BREAKING: Extraordinary scenes at the High Court as participants and lawyers walk out of spying inquiry

Victims of police spying outside the High Court
Emily Apple

A mass walkout happened at the High Court on 21 March. Those involved in the Undercover Policing Inquiry and their lawyers left the court after an hour to show no confidence in its chairperson, John Mitting. Although I wasn’t able to attend the hearing today, I am a core participant in it and was one of those who instructed my lawyer to leave the hearing.

The hearing

The hearing was the latest in a series of anonymity applications for former Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) officers. These are the officers who spied on protest groups between 1968 and 2006.

A series of tweets from the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), quoting Phillippa Kaufmann – the barrister for those spied on, shows why those of us involved in the inquiry no longer have any faith in it or its chairperson:

Those involved in the inquiry have also lost faith in Mitting due to comments he made about married officers in a previous hearing:

Kaufmann then issued the demands of those of us involved in the inquiry:

The walkout

Kaufmann explained her instructions and was met with applause from the public gallery:

Journalists attending the hearing were shocked:

Those who left the hearing also blockaded the front of the court:

Drastic but necessary

The decision to walk out of the hearing was not taken lightly. But those of us involved feel like we no longer have a choice. Mitting is blocking access to justice for those of us who were spied upon at every step of the way. He is allowing evidence that we are not allowed to see or challenge that has been generated by people who lied for a living.

We are the people who have been spied on. We are the people who have had our trust abused; who have been tricked into relationships and had our lives intruded into by the police. The inquiry was supposed to give us answers as to why this was allowed to happen. But under Mitting this isn’t happening, and it isn’t likely to happen.

The only way confidence can be restored in the inquiry is for Mitting to step down.

Get Involved!

– Support the COPS campaign.

– Support Police Spies Out of Our Lives.

– Support the Network for Police Monitoring.

Featured image via Netpol

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