Which party is sweeping may change, but it all goes under the same rug
It took thirty years to win the first step towards justice for ten women who were seduced into long-term relationships by undercover police officers attempting to infiltrate the political or human and animal rights groups they belonged to. Two of these undercover agents fathered children with the women they deceived. These operatives worked for the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) of London’s Metropolitan Police. Operating from 1968 to 2008, SDS’s brief was to infiltrate political groups and gather intelligence (presumably now partially obsolete given the unregulated reach of GCHQ). Some of the function of the SDS is now operated by the cynically named National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit.
One former SDS undercover operative, Peter Francis, claimed that the unit investigated the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence with the aim of collecting evidence that could be used to smear the image of his family if the case led to public backlash. Stephen Lawrence was killed in 1993 in a racially motivated attack that became one of the highest profile cases of its kind and ultimately led to changes in UK law. A public inquiry into the heavily criticised state handling of the case concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service was “institutionally racist”. Seemingly they also had no problem using their power to protect themselves.
In a parallel to recent revelations about the leading role that U.S. secret service operatives took in provoking terrorist activity since 9/11 (before such ‘plots’ were ‘foiled’), operatives of SDS and its later generations also used the sting tactic of promoting ideas of illegal activity. There is only so much that can be proved but the case of Mark Kennedy, a National Public Order Intelligence Unit undercover agent, gives some insight. A case against the illegal activity of six activists fell apart in 2011 when it became clear that undercover Mark Kennedy had been a leading voice in the run up to a power station break-in set-up.
That a governing political party can decide undemocratically to use taxpayer’s money to fund secret undercover operatives to infiltrate other political parties is outrageous but as always I just hope this is a clear example of how much can be justified in the name of that scary thing we must not question; national security. It is beyond debate that a long-standing tactic of our governments is to infiltrate opposing political groups and try to destroy them from within. Whether the movement is reasonable, or the people involved ethical, is clearly not a consideration.