The Inquiry into Undercover Policing has opened with applications from individuals and organisations who want to be core participants in the process. Hundreds have been affected by the undercover policing scandal, which employed officers to spy on protest and social justice campaigners. However, with former officer and whistleblower, Peter Francis, claiming to know of at least 100 other such officers, and with undercover operations starting in 1968, the number could reach the thousands.
The spread of groups targeted is staggering, and ranges from the Stephen Lawrence Campaign, campaigning for justice following the death of loved one, to environmental protesters, trade unionists, and peace activists. Given it is known the police kept secret files on Jeremy Corbyn, there is a strong likelihood he has had contact with, and been reported on by these officers.
According to the Terms of Reference given by Lord Justice Pitchford, people were invited to apply to be core participants and show ‘what role [they] played in the matter’. Of the 350 people who applied, 156 had their applications granted prior to today’s hearing, including seventeen police officers and one family who had their dead child’s identity stolen by a police officer.
The approved core participants span many different protest and social justice campaigns. They include blacklisted workers and the women who were deceived into relationships by undercover police. The common thread is that they were all able to name the undercover police officer who infiltrated their campaigns and targeted them.
However, here is the problem: All the information we have about these operatives so far, has been collated through painstaking research by those affected. It can be very difficult to prove allegations and many individuals and groups either don’t know, or can’t substantiate, the extent to which undercover police spied on them.
Several such groups, including Campaign Against Arms Trade, Peace News and the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group, were represented at the hearing today. There are many more who will remain voiceless, unless the inquiry demands disclosure of all the targeted organisations and individuals.
One of the core participants, who was involved in a variety of campaigns and has been granted anonymity, said they found the hearing ‘disturbing’. Groups campaigning against police violence are also known to have been targeted, but are finding it ‘difficult to get core participant status’ because they ‘cannot prove they were infiltrated’.
The anonymous participant said:
“If the inquiry will only accept as core participants individuals who already have evidence about the extent to which they were spied upon, it restricts its scope to what is already in the public domain, and hugely limits its ability to provide the sorts of answers people are looking for.”
Getting to the stage where a public inquiry is actually taking place has been a hard fight. It is now important to ensure that everyone is heard. Full disclosure is needed on all infiltrated groups, otherwise the inquiry risks accusations of whitewashing – before it has even properly begun.
Featured Image via Tom Fowler
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?