Today we announced that the next hearing in this case will take place in mid-March. Alongside this case, here is a round-up of other developments in the struggle for justice and accountability over undercover policing – and how they link to this legal action:
– This Monday 27 January, in Southwark Crown Court, John Jordan, The Guardian, the BBC and the Press Association will be “challenging a decision by prosecutors to hush up a miscarriage of justice”. John Jordan’s conviction was quashed when it was revealed Boyling (who one of the officers involved in this case had given ‘evidence’ without revealing his true identity. Rob Evans of The Guardian reports: “Jordan will be seeking to compel prosecutors to tell him why his conviction was unsafe, with the help of his barrister, Matthew Ryder. The three media organisations will also argue that there is a very strong public interest in disclosing to the public the confidential reasons behind the quashing of the conviction.” Read more here.
– Individuals, organisations and lawyers affected by undercover policing or representing those who have been affected (including the women involved in this case and their solicitors), have joined voices to express their lack of confidence in Operation Herne (the police inquiry into the operations of the Special Demonstration Squad), and to call for a full public inquiry. A public meeting is to be held in London in February. Read more here and at Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS).
– Peter Francis, the whistleblower former undercover officer (who has given support to women in this case), has not been offered protection by Operation Herne, and instead is being threatened with legal action under the Official Secrets Act. Channel 4, who aired a documentary with Francis’ testimony is facing legal action demanding that it hand over tapes to Operation Herne – even though Herne is supposed to be investigating the police operations themselves, not those who are trying to bring the issues to light. Read more here.
– This week, the Drax protesters had their convictions quashed, yet even here police tried the patience of the courts over their secrecy. Lord Chief Justice Thomas said “When a court is asked to overturn convictions in a case of potential police misconduct, it is not satisfactory that the police should decide which sections of documents to redact and which to make public. That should be a decision for the courts not the police.” These concerns echo those of the women taking this legal action, as their upcoming hearing will be a bid by the police to keep documents secret.
All of the above developments underline growing concern over lack of progress for accountability, justice and openness.
The women involved in this case concluded last August that they could not co-operate with Operation Herne, due to the police’s ongoing insistence on their Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) policy. This legal action has faced attempt after attempt to have the case thrown out or heard in secret [link to the case so far], and this March they face a fresh battle, as police lawyers attempt to have their common law claims struck out – again, over NCND.
We urge all our supporters to do what you can [link to Act Now] to show support for this case and for the other actions for accountability and justice. The battle goes on.
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