Belfast Telegraph

Probe into rogue undercover Met officers 'must extend to Northern Ireland'

By Adrian Rutherford

An investigation into rogue covert police officers must be broadened to include Northern Ireland, campaigners have said.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) is examining the conduct of Metropolitan Police officers in England and Wales.

It was ordered after revelations that officers had formed intimate relationships with social justice and environmental campaigners, with at least one fathering a child.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley have been urged to extend the investigation across the Irish Sea.

It comes after the Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson called for the inquiry to look at the activities of English and Welsh police units in Scotland.

Grainne Teggart from Amnesty Northern Ireland said the ongoing absence of Stormont ministers must not stop important decisions being taken.

"Activities of undercover police were not limited to England and Wales, so nor should the inquiry," she said.

"Two previous Justice Ministers (Claire Sugden and David Ford) have called for the extension of the inquiry, which we believe must now happen urgently.

"Given the potential significant implications for legacy investigations, this is all the more important. The need for full transparency and accountability of policing in Northern Ireland must not be compromised."

The UCPI - also known as the Pitchford Inquiry - was launched after a series of scandals involving policing units dedicated to monitoring political protest.

These included claims that:

• Officers from the Metropolitan Police's now-disbanded special demonstration squad tricked women whom they were targeting into sexual relationships.

• Some of them stole the names of dead babies to create a cover story complete with birth records.

• Some of these infiltrations led to proven miscarriages of justice.

• An officer infiltrated the Stephen Lawrence justice campaign, set up in memory of the teenager murdered in a racially-motivated attack in London in 1993.

After initial denials, it was confirmed that members of the units worked in Northern Ireland, without the knowledge of the RUC or PSNI.

One of the officers is Mark Kennedy, who is known to have attended at least two meetings of environmental activists in Belfast in 2005.

Jason Kirkpatrick, an environmental activist who was targeted by Mr Kennedy, is engaged in a legal challenge to force the inquiry to be extended to Northern Ireland.

He is about to support launching of similar proceedings in Scotland.

Mr Kirkpatrick said: "An inquiry that fails to take account of the full nature and extent of undercover policing is nothing short of a whitewash.

"The operations and depth of the deception by the police who spied on me was not limited to England and Wales and so neither should the investigation.

"Our rights must be upheld. I've been fighting for what's right on this case since 2010 and it's time the Government stop doing everything in its power to prevent justice."

Ms Teggart added: "Victims, such as Jason, should not have to take to the courts to have their rights realised.

"Those affected deserve nothing less than the truth around covert operations that violated trust, privacy and intimacy."

Belfast Telegraph

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