A secret police unit whose undercover officers had sexual relationships with the women they were spying on in protest groups worked with constabularies in Scotland.

The Police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, has revealed that the controversial National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) – currently the subject of a judge-led probe – operated north of the border.

It has also emerged that Mark Kennedy, the most notorious NPOIU officer, visited Scotland over a dozen times while on duty.

Campaigners have now written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to demand the Scottish Government launch an inquiry into undercover policing tactics north of the border.

The NPOIU, created in 1999, was run by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and set up to spy on so-called 'domestic extremists'. Its elite officers were paid to infiltrate animal rights and environmental groups believed to pose a danger to public order.

However, the Unit’s methods have been discredited after it was established that officers formed intimate relationships with female protestors, who knew nothing about their real identities as police officers.


Many of the women have received out of court settlements as a result of the abusive practices.

Theresa May tasked Lord Justice Pitchford with investigating the activities of the NPOIU and the now-disbanded Special Demonstration Squad (SDS.)

However, the inquiry only relates to covert policing in England and Wales - despite mounting evidence of the NPOIU operating in Scotland.

As revealed by this newspaper, up to five undercover officers worked in Scotland while spying on protest groups.

Kennedy, known as Mark “Flash” Stone during his years as a campaigner, operated at the anti-G8 protests in Gleneagles in 2005.

The Scottish Government has resisted calls for a parallel inquiry into the undercover practices, but the First Minister said last month that “should there be evidence of such activity, appropriate action will be taken.”

However, this newspaper can reveal concrete proof that the NPOIU had links to legacy forces in Scotland before the creation of Police Scotland.

After Kennedy was unmasked in 2010, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) launched a review of the NPOIU.

The watchdog looked at the supervision of undercover officers deployed by the Unit, Kennedy’s management, as well as the ACPO definition of “domestic extremism”.

In a footnote, the HMIC stated: “The NPOIU?s remit covered England and Wales. They also worked with forces in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

The review added: “Mark Kennedy was used in or visited 11 countries on more than 40 occasions, including 14 visits to Scotland.”

The Herald:

Picture: Mark Kennedy. Copyright: Channel 4

Jason Kirkpatrick, an activist and filmmaker who worked closely with Kennedy without knowing he was a police officer, has written to the First Minister about the exclusion of Scotland from the Pitchford Inquiry.

He has suggested two remedies: widen the existing inquiry; or, conduct a separate Scottish inquiry.

Kirkpatrick, who has Core Participant status at Pitchford, wrote that he believed Kennedy interfered with his media liaison work at the G8, adding: “I may [also] have been targeted to have an intimate relationship by a possible undercover officer, "Khris" from London, in order to interfere with my press work.

“These actions that took place in Edinburgh, of which the Scottish Government may not have previously been aware, certainly raise questions demanding answers about possible illegal police tampering with legitimate journalistic functions, and free speech as guaranteed by the ECHR.”

He called on Scotland to be part of the Pitchford Inquiry, but added: “If this request is denied, it is then necessary for the Scottish Government to initiate its own inquiry, to guarantee that such abusive practices as those described above will be properly examined if they have taken place in Scotland.”

Campaigner Merrick Cork also wrote: "The Inquiry is bound by the terms given to them by the Home Secretary. However, she can amend them if it is in the public interest. If English and Welsh citizens abused by police have a right to truth and justice, surely Scottish people do too.
"I urge you to ask the Home Secretary to widen the remit of the Inquiry to cover the actions of officers from those units wherever they were deployed."

The Herald: MSP Neil Findlay

Picture: Neil Findlay MSP

Neil Findlay, a Labour MSP who has led on calls for an inquiry in Scotland, said of the revelations in the HMIC report: “It is not acceptable for Scots victims of his immoral and illegal behaviour to be the only people in the mainland of the UK to be denied access to an inquiry. The Scottish Government’s position on this is untenable. Here is the evidence we must have an inquiry.”

Patrick Harvie MSP, the co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said: “I have serious concerns about the 'nothing to see here' approach which seems to prevail in the oversight of policing in Scotland. We know that Kennedy operated in Scotland, but we also know that police forces in Scotland have used covert surveillance against peaceful political protesters.

“There seems to be a clear case for an inquiry into these issues, and if that requires a separate process alongside the Pitchford Inquiry, then so be it.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Office of Surveillance Commissioners has never raised an issue, either directly with Scottish Ministers or through Police Scotland, regarding any allegations relating to the activity of undercover officers and there are already strong safeguards in place regarding these practices in Scotland.

“We will, however, carefully consider the conclusions of the Pitchford Inquiry and, if there are measures over and above these safeguards which could sensibly be delivered in Scotland, we will discuss with Police Scotland and other interested parties how they might best be implemented.”