Content tagged with "Public Inquiry"

How Many Spycops Have There Been?

Poster of 14 exposed spycops among 140 silhouettes

Political spying is not new. The Metropolitan Police founded the first Special Branch in 1883. Initially focusing on Irish republicanism in London, it rapidly expanded its remit to gather intelligence on a range of people deemed subversive. Other constabularies followed suit.

But in 1968, the Met did something different. The government, having been surprised at the vehemence of a London demonstration against the Vietnam War, decided it had to know more about political activism. The Met were given direct government funding to form a political policing unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

About twelve officers at a time would change their identities, grow their hair and live among those they spied on for years at a time. They would ‘become’ activists, each infiltrating a particular group on the far left, far right or in other areas of dissent such as the peace movement and animal rights. They were authorised to be involved in minor crime.

The police and the secret state have always used informers, and even private investigators, as part of their surveillance work. However, the SDS was unique in being a police unit set up to focus on political groups with extended periods of deployment. The model was rolled out nationally in 1999 with the creation of the SDS off-shoot, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is primarily concerned with these dedicated political secret police – the long-term, deep-cover officers of the SDS, the NPOIU, and the successor units that subsumed them and their roles.

It’s generally accepted that there have been around 150 of these undercover officers since the SDS was formed in 1968. This figure comes from work by the Undercover Research Group and activists, and extrapolation from details in official reports.

Operation Herne, the Met’s self-investigation into the spycops scandal, said in July 2013

‘To date Operation Herne has verified one hundred and six (106) covert names that were used by members of the SDS.’

This is just the SDS. Last year, Mark Ellison’s report into spycops causing miscarriages of justice asked about the NPOIU, which ran from 1999-2011.

‘Operation Herne has identified fewer than 20 NPOIU officers deployed over that period’

However,

‘Operation Herne’s work to investigate the nature and extent of the undercover work of the NPOIU was only able to begin in November 2014 and has barely been able to ‘scrape the surface’ so far’.

There may well be more spycops from either or both units.

Other, similarly hazy, approaches arrive at a similar number. The SDS ran for 40 years and is understood to have had 12 officers deployed at any given time, usually for periods of four years. This would make a total of 96 undercover officers. However, it’s known that some officers were active for a fraction of the usual time, so the real figure will be somewhat higher.

Assuming the same scale for the NPOIU gives a total of 36 officers. That is a fuzzy guess though – the NPOIU was a new, national unit and may have deployed more officers.

The Operation Herne report from 2013 said that, of the 106 identified SDS officers, 42 stole the identity of a dead child, 45 used fictitious identities, and 19 are still unknown. The practice of stealing identities was mandatory in the unit for about 20 years until the mid-1990s. The NPOIU, starting in 1999, is only known to have stolen a dead child’s identity for one officer, Rod Richardson.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

There are certainly some more spycops from the successor units.

The Met merged its Special Branch (including subsidiaries like the SDS) with its Anti-Terrorist Branch in October 2006 to form Counter Terrorism Command. They reviewed and shut down the SDS in 2008.

Although the NPOIU used a number of Met Special Branch officers, from 2006 it was overseen by the Association of Chief Police Officers as part of their National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU). In 2012, the NDEU was also absorbed into the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. At the same time, the NDEU changed its name and stopped having any responsibility for undercover officers.

Last November the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt issued an abject apology to eight women deceived into relationships with undercover officers. Two months later Carlo Neri, another officer who had similar relationships, was exposed. Assistant Commissioner Hewitt assured the BBC that the Met

‘no longer carries out ‘long-term infiltration deployments’ in these kinds of groups but would accept responsibility for past failings’

That appears to contradict a 2013 report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. It plainly says today’s spycops are deployed by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command and similar regional units.

‘The NDEU restructured in January 2012, and now operates under the umbrella of the MPS Counter Terrorism Command (which is known as SO15). NDEU has also recently been renamed, and is now called the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU)…

‘The NDEU’s remit changed at the same time as its restructure and no longer carries out any undercover operations. All deployments of undercover officers which target the activity of domestic extremists are coordinated either by the SO15 Special Project Team (SPT), or by one of the regional SPTs…

‘The SPTs are in the North West, North East and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Units, and the Counter Terrorism Command in London.’

HOW MANY SPYCOPS ARE KNOWN?

There are 17 spycops who have been named and well documented. There are strong suspicions about several more. Fifteen of the seventeen have been exposed by their victims. One has been exposed by journalists, one by the officer himself – Peter Francis, the only whistleblower. None have come from the police.

Journalists – notably Rob Evans and Paul Lewis at the Guardian – have substantially fleshed out the activists’ research. The Met recently claimed to be having trouble even sorting their records into order.  If that is true then perhaps the best bet would be to allow these tenacious activists and journalists, who have done such sterling work despite police obstructions, to come and have a go.

Although the 17 spycops’ identities are properly established, with most of them having extensive details and numerous photos in the public domain, the Met are reluctant to give any further information.

Until the cover names are known, the majority of people targeted don’t even know it happened. Waiting for victims to investigate and gather evidence is a denial of justice. This is why most people granted ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming public inquiry – mostly activists confirmed as significantly affected – have called for the release of all cover names and the names of the groups who were spied upon.

The Met say they must ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that anybody was ever an undercover officer (for a demolition of their ‘policy’ of Neither Confirm Nor Deny, you cannot do better than Helen Steel’s superb speech to the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing). On many occasions they have even refused to refer to Mark Kennedy by name, as if it’s still a secret. This came long after he hired Max Clifford to sell his story for a tabloid front page splash, which is about as unsecret as it’s possible to get.

After three years of legal wrangling, in August 2014 courts forced the Met to admit that Jim Boyling and Bob Lambert were spycops (again, long after both officers had personally talked to the media).

In March 2014 the Met’s Operation Herne produced an 84 page report concerning SDS whistleblower Peter Francis’ revelations about spying on the family of Stephen Lawrence. It said it

‘will not confirm or deny if Peter Francis was an undercover police officer’

As if they might devote all that time and effort to the ramblings of a fantasist.

It’s an insult to those who have been abused. It’s also a double injustice familiar to other victims of state wrongdoing – there’s what the state does, then how it pours resources to smear, lie and obstruct justice for its victims.

This doesn’t bode well for the forthcoming public inquiry.

Today, Kennedy, Lambert and Boyling are still the only three spycops the Met will officially admit to. Here is the list of 17.

WHO ARE THE SPYCOPS?

  1. Peter Francis AKA ‘Peter Daley’ or ‘Pete Black’
    SDS. Self-disclosed. Initial exposure March 2010, real name given June 2013
  2. Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’
    NPOIU. Exposed by activists, October 2010
  3. Jim Boyling AKA ‘Jim Sutton’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, January 2011
  4. Marco Jacobs (alias)
    NPOIU? Exposed by activists, January 2011
  5. Mark Jenner AKA ‘Mark Cassidy’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, January 2011. Real name given March 2013
  6. Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, October 2011
  7. Lynn Watson (alias)
    NPOIU? Exposed by activists, January 2011
  8. Simon Wellings (alias)
    SDS? Exposed by activists 2005, publicised March 2011
  9. Rod Richardson (alias)
    NPOIU. Exposed by activists, February 2013
  10. John Dines AKA ‘John Barker’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, February 2013
  11. Matt Rayner (alias)
    SDS. Exposed by activists, 2013
  12. Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’
    SDS. Exposed by journalists, June 2013
  13. Jason Bishop (alias)
    SDS. Exposed by activists, July 2013
  14. Carlo Neri (alias)
    SDS? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, January 2016
  15. RC (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, February 2016
  16. Gary R (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, July 2016
  17. Abigail L (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, July 2016

 

The Met’s Chaotic and Dysfunctional Record Keeping

Shelves full of disordered filesStorage facilities with most documents missing or misfiled, systems repeatedly described as ‘chaotic’ by the police themselves – internal documents reveal that the Met is having big problems sorting out its records management before it can even tell the Pitchford Inquiry what’s gone on.

Guest blogger Peter Salmon of the Undercover Research Group unpicks recent statements from the force.

The issue of police disclosure and how public it can be is a matter taxing all involved in the Pitchford Inquiry. We know that behind the scenes there has been considerable discussion between the Inquiry team and the Metropolitan Police over how the Inquiry accesses the vast amount  of police material.

Recently, the Inquiry website published two statements from Det Supt Neil Hutchison, responding to questions from the Inquiry team. With dozens of supporting documents, they shed some light on what has been happening within the Metropolitan Police. The first statement deals with conflicts of interest and the prevention of the destruction of relevant records. The second focuses on the state of the Met’s record keeping and what is being done about it through Operation FileSafe. In this post we look at the latter issue.

Inadequate record management

What jumps out is just how much embarrassment was caused at the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) by Mark Ellison’s seismic 2014 report, the Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, in which he criticised the force’s inadequate record keeping.[1]

Ellison’s concern was that part of the difficulty in getting to the truth was the necessary records were not available. The force’s own internal follow-up reviews of record keeping used the word ‘chaotic’.[2] A supporting document states, remarkably, that the reviews had: identified wholesale dysfunctional, inconsistent handling of unregistered material across the MPS.[3]

Another document notes that of the material held in ‘deep storage’ on a site controlled by logistics contractors TNT, 54% of the records supposedly there were missing or misfiled.[4]

And all that before one gets to the actual material of concern. The importance of locating police records impacts not just on the inquiry into undercover policing, but on historical anti-corruption / child abuse cases, the related disclosure required by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel and the  Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry and any similar investigations in the future.

As a result, since late 2014 the Metropolitan Police Service has been doing a ‘clean sweep’ of all its buildings and systems, in what is known as Operation FileSafe, not expected to be complete until 2018.

FileSafe is an off-shoot of the catchy acronym AC-PIT (Assistant Commissioner – Public Inquiry Team), formerly known as Operation Beacon. Headed by Neil Hutchison, AC-PIT was set up to co-ordinate responses to the issues raised by the various public inquiries. It answers to the Assistant Commissioner for Professionalism, Martin Hewitt, and is a sister unit to the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) which provides most of the team for Operation Herne, the police’s own investigation into the spycop abuses, and which would oversee any future disciplinary cases if they were happen.

AC-PIT, working with the Directorate of Legal Services, is the Met’s point of contact for the Pitchford Inquiry and has responsibility for disclosure: it is they who will do the actual searches for material and redact it before passing it to the inquiry, via Legal Services.[5] Thus, its first job was to understand what the Met actually has – leading to the realisation that the records system needs cleaning up and sorting out if disclosure obligations are to be met. So, according to Hutchison, AC-PIT was split into two strands; the first dealing with Pitchford and Op FileSafe, the second with anti-corruption issues, such as the Daniel Morgan murder.[6]

Hutchison spends a lot his statement and its exhibits detailing how much effort is being put into FileSafe and the clean up of records across the Metropolitan Police. For example, they’ve identified ’83 different digital and paper based archives of potential relevance’.[5]

He also emphasises how much training and briefing is being given to relevant officers at all levels on retention of relevant documents. This focuses on Counter Terrorism Command (now in charge of the spycop units) and the Covert Intelligence Unit / SC&O35, but also encompasses every local police station.

Preventing destruction of documents

Following the publication of the Ellison Review in July 2014 there was a temporary halt on file disposal, which was lifted when new protocols were put in place in January 2015.[7][8]

These new protocols require that the heads of units give permission before any files relevant to issues covered by AC-PIT are destroyed. Where there is doubt, AC-PIT should be consulted directly. Hutchison mentions a number of examples of these requests being passed to him for final decision.

But what happened prior to January 2015? We learn that the when it comes to Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) which now has responsibility for the legacy of the spycop units, that he asked whether any relevant documents may have been destroyed. He talked directly to two of heads of SO15, Duncan Ball and Dean Haydon, but interestingly failed to ask Richard Walton, in charge for a key bit of this period and who retired from the police following criticism of his role the saga.

For Hutchison, it is sufficient that an unnamed Head of Compliance and Assurance through whom such requests would have supposedly been routed, has said nothing relevant had been destroyed while Walton was in his post.[9] All in all, we are reliant on the word of the commanding officers as given to Hutchison only.

Likewise, Hutchison provides us with a considerable amount of material on the standards officers are expected to adhere to, but given that it’s misconduct in office which is at the heart of this and other inquiries, this rings loud and hollow. If we could blithely trust the probity of Metropolitan Police officers there would be no need for a public inquiry in the first place. No other organisation would allow people who committed serious abuses to be custodians of the evidence against them.

If there is one concern he has met, it is that they are aware of conflicts of interest. To that end they have taken appropriate steps and ensured that no member of AC-PIT has been an undercover or served in the Special Demonstration Squad / National Public Order Intelligence Unit. They are, however, a bit more woolly on whether AC-PIT members have been involved in the management of undercovers.

Disclosure Still Isn’t Happening

So where does this leave us on the all-important issue of the Inquiry getting actual access to the material? Hutchison’s statement provides useful insight on a number of issues.

For a start, there still does not appear to be a formally agreed protocol for the Metropolitan Police to release documents to the Inquiry. Draft versions have gone back and forth between the MPS and the inquiry, which have yet to be circulated for comment to the ‘non-police/state core particpants’ (NPSCPs) – the people admitted to the inquiry because they were significantly targeted by spycops.

This is of considerable concern, not just in terms of time scale, but because the process is not being facilitated by input from the NPSCPs, a key stakeholder in the inquiry, who needless to say have issues with what they have seen so far.

At The Monitoring Group / Centre for Crime and Justice Studies conference in April 2016 attended by many NPSCPs, representatives of the inquiry pointed out that the MPS and the undercover policing Inquiry (UCPI) were still negotiating various obstacles. In particular, the access that the UCPI team themselves would have in order to conduct searches or supervise them.

It remains a very serious concern that there is not oversight to ensure the MPS is delivering all relevant material, and that vast tranches of important material remain in the control of the police rather than being turned over to the Inquiry.

It is also a concern that decisions to restrict evidence may be agreed only between Pitchford and the police, with NPSCPs having to apply retrospectively to have them lifted. This is seen by NPSCPs, and the wider public,as damaging to the transparency of the inquiry. While a lot of effort is going in to meet the needs of the police, there is a growing feeling that the victims in all this are being excluded from important decision-making processes that affect them.

Against Their Nature

Hutchison makes an interesting admission about the way this is challenging to the police instinct for defensiveness and secrecy when he writes:

‘The UCPI should be aware that the extent of disclosure of sensitive material required by AC-PIT is unprecedented and liaison is required to ensure staff comply with disclosure demands which run contrary to their training and previous experience’.[12]

This is reinforced by an alarming note, buried in exhibit D754[10] – an internal briefing on the public inquiry and record keeping by Counter Terrorism Command (which has taken over responsibility for the old spycop units) – that the head of Operation Herne, Mick Creedon, is critical of CTC’s lack of compliance with Metropolitan Police policy on review, retention and destruction of records. The implications of Creedon’s criticism do not appear to be addressed anywhere by Hutchison, implying he seems to think everything is fine. Interestingly, the briefing was signed off by one Richard Walton.

Earlier this year that a police whistle-blower came forward to let leading Green Party politician Jenny Jones know that her files were being wrongfully destroyed. The allegations say a number of officers shredded files they knew should have been retained but whose existence would embarrass the MPS. Hutchison only gives a short paragraph dealing with this concern, raised by the UPCI with him in a separate request. Half the paragraph is redacted; the gist of the rest is that, if substantiated, it will lead to charges. We are not even told if it is subject to an ongoing investigation by AC-PIT.

Hutchison only presented directly to senior managers in the spycop unit (now called National Domestic Extremist and Disorder Intelligence Unity) to brief them on FileSafe on 13 May 2015,[11] yet the whistle-blower came forward six months later, when all the new preservation protocols were supposed to be firmly in place. It does not appear therefore that the NDEDIU is taking this seriously or that AC-PIT is adequately overseeing things.

If that is the case, the Inquiry is failing at its first challenge. If it is prevented from getting the facts about what police have done, it cannot investigate.

=====

Part two to this article, focusing on other points of interest to those following the inquiry closely and a brief timeline shall appear on the Undercover Research Group blog.

References

  1. Ellie Pyemont & Penny Coombe, MPS Progress in the field of Information Management since the publication of the Stephen Lawrence Independent Review (exhibit D759), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police Service, 13 July 2015.
  2. Penny Coombe & Ellie Pyemont, Operation FileSafe – Information Management: briefing for the Information Assurance and Security Board (exhibit D758), Metropolitan Police Service, 15 July 2015 (accessed 20 July 2016).
  3. Penny Coombe & Ellie Pyemont, An overview of activities undertaken as part of Operation FileSafe between July 2014 and March 2015, hightlight key milestone and future risks (exhibit D786), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police Service, 6 March 2015 (accessed 20 July 2016).
  4. Penny Coombe & Ellie Pyemont, Operation FileSafe – Options Paper regarding MPS unregistered archives – Version 8 (exhibit D788), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police, 2 March 2015 (accessed 20 July 2016).
  5. Neil Hutchison, Briefing to Management Board on Public Inquiry into undercover policing (exhibit D748), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police Service, 10 July 2016 (accessed 20 July 2016).
  6. Neil Hutchison, Witness Statement on Rule 9-12 (PARTIALLY REDACTED) to Undercover Policing Inquiry, Metropolitan Police Service, 17 June 2016.
  7. Jeremy Burton, FileSafe Update (exhibit D777), email of 10 September 2014, Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police Service (accessed 20 July 2016).
  8. Following the paper trail (exhibit D780), Metropolitan Police Service (intranet article), 26 January 2015.
  9. Neil Hutchison, Witness Statement on Rule 9-10(a) to Undercover Policing Inquiry, Metropolitan Police Service, 6 June 2016.
  10. Counter Terrorism Command, Management of Information within SO15 version 1.0 (exhibit D754), Metropolitan Police Service, 11 June 2015.
  11. Neil Hutchison, Briefing note re Records Management (exhibit D767), Public Inquiry Team, Metropolitan Police, 30 June 2014.
  12. Neil Hutchison, Witness Statement on Rule 9-12 (PARTIALLY REDACTED) to Undercover Policing Inquiry (paragraph 46), Metropolitan Police Service, 17 June 2016.

Scotland Excluded from Pitchford Inquiry

Most Known Spycops Worked Outside England & Wales

After months of stalling, the Home Office has finally decided to exclude spycops activities in Scotland from the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.

In a letter to Neil Findlay MSP on 25 July 2016, Policing Minister Brandon Lewis said that Theresa May had taken the decision as one of her final acts as Home Secretary.

Rather like an American president’s cluster of controversial pardons or David Cameron’s showering of honours on undeserving acolytes, it appears to be the act of pulling the pin out and running, knowing they will be out of the blast radius when it goes boom.

Scotland was not merely incidental to the Special Demonstration Squad and National Public Order Intelligence Unit. The majority of known officers worked there. Officials admit Mark Kennedy made 14 authorised visits to the country. During these, he had numerous sexual relationships that the Met themselves have described as ‘abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong’ and a breach of human rights. He was far from the only one – Mark Jenner, Carlo Neri and John Dines all did the same.

The letter confirming Scotland’s exclusion goes on at length about how the Inquiry is unable to change the terms of reference. We know, that’s why we didn’t go to the Inquiry but instead addressed the Home Secretary who made up the terms of reference and can change them at will. This isn’t the law of gravity we want altering.

The Home Office say the Inquiry will get the general idea of undercover policing from only looking at events in England and Wales. This is an outright betrayal of the people and campaigns abused by spycops in Scotland and elsewhere.

The Pitchford inquiry should not be about getting a rough idea of what happened in order to ‘learn lessons’. It should give the public and victims the truth and, from there, the chance of justice.

The spycops committed crimes in England and Wales, some of them serious. They were agents provocateur, lied in court and set people up for wrongful convictions. They are known to have engineered dozens of miscarriages of justice, and the true figure may be in the thousands. They systematically sexually and psychologically abused women, in some cases fathering children with those they spied on. They stole the identities of dead children from unwitting bereaved families.

Every instance of these things should be exposed wherever it happened, every officer should be held accountable. Every person affected deserves to know what was done to them and the state should give them all the support and opportunity for redress that they need.

It was the same officers doing the same things in Scotland. No other organisation would be allowed to say ‘we have apologised to a few of the people we harmed, so let’s keep all the rest secret’.

The Home Office letter says the inquiry may choose to take information about miscarriages of justice seriously and pass them on to other agencies. It says nothing about the inquiry seeking out such information as part of its inquisitorial role. Given that events in Scotland are outside its remit, Pitchford may even feel bound to deny the chance for such evidence to be given.

The Home Office refer to the lack of time to fit any change in, even though the Scottish government formally requested inclusion seven months ago and the inquiry hasn’t started yet.

This is also a constitutional issue. The snub will appear to many in Scotland as further proof of Westminster treating the nation as a second class part of the United Kingdom.

In the Scottish Parliament debate a month ago, all parties were united in their desire for inclusion in the Pitchford inquiry. The SNP were repeatedly asked if, as the four opposition parties desired, there would be a separate Scottish inquiry in the event of exclusion. The spokesperson for the government dodged the question on the grounds that there was no exclusion yet. That time is over.

Seen in tandem with the recent denial of ‘core participant’ status to people who have been intensively targeted by spycops, the refusal to include Scotland suggests a worrying trend in the inquiry’s organisation, shutting out essential elements before it has even begun.

Those who know they were spied upon will surely be willing to tell their stories in an arena that takes them seriously. Perhaps a Scottish inquiry would take a more open approach than Pitchford and may even become the more credible of the two.


The full text of the letter to Neil Findlay MSP:

Brandon Lewis MP
Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service

25 July 2016

Dear Neil,

Thank you for your correspondence of 1 June addressed to the former Home Secretary on behalf of your fellow MSPs regarding your position that the scope of the undercover policing inquiry should be extended to include Scotland. I am replying as the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service.

The current terms of reference for the undercover policing inquiry specify that it should ‘…inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales’. This geographical limitation reflects both the police forces involved and the scope of the Home Office’s responsibility for policing.

For a number of reasons, it is not possible to expand the geographical scope of the inquiry without formally amending the terms of reference. The Inquiry chairman has a wide discretion as to which documents he reviews as being appropriate within the terms of reference. However, given the parameters of the inquiry established by the terms of reference, he will not be able to make any determinations or recommendations with regard to activities within any other jurisdiction, even if such evidence is submitted. If the inquiry were  to look at evidence relating to another jurisdiction, for example because it was implied that they should do so, a risk arises that it would be acting outside of its powers, as defined in the terms of reference.

The former Home Secretary carefully considered the representations made regarding the extension of the undercover policing inquiry beyond England and Wales. The inquiry as it stands is extensive and complex, with around 200 core participants. Amending the terms of reference at this stage would require further consultation and delay the progress of the inquiry. In the interests of learning lessons from past failures and improving public confidence, it is important that the inquiry can proceed quickly and make recommendations as soon as possible. The Home Office is confident the inquiry can both gain an understanding of historical failings and make recommendations to ensure unacceptable practices are not repeated without the need to consider every instance of undercover policing, wherever it was under taken. On balance, therefore, the former Home Secretary has confirmed she does not intend to amend the terms of reference.

You may be aware that there have been suggestions that, as an alternative to changing the terms of reference, the inquiry could pass any relevant evidence it receives to another organisation to consider. As the inquiry is independent, it can not be directed to do so – although the Inquiry may, of its own volition, do this if it considers this appropriate (for example, because evidence received reveals a potential miscarriage of justice or criminal conduct). During the lifetime of the Inquiry any material which it receives will only be passed to a third party with the express permission of the supplier of that information.

Once the Inquiry is concluded, all material will be lodged with the National Archives and the usual rules of access to archived material will then apply.

Brandon Lewis MP

 

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

Core Participant? Your Name’s Not Down, You’re Not Coming In

BouncersIn the early 1990s it seemed like every dance track needed to have a sample. The Prodigy – the now stadium band famous for ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Invaders Must Die’ – started out with a track that sampled Charlie the Cat from a government safety information advert.

It was probably this track that launched a thousand copies of that sampling template. Another ‘memorable’ track was one called The Bouncer. This again had a typical dance backing track of the 1990s era – and it sampled a bouncer saying ‘your name’s not down you’re not coming in’. Hard to believe this was a big hit.

The reason why this is mentioned is that recently COPS held its monthly meeting and discussion. Our concern is based on recent decisions being pumped out from the Inquiry particularly regarding those who have applied for Core Participant (CP) status and the fact that despite a supposed ‘open door’ policy, the Inquiry is increasingly turning applications away. Not just any applications – but extremely compelling applications. We are worried.

Let us remember that the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and its later manifestations have been involved in undercover policing of political activists since 1968. The Met themselves admit the SDS spied on over 460 groups at one time or another. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference refers to undercover policing and does not restrict itself to the SDS. It therefore should, we believe, have a remit to look at how police forces have used undercover policing in the classic sense – that is, the way in which Mark Kennedy, Peter Francis and Marco Jacobs operated – with a new identity and ‘deep swimming.’ Yet it is not just that.

Terms of reference and an open approach?

The Terms of Reference prefers a broad definition of undercover policing. This would, it seems, include undercover policing carried out by non-SDS Special Branch and also regional police authorities. It should and could even refer to that type of state policing by MI5

A core participant broadly speaking is an individual or an institution that played, or may have played, a direct or significant role in relation to the matters to which the Inquiry relates; has a significant interest in an important matter to which the Inquiry relates; or may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the Inquiry proceedings or in a report prepared by the Inquiry.

When the Inquiry was established there were over 200 applications for CP status. Most were accepted. A judgement made in October 2015 illustrates the open character of the Inquiry.

Based on this initial ruling we felt that the Inquiry was going to do two things, listen to those of us who were spied upon and investigate undercover policing of political groups who were engaging in their right to protest.

It was also said that there would continue to be an open door for those who wish to seek Core Participant status. We now question that initial promise, as recent refusals have thrown it into doubt.

High profile cases rejected

In the last few months a number of high profile, and not so high profile applications have been made. Many have been rejected, or should we say in legal speak they are not rejected but ‘being kept under review’.

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones is a high profile Green Party figure. She has run for London mayor, was a Greater London Assembly member for 16 years and now sits in the House of Lords.

She was spied upon for many years and has been told by a whistleblower that some of her ‘domestic extremist’ files were shredded by the Metropolitan Police.

Apparently this was not good enough to secure Core Participant status.

Tony Mulhearn

Tony Mulhearn

Tony Mulhearn is a high profile member of the Socialist Party (formerly Militant) in Merseyside. Previously he was a Labour councillor and one of the leaders of the Liverpool Labour council that battled the Thatcher government in the 1980s.

In the True Spies documentary undercover officers explain that they spied on Militant. Stella Rimington and David Shayler have also advised that MI5 spied on Militant’s leading figures in Liverpool.

Again, this application for CP status was rejected.

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell is a lifelong campaigner for LGBT equality, starting with the Gay Liberation Front and helping to organise London’s first Pride march in the early 1970s.

The gay rights movement was a new political force, challenging the status quo and with the potential to hugely embarrass establishment figures who were in the closet.

He renewed his commitment to LBGT direct action in the 1990s with FROCS (Faggots Rooting Out Closeted Sexuality) who exposed public figures who made homophobic pronouncements whilst having a secret gay life. He also famously attempted a citizen’s arrest of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in London.

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson was imprisoned because of his trade union activities. He is one of the Shrewsbury 24, and along with Des Warren was sentenced to 3 years in prison. The first episode of True Spies – ‘Subversive – My Arse’ opens the trilogy about him. A police officer accepts there is a file on Ricky Tomlinson.

He also had a file with illegal blacklisters Economic League file, and it is well established that the Metropolitan Police had close links with them and shared information.

Despite the evidence provided to the Inquiry, these four high profile cases have all had their applications for Core Participant status refused.  An impartial observer would probably be surprised at this. (Core participant rulings can be found here).

Spied on – balance of probabilities? Or beyond doubt?

In the initial period of consideration Core Participants were not only encouraged, but assessed on what can be best described as a balance of probabilities. That is to say, whilst many were able to point to an actual officer who spied on them, some CPs were unable to do so but had sufficient evidence to show that in all likelihood, given membership of a particular campaign, they would have been spied on. The Inquiry appeared to accept it had an inquisitorial function.

Since allowing 200+ people to be CPs, has there been a panic at Inquiry HQ? Recent applications have been given a much tougher time. It would appear that the assessment has gone from one of probabilities to certainty. Now it appears – particularly in the matter of the high profile cases listed above – the weight of evidence showing an overwhelming probability of being spied upon has been replaced by those applicants having to literally name the officer or officers who spied on them. For many targets of political policing, this is impossible.

The Inquiry seems to have moved the assessment goal posts without providing any announcement or guidance.

An Inquiry with an old style bouncer?

There appears to have been a change in emphasis. The Inquiry appears to have forgotten that it is inquisitorial. Its purpose is to uncover police wrongdoing, it should be assisting victims of the political secret police, rather than insisting they do their own detective work before being allowed to hear more.

This Inquiry is an extremely important. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the state to come clean, for the undercover officers of the SDS, National Public Order Intelligence Unit and Special Branch to come clean, and for the upper reaches of government responsible for these abuses to be held properly accountable.

For this to happen the Inquiry needs to be not only open and transparent but comprehensive too. Our fear is that, by insisting that new CP applications prove beyond doubt that they were spied upon rather than on the basis of a reasonable probability, this Inquiry – our Inquiry – is turning away from its true purpose and the demands of justice.

If these refusals continue for the flimsiest reasons it would appear that the Inquiry and the stewards of it are acting like the worst kind of bouncer –they may be registered and may have passed all the tests to become a ‘proper security’ guard but one that is still old school, still one that refuses entry on a whim – ‘you’re name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in!’.

Scottish Parliament Debates Spycops Again

 

Neil Findlay MSP addresses the Scottish parliament, 30 June 2016

Neil Findlay MSP addresses the Scottish parliament, 30 June 2016

Last week the Scottish Parliament had a second debate about Britain’s political secret police.

Although the majority of exposed officers from the disgraced units concerned – the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit – were in Scotland, the forthcoming public inquiry is set to only cover events in England and Wales.

It has been six months since the first debate, which came shortly after the Scottish government formally asked to be included in the Pitchford Inquiry, and nothing seems to have happened.

Once again, the issue was brought to the floor by Neil Findlay MSP. In the intervening time he has marshalled a call from Scottish parliamentarians from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties for the inquiry to include Scotland and, if this doesn’t happen, for Scotland to mount its own investigation. The SNP supports the first but not, as yet, the second point.

Findlay pressed the issue in Parliament

I know that the police, the judiciary and others will pressure the cabinet secretary to resist. Those are the very same forces that pressured politicians not to go near the Lawrence case, the Birmingham and Guildford cases, and the Hillsborough case, but brave decisions were made in the interests of truth and justice.

So, I urge the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs and the cabinet secretary to do the right thing: take the brave and right decision to initiate an independent public inquiry in Scotland, should it prove to be not possible to extend Pitchford.

The call was endorsed by Green and Conservative MSPs. Speaking for the government, the SNP’s Annabelle Ewing affirmed

the Scottish Government absolutely agrees that the inquiry should look at events that took place in Scotland if that is where the evidence leads. A single, comprehensive inquiry that was able to gather all the evidence in a coherent manner would best serve the public interest on this occasion. An inquiry that was limited to England and Wales would risk doing a disservice to those who believe that they have been adversely affected by the operations of Metropolitan Police units in Scotland.

However, she simply ignored the issue of the Home Office stalling for six months and what to do if Scotland is shut out of the inquiry. Neil Findlay seized on the omission, asking

Is the minister saying that, if the Home Secretary does not expand the Pitchford inquiry, there will be no Scottish inquiry? If that is the case, can she say very clearly today that victims in Scotland will have no route to justice? Let us be up front and straight about it. Let us not be choosy with our language; let us make it very clear what she means.

But, again, Ewing avoided answering the question and repeated that they were concentrating on inclusion in Pitchford. Conservative MSP Douglas Ross asked the question for a third time, and Ewing simply repeated her previous point once more. Labour’s Claire Baker asked it a fourth time and was also subjected to repetition of a point that did not answer the question.

The session was not entirely fruitless, however. Findlay didn’t just highlight the stasis regarding the Pitchford Inquiry, he also put sensational new information into the public domain.

Today, under the privilege that this Parliament gives me, I can name Gayle Burton, who is a former head of human resources at the Costain construction company, who now works for the Jockey Club and who has been identified as the key link between the construction industry, the Consulting Association and Special Branch. Her name is identified as the source of information on files of blacklisted Scottish workers.

We also know of the involvement during the 1984 miners’ strike of Stella Whitehouse, now Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, who was regularly on the picket line at Polkemmet colliery, not 3 miles from my house, during that period.

The illegal links between police, private surveillance and big business underpin much of the spycops’ targeting of political activists. It is as great an injustice whether perpetrated in England or Scotland, so all its victims deserve the truth.

As we said last month, it does not take six months to make a simple alteration to the terms of the Pitchford Inquiry. The start date looms ever closer and it is beginning to look like the Home Office is stonewalling and that the lack of a response will effectively become a refusal once the inquiry begins.

If the Scottish government – along with the German, Northern Irish and others who have made similar demands – do not set a deadline soon, they are effectively accepting this. They are running the increasing risk of being left behind, unable to secure the truth for their citizens abused by English spycops.

Video of Thursday’s debate is on our Youtube channel, and a full transcript can be found here.

 

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.

Helen Steel Demolishes “Neither Confirm Nor Deny”

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

Last week’s preliminary hearing of the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing was concerned with issues of disclosure and secrecy.

Helen Steel is a lifelong activist and no stranger to the Royal Courts of Justice. She has just finished a four-year legal case against the police after she discovered her former partner John Barker was in fact undercover police officer John Dines. It was a fight characterised by Metropolitan police attempts to use any tactic to obstruct accountability and justice. At the end the Met conceded “these legal proceedings have been painful, distressing and intrusive and added to the damage and distress”.

The same Met lawyers are now wheeling out the same tactics for the Pitchford inquiry, claiming they can’t talk about officers as there is a long-standing policy of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’. Helen Steel told last week’s hearing there is no such thing. Clear, comprehensive and authoritative, her speech ended with a round of applause from the court.

===

Throughout all the legal proceedings that I have been involved with where the police have asserted “Neither Confirm Nor Deny”, they have never offered any documentary evidence of their so-called policy, of how it is applied or how any exceptions to it are decided. That is actually despite an order from Master Leslie in August 2013 that they should provide that documentary evidence. Instead, they provided statements, but there are no documents that have ever been provided about this so-called “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy.

So I just wanted to start really with a brief history about what I know of neither confirm nor deny in relation to the Special Demonstration Squad and other political policing units. I will not comment on what the situation is with the wider Security Services or with the National Crime Agency position, except to say that I have seen newspaper reports of undercover officers giving evidence in criminal trials which are open to the public, so it does seem that it is only the political policing units which are seeking total secrecy about everything they do.

I think it is also worth bearing in mind in relation to the issues raised that the main concern of this Inquiry is political undercover policing, which is different to general undercover policing in that the intention is not to obtain evidence for prosecution; it is to obtain intelligence on political movements. The result of that is that, while general undercover operations are subject to a certain amount of outside legal scrutiny as a result of the requirements for due process and fair trials, political undercover policing has never been subjected to outside scrutiny until now.

I want to start with why we are here at all. We are not here because the police unearthed evidence of bad practice within these political policing units and were so concerned that they brought it to the attention of the Home Secretary.

We are here because of the bravery of Peter Francis coming forward to blow the whistle on the deeply alarming, abusive and undemocratic practice of the Special Demonstration Squad. We are here because of the detective work of women who were deceived into relationships with undercover police officers and who, despite the wall of secrecy around these secretive political policing units, managed to reveal the true identities of our former partners and expose these and other abusive practices to the wider world.

I think it is important to bear that context in mind when listening to the police assert that you can hear their evidence in secret and still get to the truth.

CONFIRMED BY POLICE IN THE MEDIA

So going back to the history of political undercover policing and neither confirm nor deny, these revelations started to unravel, really, on 19 December 2010, when The Times newspaper wrote an article about Mark Kennedy’s seven years’ undercover in the environmental movement.

The story had already broken on the internet, on alternative news websites, including Indymedia, and The Times reported on his involvement in the planned invasion of Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, which had resulted in a number of protesters being convicted.

It was reported that his real identity was Mark Kennedy, but that he was known while undercover as Mark Stone. The article then continued:

“Last week two police forces confirmed Stone’s status to the Sunday Times. ‘The individual is a Met officer,’ said Nottinghamshire Police. ‘He is an undercover officer,’ said the Metropolitan Police, ‘so we can’t say more’.”

So, on the face of it, it took nothing more than Mark Kennedy’s identity being revealed on the internet for the Metropolitan Police to confirm that he was an undercover police officer. The police actually confirmed his identity long before he was officially named in the appeal judgment in July 2011 or in the HMRC report in 2012.

The police also publicly confirmed Jim Boyling as a police officer via the media on 21 January 2011. The week after the DIL story of her relationship with Jim Boyling first appeared in the national press, the Guardian newspaper reported that Jim Boyling had been suspended from duty pending an investigation into his professional conduct.

It said that,

“In a statement the Metropolitan Police said a serving specialist operations detective constable has been restricted from duty as part of an investigation following allegations reported in a national newspaper”

A similar report was carried on the BBC.

CONFIRMED BY POLICE IN PERSON

There was not just the confirmation in the media. DIL or, as she’s known in this Inquiry, Rosa got in contact with me in late 2010 in relation to her former partner, Jim Boyling, who I had known as “Jim Sutton”, when he was infiltrating Reclaim the Streets. I was with her when she was interviewed in March 2011 by the Department of Professional Standards, who were investigating the conduct of Jim Boyling.

Her account was absolutely harrowing and, at the end of it, the police officers apologised on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. At no point in that interview did they mention “neither confirm nor deny”. On the contrary, they confirmed that Jim was a serving police officer.

CONFIRMED BY POLICE IN WRITING

Jim Boyling whilst undercover in the 1990s

Jim Boyling whilst undercover in the 1990s

They also named Jim Boyling and referred to him as a serving officer in correspondence sent relating to that interview and potential disciplinary issues arising from it from February 2011 until June 2012.

If you want to see any of that correspondence, it can be made available to show that he was named and they were not applying neither confirm nor deny.

They also provided a copy of their terms of reference to their investigation, which clearly states that they were investigating DC Jim Boyling.

Then moving on to our court case, with DIL and six other women I went on to bring a case against the Metropolitan Police Service, arising from having been deceived into relationships with these undercover officers. That case involved eight women and relationships with five different undercover police officers, spanning a period of around about 25 years, and the case incorporates both the AKJ and the DIL judgments that have been referred to at this hearing.

In that case, the first time the police asserted a policy of neither confirm nor deny was in a letter dated 25 June 2012, some six months after the initial letter before claim, and only after considerable correspondence between the parties, which had included admitting that Mark Kennedy was an undercover officer and making a series of conflicting statements about sexual relationships while undercover.

If there really was a longstanding and active Metropolitan Police Service policy of neither confirm nor deny, you would assume that the immediate response on receipt of the letter before claim in December 2011 would have been to assert such a policy straight away.

In fact, in relation to the Mark Kennedy claims, the Metropolitan Police letters had absolutely no hint of a policy of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny”. In a letter dated 10 February 2012, they stated:

“If it assists, I can confirm Mark Kennedy was a Metropolitan Police officer and did not serve with any other force. He left the Metropolitan Police Service in March 2010.”

It then goes on to state that the Commissioner is not vicariously liable in respect of Mr Kennedy’s sexual conduct, as described in the letters of claim.

In a letter of 14 March 2012, the force solicitor stated:

“I confirm that during most of the entire period from July 2003 to February 2010, Mark Kennedy was authorised under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to engage in conduct of the sort described in section 26(8) of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

“He was lawfully deployed in relation to certain groups to provide timely and good-quality pre-emptive intelligence in relation to pre-planned activities of those groups. The authorisation extended to participation in minor criminal activity.”

There was then further correspondence in which the Metropolitan Police Service was quite open about Mark Kennedy’s identity as an undercover police officer.

It was not actually until November 2012 that the Metropolitan Police Service first raised “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” in relation to the AKJ case in their application to strike out the claim on the basis that “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” meant that they could not defend themselves. That is the Carnduff argument. By that time they had obviously confirmed his identity so it was all a bit late.

CONFIRMED BY POLICE INTERNAL STANDARDS WATCHDOG

Then, moving on to how the so-called “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy relates to the Department of Professional Standards, as I mentioned, the first time that the police asserted a policy of neither confirm nor deny in relation to the DIL claims was in June 2012. That came two weeks after the first mention of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” at all from any police source which was in a letter from the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police).

Until that point, the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) had openly discussed the investigation against Jim Boyling, but they were also asking for statements from myself and the other women in relation to the issues raised in the particulars of our claim. That included issues relating to the McLibel Support Campaign.

A letter that was from them, dated 16 April 2012, confirmed progress in relation to the investigation into DC Boyling and then went on to seek clarification relating to whether or not I wanted to make a formal complaint to the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) of matters that were outlined in our letters before claim regarding the involvement of undercover officers in the McLibel case.

THREE OFFICERS ARE ENOUGH – TIME TO INVENT A LONG-STANDING POLICY

Bob Lambert distributes anti McDonald's leaflets, 1986

Bob Lambert distributes anti McDonald’s leaflets, 1986

During previous discussions we had requested information relating to what action the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) was able to take if undercover officers were no longer employed by the Metropolitan Police Service and, as a result, we had requested confirmation as to whether John Barker and Mark Cassidy were still serving police officers.

The letter of 16 April explains that the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) was seeking legal advice as to whether or not they could disclose that information to us.

On 11 June 2012, the Directorate of Professional Standards (Police) sent an email regarding the progression of my complaint and asking to interview me in relation to the allegations about breaches of legal privilege and Bob Lambert’s involvement in the creation of the leaflet that resulted in the McLibel action.

In that same letter, even though they have named Bob Lambert and asked me to give a statement in relation to him, they state:

“In answer to your questions surrounding John Barker and Mark Cassidy, the current position of the Metropolitan Police Service is to maintain its neither confirm nor deny stance in accordance with established policy.”

That letter on 11 June 2012 was the first time that the police mentioned “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to us. At that point, though, since Bob Lambert was named in that same letter, it appeared that it was only in relation to John Barker and Mark Cassidy that they were asserting neither confirm nor deny.

It was only two weeks later on 25 June, when they extended that to all the officers in the DIL case, that “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” became the standard response to every request for information or compliance with the court proceedings, even though there had already been official acknowledgement that both Lambert and Boyling had been undercover officers. It was absolutely clear at that point that they were going to use “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to create a wall of silence about these relationships.

CONFIRMED BY THE HEAD OF THE UNIT

Moving on to other evidence relevant to neither confirm nor deny about Bob Lambert. When I originally met with DIL, she informed me that while she was married to Jim Boyling, he had revealed that Bob Lambert and my former partner, John, had both been police spies in the groups that I had been involved with.

It took some time to identify that Bob Lambert had been Bob Robinson, who infiltrated London Greenpeace in the mid-1980s. But after that we felt it was important to expose his past role, which we did when he spoke at a public meeting about racism in the headquarters of the Trade Union Congress on 15 October 2011. If necessary, footage is available of that incident which confirms that no violence either took place or was threatened and that Bob Lambert hurried away, refusing to make any comment.

But two weeks later, on 24 October 2011, he issued a public statement to Spinwatch, which was an organisation which he had worked with in the past, and to the Guardian, in which he admitted,

“As part of my cover story so as to gain the necessary credibility to become involved in serious crime, I first built a reputation as a committed member of London Greenpeace, a peaceful campaigning group”

That statement contrasts sharply with the attempt to smear the group that is made in his current statement for the purposes of applying for a restriction order in connection with this Inquiry, but it also confirms his role as an undercover officer.

He has subsequently gone on to comment extensively in the media about his time in the Special Demonstration Squad, the relationships that he had, the fact that a child was born as a result of one of those relationships and the fact that he was involved in writing the London Greenpeace anti-McDonalds leaflet that became the subject of the McLibel case.

Now you would think that, if “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” had always been a Metropolitan Police Service policy, that Bob Lambert, who had supervised Special Demonstration Squad officers at one point, would have known about that and adhered to it.

CONFIRMED BY THE COUNTRY’S TOP COP

It is not just Bob Lambert. We then go on to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe. You would think that this is someone who would stick to “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” if it truly was a policy adopted by the Metropolitan Police. But, no, at a public meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority on 27 October 2011, he confirmed that ‘Jim Sutton’ was under investigation as a serving officer.

Is it really credible that, if there was a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy in place, the Commissioner himself would not know about it and not adhere to it?

The transcript of those proceedings is available, it can be checked, and you will see that he answers questions about Jim Boyling.

So is it really credible that there was an “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy in place at that point or is it more likely, as I would submit, that “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” was suddenly adopted in June 2012, when the Metropolitan Police Service wanted a wall to hide behind after they realised that they could no longer write these relationships off as a result of rogue officers and that, in fact, there was clear evidence of multiple abusive relationships that could only have arisen through systemic failings and institutional sexism?

CONFIRMED TO THE BBC

The final and key piece of the jigsaw concerning the truth about neither confirm nor deny, which I know has already been referred to so I’m not going to say anything at length, is the True Spies television series.

In 2002, the BBC broadcasted three programmes as part of a series called “True Spies” which were entirely focused on the work of the Special Demonstration Squad. As I am sure you have heard, the programme was made with the support and assistance of the Metropolitan Police Service. While no individual officer’s identity is disclosed, undercover officers speak extensively to the camera about their work. They talk about the groups they infiltrated and the methods used. There are significant details of the undercover operations actually carried out.

I would urge you to watch True Spies so that you can see just how much of their tactics they discussed and yet how the Metropolitan Police now claim they can’t talk about those same tactics.

NEITHER CONSISTENT NOR A POLICY

Neither Confirm Nor Deny = Neither Truth Nor JusticeI submit that they were perfectly happy to reveal their methods and the groups that they were spying on when it suited them for PR purposes and that the reason they want to bring in “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” is that actually just to cover up serious human rights abuses.

It is being used as a shield for the police from any form of accountability and to avoid any proper scrutiny of their actions to cover up illegal and immoral activities of political undercover police officers and prevent them coming to light.

There was a lot of talk yesterday about the police rights to privacy, but there was nothing at all from the police about the rights of core participants who were spied on. It took me 24 years to get acknowledgment of wrongdoing from the Metropolitan Police and from John Barker, my former partner. Other core participants should not have to wait that long, nor should they have to risk never finding out the truth and being left with permanent doubt about who people really were in their lives.

We know that the McLibel Support Campaign was infiltrated by John Dines and indeed that Bob Lambert was involved in writing the leaflet that led to the case and we know that information was shared between the Metropolitan Police and private corporations, private investigators and McDonalds that enabled the writs to be served, but what we don’t know is any of the detail
behind that. We need to know how and why that was allowed to happen in order to prevent those kind of abuses from happening again.

It is insulting in the extreme that, despite the apology, the police are still seeking to neither confirm nor deny John Dines. It is also farcical in light of my meeting with him last week and his apology to me. But it was not just insulting to me. It is insulting for everybody who has had their privacy invaded to be told that they can’t know the truth about the wrongdoing that was done against them because the privacy of those who carried out that abuse has to be protected.

NEITHER BASIS NOR JUSTIFICATION

I just also wanted to say that they seem to also be seeking unique rights in that they seem to think that they should have the right to no social ostracisation, which is something that nobody else who is accused of wrongdoing gets any form of protection from. Nobody else who is accused of something has their name covered up on the grounds that they might be socially ostracised.

So finally, I wanted to submit that, even if there had been a genuine “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” policy, there is absolutely no justification for a blanket protection of all officers, given the level of human rights abuses that we have been subjected to as core participants. I cannot see why officers who have grossly abused the fundamental human rights of others should have a permanent shield preventing scrutiny of their actions and I would say that it is not in the public interest for officers to think that they will be protected no matter what they do.

RELEASE THE NAMES

Poster of 14 exposed spycops among 140 silhouettesThe McLibel Support Campaign supports the core participants’ call for all the cover names to be released so that the truth can be heard. We have not called for all the real names of officers to be released, although I think that there may be individual circumstances where that is appropriate, especially where those officers went on to become supervisors or line managers or are now in positions of responsibility, but I’m assuming that that would be done on a more individualised basis. However, I do believe that all of the cover names should be disclosed so that the truth can be achieved.

I also believe that to ensure the Inquiry is as comprehensive as possible, the police need to release a full list of all the organisations that were targeted. There is no reason for secrecy on this. Various groups were named in True Spies, so why is it that they can’t be named now?

The reason for wanting maximum transparency and disclosure is a political one. Without the names of undercover officers who targeted each group, it is impossible to start to assess the whole impact of their surveillance or the extent of the abuses committed. Without full disclosure, we won’t get to the full truth and we can’t ensure that preventative measures are put in place to stop these abuses happening again.

These were very, very serious human rights abuses committed by this unit, including article 3 abuses [“no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”]. We want to stop them happening again. That is our purpose in taking part in this Inquiry and that is the real public interest that requires that there must be openness and transparency.

What’s the Pitchford Hearing About?

Tamsin Allen

Tamsin Allen

How much of the public inquiry into undercover policing will be held in secret? How much of the police’s information will be revealed?

Later this month, the inquiry is holding a crucial preliminary hearing on disclosure. It will take oral submissions which, in addition to written representations, will be considered before taking a decision.

There will be a demonstration outside the High Court on 22 March, ahead of the hearing, calling for the release of all ‘cover names’ of political undercover police.

Tamsin Allen is a partner at Bindman’s and one of the lawyers representing political activists targeted by Britain’s political secret police who are ‘core participants’ at the inquiry. She represented victims of phone hacking at the Leveson inquiry and was Lawyer of the Year 2014 in Media & Information Law. She explains what the forthcoming hearing is about and what we can expect.

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On 22-23 March, the Undercover Policing Inquiry will hear submissions in relation to the legal principles to be applied to applications for s.19 Restriction Orders. This dry-sounding hearing is possibly the most crucial of the seven preliminary hearings and will effectively determine whether we are to have an open and public inquiry (with only minimal restrictions, strictly justified), or one held almost entirely behind closed doors.

The starting point for a public inquiry is that all the evidence provided to the Chair and considered for the purposes of his report should be available to the public and hearings should be open to the public. However, there is a mechanism (under s.19 of the Inquiries Act) to apply to the Inquiry for an Order that certain information should be kept secret.

There are limited grounds on which such an application can be granted – in summary they are because it would breach domestic or European law or damage a recognised public interest to make the information public, or it would conducive to the Inquiry fulfilling its terms of reference for certain information not to be revealed. Public interest immunity can, in some circumstances, also be invoked.

The Inquiry is created by a statute and, unlike when sitting as a High Court Judge, the Chair only has the powers he is given by the statute. So, every piece of information that the police want to keep secret has to be the subject of an application and the application has to be justified by reference to one of these criteria. There will need to be convincing evidence provided to the Inquiry in support of applications. The Chair cannot go beyond the grounds for restriction orders and prevent evidence from being heard in public just because it is convenient, or because the police say they would like it.

In theory, an Inquiry can be held totally in open, or almost totally in secret, providing the evidence is all provided to the Inquiry itself and any restrictions on public evidence are properly justified. There are many variations in between and Inquiries will sometimes disclose evidence to some Core Participants but not others, or to Core Participants (CPs) on the basis of confidentiality undertakings.

As an inquisitorial body, its responsibility is to assess the evidence and report back. It has to act fairly, but it doesn’t have to allow anyone else to view the material providing there are good grounds for making restriction orders.

However, given the enormous public concern about the behaviour of undercover officers deployed in political and social justice campaigns, a secret inquiry would be plainly be a travesty. Many CPs have indicated that they would not co-operate with the Inquiry in those circumstances.

The police however are asking for just that. They say that their practice of neither confirming nor denying any information about undercover officers is so important that it constitutes a public interest which should take precedence.

The non police/state CPs are finalising their positions, but they will certainly contest that position, and say that the practice is not itself a public interest, and any public interest in protecting officers from harm, or protecting important secret methods of undercover work can be dealt with in other ways.

No actual applications for anonymity or other restrictions will be dealt with at the hearing, and there will be no evidence. The chair is keen to ensure that the arguments focus solely on legal principles. But these are very important principles for the future of the Inquiry.

The Inquiry could decide to mirror the neither confirm nor deny approach – which would tie its hands in determining future applications for anonymity. Or it could decide that each application for a restriction order should be dealt with on its merits and be strictly justified, in which case the public and the victims of undercover police misbehaviour would be able to argue that their own rights to find out what happened to them should be considered and to challenge decisions if they considered that they were not properly made.

The hearing will decide how the Inquiry proposes to approach applications for restriction orders, but it is not necessarily an end to the matter. The decision could be challenged by way of judicial review if there are grounds to do so. And the same goes for the individual decisions on applications.

Although the Inquiry itself is an inquisition, the battle-lines between the Police and Home Office and the other CPs have been drawn.

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

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