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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Demonstration at Undercover Policing Inquiry hearing

Join us to demand disclosure on political policing abuses in the UK

Where? Royal Courts of Justice
When? 9-10am April 5th 2016 – on the first day of the hearing
What? Demonstration- bring banners, & placards
Who? Anyone who cares about our democracy

It is over six years since the undercover policing scandal broke, creating shock that the police could commit such abuses against social, animal, and environmental justice campaigners in our country. Women have been deceived into abusive intimate relationships, miscarriages of justice have been perpetrated, families fighting the police for justice have been spied on, trades union activists have been blacklisted. They, and we, need to know what has happened and why, so that we can repair the damage done to our lives and our democracy.

Public outrage at the scandals around undercover policing led to the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. Two years in, it is still in its preliminary stages, beset by police delaying tactics, and applications for secrecy. In the inquiry and the associated court cases, 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. We are no nearer to knowing the extent of the ongoing abuse of our democracy.

“It’s been almost a year, to the day, since we had that apology made in public by the Metropolitan Police and despite them saying they’re sorry, it hasn’t resulted in any  disclosure  of information about what happened to us. I’m sure any victim of abuse will tell  you, that knowing what’s happened, is as important as being, being told  that the people responsible are sorry.  Until we get full  answers about exactly what happened to us (Were we  targeted? How we were  targeted? Were we listened to? What information  was gathered on us?),  I don’t think  we’ll ever be able to  put this behind us”. Lisa speaking in November 2016.

On April 5th & 6th, there is an Inquiry hearing resulting from the latest police delaying and avoidance tactics, applying to delay the Inquiry further, and to restrict the scope of the Inquiry.

We demand that 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 denying disclosure on what has happened.

We demand that the Inquiry release the cover names of the officers now, so that the full extent of the undercover policing scandal can be revealed. We demand the release of the files held on all the core participants affected by undercover policing.

It is public pressure and outrage that brought about this Inquiry. Right now we need to show that it is still high on our agenda to prevent the police hiding the truth any further. All people involved with campaigning for progressive change in our society have been, and are at risk of infiltration and abuse at the hands of these shady political policing units.

It is people like you, taking a stand for your right to campaign for positive change without being abused by the state, that will change history, making sure these abuses come to light and are prevented from ever happening again. Without public support, the police may get away with hiding what has happened, and be able to continue their abuses.

What can you do?
· Come along to the demonstration and stand with the core participants to support their demands.
· Attend the hearing, and hear first-hand what is going on.
· Can’t make it on the day?
– Support us by talking about it on social media. Share the face book event
– Take a solidarity selfie (see below)

Solidarity selfie?
WHEN between NOW and the secrecy hearing on April 5th & 6th
WHERE anywhere, or go somewhere prominent in your local area – your town hall, local landmark, village sign, train station
WHAT hold up a sign or a banner demanding the #spycops Inquiry releases the names and opens the files, and take a photo. If you’ve got a landmark in, it’s #Yourtown demands #spycops Inquiry releases the names & opens the files!
SHARE on social media – use #spycops

Do it as soon as you think of it, go with your mates, go with your group after your latest meeting, go with your kids or your gran. No gesture too small.

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Brief Summary of Public Inquiry Secrecy Hearing

IMG_0576This week, on 22nd & 23rd of March, Pitchford heard arguments around how much secrecy there should be at the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. Full transcripts of the day one and day two are available.

The hearing started with a lively demonstration outside the court, with singing and chanting about stopping secrecy, the police’s policy of ‘Neither Confirm nor Deny’, and asking the courts to release the cover names of the Undercover officers.

The court then filled up, and over flowed, with public and core-participants wanting to witness the process of the Public Inquiry. The two days saw the barristers representing different parties involved in the Inquiry speak. Pitchford, the judge presiding over the Inquiry, started by saying how important the hearing was, and the impact it would have on the whole Inquiry.

The Metropolitan Police were represented by a barrister who argued that it is wrong to decide the level of secrecy on widespread public or ministerial concern, and that the overriding public interest was in protecting the undercover police and their methods. He faltered when questioned by Pitchford about how the secrecy they were asking for would actually work. Barristers for the National Crime Agency and the Secretary of State for the Home Office also spoke.

Phillipa Kaufman QC represented the 150-200 non-state core participants in the Inquiry who are victims of undercover policing, including the women we support. Kauffman delivered a barrage of impressive points, saying all victims have a pressing need to know what happened to them and whether it was institutionally sanctioned. She said it was clear that the Inquiry could not rely on the Police self-disclosing, and that unless the cover names of officers were released, the victims could not come forward to give evidence on the abuse. She talked about the extensive public interests against secrecy, including accountability of the Police, the rule of law, and fulfilling the terms of reference of the Inquiry.

Squires QC represents Elected Representatives who have been spied on by undercover police. These include Ken Livingstone, and Jeremey Corbyn. He put to the hearing that these people were spied on because they were left wing. He said this was incompatible with democracy, and must be brought to light, as it is crucial the police are seen to be politically neutral and democratically accountable. He called for the release of the cover names, and stated that MPs had been promised they would be told who was targeted and why.

Peter Francis, former undercover cop and whistle blower was also in court, represented by a barrister. The hearing was told that Francis wants to expose unethical, unlawful undercover policing practices, contrary to rule of law. Francis believes that cover name exposure would not imperil the safety of the officers or their family saying he himself feels at no risk. He said that he had never been promised lifelong confidentiality or been told about a policy of NCND. Interestingly, he also said that the techniques that the Police argue need to be protected were not sophisticated, and are already largely known about. He said the failure to reveal spy cover names would shield from public scrutiny the exact thing the inquiry was set up to examine.
The media were also represented, and they asked for Pitchford to allow their right to report on the Inquiry, and to continue their work to expose wrong doing.

Helen Steel was the only core participant to represent herself, and her powerful statement got a huge round of applause from the public gallery. She cut through the legal speak, shattered the police’s arguments around NCND (exposing it as a policy developed to protect them during the recent courtcase), and argued that victim’s had a right to know what had happened to it – no one should have to wait 24 years to hear the truth as she had.

Pitchford has now retired to deliberate on the decision, which he will not announce until April.

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Public asking Police to come clean ahead of hearing next week

People are showing their solidarity to those fighting to keep the public inquiry PUBLIC, and asking the police to COME CLEAN over abuses. To do this, they are sharing photos of themselves on social media.

This is response to the call out by Cardiff against Police Spies and is in the lead up to the Inquiry Preliminary hearing and demo next week.

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Want to take action?

  • Share a photo with the hashtags #spycops and #ComeClean – see the callout here – now extended to worldwide
  • Plan to come to the demo in London on Tuesday 22 March 2016
  • Write to your MP, expressing outrage that the Home Office is asking for secrecy in the Public Inquiry
  • Pass it on – ask your friends, family and colleagues to do the same

In the face of the police’s arrogance and impunity, every action can seem scarily small. But those who experienced the abuse most keenly don’t have the choice to turn away; sending them a message of solidarity, publicly, is a powerful thing. It says: we understand that it could have been any of us, and that it affects all of us. The police actions affect the fabric of our democracy and every part of our public discourse; we need to reclaim it all.

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