“This is going to happen to us one day” – UK #spycops and the Stasi anniversary

As a key court hearing falls on the anniversary of events in secret police history, it is not only campaigners who make the links between East Germany’s Stasi and the UK’s spycops – in fact, the SDS officers themselves were well aware of the parallels:

The events at the Stasi Berlin HQ on 15 January 1990 led to further developments, as a society attempted to come to terms with what had happened. In 1994, coverage of the process was broadcast in the UK – and was seen by those who were, themselves, involved in UK’s own secret police.

They were in their safe house, sitting on worn out sofas in the lounge.
A team of undercover officers had spent the evening drinking and chatting in the London apartment. It was late one night in 1994.
They turned on the television to catch a news report from Germany. Tens of thousands of Germans were trawling through secret files compiled on them before the Berlin Wall came down. There was a wave of revulsion at the scale of surveillance perpetrated by the Stasi, the East German secret police. [..] The TV report showed the distraught face of a woman in Berlin who had discovered the man she had loved for years was a spy.
There was silence in the lounge. Then one of the undercover police officers said what the others must have been thinking.
‘You do realise, this is going to happen to us one day,’ he said ‘we’re going to open a book and read all about what we’ve been up to.’
It was a chilling thought. The men lounging on the red sofas were members of the Special Demonstration Squad, a top-secret unit within London’s Metropolitan Police.

from Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis (Faber and Faber, 2013)

As the women call for names to be released and files to be opened, a solidarity demo will take place in London on Friday 15 January 2016, and eight women who took legal action against the police have made a statement on the anniversary and upcoming court hearing.

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