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?
IT’S NOT JUST JENNY JONES
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.