Content tagged with "Kate Wilson"

Pitchford Inquiry Brands the Met ‘Incompetent’

'Undercover is no Excuse for Abuse' banner at the High CourtLast week a crucial battle in the undercover policing scandal saw unprecedented moments when the Inquiry chair labelled the Metropolitan Police incompetent and ill-prepared. Pitchford Watcher was in court and looks at what led to this and what it may mean for the future direction of the Inquiry.

At the heart of the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing one issue towers above all: the release of the cover-names of the undercover officers who targeted protest movements.

For many involved there can be no truth or justice without answers – and for that they need to know who spied on them. Not necessarily who the cops are in real life, but the cover-names used by police posing as activists to infiltrate their campaigns, their friendships, their families and beds, who deceived and abused them. From the start, for the ‘Non Police, Non State Core Participants’ as the subjects of police spying are awkwardly termed, meeting this has been the primary pre-requisite for justice.

It is fair to say that the Metropolitan Police blanched at this demand. This sort of scrutiny of their dark arts is their worst nightmare, one they go extraordinary lengths to avoid. Over the last few decades they are known to have let large cases collapse rather than provide this disclosure.

It is no less true of the six-year civil case brought by women deceived into relationships. There, in a highly unusual move, the Met conceded and gave an unconditional apology. It effectively ended the case, just at the moment when the police were about to be forced to disclose. However, without answers, there was no closure for the women.

The women who fought that long battle do not give up so easily. Two of them, Helen Steel and Kate Wilson, spoke at last week’s hearing. It was their sometimes emotional (and rightfully so) submissions, that brought the damning statements from Pitchford. Though tetchy and constantly interrupting the pair, who were clearly frustrated with the police delays, he was unstinting in his own criticism of the police.

POLICE RESISTING ACCOUNTABILITY

To understand the significance of those comments, we need to take a step back and understand the lead-up to the issues facing the Inquiry. Since the Inquiry began in 2014 it has been dogged by problems, many of a legal nature. The police have constantly fought the release of any details, claiming the need to protect both undercover policing as a tactic and the welfare of undercover officers. It is an uphill battle as they are clearly defending the indefensible in this case. However, as the women in their court case discovered, the police are nothing if not tenacious, and are equally willing to spend large amount of taxpayers’ money to defend their reputation.

For some non-state/police core participants, it feels like a rugby match, each scrum a bruising push towards the final line. Though slowly advancing, each gain in the fight comes with personal costs in what is already a horrendous story. The interventions by Steel and Wilson last week attested to this. It was little surprise that every time the police promised co-operation, those in the public gallery laughed bitterly.

Though, what emerged is that the Inquiry is having its own direct experience of the police failing to meaningfully deliver, despite said promises.

Last year the Inquiry overruled police applications to have the Public Inquiry in private. Pitchford said cover-names would be released unless there was good reason not to. Where arguments to not release existed, these would be dealt via Restriction Orders – in turn evidenced with risk assessments setting out the dangers facing officers if cover and real names were revealed. Thus, risk assessments became pivotal to the process.

DELAYS UPON DELAYS

The first tranche of restriction order applications were due October 2016. Instead, what happened was a farce: friends of undercovers were chosen as risk assessors and had to be dropped; others fell by the way for different reasons. The Inquiry itself had to intervene heavily in the process, including providing specific guidance on what an acceptable risk assessment amounted to. In Pitchford’s words:

the Metropolitan Police were not the experts in risk assessment they claimed to be.

Pitchford has been clear that without the cover-names released the Inquiry cannot proceed. The suspicion in some quarters is that the Met are taking this as that is a guide on how to obstruct. Again, as the Chair told their barrister last week:

This process does not work if you take a year to give me a risk assessment.

For the normally highly restrained language of courts, all these are all harsh words, and damaging to the Metropolitan Police’s reputation. The Met had no real response either: the process had collapsed and needed rebuilding. The October 2016 deadline passed and a new one, the 31st March this year was put in place. At the Inquiry’s request, progress updates moved from monthly to fortnightly. Still, the March deadline was missed as the Metropolitan Police were unable to submit any risk assessments, and worse, applied for an extension until October 2017.

If Pitchford and the Inquiry team were frustrated, those spied upon were incensed. Not least as the Inquiry seemed to be accepting the for now familiar police stalling tactics. However, when Dan Squires, counsel for the non-police/state participants, raised that the police delays were deliberate, Pitchford was quick to step in and disapprove of the suggestion.

However, Pitchford perhaps underestimated, as the police had, the tenacity of those most affected. They were not having it, and were prepared to say so. Kate Wilson and Helen Steel stood up and reiterated the core demands: stop the delays and release the cover names.

Addressing court was clearly a painful experience for them, and frequent interruptions by a seemingly irascible Pitchford made it harder. They were talking from personal experience of having their lives invaded, but this was not simply an account of wrong doing: they had serious points to make about police behaviour.

Building on Squires’ points, they went further, demanding the Inquiry took a stronger grip of the situation and to stop leaving all the power in the hands of the police, the very people being charged with abuse. It was in the face of this that Pitchford’s clear irritation finally broke through. He acknowledged their distress, but again refuted the allegation that it was deliberate. However, this time he tempered it with his trenchant criticism levelled against the Metropolitan Police of incompetency, failure to plan and lack of foresight.

SELECTIVE SECURITY

The police tried a number of tactics, including pleading anxiety on behalf of some officers, and the claim of the need to protect operational secrets. Yet, they had no answer for the point that there had recently been a steady release of court cases and news stories where cover-names have been published as part of prosecution evidence. This included cases involving ISIS and serious organised crime. As Helen Steel remarked, it smelled more of a fight over reputation.

There is little doubt she was right. The Metropolitan Police had scored an own goal, seeking to protect its reputation on one front resulted in it being damaged overall. Pitchford for the most part gave them an easy ride, but when pushed it finally became clear that the Met had not just been given enough rope to hang themselves, but had put their neck into the noose.

Other police forces are clearly paying attention and looking at more nuanced approaches. For instance, the National Police Chiefs’ Council submitted that cover-names could be released if the real names were given automatic anonymity.

Just before the hearing it appears the Met realised the danger it faced. It would not be good if the new Commissioner was formally summoned to give explanation in person, as the Inquiry has the powers to do (a possible outcome of a Section 21 Order under the Inquiries Act). Thus, on the first day of the hearing they produced a much revised and more ambitious timetable. They went from complaining how difficult it would be to get anything in place before October, to promising the first tranche of 22 applications by 1st June, more by 1st August, and by 1st October all 150 affected SDS officers (undercovers and back-room alike) to be risk assessed, and where necessary restriction order applications submitted.

This is just the Special Demonstration Squad officers, and does not include the officers from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, whose 50+ undercovers have apparently all indicated they want to make restriction orders. Nevertheless, where the Met goes, other forces are likely to follow.

The battle of the cover names has taken a big step forward, though is only half-completed. Pitchford has still to agree to this new timetable, then the police need to actually make the applications. There will then follow hearings to determine what will be restricted and what will be released, possibly using a system of benchmarks rulings to guide the police.

IT’S NOT GOING AWAY

The Inquiry was supposed to be completed by 2018. Now, evidence will not be heard until 2019, and as one barrister noted, at this rate the final report will not be submitted until 2022. That is eight years after it was first announced, eleven after Mark Kennedy, Jim Boyling, Bob Lambert and others were all first exposed. Few are surprised by this, after all Pitchford is relatively new to a fight that started four years before he became involved, and for some a cause spanning over two decades.

The spycops scandal continues to be a poison pill for the Metropolitan Police. Last week, it path walked them into a quandary over their reputation. Either they were incompetent and terrible at risk assessment; or they are not, in which case the delays have all been deliberate. It is clear there is a divide between those spied upon and the Inquiry who believes which.

One wonders how much it played a role in the recent sideways move for the man charged with heading up the Met’s response, Martin Hewitt. He has since moved sideways to head up Territorial Policing, with his role now occupied by Fiona Taylor.

Another open question is what incoming Commissioner Cressida Dick makes of it all. She has inherited a problem from her predecessor Bernard Hogan-Howe who took a somewhat belligerent approach to the issue. Yet, it was on her watch that the report that finally buried the Special Demonstration Squad was drawn up, labelling it a rogue unit without moral compass. However, she has her own skeletons and inconvenient connections into the spycops scandal, not the least being that the Special Demonstration Squad spied upon the de Menezes family justice campaign, a shooting she gave the go-ahead for. How much this will come back to haunt her remains unknown.

In the meantime, campaigners are waiting for the 1st June deadline to come around, in equal measures sceptical and hopeful that answers will finally start emerging.

The submissions made by all core participants and transcripts of the hearings of 5th & 6th April can be found at UCPI.org.uk.

The author attended the two hearings in person on 5th & 6th April.

Originally published on Pitchford Watcher.

Spycops Activists Demand Meeting with Scottish Government

SaltireThere has been emphatic condemnation of the terms of the Scottish inquiry into undercover policing. Not only is it a self-investigation by senior police, it is limited to the last few years of abuses. Although the Special Demonstration Squad was formed in 1968, the Scottish review will not examine anything before 2000.

This comes despite and there are documented cases of officers committing what the Metropolitan Police admit were ‘an abuse of police power’ and ‘a violation of human rights’ in Scotland earlier than 2000.

The Scottish Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, has commissioned this blatant whitewash without asking anyone targeted by spycops about their experience or what they wish to see done.

The forthcoming Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing in England and Wales has designated around 200 of the most significantly impacted people as ‘core participants’.

Today, a group of the core participants who were also spied upon in Scotland have written to Michael Matheson requesting a meeting. Here is the text of their letter.

 


 

To:
Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson
St. Andrew’s House,
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

18 January 2017

 

Dear Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson,

 

Request to meet in light of release of terms of reference for the HMICS review of undercover policing in Scotland.

We note with dismay the terms of reference set out for the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland review of undercover policing announced last week – a review you commissioned. They singularly fail to address the many abuses of which we have complained, and exclude the abuses experienced by many more.

The terms of reference exclude transparency and accountability; worse still, they prioritise the abusers over the victims, by giving only the police a voice in the process – an intolerable situation, devoid of any justice.

On top of this, it is simply impossible to have faith in the HMICS team given their closeness to those they are supposed to be investigating. The assurances of independence ring hollow and are not borne out by the facts.

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.

As there is clearly a lack of understanding of these issues, we ask that you meet with a group of us at the earliest possible convenience.

Yours,

Andrea
Alison
Claire Fauset
Dónal O’Driscoll
Harry Halpin
Jason Kirkpatrick
John Jordan
Indra Donfrancesco
Kate Wilson
Kim Bryan
Martin Shaw
Merrick Cork
Olaf Bayer
Zoe Young

The above individuals were spied upon in Scotland and are core participants in the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing. A number of them were decieved into relationships which were partially conducted in Scotland, including prior to 2000.

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.

Core Participants Condemn Scotland Exclusion

Pulling at a door being held shutIn the wake of the Home Office decision not to extend the Pitchford inquiry to Scotland, a group of core participants who were spied on there have issued this statement:

We are core participants at the undercover policing inquiry. We are extremely frustrated that Theresa May decided to exclude events in Scotland from the inquiry.

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 Scotland. 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 inquiry will focus on the disgraced units the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. The majority of known officers from these units were active in Scotland for several decades. To ignore that is to prevent the inquiry from dealing with a significant part of its remit. It sets the inquiry up to fail before it begins.

The decision is a flat denial of the Scottish government’s request for inclusion, which was supported by every party in parliament. Scotland has only asked to have the same disclosure about abuses as is promised to people in England and Wales.

We request that the Scottish government work further to ensure Scotland is included in the inquiry. If this is not forthcoming, the Scottish government should set up its own independent inquiry, a proposal that already has cross-party support. We would be happy to participate in this and help reveal the truth that the Pitchford inquiry keeps hidden.

Alice Cutler
Alison (RAB)
Andrea
Chris Dutton
Claire Fauset
Donal O’Driscoll
Harry Halpin
Helen Steel
Indra Donfrancesco
Jason Kirkpatrick
John Jordan
Kate Wilson
Kim Bryan
Lisa (AKJ)
Martin Shaw
Megan Donfrancesco
Merrick Cork
Naomi (SUR)
Olaf Bayer
Oliver Rodker
Sarah Hampton (HJM)
Simon Lewis
VSP
Zoe Young

Video: Voices of the Spied On

On 21 January we held a Voices of the Spied On public meeting, and videos of the four panellists’ speeches are now on our Youtube channel.

Janet Alder has been a tireless campaigner for justice for her brother Christopher who was killed by Humberside police in 1998. Police admit repeatedly putting her under surveillance, yet she has been denied ‘core participant’ status at the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.

Stafford Scott has been a key figure in numerous black community and family justice campaigns. He was co-ordinator of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign and is now race advocacy officer at the Monitoring Group.

The exposure of undercover police adds a new sinister dimension to the state repression he has devoted himself to opposing, with campaigns being infiltrated and undermined by officers.

Kate Wilson is an environmental and social justice activist who was deceived into a long-term relationship by undercover police officer Mark Kennedy. This, her first UK public talk on the subject, came five days after she won a gruelling four year legal battle to have the Metropolitan Police held accountable for Kennedy’s abuse.

Jules Carey is a human rights lawyer at Bindmans of London, representing many of the people targeted by Britain’s political secret police.

His clients include Jacqui, the first case the Met settled with a woman deceived into a relationship by an undercover officer, and other similar clients whose cases are ongoing. He also represents Barbara Shaw, mother of Rod Richardson, a dead child whose identity was stolen by an undercover police officer.

Here he talks about the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing.

Targeted Activists Call for List of All Spycops

Poster of 14 exposed spycops among 140 silhouettesAs the public inquiry into undercover policing prepares itself, it has designated 200 people and organisations that have a known significant link to the issue as ‘core participants’.

Of these, 21 are police and other state agents or agencies, whilst 179 are those who were targeted.

From those 179, 133 have signed a letter to the Inquiry with three demands:

1- Release the ‘cover names’ of all officers from the Special Demonstration Squad and National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

2 – Release the names of the groups who were targeted, believed to be over 500

3 – Release the Special Branch files on all core participants

This demand for disclosure echoes Doreen Lawrence’s call for there to be ‘a presumption in favour’ of naming the spycops.

It also attacks the police’s blanket use of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to frustrate attempts to find the truth. Last year’s apology from the Met to seven of the women deceived into relationships with undercover officers admitted

these legal proceedings have been painful distressing and intrusive and added to the damage and distress.

The exposure of the officers whose misdeeds the Inquiry takes so seriously has been a matter of chance – with 13 properly documented, there are still well over a hundred that nothing is known about. The only way to get the truth is if those who were targeted can tell their story, and that can only happen if they know they were spied upon.

The letter is a powerful call from the overwhelming majority of those the Inquiry recognises as being seriously affected. One core participant who signed, Stafford Scott, has likened the inquiry as it stands to a blindfolded boxer with their hands tied.

Another signatory is Kate Wilson, who successfully sued the police after being deceived into a long-term relationship by Mark Kennedy. She told the Guardian

It was only by chance that we found out Mark’s real identity. I might just as easily have been one of the hundreds who still don’t know. Everyone abused deserves the truth, not just those who happen to stumble upon it

 

The full text of the letter:

Dear Lord Justice Pitchford,

As 133 of the Inquiry’s Core Participants, we write to share our collective view that a fundamental requirement for the Inquiry’s success is to instruct police to disclose, as soon as possible, a list of names of all the organisations about whom intelligence was gathered; the cover names (not the real identities) of the individual officers responsible for infiltrating and reporting on activists and campaigns; and the individual Special Branch reports for each Core Participant group or individual.

We are aware that Preliminary Hearings are due to deal with anonymity and disclosure issues, but we feel it is vital to raise this broader point now on our own behalf and for those whose personal lives or political activities may have been profoundly affected by undercover policing but who are in no position to participate in the Inquiry because of the failure to identify the cover names of undercover agents or the groups spied upon.

Without this basic information, it is effectively impossible for the Inquiry to have a full picture of undercover policing. The only Core Participants in any position to give even a partial summary of facts they might eventually rely upon are the limited number who have already themselves researched and revealed, largely by chance, the existence of undercover officers, or those who have been informed by the media they had been subject to covert surveillance. Even then, it is difficult for non-state core participants and witnesses to contribute in any meaningful way while virtually all the documentary evidence remains in the hands of the police.

On top of this, Operation Herne [police self-investigation into the SDS & NPOIU] confirmed in July 2014 that the SDS alone targeted at least 460 groups for surveillance. When added to the unknown number of operations by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, there are hundreds of organisations who still have no idea that they were spied upon. This means the overwhelming majority of individuals and organisations targeted since 1968 have had no opportunity to consider the possible consequences of the actions of undercover officers on their work and cannot currently participate as witnesses.

Core Participants and other current and potential witnesses are likely to struggle to provide testimony as long as there remains inadequate or non-existent information available to them. We are deeply concerned that a unique and historic opportunity may be lost unless the Inquiry is able to provide the vital details we seek.

The terms of reference of your Inquiry are broad: to examine the scope and motivations of undercover police operations in practice and their effect upon individuals in particular and the public in general. We therefore believe the issue of disclosure is absolutely critical. In our view, if the Inquiry is to have any realistic prospect of providing accurate insight into the “purpose, extent and effect of undercover police operations targeting political and social justice campaigners” it must do more than look at the activities of the tiny proportion of officers – less than 10% of the total from the SDS and NPOIU – that have already received publicity and exposure.

By their own admission, police records were patchy and much of what was documented has subsequently been lost or destroyed. Even without the resistance to genuine openness and transparency we are expecting, it is plain the police alone cannot provide an adequate narrative of their actions. The only way to discover a true picture of the impact of their undercover operations is to hear the testimony of those about whom intelligence has been gathered – and this is only possible if they know who spied on them and can reflect on the possible scale, implications and potential disruption caused by undercover officers.

We appreciate that the police will use every possible argument against providing greater openness and transparency, although there is no evidence that the public exposure of any undercover officer to date has either placed them at personal risk or posed any threat to national security. In our view, the police’s ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ policy is less about protecting individuals and far more about blocking exposure of misdeeds.

We believe such a policy is untenable in a transparent public inquiry and that full disclosure is essential to discovering the truth. We urge you to set the tone for the future work of the Inquiry by insisting police disclose the information we need to fully participate.

Yours sincerely,

The following Core Participants

(numbers from the inquiry list of core participants v2. An updated PDF, v3, is here)

1 Advisory Service for Squatters

3 AJA

4 Albert Beale

5 Alice Cutler

6 Alice Jelinek

7 Alison (RAB)

8 Alex Beth Stratford

9 Alistair Alexander

10 Amelia Gregory

14 ARB

15 Barbara Shaw

17 Belinda Harvey

19 Ben Stewart

21 Blacklist Support Group

23 Brendan Mee

24 Brian Farrelly

25 Brian Healy

26 Brian Higgins

28 C

29 Cardiff Anarchist Network

30 Celia Stubbs

31 Chris Dutton

32 Claire Fauset

33 Claire Hildreth

34 Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army

35 Climate Camp Legal Team

36 Colin Roach Centre

38 Dan Gilman

39 Dan Glass

40 Danny Chivers

41 Dave Smith

43 Debbie Vincent

44 Defend the Right to Protest

46 Dónal O’Driscol

47 Duwayne Brooks OBE

48 Ellen Potts

49 Emily Apple

51 Frances Wright

52 Frank Smith

53 Gabrielle Bosely

54 Genetic Engineering Network

55 Geoff Sheppard

56 Gerrah Selby

57 Graham Smith

58 Gráinne Gannon

60 Hackney Community Defence Association

61 Hannah Dee

62 Hannah Lewis

63 Hannah Sell

64 Harry Halpin

65 Helen Steel

66 HJM

67 Hunt Saboteurs Association

68 Indra Donfrancesco

69 Ippy Gray

70 Jacqueline Sheedy

71 Jacqui

72 Jane Laporte

73 Jason Kirkpatrick

75 Jennifer Verson

76 Jesse Schust

77 John Jones

78 John Jordan

79 Juliet McBride

80 Kate Allen

82 Kate Wilson

84 Kim Bryan

85 Kirk Jackson

86 Kirsty Wright

87 Kristina Bonnie Jones (aka Tina Miller)

89 Leila Deen

90 Lisa (AKJ)

91 Lisa Teuscher

92 Lois Austin

93 London Greenpeace

95 Marc Wadsworth

96 Mark Metcalf

97 Martin Shaw

98 Martyn Lowe

99 Matt Salusbury

100 Megan Donfrancesco

101 Melanie Evans

102 Merrick Cork

103 Michael Dooley

105 Michael Zeitlin

106 Morgana Donfrancesco Reddy

110 Naomi (SUR)

112 Newham Monitoring Project

113 Nicola Benge

115 Norman Blair

117 Olaf Bayer

118 Oliver Knowles

119 Oliver Rodker

120 Paddy Gillett

121 Patricia Armani da Silva

122 Paul Chatterton

123 Paul Gravett

124 Paul Morrozzo

126 Piers Corbyn

127 Rhythms of Resistance Samba Band

128 Robbin Gillett

129 Robert Banbury

130 Roger Geffen

131 Rosa (Dil)

133 Ruth (TEB)

125 Sarah Shoraka

136 Shane Collins (aka William Shane Collins)

138 Sian Jones

139 Simon Chapman

140 Simon Lewis

141 Simon Taylor

142 South Wales Anarchists

143 Spencer Cooke

144 Stafford Scott

145 Steve Acheson

146 Steve Hedley

148 Suresh Grover

149 Suzan Keen

151 Terence Evans

152 The Monitoring Group

153 Thomas Fowler

154 Thomas Harris

155 Tim Byrne

157 Tomas Remiarz

158 Trapese

159 Trevor Houghton

160 VSP

161 William Frugal

163 Youth Against Racism in Europe

163 Zoe Young

Additional people made Core Participants since v2 list:

“Andrea”

Ceri Gibbons

Smash EDO

Police Admit Liability But Not The Truth

Stop The Shredding! Release the Files! Protest 15 January 2016In the wake of revelations of Britain’s political secret police units destroying files that incriminate them, last Friday COPS went to Scotland Yard and demanded that they stop the shredding and release the files.

The only way we will ever know the truth is if those who were spied on come forward. For that, we need disclosure of the list of ‘cover names’ used by officers and the list of groups targeted.

The forthcoming public inquiry is relying on the police to be archivists of their own damning files. The Undercover Research Group, who did such astonishing work this week exposing officer Carlo Neri, called for the ‘domestic extremist’ database unit to be suspended to protect the files.

Later the same day there was another demonstration outside the High Court ahead of the latest hearing in the case of Kate Wilson, who is bringing action after being deceived into a relationship by Mark Kennedy.

Like so many campaigners, Wilson has been subjected to a double injustice. Firstly, there was what the state did to her and then there was the gruelling ordeal of years of blatant obstructions and chicanery to obstruct her quest for the truth.

The police said the relationships weren’t authorised, they were the fault of Kennedy himself, so she shouldn’t sue the police as a body. Then they said the relationships were authorised after all so they would have to go to a secret tribunal where neither she nor her lawyers were allowed.

Kate Wilson on the today Programme, 19 Jan 2016

Kate Wilson on the today Programme, 19 Jan 2016

On Friday, after more than four years, the police finally withdrew their defence and admitted liability. But Wilson does not accept that as the end of it – it still doesn’t actually tell us who was liable. Who authorised it, why, and who else knew and approved it?

Furthermore, is it continuing? Certainly, the surveillance of Kate Wilson did not end when she split up with Mark Kennedy in 2005. Less than a year ago, she found a tracking device on her car.

She gave a powerful and moving interview on the Today Programme and also gave her analysis of the hearing.

 

The police had already unequivocally accepted that the relationships were wrong. It is now clear that wrongdoing goes far beyond the individual undercover officers. Yet we are denied access to any information about the extent of the intrusion into our lives, who knew and how far up the hierarchy it went.

The police’s decision not to defend the claim is clearly motivated by a determination to avoid disclosure of documents relating to the undercover operations, at any cost. Alongside recent revelations that they are unlawfully destroying files, it makes you wonder what further horrors they are really trying to hide.

How many more women may have been affected by these abuses? How many more children may have been fathered by these undercover officers? It is clear the police are not going to come clean. The only way there can be real justice is if the Inquiry releases the cover names and opens the files so that these women can come forward themselves.

 

Just like the refusal to tell people they were spied on, and our reliance on volunteer researchers to do the digging, the police’s stonewalling of Kate Wilson shows that they are not interested in admitting the truth, let alone learning from it. Instead, despite knowing that there is still more to come than has been revealed, they are closing ranks around their abusers, putting their fingers in their ears and singing lalalala.

But the years of mounting evidence, the unrelenting determination of the swathes of people affected and the groundswell of public outrage are combining to create a pressure that cannot be resisted much longer. Stop the shredding. Publish the names. Release the files.

==========

Kate Wilson gives her first UK public talk about her experience at our public meeting in London on Thursday. She will be alongside:

  • Stafford Scott, race advocacy worker at The Monitoring Group and former co-ordinator of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign
  • Janet Alder, who has been repeatedly targeted by spycops in her campaign for justice for her brother Christopher, killed by police in 1998
  • Jules Carey, lawyer who represented Ian Tomlinson’s family and now represents several women deceived into relationships with spycops

 

 

COPS Public Meeting, Thursday 21 January

COPS public meeting 21 January 2016

 

As the scandal of Britain’s political secret police continues to grow, and with a full scale public inquiry imminent, come and hear from those who were targeted by spycops and are leading the fight for justice.

On Thursday 21 January we are hosting a public meeting in London.

On the panel are:

Kate Wilson
Kate WilsonThe first UK public talk by this social justice activist who was deceived into a long-term relationship by undercover officer Mark Kennedy.

Wilson is one of eight women who collectively took legal action against the police. In doing so they demonstrated that these were not ‘rogue officers’, but the similarity of their experiences proves that what happened to them was accepted strategy.

Their tenacity forced the Met to issue an extraordinary apology in November. Wilson’s case continues.

Janet Alder
janet Tireless campaigner for justice for her brother Christopher who was killed by police in 1999. Despite the inquest’s finding of unlawful killing, no officers were convicted.

Christopher’s body was subjected to a series of indignities, police admit to repeatedly spying on her and attempting to spy on her lawyer, they snooped into her past to smear her, and despite all this she has been denied ‘core participant’ status at the public inquiry.

Stafford Scott
stafford A key figure in numerous black community and family justice campaigns, formerly co-ordinator of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign, Scott is now race advocacy officer at the Monitoring Group.

The exposure of undercover police adds a new sinister dimension to the state repression he has devoted himself to opposing, with campaigns being infiltrated and undermined by officers.

 

Jules Carey
julesA human rights lawyer at Bindmans, Carey represents many of the people targeted by spycops.

His clients include Jacqui, the first case the Met settled with a woman deceived into a relationship by an undercover officer, and other similar clients whose cases are ongoing.

He also represents Barbara Shaw, mother of a dead child whose identity was stolen by an undercover police officer.

Chair: The meeting will be chaired by Lois Austin, ex chair of Youth Against Racism in Europe, who were also infiltrated by undercover police.

WHEN: Thursday 21 January, 6.30-8.30pm

WHERE: Diskus Room, Unite the Union, 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN

FREE ADMISSION

There will be plenty of time for questions from the floor.

Police Apology for Relationships: Where Next?

L-R: Kate Wilson, Helen Steel, Belinda Harvey and their lawyer Harriet Wistrich at their press conference, 20 November 2015 (Pic: Danny Shaw, BBC)

L-R: Kate Wilson, Helen Steel, Belinda Harvey and their lawyer Harriet Wistrich at their press conference, 20 November 2015
(Pic: Danny Shaw, BBC)

It’s an extraordinary statement by any standards. Even when the police pay large compensation, they usually do so with no admission of culpability for anything. But last Friday they issued a detailed, unreserved apology for the abuse of women who had relationships with undercover police officers.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt even made a video of the admission, bluntly stating for the record that the relationships were

abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong. I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma…

Most importantly, relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity.

 

The outrageousness and severity of how these women were treated is finally an acknowledged, settled fact.

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

Some of the harrowing, heart wrenching impacts were spelled out by Lisa Jones – partner of Mark Kennedy for six years and whose discovery of his true identity brought the issue to light – when she gave her first ever interview on Friday.

As “Rosa”, who had children with undercover officer Jim Boyling, said,

This has affected my whole view of the state and it went as deep as my womb

 

Kate Wilson’s description of what was done to her was similarly powerful, and her highlighting of the continuing lack of transparency – “the police have made no effort whatsoever to provide any kind of answers” – shows that all this is far from over.

It echoes what was said a year ago when the Met settled the first such case. Jacqui, who had a child with Bob Lambert, received £425,000 compensation but said

The legal case is finished but there is no closure for me. There is the money, but there is no admission by the police that what they did was wrong, there is no meaningful apology and most importantly there are no answers.

 

Although Friday’s apology is a major historic victory, it is only confirming that what the women already know to be true. There is so much more still hidden from view.

TIME TO TAKE CHARGE

The Met’s admission of their officers’ serious abuse must surely mean that the Crown Prosecution Service have to revisit last year’s extraordinary decision not to bring charges against these officers for sexual offences.

As Gayle Newland starts her eight year sentence for creating a false identity to deceive someone into a sexual relationship, it’s pretty clear that if this gang of men weren’t police officers they would already be behind bars. Nobody else would get away with just giving an apology and a cheque from public funds.

The CPS also decided not to prosecute them for other offences, explaining

In order to prosecute misconduct in public office, the prosecution would have to show that an officer knowingly abused their position in order to bring a sexual relationship about

 

It is hard to see how anyone could say anything else now. The Met have just conceded that the relationships didn’t just happen but

none of the women with whom the undercover officers had a relationship brought it on themselves. They were deceived pure and simple…. [it was] an abuse of police power


STRATEGIC INSTITUTIONAL SEXISM

But even now, the Met can’t quite admit the whole truth. They

accept that it may well have reflected attitudes towards women that should have no part in the culture of the Metropolitan Police

They still can’t bring themselves to use the word ‘sexism’. The Met is institutionally sexist as well as institutionally racist. This cannot ever change if they refuse to fully face the facts, and in this apology they just shied away once again.

Police say relationships were never authorised in advance and were never used tactically. But the overwhelming majority of known officers – all but two – did it. Most had long-term, committed life-partner relationships. One of them, Bob Lambert, lived with a woman and fathered a child before going on to run the unit, overseeing protegee officers who did the same thing, including ones involved in this week’s settlement. He must surely have known.

Sometimes officers were deployed together. Certainly, Lambert, Marco Jacobs and Lynn Watson saw colleagues having relationships. So, did they fail to report this ‘grossly unprofessional, never allowed’ behaviour to their seniors (thereby placing themselves at risk if they were ever found out)? Or did they report it but their bosses didn’t intervene? Or was it, as it appears, an established, accepted tactic?

PULLING BACK THE SHROUD OF SECRECY

Three years ago police lawyers said relationships weren’t authorised, trying to blame individual ‘rogue officers’ and shield managers from responsibility. But then it was pointed out that if this was unauthorised behaviour then it wasn’t covered by the rules governing surveillance in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. If that were so then any case would be heard in open court instead of a secret tribunal where the womens’ side weren’t allowed. So those same lawyers went back to the same court and argued that relationships were actually authorised after all.

That was just one twist in the course of the four years and hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ pounds police spent trying to stop these women bringing the facts to light. The blanket use of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to refuse to even admit anyone was a police officer was an additional insulting hurdle to make the path to truth more gruelling.

It’s a pattern familiar from so many other justice campaigns – there’s the injustice of what the police did, then the double injustice of the cover-up, smearing and legal obstacles that follow.

The apology statement rightly mentioned the extra distress caused by the protracted legal case and paid tribute to the tenacity and mettle of the women.

Even now, having just paid compensation and apologised to the women abused by John Dines and Mark Jenner, the police have not actually confirmed they were Special Demonstration Squad officers.

Nonetheless, the apology, like the agreement to be liable for damages paid to people spied on by Marco Jacobs, is effectively an admission that these men were police. It is another hammer blow to the devious, farcical tactic of Neither Conform Nor Deny. With the public inquiry still to come, that is significant.

A GRAIN OF TRUTH – TIME FOR THE HARVEST

All the appalling abuse these women suffered came from just five police officers. Even this isn’t the end of it – there are several other similar cases are still ongoing, including more partners of Mark Kennedy and Marco Jacobs.

We only know of the exposed officers due to the investigations and luck of activists and journalists. These are not necessrily the worst of them, merely what chance has revealed. There is so much more beyond. We have the names of around a dozen officers, less than 10% of those known to have worked undercover in the political secret police units.

How many other women were similarly abused? How many other children searching for their fathers are doomed to failure because it’s a name a police officer made up or stole from a dead child? How many campaigns were stymied? What other outrages have occurred that none of the known officers committed? At least 500 groups and uncountable thousands of individuals were spied on. They all have a right to know.

If these seven women deserve justice, so do the rest. If the public deserves the truth it deserves the whole truth, not somewhere under 10% of it.

Chair of the forthcoming public inquiry, Lord Pitchford, says

The Inquiry’s priority is to discover the truth

The only way we will get the truth is if those who were targeted tell their stories. The only way that can happen is if they know that their former friend and comrade was in fact a police spy. If the Inquiry is to serve its purpose, and if the Met are truly contrite, then they must publish the cover names of all undercover officers from the political policing units.

New video: 3 People Spied on by Kennedy

We have a new video on our Youtube channel – Resisting Surveillance: Real Life Spycop Targets.

Three activists targeted by Mark Kennedy spoke at the Chaos Communication Camp in Germany last week.

‘Lily’ [update: she has subsequently waived her anonymity and publicly uses her name Kate Wilson] was an activist mobilising for the 2005 G8 summit in Scotland when she had a long term relationship with Kennedy. She is one of the women suing Kennedy’s bosses in the Police Spies Out of Lives case and recently co-wrote an article about the impact of these relationships for the Guardian.

Jason Kirkpatrick was a Berlin-based anti-G8 activist who kennedy used as a springboard into German activism. More recently he has been researching Britain’s political secret police and is making a documentary, Spied Upon.

Harry Halpin is a digital rights activist who was spied on by Kennedy in several countries.