The Met Police are being investigated for ‘illegal hacking’, as claims of a cover-up widen

New Scotland Yard
Tom Coburg

A whistleblower has alleged that the destruction of ‘spycops’ files by Metropolitan Police Service undercover units was far more extensive than admitted. Additional information about this has been sourced by The Canary. The whistleblower made the claims in a letter to Green party peer Jenny Jones.

The whistleblower also alleged that the Metropolitan Police Service organised the illegal hacking of communications of hundreds of political activists, some from Greenpeace. The alleged hacking included Guardian journalists and photojournalists.

Also listed in the letter were hacked passwords of environmental campaigners, four of whom were from Greenpeace. The whistleblower claimed that the hacking of communications by the Met was organised by contacts within the Indian Police.

‘Spycops’ document destruction was extensive

The letter to Jones claimed that destruction of ‘spycops’ documents “has been happening for some time and on a far greater scale than the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) seems to be aware of”. The whistleblower added:

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the main reason for destroying these documents is that they reveal that [police] officers were engaged in illegal activities to obtain intelligence on protest groups.

An investigation by the IPCC into a 2014 shredding event is underway.

Further revelations

In addition, The Canary can reveal that:

  • A 2015 document [pdf p3] marked ‘restricted’ shows how 54% of the 84,000 crates of Metropolitan Police Service records held in ‘deep storage’ went missing or misfiled.
  • In his 2014 review [pdf] of the Stephen Lawrence murder, Mark Ellison QC described the 2003 mass shredding of a “lorry load” of documents.
  • And in 2016, whistleblower Sgt David William, who previously worked in the Met’s ‘domestic extremism’ unit, alleged someone had destroyed incriminating files on ‘extremists’, including Jones.

More missing files

Moreover, the existence of a ‘key file’, known as QPE 66 1/8 lists a range of missing or destroyed ‘spycops’ files:

Greenpeace’s response

Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven told The Canary:

These extraordinary allegations should be thoroughly investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. If they are true then we need to know who ordered the hacking of our staff, why an overseas company was used to break into their emails, who else was targeted and what was done with the information.

Greenpeace is an entirely peaceful organisation, our staff even give lectures at the police training college in Hendon on how best to manage protests so people’s rights are protected. The hacking of Greenpeace staff emails would be further evidence that the Met police undercover unit was allowed to spin out of control.

Police have the facility to monitor email and other communications via RIPA and later DRIPA. The latter is superseded by the Investigatory Powers Act. However, the Met apparently decided to circumvent these legal provisions and employ offshore hackers. Such activity could prove to be illegal.

The Metropolitan Police investigated

In response to Jones’ complaint about the hacking, an IPCC spokesperson said:

After requesting and receiving a referral by the Metropolitan police service, we have begun an independent investigation related to anonymous allegations concerning the accessing of personal data. We are still assessing the scope of the investigation and so we are not able to comment further.

If it is shown the Met broke the law in its hacking role, charges could be laid.

Meanwhile, Lord Justice Pitchford announced it was unlikely the inquiry into undercover political policing would hear evidence until 2018. That decision is a result of a request by the Met, which is seeking further time to put their case together.

But there can be no hiding place for those undercover political police officers or their supervisors who may have committed crimes.

Get Involved!

– Find out more about the undercover policing scandal from Police Spies Out of Lives.

– Read Undercover Research: Corporate and police spying on activists, by Eveline Lubbers (pdf).

– Read Spies at Work by Mike Hughes.

Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons

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