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Police spy infiltration of trade unions must not be ‘glossed over’ by public inquiry, Unite urges

“DEEPLY disturbing” revelations that spycops infiltrated trade unions as far back as the 1970s must not be glossed over by a public inquiry, Unite says. 

The trade union issued the warning after it was revealed at the Undercover Policing Inquiry last week that two undercover officers became members of general workers’ union TGWU, a predecessor of Unite. 

The undercover officers were serving in the Metropolitan Police’s special demonstration squad, a secret unit that infiltrated protest groups. The unit is one of two currently being investigated by the public inquiry. 

The inquiry’s lead counsel David Barr QC said the officers became TGWU members between 1971 and 1983 — 20 years earlier than the first known case of union infiltration during the 1990s. 

But Mr Barr caused concern when he said the inquiry had found “no evidence” that trade unions were a specific target of undercover policing. Instead, membership had been likely used to gain credibility while undercover, he claimed. 

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said that such evidence of union infiltration was “deeply disturbing and must not be glossed over.” 

He said: “There must be full disclosure on how many spycops infiltrated unions, who they were and which unions were affected.”

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