19 May 2020 — SpyCops
Here’s this month’s news from the campaign for truth and justice about Britain’s political secret police.
PUBLIC INQUIRY DELAYS
The Undercover Policing Inquiry is aiming to have the first hearings in September, having abandoned the June ones, which seems overly optimistic.
With coronavirus restrictions still in place, the Inquiry office has reopened for staff who feel safe to come in. However, the Chair, Sir John Mitting, won’t be among them, so will not have access to secure material. The police lawyers’ office is closed indefinitely, and without them ready it seems unlikely anything will happen any time soon.
TIME FOR AN INQUIRY ADVISORY PANEL
Since the Inquiry was announced, victims have advocated that the Chair be supported by a panel of people with relevant experience of institutional prejudice and discrimination. This is something that many different spied-on groups and individuals have called for from the outset, and is common practice in similar inquiries. The Home Secretary refused, supporting the Chair’s position that putting such a panel together would delay the Inquiry. With the coronavirus delays, there’s now time for such a panel to be brought together.
By having people with relevant life experience on board, the Chair, Sir John Mitting, is better placed to understand the power, pressure and impacts of what has gone on.
Two weeks ago Police Spies Out of Lives published a piece on the delays to the Inquiry which suggested that we should take the opportunity to get a panel.
Lawyers representing victims are formally approaching the Home Secretary to request the issue is reconsidered.
ANOTHER WITNESS GONE
Margaret Thatcher’s permanent secretary Robert Armstrong just died, who would potentially have been a key source of information about the big question – who gave the orders for policing of political activity?
We’ve also lost two Home Secretaries and two Metropolitan Police Commissioners in the six years since the Undercover Policing Inquiry was announced.
PETER TATCHELL TRIES AGAIN
Tatchell’s leadership of LGBT direct action groups over decades surely meanshe was spied on, yet the entire cause is absent from the list of known groups. He has re-applied to be a core participant. ‘It is confirmed that the police spied on 1,000 activist groups but the inquiry won’t say if OutRage! was one of them,’ he told the Observer last week.
The Undercover Research Group profiled Adrian Radford, a corporate spy who also worked for the state, who infiltrated OutRage!.
SPY, SHRED – AND REPEAT
Last month the Independent Office for Police Conduct produced a report on Metropolitan Police destroying spycops files despite an order to save everything for the Undercover Policing Inquiry. The investigation had been hampered by officers refusing to co-operate, including giving ‘no comment’ interviews to investigators.
The Undercover Research Group have written a detailed analysis of some of the material and what it tells us about the pattern of police destroying the evidence that incriminates them.
STILL NO SPYCOPS PROSECUTED
After last month’s jailing of Greg Wilson – a man who deceived a woman into a long term relationship and having a child, using faked identity papers to cover the fact that he was a different man who was already married – Police Spies Out of Lives (PSOOL) have highlighted the parallels with the spycops scandal.
PSOOL speaks for women who were deceived into relationships by undercover officers. The similarities between the actions of Wilson, and of several women jailed for elaborate and sustained pretence of being men in order to deceive women into relationships, have left many aghast at the double standards. There are also key differences:
‘Unlike the individualised work of Wilson, our abusers had a fully funded team to support their premeditated deceit. Behind their efforts to create new identities, was a state-sponsored machine. With official passports, driving licenses and national health numbers in their fake persona, our deceivers had professional back up’.
You can read the whole piece, and the womens’ stories in their own words, on the PSOOL site.
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