Undercover Policing Inquiry: Latest progress briefing

Want to understand what has happened recently in the preliminary stages of the Undercover Policing Inquiry?

Read our latest Progress Briefing available for download here.

It covers the period mid March to mid May 2017 and includes:

  • 5/6th April Hearing
  • Disclosure of personal files
  • Protocols
    • Draft disclosure protocol
    • Restriction protocol
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders Act submissions

For those people that are core participants in the Inquiry, a slightly different version will be available via your lawyers, that contains information that is private between you and your lawyers.

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Spying victims demand truth NOW Stop the Police cover up

Press release sent on behalf of the UCPI non-state, non-police core participants communications group

Royal Courts of Justice 5th April 2017 – picket 9-10am (photo opportunities)

On 5th/6th April at a High Court hearing of the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing, the Metropolitan Police will be seeking to continue their cover up of human rights abuses committed by political undercover policing units. The Inquiry started in 2015 but due to police delaying tactics has yet to reveal anything at all about political police spying in the UK.

Those who were spied on will be at the hearing to demand truth and justice.  They will address the Inquiry hearing to call for:

•    the immediate release of the cover names used by political undercover police officers
•    the names of the groups spied on
•    the personal files held on those spied on
•    fair representation at the Inquiry – at present around 200 victims are forced to share one legal team in court, while the police & state are represented by 5 separate legal teams

Core participants of the Inquiry sent written submissions to the Inquiry last week which explain their call, mandated by a meeting of 40 non-state, non- police core participants (NSPCPs).  This follows a letter sent a year ago signed by 133 NSPCPs seeking the same information.

Kate Wilson, who was deceived into an intimate relationship with undercover officer Mark Kennedy, and is one of the signatories of the letter, said;

“The Inquiry is investigating serious human rights abuses, miscarriages of justice and criminal offences committed by police. Yet much of the control over the evidence and proceedings has been left in the very hands of those being investigated. The police clearly have no sense of urgency about the Inquiry, in fact they have sought to prevent the victims of their abuses from finding out the truth. This creates a very real risk of compounding the harm and distress of those of us who suffered at their hands and who so urgently need to find truth.”

In 2010 revelations first started to surface about British undercover police officers infiltrating environmental and social justice campaigns.  By 2014 the scale & nature of the revelations had become so shocking that then Home Secretary Theresa May announced a Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing.

The revelations included that undercover police officers had:
– engaged in intimate sexual relationships with women while undercover
– even fathered children with women spied on,
– spied on the grieving family & friends of Stephen Lawrence and other victims of racist attacks & police malpractice
– colluded with private companies, including passing personal information to private companies & aiding the illegal blacklisting of trade union members and political activists,
– been involved in serious miscarriages of justice
– taken the identities of dead children

All the information of the abusive activities of these undercover policing units have so far been revealed by activists themselves, or by whistle blowers and journalists. The police have consistently acted to prevent the release of information and to cover up their responsibility for extensive human rights abuses.

Those spied upon seek truth and justice.

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This week: Demonstration outside Undercover Policing Inquiry

Hearing of the Undercover Policing Inquiry

Where? Royal Courts of Justice
When? April 5th-6th 2017

This is a crucial hearing [1] in the preliminary stages of the public inquiry into the scandals surrounding undercover policing. It results from the latest police delaying and avoidance tactics: they have applied to delay the Inquiry  further, and to restrict the scope of the  Inquiry [2]

Lord Pitchford has decided this hearing should also be an opportunity for the non-state, non-police core participants (those affected by undercover  policing) to comment on the progress of the Inquiry [3]. They will use it as an opportunity to demand prompt release of the cover names of undercover officers, and the disclosure of personal files held by police on them, as well as fairer representation in the Inquiry [4].

It is expected that the hearing will be attended by many people affected by undercover policing, including women who were deceived into intimate relationships with undercover police.

Demonstration outside the hearing

Where? Royal Courts of Justice
When? 9-10am Wednesday April 5th

It is over six years since the undercover policing scandal [5] broke, creating shock that the police could commit such  abuses against campaigners in our country. Two years into the Inquiry and the police have so far avoided giving any information about their abusive activities. People who have  had their lives turned upside down by infiltration are no  nearer to knowing the truth. The public is no nearer to knowing the extent of the abuse of our democracy.

Non-state, non-police core participants in the Inquiry and their supporters will be demonstrating before the court hearing. They are demanding:

  • the Inquiry starts to serve the people who have been affected by undercover policing, and does not allow the abusers to get away with delaying and preventing disclosure about what has happened.
  • the Inquiry release the cover names of the officers now, so that the full extent of the undercover policing scandal can be revealed.
  • the release of the files held on all the core participants affected by undercover policing.

“Since settling our legal cases offering nothing to us in the way of disclosure, the Police have still not revealed anything not already in the public domain. All the information we have about these units is what we have discovered for ourselves. The police continue to do everything in their power to avoid giving us the answers the public deserve. This Inquiry, if it is to get anywhere, must stop allowing the police to  delay  and divert, and insist on open transparent investigation of the   officers involved, their supervisors and the policies of surveillance   behind decades of political policing.” ‘Lisa’, deceived into a six year relationship with undercover officer Mark Kennedy [6]

 

Key background information

1] https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/20170215-directions-extension-of-time-composite.pdf  These preliminary hearings are crucial as they shape the course of the Inquiry.

2] A hearing is taking place following requests from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for:
a.   an extension of time for anonymity, via restriction order applications on behalf of police officers formerly employed by the Special Demonstration Squad; and
b. a change in the Inquiry’s approach to those restriction order applications, which would reduce its scope: they are requesting that only a limited number of SDS officers be required to give evidence to the Inquiry.
For more information see our progress briefing: https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/uploads/2016/05/UCPI-update-FebMarch-public.pdf

3] https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170302-Counsels-Note-for-hearing-on-5-April-2017.pdf

4] https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20170323-submissions-for-hearing-on-20170405-NPNSCPs.pdf

5] The scandal has included women being deceived into abusive intimate  relationships [https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/our-stories/], miscarriages of justice being perpetrated [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25829169],  families fighting the police for justice have being spied on [https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/15/doreen-lawrence-name-undercover-police-spied-family], and  trades union activists being blacklisted [https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/undercover-with-paul-lewis-and-rob-evans/2015/may/28/blacklisted-workers-seek-to-prise-open-secrets-of-covert-police-surveillance].

6] Lisa is one of the seven women to whom the Met issued a comprehensive apology (https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/new-met-apology/). Lisa’s story can be found here: https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/our-stories/lisas-story/

7] Legal briefings on the progress of the Inquiry are available here: https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/pitchfordinquiry/inquiry-briefings/

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Briefing on “Neither confirm or deny” – a police tactic for secrecy

On April 5th, there will be a preliminary hearing for the Undercover Policing Inquiry, where the Metropolitan Police Service argue for further delays to the Inquiry and to reduce its scope. This is simply the latest attempt by the police to prevent information coming to light about their abusive undercover policing tactics. To illuminate this pattern of avoiding accountability and disclosure of any information about their shady practices, today we are publishing a briefing on their tactic of ‘Neither Confirm nor deny.’

To support the fight back against police secrecy, come to the demo on April 5th.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) state they have a ‘policy’ of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) in relation to undercover officers. This means that when asked whether one of their officers is an undercover, they reply to the effect of “We can neither confirm nor deny that XXXX was an undercover officer”.

NCND is first and foremost a stance adopted by the security and intelligence services whose officials are deployed in intelligence gathering operations. It doesn’t have any legal standing. The police’s use of it is much more recent, and no evidence has been presented of it as a written MPS policy, despite being ordered to present it by a court.

Pitchford has refused to allow a blanket application of NCND in the Inquiry, and instead has insisted on looking individually at each situation where the police are asking for secrecy. He has asked them to apply for restriction orders in each situation, and will test any proclaimed risk of harm against the public interest of revealing what the undercover police have been up to. It is through this process that the police are now seeking secrecy and delays to the Inquiry.

The Inquiry into Undercover Policing has come about through the hard work of the people affected, activists, and a whistle blower. The police have fought at every turn in court, to avoid having to give any information publicly about their secret political policing units. They use NCND, and their applications for restriction orders, as a shield to avoid proper scrutiny of their actions, and to cover up the illegal and immoral activities of political undercover police officers.

Want to stand with the people affected by undercover policing and demand the truth about the activities of these abusive political policing units? Come to the demo, outside the Royal Courts of Justice, 9-10am on the 5th of April.

Find out more you can do to support the fight for truth around undercover policing.

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New Inquiry progress briefing published today

On April 5th, the Undercover Policing Inquiry is due to hold a preliminary hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.

This hearing is to deal with issues brought up by the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to delay and deny our efforts to get to the truth.

The Inquiry has made much slower progress than originally envisaged (a three year Inquiry, ending in July 2018), largely as a result of police applications for as much secrecy as possible. The Inquiry team have now stated that evidence hearings probably won’t take place until at least 2019.

Although progress is still excruciatingly slow, it does appear that the Inquiry is finally adopting a more robust attitude towards the police’s delaying tactics.

This hearing is also an opportunity for Core Participants to make submissions of their own, and for those affected by undercover policing to have their voices heard.

It’s vital that the (“non-State, non-police”) Core Participants in this Inquiry are able to understand the legal issues, and the way the Inquiry will operate, in order to take part.

It’s also important that the wider public, and press, have access to information, so they can continue to support us through what may become a very long process.

To this end, we are pleased to publish our third Progress Briefing on the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

This edition covers:

  • the Inquiry’s approach
  • the 5th April hearing: what the Met are demanding
  • the struggle for disclosure: of cover names & groups spied on
  • the document shredding scandal
  • the long-awaited Secure Database
  • Pitchford’s retirement from the Inquiry
  • issues relating to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
  • the planned Witness Process

If you find this helpful, please have a look at the other Progress briefings and reports we have written on the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

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