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Spycops Inquiry: Children & Young Adults Group

#Spycops inquiry - Children and Young Adults GroupThis post originaly appeared on the Undercover Research Group site.

One of the untold aspects of the spycops saga has been the effect of undercover police on children and young adults.

People have been affected in different ways. For some it is betrayed friendship with people they trusted, for others it is the affect on their family life. Others will have been directly targeted as young activists.

We are aware that there has been a considerable impact to a number of people as a result. In some cases vulnerable people were placed in inappropriate situations, having been deceived by undercover police lying about who they were.

We feel this story is best told by those affected. As a group we wish to bring together and support those in this situation. There is strength in a collective approach, we can be more effective, stronger and we can also ensure that the fullest support is given to those in the group.

What we are looking to achieve is:

  • Mutual support, as those most directly affected will fully understand each other.
  • Document what happened so we can understand better how spycops infiltrated family and personal life, and the effect that happened.
  • Create a strong set of messages that reflects everyone’s needs and ensures that this aspect of the story is not forgotten. This includes putting pressure on the Pitchford Inquiry and the mainstream media to ensure the group is being listened to and being represented properly.
  • That no one person is singled out to carry the message of everyone.
  • Ensure that everyone gets the level of communication they need.
  • Deal with issues of anonymity.
  • As a group we feel that we can get better access to resources, including, where needed, counselling and funding for travel.

A few of us have come together to facilitate this happening, based on our conversations with those affected and their parents. We feel this group should be lead by those affected but recognise that time, energy and emotions all need to factored in. So we are prepared to help out where possible, and lift much of the effort, facilitating it as much as possible.

This group is open to all affected, whether or not they are core participants in the public inquiry. Whilst the main focus will be on people who were under 18 at the time they encountered spycops, we are not going to be rigid on this, recognising that people do not magically change once they hit their birthday. Likewise, while we would like to focus primarily on those children and young adults affected, we will need the input of parents / guardians who have their own perspectives to contribute.

If you would like to be part of this process please let us know, tell us what you’d like to see happen and particularly how you would like us to communicate with you. We would like to arrange a meeting for everyone, let us know if that is something you would like to do. If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch.

Kim Bryan
Dónal O’Driscoll

Reach us by email.

This is a project initiated by core participants in the inquiry, and is being facilitated by the Undercover Research Group.

 

Lord Pitchford has Motor Neurone Disease

Lord Justice Pitchford

Lord Justice Pitchford

Lord Pitchford, chair of the public inquiry into undercover policing, has motor neurone disease (MND).

The incurable degenerative condition damages parts of the nervous system. As it progresses, symptoms spread to other parts of the body and the condition becomes more debilitating. Life expectancy for about half of those with the condition is three years from the start of symptoms.

However, some people may live for up to 10 years, and in rarer circumstances even longer (for example, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed in 1963).

Eventually, a person with motor neurone disease may be unable to move. Communicating, swallowing and breathing may also become very difficult. In up to 15% of cases, MND is associated with frontotemporal dementia that can affect personality and behaviour.

His diagnosis has implications for the long-term process of the public inquiry. Last week the Inquiry conceded it was ‘increasingly unlikely that the Inquiry will undertake evidence hearings in 2017’, projecting it to begin in 2018, four years after the Home Office announced it.

Today they Inquiry issued a statement explaining:

‘Sir Christopher is keen to continue for as long as he is able to do so, and the Inquiry and Home Secretary are committed to supporting him to do so. Alongside the continuation of our work, contingency arrangements are being made for the appointment of a further judicial office holder as an additional panel member with a view to that panel member succeeding Sir Christopher as chairman of the Inquiry at an appropriate time.’

Lord Pitchford added

‘I very much regret that my diagnosis and the progression of my physical symptoms mean that I shall not be able to complete the work of the Inquiry. However, I wish to assure the Inquiry’s core participants and the public that the Inquiry’s work continues unabated and that, with the support of the Home Secretary and the Lord Chief Justice, for which I am grateful, the transitional arrangements that are being put in place will ensure its continuity when the time comes for me to step down as Chairman.’

Our sympathies are with Christopher Pitchford and his family.

Union Leaders Call for Hogan-Howe to Explain Shredding

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Last week the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed that the Metropolitan Police destroyed ‘a large number of documents’ from the spycops’ files.

It took place in May 2014, shortly after the Home Secretary had announced the public inquiry into undercover policing, and Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe had promised full co-operation.

It’s well established that, despite being legal, democratic organisations, trade unions were a prime target of spycops. Special Demonstration Squad officer Mark Jenner joined construction union UCATT under his false identity of Mark Cassidy and was a regular on picket lines. This Wednesday sees our Spycops & Strikers event in London, marking the 40th anniversary of the iconic Grunwick strike and the prolonged repression of unions then and since.

Every constabulary’s Special Branch has routinely supplied the construction industry blacklist with personal information about political activists. That activity, like the shredding is police officers actively breaking the law to uphold things they appear to feel are more important, corporate profit and police power.

Bernard Hogan-Howe has a history of covering up the spycops scandal. It’s time he told the truth.

This open letter from union leaders was released this morning.


We the undersigned are outraged at the news that despite court orders to the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service has destroyed evidence required for use in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry. State spying on trade unions and political campaigns is a human rights scandal that affects millions of British citizens.

Despite continued reassurances, the Pitchford Inquiry has failed to secure the documents that will be central to the investigation. Trade union core participants are beginning to question whether the Inquiry team has the ability to stop the police from obstructing the pursuit of justice. Lord Justice Pitchford needs to act now to restore our faith.

We are calling on Lord Justice Pitchford to announce an urgent Inquiry hearing to examine the destruction of evidence by the police. The Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe should be forced to give evidence under oath to explain why, how and under whose authority documents have been destroyed.

Lord Justice Pitchford needs to take immediate measures to secure all documentation held by the police, in order to prevent future destruction and avoid the entire inquiry descending into a hugely expensive cover-up on the part of the Metropolitan Police.

SIGNED:

Len McCluskey (General Secretary) and Gail Cartmail (Acting General Secretary) UNITE the Union, incorporating UCATT

Matt Wrack (General Secretary) Fire Brigades Union

Chris Kitchen (General Secretary) National Union of Mineworkers

Tim Roache (General Secretary) GMB union

Mick Cash (General Secretary) Rail Maritime and Transport union

Dave Ward (General Secretary) Communication Workers Union

Michelle Stanistreet (General Secretary) National Union of Journalists

Dave Smith and Royston Bentham (joint secretaries) Blacklist Support Group

Dave Smith, blacklisted construction worker and himself a core participant in the undercover policing inquiry commented:

‘The Pitchford inquiry has been running for nearly two years and so far not a single document has been disclosed to our lawyers and not a single witness has given evidence. The delay is entirely due to police attempts to try and keep their dirty secrets away from public scrutiny. The police are no longer just obstructing justice, by shredding evidence they are in contempt of court.

We demand to know who gave the order and whether criminal charges will be brought against them. The more this scandal unfolds, the more apparent it is that the Met Police think they are above the law. This has got to stop.’

Victim of Spycops in Ireland Demands Taoiseach Action

Sarah Hampton (left) with Mark Kennedy, Dublin, 2005

Sarah Hampton (left) with Mark Kennedy, Dublin, 2005

Sarah Hampton, deceived into a relationship by undercover police officer Mark Kennedy, finally got an apology from the Metropolitan Police last week. She met Kennedy in Dublin in 2005.

Yesterday she wrote to the Irish prime minister insisting that his government raise the issue of spycops in Ireland with their British counterparts and demand Ireland be included in the forthcoming undercover policing inquiry.

This morning we issued this press release to the Irish media, including her full letter:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A woman who unwittingly had a relationship with a British undercover police officer in Ireland is demanding the Taoiseach raise the issue with the British government. Sarah Hampton, a US citizen, met Mark Kennedy in Dublin in 2005 but only discovered his true identity five years later.

Kennedy is one of several officers from the disgraced ‘spycops’ secret political policing units to known to have been in Ireland. He spied on a number of campaigns including the Shell To Sea gas pipeline protest in Enda Kenny’s constituency of Mayo.

In a letter to the Taoiseach, Hampton insists he honour his proposal to have the controversy raised as part of a State meeting this week between Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan and the British Secretary of State.[1]

The Metropolitan Police apologised to Hampton last month, admitting ‘the relationship between you and Mark Kennedy was abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong… an abuse of police power that resulted in a violation of your human rights, a breach of your privacy and trust, and the source of significant trauma to you’.[2]

Ms Hampton is one of 200 ‘core participants’ at the British Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI), set up in 2015 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May to examine systematic abuses by officers of the secret political policing units, including those of Mark Kennedy.

However, the UCPI is restricted to events in England and Wales. Ms Hampton and other victims of British police spying have been campaigning with support of TDs Paul Murphy[3], Clare Daly[4], Jonathan O’Brien and MEP Lynn Boylan[5] to have British officials extend the UCPI remit to include Ireland.

Hampton’s letter to the Taoiseach said,

‘Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I have almost given up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I felt I had been raped, I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.’[6]

Other officers from the units, named in the Dáil last week as John Dines[7] and Mark Jenner[8], had similar relationships whilst in Ireland. The women concerned have received similar apologies from the Metropolitan Police[9].

In a related matter, UCPI core participant Jason Kirkpatrick was in Belfast High Court last week where he secured a judicial review of the UCPI’s exclusion of activities in Northern Ireland.

Kirkpatrick, a former Vice Mayor from Arcata, California, was spied upon by Mark Kennedy during a 2005 anti-globalisation informational tour driven by Kennedy from Dublin via Co Clare to Belfast.[10]

Kirkpatrick said:

‘We’re not dealing with suspicions or allegations but what the Metropolitan Police have admitted is an abuse of police power and a breach of human rights. The weak internal Garda review recently commissioned by Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald to look into Kennedy’s actions in Ireland appears to be a whitewash. It lacks transparency and prioritises abusers over victims by excluding us entirely from the process.[11]

‘We insist the Taoiseach and Irish ministers work to reverse Theresa May’s decree and have Ireland included in the formal British UCPI. If people abused in England deserve the truth, so do those in Ireland. We all have a right to know what has really been going on with this illegal, immoral British international political policing’.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is an alliance of people known to have been targeted by Britain’s political secret police.

[1] Paul Murphy challenges Taoiseach about Mark Kennedy & Spycops, Leaders Questions, 8 Feb 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlyTY2408zQ

[2] Letter from Assistant Commissioner Fiona Taylor, Metropolitan Police, 19 January 2017
https://www.yumpu.com/xx/document/view/56826058/letter-from-ac-taylor-to-bindmans- llp-19jan17

[3] The curious case of how a British cop went undercover among Irish protesters, The Journal, 11 February 2017
http://www.thejournal.ie/british-cop-undercover-3230569-Feb2017/

[4] ‘Germany and Scotland have both demanded inclusion in #spycops inquiry but Ireland refuses to do the same – Why??’, Clare Daly, Twitter, 26 January 2017 https://twitter.com/claredalytd/status/824620305389944833

[5] Gardai knew UK police spy was in Republic, The Times, 24 September 2016
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/gardai-knew-uk-police-spy-was-in-republic-586nqkg53

[6] Sarah’s Statement, Sarah Hampton, Police Spies Out of Lives, 7 February 2016 https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/sarahs-statement/

[7] John Dines profile, Undercover Research Group
http://powerbase.info/index.php/John_Dines

[8] Mark Jenner profile, Undercover Research Group
http://powerbase.info/index.php/Mark_Jenner

[9] Claimants in civil cases receive MPS apology, Metropolitan Police, 20 November 2015
http://news.met.police.uk/news/claimants-in-civil-cases-receive-mps-apology-138574

[10] Undercover London police present at NI murder protest, RTE, 7 February 2017 http://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0207/850802-undercover-northern-ireland/

[11] Minister orders report on British police spy, The Times, 19 October 2016
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/minister-orders-report-on-british-police-spy-jtnrjkb7t

The full text of Sarah Hampton’s letter to the Taoiseach:

12th February 2017

Dear Taoiseach Enda Kenny,
Dear Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD
Dear Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald TD

My name is Sarah Hampton, you may have first heard my name when I was quoted on the Parliament floor by TD Paul Murphy on 8 February 2017. In 2005 I was on holiday on Ireland when I met Mark Kennedy. I subsequently went onto have a one year relationship with the man I then knew as ‘Mark Stone’ without any idea of his true identity. In 2010 I found out that he was a British undercover police officer working in Ireland as a member National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I have almost given up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I felt I had been raped, I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.

On the 3rd February 2017 I received a written full apology from the Metropolitan Police
Service (MPS).Assistant Commissioner Fi ona Taylor wrote me to acknowledged the pain and stress I have endured as the result of the deceitful relationship. The MPS Assistant Commissioner stated,

“The relationship between you and Mark Kennedy was abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.” “The relationship should never have happened”. “I recognise that what happened in your case was an abuse of police power that resulted in a violation of your human rights, a breach of your privacy and trust, and the source of significant trauma to you”.

I note the Parliamentary Answer that TD Clare Daly received from the Tánaiste, 8th February 2017, stating “should anything emerge from the findings of the UK’s Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) that would be relevant to policing in this jurisdiction I will consider it fully and take any action that may be required.”

However at this point the UCPI excludes Ireland completely, so this Parliamentary Answer is illogical and does not satisfy my concerns in the least. We don’t need to wait for the findings of the UK undercover policing inquiry to know that there are significant grounds for taking action on this matter. I am a US citizen, I was on holiday in Ireland when our relationship began, and despite the British MPS apology I have received, I have many unanswered questions regarding Ireland. I want to know if Irish authorities knew what Mark Kennedy was doing, and I want details about his operations in Ireland.

– Did you allow him to develop intimate relationships with women in your jurisdiction?
– Was he operating with the full permission of the Irish authorities?
– Do you have police files on me?
– To what extent has my right to privacy been invaded by the Irish authorities?

It is my belief that Police and government are supposed to be here to serve the people and they need to be held responsible when they themselves have even admitted to being negligent and violating human rights. I believe that by not taking action on this matter you are perpetuating the trauma I have experienced and that my human rights are continuing to be violated.

Further I find it shocking that via my solicitor Darragh Mackin of KRW Law I have informed the Minister of Justice about such issues via legal letters dated 17 May 2016 and again on 20 December 2016, yet to date I have received no reply although both letters were even reported in the media.

On 8 February the Taoiseach stated in Parliament that he would have his Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD, raise the issue with British officials within the coming week. I firmly request that you take action to insist to British officials that the UCPI be extended to include the activities of undercover activities in the Republic of Ireland.

Yours sincerely,
Sarah Hampton
Core Participant in the UK Undercover Policing Inquiry

Judicial Review of NI Exclusion from Spycops Inquiry

Jason Kirkpatrick & Kate Wilson, Belfast High Court, 7 February 2017

Jason Kirkpatrick & Kate Wilson were both spied on by Mark Kennedy. Belfast High Court, 7 February 2017

A judge at Belfast High Court gave permission yesterday for a Judicial Review of the Home Secretary’s insistence that the Pitchford Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) should not consider activities of police spies in Northern Ireland.

The case was brought by Jason Kirkpatrick, an anti-globalisation activist who is a Core Participant in the UCPI because he was spied on by Mark Kennedy in England.

However, Kennedy also spent more significant time spying on Kirkpatrick in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Germany. He has been told that although he can give evidence on that to the Pitchford inquiry if he wants, it will not be followed up, and it will not be included in the Undercover Policing Inquiry report because the terms of reference only cover England and Wales.

His legal representatives, Darragh Macken from KRW Law and Ben Emmerson and Jude Bunting of Doughty Street, argued that it is absurd for Pitchford to investigate the activities of officers such as Mark Kennedy in England and Wales but for that investigation to simply stop at the border when he enters Northern Ireland and restart again when he gets back to England or Wales.

This argument has been supported by two different Northern Irish Ministers of Justice who have written to the Home Secretary stating that it is ‘imperative‘ that the inquiry be able to follow the evidence of the activities of undercover officers working for UK units such as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) if they are found to have crossed into Northern Ireland.

The court then heard that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have now been told by the Metropolitan Police in London that officers from the SDS and NPOIU entered Northern Ireland on a number of occasions and also spied on the families of people murdered in Northern Ireland.

At least one Northern Irish family has already been approached by the Metropolitan Police to inform them officers from the SDS attended demonstrations supporting their campaign, and another family will be contacted soon.

PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton says they were ‘completely blind’ to the fact that that undercover officers from these controversial undercover units were even entering Northern Ireland, let alone spying on political activists there. This raises serious questions about authorisation and accountability, as well as the dangers officers put themselves and others in. Hamilton described the deployments as ‘an act of madness’.

The PSNI have now reviewed thousands of documents provided by the Met relating to activities of these officers in Northern Ireland of which, they say, they were previously unaware, and there is still a lot of material to review. They warned that there is a possibility some of those activities may have implications for legacy investigations into the Troubles. Because of this, the PSNI has also written to the Home Secretary to say that the terms of reference of the Pitchford Inquiry must be opened up to include Northern Ireland.

Ben Emmerson QC bluntly accused the Home Office of taking a ‘brass monkey attitude’ of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – just turn a blind eye’ and described their decision-making process as ‘hopeless… flawed from the top to bottom and frankly embarrassingly bad’.

For their part, counsel for the Home Secretary appeared to have little to say, although they did claim that there is no need to expand the terms of reference. Apparently they believe the Pitchford Inquiry was not set up to consider ‘every specific incident’, and that the terms of reference only require it to look at ‘more general, systemic issues’, for which, counsel claimed, a few examples of incidents from England and Wales would be sufficient.

Letters from the Home Office also indicated that the ‘particular history of Northern Ireland’ means that extending the investigation to Northern Ireland could be ‘costly’ and is ‘not in the public interest’.

The judge, Mr Justice Maguire, seemed to disagree, and granted leave to have a full Judicial Review, which will take place in about 10 weeks’ time.

He commented that perhaps, in the future, the Home Office will be able to provide compelling reasons why they should not open the inquiry up to include this jurisdiction. They certainly did not manage to do so yesterday.

All this raises the question of Scottish inclusion in the Pitchford Inquiry. The majority of known spycops were in Scotland. Every party in the Scottish Parliament backed their government’s call to be covered by the Inquiry, but the Home Office refused.

The Scottish government responded by commissioning a whitewash from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland. This self-investigation by police, including those implicated in undercover work, could scarcely be less credible, even before the government restricted it to only looking at the last few years of police spying.

It has been derided by campaigners who insist that if abuses are serious enough to warrant a proper public inquiry in England and Wales then they must not be ignored elsewhere. Scottish eyes will be watching Belfast in ten weeks’ time.

Apology for US Citizen Targeted by Mark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy and Sarah Hampton in Dublin 2005

Mark Kennedy (left) and Sarah Hampton (right) in Dublin, 2005

Sarah Hampton becomes the latest woman abused by undercover police to secure an apology.

After years of obfuscation, in 2015 the Metropolitan Police finally apologised to seven women deceived into relationships by undercover officers. Three of the women in the group had relationships with Mark Kennedy. Despite the admission, the Met refused to settle a claim from another woman abused by Kennedy, Sarah Hampton.

Hampton is a US citizen who met Mark Kennedy whilst on holiday in Ireland in 2005. She subsequently went onto have a one year relationship with the man she knew as Mark Stone without any idea of his true identity.

Having substantially dragged out her case the police have, at last, run out of excuses, caved in and apologised. As with the other women, the Met compounded their abuse by subjecting Hampton to a gruelling legal battle to try to avoid accountability and then had the gall to pay tribute to her tenacity in their apology.

Sarah Hampton issued this statement:

Love is one of the most sacred things we have in our society and I fell in love with Mark Stone. He was supportive, attentive and generous, he behaved like he was in love with me. It tortures me knowing he was paid to be with me and because it was such a loving relationship, it was so devastating to find out it was all a lie.

I have wondered so many times if his superiors have kids; what would they think if their daughters were preyed upon like this? I have so much anger inside about this crime against me and it is only exacerbated by the fact that a government institution that is there to protect me is responsible. How do you trust men after this? How do you trust government?

Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I almost gave up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I didn’t know how was I going to stand up to the Metropolitan Police Force. I felt I had been raped, I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.

I kept on fighting the case, using my life as an example of what should never happen to anyone.

No one should ever be under any circumstance coerced, invaded, violated and deceived by an undercover police officer through sexual relationships. Despite the apology I have many unanswered questions. I have not received the files the police have on me. I want to know to what extent my private life has been invaded by the UK police force and what justification is there for it?

Who gave permission for a British undercover officer to form and have
a relationship with a US national in Ireland, in the UK, in Scotland and in Spain?

The police have now apologised to me, saying that the relationship between Mark Kennedy and I was wrong, deceitful, manipulative and abusive, that it should never have happened. That it was an abuse of police power and a violation of my human rights

It is our responsibility now to make sure that this never happens again. We are continuing to fight for the truth to be revealed in the undercover policing inquiry, but it is currently only looking at events in England and Wales. My experience shows that the inquiry must be extended to include in Scotland, Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and other countries where we know Mark Kennedy and many other undercover police officers were active.

The Police and government are supposed to be here to serve the people and they need to be held responsible when negligent and violating human rights.

Activists Demand Irish Inquiry

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

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

Activists targeted by British undercover officers in Ireland held their first press conference this morning in Dublin. Here is the press release.

Victims of British police spying in Ireland have condemned the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, for refusing to commission a complete inquiry into the unravelling scandal.

They are demanding to be included in any investigation about infiltration of political campaigns targeted by undercover British officers operating in Ireland. Mrs Fitzgerald has not replied to their letters, including a legal letter sent in December 2016. The activists have branded an internal Garda review as a whitewash, saying it lacks transparency and prioritises abusers over victims.

Several officers from the disgraced British units were involved in political groups and events in Ireland, and London’s Metropolitan Police admit that English officers who operated on Irish soil committed human rights abuses. Some of them deceived women into sexual relationships, a practice that led to an abject apology by the Metropolitan Police.[1]

After officer Mark Kennedy was exposed in 2010, a slew of revelations led to the establishing of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) in England and Wales, led by Lord Justice Pitchford. Mark Kennedy is known to have made numerous trips to Ireland, and so far at least 56 wrongful convictions have been overturned related to Kennedy and secret police units in the UK.[2] However, events in Ireland are outside the British UCPI’s remit at present.

One of the Irish campaigns targeted was Shell To Sea, which opposed a new gas pipeline in Mayo. Last year they wrote to Mrs Fitzgerald asking for Ireland to join Germany and Scotland on the list of countries demanding inclusion in the UCPI.[3]

In December 2016 three of the 200 campaigners designated ‘core participants’ by the UCPI [3] wrote to the Justice Minister to begin legal action to force a proper investigation in Ireland by insisting the Irish government request inclusion in the UCPI.[4]

They said, “The many Irish press reports on the topic, [5] and multiple questions in Parliament,[6] prove that this topic lies firmly in the public interest. People and politicians in Ireland have only asked to have the same disclosure about abuses as is promised to people in England and Wales. The Metropolitan Police have acknowledged that aspects of the officers’ actions were an abuse of police power and a breach of human rights. These deeds are just as serious wherever they were committed.”

One of those taking legal action, communications consultant Kim Bryan, explained:

‘I am bitterly disappointed by the closed process Frances Fitzgerald has established, with an internal Garda report into undercover policing. It makes a mockery of the justice process if this review examining undercover policing in Ireland does not take into account the evidence of those that were spied on, and as such I would seriously question its legitimacy.’

Jason Kirkpatrick, a former Vice Mayor from Arcata, California, was spied upon during one of Mark Kennedy’s visits to Ireland. He said:

‘We’re not dealing with suspicions or allegations but what the Metropolitan Police have admitted is an abuse of police power and a violation of human rights. We insist that the Minister Fitzgerald work to have Ireland included in the formal UCPI.’

Mr. Kirkpatrick has a related legal action being heard in Belfast High Court, on 7 February. [7]

ENDS

Press Conference:

Speaking at a press conference for the first time are Jason Kirkpartick, who was targeted in Ireland by undercover officer Mark Kennedy, and Maura Harrington of Shell to Sea, a Mayo campaign group Kennedy infiltrated. The two will speak of their experiences, and explain why activists have condemned the closed report commissioned by the Justice Minister.

11am, Monday 6 February

Buswells Hotel
23-27 Molesworth Street
Dublin 2
D02 CT80
www.buswells.ie

NOTES TO EDITORS

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is an alliance of people known to have been targeted by Britain’s political secret police.

  1. Claimants in civil cases receive MPS apology’, Metropolitan Police Service, 20 November 2015
  2. Prosecutors forced to admit covert operation caused miscarriage of justice‘, The Guardian, 24 September 2014
  3. Fitzgerald should seek answers on undercover British police in Ireland‘, Shell To Sea, 16 December 2016
  4. A full list of core participants is on the Pitchford inquiry’s website
  5. Inquiry urged into undercover British agent Mark Kennedy‘, Irish Times, 16 June 2016
  6. Germany and Scotland have both demanded inclusion in #spycops inquiry but Ireland refuses to do the same – Why??‘, Clare Daly TD, Twitter, 26 January 2017
  7. Man in legal bid to extend Pitchford Inquiry to Northern Ireland‘, Irish Legal News, 25 October 2016

Spycops Investigator Mick Creedon Retires

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

Mick Creedon, head of Operation Herne, the police’s self-investigation into spycops, is to retire in May.

He was appointed as head of Operation Herne in February 2013 after its former chief, Pat Gallan, gave combative and incompetant testimony to the Home Affairs Select Committee, notably refusing to apologise for the theft of dead children’s identities.

Though portrayed as an independent figure, Creedon was an old hand at spycops. As Derbyshire’s Assistant Chief Constable (Operations), he will have been briefed on undercover deployments in the county and personally authorised them.

Infamous officer Mark Kennedy went to a number of events in Derbyshire. It’s quite possible that Operation Herne already has custody of documents authorising Mark Kennedy’s abuses in Derbyshire bearing Creedon’s signature. For more, see the Undercover Research Group’s comprehensive profile of Mick Creedon.

Though Creedon rapidly issued a first Operation Herne report in which he admitted identity theft of dead children was standard practice in the undercover units, he didn’t give much else away. He said there would be little value in telling affected families and ‘raking up’ events for them.

Whilst he said that officers should not have deceived women into sexual relationships, he refused to apologise for it, saying,

there are many people involved in sexual relationships who lie about their status. There are many people who say they’re not married when they are married. It happens.

He ignored the fact that the spycops were not merely married but entirely fictitious personalities played by people who are the opposite of everything they claim to be, being paid to be in women’s lives in order to betray their most cherished values, trained, monitored and directed by an unseen team of state agents.

Creedon opposed calls for a public inquiry,saying nobody could do a better job of investigating police than other police.

There has always been public concern about police investigating the police, but I’ll be brutally honest: there is no one as good at doing it as the police. We don’t seek to hide things. We do actually seek to get the truth and we do it properly and I frankly find it almost insulting that people suggest that in some way, because I’m a police officer, I’m not going to search the truth.

Though Operation Herne issued three reports in a year and then a restricted fourth report in February 2015 of which we only have a redacted version, there has been nothing since.

Its staff level has fluctuated, and in July 2015 was reported as being 63, many of whom are Metropolitan police staff including serving officers. This is about three times the number at the Pitchford inquiry. Pitchford is still reliant on Herne as archivist and gatekeeper for police files.

It’s not clear who Creedon’s replacement will be. But then, it’s not clesr that it matters much. it will be another senior police officer with a reluctance to admit any wrongdoing despite the incontrovertible evidence.

Spycops and Strikers: From Grunwick to Now

Grunwick pickets in front of policeSpycops and Strikers is a public event in London on 15th February, part of a series of Grunwick 40 memorial events.

In 1976, six workers walked out of Grunwick Film Processing Laboratory in Willesden and ignited an historic two-year dispute which united thousands to demand better rights for poorly treated workers. The workforce had a significant number of Asian women who were at the forefront of the struggle.

The events of 1976-78 are still remembered as an important moment not just in local history, but in the fight for equal rights for women and ethnic minorities. They brought people of different races and backgrounds together in support of the rights of migrant women workers, shattered stereotypes about Asian women in Britain, and changed the face of trade unionism. Grunwick 40 was set up to commemorate this vital moment.

Such a large, diverse and unified movement attracted serious attention from the Metropolitan Police.

Since the exposure of Mark Kennedy as an undercover officer inside the environmental movement in 2010, many more ‘spycops’ have been found out by the activists they spied upon. We now know that since 1968, the Special Demonstration Squad infiltrated political and activist groups that they considered a threat, including the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, anti-apartheid movement and CND.

We also know that prominent supporters of the Grunwick strike were bugged and followed and that there were attempts to infiltrate the strike committee. There is now a judge-led Inquiry into Undercover Policing, the Pitchford Inquiry; should Grunwick strikers and their supporters be involved to find out more?

People supporting the Grunwick Strikers remember the heavy surveillance back in the days. Jack Dromey, secretary of Brent Trades Council at the time of the strike, recalled that:

‘I discovered after the dispute, from good policemen who talked to me in the thirty years since, that I was bugged at home, that the trades and labour hall was bugged, that there was a period that, we were followed, some of us in the dispute, and also attempts were made to infiltrate the strike committee, so there was a high degree of surveillance.

‘It was an extraordinary period of political paranoia, the security services tended to put two and two together and make Moscow.’

In 2006 the Metropolitan Police released an inch-thick file on the Grunwick Industrial Dispute (1976-78), following a Freedom of Information request by journalist Solomon Hughes. The Met confirmed the existence of six relevant files, but decided to only disclose part of the documents. Ever since the Met have tried to bury the papers, even making previously disclosed files secret again.

What was released, is now shared at the Special Branch Files Project, a live-archive of declassified files focussing on the surveillance of political activists and campaigners.

The Grunwick files consist of a collection of Special Branch reports, police reports, and additional memoranda, documenting the policing of the Grunwick pickets, surveillance of strikers and their supporters between June and October 1977.

Join us to discuss political policing and how we should respond to the Inquiry.

SPEAKERS

Eveline Lubbers (Undercover Research Group)
Solomon Hughes (journalist who uncovered secret files on Grunwick)
Harriet Wistrich (lawyer for people spied upon)
Marcia Rigg (Sean Rigg Campaign)
Kevin Blowe (Netpol)

DATE – Wednesday 15 February 2017, 19:00-21:00

VENUE – Malet Suite, Student Central, 2nd Floor, Malet Street London WC1E 7HY

Free entry, though places are limited so it’s advisable to reserve a seat in advance.

Help spread the word with the Facebook event

Organised by Grunwick 40 in co-operation with the Special Branch Files Project, the Undercover Research Group and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance.

Press Release: Victims of Police Spying Condemn Inquiry

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance

COPS has issued this press release to the Scottish media:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

08:00, 25 January 2017

Victims of police spies condemn inquiry, demand meeting with Justice Secretary

Victims of police spying in Scotland have condemned the new inquiry into the scandal. They say Justice Secretary Michael Matheson did not speak to any of them before commissioning HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to investigate infiltration of political campaigns by officers from secret units. The activists targeted have branded the review as a whitewash, saying it lacks transparency and prioritises abusers over victims.

Numerous officers from the disgraced undercover units infiltrated political groups and events in Scotland, and the police admit that English officers who operated on Scottish soil committed human rights abuses. Several of them deceived women into sexual relationships, a practice that led to abject apology by the Metropolitan Police.[1]

After officer Mark Kennedy was exposed in 2010, a slew of revelations led to the establishing of the Pitchford Inquiry into spying in England and Wales. A Scottish government request to be included was denied, despite the fact that most of the known officers from the spy units have been in the country. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) announced their review earlier this month.[2]

Now fourteen of the 200 campaigners designated ‘core participants’ by the Pitchford Inquiry have written to the Justice Secretary attacking the Scottish inquiry in harsh terms.[3] They say, ‘we, all people who were spied upon in Scotland, do not understand how this can be a step towards resolution when we are being excluded from a process that should revolve around us and those in our position. For this reason, we must go further than not simply supporting this review, but condemn it as a betrayal of all those deceived.’

One of them, communications consultant Kim Bryan, explained:

‘I am bitterly disappointed by the terms of reference set out for the HMICS review of undercover policing. It makes a mockery of the justice process if the review examining undercover policing in Scotland does not take into account the evidence of those that were spied on, and as such I would seriously question its legitimacy.’

Social justice campaigner Merrick Cork was spied upon during one of Mark Kennedy’s fourteen visits to Scotland.[4] He said:

‘We’re not dealing with suspicions or allegations but what the Metropolitan Police have admitted is an abuse of police power and a violation of human rights. This review is designed to fail, it’s just police self-investigating the last few years of the abuses. Michael Matheson should explain how he thinks anyone could take his corrupt decision seriously.’

A number of women have brought claims against the Metropolitan Police after discovering their partners were undercover police officers. A group representing them noted that the HMICS review would exclude some of their cases.[5] The women also issued a condemnation of the HMICS review this week, calling instead for a full inquiry.[6]

The office of the Cabinet Secretary for Justice has acknowledged to the victims’ meeting request by stating, ‘we aim to reply within 20 working days’.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is an alliance of people known to have been targeted by Britain’s political secret police.

The full text of the letter: http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/2017/01/18/spycopstargets-demand-meeting-with-scottish-government/

1. ‘Claimants in civil cases receive MPS apology’, Metrpolitan Police Service, 20 November 2015
http://news.met.police.uk/news/claimants-in-civil-cases-receive-mps-apology-138574

2. ‘Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland – Terms of Reference’, HMICS, January 2017
http://www.hmics.org/sites/default/files/publications/HMICS%20Strategic%20Review%20of%20Undercover%20Policing%20in%20Scotland%20-%20Terms%20of%20Reference.pdf

3. A full list of core participants is on the Pitchford inquiry’s website
https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/160614-list-of-core-participants-v7.pdf
4. ‘A review of national police units which provide intelligence on criminality associated with
Protest’, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, p27
https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/media/review-of-national-police-units-which-provide-intelligence-on-criminality-associated-with-protest-20120202.pdf
5. ‘Woman deceived by undercover police attacks inquiry into tactics’, The Scotsman, 14 January 2017
http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/woman-deceived-by-undercover-police-attacks-inquiry-into-tactics-1-4339746
6. ‘Women spied on in Scotland, demand full investigation’, Police Spies Out of Lives, 17 January 2017
https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/women-demand-scot-investig/