Crucial hearings on openness of Pitchford Inquiry


Repost from Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance
6 March 2016

How much of the public inquiry into undercover policing will be held in secret? How much of the police’s information will be revealed?

Later this month, the inquiry is holding a crucial preliminary hearing on disclosure. It will take oral submissions which, in addition to written representations, will be considered before taking a decision. There will be a demonstration outside the High Court on 22 March, ahead of the hearing, calling for the release of all ‘cover names’ of political undercover police.

The ruling on this hearing is announced for 3 May 2016.

Tamsin Allen is a partner at Bindman’s and one of the lawyers representing political activists targeted by Britain’s political secret police who are ‘core participants’ at the inquiry. She represented victims of phone hacking at the Leveson inquiry and was Lawyer of the Year 2014 in Media & Information Law. She explains what the forthcoming hearing is about and what we can expect.

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The Met Police must suspend domestic extremism unit now

typewriter partPeter Salmon / Undercover Research Group,
8 January 2016

The shocking story of deliberate destruction of police surveillance on Baroness Jenny Jones throws into stark relief what we all feared – the Metropolitan Police are going to obstruct the public inquiry into undercover policing.

Today, the redoubtable Rob Evans of the Guardian broke the story that a whistleblower in the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (the former National Domestic Extremism Unit which employed notorious spycops such as Mark Kennedy) had written to Baroness Jones to reveal the systemic destruction of records relating to her among other allegation of impropriety in the unit. Continue reading

The Pitchford Inquiry’s Geographical Blinkers

Most known spycops worked abroad

First published at the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance blog, 30 October 2015.

The public inquiry into undercover policing is in a stage of active preparation, with the hearings expected to start properly next summer.

We’ve already had the inquiry’s Terms of Reference set out by the Home Secretary. It will

…inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968.


[This] will include, but not be limited to, the undercover operations of the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

More than half the exposed officers from those units worked outside England and Wales. They spied in at least seventeen different countries over a period of 25 years (the Undercover Research Group has produced a detailed list of dozens of instances). If this is the case with the known officers, it’s safe to presume many of their colleagues did it too.

Some officers are known to have committed crimes whilst working undercover abroad. It’s Continue reading

Qualms about Pitchford’s first ruling

Pitchford Inquiry logoPeter Salmon and Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group
26 October 2015

We looked forward to last Wednesday’s ruling on core participation from the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry for a number of reasons. Partly as we hoped to be hearing if we were granted core participation (we didn’t), but also it gave us an early chance to see how the Inquiry might shape up.

It is clear that the inquiry team has been somewhat overwhelmed by the interest in the Continue reading

Investigating undercovers: How we work

typewriter part
Peter Salmon and Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group
23 October 2015

At the recent hearing of the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing, the Judge asked the Undercover Research Group whether it ‘was its purpose to out undercover policemen.'(1) It is a good question and the answer is more nuanced than a simple yes or no. In this post we aim to give you some insight into how we work and how we make our judgements.

To be clear, we do not have a list of unconfirmed undercovers through which we are steadily working in preparation to systematic exposure. What we have is a bunch of fears and concerns from individuals and groups, who we think have valid questions. Continue reading

Victims of undercover policing may be denied a voice at inquiry

Emily Apple, targeted by various police and corporate spies herself, wrote a report on the first hearing of the Pitchford Inquiry for The Canary, 8 October 2015.

The Inquiry into Undercover Policing has opened with applications from individuals and organisations who want to be core participants in the process. Hundreds have been affected by the undercover policing scandal, which employed officers to spy on protest and social justice campaigners. However, with former officer and whistleblower, Peter Francis, claiming to know of at least 100 other such officers, and with undercover operations starting in 1968, the number could reach the thousands.

The spread of groups targeted is staggering, and ranges from the Stephen Lawrence Campaign, campaigning for justice following the death of loved one, to environmental protesters, trade unionists, and peace activists. Given it is known the police kept secret files on Jeremy Corbyn, there is a strong likelihood he has had contact with, and been reported on by these officers.

Read the full report at The Canary.

What to consider before making a submission to the Pitchford Inquiry.

Pitchford Inquiry logo
Have you had an encounter with an undercover copper as part of your political activism? The Pitchford Inquiry is an opportunity for that story to be heard as part of a wider investigation into the targeting of protest by undercover police. We explain the practicalities of what this means and of how you can get involved.

Whatever you think of the likelihood of a state-organised Inquiry exposing whole truth about undercover police operations targeted against campaigners, the Pitchford Inquiry is the best opportunity so far to find out more about the undercover spying operations and political policing over the past 40 years in the UK. If nothing else, it is a way to keep the pressure on and to increase public awareness of the unaccountable, unregulated and unscrupulous activities of Britain’s undercover police spies.

Remember that the only reason undercovers have been exposed was because of activist research, and that the only reason there is an inquiry now is because of the pressure that we have managed to build up.

There are two ways of being involved in the Inquiry. The simpler, smaller one is as being a witness. In this, you merely present an account of your experience with undercover police and the Inquiry may ask you further questions or actually to appear in person. The second, bigger one is as a ‘core participant’ as an interested person. This will be more suited to those who have multiple or very significant interactions with an undercover – relationships, actions and activities, or a key part of your group, etc. It can be done as an individual or a group.

Alternatively, the Undercover Research Group is applying for core participancy to be able to represent those who do not want to be involved personally.

So, what do you need to know, and what do you need to think about. Continue reading

Public Inquiry – How to get core participancy

Pitchford Inquiry logoThe Undercover Research Group wants to get into the Pitchford Inquiry to speak for people spied upon but not (legally) represented yet. We now republish a useful blog post by the COPS campaign explaining to apply to get core participancy.

We encourage you to spread the word to those who may not have seen this yet. And please do contact us if you want us to represent you or want to know more.
COPS logo
Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS)
19 August /repost 21 August 2015

The Inquiry’s priority is to discover the truth… I wish to encourage all those with material evidence to give to make themselves known to the Inquiry team.
– Lord Justice Pitchford, 28 July 2015

The public inquiry into undercover policing, chaired by Lord Pitchford, is being prepared.

Some people who are particularly involved can be granted the status of ‘core participant’. This means that they are likely to have greater access to documents and that the costs of their legal representation may be covered. This is how. Continue reading

Getting ready for Pitchford

Pitchford Inquiry logo

Undercover Research Group
5 August 2015

On 28th July 2015 Justice Christopher Pitchford opened the Public Inquiry into undercover policing. Much has been written about it, including our own piece on Corporate Watch (to be published soon), so we will not repeat all that. What we want to address here is the practicalities of the public inquiry as it relates to those affected by undercover policing.

To make sure wider aspects are heard, the Undercover Research Group will step forward and apply as core participant. Thus we are willing to work with the otherwise unrepresented to make sure voices are heard.

Meanwhile, we want to offer help in dealing with suspicions, in identifying whether you had an undercover close to you.
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‘Move along’: Martin Hewitt & the Met’s agenda of cover up.

Peter Salmon / Undercover Research Group

23 April 2015

Martin Hewitt

Martin Hewitt

The role of Assistant Commissioner is the third highest in the policing hierarchy, so when someone is appointed ‘in a new Assistant Commissioner role responsible for the MPS response to the public inquiry on undercover policing’ you know they are taking the matter seriously. Martin Hewitt got this job in June 2014.

It turns out that Hewitt official title is Assistant Commissioner for Professionalism and he has all sorts of interesting roles to those following the sagas of undercover policing and police corruption. It is he who now has oversight of the investigation into the mass shredding of Operation Othona files – a large intelligence based operation investigating corrupt Met officers, including a number associated with the investigating into the deaths of Stephen Lawrence and Daniel Morgan. Both very long standing issues of great sensitivity for the Met. He is also leading the Met’s response to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. Continue reading