The public inquiry into undercover policing Inquiry began yesterday five years after the then Home Secretary Theresa May announced the inquiry. It will examine the contribution that undercover policing has made to tackling crime, how it is supervised, regulated and the effect on individuals involved. The inquiry will also examine whether individuals may have been wrongly convicted in cases involving so called spy cops.
Bindmans Solicitors are acting for a number of the core participants. ‘Our clients have waited more than five years for this Inquiry to commence,’ the firm said. ‘During this time the Inquiry has granted anonymity to most of the undercover police officers being called to give evidence, in some cases to their cover names as well as their real names.’
‘Those of us who have been following the Undercover Policing Inquiry go into the start of proceedings today with very little faith in the process,’ commented core participant Tom Fowler. ‘The huge concessions to police anonymity that that has been partly responsible for the delays that have taken five years for the Inquiry to get started gave made sure of that. We will however be watching proceedings closely in the hope that some droplets of truth will sneak out. Myself and others will be providing live updates over the duration of the hearings, using the #spycops hashtag on Twitter.’
Theresa May’s announcement of the judge-led inquiry in 2015 was in response to Mark Ellison QC’s review which sought to answer whether there was evidence of corruption in the Metropolitan Police during the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence; whether the Met had evidence of corruption it did not disclose to the Macpherson Inquiry into the murder; and whether there was inappropriate undercover activity directed at the grieving Lawrence family.
The Ellison review found undercover officers being deployed to influence and smear the Lawrence family campaign whilst the Macpherson inquiry was ongoing. Specific allegations by police officers of corruption against other officers were ignored by their superiors and not brought to the attention of Macpherson; key evidence was shredded by the Police; and undercover officers failed to correct evidence given in court which they knew was wrong. In March 2014, Theresa May May described its findings ‘profoundly shocking’ and ‘of grave concern’.
The Lawrence case is one example of undercover policing and there are over 230 core participants in the UCPI including individuals that have been duped into relationships with undercover officers, families of victims of murders, politicians, trade unionists and more – a full list of the core participants can be found here. Sixty-nine officers’ names have been published from the Special Demonstration Squad to enable members of the public to determine whether they were affected by undercover policing and come forward with evidence.