Theresa May has today made public the Terms of Reference that will guide the upcoming Public Inquiry into undercover policing to be led by Lord Pitchford.

In the last four years the work of campaigners and journalists has exposed numerous shocking revelations about the actions of undercover police units actively involved in infiltrating and undermining environmental and social justice campaigns.

The 8 women bringing the case against the Metropolitan Police have today made a statement about the public inquiry:

“Our attempts to uncover the truth through the courts have been met with determined and at times extremely offensive attempts by the police to avoid any disclosure on these issues. Now is the time for full and frank disclosure for all victims of undercover policing and public scrutiny of the abuses committed by these units. We sincerely hope that the inquiry will prove to have the power and the political will to overcome the obstacles it is likely to face.

“This has included human rights abuses arising from police officers having relationships while undercover, the infiltration of those campaigning for justice following the death of loved ones, the sharing of information with private companies who have blacklisted trade unionists and others and the revolving door of abuse as police spies switch over to work for private corporate spying firms.

“Much is riding on this inquiry. Four years ago few would have believed that such activities could be carried out by the state in this supposedly democratic country. The inquiry is a result of widespread and growing public concern, and it is a unique opportunity to get to the truth about how all this was allowed to happen, to provide answers to those who have suffered at the hands of these units and to seek ways to ensure the abuses do not happen again.

“We therefore welcome the broad scope of today’s terms of reference for the Inquiry, which will look at the political policing activities of the SDS and NPOIU but is not limited to those units and can also consider the behaviour of undercover police units still in operation today.

“However, the Terms of Reference state that “The inquiry will not examine undercover or covert operations conducted by any body other than an English or Welsh police force.” This may mean that the Inquiry fails to address the very serious questions raised by the activities of UK Undercover police officers abroad, and the role of the police, and ex-police officers in private corporate spying operations. [1]

“The Inquiry must tackle all aspects of the complete disregard shown for human rights despite international legislation protecting the right to privacy, to family life without interference from the state, freedom of speech and thought, and the right to protest and join in union with others.

“We would like to express our support for all the points raised by The Monitoring Group in their statement on this issue, and to add that it is particularly important that the Inquiry understand and make recommendations for dealing with the culture of institutional sexism within the police that allowed undercover officers to engage in these relationships at all, and that failed to consider the rights of the women, or of the children who were, in some cases, born of and into these relationships.

“The biggest threat to the credibility of this inquiry is the claim by the Metropolitan Police that they have to maintain their so-called ‘policy’ of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” (NCND) despite having repeatedly deviated from this ‘policy’ in the past, when it suited them, including participating in a three part documentary about undercover political policing units. The police are using NCND to prevent the full extent of their abuse from being known. They must not be permitted to do this.

“There must be full and public disclosure, and commanding officers must be held responsible for their actions. Further questions must also be asked about the complicity of other insitutions such as the CPS, the judiciary, the Home Office, and private companies.

“The Inquiry must tackle the woeful inadequacies of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), ostensibly introduced in 2000 to prevent human rights abuses, but which caused no significant change in police attitudes or behaviour, and has only made it harder to challenge such abuses, establishing a secret tribunal (the IPT) to deal with any claims brought by those affected.

For more information please contact Birnbirg Pierce Solicitors:
0207 911 0166

Back ground information re today’s statement:

Police Spies Out Of Lives is a support group for eight women who are taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police after they were deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers who were infiltrating environmental and social justice campaign groups.

These 8 women had relationships with five different officers who were in either the Special Demonstration Squad (Bob Lambert, Jim Boyling, Mark Jenner and John Dines) or the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (Mark Kennedy). Theirs is not the only case of it’s kind being brought against the police. The fact such relationships took place over a period spanning more than 25 years, and involving different police units, demonstrates this was an institutional practice not an individual one.

To date, there has been no satisfactory official response that reassures us that these practices are not still ongoing.

[1] Please see full details of the recommendations for the Terms of Reference that the women submitted to the inquiry.

Terms of Reference published for the Public Inquiry into undercover policing – women’s statement