All content from January 2016

Scotland’s Top Cop Gormley – New Broom Sweeps Dirty

Phil Gormley Being Sworn in as Chief Constable of Police Scotland

Phil Gormley being sworn in as Chief Constable of Police Scotland earlier this month

The demand to be included in the Pitchford inquiry isn’t the only prominent element of the undercover policing scandal in Scotland.

The country is still reeling – and waiting for answers and justice – from the revelation that officers broke the law and breached human rights in operations that spied on over a hundred journalists.

It was into this environment that the new chief constable of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, was sworn in earlier this month. He needs to be seen as an person of untarnished integrity. He is far from it.

Gormley was in the Met from 2003-2007. For the latter half of that time he was head of Special Branch, which included the infamous Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) who are at the centre of the political policing scandal. He oversaw Special Branch’s 2006 merger with the Anti Terrorist Branch to form Counter Terrorism Command.

It gets worse. Yesterday’s Sunday Herald reported that Gormley was on the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Terrorism and Allied Matters committee (ACPO-TAM), and Undercover Research Group confirmed he was the Committee’s secretary from 2005-2008. This was the body overseeing the other disgraced spycops unit, the NPOIU.

They deployed notorious officers including Mark Kennedy, Lynn Watson and Marco Jacobs at the time Gormley was there. It covers the period of both NPOIU & SDS saturation involvement with the protests against the G8 in Gleneagles, and the NPOIU’s intensive renting of Kennedy to foreign governments. According to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, they sent Kennedy to 11 countries, including 14 separate spying trips to Scotland during his seven year deployment.

It is simply inconceivable that Phil Gormley did not understand what Special Branch was there for, that he failed to ask what his SDS unit was doing before he assessed how it would fit into the restructure. It is equally implausible that his oversight of the NPOIU somehow missed the fact that it was deploying officers doing the same work as the SDS using the same methods.

Assuming he knew and approved of all this, his moral judgement as a police officer – indeed, as a human being – is utterly deplorable and he should not be running a police force.

If, on the other hand, he claims that he had no idea what either of his units did then he is a woefully incompetent and negligent manager. That too means he should not be running a police force.

Seemingly knowing he is damned either way, Gormley has flatly rebuffed repeated requests to come clean and say what he knows. He amended it on Thursday to merely confirming that he worked at Special Branch.

He is still refusing to comment on what he did know about the disgraced units and officers under his command, a position that is as suspicious as it is untenable.

Neil Findlay MSP told yesterday’s Sunday Herald

Phil Gormley has taken up a very important job with Police Scotland. He needs to get off on the right footing, so should be completely open about what he knows about the SDS, the NPOIU and the discredited officers who worked for them. If he fails to do this then this issue will hang over him and questions that need answered won’t go away.

Lindsay Davies from COPS succinctly added

He should tell the truth about his past. As the police and security services so often tell us, the innocent have nothing to fear.

Pressure Intensifies on Inquiry to Include Scotland

The Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing is still limbering up and defining its terms, so it’s unclear how trustworthy it will be. One of the major sticking points is that it is limited to deeds done by officers of English and Welsh forces whilst in England and Wales.

The 13 known officers – less than 10% of the true total – worked in 17 other countries. Most of them worked in Scotland. When we say “worked”, we mean doing what the Metropolitan Police themselves describe as being

a violation of human rights, an abuse of police power… abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.

If this is what we know already, we can be sure there is more to come. To underline that point, the officer newly exposed last week, Carlo Neri, was also active in Scotland.

Earlier this month the Scottish Parliament held a debate on undercover policing and there was cross-party support for the Scottish government’s official demand to be included in the Pitchford Inquiry.

On 17 January it was reported that the Home Office is arranging to have talks with the Scottish government about their country’s inclusion.

But only four days earlier the Home Office told COPS they had no plans to include Scotland.

At this stage the Inquiry is receiving evidence from as wide a range of persons who can assist with its terms of reference as possible. The inquiry team are interested in the whole story and are bound to encourage those coming forward to provide a complete picture when submitting their evidence.

The terms of reference as drafted are, we are advised, already eliciting a significant volume of material for consideration.

The Home Secretary is not minded to expand the terms of reference at this time.

Letter from Home Office to COPSLindsay Davies from COPS responded in today’s Sunday Mail

If the inquiry really wants the whole story, then it can’t be shackled by Theresa May.

It’s encouraging that the inquiry is getting a lot of evidence already but it’s a ludicrous excuse for ignoring such a sustained, key part of what these disgraced officers did. If they haven’t got enough staff to do the job properly they should get them, rather than ignoring a significant part of the task at hand.

No court would be allowed to exclude vital evidence this way and, as the Met have admitted officers abused citizens, this should be taken just as seriously.

People in Scotland and elsewhere deserve truth and justice every bit as much as those in England and Wales.


Nonetheless, the Home Office reiterated their resistance to the Sunday Herald this week.

But with a range of politicians from numerous parties and none, joined this week by trade union officials, all committed to securing the truth for Scotland the pressure is only going to increase. The Scottish government should have the confidence to be robust and insistent at the forthcoming talks.

Police Admit Liability But Not The Truth

Stop The Shredding! Release the Files! Protest 15 January 2016In the wake of revelations of Britain’s political secret police units destroying files that incriminate them, last Friday COPS went to Scotland Yard and demanded that they stop the shredding and release the files.

The only way we will ever know the truth is if those who were spied on come forward. For that, we need disclosure of the list of ‘cover names’ used by officers and the list of groups targeted.

The forthcoming public inquiry is relying on the police to be archivists of their own damning files. The Undercover Research Group, who did such astonishing work this week exposing officer Carlo Neri, called for the ‘domestic extremist’ database unit to be suspended to protect the files.

Later the same day there was another demonstration outside the High Court ahead of the latest hearing in the case of Kate Wilson, who is bringing action after being deceived into a relationship by Mark Kennedy.

Like so many campaigners, Wilson has been subjected to a double injustice. Firstly, there was what the state did to her and then there was the gruelling ordeal of years of blatant obstructions and chicanery to obstruct her quest for the truth.

The police said the relationships weren’t authorised, they were the fault of Kennedy himself, so she shouldn’t sue the police as a body. Then they said the relationships were authorised after all so they would have to go to a secret tribunal where neither she nor her lawyers were allowed.

Kate Wilson on the today Programme, 19 Jan 2016

Kate Wilson on the today Programme, 19 Jan 2016

On Friday, after more than four years, the police finally withdrew their defence and admitted liability. But Wilson does not accept that as the end of it – it still doesn’t actually tell us who was liable. Who authorised it, why, and who else knew and approved it?

Furthermore, is it continuing? Certainly, the surveillance of Kate Wilson did not end when she split up with Mark Kennedy in 2005. Less than a year ago, she found a tracking device on her car.

She gave a powerful and moving interview on the Today Programme and also gave her analysis of the hearing.


The police had already unequivocally accepted that the relationships were wrong. It is now clear that wrongdoing goes far beyond the individual undercover officers. Yet we are denied access to any information about the extent of the intrusion into our lives, who knew and how far up the hierarchy it went.

The police’s decision not to defend the claim is clearly motivated by a determination to avoid disclosure of documents relating to the undercover operations, at any cost. Alongside recent revelations that they are unlawfully destroying files, it makes you wonder what further horrors they are really trying to hide.

How many more women may have been affected by these abuses? How many more children may have been fathered by these undercover officers? It is clear the police are not going to come clean. The only way there can be real justice is if the Inquiry releases the cover names and opens the files so that these women can come forward themselves.


Just like the refusal to tell people they were spied on, and our reliance on volunteer researchers to do the digging, the police’s stonewalling of Kate Wilson shows that they are not interested in admitting the truth, let alone learning from it. Instead, despite knowing that there is still more to come than has been revealed, they are closing ranks around their abusers, putting their fingers in their ears and singing lalalala.

But the years of mounting evidence, the unrelenting determination of the swathes of people affected and the groundswell of public outrage are combining to create a pressure that cannot be resisted much longer. Stop the shredding. Publish the names. Release the files.


Kate Wilson gives her first UK public talk about her experience at our public meeting in London on Thursday. She will be alongside:

  • Stafford Scott, race advocacy worker at The Monitoring Group and former co-ordinator of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign
  • Janet Alder, who has been repeatedly targeted by spycops in her campaign for justice for her brother Christopher, killed by police in 1998
  • Jules Carey, lawyer who represented Ian Tomlinson’s family and now represents several women deceived into relationships with spycops



Scottish Parliament Debates Spycops, Demands Answers

The Scottish Parliament saw an hour’s debate on Britain’s political secret police last week. Though sparsely attended, its content was extraordinary. One MSP after another expressed real outrage and disgust at what these officers have done and the paucity of accountability and justice.

The forthcoming public inquiry is limited to events in England and Wales. This is absurd, given that half the known officers worked in Scotland, with Mark Kennedy being authorised to go there 14 times in his seven years. These operations included, by the Met’s own admission, human rights violations and other abuses of police power.

A few weeks ago the Scottish government formally asked the Home Secretary to alter the terms of the inquiry and include events in Scotland.

The debate had been called by Labour’s Neil Findlay MSP. In a barnstorming speech that mentioned officers by name, he asked

Do we have a policing system and justice system… that picks out individuals and groups for special treatment because they challenge the prevailing orthodoxy, the established order or threaten, even in a tiny way, the grip that those in positions of power have on our economy and our society?…

Vested interests in the media, big business, government, the police and the courts have worked together to quash dissent, control people’s behaviour and prevent any challenge to their grip on power…

Police officers operating in our country under the identity of a dead child to victimise people whose only crime is to want a fairer, cleaner and more just society… I find that nauseating and utterly corrupt.

Elaine Smith, also for Labour, expanded on the point.

The demand for the Pitchford inquiry to be extended to Scotland, that should never have been a controversial demand. The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance – a group investigating the role of undercover police – has documented numerous instances where officers who have been proven to have committed acts of abuse were operating and active in Scotland. There can be no doubt about that.

If we look at the frequent pattern of male officers abusing their position to exploit women and start sexual relationships, and the implied approval that this would require from senior officers, then there is the question of whether or not the police, in this regard, are institutionally sexist…

While the victims have stated that no apology or compensation can make up for the abuse they’ve suffered, we owe it to them to fully investigate and expose these horrific practices. The Pitchford inquiry should be extended to cover Scotland but if that is not agreed the Scottish government has a moral duty to undertake its own inquiry.

For the Liberal Democrats, Alison McInnes OBE insisted that there be an inquiry into spycops in Scotland come what may.

It is the kind of behaviour that transgresses professional and moral boundaries and flies in the face of common decency…

Even if the officers were from police forces in England and Wales, it appears that authorisation to work in Scotland came from senior Scottish officers and that’s why I support the call for the Scottish government to hold a similar inquiry…

Unless the SNP government is arguing that unearthing what has gone on in Scotland – both in terms of English officers operating here and of undercover policing within Scottish forces – is of no importance, there needs to be an inquiry here…

We too deserve to know the scale of the operations carried out and the lines of accountability and authorisation.

Roderick Campbell, of the governing SNP, affirmed the call for the Home Secretary to expand Pitchford’s scope.

If Metropolitan Police officers, or their divisions, were operating in Scotland it seems sensible to extend that remit to Scotland.

He said that there is a strong regulatory framework in place, which is of no comfort as the Met have specifically said that tightening rules in 2000 did nothing whatsoever to affect the function of these units.

John Finnie, formerly of the SNP but now an Independent, said

As many will know, I was a police officer for 30 years. Officers I served with were appalled by that sickening behaviour. The worrying thing is that it’s not a rogue individual; it must have been known to supervisory officers. They either ignored it or they were unaware of it, either way they were negligent.

I won’t go into the G8 protests, but to assume that the monitoring that went on across Europe stopped at Gretna is naïve.

Hugh Henry (Labour) was unequivocal in his condemnation of

a horrific catalogue of abuse by the state in this country. It’s unacceptable, and frankly if we in our complacency tolerate it or refuse to properly investigate then we are complicit with it…

I welcome the belated action by the Scottish government to write to ask for the inquiry to be extended but unless we get a guarantee that it will be comprehensive, it will be all encompassing and that the terms of reference will also include things which have gone on in Scotland over the years, to make it a genuine UK inquiry, that unless that’s done we are being short changed and therefore we will need our own inquiry…

This is not about national security, this about protecting the interests of big business or the interests of certain political views… this is the one opportunity we have to put things right.

We know that wrong has been done over many years in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK, and if we fail to take the opportunity now to get to the bottom of what was done and put things right then we are letting Scotland down, we are letting future generations down, but frankly we are also letting ourselves down as individuals.

Speaking for the government, the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, responded

If officers in those units were active in Scotland, and the inquiry has been set up to look at related activity, then the inquiry should, we strongly believe, be able to consider that activity irrespective of where it took place.

That is why the Cabinet Secretary for Justice wrote to the Home Secretary on 10 December last year, asking her to confirm that the inquiry would be able to take account of any activity by the Metropolitan Police units that took place in Scotland.

He was, however, a tad circumspect about what should be done if the UK government refuses to include Scotland in the inquiry.

Two parallel inquiries runs the obvious risk of duplication of resources. They may also embarrass each other if one produces vital details the other has missed.

The decision rests with the Home Secretary. We await her reply.

[The full debate is on our Youtube channel, and a full transcript can be found here].

Whistleblower Tells of Spycops Destroying Files on Peer

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones

A new spycops whistleblower has come forward testifying that his unit destroys files that may embarrass them.

Sgt David Williams is one of the officers who maintains the database of ‘domestic extremists’ for the clunkily-named National Domestic Extremist and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU).

He has written a personal letter to Jenny Jones – Green Party member of the Greater London Assembly and House of Lords – describing how several of his colleagues destroyed records to sanitise her file before it was released.

As a democratically elected public figure, and a member of the Met’s scrutiny body the Metropolitan Police Authority, Jones is about as indefensible a target as can be. Yet their file on her only began after she was elected, and ran for at least eleven years, probably to the present day.

Three years ago she applied for a copy of anything held on her under data protection laws, and found out she was indeed one of the 9,000 people on the domestic extremist database.

In June 2013, after having paid £10 and filled out a very long form, a copy of my police file arrived in the post. I don’t know what I expected to find, but the three pages can only be described as pathetic. Quite honestly, I want my money back.

She commented at the time about its superficiality.

it was three pages of essentially gossip and reporting on speeches I had made or tweets that I had made.

On 12 June 2014 Jones met managers of the unit who were unable to tell her whether she was still on the database. She said she would apply once more for a copy of her file, if it existed.

Sgt Williams describes a scene six days later, with five officers being involved in the destruction of more than 30 records from Jones’ file. Williams said that – also in a ‘highly irregular manner’ – the records were deleted immediately without being retained on the unit’s back-up database, an act which would thwart any freedom of information request within a 28-day period from the deletion.


Even in this diluted form, Jones was shocked to find that her file had been reinstated at all, including an entry from before the supposed expunging of the previous year. That particular item reported on her attendance at a protest outside the Daily Mail in 2013.

Action like that was enough to get her back on the domestic extremist list. If they do this to the vice-chair of the Greater London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee for attending a stand-around demonstration, who else are they doing it to?

Sgt Williams complained to the Met’s internal Department of Professional Standards (DPS) but they found no wrongdoing. He complained again and this time they found that the records had indeed been deleted. Senior officers then held a meeting with one of the officers responsible, seemingly to tip them off. The DPS sent a report to the commissioner saying there was nothing to worry about, merely ‘poor communication’.

Whilst the revelations are shocking, to those familiar with the continually expanding spycops scandal and its abuse of citizens, they aren’t surprising, as Jones herself wearily tweeted.

I’m trying to be angry/outraged/disbelieving of Met police activities, but almost all used up on them already.

But her outrage returned when considering the common practices that are implied. Later that day, Jones wrote

If my files were deleted legitimately after I challenged them, how did they later find a “deleted” copy to check that I had previously received all the information requested? When the Met sent me my file in August 2013 it had 17 items on it, but Williams claims that Met officers deleted about 30 items later in June 2014.

Does this mean that the Met can resurrect all deleted files on innocent people, despite it being decided that they should not legitimately be holding such information?



Having previously pushed for clarity from the Met on the definition of ‘domestic extremism’, Jones took some comfort from the addition of the words ‘serious crime’.

However, ‘serious’ is an even more fuzzy term. Not only that, but the spycops already applied it to the activists they spy on. A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into Mark Kennedy and the political policing units said the activists targeted

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.

This is desperate stuff, clearly false allegations made in attempt to prop up the collapsing credibility of the spycops units.

It reflects the culture of the Met that we have seen throughout the spycops scandal, with the resistance to releasing details and the legion of obstructions they threw in the path of abused women seeking redress, even refusing to admit that the likes of Mark Kennedy and Bob Lambert were police officers for years, until forced to do so by a court.

Writing to Jones, Sgt Williams recognises this commitment to brand value rather than justice.

This letter to you may not be in my best interests but not sending it would be unconscionable for me. I fear it may initiate a series of escalating actions against me designed to discredit me or lead to my suspension from duty or my dismissal.

He also describes the abrupt removal of an officer who had complained about racism, drunken behaviour, faking time records and apparent fraud.

The Met has responded, saying that there is either insufficient evidence to support the claims, or else they are false. They also report an allegation of bullying by Sgt Williams against a senior officer in the unit, and a counter-claim of misconduct.

Assuming Williams is telling the truth – and it’s difficult to see his motivation for doing anything else here – it means that the Met’s line ‘disgraced rogue units, lessons learned, and it’s all in the past’ is in tatters.

As the Undercover Research Group noted last week, this has much wider and even more serious implications. It is part of a pattern of the Met destroying incriminating records in order to frustrate inquiries into their wrongdoing. The forthcoming public inquiry is reliant on these records. As such, the kind of collective destruction of records as reported by Sgt Williams

is a direct attack on the ability of the Pitchford Inquiry to do its work. This is why we are calling on the Inquiry to themselves take action to stop further destruction of records. We have also written to [Met Assistant Commissioner] Martin Hewitt to take action to deal with this outrageous matter. The NDEDIU needs to be shut down immediately and all the officers involved stripped off all access.

COPS Public Meeting, Thursday 21 January

COPS public meeting 21 January 2016


As the scandal of Britain’s political secret police continues to grow, and with a full scale public inquiry imminent, come and hear from those who were targeted by spycops and are leading the fight for justice.

On Thursday 21 January we are hosting a public meeting in London.

On the panel are:

Kate Wilson
Kate WilsonThe first UK public talk by this social justice activist who was deceived into a long-term relationship by undercover officer Mark Kennedy.

Wilson is one of eight women who collectively took legal action against the police. In doing so they demonstrated that these were not ‘rogue officers’, but the similarity of their experiences proves that what happened to them was accepted strategy.

Their tenacity forced the Met to issue an extraordinary apology in November. Wilson’s case continues.

Janet Alder
janet Tireless campaigner for justice for her brother Christopher who was killed by police in 1999. Despite the inquest’s finding of unlawful killing, no officers were convicted.

Christopher’s body was subjected to a series of indignities, police admit to repeatedly spying on her and attempting to spy on her lawyer, they snooped into her past to smear her, and despite all this she has been denied ‘core participant’ status at the public inquiry.

Stafford Scott
stafford A key figure in numerous black community and family justice campaigns, formerly co-ordinator of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign, Scott is now race advocacy officer at the Monitoring Group.

The exposure of undercover police adds a new sinister dimension to the state repression he has devoted himself to opposing, with campaigns being infiltrated and undermined by officers.


Jules Carey
julesA human rights lawyer at Bindmans, Carey represents many of the people targeted by spycops.

His clients include Jacqui, the first case the Met settled with a woman deceived into a relationship by an undercover officer, and other similar clients whose cases are ongoing.

He also represents Barbara Shaw, mother of a dead child whose identity was stolen by an undercover police officer.

Chair: The meeting will be chaired by Lois Austin, ex chair of Youth Against Racism in Europe, who were also infiltrated by undercover police.

WHEN: Thursday 21 January, 6.30-8.30pm

WHERE: Diskus Room, Unite the Union, 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN


There will be plenty of time for questions from the floor.