#SPYCOPS INQUIRY GOING NOWHERE: SUPPORT OUR CROWD JUSTICE FUNDRAISER

Join the new legal push for justice

Since 2011, women deceived into relationships with undercover police officers groups have been fighting for truth and justice.

Four years ago a public inquiry was established to investigate the wrongdoing of these Metropolitan Police Special Branch squads. Originally scheduled to report in 2018, the Inquiry has been fraught with delays caused by police obfuscation and applications for officers’ anonymity. Evidential hearings will not now begin until 2020 with a current reporting date of 2023.

For a range of reasons, including a lack of confidence in Inquiry chair, Sir John Mitting, the women affected have no faith that the Inquiry will provide the answers we need,  the disclosure we’re looking for or result in a clear declaration that undercover officers forming intimate relationships with those they are spying on is not only unlawful but should be subject to criminal sanctions.

The Inquiry is not fit for purpose. With the current chair and no supporting panel of advisors, it cannot deliver the justice and accountability we need and the public deserve.

We still need answers about how and why our most private lives were violated. Those responsible still need to be held to account and a clear message sent that such behaviour by the police must never happen again.

So now what?

There are other legal avenues open that could achieve our objective of truth and justice. A case brought by Kate Wilson before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has already started to produce disclosure and has the potential to lead to legislative change which would prevent these abuses from ever happening again. A second case is awaiting consideration at the  United Nations (CEDAW) against the UK government, claiming this practice discriminates against women.  These cases offer the opportunity to set a benchmark that could force more openness from the secretive public inquiry. As the reality of how these units operated becomes clearer, we are seeing increasing evidence of what we believe to be a ‘conspiracy to rape’ and the urgency of this search for answers becomes all the more apparent.

However, we can’t continue to fund these cases alone and need your support. Please follow this link, contribute now and share this page with your friends, family and on social media.

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EXPOSING THE EXTENT OF UNDERCOVER POLICING IN SCOTLAND

Andrea renews the call for a public inquiry

The undercover policing scandal has been unfolding since 2010. As victims of political policing in Scotland, we seek the truth as to why we were spied upon and why our lives were so cruelly disrupted. We have asked for an independent public inquiry, in line with England and Wales, but the Scottish Government has repeatedly refused. Michael Matheson, then Justice Minister, commissioned the police to write their own report in 2016. This was co-authored by none other than Stephen Whitelock, lead inspector at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS). Unsurprisingly, the report concluded that there was ‘no evidence’ of police infiltrating campaign groups in Scotland.

Yet just this last month, we discovered that Scottish undercover officers, under Whitelock’s governance, incinerated ‘secret and highly sensitive files’ in a car park (Sunday Post 10 February 2019). This is disgraceful and corrupt, but as victims of undercover policing abuses we are not surprised.
In 2016, when it was announced that HMICS would conduct the review into undercover policing in Scotland, we warned that the report would be tainted by lack of impartiality. This is precisely what has happened. The HMICS review must now be considered seriously compromised. Inviting the police to investigate their own malpractice is farcical. The report only references operations from the year 2000, but we know that these secret undercover units have been operational since 1968. Finally, due to Whitelock’s central involvement in this damning case, and with his judgment, decision-making and treatment of the police whistleblower being seriously called into question, it is absolutely clear that his report is tainted by connection and corruption.

Many of us who were targeted by secret police in Scotland have been campaigning tirelessly for years to get answers, often carrying the weight of severe mental distress and trauma as a result of these state-sanctioned abuses. Amongst our number there are blacklisted construction workers, miners from the 1984/85 strike, union activists, environmental campaigners such as Tilly Gifford, and women like me, who were deceived into long-term sexual relationships. We have been fighting long and hard for truth, justice and access to our files.

MSPs are again calling for a full independent inquiry in order to have justice and clarity on the police abuses that have affected many people’s lives in Scotland. And still the police and the SNP government say ‘there is nothing to see here’. No need for scrutiny. And yet we see Police Scotland burning secret, perhaps crucial, files in a car park!

Were the destroyed papers from my file? I frequently visited family in Scotland with undercover officer, ‘Carlo Neri’, whom I believed to be a locksmith and union activist. I was engaged to him at the time, and we visited friends and family on a number of occasions. He was active in Scotland from 2002-2004. I want to know who was responsible for his activities in Scotland and which of his handlers secretly travelled with us when we crossed the border. Or did the incinerated files contain information on a construction worker who raised health and safety concerns on site, and who was subsequently and inexplicably condemned to a life of unemployment, put on the ‘blacklist’?

To be clear, this is not about the individual officer’s ‘integrity’. They were trained and paid to lie. We have seen from Kate Wilson’s ongoing Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) case (Guardian 3 October 2018) how these deployments were managed by multiple handlers, overseen and documented by seniors. Sexual relationships were known about and signed off by these managers. Deceiving women into long-term sexual relationships was part of the job they were employed to do. We frequently hear of an ‘absence of management’ leading to these police abuses. It is precisely this management we should be talking about, and we should not be fooled by the ‘few bad apples’ narrative. It is time for proper scrutiny and accountability.

A new report on Undercover Policing in Scotland by an expert witness, commissioned for Tilly Gifford’s legal case (BBC Scotland News 21 November 2018), is soon to be made public and will reveal more about the brevity of undercover policing practices in Scotland. It details undercover involvement at organisational level, from Scottish staff seconded to strategic positions, to the practical operational level. It also shows that the majority of the notorious Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) undercover unit – in which my ex ‘partner’ was a state spy – were active in Scotland prior to the G8 summit in 2005. The report lays out cases of suspected undercover activities, and there are new insights into Scottish police involvement in the blacklisting of union activists. None of these concerns, or the practice of deceiving women activists into long-term intimate relationships, were addressed by HMICS in its review. The extent of the corruption and the links between the SDS and Scotland are incontrovertible.

With the reach of undercover political policing becoming ever clearer and Whitelock’s questionable integrity now in the public domain, I sincerely hope that the government finally sees the need for an independent public inquiry in Scotland.

This article was first published on 19th March 2019 in Scottish Left Review

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THE BRITISH ESTABLISHMENT CONTINUES TO COVER UP THE SPYCOPS SCANDAL

For International Women’s Day, ANDREA explains why the Mitting inquiry is far from fair, impartial and meaningful.

ON INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day 2019, the inquiry into undercover policing has another year under its belt.

Last year, I wrote of my growing frustration at the lack of impartiality of the chair, Sir John Mitting, and of his seemingly unfettered belief in what the police choose to tell him.

Yes, that’s the same Metropolitan Police Force whose officers spied on the Stephen Lawrence family, which was responsible for stealing dead children’s identities, which colluded in the illegal blacklisting of thousands of construction workers and which was allowed to deceptively enter long-term intimate relationships with women who believed them to be activists. Highly trained liars, yet Mitting accepts their false word at face value.

The public inquiry was set up by then home secretary Theresa May to investigate the (mis)conduct of undercover police officers in England and Wales.

We now know that 250 officers spied on more than 1,000 political groups since 1968. These undercover spies often formed relationships with women as part of their “tradecraft,” concealing their true identities with the help of state-produced fake ID such as driving licences and passports.

At least 20 of the undercover officers deployed in political groups between the mid-70s and 2010 are known to have had sexual relationships, some lasting for many years (I lived with Special Demonstration Squad officer “Carlo Neri” for two years, in the belief that he was a locksmith and left-wing activist).

With anonymity decisions running at 75 per cent for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and 33 per cent for the Special Demonstration Squad, it has become even more apparent that the chair holds the rights of perpetrators in higher regard than the rights of victims.

He clearly sees the officers’ human rights as sacrosanct, withholding the names of the spycops who invaded our homes, our families and our intimate lives.

In the last year, two new women have made the devastating discovery that they too were deceived into relationships by undercover police spies.

“Sara” and “Ellie” both had long-term relationships with “James Straven.”

Straven initially told the inquiry he had no sexual relationships while undercover and signed a statement to that effect, seeking total anonymity.

He was later forced to admit to being in both relationships while infiltrating animal rights groups between 1997 and 2002.

How does Mitting continue to work on the basis of listening to the police first and engaging with victims as an afterthought?

Straven is just one in a long line of paid liars who can’t be trusted with a grain of truth let alone full and frank disclosure. Yet these men who abused us are given access to our files before we see a shred of evidence. How can this represent a fair, impartial, meaningful inquiry?

I wrote last year of the issue of officers’ real names and how the responsibility for whether to share with fellow activists and/or put names into the public domain causes considerable distress to those of us affected.

This intolerable situation continues, with more women being given the name of the officer privately, but yet it is not being published by the inquiry.

In my own case, Carlo Neri was granted a restriction order (to protect his family, not him, we are told) and those of us affected were informed it was a “moral decision” as to whether we chose to publish the name. Highly insensitive and absolutely compounding the trauma of our discovery that he was a police spy.

We are told that real names will be made public at the evidential stage (though not Neri or Marco Jacobs, whose name has never been disclosed).

The inquiry is running years behind due to deliberate obstruction by the police and the chair has now delayed the start of evidence hearings until 2020.

The inquiry should have concluded in 2018; it is now due to report in 2024.

The British Establishment continues to cover up this scandal, through a strategy of delays and institutional dishonesty.

We have asked time and again — given that sex, race and class discrimination are at the very heart of this scandal — is Mitting really the man for the job?

Not only is he a member of the Garrick Club, an archaic men-only institution, we are disturbed to learn of decisions he has handed down as a high court judge.

Take the case of Nicola Stocker, which is currently under appeal. Mitting ruled in favour of her ex-husband’s defamation claim against her.

Nicola posted on social media that Ronald Stocker had “tried to strangle” her. Mitting determined that “tried to strangle” implied an attempt to kill by strangulation.

He found that Ronald Stocker “did in temper attempt to silence her forcibly by placing one hand on her mouth and the other on her upper neck under her chin to hold her head still.” However, as “his intention was to silence, not to kill” he ruled that her comment was libellous.

This demonstrates a jaw-dropping lack of understanding of violence against women. Where does that leave us, when at the very core of our experience there is systematic, misogynistic abuse?

Our fight for truth and justice continues outside of the inquiry. One of the original eight women, Kate Wilson, has now taken her case to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

Wilson wants to know the truth about how she was deceived and which senior officers knew about it.

Wilson, her lawyers and our group have long argued that sexual relationships were known about and signed off by managers.

Deceiving women into long-term intimate relationships was part of the job description.

We often hear about failures of management and lack of oversight, but we know that it is this very structure and the individuals in charge who must be scrutinised and held to account.

In Wilson’s case, the Met tried to close down an order to disclose more documents, arguing it would “waste taxpayers’ money.”

They know they are sitting precariously on top of a massive anti-democratic scandal. Lofty perhaps, but not invulnerable. A few more shakes and the house of cards might well fall. Until the truth is uncovered, our campaign is far from over.

This article first appeared in the Morning Star 8th March 2019

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New BBC Wales spycops documentary

BBC Wales Investigates presents the stories of Rosa and Lisa alongside other Welsh campaigners whose personal lives were infiltrated by the state.

The women describe the impact the experience has had on them, and how they are fighting to bring those responsible to account.

Undercover Cops – Abuse of Duty was broadcast on BBC Wales at 8.30pm, Monday 4th March 2019 and BBC iPlayer thereafter for eleven months.

Coverage of the programme here.

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On the 12th Day of Christmas…

Special branch officers embedded themselves in women’s lives for months and years. They spent birthdays, family celebrations and Christmases with them, infiltrating their most private spaces.

 

PSOOL’s version of the 12 Days of Christmas will be posted on our social media feeds during the holiday period. They are designed to act as a reminder of how these abusive deployments functioned. As the women were receiving tokens of these men’s affections, believing them to be from their loved ones, the reality was they were spying on them and reporting their findings to their superiors. 

Every ‘gift’ referenced in these posts was given by one of the spycops to one of the women.

Here is the full version:

On the twelfth day of Christmas my #spycop sent to me
Complex  PTSD
A cold frame for our seedlings
Cover officers monitoring 
Pair of combat trousers
Book by Primo Levi                                                              
Several sob stories                                                     
Six friends under surveillance                                                
Home made nut roast                                                        
Additions to my file                                                             
Three  Panettone                                                                       
Two Cuban drums                                                                
And an impostor with a fake ID.
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