POLICE Scotland's chief constable had portfolio responsibility for a controversial undercover unit in the Met for twelve months before he left the force.

The Met has released a detailed account of Phil Gormley’s employment history and links to the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), whose operational officers have been criticised for having sex with their female targets.

The SDS, which sat within the Met’s Special Branch, was set up to spy on political subversives and operated for 40 years from 1968.

Police officers were embedded into hundreds of protest and campaign groups, but the SDS has been widely criticised for its tactics.

Officers took their secret identities from dead babies, spied on anti-racism groups and allegedly monitored the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence in the 1990s.

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The most notorious SDS officer, Bob Lambert, slept with a string of female protestors in the 1980s and fathered a baby with one of them before vanishing.

Scotland Yard last year apologised to several women who had unwittingly entered into "abusive, deceitful and manipulative" relationships with undercover officers and paid out compensation.

In January it was revealed that Mr Gormley, the successor to Sir Stephen House, had been Commander of the Met’s Special Branch during a four-year stint at the London force.

Neil Findlay MSP wrote to Mr Gormley to ask for precise details of his SDS links, but the matter was handled by the Met.

Detective Superintendent Neil Hutchison has now responded on behalf of the Met and confirmed in writing that Mr Gormley became Special Branch Commander on January 1, 2006.

He added that Special Branch was amalgamated in late 2006 into the Counter Terrorism Command (SO15), which then took on responsibility for the SDS.

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DS Hutchison stated that Mr Gormley’s job title “would have changed” to Commander SO15 at the time of the merger.

Mr Gormley left the Met and started at a new force in January 2007.

The disclosures mean Mr Gormley had responsibility for the SDS for a year.

The Pitchford Inquiry, set up by Home Secretary Theresa May, is examining the conduct of the SDS and the separate National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

DS Hutchison declined to comment on any “possible SDS and NPOIU deployments” in Scotland due to the inquiry.

“All material relating to the SDS and the NPOIU, including details of individual deployments and authorisations is in the process of being reviewed in order to provide full and transparent disclosure and evidence to the UCPI [inquiry].”

“We have worked closely with the Inquiry to agree protocols which will prevent inappropriate disclosure of highly sensitive material, which could cause risk of harm to officers who worked undercover or reveal sensitive police methodology.”

Mr Gormley has previously said he knew “nothing at all” of the historic allegations about SDS officers and has said he is happy to co-operate with the Pitchford Inquiry.

The Inquiry does not cover Scotland, but Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has been in talks with the Home Secretary about extending the remit north of the border.

Mr Findlay said: “At least we now have it confirmed that Mr Gormley played a leading role in the Special Demonstration Squad. However, we still do not know the extent to which that unit was involved in activities in Scotland. That is the issue we need to get to the bottom of.”

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Police Scotland Chief Superintendent Paul Main said: “Chief Constable Phil Gormley was the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Commander responsible for Special Branch in the MPS during 2006.

“Any further enquiries are a matter for the MPS who are preparing to support the Pitchford Inquiry, which of course Mr Gormley will cooperate with in every way possible.”