Published On: 19th July 2018

What is the Undercover Policing Inquiry?

In March 2015, Theresa May announced a Public Inquiry into undercover policing. This announcement followed revelations that undercover political policing was systematically used from 1968 to date, to spy on political campaigners. Scandalously the undercover officers often used the name of dead children to create their false identities.

These undercover political police operations were part of  of the ‘National Public Order Intelligence Unit’ (NPOIU) and/or the Metropolitan Police Service’s ‘Special Demonstration Squad’ (SDS). They deceived women into long-term intimate relationships and fathered children with them. They also befriended grieving families involved in seeking justice and have acted asagentsprovocateurs.

The undercover political police operations under scrutiny by the Inquiry arelimited to those conducted in England and Wales. This is despite the fact that much evidence has come to light demonstrating that undercover political policing operated in Scotland.

For all activists who may have been spied on in Scotland, the nature and extent of the undercover political policing falls outside the Inquiry’s remit which is limited to England and Wales. There is no Scottish inquiry.

Judicial Review:

 In September 2017, Edinburgh’s Court of Session the Public Interest Law Centre was granted permission on behalf of our client Tilly Gifford to proceed with a full Judicial Review – that is now due to take place on Thursday and Friday.

TillyGifford, an environmental justice campaigner and member of Plane Stupid, had been targeted by undercover officers in Scotland. In 2009, officers had attempted to recruit her as an informant. Referred to as an on-going “business arrangement”, Tilly was asked to betray her friends, beliefs and the communities in Scotland that she had been campaigning to protect. In the course of three meetings, police officers had indicated that they would give Tilly cash payments in exchange for information, and threatened her with prison should she fail to cooperate. Tilly recorded these exchanges and exposed the Police and their tactics in the media. The identities of these officers remain unknown, and it is unclear who had made the decision to target Tilly and on what basis.

As is the case for all activists who may have been spied on in Scotland, the answers to these questions fall outside the Inquiry’s remit which is limited to England and Wales. That is why this Judicial Review is so important. 

The Court of session in Glasgow is being asked to consider whether the following decisions are lawful:

  1. Is it right for the UK government not to extend the UCPI to Scotland? Is it right that it is limited to just England and Wales? and
  2. Is it right for the Scottish government to fail to call its own public inquiry into undercover policing north of the border?

We submit that the UK government must extend the UCPI into Scotland, or the Scottish government must order its own public inquiry into how political policing operated north of the border.

It’s now known there were at least 18 UK undercover active during the 2005 G8 Summit at Gleneagles. We know notorious undercover Mark Kennedy was active in Scotland, including maintaining relationships with those he’d targeted. Carlo Neri a SDS undercover, came to family events of the Scottish woman he had deceived into a relationship.

We also suspect that undercover political policing occurred at:

  • Faslane protests;
  • the Pollock Free State;
  • during the Miners strike;
  • the poll tax movement;and
  • the Timex dispute.

This list is in no way exhaustive.

The full hearing is due to be heard on the 19-20th July 2018