Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance launched

The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) is a group of organisations, individuals and lawyers acting for or advising organisations and individuals who know – or have reason to suspect – they have been the targets of undercover policing.

COPS has been set up following the revelation in June 2013, by the Guardian newspaper and the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, of the extent of undercover policing by the Metropolitan Police Special Demonstration Squad.

The following open letter has been published by COPS.

We the undersigned are a mixture of individuals, organisations and lawyers affected by undercover police operations or representing people who believe that they have been the targets of undercover policing.

In June this year the public reacted with shock and outrage to revelations that undercover police surveillance was used against members of Stephen Lawrence’s family, to find ‘dirt’ that could discredit them.

This is yet another revelation about the nature and extent of secret policing in Britain, showing decades-long spying on and interference with political movements and campaigns.

In addition to efforts to spy upon or smear people such as the Lawrence family who have lost loved ones, particular disgust has been expressed at the gross intrusion of undercover officers forming intimate sexual relationships with some of those upon whom they were spying; at the use of the identities of dead children to obtain cover; and at police links with the blacklisting of trade union members.

It has also become apparent that many criminal convictions have been rendered unsafe as a result of misconduct by the police and prosecutors.

We have no faith in Operation Herne nor any of the up to 16 often secret, internal police or prosecutor reviews.

They are not sufficiently transparent, robust or independent to satisfy public concern and they do not come close to addressing all of the issues raised.

The public is entitled to know what has been going on in their name and paid for by their taxes. We therefore call for an independent public inquiry into all the revelations that undercover policing has been used against political protest and campaigns.

This inquiry must have full powers to compel police officers to give evidence. Such political policing has no place in a democratic society and a mechanism must be found to ensure that such unjustified conduct does not continue into the future.

Tamsin Allen, Mike Schwarz, Bindmans Solicitors
Lois Austin
Raju Bhatt, Bhatt Murphy Solicitors
Blacklist Support Group
Ruth Bundey, Harrison Bundey Solicitors
Jules Carey, Marian Ellingworth, Tuckers Solicitors
Louise Christian, Christian Khan Solicitors
Deborah Coles and Helen Shaw, Co-Directors Inquest
Claire Dissington, Anti-Nazi League
Estelle du Boulay, director, Newham Monitoring Project
Suresh Grover, The Monitoring Group
Liz Davies, chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Imran Khan, Imran Khan & Partners Solicitors
Anna Mazzola, consultant solicitor, Bindmans Solicitors
Frank Smith, blacklisted trade unionist
Socialist Party
Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary, National Union of Journalists
Harriet Wistrich, Birnberg Peirce Solicitors, Belinda Harvey, Helen Steel and six others in legal action against undercover relationships
Youth Against Racism in Europe