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SPYCOP survivors expressed disappointment today at the “unbelievable” decision by the High Court to dismiss their bid to appoint an independent panel to oversee the Undercover Policing Inquiry.
Three core participants brought the case after the Home Office rejected their argument that inquiry chairman Sir John Mitting had shown only a "primitive understanding" of sexual and racial discrimination, issues which are key to the inquiry.
However Mr Justice Supperstone ruled that Home Secretary Sajid Javid was "entirely justified" in supporting predecessor Amber Rudd’s decision to not appoint a panel alongside former High Court judge Mr Mitting.
Mr Supperstone said the Home Secretary was “entitled to reach the conclusion that Sir John ... has the necessary expertise and impartiality.”
Campaign group Police Spies Out of Lives collated responses from several core participants and said in a statement today: “This was challenging Mr Javid’s refusal to appoint a panel for the inquiry, leaving it in the sole hands of Mitting for another three years.
“Mitting has told us that he doesn’t agree with Macpherson’s definition of institutional racism and admitted that (unlike many judges) he has never attended discrimination training. Another issue at the heart of the spycops scandal which he fails to grasp is institutional sexism.”
The High Court action was brought by Patricia Armani da Silva, whose cousin Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police in London in July 2005, and “Jessica,” who says she was deceived into a sexual relationship by an undercover officer known as Andy Davey — real name Andy Coles — who is now a member of Peterborough City Council. Mr Coles denies her allegation.
Jessica said: “Since Sajid Javid made the decision it’s become even clearer that (Mitting) doesn’t understand the core issues in this inquiry. This is another missed opportunity to make this an accountable process which will give us the answers that we were promised.”
The third claimant is John Burke-Monerville, whose 19-year-old son Trevor was held at Stoke Newington police station in 1987, allegedly beaten and left with brain damage.
Mr Burke-Monerville asserts his campaign for justice was infiltrated. He said:
“I am very disappointed in this decision. I find it unbelievable that the judge doesn’t think it’s relevant that the inquiry chairman says he ‘doesn’t see colour.’
“My family have suffered so much at the hands of state institutions because of the colour of our skin — my son was badly attacked in police custody, my mother was assaulted on the pavement outside her house … I’m forced to see colour every day.”
At a hearing in October the claimants’ barrister Phillippa Kaufmann QC said there had been a true loss of confidence in Mr Mitting by many core participants over his handling of anonymity applications by former officers.
She said Mr Mitting’s “old-fashioned” remarks that officers were less likely to enter illicit relationships if they were happily married had drawn audible gasps from those present at a hearing in February.
Ms Kaufmann also submitted it would be a “false economy” for the inquiry — which has already cost more than £10 million and is not due to conclude until at least 2023 — to continue with “a panel that lacks the requisite experience to fulfil the terms of reference effectively.”
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