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Trade unions express ‘grave concerns’ over ‘spycops Bill’

THE leaders of 14 trade unions have expressed “grave concerns” over the spycops Bill ahead of its third reading in the Commons today.

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill, which is being rushed through the House, seeks to define circumstances where operatives including those working for the police and MI5 can commit a crime.

The leaders of Unite, the RMT, the FBU, the CWU, the PCS and other major trade unions joined Labour and Sinn Fein MPs, and campaign groups, in calling for the new legislation to be withheld.

In a joint statement released on Tuesday evening, the coalition raised concerns that the legislation could prevent victims of undercover policing operations from seeking justice. 

Dozens of campaign groups have been infiltrated by spycop operations in the past 50 years — a practice which will come under scrutiny when the Mitting Inquiry on undercover policing is due to start next month. 

The coalition said it was concerned that the Bill’s passing would pre-empt the inquiry’s findings and risk “compromising and undermining legal proceedings through which victims of previous criminal conduct by CHIS operatives are seeking justice.”

The letter also expresses fears over the legislation’s failure to rule out authorisation of murder, torture or sexual violence by undercover operatives. 

There are also serious concerns that the Bill could endanger trade-union rights. 

In a separate letter this week, Unite and Momentum urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to order his MPs to vote against the Bill.

Sir Keir told Labour MPs to abstain during the second reading of the Bill and has said that the legislation should not be voted down even if amendments tabled by the shadow cabinet are not passed.

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