Spycops Public Inquiry resumes live evidence in July amidst growing crisis

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, is about to resume hearing live evidence

21 Jun 2024| News

Update from Police Spies Out of Lives:

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, is about to resume hearing live evidence. The week starting 1st July will see Opening Statements from Core Participants delivered online. Live witness evidence will begin on 8th July.

This second tranche of hearings will cover the 1980s and 1990s, which saw a massive escalation in the use of abusive police tactics, as police spying expanded to include civil society groups such as CND, London Greenpeace, Freedom Press and the Socialist Workers Party, who will all be giving evidence this summer.

This period also included some of the most controversial deployments, including (but not limited to) officers such as Bob Lambert, Andy Coles, John Dines, and ‘Matt Rayner’, who all deceived women into long-term intimate relationships. Lambert fathered a child whilst undercover, and is accused of planting an incendiary device in a department store to further his undercover legend, before withdrawing from the field to take over management of the entire Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). Coles went on to write the training manual for the SDS and train officers in the later undercover unit, the NPOIU.

However, the Inquiry is facing a growing crisis. Hearings about the most controversial deployments in Tranche 2 have already been postponed due to the inquiry’s ongoing failure to provide full disclosure of the underlying police documents, and tens of thousands of pages of evidence are being published at the absolute last minute, making it impossible for the victims (or indeed for you, the journalists) to effectively respond, or properly analyse the material to expose the full extent of police wrongdoing, which was the original purpose of this Inquiry.

After spending nine years and over £82 million on lengthy processes behind closed doors (plus Metropolitan Police spending of £62 million to defend the indefensible[1]), Britain’s most secretive ‘Public’ Inquiry appears to be running out of time and political will.

Having heard only the first decade’s worth of evidence in an investigation that ought to span fifty years, the Chair published an interim report[2] in June 2023. His findings were absolutely damning. The secret political policing operations were unjustifiable and should have been shut down in the 1970s. Instead they were covered up and sanctioned at the highest levels of government.

Following that report, the government is bringing intense pressure to bear on the Inquiry to bring its investigations to an end. The Inquiry is now required to hear all remaining evidence and deliver a final report by the end of 2026, leading to an apparent rush to judgment. Corners are being cut, and the victims of these police abuses are being held to impossible deadlines, or simply squeezed out altogether.

Core Participants are becoming increasingly restless. It is clear, as we move towards the investigation of more recent police practices in the 21st Century, that the Inquiry barely intends to scratch the surface. Tranche 3 disclosure has already begun, but the inquiry has stated it intends to focus on individuals and will not be providing disclosure or seeking evidence about spying on some of the most influential political groups: environmental direct action groups such as Climate Camp, Earth First!, Greenpeace or the the Newbury Bypass and other Road Protest campaigns; Disarm DSEi and anti-war campaigners; social centres, such as the Sumac Centre or squatted social centres in London. All will be excluded from the investigations despite having been specific targets of multiple undercover operations over many years.

At the start of this Inquiry, Lord Justice Pitchford, the original Chair, said: “My overall duty in the conduct of the Inquiry is to act fairly.” That duty of fairness has now been sacrificed to a new Home Office imperative of closing the book on uncomfortable revelations as fast as possible.

However, we, the victims of these abusive policing operations will not allow the truth to be sidelined, so if you are finding it all a bit hard to follow, do not despair.

Campaigners and victims of spycops abuses will be picketing the inquiry venue and on the first day of in person hearings, and we will hold a Press briefing at 9am on 8th July, outside the International Dispute Resolution Centre, 1 Paternoster Lane, St. Paul’s, London, EC4M 7BQ.

To receive regular press updates from the campaign please contact: media@policespiesoutoflives.org.uk

[1]Response by the MPS on 11th June 2024 to Freedom of Information Act request number FOI-8602-24-0100-000

[2] https://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/2023/06/29/spycops-should-have-been-disbanded-50-years-ago-public-inquiry/