Core participants have accused Met of stalling faltering probe
VICTIMS of police spying are “beginning to lose confidence” in the public inquiry into undercover activities, John McDonnell has warned.
In an interview with the Morning Star published today, the shadow chancellor says Labour must “do everything we can to put pressure on [the inquiry] to make sure it addresses the real issues.”
The probe, which was known as the Pitchford inquiry before being taken over by Sir John Mitting in July, is set to investigate 50 years of undercover activity by elite police squads — including the infiltration of trade unions and the deception of female activists into relationships.
But over two years after it was launched, it has yet to hear any evidence. A number of victims designated as “core participants” have accused the Metropolitan Police of attempting to block the inquiry from making progress.
The Met, which has already spent £4 million of public cash making its case, has argued that much of it should be held in secret.
Meanwhile, the inquiry team has raised concerns to the Met that at least three officers involved in dealing with inquiry business who were themselves involved in questionable practices.
Though the police’s costs have been met from the public purse, the inquiry has only paid for one legal team to represent the “non-police, nonstate” core participants at preliminary hearings.
Mr McDonnell was himself subject to police surveillance when working to secure justice for the family of Ricky Reel, whose death police said was an accident but relatives said was a racist murder.
He said: “At the moment, people are beginning to lose confidence in it because of the lengthy procedures that have taken place.”
Environmental activist Helen Steel, who was deceived into a relationship with undercover officer John Dines, said the police were “being allowed to set the pace and direction of this inquiry.”
She told the Star: “The police are the ones under investigation for serious human rights abuses, yet they have been allowed to keep the evidence which could convict them.
“The inquiry should release the names of the more than 1,000 groups spied on by these secret political policing units and release the cover names of the undercover officers.
“Without this information, people who were spied on can’t come forward to give evidence, so the inquiry will be a one-sided whitewash that only hears evidence from the police.”
The inquiry is now unlikely to begin evidence hearings until the second half of 2019