But Pitchford Inquiry into spying scandal still to exclude Scotland
SENIOR SCOTTISH police officers were linked to a disgraced secret unit which spied on activists, new evidence has shown – yet the inquiry into police spying is still set to exclude Scotland.
New evidence published by investigative unit The Ferret has shown that several senior officers from Scottish forces are linked to the the discredited spying unit within the Metropolitan Police, which is being investigated by Lord Justice Pitchford.
The information, obtained via Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, shows that high-ranking Scottish officers attended meetings of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee (ACPO TAM).
This committee had responsiblity for the secretive undercover units which spied on so-called ‘domestic extremists’, political activists and campaigners. Since revelations that officers had sexual relationships with their targets and in one case even fathered a child with an activist , the units have been discredited and a judge-led inquiry is due to begin taking evidence this year.
This evidence adds to existing knowledge of undercover deployments in Scotland, and campaigners and politicians have repeated calls for the Pitchford Inquiry to extend its remit to Scottish operations.
Neil Findlay, a Labour MSP who has been prominent in the campaign to extend Pitchford to Scotland, told The Ferret: “Evidence of Scottish involvement in the undercover policing scandal grows by the day.”
“We now must have all of this brought out in the open with a full public inquiry in Scotland. We cannot have people in England and Wales having access to justice but people in Scotland denied.”
After coming under pressure from campaigners and MSPs, the Scottish Government wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May in December last year about the potential to extend the inquiry’s remit to cover Scotland. Since January this year the Scottish Government has repeatedly stated that “discussions are ongoing”.
Among those officers involved in ACPO TAM is Sir Stephen House, who headed up Police Scotland until his premature resignation last year. Two of the other named officers are retired, but one – DCC Iain Livingstone – is still serving in the Scottish force.
House’s replacement Phil Gormley is also included on the list; Gormley took on the role of Chief Constable in January 2016, and concerns were raised by MSPs over his previous role overseeing the Met’s Special Branch , of which the spying unit was part.
The FoI texts with the full list of named officers is available on The Ferret’s website .
The Metropolitan Police force is refusing to release the names or pseudonyms of its SDS officers who spied on protestors, despite repeated calls from campaigners and inquiry witnesses to do so. The force’s long-held position has been to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ details of deployments.
Currently Pitchford will take evidence from England and Wales only, and the Metropolitan Police recently revealed they will apply to have large parts of the public inquiry held in secret .
Campaigners are planning a demonstration on 22 March outside London’s Royal Courts of Justice, asking that the Met “release the names and open the files”.
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Picture courtesy of fotdmike