Statement on Police Surveillance Revelations

The Haldane Society is shocked at the revelations concerning undercover policing and surveillance into legitimate campaigning and protest groups. We support calls for a public inquiry into the level of surveillance, the groups infiltrated and the extent to which surveillance was for illegitimate aims (such trying to smear campaigns or victims of crime and/or surveillance on legal and legitimate protests)

Generations of campaigners, workers and young people have gone through the experience of campaigning in their trade unions, anti-racist campaigns and environmental organisations. They have  peacefully demonstrated, protested and taken strike action in defence of their rights and have been shocked to face the full force of the state and police brutality, followed by lies being told about them being ‘violent protesters’. This was the experience, under Tory governments of the miners during the year long strike of the mid-80s, of the millions who refused to pay the poll tax in the early 90s, of the anti-capitalist protesters under a Labour administration in early 2000, recently student demonstrators and many more national and local campaigns.

As lawyers we have a particular concern at the revelations that a person’s right to confidential discussions with his or her lawyer was infringed by the taping of meetings between Duwayne Brooks and his solicitor and we call for the inquiry to investigate the extent of surveillance breaching confidential legal discussions.

We share the outrage expressed by a number of groups and individuals at the revelations that undercover police officers had sexual relations with women, whilst maintaining the secrecy of their true identity. We believe that this practice is sexual exploitation and support the women and family members who are bringing claims against the police. Sexual relations in the context of deceit as to a person's true identity can never be justified.

Information has so far emerged of infiltration into anti-racist, left, environmental, and anti-arms trade campaigns, we call for the inquiry to investigate infiltration into any other legal, peaceful organisation, including the trade union movement and to investigate what links, if any, state agencies may have or have had with agencies co-operating to blacklist workers.

We can see no legitimate reason for infiltration into any group engaged in legal, non-violent, peaceful protest.

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers calls for:

  • a full public inquiry into the role of the Special Demonstration Squad and the wider issue of police infiltration of the justice campaigns, socialist, anti racist, environmental and other progressive organisations.
  • the abolition of the Special Branch, including the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the destruction of political files and computer records not connected with criminal investigations.