers and cover names, an approach that increases secrecy and further limits participation by those targeted by the undercovers. These core participants believe that in doing this, he is completely disregarding their needs and that they are being denied the right to the truth.’

THE LAWRENCE FAMILY SPY

Of the three officers applying for full anonymity who will have secret hearings before a decision, one is officer N81, who spied on Stephen Lawrence’s family as they campaigned for justice for their murdered son.

Doreen Lawrence has been very clear about the need to know who spied on her, telling the Guardian in 2015

‘They were doing the deception. Why should they be allowed to be anonymous while people like me had their faces all over the newspapers? These people were not innocent. They knew what they were doing.’

This is the key issue at the moment for many of the people targeted. The cover names of the officers and the names of the groups they spied on are not optional or incidental. They are the sole foundation on which the truth can be established. Whether to publish them should not be an issue to wrestle with, it should not be the focus of the discussion, it should be a given.

Inquiry core participant Carolyn Wilson told Pitchford Watcher

‘The police tend to tell us “If you’ve nothing to hide, then you’ve got nothing to fear”. People are trying to come to terms with the very real trauma of finding out they’d been deceived into intimate relationships with cops from these secret units. They are desperate for information so they can deal with what’s happened, and heal their lives.

‘How dare those same cops now have the nerve to claim that they face being “traumatised” by details of their past activities being brought out in public? If they haven’t done anything wrong, why would they be embarrassed about their neighbours and families finding out about it all?’

This inquiry is not about arbitrating between equals. It is about establishing the full truth about the known abuses of power committed by these disgraced units against citizens and democracy. If it does not publish the overwhelming majority of cover names it defies its purpose, protects the guilty and betrays the victims.

More Than 1000 Groups Infiltrated by Spycops

Shelves of Stasi secret police filesMore than 1,000 groups have been spied on by Britain’s political secret police, the Undercover Policing Inquiry confirmed last week.

This startling figure was first published in September 2016 in the second edition of Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business and Union Activists. The new official confirmation came from the Inquiry in reply to questions asked by lawyers acting for around 200 significantly targeted people who have been granted core participant status at the Inquiry.

The 1,000+ groups were targeted by undercover units, primarily the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, since the SDS was formed in 1968.

The huge number is commensurate with the vast scale of the spying by individual officers. Mark Ellison QC produced two landmark reports on spycops, pretty much the only credible official investigations there have been. In his second report, published in July 2015, he told us

By way simply of example, over 240 files were found relating to a single undercover officer who had been arrested at some point in his undercover role. Those enquiries generated another 51 files relating to their reporting. These files mention 642 individuals who need to be checked to identify any undercover policing related convictions. 628 of the 642 individuals have their own intelligence files which include their date of birth to enable Police National Computer [‘PNC’] checks to be conducted.

A single officer feeding the secret police files of 628 citizens. This is not someone taking a few notes in meetings. It is something far larger and more sinister. We already know that peace activists with no criminal record or criminal intent have extensive files and are harassed. We know that it was not considered ‘collateral intrusion’ when undercover officer Mark Kennedy spied on the friends, relatives and children of activists at a wedding.

This is sweeping surveillance of campaigners and the communities that surround them. Taken with the new admission of spying on more than 1,000 groups, it demolishes the credibility of earlier police claims that they only targeted very dangerous organisations which were a serious threat to public safety.

The first official report came from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in 2012 who were keen to explain

The NPOIU was involved in the successful collection of intelligence on violent individuals, whose criminal intentions or acts were subsequently disrupted, and who were in some cases brought to justice.

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

That report focused on Mark Kennedy, who had devoted years of his deployment to infiltrating Climate Camp. Two years after the report, police admitted at least 18 justice campaigns of grieving families had been targeted. The police know full well that they target groups that challenge the status quo, irrespective of any supposed threat to ‘citizens going about their everyday lives’.

The same lie has been recently repeated by police lawyers at the preliminary hearings of the public inquiry, long after they must have been fully aware that it wasn’t true. This is a further indication that the police regard the Inquiry as hostile and are seeking to delay and obstruct it.

How many ‘more than 1,000 groups’ have been spied upon isn’t clear, but the revelation of the figure indicates that the Inquiry has a list. It is imperative that this list is published. Unlike releasing an officer’s real name, there can be no assertion that telling us the names of an infiltrated group would endanger those being identified.

If we are to get the truth of what has been done, we need to hear from those affected. Every person and group spied on by these disgraced units should be told and given access to their files. The victims need time to find their contemporaries and confirm the details. Only then can we see what the real purpose of the spying was, only then can the victims correct any misinformation on the files.

The Inquiry is inching towards this. So far they have technically confirmed the identity of officers by saying that no anonymity is required for that person. However, last week they published their Two Year Update which says

From the autumn, rather than just publishing anonymity decisions on names and cover names of former officers, additional information will also be placed in the public domain, including, where relevant, details on the dates in question and details of the main organisations infiltrated by the officers.

A mere 20 officers have been exposed so far out of a total of at least 144. Even with this fraction of the truth, we have already learned of 50 miscarriages of justice, dozens of women being sexually abused, dozens of families whose dead child’s identity was stolen. How much more is still being kept secret?

We need all the cover names of the officers, for the same reasons that we need the names of the groups. The majority of core participants have made this clear. Whether the Inquiry complies is the crucial test of whether it will be worth anything at all.

Council Meeting Abandoned as Protesters Insist Spycop Andy Coles Must Go

Undercover is no Excuse for Abuse banner outside Peterborough Town Hall, 19 July 2017

Undercover is No Excuse for Abuse banner outside Peterborough Town Hall, 19 July 2017

There were chaotic scenes at Peterborough Town Hall last night as former spycop Andy Coles defied protesters’ calls to resign and leave the building.

It’s been seven years since the first bunch of spycops were exposed.

A group of eight women who were deceived into intimate relationships by undercover officers brought a case against the police. They asserted that this was not merely deceit, but a strategy by the agents of Britain’s political secret police. They didn’t sue the officers who abused them, but the the employers who devised and enacted the strategy.

In 2015, after four years of police stonewalling, they received a landmark apology. The Metropolitan Police were unequivocal. Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt declared

‘Thanks in large part to the courage and tenacity of these women in bringing these matters to light it has become apparent that some officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.

‘I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service.’

This concerned the actions of five officers. Several of those subsequently exposed had identical relationships, and it can only be a matter of time before the Met uses the same words to describe them.

One was undercover officer Andy Coles, aka peace and animal rights activist ‘Andy Davey‘. He groomed Jessica for a relationship. He told her he was 24 when he was in fact 32 and already married.

When she discovered his true identity in May this year she spoke out, explaining

‘Although not legally underage, I feel that my youth and vulnerability were used to target me. I was groomed by someone much older, and far more experienced (he had been an acting police officer for 10 years) and I was manipulated into having a sexual relationship with him.’

Coles was, at the time, Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. He resigned within three days of his exposure, but he still clings on to other positions of authority that demand integrity and trust. He is the governor of two schools – West Park Primary and the Voyager Academy – and he is a Conservative member of Peterborough City Council.

He was only elected in 2015, long after the spycops scandal broke and the public inquiry was ordered. He must have known there was a serious chance he would be unmasked before long, bringing his role and local party into disrepute.

Last night was the first full council meeting since his exposure. Around thirty people demonstrated at Peterborough Town Hall, talking to councillors and the public, and handing out leaflets detailing Coles’ past.

The meeting began at 7pm but lasted less than five minutes. People in the public gallery asked why Coles was present when anyone else, so damningly unmasked, would be suspended or – as he has done from the Deputy PCC post – resign.

Human Rights Abuser Andy Coles bannerA banner painted by Jessica herself was hung from the public gallery saying HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSER ANDY COLES.

It is not a controversial statement, it merely echoes how his erstwhile employers have described officers like him. The mayor adjourned the meeting and refused to reconvene it until the banner was removed.

The people in the gallery refused to remove the banner until Coles left the building. Jessica, and those like her, have been quiet for too long already.

Coles refused to leave and so, after an hour’s standoff, the mayor formally abandoned the meeting. It has been postponed until Wednesday next week, 26 July. The people in the public gallery left, vowing to return next week and bring their friends.

Afterwards, Conservative council leader John Holdich defended Coles, telling the Peterborough Telegraph

‘You are innocent until you are proven guilty. Unfortunately Cllr Coles is not allowed to speak for himself because the Met have told him he must not say anything and he is obeying that.’

Coles is in fact allowed to speak for himself, as other spycops have done, but he is choosing not to comment. That is very different to being unable to speak. His stance is perhaps due to him knowing that nothing he says can defend or mitigate what has already been unequivocally condemned by those he abused, the Metropolitan Police and wider society. He has already indicated this by resigning as Deputy PCC.

His clinging to the equally untenable position of councillor is insulting to the women he abused and to the council itself. He must go.

New Spycops Public Inquiry Chief Named

Sir John Mitting

Sir John Mitting

Sir John Mitting has been appointed to take over as chair of the public inquiry into undercover policing.

It comes three months after the current Chair, Lord Pitchford, announced he has motor neurone disease and does not expect to be able to complete the inquiry. Mitting will work alongside Pitchford for the time being and will succeed him as chair at an appropriate time.

The inquiry was commissioned in March 2014 after years of revelations about spycops. The three years since have been characterised by police delays and obstructions, and the inquiry has still yet to formally begin.

As a High Court judge, Mitting has had a little involvement with the issue before, ruling in a March 2015 hearing of the case brought against police by activists abused by undercover officer Marco Jacobs.

On that occasion, he orchestrated an ingenious solution to the problem of police saying they would ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) if Jacobs was their officer. Mitting got them to agree that, while they would not officially drop their stance of NCND, neither would they contest the activists’ assertion that Jacobs was an officer, and if damages are awarded then the police will be liable to pay.

However, there are many elements of Mitting’s professional and personal life that cause serious concern.

JUDGE IN SECRET SPY COURTS

He is vice-president of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a bizarre secret court dealing with government surveillance cases. It was formed in 2000, when the state realised that surveillance authorised under the new Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act may breach human rights or other law.

Most of its claims are held in secret and not even the spied upon citizen is allowed to be at the hearing. Their lawyers don’t get to be at the hearing either. There is no chance to cross-examine. Complainants just send some papers to the court. In contrast, the police (or whichever state body is accused) and their lawyers are allowed to be at the hearing. The citizens and their lawyers do not get to see what’s in the state’s submissions – they may omit evidence that incriminates them, or invent evidence about the citizens. The court then considers the case and makes a decision. It gives no reasoning for its decision. It doesn’t even have to confirm whether the citizens were under surveilance. The citizens cannot appeal the judgement.

It’s unsurprising that it finds in favour of the state over 99% of the time. Between its formation in 2000 and 2012, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal upheld 10 complaints out of 1,468.

Kate Wilson, who was abused by undercover officer Mark Kennedy, has a case pending at the IPT.

From 2007-2012 Mitting sat as a judge in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. This is another Kafkaesque secret court, dealing with applications to deport people accused of being a threat to national security.

The cases are based on secret evidence which has never been heard by either the appellants themselves or their lawyers. In many of the cases, a return to their country of origin would be likely to result in detention and a high risk of torture.

Whilst Mitting was involved in a number of cases, the judgements that have come to prominence are ones that have been unpopular with the press, such as ordering the release of Abu Qatada and preventing the deportation of an Algerian terror suspect on humans rights grounds.

INSTITUTIONAL SEXISM

Mitting’s entry in Who’s Who reads:

MITTING, Hon. Sir John Edward

Kt 2001

Hon. Mr Justice Mitting

Born 8 Oct. 1947; s of late Alison Kennard Mitting and Eleanor Mary Mitting; m 1977, Judith Clare (née Hampson); three s

a Judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, since 2001

Education
Downside Sch.; Trinity Hall, Cambridge (BA, LLB)

Career
Called to the Bar, Gray’s Inn, 1970, Bencher, 1996; QC 1987; a Recorder, 1988–2001; Chm., Special Immigration Appeal Commn, 2007–12; Vice-Pres., Investigatory Powers Tribunal, 2015–

Recreations
Wine, food, bridge

Club
Garrick

Address
Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, WC2A 2LL

The mention of the Garrick Club is noteworthy. It’s an elite London ‘gentleman’s club’ that is one of the last to prohibit women from becoming members. That a bastion of codified sexism is Mitting’s choice of environment is of serious concern as he takes charge of an inquiry with institutional sexism and abuse of women at its core.

Incidentally, the Garrick Club was the scene of a confrontation between Mitting and former Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, who Mitting had ruled against in the Plebgate case, ordering him to pay substantial damages to a police officer Mitchell had insulted.

The appointment of a spycops Chair whose past is at odds with the aim of the public inquiry does not necessarily doom the process to failure. When the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry were given Sir William MacPherson, the family campaign saw his history regarding cases with racial elements and tried to have him removed. They failed, yet MacPherson appeared truly outraged at what he found and issued a damning report that forced the police to admit they were institutionally racist, and recommended reform of state institutions far beyond the police.

WHICH KIND OF CHANGE?

With Pitchford stepping down, there is an opportunity to change the structure of the inquiry. As the Hillsborough families showed, even with its most powerful tool – a judge-led public inquiry – the state is not very good at investigating state wrongdoing.

The Child Sexual Abuse inquiry which, like the undercover policing inquiry, was commissioned in 2014 but has yet to properly begin, has lurched from crisis to crisis and is now on its fourth Chair.

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry had the benefit of a panel of lay members, familiar with the issues, who played an important role in adding a broader dimension to the chair’s work. The undercover policing inquiry covers many of the same issues as the Lawrence inquiry (and indeed the Lawrence campaign and family themselves). It also deals with abuse of people who have been campaigning against state and other power. To be effective it must have input from people who understand those perspectives and subcultures.

This inquiry is not about mere serious allegations of officers’ wrongdoing, but proven and systemic abuse of citizens. It is not there to arbitrate between police and activists, but to uncover the full facts of this victim/perpetrator situation. The voices of the abused must be heard above the police who lied for decades and, since discovery, have done all in their power to avoid accountability and keep the truth hidden.

Another Spycop Outed: Andy Coles / ‘Andy Davey’

Andy Coles, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer Andy Davey

Andy Coles, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer Andy Davey

A new name has been added to the infamous list of Britain’s political secret police. Last week Andy Coles was known to the public as Cambridgeshire’s Deputy Police Commissioner and a Conservative member of Peterborough City Council. Now we know he was also Special Demonstration Squad officer ‘Andy Davey‘.

He infiltrated London animal rights campaigns from 1991-1995.

His old comrade Paul Gravett, having learned of other spycops in the movement, seriously suspected ‘Davey’ as far back as 2013. He was confident enough to name Davey three years ago in How Special Branch Spied on Animal Rights Movement.

‘Davey was so well entrenched that he begun to produce the group’s newsletter. Shortly afterwards he also transferred the mailing list onto a computer. We were in the era when some organisations still did not have their own PC or internet access and his IT expertise was considered invaluable. Spies are trained to exploit skills shortages like this, to ensure they become trusted and above suspicion.’

No conclusive proof of Davey’s identity, or his real name, was forthcoming until the Undercover Research Group followed the trail from clues from a most unlikely source – the autobiography of Andy Coles’ brother, ex-Communards keyboard player turned vicar and broadcaster the Reverend Richard Coles. The story of their investigation is fascinating, and has led to their comprehensive profiles of both his time undercover and his life outside it.

Long after his deployment, Coles was on the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Terrorism and Allied Matters committee (ACPO-TAM) when it was running the deployment of spycops such as Mark Kennedy in the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). Coles was Head of Training up until the time when the unit was taken out of ACPO-TAM’s control in March 2011.

SEXUAL PREDATOR

During his time undercover Coles was known for forcing himself on women. This went on unbeknownst to ‘Jessica’, an activist with whom he cultivated a serious long-term relationship, a practice the Metropolitan Police have conceded was

‘a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’

Jessica has only recently learned the truth and made this statement

‘Although I was 19, I had never been in a proper relationship before. Events in my life had taught me it’s best to keep people at arm’s length.  So, I didn’t know how to react when he made advances towards me, I was embarrassed, awkward, and what truly makes me feel sick now, is that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.  I look back now and realise I was naive, idealistic, unsophisticated and a very young 19.’

She believed he was slightly older than her, considerably younger than his actual age of 32.

‘Although not legally underage, I feel that my youth and vulnerability were used to target me. I was groomed by someone much older, and far more experienced (he had been an acting police officer for 10 years) and I was manipulated into having a sexual relationship with him.  I didn’t even know his real name…

‘my life as I knew it was a lie. One of the people that I trusted most never existed.  I can’t look back at those times in the same way now. I can’t trust my judgement, because I got things so wrong. I am now beginning to look at people I know differently. I can’t even feel that I’m being paranoid, because it’s justified.’

In March this year, Coles was the opening speaker at the annual conference of Link to Change, an organisation supporting young people facing sexual exploitation. He is Chair of Families First Peterborough, a community interest company working with disturbed and vulnerable children in danger of being excluded from school. He is a governor of two Peterborough schools, West Town Primary Academy and The Voyager Academy. Until last year, he was served on Peterborough’s council cabinet as a Lead Member with responsibility for Children’s Services.

There is no suggestion of anything untoward in Coles’ particular focus on groups concerning young people, but it is surely intolerable for a man who groomed a teenager for sexual exploitation to hold such positions.

Coles’ boss at the SDS was Bob Lambert, who had himself been undercover in the same campaiging groups, also having a number of sexual partners among those he spied on. Lambert was awarded an MBE for services to policing when he retired in June 2008. Coles had received the Police Long Service & Good Conduct Medal three months earlier, for 20 years’ service in which ‘the officer’s character has been very good’. That both men retain their awards having committed human rights violations and abuses of police power is an insult to those they abused and to decency itself.

Lambert resigned from his policing-oriented academic posts after the truth came to light. Coles’ position as arbiter of policing in Cambridgeshire, and in a variety of civic functions that require integrity, is equally untenable.

HE SAW IT COMING BUT STILL HE HID

Since undercover officer Mark Kennedy hit the headlines in 2011, every spycop must have been wondering if they will be the one who is exposed next. Coles’ cover name was published more than three years ago, presumably something he’s been aware of. Yet he did not come forward to apologise to the campaigns he undermined nor to those whose trust he abused or the women he violated. He hoped he would get away with it.

Even now, in the full glare of publicity, he refuses to even speak, let alone try to atone. Instead, he has locked his Twitter accounts – even the public servant ones as a councillor and Deputy Police Commissioner.

Once again, we see that the depravity and arrogance of spycops was not something in the distant past. The same things that took them undercover – a sense of superiority, a cavalier disregard for the welfare of the citizens they abuse – remain integral to their character today.

But the truth is out and we know who Andy Coles is. An unrepentant part of one of the darkest episodes in Metropolitan Police history, he has no place in positions that deal with the vulnerable, nor roles that require integrity and transparency. He must come clean. He must resign.


UPDATE 15 May 2017: Coles has resigned as Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner. He has been referred to the Independent Police Comapints Commission. He still has two school governorships, roles in organisations for young people and a seat on Peterborough City Council.

Spycops Activists Meet Scottish Minister, Demand Inquiry

Spycops campaigners at the Scottish Government, Glasgow, 10 May 2017. From left: Donal O'Driscoll, Merrick Cork, Helen Steel & Tilly Gifford

Spycops campaigners at the Scottish Government, Glasgow, 10 May 2017. From left: Donal O’Driscoll, Merrick Cork, Helen Steel and Tilly Gifford

People spied on by political undercover police in Scotland met with the Scottish Justice Minister Michael Matheson last week, demanding an independent public inquiry.

The forthcoming Undercover Policing Inquiry, led by Lord Pitchford, is limited to events in England and Wales, despite the fact that most known spycops were also active in Scotland.

After the Home Office refused to include Scotland in the inquiry, last September the Scottish Government appointed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to conduct a review of undercover policing in the country.

As HMICS is a body of senior police officers, many victims of the spying do not find it credible and eighteen of them recently declared a boycott of the process. Outraged that the Justice Minister commissioned a review without even speaking to those affected, they requested a meeting, and on Wednesday a delegation they met him in Glasgow.

The group included Helen Steel, who had been in Scotland with her partner John Barker, aka undercover officer John Dines; Climate activist Tilly Gifford, targeted by undercover Scottish police and so outside Pitchford’s remit; Donal O’Driscoll and Merrick Cork, spied upon at the G8 protests in 2005; and the sister of ‘Andrea‘ who was deceived into a relationship by undercover officer Carlo Neri who then integrated into Andrea’s Scottish family.

Matheson repeated his claim that the HMICS review will be ‘thorough and independent’, despite the fact that it only covers policing in Scotland since 2000 and is done by police officers, some of whom have personal connections to the abuses.

The group recounted their personal experiences. Andrea’s sister recalled a number of family occasions, including Carlo Neri coming to her graduation.

Tilly Gifford was a member of climate campaigners Plane Stupid when she was singled out by undercover officers who tried to recruit her as an informer. She told the Evening Times

‘I don’t know who these people were. They were using Strathclyde Police resources but their names did not appear on any Strathclyde Police databases…

‘Because this happened in Scotland, I will not be included in the Pitchford Inquiry. Although there is evidence, and it is documented, that I was targeted, I will be completely left out of the inquiry.’

Gifford is applying for a judicial review of the UK and Scottish government’s exclusion of Scotland from a real inquiry. She has already crowdfunded the costs to get it going (though more is needed and you can donate here).

It was pointed out to Matheson that, given the fact that the spycops targeted elected Labour and Green politicians, it’s probable the SNP were spied on too, including his colleagues and their families.

The group made plain to Matheson that there is already enough established fact to warrant an a full scale inquiry that is credible to the victims, and were absolutely clear that they will not settle for less. Describing the HMICS review as ‘a figleaf’, they demanded it be scrapped immediately.

Matheson insisted he would wait for the HMICS review – planned for publication around September – and only then decide if further inquiry is needed. He made it plain that he would not be dissuaded on this point.

The Scotsman weighed in with an unequivocal opinion piece

Campaigners have already won a judicial review of the Home Office decision in Northern Ireland and should Ms Gifford’s action be successful in Scotland, the courts may take the dilemma out of the SNP’s hands.

If not, those spied on by police in Scotland face the prospect of being the only ones unable to get accountability for what happened to them.

Scotland cannot be left behind. Should the English inquiry not be extended north of the Border, then Scottish ministers must act to fill the void.

Mr Matheson was left in no doubt that this is what is required of him.