Calls rise for full Scottish spycops inquiry as police admit holding secret files

Police Scotland has confirmed the existence of 1,168 files linked to the policing of protests in 2005 against the G8 in Scotland, including one described as holding “intelligence briefings” on spycops — prompting campaigners to raise new calls for a Scottish inquiry.

A full inquiry into abuses carried out by the disgraced National Public Order Intelligence Unit at the time should be commissioned, rather than letting the police investigate allegations against their own officers, campaigners argued yesterday. The matter is currently being bounced between the Pitchford Inquiry, which has refused to look at evidence north of the border, and the Scottish government, which has refused to start its own probe and instead asked senior officers to do an internal assessment. The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) said:

A proper inquiry into Scot abuses is vital — every known spycops officer active in 2005 was at those protests. It’s absurd to ignore at [the Pitchford] public inquiry and let cops self-investigate in Scotland.

Other files in the set included funding requests for a “special operation” and numerous intelligence files on active groups at the time, including Indymedia, Make Poverty History and Stop the War.

Police say they “will not offer any comment on the contents of any specific files,” meaning that any conclusion the force comes to about its own behaviour and that of its colleagues from London will be largely unenlightening, prompting Scottish activist and journalist Harvey Duke, who has been investigating spycops in Scotland, to voice his own concerns:

Since COPS Scotland organised public meetings in Scotland last year, to mobilise support for the demand for a Scottish public inquiry into spy cops, there has been no movement by the Scottish government. Until they act, the victims of spying in Scotland are second- class citizens.

Meanwhile, the official Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing in England and Wales is on a go-slow. Activists there are however planning pickets and other events.

Trade unionists, socialists, environmentalists, anti racists and other campaigners in Scotland need to stay informed about spycops, discuss the issue in their own groups, and keep fighting for the setting up of a Scottish inquiry into anti-democratic spying.

COPS has previously investigated the ties between Scotland’s top cops and the Met, noting in an article last year that:

Any idea that this will produce mere hopeless bias rather than corruption is largely dispelled by the tangle of personal involvement between Scottish police, the two spycops units and HMIC.

Scotland’s Chief Constable, Phil Gormley, was head of the Met’s Special Branch – and therefore oversaw its sub-unit the Special Demonstration Squad – from 2005-2007. He was also secretary of ACPO-TAM, the committee that oversaw Mark Kennedy’s unit the NPOIU, from 2005-2008.

Gormley supervised both units at the exact time that is under investigation. Beyond the usual bias of police investigating police, will fear of besmirching Scotland’s top cop further influence the report? What about the fact that Phil Gormley is married to Detective Superintendent Claire Stevens who has been at HMIC since 2011 (according to her recently deleted LinkedIn profile)?

If this were happening in some tinpot failed state we would express incredulous outrage. The police chief oversaw disgraced secret units that abused dozens of women, engineered hundreds of miscarriages of justice, illegally gave information on political activists to industrial blacklists, disrupted legitimate campaigns and undermined the struggle for justice by families whose loved ones died at the hands of his constabulary. An inquiry run by his senior officers with links to his wife is touted as credible.

That this is the response of the Scottish government, as it seeks to show itself as a fairer than Westminster, beggars belief.


Pic from Indymedia, showing the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (which a spy cop tried to infiltrate and is a core participant in the Pitchford Inquiry) standing off against officers at Faslane naval base in 2005.