9 April 2020 — Spycops
Here’s this month’s news from the campaign for truth and justice about Britain’s political secret police.
THE MET SHREDDED SPYCOPS FILES
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC – the successor to the Independent Police Complaints Commission) has found that the Met has been destroying spycops files.
Despite Met staff being given the clear command not to destroy any files that may be useful in the Undercover Policing Inquiry, officers have nonetheless done exactly that.
An officer who knew about it but failed to take effective action would be facing charges of gross misconduct if they were still serving. But, in time-honoured fashion, the officer under investigation left the force before any disciplinary charges could be brought.
The officer certainly had plenty of time to do organise their retirement and build up an extra few years on their pension plan too. The referral to the IOPC came four years ago, but they’ve only just published their conclusions.
The IOPC said that a number of former police managers refused to engage with the investigation, and the IOPC has no power to compel them to do so.
There was no detail or speculation as to the scale or contents of the destroyed files.
PUBLIC INQUIRY DELAYS
Due to the coronavirus, the Undercover Policing Inquiry hearings scheduled for June have been postponed. The Inquiry intends to hold them in the first week of September, but the situation is being kept under review.
It’s not just about the physical meetings, but the Inquiry’s ability to prepare. It has closed its office and staff are, where possible, working from home. This means they have no access to their secure data system. Victims’ lawyers suggested using a secure digital (online) platform instead of the paper-based system on which they have been reliant on so far, but the Inquiry has responded that this is “not an option that can be quickly arranged”.
The Inquiry has decided that, whenever they are finally held, all witnesses in the first tranche of hearings (dealing with spycops from 1968-82) can give evidence by video link if they choose. Police witnesses had applied to be heard from behind screens and/or with voices modulated, but the Inquiry has rejected this, saying that the hearings will be fully public.
NO PICTURES PLEASE: INQUIRY REVERSES PHOTOS PLAN
One of the big problems of the spycops scandal is getting people who were spied on to know which of their comrades was a police officer. At the moment, the people coming forward are largely doing so because of the work of activist-researchers and journalists. The Inquiry has a list of more than 1,000 groups that were targeted by spycops, but has named fewer than 100.
Being told the cover name of an officer is often inadequate – their comrades may have known them by a nickname, or never known their surname. ‘Dave from about 1983’ may not ring bells, whereas a contemporaneous photo would. The Inquiry agreed to publish photos on its website. As requested, victims have sourced pictures, obtained written permission from the photos owners, and supplied them to the Inquiry.
But in January the Inquiry appeared to be rowing back on this commitment, and on 7 April they confirmed that was the case. The Inquiry will now show pictures to witnesses on condition that it may not be copied or shared. This completely ignores the fact that victims can’t become a witness until they know which officer spied on, and for many this can’t happen unless they see a photograph first.
Once again, the Inquiry is failing to see this as a victim/perpetrator situation and is dismissing the public’s right to know the truth of what was done in their name. The privacy of perpetrators is deemed more important than the privacy of the people they violated and the public’s right to know what was done in our name.
FASCIST FIORE TO SUE MET
Private Eye has reported a bizarre twist to the spycops scandal, Italian neo-fascist Roberto Fiore – leader of the Forza Nuova party & linked to the group responsible for 85 deaths in the bombing of Bologna station in 1980 – says he will take legal action against the Met.
In 2003 he was living in London when, according to local anti-fascists, spycop Carlo Sorocchi (who was undercover as ‘Carlo Neri’) repeatedly tried to organise firebombing of Fiore’s property. The Met have refused to comment.
Profile of Carlo Sorocchi: https://powerbase.info/index.php/Carlo_Neri_(alias)
SHREWSBURY PICKETS APPEAL TO BE HEARD
The undermining and framing of trade unionists has been a continual focus of Britain’s political secret police. The case of the Shrewsbury 24 – builders convicted after picketing during the 1972 national building workers’ strike – is an injustice that’s taken decades to drag towards resolution.
But now, 46 years after they were convicted, eight years since they applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the Shrewsbury pickets have won the right to have their convictions referred to the Court of Appeal.
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