Haldane and COPS joint public meeting 23 June 2018

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The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance will be hosting a joint public meeting at The Pearce Institute, 840-860 Govan Road, Glasgow, GS51 3UU from 11:00 am on Saturday 23 June.  The meeting will hear from activists and victims of police spying in Scotland, in particular:

  • Neil Findlay, Labour MSP, at the forefront of raising these issues in the Scottish Parliament;
  • Tilly Gifford, social justice activist bringing a judicial review against the UK and Scottish governments for their failure to act.
  • Andrea, woman activist from Police Spies Out Of Our Lives.
  • Eveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group.

All enquiries about the event should be addressed to copsscotland@gmail.com.

Click here for tickets.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry...

In March 2015, Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced her intention to set up an Inquiry into undercover policing. This announcement followed revelations that police officers, as early as 1968, had spied on political campaigners and had used the names of dead children to create their identities they had deceived women into forming long-term intimate relationships and had fathered children. They had befriended grieving families, including the parents of Stephen Lawrence, and had acted as agents provocateurs.

…but no public inquiry in Scotland!

The undercover police operations under scrutiny by the Inquiry are limited to those conducted in England and Wales. However, much evidence has come to light demonstrating that the Metropolitan Police’s SDS had in fact operated in Scotland, and possibly without the permission of the Scottish authorities.

During the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005, the Metropolitan Police sent undercover police officers into Scotland to spy on activists, amongst these officers was known undercover officer Mark Kennedy, who had between 2003 and 2010 infiltrated numerous campaign groups and had formed intimate relationships with women. Undercover officer Carlo Neri targeted a woman known publicly as ‘Andrea’, and had been welcomed into her Scottish family.

However it is not just the UK government that has declined the need for a public inquiry in Scotland. Sadly, the SNP have followed suit, and following the release of the HMICS report, they have also rejected the need for Scotland to hold its own inquiry.

Legal challenge and building a campaign.

On 14 September 2017, Lord Brailsford of Edinburgh’s Court of Session agreed to grant permission for a full judicial review hearing to take place. The case brought by Tilly Gifford, a social justice activist, is important. The full hearing is due to be heard on the 19-20th July 2018. Have the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Inquiry to Scotland? Have the Scottish Government in refusing to set up its own inquiry acted unlawfully? We think so.

Whether we win this case or not – we must build a campaign to force the UK government and the Scottish government to concede to a proper inquiry. Truth and justice are demanded by trade unionists, environmentalists, women activists, blacklisted workers, and social justice campaigners!

Tell the Scottish Justice Minister: don't allow the Legal Aid Board to be swayed by politics

On 14 September 2017 the Court of Session in Edinburgh agreed that permission should be granted for a judicial review in the case of Tilly Gifford v 1) UK Government and 2) Scottish Government.

The full hearing, potentially due later this year, is to determine whether the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) north of the border, and as you are no doubt aware it simultaneously challenges the decision of the Scottish Government to refuse to set up an undercover public inquiry of its own.

Scandalously the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) have refused legal aid again. Initially they refused legal aid, during the pre-permission stage because they claimed the case ‘did not have merits.’ The Court of Session then granted permission to proceed to a full Judicial Review (therefore accepting the merits of the case), now SLAB have moved the goal posts – they now claim that legal aid cannot be granted because the case must have a ‘good probability’ of success – this is a misapplication of the test, and raises the prospect that SLAB have been placed under political pressure to refuse legal aid.

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers believe not only should this Inquiry be extended to Scotland, but that this seeming politically motivated decision needs to be challenged.

Please use this e-mail form to make your complaint; fill in your name and email address, then copy the subject line and body of the email below into the relevant boxes.  You can tailor the email as you like.

Name *
Name

Please copy the text below into the subject box:

Legal Aid, Judicial Review, and the need for a Scottish Public Inquiry

Please copy the text below into the message box, and click submit:

Dear Mr. Matheson,

On the 14th September 2017 the Court of Session in Edinburgh agreed that permission should be granted for a judicial review in the case of Tilly Gifford v 1) UK Government and 2) Scottish Government.

The full hearing, potentially due later this year, is to determine whether the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) north of the border. As you are no doubt aware, the hearing will also consider the legality of the Scottish Government’s decision to refuse to set up an undercover public inquiry of its own.

Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI)

You will be aware that in March 2015, Theresa May, the then-Home Secretary, announced her intention to set up a public inquiry into undercover policing. That announcement followed major concerns that officers – as early as 1968 – had spied on political campaigners and had stolen the identities of dead children to create false identities. The officers of the ‘National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) and the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Special Demonstration Squad’ (SDS), had deceived women into forming long-term intimate relationships and had fathered children, they had befriended grieving families seeking justice – including the parents of Stephen Lawrence - spied on trade unionists and acted as agents provocateur.

It is now widely acknowledged that during the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005, the Metropolitan Police sent numerous undercover officers into Scotland to spy on activists. Amongst them was Mark Kennedy who had between 2003 and 2010 infiltrated numerous campaign groups and had formed intimate relationships with women. These relationships were furthered with a considerable number of visits to Scotland. Undercover officer Carlo ‘Neri’ targeted a woman known publicly as ‘Andrea’, and had been welcomed into her Scottish family.

The Metropolitan Police have conceded that ‘relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity… these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’.

As you are aware, Tilly Gifford, a social justice campaigner based in Scotland, is bringing the Judicial Review. She was also targeted. In 2009 officers had attempted to recruit her as an informant. In return for cash Ms Gifford was asked to spy on her friends, betray her beliefs and the communities in Scotland she had been campaigning and supporting. She was threatened with prison if she did not co-operate. Ms Gifford recorded these exchanges and they later appeared in ‘the Guardian’ newspaper. The identities of those undercover officers have never been established, and it remains unclear who or why a decision was made to target Ms Gifford.

As is the case for many activists who may have been spied upon in Scotland, the answers to these questions fall outside the remit of the UCPI because it is limited to England and Wales.

Legal Aid, the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) and Independence.

SLAB initially rejected a claim for legal aid claiming the case had ‘no merits.’ After the decision of the Court of Session to accept that the case should proceed to a full Judicial Review hearing, SLAB claimed that the case must show a ‘good probability’ of success. As I am sure you are aware this is the wrong applied test. The case requires a ‘probability’ of success.

This decision appears to be running counter to access to justice. This case raises important administrative, constitutional and human rights issues. It is essential – as understood by the European Court of Human Rights – that in matters of state surveillance, which is a breach of human rights – that the state is held to account. The decision of SLAB is preventing this from taking place.

In light of the above, I call on you to:

  1. Conduct an investigation into the decision of the SLAB to refuse to grant Legal Aid;
  2. Prioritise the issues raised in this letter within the Scottish Government; and
  3. To submit a motion recommending that the Justice Committee / Parliament formally recognise the importance and sensitivity of the concerns raised in this letter in respect of possible undercover policing operations in Scotland, and crucially, the need for the SLAB to grant legal aid in order for the courts to adequately investigate and address these issues.

Without legal aid Ms Gifford will be unable to access justice, and she along with many others who were subjected to this treatment, and the wider public, will be unable to know the truth about undercover political policing that has taken place in Scotland.

Yours sincerely,

Statement on the Aftermath of the Decision to Leave the European Union

Following one of the most bruising and divisive public debates in recent memory, the British public voted to instruct the government to leave the European Union. The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, in recognition of the diversity of opinion among its members, took no official position in the debate, and we have no desire to return to the arguments that dominated the campaign.

The Haldane Society, however, notes with alarm the poisonous atmosphere in which this public debate took place, and expresses its dismay at the way that race and identity was weaponised by both Leavers and Remainers to sway public opinion. This was a campaign that saw Prime Minister David Cameron use the threat of Kent being overrun by refugees[1] to scare voters long before Nigel Farage unveiled one of the most despicable pieces of racist propaganda[2] seen in modern British political history.

Following the vote for Brexit, reports of race hate crimes have peaked at five times pre-referendum levels[3]. This comes as little surprise after an ugly and hostile campaign where the public were encouraged to blame immigrants for their problems. The Haldane Society condemns, in the strongest possible terms, all forms of xenophobia and racism. We express our solidarity with those who are facing an uncertain future and do not feel welcome in the UK (whether born in the UK or not). The Haldane Society urges its members to stand in solidarity with those who are victims of the post-referendum atmosphere.

The Haldane Society further expresses its outrage over the position of the government on the status of EU migrants currently living in the UK. Having been denied their say in the vote, many EU citizens are understandably fearful for their place in the country. Yet, rather than allay their concerns, leading figures in the government have shamefully elected to make their status a bargaining tool in future negotiations with the European Union.[4] 

The Haldane Society recognises the essential contribution that EU nationals make to public life and stands in solidarity with them. We call upon the government to give immediate effect to the expressed will of the House of Commons[5] and guarantee that those exercising their Treaty rights will have their current status and privileges protected, regardless of the outcome of any negotiations with the EU.  

The Haldane Society rejects fascism and racism both on the streets and dressed up in political discourse. We stand for the abolition of all borders and complete free movement of people.  We recognise that immigration controls are racist in themselves and that much of the inequality between nations is as a result of previous and ongoing colonialism, of which western nations such as the UK have greatly benefited. The Haldane Society will continue to campaign to fight the scapegoating of migrants and to fight for true equality as well as to put an end to the UK’s unjust and racist immigration system. 

[1] Jon Stone, “David Cameron says Calais refugee camps could move to Kent after EU exit,” The Independent, 8 February 2016, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/migrant-refugee-camp-calais-britain-brexit-eu-exit-david-cameron-kent-a6860466.html

[2] Mark Chandler, “EU Referendum: Nigel Farage slammed over Brexit poster showing queue of migrants,” Evening Standard, 16 June 2016, available at http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/eu-referendum-nigel-farage-slammed-over-brexit-poster-showing-queue-of-migrants-a3273836.html

[3] Hayden Smith & Claire Hayhurst, “Three race hate crimes every hour since EU referendum say Met Police,” The Independent, 5 July 2016, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/brexit-race-hate-crime-eu-referendum-met-police-a7121401.html

[4] “Brexit: Rights of EU citizens living in UK sparks row,” BBC, 4 July 2016, available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36707573

[5] Jessica Elgot, “Labour motion on EU migrants ‘right to remain’ passes Commons vote,” The Guardian, 6 July 2016, available at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/06/boris-johnson-to-back-labour-motion-on-eu-migrants

 

Challenging PREVENT

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers is one of the supporters of the PREVENT, Islamaphobia, & Civil Liberties National Conference on 4 June 2016 (London venue TBC).

Donations to support the event can be made (£5-£10 suggested) and tickets (£5 / £3 concession) can be purchased at https://challengingprevent.com/tickets/.

Conference website: www.challengingPrevent.com  

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/224013831287305/   

Short campaign video from 'Students Not Suspects': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1o_Kkv-MvM

Support the Junior Doctors Strike

On Wednesday, 9 March 2016, junior doctors are starting a 48 hour strike - the first of three further industrial actions protesting against changes to the junior doctors contracts.[1] The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers fully supports the actions of junior doctors and calls on the Government to reconsider its decision to unilaterally impose the new contracts.

The Haldane Society notes that the new contracts being forced upon junior doctors will force them to work longer hours for 30% less pay. Coupled with the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act, these changes to the NHS facilitate the privatisation of health services. This is the latest step by the Government to cut funding and working conditions in a public service and to smooth the way for privatisation.

The Haldane Society has similarly campaigned to protect legal aid against severe and excessive cuts. Over the last years, legal aid has been removed from many areas of civil law and new criminal legal aid contracts were imposed in such a deeply flawed process that they had to be withdrawn.[2] In the same way as has been seen with junior doctors, public lawyers were misrepresented as being concerned about their wages rather than the provision of public services. The Haldane Society condemns the attack on public services which extends to all sectors affecting librarians,[3] teachers,[4] and local authorities[5] amongst others. George Osborne has indicated that this is only the beginning and further cuts will be introduced in the near future.[6] 

The Haldane Society reiterates its support for junior doctors and emphasises that the challenges to cuts in public services are about more than salaries. This is about protecting our public services.

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Solidarity with the #Heathrow13

The Haldane Society continues to support the 13 Plane Stupid campaigners facing possible prison sentences for their peaceful protest against the destruction of the climate.   They are set to appear at Willesden Magistrates Court this Wednesday 24th February 2016, and we encourage all of our members to attend the solidarity protest. 

Download the leaflet.

We also encourage our members to support the ongoing campaigning work of Plane Stupid against the expansion of Heathrow, and the destruction to local communities and the global climate that it would cause

Solidarity with Plane Stupid Activists

On Monday 25 January 2016 in the trial of the Plane Stupid climate change activists the Haldane Society invites our members to attend to hear the closing arguments at Willesden Magistrates' Court

Closing submission speeches from the lawyers will be given at 10am and the judgement from the Judge will be given from 2pm.

Please join us at 2pm INSIDE the court to hear the verdict (or 10am if you would like to hear the closing speeches) and OUTSIDE the court from around 3:30pm, for a Post-Verdict demo and statement from the 13 Plane Stupid defendants.

(N.B. Please allow up to 30 mins for security checks)

Closest tube is Neasden, on the Jubilee Line.

Solidarity with Leigh Day - Respect the Independence of Lawyers

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers expresses its deep concern regarding the referral of Leigh Day to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.  The behaviour of senior political figures and the media in relation to this matter represents a concerted attempt to discredit Leigh Day and prevent it from effectively representing Iraqi detainees in the current legal challenge against the Ministry of Defence for torture suffered at the hands of the British military.  The Haldane Society is concerned that the Government is attempting to manipulate bodies aimed at regulating the legal profession to prevent torture victims from accessing justice and redress in the courts and more widely to escape accountability for international law violations which may have been committed in Iraq.  We also believe that the Government is utilising the allegations made by the Solicitors Regulation Authority against Leigh Day to stifle debate among the British public about potential human rights abuses committed during the Iraq war and to push through legislation which will make the Human Rights Act less accessible in the courts.

The Haldane Society is concerned that Leigh Day’s referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal was a politically motivated action for several reasons. Leigh Day was not given adequate time to respond to the allegations made against it by the Solicitors Regulation Authority regarding the firm’s conduct at the Al-Sweady Inquiry.  The Solicitors Regulation Authority asked for Leigh Day’s response to eight allegations in mid-August 2015 and, according to Leigh Day, it was agreed that the firm would have until the end of October to respond.  Ten days before Leigh Day was due to serve its response, the Solicitors Regulation Authority sent a further set of allegations and refused to allow Leigh Day extra time to answer both sets of allegations. The Solicitors Regulation Authority subsequently referred Leigh Day to the tribunal. The Haldane Society maintains that the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s refusal to allow Leigh Day additional time to respond to numerous allegations against it and its hasty move to refer the firm to the Tribunal appears to be motivated not by a desire to investigate breaches of professional conduct but to block human rights claims against the Government and discredit claimants and their lawyers. 

 

Secondly, the Haldane Society believes that the Government’s shameless interference in this matter also reflects its political interest in the firm's referral to the tribunal. Comments made in the press by Conservative MPs labelling Leigh Day as ‘immoral, thieving, ambulance chasing lawyers’ is an attempt to smear and discredit the potentially genuine claims of Iraqi torture victims through undermining the work and reputation of their lawyers.  The Haldane Society believes that this is a violation of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the United Nations: lawyers must be free to perform their professional functions without ‘intimidation, harassment or improper interference’. The Basic Principles also state thatlawyers ‘shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions’ for any work which is undertaken in accordance with ethics and their professional duties. While the Haldane Society is unable to comment on the veracity of the allegations made against Leigh Day, we do believe that the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s premature referral of the firm to the Tribunal and the Government’s venomous attacks on Leigh Day accompanied with the media’s vilification of the firm represent a violation of these Basic Principles.  Although the Government may oppose the allegations made by Iraqi civilians who claim to have been tortured by British soldiers, it is actively violating Basic Principle 18 through its demonising of Leigh Day as the claimants’ legal representatives. Leigh Day must not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions, but this is precisely what the Government is doing by interfering with this disciplinary matter and placing pressure on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to prematurely escalate the investigation into Leigh Day’s conduct. 

The Haldane Society opposes the Government’s manipulation of this matter to push through legislation which will curtail the public’s access to justice and the right to hold the Government accountable for human rights violations.  The proposed introduction of government powers to decide which claims can and cannot be brought in court against it is a violation of the rule of law and access to justice and compromises the independence of the judiciary. 

The Haldane Society opposes any form of intimidation, bullying and persecution of lawyers across the globe and extends its support to Leigh Day.  The Haldane Society opposes the government’s use of an instrument intended to regulate the legal profession to advance its political agenda and stifle political dissent. The Haldane Society stands behind Leigh Day and any other member of the legal profession challenging the government’s human rights abuses, both in the UK and internationally, and supports the vital work which lawyers do to facilitate their clients’ right to have their cases and evidence heard and tested in court.

Solidarity with Plane Stupid Activists

The Haldane Society recognises that ecological destruction is driven by capitalist, colonial, and patriarchal domination. Climate change is an urgent issue and we have little hope that the December 2015 UN climate talks - officially sponsored by multinational companies vested in fossil fuels such as EDF and Air France - will yield a globally binding agreement to dramatically reduce emissions that we need.

Our solidarity is with grassroots activists fighting for a decent future for all species. We also recognise the need for and support non violent direct action on climate change, such as the recent actions by Plane Stupid in July and in November 2015 focused on Heathrow (this included a protest on the runway at Heathrow in July and blockading tunnel at Heathrow in November).  We support the Plane Stupid defendants who have their trial scheduled for 18 - 29 January 2016 at Willesden Magistrates' Court.

Click here to find out about court solidarity dates.

Industrial Action: Monitoring the Effects

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers has campaigned for years for direct action by the profession to defend access to justice.  Direct action is currently ongoing amongst criminal law solicitors and barristers. 

It is essential that we learn the impact of the action.  Alongside grassroots campaigns and other professional bodies, the Criminal Bar Association is playing a role in organising the action.  They have set up a monitoring system to establish the impact that action is having so far.  This is set out below.

No Returns

If you returned a case due to a diary clash, we would invite you to try and follow it up, where possible, to see what became of it. Please send the information using the following form:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CBANORETURNS2015

If you have accepted a return on the 27th July or beyond, equally we would invite you to fill out the form so the action can be monitored properly . The information collected will be used simply to monitor the action and not to single people out who have chosen not to participate by accepting returns.

No legal aid order

If you are in the Crown Court and witness a defendant appearing who is not in receipt of legal aid, through the solicitors action, we would invite you to fill out the following form:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MonitoringOrders

Equally, if you are instructed in a post 1 July matter which does have a legal aid order in place, please use the same form. Again, this information is not being collected to stigmatise those who are accepting new work, but rathe to monitor just how many representation orders are being applied for.