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Council meeting abandoned after undercover policing protest
Carl Harper, Peterborough Socialist Party
The mayor of Peterborough postponed a council meeting due to protests in the public gallery against Tory councillor Andy Coles.
Coles, the former deputy county police and crime commissioner, resigned from the role following a Channel 4 investigation into the activities of undercover police officers in the 1990s who infiltrated a group of animal rights activists. The programme claimed he had a relationship with a young activist while working as an undercover officer.
The protests, organised by the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), began outside Peterborough Town Hall before carrying on inside. They are demanding that Coles resign as a councillor.
The mayor warned the protesters, before ordering the public gallery to be emptied. This led to a 30 minute stand-off, with police acting as mediators and passing on messages between senior councillors and the protesters.
The protesters stood firm, refusing to take down a banner from the gallery until Coles left the meeting. Faced with this exercising of democratic rights, the mayor cowardly postponed the meeting.
This has forced the Tory council leader to agree to meet representatives of the COPS group.