A former officer with the Met Police at the centre of a public inquiry into undercover policing has requested an undertaking that no action will be taken against retired police officers who give evidence.
Mark Kennedy – who retired in 2010 – is probably the most infamous of the so-called spy cops, whose actions while operating undercover with covert Met Police units led to the establishment of the Pitchford Inquiry which will examine undercover policing in England and Wales.
Kennedy – who used the name Mark ‘Flash’ Stone while working undercover with the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) – infiltrated peaceful protest groups and duped women into relationships, a scandal that subsequently led to the Met Police being sued and an inquiry set up last year by Theresa May, the former Home Secretary.
Kennedy is known to have operated in Scotland on at least 14 occasions prompting calls for the Home Office to extend the Pitchford Inquiry to Scotland. He was exposed as a policeman in 2010.
Undercover officers with another covert unit called the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) also abused their powers including a former policeman called Bob Lambert who fathered a child with a woman he was spying on before abandoning her. Lambert later worked at the University of St Andrews until he resigned last December.
Some officers stole the identities of dead babies and the Met spied on the grieving family of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager murdered in the street during a racist attack in 1993.
In a submission to the Pitchford Inquiry, Kennedy has asked for an assurance that “no retrospective misconduct proceedings be taken against officers who have retired from the police.”
The letter points out that there has been a change of circumstance recently that could affect former police officers who have already agreed to give evidence to the inquiry.
The submission says that the new Policing and Crime Bill proposes to introduce a regime to bring misconduct proceedings against retired officers and that amendments, if introduced, could stand against Kennedy.
Kennedy’s letter, via his lawyer, said: “The Inquiry’s duty of fairness towards core participants such as MK extends to protecting his legitimate expectation that having retired several years ago, he should not have to respond to misconduct proceedings as a result of his participation in this inquiry when he had thought himself safe from any such proceedings.”
“This consideration tells strongly in favour of requesting an undertaking from the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) in relation to retired officers. In accordance with the undertakings ruling it is plainly in the public interest that those who are core participants before this inquiry are able to give open and frank evidence without fear of personal consequences.”
A spokesperson for the Pitchford Inquiry said: “Mr Kennedy’s submission was supplied in response to the directions that the Inquiry issued on 8 June 2016, by which the Chairman invited position statements from police officers or former police officers on the subject of ‘disciplinary undertakings’.”
“I should mention that it is not for the Inquiry to give an undertaking in respect of disciplinary proceedings – any such undertaking would be issued by the relevant police force.”
At time of writing the Met Police had not provided a comment.
Meanwhile, a Scots MSP has written to the Justice Secretary Michael Mathieson seeking clarification on what progress the Scottish Government has made with regards to having the Pitchford Inquiry extended to Scotland.
Neil Findlay, Labour MSP for the Lothians, has previously urged the Scottish Government to help find the truth regarding the actions of the disgraced Met Units who operated in Scotland but he is now questioning the “enthusiasm” for this on the part of the Justice Secretary.
It is right and proper that we understand to what extent Scottish campaigns were undermined, which Scottish activists were spied on and whether any Scottish activists suffered abuse Neil Findlay MSP
The letter said: “It is right and proper that we understand to what extent Scottish campaigns were undermined, which Scottish activists were spied on and whether any Scottish activists suffered abuse at the hands of undercover police officers.”
Findlay listed a number of questions including one asking whether the Justice Secretary had received a reply to the letter he wrote to Theresa May on 25th May 2016, and whether the Scottish Government would set up its own inquiry, if the Home Office refused to extend Pitchford to Scotland.
In response, the Scottish Government told The Ferret: “Discussions concerning extending the Pitchford Inquiry to cover the activities of the Metropolitan Police Units in Scotland are on-going.”
“Where evidence shows that undercover officers in Metropolitan Police Units were active in Scotland, then Ministers are of the view that the Inquiry should be able to follow that line of investigation in order for the full picture to be revealed.”
“The most effective way to deal with these matters would be for the remit of the Pitchford Inquiry to be extended to cover activities of the Metropolitan Police in Scotland, and the Justice Secretary will raise this issue when the new Home Secretary comes into post.”
“The narrower approach currently being pursued risks doing a disservice to people in Scotland affected by the activities of a force which falls under the oversight of the Home Office.“
Two more suspected spycops revealed
An organisation that works to expose some of the disgraced former police spies has published details of two people that it believes were also undercover officers. The group has tentatively named them although it points out that the Met Police has refused to confirm that they were police officers.
Eveline Lubbers of Undercover Research Group, said: “It is important to remember that without the research of activists spied upon and the exposing of undercover officers in their midst, there would not have been a public inquiry in the first place.”
“In the past few years, every single stage of the legal cases and inquiry has been met by a phenomenal level of obstruction by the police. This includes most recently a Home Office-backed bid to have the public inquiry evidence heard behind closed doors.”
“That’s why, In the campaign for transparancy and accountability, we think it crucial to keep up the pressure, and to continue publishing the results of our research. In the above case everything points to them being undercover police, though nothing official has been found to confirm this definitively.”
“We’d rather have 100 per cent proof and we have asked the police, but unsurprisingly, after several weeks, they came back with the answer that they could Neither Confirm Nor Deny if they are undercover officers.”
“Holding on to this excuse shows that the police are still deliberately frustrating attempts to discover the truth and cover up their own misconduct. Because of the undercovers’ connections to several high profile cases, there is a danger of miscarriages of justice that we feel cannot be ignored – hence we have decided to publish at this stage.”
Photo credit: Undercoverinfo.net