Spycops past, spycops present

TODAY 15 January 2016 is the anniversary of dramatic events in Berlin, when people stormed the Stasi HQ to stop the destruction of files, and halted a cover-up of the secret police’s activities. Marking that day gives us an insight into present challenges: the ongoing secrecy and cover-up over UK ‘spycops’. These are the undercover police who infiltrated social and environmental justice groups for decades – and for all we know, are doing so still. They themselves knew that they might one day be called to account.

This afternoon sees the latest hearing in one of the ongoing cases against the Met police (and others) over the deception of women into long-term relationships. In these cases, the police have consistently flouted civil case procedure, attempting to issue their ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny‘ policy to the courts instead of a proper defence, and stalling to avoid issuing a list of disclosure documents – a required step towards trial.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, an officer blew the whistle over the destruction of files compiled about Jenny Jones, who’s role includes holding the Met to account via the London Assembly. The Met issued a statement saying it didn’t think there was a problem. Everyone else said: that’s the problem.

And in a grassroots development worthy of the Berlin protesters of 1990, the Special Branch Files Project launched this week. A collaboration between several groups, the project publishes documents previously released under Freedom of Information requests but now witheld. Showing files on particular groups – peace, anti-apartheid, strikes – alongside details of how officers are treated, we gain an insight into why the police cannot now be trusted as guardians of their history.

And that’s not least because their history is our history. How can we trust that the public inquiry will force the Met to come clean? The Undercover Research Group called for the inquiry to take action to stop the destruction of the files, for the unit to be shut down and officers’ access blocked. If investigation cannot take place, how else will we understand the impact of spycops and their various abuses and corruptions? As the spycops attempt to politically police democracy to death, we’re fighting for our society’s right to understand the past – and to change the present.

In advance of today’s hearing there will be a solidarity picket outside the Royal Courts of Justice at 1pm.

VIDEO: Kate Wilson’s recent visit to the Stasi museum (with thanks to Spied Upon Film):

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Metropolitan Police criticised for what they are “putting the victims through” in court battles

Jenny Jones of the London Assembly this week heavily criticised the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe over the Met’s handling of this case and the entire issue. The following points of her criticism are worth noting:

The commissioner constantly assures the people elected to scrutinise him that he wants as much transparency on this issue as possible, but he is paying his lawyers to act otherwise. The only opaqueness in this is created by him.

I should like to see a resolution which would give the public confidence and end the confusion. The commissioner should make clear that what has happened was a breach of policy and law, he should say sorry and stop putting the victims through this court case. He should tell the public they can and should expect better in the future from the police. He should stop using thousands of pounds of public money to pay for a QC, junior barrister and a team of solicitors to fight this case.

The full article can be found here.

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Hogan-Howe falls short

Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, yesterday spoke at the London Assembly, answering questions over undercover officers having sex with targets and members of the public. You can see the video here.

His comments and attitude fall well short of the assurances we are seeking over current practices.

To reiterate: “We call for a clear and unambiguous statement that the abuse has ceased, and will never, in any circumstances, be permitted.” – see Where We Stand.

Hogan-Howe’s comments are not the statement we are calling for. It was not the reassurance that the public is owed. Far from it.

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Note: The eight women bringing this legal action are doing so to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers.

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