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I cannot help ranting about this latest assault on our Human Rights: CHIS! A Canary Article entitled, “Human rights clauses in ‘spycops’ bill are worthless, leaked document reveals” draws attention to the ongoing alarm over the controversial CHIS Spycops Bill. They say that, “A confidential police document seen by The Canary reveals that instructions to ‘spycops’, or undercover police officers (UCOs), regarding adherence to the Human Rights Act are not worth the paper they’re printed on. Similar instructions form part of the Covert Human Intelligence (CHIS) bill, heavily denounced by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Tory government is progressing a bill to legalise the criminal activities of Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) who work with the police, MI5, and other state agencies. The bill passed its third reading on 15 October with Labour, under Keir Starmer, mostly abstaining. Meanwhile, in response to Starmer’s hardline stance, eight Labour MPs have resigned from front bench positions.”
With regard to CHIS and human rights, although the Canary report that, “A government website summarising the bill states that: Any authorisation for criminal conduct must be necessary and proportionate and compatible with obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights’ there are still serious concerns. Confidential instructions issued to UCOs in 2009 specified that ‘Police officers must be fully conversant with Article 6 (the right to fair trial) and Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention of Human Rights’.” The Canary have printed “an extract from confidential police files included in UCO Mark Kennedy’s Operation Aeroscope dossier, and signed by him.” They contend that, “in the field, it’s another matter entirely. Kennedy routinely disobeyed these instructions to provide cover. He had long-term sexual relationships with a number of women, including with ‘Lisa Jones’ for over six years.”
The Canary list several more examples showing that, “There were many other UCOs who disregarded these instructions in this manner too. For example:
o John Dines (cover name John Barker) spied on several left wing groups while in a relationship with environmental campaigner Helen Steel.
o Jim Boyling (cover name Jim Sutton) infiltrated animal rights and environmental groups. He formed a relationship with campaigner ‘Laura’ and fathered two children with her. He also had at least two other serious relationships.
o Mark Jenner (cover name Mark Cassidy) had a relationship with ‘Alison’ and used her as cover to infiltrate a number of political groups.
Indeed, more than thirty women have reported being exploited in this way. It can therefore be argued that the instructions in the CHIS bill for operatives to adhere to human rights legislation are meaningless. For there is no guarantee that a CHIS agent will obey such instructions.”
The Canary report that, “On the same day the bill passed its third reading, police finally conceded that six of their UCOs spied on environmental activist Kate Wilson. One of the UCOs was Kennedy. The Met and the NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council) admitted to breaching Article 8 rights and that ‘the intrusion was even greater’.” They say, Wilson commented: “These admissions have wide reaching significance for the public at large. Over 30 women now know that they were deceived into intimate, sexual relationships with undercover officers. Many more people were subjected to similar infiltration by undercover officers. What happened to me was by no means unique, and hundreds of people will have had their rights violated in this way. These admissions mean it is simply not sustainable to say these operations were legitimate, proportionate, or lawful.”
Calling the Government’s assurances “Disingenuous” the Canary say, “Regarding the bill, Howard Beckett writes in Labour List that the human rights stipulation is merely a device: Security minister James Brokenshire is hiding behind the legal requirement for compliance with the Human Rights Act (1999), which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights. But the government’s track record suggests this is being put forward in bad faith. Beckett went on to explain: Not only have many Tory backbenchers flirted with revoking the HRA altogether, the government’s legal defence team has previously argued that the state cannot be held responsible for the human rights compliance of individual agents once lawfully authorised, telling the [Investigatory Powers Tribunal], ‘the state, in tasking the CHIS… is not the instigator of that activity and cannot be treated as somehow responsible for it… It would be unreal to hold the state responsible’.”
The Canary report, “Similarly, prior to the third reading of the bill, trade union leaders and 20 Labour MPs issued a statement regarding their concerns. Their list of objections includes: The reliance on the Human Rights Act as limiting the scope of what might be legally authorised, despite the government’s own previous reliance on a legal defence that the State cannot be held responsible under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights for actions undertaken by individual agents.” They say that the, “Bill attacks workers and protesters,” as it offers, “Authorisation for a CHIS agent to participate in criminal conduct could be given:
(i) In the interests of national security,
(ii) For the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or of preventing disorder, or
(iii) In the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom.”
Strikes or any public protest, including acts of civil disobedience that might impinge on the financial interests of powerful Corporations, to prevent exploitation of people or the environment, would be fair game.
The Canary report that, “In a damning speech in the Commons, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn queried the last example. He suggested the bill could target striking workers, who could also be subject to blacklisting. If CHIS agents are used to prevent strike action and/or assist in blacklisting, this could potentially be a violation of human rights. The protections in the CHIS bill, as with the instructions to UCOs, are arguably disingenuous, if not worthless. They equate to an attack on all workers and their livelihoods, and on political dissent itself.”
According to the ‘Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance’ (COPS) Campaign Website, “On 8 July 2018, people targeted by Britain’s political secret police held a ‘people’s inquiry’ at Conway Hall in London. Exasperated by the state public inquiry’s bias toward secrecy as it drags on for years without even formally starting, the victims of spycops held this theatrical event to envision what an effective inquiry would look like. Marc Wadsworth’s testimony is shown here in full. A veteran anti-racist campaigner, in the 1980s he led the Labour Party’s black section, and in the 1990s he was leader of the Anti-Racist Alliance. Asked by Stephen Lawrence’s family to help build their campaign for justice, he was targeted by officers from Britain’s political secret police. He is a core participant at the Undercover Policing Inquiry. The people’s inquiry was part of a weekend of activities celebrating 50 years of progressive political campaigns achievements despite being infiltrated by counter-democratic police.”
COPS say that full details of that weekend’s activities are still available on the COPS Campaign Website where you will find other videos for an overview of the People’s Inquiry, and for that day’s conclusions. Here is a list of “Recommendations following the Peoples Public Inquiry:
1. Full disclosure of all names – both cover and real – of officers from the disgraced political police units, accompanied by photographs
2. Release of the names of all groups suspected to have been spied upon
3. Release of all personal files on activists
4. Extension of the inquiry to all countries where the British spycops are known to have operated
5. The appointment of a diverse panel with experience relevatnt ot victims to assist the chair in making decisions and judgements 6. Inclusion of children and young people who had contact with spycops as Core Participants in the Inquiry
7. Urgent and immediate review of convictions where spycops had involvement in the cases & misled courts – 50 wrongful convictions have already been overturned and this is likley to be a fraction of the true total.
8. The Inquiry must extend its scope to understand political policing and its impact on democracy. This must include a thorough investigation into racist, sexist, anti-working class, anti-democratic behaviour on behalf of the spycops and those that instructed them to operate in this manner. Such political policing and political policing units must be abolished.
9. An urgent review into all undercover police activities to investigate whether the bad practice exposed by this inquiry has been extended to other areas of undercover operations
10. Make available the necessary resources of the judge to be able to do their job in the available time
11. Equalising of resources, the police are spending millions on stonewalling the inquiry, victims have almost nothing
12. Increase the severity of penalties for non-compliance with the inquiry
13. Investigation into collusion between police and corporate spies.”
For more information on Britain’s political undercover police, see their website: campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com Find them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter.
In a RealNews Article entitled “Fund and Destroy: Tracking The Home Office Relationship with Spycops” Merrick Badger warns, “Few would have believed that anything like it happens in this country.” He reports, “Hundreds of campaigns, from trade unions to environmentalists to anti-racists to grieving families seeking justice, undermined. Undercover police officers spending years living a double life, integrating into targeted families and communities. Dozens of women abused in the most complete invasion of privacy it is possible for the state to enact. Astonishment and a desire to know the full truth of what happened is an understandable response. However, it ignores the bigger question, why? What made the authorities so paranoid? Who gave the orders? There’s no doubting that it was sanctioned, quite possibly directed, from the highest levels of government. London’s Metropolitan Police formed its intelligence-gathering Special Branch in 1883 to spy on Irish activists. It rapidly broadened its remit to other ‘subversives’.”
Badger recalls, “In 1968, it did something new. London’s police had failed to anticipate the ferocious intensity of a demonstration against the Vietnam War. The crowd overcame the police and protesters got into the American embassy. It was hugely embarrassing for the government and, seeing the revolutionary stirrings across the Channel that year, they decided something must be done. Special Branch’s Detective Chief Inspector Conrad Dixon asked for ‘half a million pounds, twenty men and a free hand’. The government agreed, and Home Secretary (later Prime Minister) James Callaghan decreed that the Home Office would secretly directly fund the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). Like other increases in state power of the time, such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, such extreme policing was intended to be temporary but actually became permanent and increased its scope. The SDS was highly secretive. Most Met officers wouldn’t have known it even existed. Briefings were given orally.”
According to Badger, “Comparatively little was written down and much of what was documented has been destroyed. The government also keeps its dubious dealings hidden and ensures that, if discovered, any miscreants can be plausibly denied and kept at arms’ length. A secret Home Office letter from 1969 talks of fears that knowledge of the SDS ‘could leak out and criticise the Home Secretary’ and one from 1970 worries about the potential for ‘acute embarrassment for the Home Office’. The Home Office stopped directly funding the SDS in 1989. There’s no surviving evidence of there being any accountability from that date onward. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Home Office weren’t told what was going on, and they certainly hadn’t lost interest in this type of political policing. A second unit was set up in 1999, once again with direct Home Office funding. The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) had a bigger budget than the SDS and a national remit, deploying the likes of Mark Kennedy.”
Badger says, “After the spycops scandal hit the headlines in 2011, the increasing flow of revelations forced the government to finally do something in 2014. A public inquiry was announced, and it would be preceded by an investigation into links between the Home Office and the SDS by ex-Audit Commission director Stephen Taylor. Curiously, the NPOIU was not included in his remit. Taylor spends the first half of his slender report listing places fruitlessly searched for documents, saying the ‘investigation did not identify any retained evidence available in the Department of any correspondence, discussions or meetings on the SDS for the 40 year period’ that the unit existed. Nothing, in the entire Home Office. Time and again he found reference to a file, catalogue number QPE 66 1/8/5, understood to have covered Home Office dealings with the SDS. It has disappeared. It would have contained material classified Secret or Top Secret, which would have strict protocols around its removal or destruction, yet there is no clue as to what happened to it.”
Badger reports that, “They physically searched all storage facilities in the Home Office. It’s gone. Taylor can’t make allegations but rather pointedly said ‘it is not possible to conclude whether this is human error or deliberate concealment’. The only files found were a series of letters held by police. Just 48 documents for 40 years, either dealing with funding or the SDS’ annual reports to their paymasters. The absence of evidence is far from evidence of absence. Even the cautious and equivocal Taylor bluntly says ‘it is inconceivable that there would have been no discussions within the Department or with Special Branch… however, the nature of the SDS suggests these may not have been recorded, and if they were, there is no available record’. Nobody spends millions without wanting something for their money. SDS funding increased fourfold between 1980 and 1985, and it’s notable that the SDS expanded into new areas at the time, such as animal rights.”
Badger contends that, “It beggars belief to suggest that this just happened idly and organically without serious discussion and subsequent reporting. Yet Taylor found no written evidence of the Home Office ever reviewing its financial control or value for money. The annual reports provided by the SDS include a list of all the groups targeted, monitored and infiltrated as well as intelligence gathered. In 1983 and 1986 the Home Office asked for more detail, which proves those reports were read. The reports from those two years show 48 and 63 groups targeted respectively. There can be no doubting that the Home Office knew which sort of political groups were being undermined. Today, aware of the outrage at spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family, the police continue to deny they specifically targeted family and racial justice campaigns (claiming this was ‘collateral intrusion’ from spying on groups allied with the campaigns).”
However, Badger asserts that, “This is contradicted by the fact that both the 1983 and 1986 reports list justice campaigns as being spied upon. Such groups have always been targeted by spycops. The denials are an insult to our intelligence and an affront to justice. The 1987 report mentioned the arrest of two individuals ‘at great risk to an SDS officer’. This is thought to refer to Bob Lambert who had infiltrated the animal rights movement. In July 1987 he was part of a cell of three activists who planted incendiary devices in branches of Debenhams that sold fur. Lambert was to target the Harrow store, which burned down causing £340,000 of damage. He was publicly named as the firebomber four years ago (it’s something he denies, though has failed to say who else it could have been). He is currently under criminal investigation for it.”
Badger recalls that, “The Home Secretary at the time, Douglas Hurd, read the 1987 report and is documented as expressing his approval of the SDS’ work. Although the Home Office stopped directly funding the SDS in 1989, there was further interaction with a Home Secretary. On 16 October 1993 anti-fascist groups held a march on the BNP headquarters in Welling, South London. Seven of the SDS’ ten officers were in relevant groups. One was in the BNP, guarding the building. Others, including Peter Francis, were in the anti-fascist crowd. Between the two sides were 5,000 uniformed officers, many in riot gear. That’s three separate lots of police on the streets, all licensed to fight the other two, which is exactly what happened.” This was total insanity…
According to Badger, “Afterwards, Francis, who has since turned whistleblower – joined other SDS officers at their safe house in Balcombe Street, Marylebone where they were visited by the Met Commissioner Paul Condon who personally gave each of them a bottle of whisky. A surviving letter shows the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, was due to meet the SDS officers with Condon but was unable to attend. The targets of secret police reflect the establishment’s values, not any moral objectivity. Protests of all kinds are treated as a dangerous threat to be contained by force. An active desire for change is in and of itself a problem. As generations of activists up to and including today’s anti-fracking campaigners can testify, the casual beating up, fitting up and harassment of people who dare to voice dissent is the clear task of uniformed officers.” This imperative remains relevant to this day, but look how dangerously to the far-right Tory Government has strayed with a racist PM under eugenicist Cummings’s warped control.
Badger warns, “It’s not just the secret police, it’s a policing culture that cannot distinguish between a threat to national security, a threat to corporate profit, a threat to government policy and a threat to police credibility. This is exactly why it was all so secretive. They needed to ensure the general public had no idea what was being done, how our protectors and elected representatives were running a counter-democratic campaign against us. They knew it was inexcusable and so ensured that, if it did get out, as few and as lowly people as possible would be held responsible. The truth exists but largely just in the memories of the perpetrators. The faltering public inquiry process may yet bring forth more whistleblowers. The Met admit that a lot of ex-spycops have great hostility to their former employers. If an officer gets scapegoated, they may well point up the ladder. Such hope relies on the integrity of the spycops, something they conspicuously lack.” New Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer in his former CPS role was hip-deep in this quagmire!
Badger believes that, “as Peter Francis has shown, contrition is possible. Most activism is based on the idea that people can drastically change their lives to make a better world for others. We may yet come to know the truth.” I cannot help but dwell on the looming Orwellian consequences of the CHIS Spycops bill and the impact it will have in supporting the impending Dictatorship. The contrition of key people capable of turning Whistleblower is also perhaps our last hope to expose the industrial scale fraud of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and fully Investigate the result to render it invalid. The huge misappropriation of public funds, not just paying a charity to generate damaging defamation in order to seize power, but in awarding of worthless contracts during a national crisis while pursuing a policy of a negligent targeted ‘Covicide’ cull of the most vulnerable; these are serious criminal acts for which this Tory Government must be held accountable. Beyond immediate removal from office senior figures must be charged and jailed! DO NOT MOVE ON!