Published On: 22nd February 2023

On Monday 20th February 2023, the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) began hearing the Tranche 1 closing statements from state and non-state legal teams. Tranche 1 which covers the period 1968 to 1982.

The Public Interest Law Centre is representing a number of Core Participants (CP) in Tranche 1. This includes former members of the Troops Out Movement, the International Marxist Group and former leading members of the Socialist Workers’ Party. We have played an active role throughout the Inquiry.

PILC Legal Team – closing submissions

Today, Wednesday 22nd February 2023 we are publishing our closing submissions to Tranche 1 of the Inquiry. The submissions can be viewed here.

In these closing submissions we argue that :

  1. The deployment of undercover officers into political campaigns and parties was not simply an intelligence gathering exercise. It was designed, with the knowledge and approval of Special Branch managers and MI5, to undermine a democratic organisations. We highlight how this was done to great effect to the Troops Out Movement.
  2. We show how the undermining of the Troops Out Movement, a democratic organisation was one of a range of “counter measures” that were fully endorsed by Government.
  3. We submit that  post 1972, the principle purpose of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was not to assist with maintaining public order. Its task, in conjunction with MI5, was to spy on citizens who were politically active, particularly in the trade union movement.
  4. Government knew and approved, encouraged and enabled the continuation of  the SDS.
  5. From as early as 1975, the SDS management knew of undercover officer sexual relationships with their targets.
  6. The Public were continually deceived as to the function and tasking of Special Branch, and its close work with MI5.

In conclusion we say that in their defence the British establishment claimed to be defending democracy, but it was not a defence of democracy, it was the undermining of democracy in defence of the establishment.

Rule 10 questions and missed opportunities

Alongside these submissions we are today also publishing what are called Rule 10 questions – these are questions that our legal team drafted we for Counsel to the Inquiry (CTI). The Rule 10 questions can be viewed here.

We submitted over seventy pages of questions for CTI to ask Geoffrey Craft a Senior Police Officer in SDS who managed undercover officers – particularly Rick Clark. Each question was supported by referenced documentary evidence, setting a context, foundation and rationale for asking it.

The questions were submitted early to ensure that CTI could understand not only their importance, but also they could be included in CTI’s questions to Craft. Those questions were absolutely crucial to understand the deployment of Rick Clark, as his deployment was so significant to all of the deployments that followed it.

What resulted was very disappointing. There was much handholding of Craft by CTI through his questioning process – barely 5% of our Rule 10 questions were asked. This despite the fact that the deployment of Rick Clark was extremely important and crucial as it has far reaching consequences in respect of how the SDS worked, the tactics used, and how it was tasked by MI5.

We hope that going forward that CTI is more responsive to our Rule 10 questions.

We take this opportunity to thank our legal team comprising James Scobie KC (Garden Court Chambers) and Piers Marquis (Doughty Street Chambers). They were instructed by Paul Heron our senior solicitor.