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Dead babies’ names stolen by police may be kept secret

Parents of dead babies whose identities were stolen by undercover policemen might not be told if their children’s names were abused.

A ruling by the Pitchford Inquiry, set up to examine undercover policing in England and Wales, says that anonymity and protection for police officers might preclude parents being told the truth.

Bereaved parents have demanded that the Met Police reveal whether the identities of their dead children were stolen.

The actions of undercover officers with secret Met Police units led to the Pitchford Inquiry being established last year.

Undercover officers infiltrated protest groups and duped women into relationships while others stole the identities of dead babies.

The Met units also spied on the grieving family of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager murdered in the street during a racist attack in 1993.

Some Met officers are known to have operated in Scotland leading to calls for the inquiry to be extended north of the border but this was recently rule out by the Home Office.

The Scottish Government is now under pressure to set up its own inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland, linked to Met units.

It is not yet known if the identities of dead babies born in Scotland were used by police but a whistle-blower revealed recently that colleagues took the names of deceased youngsters born outside England and Wales.

Former undercover policeman Peter Francis also admitted that he stole the identity of a four-year-old dead boy.

Sir Christopher Pitchford, chairman of the inquiry, said: “The Ruling states that where the Inquiry discovers that the name of a deceased child has been used by a police officer for covert purposes, it will take steps to inform the parents or close relatives of that child where there is not proposed to be a restriction order preventing publication of that information, in advance of that information being released.”

“This will enable parents or close relatives to raise any objection to publication. The ruling acknowledges that a number of families have already expressed a wish to know whether a child’s identity was the subject of this practice, and that there are likely to be more.”

“It may not be possible for the Inquiry to provide an answer to this positively or negatively, where this would breach or undermine a restriction order.”

The above ruling means that if the Met Police successful secures a guarantee of anonymity for an undercover officer giving evidence at the inquiry, then parents of deceased children will not be informed as to whether a child’s ID was used.

The Met Police has already asked for anonymity for officers but the inquiry will decided on a case by case basis regarding people giving testimony.

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