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Police spied on Timex dispute, new report alleges

WORKERS on strike in one of Scotland’s biggest industrial disputes were spied on by undercover police officers, a new report suggests.

Calls are growing for a new public inquiry into police spying in Scotland, a proposal backed by politicians including Scottish Labour’s Neil Findlay, or to extend the remit of the controversial ongoing Mitting inquiry, which covers only England and Wales.

Now the Scottish Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance has compiled evidence showing that undercover officers from the elite police squads, which the inquiry is investigating, also operate north of the border.

Some even took the women they had deceived into long-term relationships with them on trips to Scotland.

Officers are known to have carried out surveillance of a number of trade unions and to have passed on information which ended up on the Consulting Association’s illegal blacklist of construction workers.

The report, titled Political Undercover Policing in Scotland: The Facts about Spycops in Scotland and the Questions that Remain Unanswered, says the 1993 Timex dispute in Dundee may have been targeted.

It says there was “credible suspicion” that an undercover officer attended picket lines and meetings in the dispute between workers and bosses over pay cuts and layoffs, which was followed by the closure of the city’s Timex watch factory.

“The identity of this officer is known to us, including that they were a Metropolitan Police officer until the mid-1980s, before joining Tayside police,” the report’s author Dr Eveline Lubbers writes.

“Though this last case has not been confirmed with certainty, the possibility of this infiltration operation indicates particular interest in trade union activity.

“When placed in context with similar Special Branch activities taking place elsewhere in the UK, it opens the question of how much Scottish [police] forces took part in the unlawful blacklisting of workers including passing on intelligence gathered by undercover officers deployed in this way.”

Officers could have infiltrated strike committees through the Socialist Workers’ Party, which supported the pickets, the report suggests. The Mitting inquiry has stated that one officer, identified only as HN101, was active in the SWP at the time.

The report also documents suspected or known infiltration of environmental groups and the Faslane peace camps, where activists claim to have identified an undercover Ministry of Defence female operative in the 1980s.

There are also accounts of police officers serving in Scottish forces seconded to elite undercover squads based in London.

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