Can the truth outweigh secrecy?

With the Undercover Policing Inquiry mired in delay and controversy, Stafford Scott asks if it will ever uncover the truth

By: 
Stafford Scott
Date: 
Wednesday, 08 November, 2017

I have campaigned for decades against the brutality, malpractices and racism, both institutional and overt that exist within the Metropolitan Police.  Yet, I am continually alarmed that both the Home Office and the judiciary are allowing the police to use human rights legislation to avoid being held to account. This in turn prevents the truth being exposed to the public.

Post Brexit, this government wants the dilution, if not the abolition, of the Human Rights Act so it will be ineffective at protecting the ordinary citizen. This in itself is a clear line of division.

If the police have their way, this will be the most secretive public inquiry to have ever taken place. It will be a public inquiry where even the victims of the spycops will not be allowed to see the faces, or learn of the identities, of the police officers.

These police officers infiltrated their victims' organisations, their communities, their lives and, in the cases of some, their homes and their beds.

It is unthinkable, offensive even, to know that Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) officers are now seeking to use human rights legislation to protect their real identities. They are even fighting to protect the cover names they used.

It must be remembered these individuals stole the names of dead children. They then went on to have sexual relationships with women, who were wholly unaware of their true identities. Yet now they seek protection, through human rights legislation, to prevent exposure to those victims whose rights they abused?

In addition it is shocking that the judiciary, in the form of the new Inquiry judge Sir John Mitting, has signalled that he is ‘minded to’ grant these applications. One has only to compare the UCPI Inquiry with the recently established Grenfell Inquiry to see that there is a stark difference.

One has been established in the full glare of publicity with a remit to be as open and as transparent as is possible in such settings. The other has been shrouded in Restriction Orders, Minded To Notes and secret closed hearings.

These are clearly taking place with a view to denying the public an insight into how immoral, corrupt and racist the Metropolitan Police Service still is today.

I, and the majority of the Non-State Core Participants who make up Group J, Justice Campaigns, within the Undercover Policing Inquiry have no faith in this process whatsoever.

We have no faith in Sir John Mitting, who is a member of the white, men only, Garrick Gentleman’s Club.

We have no faith in his all-white inquiry team’s ability to identify, uncover, expose or explore the sexist and institutionally racist practices that were so casually employed by SDS officers and managers alike.

We demand a public inquiry that is on a par with (what has rightly been promised to) the victims of Grenfell.

That is a very public inquiry where no officer of the state is allowed to hide behind their office: a public inquiry where the search for truth far outweighs the needless secrecy and cover-up that we are currently witnessing.


Stafford Scott is Coordinator of the Tottenham Rights project, NSCP representing Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign