More police spying revelations

Following the admission earlier this year that the police Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) spied on the family campaign of Stephen Lawrence – the black teenager who was murdered by a racist gang in south London in 1993 – a new police report admits that for at least 20 years police gathered intelligence on 18 more families who had justice campaigns for their loved ones, including Ricky Reel, Jean Charles de Menezes and Cherry Groce.

These 18 families are not the only ones. Several Hillsborough families are certain they were spied on. When it’s happening on this scale over such a prolonged period it’s hard to see it as anything other than an active policy.

The report’s author, Chief Constable Mick Creedon, claims that the intelligence was not searched for, it was ‘incidentally gathered’ by officers infiltrating other campaigns and then kept for no particular reason. This ‘accident’ happened to one campaign after another over a span of decades! Creedon acknowledges that this is an unlikely explanation, admitting it “must seem inexplicable”.

Equally implausibly, he says that it appears the SDS were just amassing information and there is no solid documented evidence of sending infiltrators into the families.

However, much of the secret police’s information was never written down. Moreover, a great deal of the material that did make it onto paper has been shredded. It leaves a simple question – why would the infiltrator unit be gathering information on people who weren’t targets for infiltration?

The SDS whistleblower officer, Peter Francis, has described his infiltration of justice campaigns. After his revelations, police threatened him with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. Most of the information is not on paper, only in the minds of the people who did it. The truth can only come out if former officers are compelled to give evidence under oath without fear of self-incrimination.

From the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) statement.

Justice campaigner Lois Austin adds: “The COPS campaign is gathering support for the demand that the forthcoming public inquiry needs to be fully public and involve all those spied on. We also want to know about the undercover units that currently exist.”