Content tagged with "Ellison"

Spycops Investigator was Spycops Overseer

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

As the full scale public inquiry into Britain’s political police continues to limber up, it’s worth noting that they’re reliant on the same police that committed the abuses.

New evidence this week shows that’s not institutional, but that a individual senior officer responsible for spycops is posing in a key role as a neutral trustworthy figures.

OPERATION HERNE

The first serious attempt at inquiring into the spycops scandal was a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing in February 2013.

It took testimony from three women who had relationships with undercover officers, Helen Steel (anonymised as ‘Clare’), Lisa Jones and Alison.

It also heard from Assistant Chief Constable Pat Gallan of the Metropolitan Police, then-head of the police’s self-investigation into the issue, known as Operation Herne.

The three women who had relationships had done successful investigations to prove that their former partners were Metropolitan police officers. In contrast Pat Gallan, with a staff of several dozen, said she had uncovered very little indeed.

The hearings were the day after the Guardian revealed that Mark Kennedy’s predecessor officer had stolen the identity of a dead child called Rod Richardson. The report estimated it had happened in around eighty other cases.

Gallan, who admitted being aware a case of theft of dead children’s identities five months earlier, had somehow found no further instances and cast doubt on the Guardian’s guess.

She says she does not know if the figure of 80 children’s identities being used is accurate.  She knows of two cases.

Gallan’s numeracy is clearly as strong as her detective ability. Even by that time, there had been published stories about three officers who used dead children’s identities – Rod Richardson, John Barker (aka officer John Dines) and Peter Black (aka Peter Daley, aka officer Peter Francis).

Gallan flatly refused to apologise for the practice of stealing dead children’s identities, or for anything else. It was a PR disaster and she was removed from her post at Operation Herne by the end of the week.

With a new layer of scandal to fend off, they needed to front it someone ‘independent’.

DECAPITATE THE HYDRA

They brought in Derbyshire’s top cop, Chief Constable Mick Creedon.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has said revelations that police used the identities of dead children will be investigated by an independent police chief with an expertise in corruption.

Well that is certainly true, though perhaps not in the way Theresa May meant. Yet again we see the exceptionalism afforded to police. No other industry would regard a sister company whose top brass frequently transfer between one another as independent and free from bias.

It continues to this day – the police are still holding the spycops files that will be wanted by the Pitchford public inquiry. Even though a whistleblower officer has reported ‘domestic extremist’ files being destroyed by fellow officers, even though the Met corruptly destroyed a ‘lorry-load’ of documents relating to its own corruption including the Stephen Lawrence case, the public inquiry has not requisitioned the relevant documents.

What other organisation found to have committed systematic abuse of citizens would be treated this way? Which other criminals get to be custodians of the evidence that incriminates them?

The Home Affairs Select Committee issued an interim report (it never did a full one). They emphatically insisted that all families whose dead children’s identities were stolen by spycops be informed. They expected it to happen by the end of 2013. We are still waiting.

At that time Creedon, keen to calm the furore and retain credibility, rapidly produced an Operation Herne report rubbishing the idea of there only being two isolated instances of dead children’s identity theft. He said that for around 20 years – mid 1970s to mid 1990s – it was standard practice in the Special Demonstration Squad.

At this stage one hundred and six (106) covert identities have been identified as having been used by the SDS between 1968 and 2008.

Forty-two (42) of these identities are either confirmed or highly likely to have used the details of a deceased child. Forty-five (45) of these identities have been established as fictitious.

Work continues to identify the provenance of the remaining identities.

There are definitely more, though. For one, the officer known as Rod Richardson wasn’t in the SDS, he was from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. Who knows how many of their officers did it?

Creedon explicitly rebuffed calls for an independent inquiry into spycops.

‘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.’

THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS

The proof that Operation Herne was just a figleafing exercise came in March 2014. After whistleblower SDS officer Peter Francis revealed his unit had spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence, Mark Ellison produced his comprehensive and damning report into the matter. His findings eventually forced the resignation of the head of Counter Terrorism Command, Richard Walton, a classic case of ‘go before they bring misconduct charges and thereby preserve your pension’.

On the very same day as Ellison’s report was published, Creedon issued his Operation Trinity report. It looked at the same issue and reached essentially opposite conclusions. He basically said that if there isn’t documentary proof of spying on the Lawrences we can’t say it happened.

So immersed was Creedon in protecting the police from exposure that the 84 page report subtitled Allegations Of Peter Francis said it

will neither confirm or deny if Peter Francis was an undercover police officer.

Four months later came a third and seemingly final Herne report, into the spying on similar racial and family justice campaigns. Two years on, the 18 families identified are still waiting for answers. Creedon and Herne are publicly silent on that and all other matters.

BY HIS OWN HAND

But this week there’s a new twist in the tale. When spycops were active, they had to be authorised by a senior officer from the constabulary they were in, as well as their bosses at the Met. More than one of the exposed undercover officers was in Derbyshire; Mark Kennedy was there many times. We know from leaked papers of Kennedy’s deployments in North Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire that the proper protocol of these authorisations was meticulously adhered to.

As Derbyshire’s Assistant Chief Constable (Operations), Mick Creedon will have been briefed on these deployments and he will have personally authorised them to go ahead. It’s quite possible that Operation Herne has custody of documents authorising Kennedy’s abuses and bearing Creedon’s signature, unless they too have been deliberately lost or destroyed.

The Undercover Research Group have just published a profile of Mick Creedon that maps his career and shows a particular involvement in protests by environmentalists, anti-fascists and other groups who were infiltrated by spycops.

Far from being a clean, neutral figure, Creedon came to Operation Herne as an insider of many years’ standing. Once again, having been proven to have abused citizens the police are shown to respond with deceit.

These attempts at self-preservation backfire by undermining any idea that the police could have a  serious commitment to honesty and integrity, let alone justice. Top to bottom and side to side, we’ve seen brand protection as their highest priority – indeed, that is the very thing that led to them undermining the justice campaigns in the first place.

There can be no faith in Operation Herne, nor any police self-investigation. There can be no trust in the people whose wrongdoing is the subject of the public inquiry being allowed to decide what does and doesn’t get revealed. The problems highlighted by the spycops scandal are endemic and institutional. The revelation of Mick Creedon’s true history proves that there is no independence in the police.

Reinforcing Spycops : The National Undercover Scrutiny Panel

PrintIf you haven’t heard of the College of Policing‘s National Undercover Scrutiny Panel, don’t worry. It appears that you weren’t really meant to.

After some mentions on social media, they responded on 12 March with a press release entitled National undercover scrutiny panel set up. This is somewhat misleading, as it had been set up and agreed its terms of reference far earlier, in July last year. It had further meetings in October 2014 and February 2015, still without any public mention.

But who were they? The interest aroused on 12 March forced them to disclose the Panel’s line up the following day.

But how did they get there? A Freedom of Information request was made on 15 March asking for copies of any advertisements that were published seeking Panel members, any documents that outline the desired qualities and/or qualifications for participants, and minutes of any meetings where the selection of participants was discussed.

On 28 May the College of Policing admitted they were in breach of the Freedom of Information Act by not giving an answer within the mandatory time limits. And still, it goes unanswered.

Two weeks after the initial revelations they gave further detail about the Panel’s purpose and belatedly put minutes of meetings online.

MADE IN THEIR OWN IMAGE

As far as we can tell, none of the individuals or groups targeted by the disgraced undercover policing units and methods, nor their legal repesentatives, were informed of the Panel’s formation, let alone asked to participate.

Undercover policing is in the spotlight because of the public outrage following the exposure of the political secret police units. What kind of credible scrutiny can there be when the Panel is laden down with officers involved in the old ways and doesn’t have a voice for those who were abused?

One of those on the Panel is Mick Creedon, who was put in charge of the police’s self-investigation Operation Herne after its previous head Pat Gallan was removed from the post following her ludicrously implausible cover-up testimony at the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Herne is now starkly seen as a damage limitation exercise. There is no clearer example than its response to the revelations about police spying on the Stephen Lawrence campaign.

Two teams, one from Operation Herne, the other led by Mark Ellison QC, looked at the issue. Drawing on the same documents, they issued reports on the very same day. Ellison basically said that the campaign had been spied on and it pointed to much more beyond Lawrence. Herne essentially said the opposite, and even refused to concede that the whistleblower Special Demonstration Squad officer Peter Francis was ever actually in the police.

It is one of the countless examples proving once more what we all already know, that no organisation, especially one with power, can impartially investigate itself. And no matter how well intentioned, such actions can never have credibility.

The establishment of the forthcoming public inquiry is a de facto admission that Herne has failed, that it’s the police marking their own homework, and something wider, more robust and independent is needed to improve the public’s understanding of what has been done to them over the last fifty years.

The political policing scandal is not a partnership issue, this is a perpetrator and victim situation. For the police, their enablers (and the public) to understand what they did wrong, they need to hear it described by those they did it to.

The Scrutiny Panel being established in secret among police officers is an act of bad faith. It appears to be nothing more than an extension of the damage limitation we’ve already seen from some of the officers on the Panel.

ADDING THE CREDIBILITY OF DISSENT

They did have two critics of the police on the Panel. Ben Bowling is professor of criminology and criminal justice at King’s College, London. He was one of the founders of the Monitoring Group who have been powerful advocates for people who have been racially victimised by individuals and the state over the last thirty years. He gave an excellent talk, ‘From Robert Peel to Spycops; Where Did It All Go Wrong?‘ at the Monitoring Group’s extraordinary Police Corruption, Spying, Racism and Accountability conference on Saturday 7 February, just two days after attending a Panel meeting.

Sophie Khan is solicitor-director at Sophie Khan & Co, who specialise in actions against the police, and also an occasional media commentator where she is an advocate of civil liberties and often critical of policing.

Ahead of the Panel meeting at the end of April she posted on her Telegraph blog that

Vested interests are being protected by the police-led Panel but what about the rights of those who will be subjected to undercover policing? Do they not have a right to be heard and for their interest to be considered?

She wanted the process to

include more non-police voices, campaigners and activists who challenge undercover policing. This has been advanced in previous meetings, but there has been no change in the police-led, police-focused and police-chaired panel.

 

A fortnight later, just three weeks ago, she was exhorting people to join the Panel process and ‘be part of the solution’. This week she stood down from the Panel and, to her credit, boldly made it public, saying

 

I am disappointed that the College of Policing has asked me and others to volunteer for a Panel that was never designed to progress the work on undercover policing.

The lack of transparency and the imposition of public official duties on private individuals has also contributed to my decision.

 

It’s surprising that it took eleven months to realise that an opaque police body was intended to shore up existing methods. Like so many of the previous official reports and inquiries on this issue, it was designed to be seen to be doing something rather than actually doing anything, to bolster rather than challenge police power and credibility.

That last bit of Khan’s about imposing public duties is intriguing and somewhat cryptic. We can only hope that she will explain it in the more detailed piece she’s said will follow shortly.

As far as we know, Professor Ben Bowling remains on the Panel.

We are grateful to the Undercover Research Group for their piece this week on the Panel, and particularly for their characteristically thorough profiling of all the Panel’s members.

 

 

Report into Spycops Wrongful Convictions Postponed

Mark Ellison

When Mark Ellison QC produced last year’s report into undercover police officers spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family, he also found that officers appeared to have engineered miscarriages of justice.

Several undercover officers, including Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling, went through court cases under false identities, swearing to tell the truth and then do nothing but lie.

Boyling was on trial as part of a group, meaning that this police officer was party to defence meetings with their lawyers. One of his comrades was convicted. This was eventually overturned last year, though it does leave the question hanging of how many other wrongful convictions have been left to stand.

After his report into the Lawrence spying, Mark Ellison was tasked to produce a new report on the miscarriages of justice. He was due to report in March, but on 13 January a written parliamentary answer revealed that there will merely be a ‘progress report’. The final item has no projected completion date.

This will set some people’s alarm bells ringing. Two years after the Home Affairs Select Committee’s ‘interim report‘ into undercover policing we are still waiting for the full thing. With the Chilcott report fossilising in the vaults it would be easy to see Ellison’s delay as too convenient for those with something to hide. However it seems more likely that the scale of the job is significantly larger than anticipated.

When police pre-emptively arrested 114 climate activists at a 2009 meeting to plan the shutdown of a coal fired power station, one of them was Mark Stone, aka police officer Mark Kennedy. Charges were brought against 26. A first trial of 20 activists saw all of them convicted.

The remaining six pointed out before their trial that, in the meantime, they’d uncovered Kennedy’s true identity. They asked to see his undisclosed evidence but, rather than hand that over, prosecutors dropped the charges. It turned out Kennedy had recorded the meeting, securing evidence that exonerated the six but which the prosecutors and police had withheld from the defence. The initial 20 had their convictions quashed afterwards.

Sir Christopher Rose’s now discredited report said that the case was anomalous and there was no systemic problem. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Kier Starmer, dodged Jeremy Paxman’s repeated question about whether there might be other cases.

Then an earlier,  similar case in which Kennedy had participated in stopping a coal train on its way to Drax power station was highlighted. Another 29 convictions were overturned. It was clearly systemic.

We have information on less than 10% of the officers who have worked for Britain’s political secret police since the formation of the Special Demonstration Squad in 1968. If, like Kennedy, they each secured around 50 wrongful convictions then there are about 8,000 miscarriages of justice being left to stand. Even if we conservatively assume there was only one wrongful conviction per officer per year of service, it’s around 600.

It is no exaggeration to say that we could be looking at the biggest nobbling of the judicial system ever exposed. Let’s hope that, in contrast to the undercover officers, Mark Ellison will reveal the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.