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Undercover policing: legal wins in Scotland and England

  • Court grants permission for judicial review into Home Office's failure to extend inquiry to spycop activities in Scotland
  • Police give up on attempts to limit human rights case at Investigatory Powers Tribunal
  • Interview with woman deceived into a relationship by Andy Coles; report from European Parliament event

18.9.17
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Legal victory for extending inquiry to Scotland

"Campaigners for an inquiry into undercover policing have won permission to proceed to a judicial review.

Environmentalist Tilly Gifford is seeking a judicial review into a decision by the Home Office not to extend the Undercover Policing Inquiry to cover Scotland.

Today at the Court of Session, Lord Arthurson granted permission for the case to proceed to a full judicial review.

Ms Gifford was one of seven protesters belonging to the group Plane Stupid who occupied a taxiway at Aberdeen airport in March 2009.

She later recorded exchanges with men claiming to be from Strathclyde Police who indicated they could pay her for any information she had.

The public inquiry is investigating undercover policing dating back as far as 1968, but its remit does not cover Scotland and the Scottish Government has declined to set up a similar inquiry. "

See: Legal win for undercover policing campaigners (The Scotsman, link)

And see the press release from The Public Law Unit: David v Goliath - round 1 to David (pdf):

"The legal challenge has not been without its practical difficulties, and the Scottish Legal Aid Board had refused to fund the case. The lawyers involved are currently working pro bono and have raised thousands through Crowdjustice to protect Tilly from any adverse costs. We now trust that SLAB will get its act together and fund this important case"

Plus: “It’s a lonely position”: crowdfunding for a Scottish inquiry into undercover police abuse (New Statesman, link)

Police drop attempts to limit human rights case

On 18 September the group Police Spies Out of Lives confirmed in a press release that "the police have chosen not to pursue any limitations" to a human rights case against them at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal brought by Kate Wilson.

It was previously believed that the police would use the hearing "to impose limitations on the case, or even try to have it thrown out altogether."

The case was brought by Wilson to argue that being deceived into a relationship with Mark Kennedy breached her human rights - specifically Articles 3 (prohibiting "inhuman or degrading treatment"), 8 (respect for private life), 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The press release said:

"This is great news. It offers further encouragement to a case which has the potential to establish definitively that intimate relationships between undercover officers and member of the public are unlawful."

Background: Police seek to avoid accountability in Human Rights case over abusive relationships by undercover officers (PSOOL, link)

Interview and report from the European Parliament

And: an interview with 'Jessica', who at the age of 19 was deceived into a relationship with Andy Coles, who at the time was 32 and is now a councillor in Peterborough: ‘Why I’m suing the Met over an undercover policeman who became my boyfriend’ (iNews, link):

"But now he [Andy Coles] is at the centre of a new legal case against the Metropolitan Police – thanks to a woman he probably hoped he’d never hear from again. Jessica, who uses a pseudonym, was just 19 when she alleges Coles – in the guise of self-employed van driver Andy Davey – deceived her into a relationship that lasted over a year, in order to infiltrate the animal rights movement as a member of an elite undercover police squad."

MEPs hear how cross border spycops can “move into your home, your family” (The London Economic, link):

"To bug your phone the state at the very least needs the permission of a judge or Home Secretary. But as the bereaved family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence found out, to send an undercover police officer to spy on you and your family, all that is needed is the permission of the police chief handling them.

This week campaigners whose lives have been affected by “spycops” addressed the European Parliament as it is not only this nation’s undercover officers that are able to enter our lives and spy on us with no judicial oversight, but those of European police forces, and other countries further afield."

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