21st March 2018
Spycops Inquiry participants took the drastic step of walking out of today’s Hearing to demonstrate their disgust at the lack of disclosure. They have lost faith in the Inquiry under Mitting, and now fear that it will not fulfil its terms of reference.
The Undercover Policing Inquiry formally began in 2015, and was originally scheduled to end in 2018.
Hundreds of people have been granted ‘Core Participant’ status in this Inquiry, among them:
– Doreen and Neville Lawrence (and other anti-racist and family justice campaigns),
– prominent politicians (Peter Hain, Diane Abbot, Ken Livingstone and others),
– women who have discovered that they were deceived into intimate relationships with undercover policemen in the past,
– many trade unionists, including victims of illegal blacklisting
– and people who have taken part in all kinds of campaigns for social and environmental justice, human and animal rights, over the last fifty years.
These victims of the notorious #spycops units, such as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), had been hoping that this long-awaited Public Inquiry would deliver truth and justice.
It’s estimated that at least 150 undercover officers were deployed by the SDS alone (which operated from 1968-1999), and that over a thousand groups and countless individuals were targetted in this way, yet very little has been disclosed by the Inquiry so far.
Without basic information, such as:
what were the cover names used by these officers?
and which groups did they spy on?
it is impossible for many of those affected to come forward with details of any wrongdoing.
Dozens of these ‘Non-State Core Participants’ have walked out of today’s Hearing of the Inquiry, in protest at the approach being taken by its current Chair, Sir John Mitting. They are now demonstrating outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand.
“As we’ve been forced to explain to him, there is no point in us trying to participate in this Hearing. We can’t make any meaningful submissions if we’re not given any information about the matters being discussed today. And there seems little point in taking part when Mitting continually ignores what we do have to say” explained one of those Core Participants disgusted at the lack of progress.
“We already know that it is alleged that, while undercover, at least one officer committed a serious, criminal offence and another gave misleading evidence, under oath as a defendant, at a criminal trial. They have also been implicated in potential miscarriages of justices, with over 50 convictions already overturned” explained Mike Schwarz, one of the lawyers representing Core Participants in the Inquiry.
SDS policy was that these officers had to be married. However it was common practice for them to form sexual relationships with women while undercover, thereby deceiving both the activists and their own wives.
One of the women whose human rights were violated in this way, Kate Wilson, made a statement earlier this morning: “For the UCPI to offer anonymity to any manager of the SDS or NPOIU, who should be held accountable for these operations, is an insult to the women they conspired to abuse.”
Another of the women, ‘Andrea’, said “We have no faith in Mitting. He is not fit for the task, and should not be allowed to continue to lead this Inquiry alone. We believe there needs to be a Panel with relevant expertise looking into what’s happened, not just one judge, especially one as out of touch as Mitting’s recent comments have shown him to be.”
This Inquiry was established in light of revelations about how these undercover officers had even spied on families like the Lawrences, who were campaigning for justice following the racist murder of their son Stephen almost twenty five years ago.
Stafford Scott of The Monitoring Group echoed the calls for “a panel with relevant expertise and knowledge” to replace Mitting, and said “we have lost all confidence in him, he’s shown a complete and utter lack of understanding of institutional racism”.
Another key issue is the UK Government’s continued refusal to extend the Inquiry beyond the borders of England and Wales. Of the officers whose activities we already know about, the majority travelled to other countries during their deployments.
“At the last hearing, Mitting told us that there was a ‘brick wall’ between us and the information which he is keeping secret from us”, said a spokesperson from the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance. “We’ve come here with this banner today to make the point”
Interviews and more information are available: 0759 869 7591 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @out_of_lives
contact@campaignopposingpolicesurveillance Twitter: @copscampaign COPS website