Ricky Reel’s family have always believed the 20-year old Asian student was killed in a racist attack. His body was found in the Thames after a night out in Kingston-upon-Thames. In this first episode of the new weekly podcast from The Justice Gap, his mother Sukhdev Reel tells Calum McCrae about how a family was devastated by the tragedy and how their misery was compounded when they discovered that that the police had been spying on them instead of finding Ricky’s murderers.
‘The police were spying on us when we were on our knees begging for them to investigate’
‘Every time I used to phone somebody about Ricky there was always a click on the line when I finished the conversation,’ Sukhdev Reel tells the the Justice Gap. ‘I mentioned it to the police and said “Is somebody listening to our conversation?” They said it was my imagination.’
It wasn’t. Six years ago Ricky Reel’s family was summoned to meet with Derbyshire police officers working on Operation Herne, an internal inquiry set up to investigate allegations surrounding the the now disbanded Special Demonstration Squad.
For over 40 years, unbeknownst to the public, the police deployed undercover police to spy on private citizens and political groups. As Home Secretary, Theresa May, commissioned an inquiry into the so-called ‘spycops’ scandal.
Sukhdev Reel was told that her name appeared in 10 secret reports. ‘The spying took place when we were on our knees begging for them to investigate,’ the mother tells the Justice Gap. ‘They abused my trust.’
As a result of many delays, the first tranche of the SpyCops inquiry has only just ended, with the entire process expected to take three years. Sukhdev Reel is one of the core participants who is to due to deliver her statement to the inquiry WHEN: She told The Justice Gap Podcast: ‘I am angry,’ she says. ‘They entered my private life. They saw my tears. They saw my kid’s tears. Why did they do that?’ There was no obvious reason. Sukhdev Reel was certainly no criminal. She was a grieving mother who wanted answers. ‘After all this time, I feel eyes are following me everywhere,’ she says.
Next we talk to the trade union activist Dave Smith; and the week after the radical human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC – both also core participants in the SpyCopy inquiry.
Listen to the powerful conversation above, or wherever you get your podcasts.
The Justice for Ricky Reel Campaign has called for a new police investigation into his death. You can support the campaign by signing the petition (here).