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Conveniently drowned out by the massive media focus on the US Election a long awaited inquiry got underway that should expose grave reasons why it remains so critically important to defeat the CHIS Spycops Bill. If the general public continue to be discreetly shielded from the perverse reality of the horrendous negative impact these undercover police officers had on the lives of ordinary, law abiding citizens, and the disgraceful lack of genuine justification for their deployment, we are naively positioning ourselves for far more intrusive, politically motivated surveillance under the alarmingly expansive utilization of spycops in future. What appears as a far more disturbing feature of this new legislation is that this ‘no holes bared’ remit of clandestine and even criminal activity will become a Government sanctioned task of private security/militia companies. In addition this will not require the authorization of a Judge whose intervention might prevent widespread abuse of these powers and there will be no recourse for future victims.
In the Canary Article entitled, “Campaigners question if mammoth undercover policing inquiry can get to the truth,” they say that, “Campaigners who were targeted by undercover police officers have raised doubts that a £30 million public inquiry will get to the truth about tactics used by controversial secret units.” Was this perfectly timed to avoid press scrutiny during exclusive US Election coverage or just coincidentally scheduled to start one day before the vote? They note, “Hearings in the Undercover Policing Inquiry are due to begin tomorrow, with opening statements for seven days and then the first live witnesses. The mammoth investigation, looking at undercover policing since 1968, has been split into tranches by date – with the first block of hearings in November due to cover the activities of the Metropolitan Police Special Demonstration Squad between 1968 and 1972. In January, it will begin looking at SDS deployments from 1973 to 1982, and undercover policing in later decades on dates to be fixed.”
The Canary report that, “Lisa, a spokeswoman for campaign group Police Spies Out of Lives which represents nearly 200 people who were targeted, said they feel excluded from the inquiry. She told the PA news agency: ‘It’s real mixed emotions. We’re glad it’s finally happening but we’ve been shut out, we feel, to such an extent that it’s actually not going to get to the truth. ‘Our views are being sidelined to a really worrying degree. I think we are almost despairing at this point that it might actually not be a worthwhile exercise.’ So far, inquiry chairman Sir John Mitting has ruled that the cover names of 51 officers must remain secret, along with 119 of the real names of officers and staff. Lisa said: ‘The judge has restricted not only the real names but the cover names of many, many of these officers so we don’t even know their cover names. ‘So how in the hell are you supposed to get to the truth when nobody knows of the officer’s infiltration? You’ve just got the police records at this point.”
The Canary say according to Lisa, “’To just take the police claims at face value, which is what the judge will be doing because we have no input because we don’t know who these officers are, it’s dangerous and it’s going to lead to very skewed conclusions.’ She also believes that the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill currently going through Parliament, that would allow undercover officers and informants to commit crime, is pre-empting the inquiry’s conclusions. She said: ‘It kind of makes a mockery of the whole inquiry process. If it has already been decided on the conduct of undercover policing, then what is the point of the Undercover Policing Inquiry? ‘It’s supposed to suggest conduct, it’s supposed to work out where conduct is lacking. The CHIS Bill has just pre-empted that’.”
The Canary explain that, “The inquiry was set up in 2015 by then home secretary Theresa May to look at undercover policing in England and Wales since 1968, focusing on two secret units – the SDS and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), that was set up in 1999. The move came after a number of controversial police tactics were revealed, including using the identities of dead children as cover names without their parents’ knowledge. Several women became involved in sexual relationships with undercover officers without knowing their true identity until years later, and family justice campaigns, including that for murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, were spied upon. To date, the inquiry has cost £29.7 million.”
The Canary report that,“A spokesman for the UCPI said that the chairman seeks and considers input of all 236 core participants in the inquiry, as well as other stakeholders. He said: ‘The inquiry aims to be as open and transparent as possible. To enable members of the public to determine whether they have been affected by undercover policing and to come forward with evidence, the inquiry has published the cover names of 69 former undercover officers in the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). This figure equates to around 60% of all known former SDS undercover officers.” They say, “In considering applications for real name or cover name anonymity for officers, the chairman balances the extent to which revealing the officer’s real name or cover name would help the inquiry fulfil its objectives, if at all, against the right of the officer and their families to private life.”
The Canary point out that, “However, decisions on anonymity do not affect whether officers are required to give evidence as part of the inquiry’s investigations and during the inquiry’s oral hearings, evidence will be heard from a range of core participants from both the police and non-state side.” This is hardly reassuring to the victims some of whom may never know if a once trusted partner who mysteriously suddenly disappeared from their life was a lover or a liar! The Canary Article entitled, “Monday 2 November finally saw the Undercover Policing Inquiry begin, after five years of delays, they say, “The inquiry will examine the disgusting actions of police units that employed over 140 police officers to spy on activists and campaign groups for years.” According to Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), since 1968: over 1,000 groups campaigning in the UK for a better society and better world have been systematically spied upon, infiltrated, or otherwise targeted by secret and unaccountable political police units.”
The Canary explain that, “Theresa May announced the inquiry in 2015 after the Ellison report, published in 2014, revealed that Stephen Lawerence’s family were spied on. The revelations caused public outrage. And it finally forced the government to look like it was investigating the decades-long state-sanctioned infiltration of campaign groups and social justice movements. Since 2015, participants in the inquiry have had to continually fight what they call the ‘prioritising of the protection of perpetrators’ privacy above the right of victims and the public to know the truth’.” It was described as, “The least ‘public’ public inquiry I have ever seen.”
The Canary report that, “There are 200 victims, known as ‘core participants’, taking part in the inquiry. One is a woman known as Lisa. She was deceived into a relationship with undercover officer Mark Kennedy for six years. It was a deception which, she says, ‘was actually perpetrated and supported by the state.’ Lisa has no faith in the inquiry, but is hoping to get some clarity into what happened to her. She told The Canary: It’s almost exactly a decade to the day that I found out my partner of six years was an undercover policeman, placed in my life by his employer to spy on me and my friends, only to be pulled out without warning after becoming the most central person in my life. All the unanswered questions are finally about to be asked. The delay after delay in one of the least transparent and least ‘public’ public inquiries I have ever seen, leaves me with no hope of getting to the truth. Only a tip of the iceberg will be visible, but it all helps understand what happened to us somewhat.”
Shockingly the Canary report that, “Over 30 women were deceived into having relationships with undercover police officers. These spies also fathered, then abandoned, children with some of the women. Tom Fowler is another core participant in the inquiry. He told The Canary: Though we have fought for years to get to the point where the inquiry is starting, I have no faith that the process is going to hold anyone or anything to account. If we are lucky some truth might escape despite the best efforts of the chair. Kevin Blowe, coordinator for Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), told The Canary that the inquiry has “bent over backwards” to enable the police to continue with their decades of lies. He explained: It has been almost exactly 10 years since Mark Kennedy was exposed as an undercover officer. The police said he was rogue: that was a lie, we now know he was part of a long line of infiltrators. They said he was never authorised to have a sexual relationship with a campaigner. We now know that was a lie too.”
The lies persist… The Canary note that, “The police promised to collaborate with the public inquiry, but shredded a significant quantity of documents. Again, they lied. Does anyone really expect the lies will suddenly stop once the inquiry gets underway? Unfortunately, the inquiry has bent over backwards to accommodate political policing’s desire to hide its many decades of targeting and disruption of campaign groups. We still have no idea what groups exactly were picked out: the inquiry will not publish a list, but initial indications seem to suggest almost anyone who presented a challenge to political or corporate interests. There may be thousands of people out there who have no idea they too knew an undercover officer who lied his or her way into their group or campaign.” The Canary justifiably question, “Are the police still infiltrating activist groups?” The scary thing is why wouldn’t they be? Which then leads to the issue of the CHIS Spycops Bill in Parliament right now; why put such a toxic operation into overdrive?
The Canary say that, “Blowe told The Canary that many people who know that they were spied upon “have still been given no indication of the officer who gathered information” on them. The police have been hell-bent on obstructing the inquiry, while protecting the anonymity of police spies, and refusing to release the names of 1,000 groups that were spied or reported on. This begs the question: why? Blowe says: Why is it so important for the police to keep secret surveillance from 40 or 50 years ago? Netpol suspects it’s because they don’t want questions about the fact that undercover officers almost certainly continue to infiltrate campaign groups to this day. This inquiry is unlikely to give activists the answers they desperately want, or give any kind of closure to the women who have been abused at the hands of the state. Instead, it is likely to highlight the fact that the state will do all it can to protect its own interests.” The CHIS Spycops Bill will insure that there is no further scrutiny of such operations in future.
In another Canary Article entitled, “Stephen Lawrence’s family highlights institutional racism in the British police during Undercover Policing Inquiry,” they provide an update on proceedings so far. They report that, “The Undercover Policing Inquiry has continued into its seventh day, with barristers giving statements on behalf of Stephen Lawrence’s family. The family was targeted by police spies. In April 1993, 18-year-old Lawrence was stabbed to death while waiting for a bus with his friend in Eltham, London. The two were attacked by a gang of white youths. It took almost twenty years for two of Lawrence’s killers to finally be convicted of his murder. An inquiry into his death found that the police investigation was institutionally racist and flawed. It traumatised the grieving family even more, and it allowed Lawrence’s killers to largely escape the justice they deserved.”
The Canary say that, “On top of this, undercover police officers spied on Lawrence’s family after his death. The officers posed as anti-racist activists in an attempt to smear the family. One of the officers, Peter Francis, later became a whistleblower. He said, ‘Throughout my deployment there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit these campaigns [calling for justice for the Lawrence family].” When this information was exposed the MET was justifiably labelled, “Institutionally racist” and came under heavy public criticism. The Canary note, “During the inquiry on 10 November, Imran Khan QC read out a statement on behalf of Lawrence’s mother, baroness Doreen Lawrence. He said: [Stephen’s] racist murderers… are still alive; not a single police officer was disciplined or sacked, rather they were promoted in their careers or are now enjoying their retirement; and many of those that spied upon Baroness Lawrence and her family have, to date, evaded proper scrutiny.”
The Canary say that, “Doreen Lawrence also challenged the Metropolitan Police (MPS), who stated that there’s been ‘widespread and lasting change’ within the force. Khan said on her behalf: The reality is that there has been very little change. What change there has been was forced upon the MPS. It has never welcomed it or embraced it. This year Ben Bowling, a professor of criminology at Kings College London, said British policing ‘remains institutionally racist’. He has accused the police of failing to deliver on promises to eradicate racism instead allowing ‘prejudice, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping’ to continue driving unequal treatment. Black and ethnic minority people are still over-policed and under-protected. Khan continued: Baroness Lawrence does not want mealy-mouthed gratitude from the MPS. If the MPS is sincere it must stop churning out platitudes as it has done so at this Inquiry and take immediate action to implement change.”
The Canary claim that, “The Lawrence family is under no illusion that the inquiry will give them answers as to why they were spied upon. Khan stressed that Doreen Lawrence has already lost confidence in the inquiry. He said: Baroness Lawrence is exhausted by the number of times that she has been given reassurances and promises. Each appears to have been as hollow as the next and some appear downright hypocritical. Speaking for Stephen’s father Dr Neville Lawrence, Heather Williams QC argued that the family needs answers. She said: Dr Lawrence wants to understand the full extent to which undercover officers accessed his home, his family, his personal information and any legally privileged material… He also wants to know which groups and individuals relevant to the Stephen Lawrence campaign were targeted and/or reported on.” A perfectly reasonable expectation regarding the gross injustice suffered by the Lawrence family may still be denied due to the unforgivable lack of transparency of the inquiry.
The Canary report that, “Of fundamental importance to Dr Lawrence is understanding why officers found it appropriate to spy on his family and relay so-called ‘intelligence’. He wants to find out who authorised this and what officers thought they were looking for. She added: Furthermore, Dr Lawrence wants to know what part race played; he finds it hard to believe that a bereaved family who was white would have been treated in a similar way.” But the Canary have described this as, “An inquiry shrouded in secrecy.” I abhor the hackneyed expression ‘lessons learned’ as it is generally an indication of a powerful determination to completely ignore the evidence of an investigation or inquiry and whitewash over the sordid details of malice, malfeasance or corruption. For this Tory Government to ram through their CHIS Spycops Bill without fully assessing the harm caused by such operations and putting vital safeguards in place, clearly demonstrates that the priority is to legalize and normalize the criminal force of Dictatorship.
“The Canary previously reported that the police have been doing all that they can to obstruct the inquiry, while protecting the anonymity of police spies. And they’ve refused to release the names of 1,000 groups that were spied or reported on. On behalf of Doreen Lawrence, Khan said: The fact that the MPS and the individual officers have made applications for anonymity and, more importantly, that they have been granted, is a travesty and goes against everything that a public inquiry stands for and what Baroness Lawrence expected. It appears to her that this Inquiry is more interested in protecting the alleged perpetrators than the victims. One victim of police spying, who is a participant in the inquiry, told The Canary that it’s the ‘least ‘public’ public inquiry I have ever seen’. Nevertheless, the 200 participants will continue to fight, in what’s been a years-long battle, for answers.”
On Politics Live today Welsh Labour MP Chris Bryant got an opportunity to plug his newly released book entitled, “The Glamour Boys.” While I generally cringe at the prospect of yet another ghastly reflective look at WWII, Chris’s book exposes a very rarely discussed aspect of the confrontation that holds a vitally important historical lesson. Bryant focuses on a select group of gay British MPs who provided an early warning that war with Germany was becoming increasingly inevitable as the Wehrmacht Republic under Hitler was rapidly regressing in an extreme authoritarian and militaristic direction. He described how remarkably liberal Berlin had been in the early 1930s before Hitler’s rise to power, with gay men legally able to express their sexuality without fear of the severe persecution that they faced in the UK at that time. Aware of the start of Nazi persecution of certain sectors of the population once gay men were being targeted, they were among the first to warn Britain about the danger Hitler posed.
This group of outspoken MPs risked their political careers to take what at the time was a really unpopular stance with their strong resistance to Chamberlain’s appeasement strategy. Host Jo Coburn put Daily Politics guests on the spot, as the discussion forced them to confront the issue of not towing the party line and the importance of all MPs voting with their conscience. She could not have raised the issue at a more critical time, since both major political Parties now appear determined to quash even the slightest deviation from their Leader’s vice grip control. Boris Johnson eviscerated the Tory Party to demonstrate his zero tolerance for the slightest descent from his absolute rule governed by his Machiavellian puppeteer Dominic Cummings. In opposition Labour has suffered the same fate. After Keir Starmer lied and conned his way into power, he decided to reinvent Labour as ‘new Leadership’ forcing members to adhere to his stale centrist vision; Labour went from a ‘broad church to a massive Left exit door overnight!
Re political descent Coburn asked “Should we see more of that from PMs?” “Yes absolutely” said Peter Cardwell “The greatest thing that MPs have, the greatest duty they have. is to integrity, is to the truth as well as their constituents and the country.” Jo Coburn turned to Tory MP Miriam Cates to ask, “will this inspire you to be more rebellious on things you think aren’t right?” In her mealy-mouthed reply Cates said, “I think what Peter said about integrity is absolutely right, that is absolutely what people should be able to expect from politicians.” Then came her disgustingly cowardly Tory qualifier, “…but having integrity doesn’t mean you never compromise and I think being part of a Party, being part of a political system, means you don’t always push your own point of view above those of other people.” She claimed, “that’s what our political system’s about, it’s about negotiations, compromise, while still maintaining your own personal integrity.” That would be the personal integrity, when the Dom says “Jump,” you say, “how high?”
It was at that point when Chris Bryant made the most impactful statement that emerged from the Daily Politics debate when he pointed out that, “At the same time Neville Chamberlain was using secret tactics to undermine people and was threatening to deselect them and purge them.” I think both our political parties in the last few years have made attempts to purge people with a different view within their front bench and I think that is really dangerous.” Too right, and it is at a highly dangerous fever pitch on both sides of the House right now. Bryant returned to the lesson from history saying, “One of the precious things we have in our system is that you have a constituency you are responsible for your constituents and to your conscience.” Ominously he then warned, “the other thing for me is we often think that our freedoms are won forever but actually Wehrmacht Germany was the most liberal place in the world and six years later men were being carted off and executed and killed in concentration camps…”
“Secret tactics to undermine people… threatening to deselect them and purge them,” sounds all too familiar. Daring to accept the nomination to Chair a Committee that the Dom wanted compliant ‘failing Grayling’ to lead was enough for Julian Lewis to lose the whip and Starmer hasn’t even spared the former Leader in his purge or the progressive Labour Left. Such narcissistic, dictatorial Leaders are extremely dangerous as Bryant warns: we need to challenge and remove them both from office ASAP. Since well before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election Johnson under the control of Cummings has been leading the Tory Party down the grim authoritarian path of Dictatorship. We need to fully Investigate that seemingly miraculous ‘landslide victory’ claimed by Johnson, because it is far too incredulous to not be highly suspect. We must demand the Dom’s removal. Cummings is the grenade; oust him and you pull the pin! The window of opportunity will soon slam closed. Act now as It can take decades to remove a Dictator! DO NOT MOVE ON!