Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Probe urged into police 'moles'

Relatives of Stephen Lawrence, including his mother Doreen, were said to have been targeted by police in a smear operation
Relatives of Stephen Lawrence, including his mother Doreen, were said to have been targeted by police in a smear operation

A former undercover officer at the centre of controversy over police moles has called for a "truly independent" public inquiry into the controversial secret unit he worked for.

Peter Francis alleged last year that he was part of an operation to "smear" relatives of black teenager Stephen Lawrence shortly after he was murdered in a racist attack in April 1993.

Tonight he gave a statement in response to a report earlier this week that revealed that Scotland Yard's shadowy Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) kept records of personal information linked to bereaved families fighting for justice.

Mr Francis called for a "truly independent" inquiry to be launched.

He said: "The conclusions reached by Mick Creedon (chief constable who led the investigation into the SDS) in his Third Report of Operation Herne confirm yet again why an independent, public inquiry into the SDS is required.

"The true facts and tactics about the Metropolitan Police's undercover policing operations will only be revealed through a truly independent, public inquiry which requires those involved to provide evidence under oath.

"It is crucial the Home Secretary now publishes her draft, proposed terms of reference for the inquiry she has announced so victims of the SDS and the public in general can comment on her proposed remit.

"In the meantime, the police must provide urgent, full and unhindered access to all the SDS and Special Branch reports they hold, or held, on those involved in campaigning groups from 1968 onwards.

"People must be told what information was collected about them and the organisations in which they worked and why; they must also be told how this information was used and with whom it was shared.

"I can see no reason why this information cannot be provided to all those affected by the SDS's work and can be done so without further delay."

Mr Francis worked for the SDS in the 1980s and 1990s, using the name Pete Black.

He added: " The British public must be given all the relevant facts so they can decide whether the undercover spying undertaken by the Metropolitan Police was appropriate."

Operation Herne's latest report revealed that references to 17 campaigns dating between 1970 and 2005 had been discovered.

But it stressed that its investigators had seen no evidence "that suggests that SDS Officers were deployed to specifically infiltrate these families or the associated sensitive campaigns, or gather information on them".

Last year Mr Creedon told MPs the probe found no evidence to back claims that undercover officers sought information to smear the family of Mr Lawrence.

A Scotland Yard spokesman referred to comments made by Mr Creedon yesterday following publication of the report.

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