Victims of undercover police units and their lawyers staged a mass walk out during today’s hearing of the undercover policing public inquiry calling for the removal of Sir John Mitting as the new judge in charge of the inquiry. Sir John Mitting has told the inquiry, that victims will be be met with a ‘wall of silence’ in key parts of the inquiry and is granting anonymity to almost every police officer – so the public inquiry will be held mainly in secret. This will not be justice. We are not prepared to participate in a process in which the victims are merely window dressing.
Below and attached is the full transcript of the submission made by Phillipa Kaufman QC, representing over 200 of the ‘non-state, non police core participants’ in the inquiry including Doreen and Neville Lawrence, women activist who were decided into relationships with undercover officers, anti-racist campaigners and trade unions.
Blacklisted workers and the Blacklist support Group have been granted ‘core participant status’ in the inquiry because of undercover police infiltration of trade unions and were part of the walk out.
Blacklist Support Group Statement for Undercover Policing Public Inquiry hearing Wed 21st March 2018
“Blacklisted workers who have been kept under surveillance by political policing units were always skeptical about whether the British state investigating itself would truly provide justice. But under John Mitting, the public inquiry has descended into a good old fashioned establishment cover-up.
Mitting was put in charge to carry out a job of work on us – and he’s doing it. Time and again he gives the police the benefit of the doubt, to the detriment of those whose lives have been torn apart by this human rights scandal.
Tinkering around the edges isn’t going to change things. We have no confidence in Mitting. He must go and needs to be replaced with a panel of experts who have have at least some degree of empathy with the victims and are prepared to question the accounts of undercover police officers who have been trained to lie”.
Dave Smith – core participant in ‘union strand’ of public inquiry.
UNDERCOVER POLICING INQUIRY – ORAL Submission 21/3/18
- Sir, before you start today’s hearing I would like to make submissions on behalf of the NPSCPs.
- As you know we represent about 200 individuals – we cannot be precise because some of the CPs are groups and it is anyone’s guess how many individuals are represented as individuals relating to that group.
- Over the last few months we have expressed to you increasing concerns about the manner in which the anonymity application process has been conducted. We have reached a point where our concerns can no longer be ignored and have reached a head.
- The focus of the NPSCPs now very grave concerns are disclosure and well, to be frank, you.
- Disclosure –
- From the first moment that we were invited to participate in the individual anonymity application process we have taken strenuous steps to ensure that disclosure is made which is sufficient to ensure both that the need for openness to be maximised is ensured and second, relatedly, that disclosure is made that will enable decisions to be taken on a properly informed basis. By that I mean that decisions are taken which, to the extent possible, test the police’ contentions as to why anonymity orders are required.
- Your response has consistently been that our argument is circular and that you cannot provide more information.
iii. As with disclosure so too with your reasons. These are scant and largely uninformative. You have never indicated that you take account of the compelling public interest factors favouring disclosure let alone explain why they have been discounted.
- We agree entirely with the observations in the submissions on behalf of Mr Francis at paras 4-6. I will read these in full because they echo so precisely the feelings of my clients.
- The opaque nature of the Chairman’s reasoning has attained a new height in his ‘minded to’ note no. 3: in it he has dispensed with open reasons altogether in relation to his indications re HN109. This is so despite the fact that the Chairman is aware of the extreme frustration that his general approach to the restriction order process has caused thus far.
- A considered decision not to publish any open reasons at all, in the context of an officer in relation to whom the current risk of physical harm is assessed as “low” with any increase by revelation of real or cover name assessed as “very low”, signals a disregard for those, like PF, who have shown a real respect for the Inquiry’s processes by not revealing information that they hold and in relation to which the Chairman has no power to restrict.
- PF has been prepared to engage with this judicial process (which he was instrumental in bringing about) in the belief that this process would fairly balance the public interest in openness with other factors at play. Failing to give any reasons for restricting both a real and cover name of a former UCO, who was a manager at a crucial period of time in SDS history, and where there is no disclosed risk, significantly undermines the trust and belief in the Inquiry process that PF has shown to date, compounding his perception that there is a lack of mutual respect.
- Our argument has consistently been that the anonymity applications form an absolutely critical part of the process. If you don’t get this right now then so much of what has gone wrong in the undercover policing operations of the SDS and NPOIU will forever remain secret. That is precisely the problem that Ellison ran into, namely that he could not test the police accounts against those of the people the officers had spied on. My clients greatly fear you are walking into the same dead end.
- In short we have got precisely nowhere in relation to our attempts to ensure that we can meaningfully participate.
vii. It is now abundantly clear, particularly in light of the latest disclosure and minded to indications which form the basis of this hearing that we simply cannot participate in this hearing in any meaningful way – you of course have our written subs. Your minded two indications again close off all avenues for getting to the truth in relation to two critical officers, two managers. This in circumstances where we have just learnt from the Met in relation to one of the women with whom Mark Kennedy had a relationship when working with the NPOIU, that his managers and supervisers acquiesced in his sexual relationship.
viii. Our clients are not prepared actively to participate in a process where their presence is mere window dressing lacking all substance and meaning which would achieve nothing other than to lend the process a legitimacy it does not have.
- The second major area of concern is with the Inquiry Panel. This concern falls into two parts:-
- The first concerns the failure to ensure that the inquiry is heard by exactly that “a Panel”, representing a proper cross section of our society and in particular including individuals who have a proper understanding of discrimination both on grounds of race and sex.
- Instead we have the usual white, upper middle class, elderly gentleman, whose life experiences are a million miles away from those who were spied upon.
- And, the very narrow ambit of your experience has been made apparent in relation to your understanding of issues relating to women, in your minded to note, what you said at the hearing and maintained in your decision in relation to HN58. I will remind you of your observation in the minded to note that HN58 is, in your view, very unlikely to have had any intimate relations with those he spied upon because he had been married for many years.
- You will recall the reaction of those present in court when you said this. You will recall acknowledging in response to that reaction that maybe you are somewhat naiive and a little old fashioned. Yet, what is even more alarming perhaps than your original observation is the fact that you maintained that naiive and old fashioned approach in your final decision and in other minded to notes.
- The core participants do not want this important inquiry to be presided over by someone who is both naiive and old fashioned and does not understand the world that they or the police inhabit. They have no confidence in the prospect of the inquiry properly probing or understanding the evidence.
- Those CPs who have expressed a view therefore ask you to recuse yourself from his inquiry or that you ensure that you sit as a true Panel bringing on board, others who well understand the critical issues that shape and frame this inquiry.
Not permanent walk out
- As matters standthose clients who have given instructions (as you know many do not actively participate) are not prepared to continue their participation in today’s hearing. I am instructed therefore to withdraw from this hearing while these issues are considered by you.
Blacklist Support Group