Paul Hutcheon and Tom Gordon
THE SNP Government has called for an investigation into English police spies who infiltrated protest groups - and slept with their members - north of the border.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has urged Home Secretary Theresa May to extend the scope of the Pitchford Inquiry beyond England and Wales to include Scotland.
Loading article content
Led by Lord Justice Pitchford, the inquiry was set up in July after a slew of revelations about officers spying on left-wing, environmental and animal rights activists.
Several undercover cops had sexual relationships with the women they were spying on and one even fathered a child while concealing his true identity.
The Metropolitan Police last month made an “unreserved apology” and agreed to compensate even women who were deceived into having relationships by officers - behaviour the force now admits was “unacceptable” and “a violation of the women’s human rights”.
Pitchford will examine almost 50 years of spying by units including the Special Demonstration Squad and National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), but only in England and Wales.
However in recent weeks the Sunday Herald has revealed police spies also worked in Scotland, including Mark Kennedy, who spied at the G8 in Gleneagles in 2005.
SUNDAY HERALD EXCLUSIVES
Kennedy, who called himself Mark ‘Flash’ Stone, pretended to be an environmental activist from 2003-2010 while working for NPOIU, which was created by police chiefs south of the border in 1999 to monitor “domestic extremists”.
He acted as a “transport co-ordinator” for anti-G8 protesters, helped set up an eco-village in Stirling, and was involved in a relationship with a female protester while in Scotland.
Kennedy, who fled to the US after being unmasked in 2010, is known to have visited Scotland at least 14 times while working undercover.
Jason Kirkpatrick, an activist and film-maker who unwittingly worked with Kennedy at the G8 and is now a “core participant” in the Pitchford Inquiry, last month urged SNP ministers to launch a separate inquiry into undercover police operations in Scotland.
That request was rebuffed, however Matheson has now backed the principle that police spying operations conducted in Scotland ought to be investigated by Pitchford.
In a letter to Kirkpatrick last week, Matheson’s officials said: “The Scottish Government believes that the [Pitchford] Inquiry should be able to consider the activity carried out in Scotland by the undercover officers attached to the Metropolitan Police Units you mention...
“The Cabinet Secretary for Justice wrote on 10 December asking the Home Secretary to confirm that the Inquiry will consider that activity. We await a response.”
Having accepted that police spying in Scotland ought to be investigated, Matheson will be under huge pressure to hold a separate Scottish inquiry if May rejects his request.
Kirkpatrick told the Sunday Herald: "Now the ball is in the Home Secretary's court, let's hope she reaches the logical conclusion and opens up the Inquiry to include everywhere that these undercover police have created their scandals.
"I would sincerely be outraged if documented and admitted undercover policing scandals in Scotland are not allowed to be looked at in this investigation.
“Why should I be asked to tell Lord Pitchford everything that happened to me in England, but be banned from telling him that I suspect undercover police were involved in sabotaging my legally protected journalistic work in Edinburgh?"
Neil Findlay, a Labour MSP who has led calls for an inquiry in Scotland, added: “This is real progress - just a few weeks ago Michael Matheson said he had ‘no idea’ whether undercover police officers had spied on trade union, political and environmental activists.
“Yet a few weeks later, campaigning by victims, myself and other MSPs has resulted in the Scottish Government now accepting there has to be an inquiry into what went on in Scotland.
“I hope the UK government agree to this request and open up the Pitchford inquiry to examine what went on in Scotland, but if they don’t then there has to be a separate Scottish Inquiry."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Cabinet Secretary for Justice has written to the Home Secretary asking her to confirm that the Pitchford Inquiry will consider any activity in Scotland conducted by English and Welsh forces.”
The Home Office said it would “respond in due course” to Matheson’s letter.