Scotland’s Top Cop Gormley – New Broom Sweeps Dirty
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.