Content tagged with "Scotland"

Spycops Activists Meet Scottish Minister, Demand Inquiry

Spycops campaigners at the Scottish Government, Glasgow, 10 May 2017. From left: Donal O'Driscoll, Merrick Cork, Helen Steel & Tilly Gifford

Spycops campaigners at the Scottish Government, Glasgow, 10 May 2017. From left: Donal O’Driscoll, Merrick Cork, Helen Steel and Tilly Gifford

People spied on by political undercover police in Scotland met with the Scottish Justice Minister Michael Matheson last week, demanding an independent public inquiry.

The forthcoming Undercover Policing Inquiry, led by Lord Pitchford, is limited to events in England and Wales, despite the fact that most known spycops were also active in Scotland.

After the Home Office refused to include Scotland in the inquiry, last September the Scottish Government appointed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to conduct a review of undercover policing in the country.

As HMICS is a body of senior police officers, many victims of the spying do not find it credible and eighteen of them recently declared a boycott of the process. Outraged that the Justice Minister commissioned a review without even speaking to those affected, they requested a meeting, and on Wednesday a delegation they met him in Glasgow.

The group included Helen Steel, who had been in Scotland with her partner John Barker, aka undercover officer John Dines; Climate activist Tilly Gifford, targeted by undercover Scottish police and so outside Pitchford’s remit; Donal O’Driscoll and Merrick Cork, spied upon at the G8 protests in 2005; and the sister of ‘Andrea‘ who was deceived into a relationship by undercover officer Carlo Neri who then integrated into Andrea’s Scottish family.

Matheson repeated his claim that the HMICS review will be ‘thorough and independent’, despite the fact that it only covers policing in Scotland since 2000 and is done by police officers, some of whom have personal connections to the abuses.

The group recounted their personal experiences. Andrea’s sister recalled a number of family occasions, including Carlo Neri coming to her graduation.

Tilly Gifford was a member of climate campaigners Plane Stupid when she was singled out by undercover officers who tried to recruit her as an informer. She told the Evening Times

‘I don’t know who these people were. They were using Strathclyde Police resources but their names did not appear on any Strathclyde Police databases…

‘Because this happened in Scotland, I will not be included in the Pitchford Inquiry. Although there is evidence, and it is documented, that I was targeted, I will be completely left out of the inquiry.’

Gifford is applying for a judicial review of the UK and Scottish government’s exclusion of Scotland from a real inquiry. She has already crowdfunded the costs to get it going (though more is needed and you can donate here).

It was pointed out to Matheson that, given the fact that the spycops targeted elected Labour and Green politicians, it’s probable the SNP were spied on too, including his colleagues and their families.

The group made plain to Matheson that there is already enough established fact to warrant an a full scale inquiry that is credible to the victims, and were absolutely clear that they will not settle for less. Describing the HMICS review as ‘a figleaf’, they demanded it be scrapped immediately.

Matheson insisted he would wait for the HMICS review – planned for publication around September – and only then decide if further inquiry is needed. He made it plain that he would not be dissuaded on this point.

The Scotsman weighed in with an unequivocal opinion piece

Campaigners have already won a judicial review of the Home Office decision in Northern Ireland and should Ms Gifford’s action be successful in Scotland, the courts may take the dilemma out of the SNP’s hands.

If not, those spied on by police in Scotland face the prospect of being the only ones unable to get accountability for what happened to them.

Scotland cannot be left behind. Should the English inquiry not be extended north of the Border, then Scottish ministers must act to fill the void.

Mr Matheson was left in no doubt that this is what is required of him.

Spycops Victims Boycott Scottish Inquiry

HMICS whitewashPeople spied upon by Britiain’s political secret police in Scotland are boycotting the forthcoming Scottish review of the issue, saying ‘it cannot be trusted’ and branding it ‘pointless’.

The review by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) was commissioned by the Scottish government. Although most known officers from the disgraced units were active in Scotland, the Home Office has limited the full-scale public inquiry to events in England and Wales. The Scottish government – supported by every party in Holyrood – formally asked for inclusion but were rebuffed in July last year.

The Scottish government responded by asking HMICS to do a review, but only of events in Scotland since 2000.

Now eighteen people have written to HMICS, decrying both the remit and the choice of the body itself.

Most of them were so heavily spied upon that they are among the 200 people designated core participants at the London-based public inquiry. They include several women who were deceived into relationships by undercover officers and have received an abject apology from the Metropolitan Police.

Others were only targeted in Scotland and so cannot be part of that inquiry. Among them are former MSP Frances Curran and climate activist Tilly Gifford who is bringing a case to force a judicial review of Scotland’s exclusion.

Many were also on the illegal construction industry blacklist, despite never having worked in that trade. Several hundred activists were on the list as every constabulary’s Special Branch illegally supplied it with the details of people who were politically active.

‘The HMICS review has none of the muscle it takes to bring the truth to light, even if it were within the remit and was so disposed.

‘There is little point in another report that simply says things were wrong but it has all changed now. We and the Scottish public need proper answers. We want to know the truth of who spied on us, how we were targeted and why police thought they could get away with it. Without that truth there is no path to justice.’

The group add that they ‘do not want to be complicit with measures that treat a violation as less serious if it occurs on Scottish soil’.

Citing earlier reviews in England as inadequate, they call for an entirely different approach that puts the abused first, rather than leaving everything to the abusers and their colleagues;

‘the HMICS review should be scrapped and replaced by something that is credible to all sides and to the public at large’.

 


The full text of the letter:

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland
1st Floor West
St Andrew’s House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

27 April 2017

Dear HMICS,

Re: Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland

We were spied upon by undercover political secret police officers in Scotland. Some of us were spied on to such a significant extent that we are core participants at the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI), yet the same officers committing the same acts against us in Scotland will not be considered by the UCPI. Some of us were only spied upon in Scotland and so are ignored by the UCPI. We all deserve the truth, as do the Scottish public whose democratic rights have been interfered with.

In 2011, when the truth of what had been done to us came to public attention, we were met with denials from senior police, and sham inquiries that were narrow investigations by police officers. We have no faith in police investigating themselves. We said these reviews were not sufficiently transparent, robust or independent to satisfy public concern and would not come close to addressing all of the issues raised. We were proven right.

As the scale of what went on became clearer and the content of many of these reports – including one from your sister body HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) – were discredited, more serious action was taken. Mark Ellison’s reviews were followed by the announcement of the UCPI. Its exclusion of events in Scotland is a serious limitation. Most of the exposed officers were active in the country and the truth of what happened in Scotland is just as important as it is in England.

For the Scottish Government to commission a review by HMICS is a retrograde step. It is much like the response we had in 2011; police self-investigating a tiny part of what happened, a fob-off to give the appearance of doing something.

We are far beyond that now. We are not dealing with allegations, but proven abuses. This includes officers initiating and furthering intimate relationships with women in Scotland, which the Metropolitan Police has conceded was a violation of human rights and an abuse of police power. It warrants comprehensive and impartial investigation, which we have no faith HMICS is capable of delivering.

Firstly, there is a mater of trust. HMICS is a body of career police officers investigating their colleagues. On that basis alone, it cannot be trusted.

The proposal to look at two disgraced units that were, at the time in question, overseen by the current chief constable of Scotland (whose wife works for your sister organisation, HMIC). This makes it even harder to feign independence. Additionally, the review is being led by Stephen Whitelock who has been working in and alongside the posts that deployed undercover officers, including authorising Strathclyde’s deployments of the abusive Met officers this review examines. The decision to choose him and HMICS gives the appearance of corruption. We cannot think of anyone less appropriate to be doing this.

Secondly, there is a matter of scope. The HMICS remit is limited to events since 2000, a fraction of the lifetime of the units. Among the many outrages committed was the targeting of women through intimate relationships, the use of stolen identities of dead children and the illegal blacklisting of construction workers, environmental and community campaigners. All of these took place in Scotland before 2000 but the investigation will treat them as if they did not happen. To ignore such a significant part of the pattern of abuses makes the investigation unable to see anything like the whole picture and renders it pointless.

Thirdly, there is the element of HMICS’ power to investigate. We have battled for years to get as far as we have, faced by a police culture that will do anything it can to avoid accountability. We have some hope that the UCPI, with its power to compel witnesses who give testimony under oath, might elicit some truth. The HMICS review has none of the muscle it takes to bring the truth to light, even if it were within the remit and was so disposed.

There is little point in another report that simply says things were wrong but it has all changed now. We and the Scottish public need proper answers. We want to know the truth of who spied on us, how we were targeted and why police thought they could get away with it. Without that truth there is no path to justice. There is also no means for the Scottish public to learn how these undemocratic abuses came about and so put steps in place to ensure they do not happen again.

No police report to date has offered anything like that and there is no reason to believe HMICS could, let alone would, do so.

We believe the Justice Secretary should have spoken to those of us abused by these officers in Scotland before deciding on an appropriate course of action. Instead, he spoke only to police and their satellite bodies and then hired them.

We do not want to be complicit with measures that treat a violation as less serious if it occurs on Scottish soil. The HMICS review should be scrapped and replaced by something that is credible to all sides and to the public at large.

The Scottish public and those abused in Scotland deserve a proper Inquiry into the abuses committed by political undercover policing units, just as those in England and Wales deserved one.

Andrea
Alison
Claire Fauset
Donal O’Driscoll
Dr Nick McKerrell
Frances Curran
Harry Halpin
Helen Steel
Jason Kirkpatrick
John Jordan
Kate Wilson
Kim Bryan
Lindsay Keenan
Lisa
Martin Shaw
Merrick Cork
Olaf Bayer
Tilly Gifford

Help Force a Proper Spycops Inquiry for Scotland

John Dines on Barra

SDS officer John Dines whilst committing human rights abuses on Barra in the 1990s. This will be ignored by the public inquiry & the Scottish police self-investigation.

Most known officers from Britain’s political secret police were in Scotland. It happened over a period of decades and included the targeting of women for relationships that the Metropolitan Police have conceded were ‘a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’.

Despite this, the public inquiry is limited to events in England and Wales. The Scottish government formally asked for the remit to be extended to Scotland but was refused. They have commissioned a police self-investigation instead which will only look at events since 2000, a gesture so inadequate that it is insulting.

The same abuses were committed by the same officers, and if people deserve answers in England they should get them in Scotland too. More than that, we can only understand what happened by seeing the full picture. To look at officers or campaigns in an isolated way means we cannnot get the full truth.

On 24th October 2016 the Public Interest Law Unit through solicitors in Scotland launched Judicial Review proceedings against the Home Office and the Scottish government. The proceedings filed in Edinburgh challenged:

  1. the decision of the UK Government to refuse to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry into undercover policing to cover Scotland; and separately
  2. the decision of the Scottish Ministers to refuse to set up a Scottish Inquiry under and in terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 with terms of reference equivalent to those of the Inquiry but covering Scotland.

Despite this being a strong case, with good facts, supported by clear domestic and human rights law, in March the Scottish Legal Aid Board have refused the legal aid application.

This is where you come in.

A crowdfund campaign has been launched to raise £5,000 to take this case forward and to get the Court to grant permission for it to proceed to a full Judicial Review. We have a month to do it. Please share this widely and donate if you can afford to.

More information and donation details here.

Update on Seeking Spycops Justice Outside England & Wales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release: Victims of Police Spying Condemn Inquiry

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance

COPS has issued this press release to the Scottish media:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

08:00, 25 January 2017

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

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

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

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

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

One of them, communications consultant Kim Bryan, explained:

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice

HMICS whitewashThe announcement of the terms of reference for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland’s review into undercover policing manages to go beyond being meaningless, insulting those demanding answers for historical abuses by spycops, explains Dónal O’Driscoll

Last week Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) announced the terms of reference for its Review of undercover policing. Though campaigners were not holding their breath, the terms were more offensive than we expected.

From the beginning we’ve denounced this Review as police investigating police. We experienced the efforts of the Inspectorate of Constabulary in England & Wales and the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Herne. Each report they produced was irrelevant, and in one case pulped the day before publication for misrepresenting the extent of the scandal.

The reality is that HMICS is staffed with ex-police, some of whom will return to policing the force they are examining. Its limited credibility was already strained to its limits when it was revealed that those conducting the review would not just be ex-police but include those closely linked to undercover policing in Scotland.

In no other situation would it be considered acceptable for abusers to investigate themselves. Yet, according to HMICS they will:

‘provide an independent view of the operation, procedures and safeguards in place by Police Scotland in relation to undercover policing, with the objective of providing assurance to Scottish Ministers, the Scottish Parliament and the public’.

We wonder what opinion Scottish Justice Minister Michael Matheson, who commissioned this review, must hold of the public to believe it would blindly accept such assurances. And this in the week we learn that even the rudimentary oversight provided by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners is being ignored by Police Scotland.

Basic political common-sense would say to provide something tangible to reassure campaigners. There was nothing – no promise of answers, no talk of transparency or even listening to the concerns of those most affected.

The announcement stated:

‘HMICS will be mindful of all time of the wider interest of public safety and and will not reveal information capable of impacting negatively on this interest including covert tactics, operational methods, and material potentially leading to the identification of covert human intelligence sources, including undercover officers’.

It is language we have heard many times before from the police. It leaves no doubt that HMICS will adopt the same policy as the rest of the UK – say nothing and stick to Neither Confirm Nor Deny – because it’s more important to them to shield police from consequences of how they abused people than to actually deliver justice. Given the current Chief Constable of Police Scotland oversaw the Special Demonstration Squad, we are not really surprised, however.

The words ‘justice’ or ‘accountability’ are conspicuously absent from the 16 page announcement. There is no mention at all of those most affected by the spycop scandal, a shameful if unsurprising omission.

The investigation is limited to anything after the year 2000, though abuses were taking place long before then. These are grave injustices; there is no statute of limitation, so no reason to stop investigating. Rather, it is the classic police line of ‘nothing to see, move along’. It merely underlines why we demanded an independent inquiry from the beginning.

When we heard the terms of reference for the HMICS review were being released, it felt irrelevant. There was little doubt it would be meaningless political speak. We did not imagine we would be quite so offended. Yet, according to their statement, the review will:

‘comment on the contribution made by undercover policing operations towards public safety in Scotland’.

In plain language, the review is there to give undercover officers a congratulatory slap on the back. Not a word of the abuse conducted by them, but a big well done to the men who deceived, betrayed and destroyed the lives of people fighting for a better world.

Just read the account of Andrea, targeted by a spycop for a relationship, to see why this leaves a bitter taste in our mouths. They will tell us how undercover policing protects the public yet take no interest in protecting the public from these undercover police.

They are not investigating suspicions or allegations. The police themselves accept that it was morally wrong and ‘an abuse of police power’. The people targeted by spycops have uncovered a small fraction of what went on. The question is how far did it go? Instead of addressing that, the Scottish police and their satellite bodies, like their colleagues south of the border, are intent on glossing over what cannot be denied and keeping the rest firmly hidden.

Derek Penman, head of HMICS, wants to maintain public confidence in undercover policing – if anything, he achieved the opposite, demonstrating that the culture of cover-up where reputation comes before justice is the most important motivating factor. It motivated the police at the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and it is being repeated here.

Mr Matheson, the goal is so wide at this point, that the only possible conclusion is that you are deliberately choosing to miss. This goes beyond ineptitude to intentional collusion with known abusers in covering-up this scandal. It is frankly corrupt. Collaborating in this cover-up stains the entire Scottish Ministry of Justice.

Though these are my views, a group of those of us spied upon in Scotland, shall be writing to the Justice Minister this week, asking for a meeting.


The author was spied upon in Scotland by Mark Kennedy and other undercovers, and is a core participant in the Pitchford Inquiry.

Read Andrea’s description of her relationship with a spycop published last week in two parts here and here.

Scotland Asks Police to Self-Investigate Spycops

John Dines on Barra

SDS officer John Dines on Barra in the Outer Hebrides. His activity is excluded from the Scottish inquiry

The Scottish government has asked a group of senior police officers to investigate spycops activity in their country.

It comes in response to the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing being limited to events in England and Wales. The Home Office refused a request, supported by every party in the Scottish Parliament, to extend the Pitchford remit to Scotland.

As we’ve said previously, Scotland was not merely incidental to the political spying of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). 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.

Having failed to secure Scotland’s inclusion in the main Pitchford inquiry, every party in Holyrood except the SNP backed the call for a separate Scottish inquiry. On Wednesday the Scottish government announced its decision. It has asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to look into it. HMICS is a body of senior police officers.

HMIC’s FIRST BUCKET OF WHITEWASH

Its sister organisation for England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has already got a history of whitewash on the spycops scandal.

The whole issue first hit the headlines in 2011 when Mark Kennedy’s exposure caused the collapse of a trial. Since then, 49 convictions have been overturned due to Kennedy’s involvement. HMIC were asked to look into Kennedy and the two spycops units.

The report was drafted by Bernard Hogan-Howe, on a two year stint at HMIC between his roles as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and Commissioner of the Met. By the time the report came out he was spending huge sums of Met money deploying lawyers to obstruct justice for spycops’ victims.

The HMIC report was completed by Denis O’Connor, who had been Assistant Commissioner of the Met at the time of the MacPherson Inquiry into the killing of Stephen Lawrence.

The report is believed to have portrayed Mark Kennedy as a rogue officer who had strayed from the purpose of his deployment. It was dramatically withdrawn and pulped just five hours before publication because The Guardian published revelations that another officer, Jim Boyling, had caused miscarriages of justice just as Kennedy did.

It underwent four months of rewriting and, when finally published in 2012, it still came out saying senior officers knew nothing, and basically hung Kennedy out to dry.

‘operational supervision, review and oversight were insufficient to identify that his behaviour had led to disproportionate intrusion.’

Kennedy had been in daily contact with his cover officer, who will have known where he was and what he was doing. Documents released since the HMIC report show that Kennedy was sanctioned from on high and people far up the ladder took a keen and detailed personal interest in his work.

Above the spycops units were their authorising officers.

‘it was not evident that the authorising officers were cognisant of the extent and nature of the intrusion that occurred; nor is it clear that the type and level of intrusion was completely explained to them’

What is an authorising officer doing if not asking about the necessity and impacts of the things they authorise?

But the HMIC report, in the classic style of self-investigations, says it was incompetence and ignorance rather than anything more sinister, only the lowlings did any really bad stuff, lessons have been learned and we can all move on.

It is a challenge for anyone to seriously expect anything different from the forthcoming Scottish report.

CHRONOLOGICAL BLINKERS

As if choosing police to self-investigate isn’t bad enough, the Scottish Government’s remit to HMICS is

‘to report on the extent and scale of undercover policing in Scotland conducted by Scottish policing since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act came into force: and the extent and scale of undercover police operations carried out in Scotland by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the Special Demonstration Squad in the same period.’

This means the earlier abuses of officers like Mark Jenner and John Dines – who were committing what their bosses admit were breaches of human rights on Scottish soil – will be ignored.

This isn’t just the police getting to mark their own homework. It is police who have been caught after decades of wrongdoing, with a history of cover-ups on this very topic, being given a narrow section of their misdeeds on which to report. Even if they could see clearly, they are looking at the picture through a toilet roll tube.

The Pitchford Inquiry has designated 200 people who were seriously involved in spycops activity – mostly those who were spied on – as ‘core participants’. A group of 24 of them were also personally targeted in Scotland and demand to know the truth of what was done to them there.

As with the police’s spycops self-investigation Operation Herne, it’s unlikely that victims will lend credibility to HMICS’ inevitably flawed and partisan effort by participating. Not that HMIC asked any victims for the 2012 report anyway.

SCOTLAND’S TOP COP DID IT, HIS WIFE’S AN INVESTIGATOR

Any idea that this will produce mere hopeless bias rather than corruption is largely dispelled by the tangle of personal involvement between Scottish police, the two spycops units and HMIC.

Scotland’s Chief Constable, Phil Gormley, was head of the Met’s Special Branch – and therefore oversaw its sub-unit the Special Demonstration Squad – from 2005-2007. He was also secretary of ACPO-TAM, the committee that oversaw Mark Kennedy’s unit the NPOIU, from 2005-2008.

Gormley supervised both units at the exact time that is under investigation. Beyond the usual bias of police investigating police, will fear of besmirching Scotland’s top cop further influence the report? What about the fact that Phil Gormley is married to Detective Superintendent Claire Stevens who has been at HMIC since 2011 (according to her recently deleted LinkedIn profile)?

If this were happening in some tinpot failed state we would express incredulous outrage. The police chief oversaw disgraced secret units that abused dozens of women, engineered hundreds of miscarriages of justice, illegally gave information on political activists to industrial blacklists, disrupted legitimate campaigns and undermined the struggle for justice by families whose loved ones died at the hands of his constabulary. An inquiry run by his senior officers with links to his wife is touted as credible.

That this is the response of the Scottish government, as it seeks to show itself as a fairer than Westminster, beggars belief.

AN INSULT AND A BETRAYAL

These aren’t suggestions or allegations. They are the established facts of large-scale, systematic sustained abuse of power and violation of the citizens that the police are supposed to serve.

To appoint HMICS to investigate these events places huge trust in those who have emphatically proven themselves unworthy. It is an insult to all those who were abused by spycops in Scotland – the people who have done all the work of exposing these outrages – whilst the police, including HMIC, smeared victims in an attempt to mitigate, justify and deny. It is a betrayal of those who expect truth and justice.

To let HMICS go ahead in light of the facts is frankly corrupt. More than that, it is an acceptance by the Scottish government that abuses serious enough to warrant a public inquiry in England count for less, or even nothing, when done in Scotland.

 

 


COPS Scotland is being launched with two public meetings featuring:

Glasgow, Wednesday 5 October 7.30pm
Jury’s Inn, 80 Jamaica Street G1 4QG

Dundee, Thursday 6 October, 7.00pm
Dundee Voluntary Action, 10 Constitution Road DD1 1LL

Kennedy in Scotland and Denmark, Working for USA?

Harry Halpin, graduating from Edinburgh University

Harry Halpin, graduating from Edinburgh University

A call for a proper spycops inquiry in Scotland has illustrated how the scandal also goes well beyond British shores.

Writing in The Scotsman, Chris Marshall reports that the Scottish government is ‘extremely disappointed’ events in its country are to be excluded from the public inquiry, and he has a blunt response.

If the UK government is to remain implacable about Scotland’s role in Pitchford, then the Scottish Government has no other option – it must set up its own inquiry.

The article points further afield. American citizen Dr Harry Halpin was spied upon by Mark Kennedy in Scotland. This surveillance continued when they travelled to Denmark together for a meeting of climate activists ahead of a UN Climate Change Summit in 2009.

Harry Halpin was a student at Edinburgh University when he believes undercover police officers began spying on him. Mr Halpin, now a respected computer scientist, says he was badly beaten by Danish police after travelling to a 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen and placed on “domestic extremist watch list” in the UK.

A 2012 report into Kennedy by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said he disobeyed orders twice during his seven year deployment.

BEATEN INTO DISOBEDIENCE

Mark Kennedy's injuries after being beaten by police, 2006

Mark Kennedy’s injuries after being beaten by police, 2006

The first occasion was in 2006 when he refused to leave the care of activists after being beaten up by uniformed officers.

Kennedy had been a key organiser of the first Climate Camp, held at Drax power station in North Yorkshire, the UK’s largest single source of carbon emissions.

Amongst the activists, he was part of a group of people attempting to breach the perimeter fence. Somewhat ironically, the vast numbers of police were there due to information provided by Kennedy.

Kennedy’s machismo escalated the sitation and a group of officers set upon him.

They kicked and beat me. They had batons and pummelled my head. One officer repeatedly stamped on my back. I had my finger broken, a big cut on my head and a prolapsed disc.

The incident left him with numerous injuries and needing surgery for the prolapsed disc in his back.

ON WHOSE ORDERS?

The HMIC report says his second breach of orders came when

he defied instructions and worked outside the parameters set by his supervisors by accompanying a protestor abroad in 2009

The only known instance of Kennedy traveling abroad with anyone in 2009 was that trip to Denmark with Harry Halpin.

Disobeying orders was clearly a rare and serious decision. Did he do it to travel to Denmark on a whim? Or at the request of someone whose orders trumped those of his bosses? Could that have been the American authorities asking him to watch Harry Halpin? Was Halpin’s beating by Danish police at the behest of Kennedy? Or the Americans? Or just a coincidence?

To know the whole truth, we clearly have to look far beyond events in England and Wales. If the Pitchford Inquiry is to have a hope of achieving its stated aim, it must work with the governments of other countries affected by Britain’s political secret police.

Chris Marshall observes

While the activities of Kennedy et al may have taken place more than a decade ago in Scotland, they are continuing to be felt to this day by those who were targeted.

The HMIC report tells us Kennedy professionally visited 11 countries on more than 40 occasions, including 14 visits to Scotland. He was responsible for 49 wrongful convictions and had significant relationships with five women who have taken legal action.

He is the just the best documented of the estimated 140 officers who worked for these units. If those he spied on hadn’t stumbled upon the truth all this would still be unknown, as is the case with 90% his colleagues.

Until we have the cover names of all the officers, and until the foreign authorities are allowed to contribute as fully as possbile, the Pitchford Inquiry will continue to appear to be merely firefighting revelations of victims.

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