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A SPYCOP who stole the identity of a deceased child dismissed the fact that the ghoulish practice caused distress to families, a public inquiry heard today.
The former undercover officer, who used the cover name “Michael James,” claimed that it was “immoral” to suggest that the practice posed a moral problem.
At least 42 officers are known to have stolen elements of dead children’s identities for their fake profiles, a practice which became embedded in secretive police units that infiltrated protest groups.
Bereaved families have said that the abhorrent practice abused the memory of their loved ones, some of whom died when they were babies.
But in evidence to the undercover policing inquiry today, Mr James said he did not accept that the tactic caused stress to families.
“No familes were injured or caused any distress because of this practice,” he insisted.
Asked whether he considered there to be any moral issue with stealing the identity of a deceased child, Mr James replied: “Not at all. Not at all. And I think it’s immoral to actually suggest that now.”
He reasoned that because the families were unaware that their loved ones’ identities were being appropriated by police spies there was no moral issue with it.
The public inquiry is examining the conduct of 139 officers who infiltrated more than 1,000 protest groups going back to 1968.
The probe heard today that the ex-officer was instructed to visit Blackpool, the city of the deceased child Robert Michael James, whose middle and last names he had adopted
There he made inquiries into the child’s family to establish whether they still lived in the city, enlisting the help of a local Special Branch officer to obtain this information.
Mr James used the identity while infiltrating the left-wing Socialist Workers Party and the Troops Out Movement, a campaign calling for British soldiers to withdraw from Northern Ireland, in the ’70s.
In 2013, the Metropolitan Police apologised for the “morally repugnant” practice, but has since justified the use of the tactic to the inquiry, claiming it was necessary for officers to maintain cover.
Bereaved families argue that there was no justification, need or clear rationale for adopting the extreme tactic.
Today’s hearing concluded the second phase of the inquiry. The next round of hearings will not resume until 2022, after they were delayed by six months.
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