Content tagged with "Ireland"

Spycops in Ireland: Secret Report With More Questions Than Answers

Gardai in uniformShortly after the truth about undercover officer Mark Kennedy hit the headlines in January 2011, officials from many of the 11 countries he visited wanted answers. In Ireland, the Minister of Justice asked the police to write a report on his visits.

They refused to make it public but last week, following tenacious work by Ellen Coyne at the Times, it was released under Freedom of Information and The Canary published it in full.

In the report – little more than a fob-off letter – the Gardai don’t deny authorising Kennedy’s visits, and they defend their decision to keep it secret from their own government. Kennedy visited the country many times, committing human rights abuses, inciting action and getting arrested under a false identity.

The release of the report raises more questions than it answers. Who authorised his visits? What remit was he given? What oversight did they have on what he actually did? What did other British spycops do in Ireland?

MARK KENNEDY IN IRELAND

Mark Kennedy made at least five undercover visits to Ireland, taking on many different roles. In spring 2004 he was part of an info-tour raising awareness of the upcoming G8 meeting in Scotland and visited the Shell To Sea gas pipeline protest in Co Mayo. On Mayday 2004 he was part of a Dublin black bloc demo against an EU summit where he was attacked by police and needed hospital treatment. He was arrested, held for five hours and released.

In June 2004 he participated in the demonstration against George Bush’s visit to Dromoland Castle. He made at least two other visits to Ireland over the next two years, including acting as a trainer on a programme for anarchist activists later in 2004 on civil disobedience.

Mark Kennedy and Sarah Hampton in Dublin 2005

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

Kennedy was at the European Youth for Action’s April 2005 meeting in Co Clare to establish a European network of anti-war and peace activists.

He drove to Dublin in March 2006 to attend the Anarchist Bookfair. UK activists gave him publications to take which he reported as confiscated by UK border officials. He later went back to the Shell to Sea protest.

A second report – also a police self-investigation for the Ministry of Justice – was commissioned last year yet, despite demands from Irish parliamentarians, they are still keeping that one secret. Having hidden the truth from the government for so long, the Gardai are still keeping it from the public. Does it contain any answers about Kennedy’s activities? What are they hiding?

Even then, the two reports are focussed on Mark Kennedy’s visits to Ireland. There are even bigger questions. Which other British spycops came to Ireland to undermine campaigns and abuse citizens? Did any come from other countries? What exactly were they there for, and what did they end up doing?

NOT JUST KENNEDY

Although we only know about 18 officers of Britain’s political secret police – around 10% of the total – it’s already established that other officers visited the Republic; Mark Jenner, John Dines and Jim Boyling were also there, the four of them covering a period of 15 years.

Mark Jenner drove activists to Belfast and Derry in August 1995, and took part in street fighting when nationalists clashed with the loyalist Apprentice Boys of Derry march on 12 August. The Police Service of Northern Ireland say that police there were ‘completely blind’ to the presence of Met spycops, and that deploying them without training or oversight was ‘an act of madness’. Whilst in the North, Jenner also visited the Republic. It would be astonishing if, as the Gardai imply was the case with Kennedy, the Met informed them and got the visit authorised yet kept police in the North in the dark.

Jim Boyling visited Ireland in 1997 and is reported to have participated in the destruction of an experimental genetically modified crop. John Dines went to Ireland in late 1991/early 1992 during the final stages of his deployment.

HOW MUCH MORE?

Like Kennedy, Jenner, Boyling and Dines were the subjects of legal action by women they abused through relationships, something which the Met themselves have conceded was ‘a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’. All but Boyling committed these abuses in Ireland, and Kennedy did so with several women.

This week, four of the women affected wrote to the Irish government asking

  • Who authorised these undercover operations in Ireland?

  • Do Irish police hold files on us, and when will we be given access to those files?

  • How does the Irish state justify foreign police officers having deceptive intimate relationships with women, in violation of our human rights and bodily integrity?

  • How many more UK police officers operated in Ireland and how many more women were abused by the police on Irish soil?

Did the Gardai know about this aspect of the British spycops’ activities? If so, they were complicit in human rights abuses. If not, it shows that their oversight was grossly incompetent and therefore warrants proper independent investigation.

Other questions should be answered to. When did it start? Is it still going on? Which Irish campaigns were targeted and stymied? Which citizens were abused?

Their cavalier approach to transparency and legality raises other questions. In the UK, spycops including Kennedy and Boyling engineered dozens of wrongful convictions for the people they spied on. Did the same thing happen in Ireland?

Even with the handful of officers exposed, it is clear there was long-term, systematic abuse. Most of the known officers went abroad. We can be sure that there are many, many more similar outrages and abuses committed by the as-yet unknown officers. The forthcoming British public inquiry will only look at actions in England and Wales.

NO EXCUSES, NO MORE DELAYS

We already know that the Gardai authorised foreign secret police to come to Ireland and spy on people, including inciting them to action, whilst there they committed human rights abuses, and it was kept secret from the government. The Gardai used their power in sinister and disturbing ways, facilitating numerous abusive officers. It beggars belief that anyone would dare to suggest a self-investigation into one officer would be sufficient, let alone accept it and fend off calls for anything more rigorous, yet this is what the Justice Minister is doing.

It shouldn’t take legal action by journalists to force admission of what’s already known. We shouldn’t rely on victims to do their own research into what was done to them and have pleas for answers go unanswered. If officials in government and police believed in justice they would be revealing the truth rather than hiding it.

Update on Seeking Spycops Justice Outside England & Wales

Most Known Spycops Worked Outside England & WalesAs children in school we are taught that the best way to organise a nation in the interest of its citizens is with a democratic system, and that this system can’t be flawed because of its checks and balances. Yet recently the Irish government has been proving that the opposite is true, it is operating to protect itself and its security apparatus against the best interests of the people.

This situation has arisen after British police admitted human rights abuses done by their undercover police officers who violated human rights of a number of women by having intimate relations with them during operations.

Four of these officers so far have also been exposed as having operated in Ireland, and victims now demand answers about who was responsible for such international political policing. Yet despite being confronted on the topic by oppositional MPs, Irish government representatives repeatedly say that the issue of exposing the truth and having a transparent inquiry into the abuse ‘does not arise’. Such a position made by any elected official can only serve to chip away at faith in the system they represent.

The continually growing secret policing scandal led then-UK Home Secretary Theresa May to create the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) to look into two political undercover policing units, but with a remit limited to England and Wales. It had also been revealed that most outed undercover officers had operated abroad in a total of at least 17 countries, including the officers who were in Ireland: Mark Kennedy, John Dines, Jim Boyling and Mark Jenner.

Among targeted Irish groups were those opposed to genetically engineered crop testing and Shell to Sea, a group concerned with protecting fisheries and the environment in County Mayo.

Despite the fact that most known officers went abroad, due to its remit the UCPI refuses to properly examine activity outside England and Wales. Civil rights campaigners and parliamentarians outside England and Wales have responded with demands for answers.

On 8 February 2017 the Irish Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald replied to a Parliamentary Question by answering

‘should anything emerge from the findings of the UK’s Undercover Policing Inquiry that would be relevant to policing in this jurisdiction I will consider it fully and take any action that may be required’.

However, the minister is either bluffing or is not aware that nothing relating to any events occurring outside England and Wales will be investigated by the UCPI, thus rendering her argument meaningless.

Further problems have arisen from excluding jurisdictions outside England and Wales. High-level German interest in being included in the UCPI stems from scandal around illegal activities by undercover officer Mark Kennedy. On this basis, German MPs Andrej Hunko and Hans-Christian Stroebele moved to have the Home Office include Germany in the UCPI.

The Home Office Minister of State for Policing, Mike Penning, responded on 13 November 2015. He referred to the original terms being limited to England and Wales, and continued,

‘The Inquiry team has confirmed that they would encourage witnesses to provide a complete picture when submitting their evidence, although they will need to consider evidence against the terms of reference’.

This clearly meant evidence of events occurring outside England and Wales could be submitted, but would not be examined fully by the Inquiry. More, it meant that issues around activity abroad cannot be mentioned if they don’t directly connect with actions in England and Wales.

After further scandal about UK undercover operations in Germany were exposed in the press and questioned in Parliament, the German Interior Ministry confirmed that on 31 May 2016 they had formally asked the UK Home Office to extend to the UCPI to include British undercover operations in Germany.

However on 14 September 2016 the German Interior Ministry wrote to MPs Hunko and Stroebele, saying that he had received a communication from Brandon Lewis in the UK Home Office stating that in order to prevent further delay to the UCPI and improve public trust in the work of the police, they refused to include undercover operations in Germany into the remit of the Inquiry.

A legal action was begun in Germany by UCPI witness and Core Participant Jason Kirkpatrick on 20 July 2016, based upon Kirkpatrick’s having been targeted numerous times in Germany by Mark Kennedy. The UK government flatly refused to extend the UCPI to Germany, stating:

‘The particular high profile allegations which prompted the decision to commence an Inquiry were primarily if not exclusively about events said to have originated from English and Welsh police forces, and alleged to have occurred in England and Wales. They were about alleged miscarriages of justice, alleged sexual relationships between male undercover officers and members of the public’.

The sexual relationships are, by the police’s own admission, a violation of human rights and an abuse of police power. The fact that women (British and otherwise) have suffered the same abuse outside of England and Wales appears to be something the Home Secretary hopes to not hear, see or speak of.

Education of the Irish Justice Minister is ongoing, and it is hoped she will also soon request inclusion in the UCPI just as her German, Northern Irish and Scottish counterparts have done.

Despite Irish government intransigence and the UK’s rebuffing of German and Scottish attempts to be included in the UCPI, there is still hope elsewhere. A case brought in Northern Ireland recently has led to judicial review of the British government’s refusal to widen the UCPI. That court date is expected to be towards the end of 2017.

Amidst growing concern about whether the UCPI would ‘follow the evidential trail’ beyond England and Wales, solicitors for the activist Core Participants in the Inquiry recently sought clarification from UCPI staff. On 1 November 2016 the UCPI solicitor Piers Doggert wrote,

‘it is likely that the activities of some of the undercover police who will be examined by the Inquiry will have taken them outside of the jurisdiction of England and Wales during the period in question. They may have travelled with other non-state witnesses and both may wish in due course to give evidence about this. In so far as what occurred during that period forms part of the wider narrative of tasking of the officer, or the relationship under consideration, then that evidence will be received by the Inquiry and may form part of the narrative within the final report.

‘However, the Inquiry will not attempt to form any judgement about the legality or propriety within a jurisdiction outside of England and Wales of the actions of an undercover police officer from England and Wales; the terms of reference preclude it from doing so’.

In other words, no matter what crimes and abuses an officer committed abroad, if it can’t be made to relate to actions in England and Wales the Inquiry won’t even hear it; and even the deeds they do hear about cannot be properly taken into account.

Clearly this situation is absolutely unacceptable. If justice is to be done by the UCPI, then it needs to truly follow the evidential trail wherever these spycops have committed their abuses. To force this to happen, more victims of their spying will have to continue telling their stories to the press, speaking out in public, pushing supportive politicians to fight for us, and bringing forward legal actions.

As the public continues to hear our stories and our voices grow stronger, we can already start to savour a taste of the justice that we can create for ourselves, as we begin to see this corrupt political policing house of cards tumbling down.

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.

Spying Victims Demand Access to Gardai Files

Ireland Satellite ImageOf the thousands of people targeted by Britain’s political secret police, around 180 were known to be so significantly impacted that they have been granted ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming Pitchford inquiry.

Most of the known spycops worked abroad, but the terms Theresa May dictated to Pitchford force the inquiry to disregard anything outside England and Wales.

Several spycops officers were in the Irish republic. Five years ago the police there produced a report on Mark Kennedy’s visits but refused to release it. As the fuss has not died down, the gardai are producing another one but won’t say if it will be published. Either way, it will fall far short of looking at the overall picture of British spycops in Ireland. Like the Scottish inquiry, it’s police investigating into police.

As reported in The Times last week, a group of Pitchford core participants who were also spied on in Ireland have demanded the Irish government undertake a thorough, credible and public investigation so that people abused there get the same level of justice as those in England and Wales.

 


6 December 2016

Spying victims demand access to gardai files

Witnesses in a British inquiry into an undercover policing scandal have urged the Irish government to force the gardai to release any files it has on the spies.

By Ellen Coyne

The Metropolitan police in London formally apologised last year after it was revealed that undercover officers had sexual relationships with members of protest groups they had infiltrated. At least one officer, Mark Kennedy, is known to have been in the Republic of Ireland, while several others were in Northern Ireland.

The Times revealed that the gardai were aware that Mr Kennedy was in the Republic on a number of occasions between 2004 and 2006 but refused to tell ministers whether it knew that he was working as a spy, even though he infiltrated protests in Ireland using his alias.

Theresa May announced an inquiry into undercover policing while she was home secretary and Lord Justice Pitchford’s investigation will examine cases in England and Wales since 1968. It will not include incidents in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Alice Cutler, Helen Steel, Jason Kirkpatrick, Kate Wilson, Kim Bryan, Sarah Hampton and “Lisa Jones”, not her real name, have all asked to have access to files with information about them, which they believe the gardai hold.

Ms Jones, Ms Wilson and Ms Hampton had relationships with Mr Kennedy without any knowledge that he was a policeman. All three visited Ireland with him.

Ms Bryan went to Belfast in 2005 on a trip organised by Mr Kennedy. Mr Kirkpatrick also travelled to Belfast with Mr Kennedy running anti-globalisation events.

Ms Steel had been in a relationship with John Dines, an undercover officer using the alias John Barker. They had visited Northern Ireland and the Republic together [correction: they were only in the Republic]. All seven visited Ireland with officers who were using undercover identities.

The group said:

‘We have all been personally chosen as core participants because we were significantly targeted by officers in England and Wales. We were also all spied upon in Ireland. We cannot have faith in the ability of the inquiry to deliver an opportunity for truth and justice when it is prevented from fully establishing what happened to us.

‘The Metropolitan police has 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. We request that the Irish government work further to ensure Ireland is included in the inquiry. If this is not forthcoming, the Irish government should set up its own investigation.’

In June the PSNI said that undercover officers had been operating in Northern Ireland during the 1990s without its knowledge. Mark Hamilton, the assistant chief constable at the PSNI, told the Northern Ireland policing board that his force had been “completely blind” to the presence of undercover Metropolitan police officers.

Last month The Times revealed that Frances Fitzgerald, the tanaiste, had asked the garda commissioner for a new report on Mr Kennedy. She will not confirm if the report will be made public.

In 2011 President Michael D Higgins, who was a Labour TD at the time, and Dermot Ahern, the justice minister, asked the commissioner to report on Mr Kennedy’s actions in Ireland. The report was never published.

Last Thursday, a spokesman for the Department of Justice told The Times:

‘The tanaiste has also made clear that she will consider this report fully when it is available, including the question of what information might be put into the public domain.’

Last night the department said it was not offering any further comment.

A spokesman for the gardai said that it does not comment on matters of security.

Ireland Commissions Another Police Self-Investigation

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

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

The Irish government has ordered a report on British undercover officer Mark Kennedy’s activity in the Republic. Any hope that this might be useful is obliterated by the most cursory look at the detail.

The police will investigate this police wrongdoing. They will only look at Kennedy, even though three of the other 16 known officers – John Dines, Jim Boyling and Mark Jenner – were also in Ireland. Who knows how many of the remaining 100+ unknown officers went there too?

This self-investigation mirrors the Scottish government’s recent announcement – get implicated police to investigate, give them a narrow remit that is incapable of seeing the full picture, nobody gets disgraced by their systematic human rights abuses being exposed.

The same pattern was followed in Britain five years ago. A year after Kennedy was exposed in 2010 there were 12 separate inquiries going on, all of them run by police or their satellite bodies such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission. None of them were allowed an overview to see systemic issues, even if they had been that way inclined. It was designed to protect the people in charge and portray Kennedy as a rogue officer.

Ireland’s justice minister Frances Fitzgerald asked the gardai to investigate this month. However, the Department of Justice already have a report. In 2011 they got the gardai to investigate Kennedy’s actions. They’ve had the completed report for over five years but are refusing to publish it.

WHAT WAS KENNEDY DOING THERE?

Ms Fitzgerald gave some detail of the secret report to the Dail last month, responding to questions from Sinn Fein.

Refusing to even name Mark Kennedy, she said

‘The report indicated that An Garda Siochana was aware of the presence of the person in question on a number of occasions between 2004 and 2006. They had established no evidence that while in this jurisdiction the person in question was involved in criminal activities’

The claim is somewhat tenuous. Kennedy was arrested during the 2004 Mayday demonstration in Dublin. In his excruciating 2011 documentary he points himself out in a newspaper clipping of black bloc demonstrators.

‘There’s a photograph of me in one of the Sunday newspapers, the headline says something like “Anarchist Terrorists Come to Dublin”, and there’s like five of us in this picture linking arms.’

Mark Kennedy at Dublin May Day protest, 2004

Mark Kennedy at Dublin May Day protest, 2004

Kennedy was back in the Republic in June 2004 for protests at George Bush’s presence in the country.

He visited several more times over the following two years, including participating in the Shell to Sea gas pipeline protest in Co Mayo.

Commissioning the new report is proof that the Irish government is under pressure and feels it must respond. But, as with the Scottish investigation, and the heap of earlier ones from the same mould, it is not credible.

BIGGER QUESTIONS

Frances Fitzgerald is meeting British Home Secretary Amber Rudd this month. Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has asked for Rudd to be questioned about British spycops in the Republic. Specifically:

  • Who authorised Mark Kennedy’s trips to Ireland?
  • Who sanctioned the list of Irish campaign groups that were to be targeted?
  • Were any convictions in Ireland secured by evidence or actions carried out by undercover British police officers?

How much were the gardai involved? They have already admitted they approved Kennedy’s visits in advance (though claim they did not direct him), unlike the Police Service of Northern Ireland who say they were kept unaware of Special Demonstration Squad officers in their jurisdiction.

Did police in the Republic merely rubberstamp all British requests without asking what they were authorising? Or did they – like German police – have a contract and pay for Kennedy to be in their country?

Whose orders was Mark Kennedy acting on? What about the other British spycops? Which Irish citizens were spied on? Which Irish campaigns were stifled? How much Irish taxpayers’ money was spent getting British agents to undermine the work of Irish citizens?

STARTING WITH THE WRONG ANSWER

The Irish government’s decision to keep their 2011 report secret indicates that the new one for public consumption will omit important details. Looking only at Kennedy plays into the myth of him as an isolated figure. The truth is that there’s nothing Mark Kennedy did as a police officer that wasn’t done by others before him. Far from being rogue, he was textbook.

We need to know about the creation of the archtype and the actions of all those who lived it. They were part of a long-term strategy approved from on high. That is now understood as a plain fact. It is why we are having Lord Pitchford’s public inquiry. That only covers events in England and Wales, but the same officers committed the same abuses elsewhere, and it should be taken just as seriously.

We do not need to be insulted by yet another report saying that Kennedy did some bad things but there was no systemic problem. We cannot be placated by more assurances from the abusive organisations that there was nothing malicious in their intent, lessons have been learned and we can all move on. The more they give us decoys and keep secrets, the more guilty they look.

We need to know the names of the groups that were targeted. We need to know who gave the orders and why. Anything less from state agencies is collusion with the counter-democratic deeds of the spycops.

Germany Asks to Join Spycops Inquiry

Most Known Spycops Worked Outside England & WalesThe German government have formally asked to be included in the forthcoming Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing. Five officers from Britain’s political secret police units are known to have been in the country.

Special Demonstration Squad whistleblower Peter Francis says he was the first officer to work abroad when he was sent to an anti-racist gathering in Bavaria in 1995. Francis was accompanied by his handler who stayed in a nearby hotel – the infamous former officer turned overseer Bob Lambert. The recently exposed officer known as RC is also reported to have been in Germany around ten years after Francis.

Mark Kennedy was also a frequent visitor to the country, and in 2007 went with fellow officer Marco Jacobs. Kennedy was arrested in 2006 in Berlin for arson after setting fire to a dumpster, and again at an anti-G8 protest in 2007. He gave his false name to authorities which – along with arson, of course – is a crime in Germany.

Like the Scottish government’s similar request, the German demand follows years of sustained effort by parliamentarians from the left-wing and Green parties. Tenacious parliamentarian Andrej Hunko has been working on this since Kennedy was first uncovered, and this week he welcomed his government’s call and spelled out the seriousness and breadth of the issue.

SCOTLAND WAITS AND WAITS

The forthcoming Pitchford inquiry is planning to only examine actions of spycops in England and Wales. As the majority of exposed officers were active in Scotland (and Scottish chief constable Phil Gormley had oversight of both spycops units at the key time) it is patently absurd to exclude Scotland from the inquiry.

Despite their government formally asking to be included last year, and even Tories demanding Theresa May accede, there has been no real response. It has been six months now, yet we have merely been told time and again that “talks are ongoing”.

With the preliminary sessions of the inquiry mostly over, it is starting to look like the Home Office is simply stalling and that the lack of a response will effectively become a refusal once the inquiry begins.

For their part, two representatives of the inquiry fielded questions at the recent conference hosted by the Monitoring Group and Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. They told those attending that it would be nonsense to exclude part of an officer’s story just because it happened abroad, and the inquiry would want the full picture.

Whilst this is some comfort, it is far from good enough. Firstly, the spoken assurance of underlings is very different to the declared decision of the Chair.

More importantly, it avoids many of the real issues. Spying abroad raises questions far beyond the officers’ own stories. Who organised it? Who decided their remit and purpose? How much did the host country know? Who is responsible for crimes committed by officers whilst abroad?

Peter Francis says SDS officers were given

absolutely zero schooling in any law whatsoever. I was never briefed, say for example, if I was in Germany I couldn’t do, this for example, engage in sexual relationships or something else.

NORTHERN IRELAND ALSO IN THE QUEUE

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) says police weren’t even told that spycops were being deployed there. Yet German police confirmed to Andrej Hunko that Mark Kennedy was directed and paid by German police. Which operations were done which way, and why?

That mention of ignorance is the first official comment from police about spycops being in Northern Ireland. SDS officer Mark Jenner was there in August 1995 fighting with nationalists in a violent clash with the loyalist Apprentice Boys of Derry march.

This week PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the BBC that nobody in the Northern Ireland police was ever aware the SDS were there, nor of any information being passed to them from the SDS.

With myriad other undercover operations going on in Northern Ireland during the conflict, to have sent Met officers in seems dangerously blase at best. Hamilton said

risk assessments have to be carried out. Anybody who’s deployed here without those assessments would be, in my view, an act of madness.

It seems hard to believe the SDS were so cavalier as to send their officers blundering in like that. Perhaps their contacts in the Northern Irish police aren’t admitting anything. Perhaps the SDS was working with some other arm of the British state. Or maybe this really is another area where the SDS simply didn’t think about the possible impacts on the people it worked among.

All this only refers to the SDS in Northern Ireland. Mark Kennedy, of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, was active in Belfast in 2008. He was there with activist Jason Kirkpatrick who has had confirmation that the Northern Irish government has also asked to be included in the Pitchford inquiry.

ALL IRELAND SPYING

Kennedy was a repeat visitor south of the border as well, notably fighting with police in a Mayday demonstration in 2004. It’s been five years since this was made public knowledge and Michael D Higgins TD – now president of Ireland – demanded an explanation.

SDS officer Jim Boyling was there in the mid 1990s so it’s clear the Republic, like the North, has a long history of being targeted by both of Britain’s main spycops units.

HOW MUCH MORE?

Last year we compiled a list of 17 countries visited by spycops over a period of 25 years. It is barely the beginning. All of these instances come from the fifteen exposed officers from the political secret police units. There are over a hundred more about whom we know nothing.

How much more of this – and what else that we haven’t even imagined – did they do? What campaigns did they infiltrate? Whereabouts were they? What crimes did they commit? Which children are still looking for disappeared fathers under false names?

Their actions – which the Met itself describes as “manipulative, abusive and wrong” – were perpetrated against uncounted numbers of people. The apologies and inquiry apply to actions in England and Wales, but it is no less abhorrent if the victim is abroad and/or foreign.

The German request is a major event. The extensive incursion of spycops into politically sensitive Irish territories surely means there will surely be more demands for inclusion and information coming from there as well. Affected activists have also initiated a legal case in Northern Ireland to force inclusion in the inquiry, a tactic that may well spread to other countries. Yet the disdain with which the Scottish government’s long-standing demand has been treated by the Home Office means the fight is far from over.

The arrogant disregard for the personal integrity and wellbeing of individuals was carried over to the laws and statutes of entire countries. Everyone who has been abused by spycops deserves the full truth, be they a solitary citizen or a sovereign nation.