Undercover Policing

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 24th June 2013.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:34 pm, 24th June 2013

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the latest allegations concerning the use of undercover officers to smear the reputations of Doreen and Neville Lawrence and Duwayne Brooks. These allegations follow several serious claims about the activities of police officers engaged in undercover operations, and I would like to update the House on the several investigations and inquiries into the conduct of those officers.

Before I do so, I know that the whole House will want to convey its support for the Lawrence family. They experienced an unspeakable tragedy, their pain was compounded by the many years in which justice was not done, and these latest allegations, still coming 20 years after Stephen’s murder, only add to their suffering. I also know that the House will agree with me about the seriousness of allegations concerning police corruption and wrongdoing. We must be ruthless in purging such behaviour from their ranks.

As Members of the House will remember, in February I announced that the commissioner of the Metropolitan police had agreed that Mick Creedon, chief constable of Derbyshire constabulary, would investigate allegations of improper practice and misconduct by the Metropolitan police’s special demonstration squad, which for around 40 years specialised in undercover operations. Mick Creedon took over a Metropolitan police investigation called Operation Herne.

In addition to these latest allegations about the Lawrence family, Operation Herne is also looking into claims about the use by police officers of dead children’s identities, the conduct of officers who had infiltrated environmentalist groups, and other serious matters. Given the nature of those allegations and the many years the special demonstration squad was in existence, we should not be surprised if further allegations are made. I want to be clear that all such allegations will be investigated. Operation Herne is led by Chief Constable Creedon and elements are supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Today the Metropolitan police are also referring details of the new set of allegations to the IPCC, meaning that this aspect of the investigation will also be supervised. I know that some Members have suggested that the IPCC should take over Operation Herne completely, and that is an understandable reaction. I spoke with Dame Anne Owers, the chair of the IPCC, earlier today. She does not believe that a greater degree of IPCC control would enhance the investigation, but I can confirm that where the Creedon investigation finds evidence of criminal behaviour or misconduct by police officers, the IPCC will investigate and the officers will be brought to justice.

I have also spoken today with Chief Constable Mick Creedon. He told me that the first strand of his work, which relates to allegations about the identities of dead children, will report before the House rises for the summer recess. At present there are 23 police officers working on the case, with a further 10 police staff working in support. In the course of their investigation they have already examined in the region of 55,000 documents and have started to interview witnesses, including police officers who worked in the special demonstration squad.

I want to emphasise that undercover operations are a vital part of protecting the public, but they need detailed supervision and constant reassessment to ensure that what is being done is justified. For obvious reasons, members of the public cannot know the details of the police’s undercover operations, but we need to have the assurance that this work is conducted properly and in accordance with a procedure that ensures that ethical lines are respected.

In February last year, Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary reported on how forces go about undercover policing. That work was undertaken partly in response to allegations about the conduct of a police officer named Mark Kennedy, who had been tasked with infiltrating an environmental protest group. HMIC’s report made a series of recommendations designed to improve the procedures that police forces have in place for managing and scrutinising the deployment of undercover officers. Among other recommendations, HMIC said that the authorisation arrangements for high-risk undercover deployments should be improved and that additional controls should be put in place where a deployment is intended to gather intelligence rather than evidence.

Since March this year, HMIC has been working on a further report that will check on how the police have implemented its recommendations, and I can tell the House that this report is due to be published on Thursday. I can also tell the House that Tom Winsor, the new chief inspector, plans to undertake a further review of undercover police work later this year.

Last week, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice told the Home Affairs Committee that the Government intend to bring forward legislation to require law enforcement authorities to obtain the prior approval of the Office of Surveillance Commissioners before renewing the deployment of an undercover officer for a period exceeding 12 months. In future, authorisation should also be sought under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 for any activity to develop a cover persona.

I want to turn now to the allegations regarding the Lawrence family. The investigation into Stephen’s murder has cast a long shadow over policing, especially in London. That is why, in July last year, I asked Mark Ellison QC to investigate allegations of deliberate incompetence, and corruption, on the part of officers involved in the original investigation into the murder.

Mr Ellison was the lead barrister in the successful prosecutions of Gary Dobson and David Norris and he is supported by Alison Morgan, junior counsel from the prosecution. I have spoken to Mr Ellison today, and I encouraged him to go as far and wide as he would like in his investigation. I have also spoken to Mick Creedon to make sure that Mr Ellison will have access to any relevant material uncovered in the course of Operation Herne. We must await the findings of the Ellison review, which, given the latest allegations, will be published later than originally intended. When the review concludes, a decision will have to be made about whether its findings should lead to any formal police investigations.

I am determined that we should have zero tolerance of police corruption and wrongdoing. That is why the Government are beefing up the IPCC, making the inspectorate more independent, and it is why we asked the College of Policing to establish a code of ethics for police officers.

As the House knows, I have also launched a panel inquiry into the murder of Daniel Morgan, and I am determined that we get to the bottom of all of these latest allegations. We must do so to ensure public confidence in the police and the criminal justice system, not least for the sake of Doreen and Neville Lawrence, and for the memory of their son Stephen. I commend this statement to the House.

P

Let us hope that the Home Secretary finally gets around to dealing with this case of police corruption as well:

"The Hofschroer case has been on my desk for several years now. A widow in her 80s was dispossessed of her home in a way that implies collusion between certain family members and the Social Services. A son who has come to the rescue has been harried by the North Yorkshire police (that particularly dubious constabulary merits careful investigation) to the extent that he and his aged mother have been pursued through an Interpol warrant to their "refuge" in Austria.

http://www.epolitix.com/latestnews/article-detail/newsarticl...)

"Does anyone in authority care that social services and police in North Yorkshire have conspired in the persecution of Mrs Hofschroer and her son? Are details of dismissals, forced retirements and other shady and costly measures pertaining to North Yorkshire Police available to legislators in Parliament? "

(http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2012-05-15a.258.7&am...)

Google: "THe Abuse of Grandma B"

Submitted by Peter Haslegrave

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities) 3:42 pm, 24th June 2013

I join the Home Secretary in expressing support for the Lawrence family, who have indeed endured great tragedy. I also pay tribute to them for the work that they have done to pursue justice and reform over very many years. The whole country has been appalled by the allegations that police officers were involved in spying on or attempting to undermine the Lawrence family and their friends when they should have been supporting them to get justice done. It is vital that we get to the truth about what happened.

Stephen Lawrence was the victim of a terrible racist murder, yet it took 19 years for any prosecutions to succeed. We knew already about the failings of the initial investigations and prosecutions and what the Macpherson review identified as both incompetence and institutional racism at the time. We knew already about the failure to support and listen to the Lawrence family at the time, as chronicled in the Macpherson review, and we know, too, that immense work has been done since then, including reform of policing and the work by Clive Driscoll’s team in the Met to secure the two successful prosecutions last year.

However, these latest allegations must be taken very seriously because they suggest that the full information was not given to the Macpherson review at the time—a concern that we raised last year in the House over corruption allegations, where still we have no answers. Most disturbingly of all, the latest allegations suggest that police officers were working undercover to undermine victims of crime when the very job of a police officer is to support and get justice for victims of crime. That is why people across the country—including police officers, who do vital work each day—will be appalled by these allegations.

I welcome the work that the Home Secretary has set out today on undercover policing; it is vital that there should be much stronger oversight and control of the important work that police officers do but that nevertheless needs strong control. I also welcome the commitment of the Home Secretary to ensure an independent look at the allegations about undermining the Lawrence family. I am glad that she has gone further than the Prime Minister’s call this morning for the Metropolitan police to investigate; clearly, the investigation needs to be independent. However, it remains unclear whether she expects the lead on getting to the truth of the allegations to be taken by Mark Ellison QC, by Operation Herne under Chief Constable Creedon or by the Met under the auspices of the IPCC. It would be very helpful to have clarification on this.

Mark Ellison QC is indeed a well-respected independent person to review these allegations and report back to the Lawrence family, but he does not, of course, have the powers to instigate criminal or disciplinary proceedings. At the same time, Operation Herne is a wide-ranging report with a far wider remit looking into undercover policing, especially in the environmental movement, over very many years. The Home Secretary set out the huge scope of that investigation in her statement. May I suggest that we need a specific independent investigation into these allegations, given their seriousness and the significance of the Lawrence investigation and the Macpherson review for policing and confidence in policing? We need a clear timetable for getting to the truth. The investigation will also need to look at whether the Macpherson review was misled. Would it not be better to set out a clear and focused independent investigation into these allegations with a precise remit and the powers to pursue both criminal and disciplinary proceedings?

The Home Secretary said that any conclusions that the Ellison review comes to would still have to be handed to the IPCC or to another police force to pursue a further investigation. Given that these allegations already refer to events of 20 years ago, surely this would risk creating significant further delays. Has she considered giving the Ellison review additional powers or combining it with independent police or IPCC investigations in order to allow it to pursue the truth and trigger further investigations where necessary?

The vital work that police officers do every day to investigate crimes, bring offenders to justice and support victims relies on public confidence. As we saw with the Hillsborough review, we can never ignore any case where there is evidence that police officers may be involved in undermining victims or investigations rather than supporting them. For the sake of victims of crime and the excellent work that police officers do each day, there must be a proper, swift and effective system to investigate when things go wrong and when concerns like these arise.

I hope that the Home Secretary can assure the House that there is a clear remit for the review and that she will make sure that it is clear and independent, with the focus, the powers and the timetable it needs to get to the truth and pursue the investigations. It should not have taken 19 years for the Lawrence family to have seen some justice for the murder of their son, and they should not still have to fight for answers about the way they were treated and failed so many years ago.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank the shadow Home Secretary for the approach that she has taken to this very serious issue. We all agree across this House that these allegations are appalling and need to be looked into properly.

The right hon. Lady raised a number of issues about the independence and timeliness of any investigation, the proper form of the investigation, and bringing people to justice. She asked specifically whether the allegations that have been revealed in relation to the operation of the SDS and the Lawrence family would be investigated under Operation Herne, by Mark Ellison, or by the Met under the auspices of the IPCC. Operation Herne was originally set up by the Metropolitan police, but it is now being led by Chief Constable Creedon. Although Met officers are still involved in that investigation,

Chief Constable Creedon has also brought into it officers from his own force and elsewhere. The investigation by Chief Constable Creedon will look specifically at the tasking of officers in the SDS. That was part of the operation’s original remit. It is one of the issues that was raised by Peter Francis in the interview that he gave to the programme that will be shown tonight.

On Mark Ellison’s review, the right hon. Lady asked whether the Macpherson inquiry was misled. Another specific part of the remit of Mark Ellison’s review is that he looks into whether all the evidence that was necessary to be given to the Macpherson inquiry was indeed given to it. Obviously, the fact that Peter Francis has suggested that he and others were told not to give evidence to the Macpherson inquiry is a matter of particular concern, but that will be investigated by Mark Ellison. Having spoken to Mark Ellison and Chief Constable Creedon this morning, I am clear that they are working together; there has been a degree of interaction between the two. They are working to ensure that nothing falls between the two stools of the review and the investigation.

It is right that investigations into whether there has been misconduct or criminality are the remit of a police investigation—the Creedon investigation—with reference to the IPCC, as has been the case today, with the Met referring these allegations to the IPCC. There must be a proper pursuit of justice so that people can be charged with criminal offences or so that appropriate action can be taken for misconduct.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

Does the Home Secretary agree that the vast majority of police officers in this country will be as horrified as the rest of the country at these allegations? Does she believe that a similar thing could occur now?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comment about police officers. It should be said in this House that the vast majority of police officers in this country are honest and act with integrity to keep the public safe, reduce crime and catch criminals. They will be as concerned as we are by the allegations that have appeared in the media over the past 24 hours.

On whether something similar could happen today, the special demonstration squad was disbanded more than a decade ago after operating for about 40 years. Since it was disbanded, there have been a number of changes to the way in which undercover and covert operations are undertaken. We are determined to look constantly at whether further changes are needed to enhance the oversight of undercover operations and the procedures under which such operations take place. That is why my right hon. Friend the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice made the announcement last week about the Office of Surveillance Commissioners.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

It is worth reminding ourselves that the Macpherson inquiry was instigated by failures in the initial investigation by the Metropolitan police. It was effectively an investigation into the Metropolitan police, so the idea that it was hiding information from the inquiry beggars belief. Sir Paul Condon, who was the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at the time, said that he knew nothing about the SDS in the Metropolitan police, which I believe was funded by the Home Office. Someone in the Metropolitan police decided not to provide this information to the Macpherson inquiry. Can we be clear: people are not satisfied with the police investigating the police? The public will be satisfied only by a fully independent, publicly held inquiry with oversight of all these matters, including the suggestions of corruption and the smearing of the family of Stephen Lawrence.

P

And as the IPCC consists of ex-police officers, then a truely independent investigation service is required.

Submitted by Peter Haslegrave

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s level of concern. He is right that the Macpherson inquiry was an investigation into the way in which the Metropolitan police had handled itself. It went wider and looked at the Metropolitan police as a whole, including its attitudes in such cases. No information should have been hidden from the Macpherson inquiry and the allegation that it was is shocking. I set up the Mark Ellison review last year with the support of and after full discussions with Doreen Lawrence and the Lawrence family. I asked Mark Ellison to look specifically at whether information had been withheld from the Macpherson inquiry, so that is already part of his remit. I assure the hon. Gentleman that Mark Ellison is independent in the work that he is doing.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats

Like many colleagues, I have been privileged to support Doreen and Neville Lawrence over the years, as well as Duwayne Brooks, who is a friend and colleague. I am sure that the whole of south-east London and beyond is appreciative of the Home Secretary’s quick response. However, I put it to her that it is not just the Lawrence case that gives rise to the suspicion that in those days and for quite a long time, the Metropolitan police had institutional bias against black and minority ethnic communities in London. I would like her reassurance that the independent investigation will look not just at one famous and dreadful historic case, but at what some of us suspect was a much wider problem that covered many more families over many more years.

P

Would Simon Hughes like to explain why he did not carry out his duty of care in the case of "The Abuse of Grandma B"?

Submitted by Peter Haslegrave

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My right hon. Friend is right that it is important that the investigation into the special demonstration squad covers other cases. That is exactly what Chief Constable Creedon is determined to do. Although there is a specific allegation about the work of the SDS in respect of the Stephen Lawrence murder, it is important that the investigation covers a wider range of activities. Its remit will allow it to do just that.

If I may correct myself, I said that the SDS was disbanded more than a decade ago. In fact, it was disbanded in the late 2000s, which is not quite a decade ago.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Labour, Blackburn

I welcome the prompt and positive action the Home Secretary has taken this morning in light of these revelations. I am sure they will be welcomed by the Lawrence family, who may be forgiven for believing that they have been punished twice over for the fact that they inconveniently allowed their son to be murdered while he stood innocently at a bus stop in south London in 1993. Does the Home Secretary accept that I, as Home Secretary, and the Metropolitan Police Authority knew absolutely nothing about the allegations, notwithstanding that it was well known that I established the Macpherson inquiry and wanted to know everything there was to know about the

Metropolitan police’s conduct of that investigation? That conduct alone is reprehensible, as is the fact that we now understand that such information was kept from Lord Condon, the then commissioner of the Metropolitan police. Does she agree that finding out why we were kept in the dark, and, more importantly, why the Macpherson inquiry was kept in the dark, should be a focus of the investigation?

Z

"who may be forgiven for
believing that they have been punished twice"

That is a very bad choice of words, as it suggests that the Lawrence family deserved to be punsished and needed to be forgiven for the crimes committed against them.

Submitted by Zoom Pad

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his remarks. As he says, he established the Macpherson inquiry and was in office when it published its report. At the time, there were some very concerning issues regarding the way the murder was investigated, both originally and later on, and on the attitude, which the Macpherson inquiry looked into, of the Metropolitan police. He is right that we should be very concerned if information was deliberately withheld from those who should have been informed of it, which is why I asked Mark Ellison to look specifically at the issue of the information that was given to the Macpherson inquiry. The remit of Operation Herne, now under Chief Constable Creedon, includes looking at reporting mechanisms within the SDS, and at how information was disseminated.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Vice-Chair, Conservative 1922 Committee

Is the Home Secretary aware of the growing concern regarding the actions of the police in some instances and the inactions of the police in others? Can she comment on the reports at the weekend that the police have uncovered widespread use of private investigators to hack telephones not just by journalists, but by lawyers’ firms and other corporations? Can she say why it appears that the police thought it right to tell Lord Justice Leveson about that, but not pursue any action against those who committed criminal offences?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend will be well aware that decisions on whether the police investigate individuals and alleged offences are an operational matter for the police, and that it is for the police, with the Crown Prosecution Service, to decide whether those investigations lead to charges and prosecution. However, I recognise the degree of concern that he raises. Phone hacking by some aspects of the press has caused disquiet in this House for some time. Suggestions that it could have been more widespread are, of course, equally worrying.

Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee

I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement and join her in condemning the shocking revelations that were made in relation to the Lawrence family. The Select Committee on Home Affairs published its report into undercover police officers on 1 March. It expressed deep concern that Operation Herne had taken 20 months, cost £1.2 million and involved 23 officers, and yet nobody had been arrested. Chief Constable Creedon is a full-time serving chief constable. Frankly, with 50,000 documents to look through it will take years to resolve this matter. We need a timetable. What words of comfort does she have for the families whose dead children’s identities have been used by undercover agents? I agree with my hon. Friend Clive Efford that the time has come to look seriously at a public inquiry into the use of undercover agents.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I recognise the concern that the right hon. Gentleman and the Home Affairs Committee have raised about the timetable for Operation Herne, but I would make two comments in response. First, Chief Constable Mick Creedon expects to be able to respond on the issue of the use of dead children’s identities before the House rises for the summer recess. That is one part of the inquiry. Where possible, his intention is to report on issues as they arise, rather than waiting until the end of all the investigations, but obviously that will be done where appropriate and depending on what has been found and what he is able to report on. Secondly, it is also fair to say—the right hon. Gentleman is right about this—that the Metropolitan police had been conducting Operation Herne for some time before Chief Constable Creedon was brought in, but sometimes it is easier for somebody coming into an investigation from outside the home force being investigated to interview people and get the evidence required.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

I refer the House to my entry in the register.

Surely we need to be clear that the police’s role is to investigate crime, not to smear the victims of crime. Given that in this case it has taken a long time for these details to emerge, is the Home Secretary satisfied that if a junior police officer is given an instruction by a more senior colleague to do something that he or she thinks is clearly inappropriate, there is the appropriate mechanism for that junior officer to do something about it?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am absolutely clear that any junior officer asked to do something that they should not be being asked to do by a senior officer should be able to report that and ensure that appropriate action is taken. Any former officer in the special demonstration squad or anybody who has any information or allegations about the squad should come forward so that Operation Herne can have all the information available to it in the investigations that we all agree it must undertake.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Labour, Neath

Can the Home Secretary think of a more grotesquely perverted sense of police priorities than where, instead of hunting down and prosecuting those responsible for the vicious racist murder of a talented British youngster, they infiltrate an undercover agent into the campaign to secure justice? Will she assure the House that she will look personally at every undercover operation and check that nothing so dreadful is going on today?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is of course right that we have changed the arrangements in order to put in place a stronger procedure for the deployment of undercover officers and that the Office of Surveillance Commissioners has been brought in to consider cases where it is suggested that an undercover officer should be in place for more than 12 months. Of course, the House will be concerned about the allegations made over the operation of the SDS and the Lawrence family, but as to the suggestion that the Home Secretary should be responsible for deciding on undercover operations—

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Labour, Neath

I did not say that.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I might have misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, but I must say that operational independence is important, and we should always retain that.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Conservative, Croydon Central

Does the Home Secretary agree that it now appears that the Macpherson report, which was so controversial at the time, actually understated the scale of the problem, and that the response that Neville and Doreen Lawrence received when their son was brutally murdered fell so far short of what they had a right to expect that it is almost beyond belief? Given that the Metropolitan police cannot do their job unless they have the support of all London’s communities, is it not essential that we get to the bottom of what has happened as soon as possible and that anyone found guilty of wrongdoing feels the full weight of justice?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Neville and Doreen Lawrence had every right to expect that the police would do nothing less than hunt down those who murdered their son Stephen. Sadly, as we have seen, it was many years before anyone was brought to justice and there were issues with how the investigation was conducted and with the Metropolitan police, as was shown in the Macpherson report. He is right that if the police are to do their job, they need the confidence and support of the community, which is why it is imperative that where there is wrongdoing, it is identified, and that those who have committed wrongdoing, be it misconduct or criminal activity, are brought to the appropriate justice.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the Home Secretary for her statement to the House today. Will she tell us when she was first informed of these serious allegations about the undercover operation relating to the Lawrence family?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I was made aware that there was a possibility that this allegation was being made only towards the end of last week.

Photo of John Glen John Glen Conservative, Salisbury

In February, the Home Secretary announced to the House an expansion of the powers of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. A key issue that my constituents raise with me is the timeliness of the decisions by the IPCC. Is she confident that the commission is sufficiently resourced to give quick, timely turnarounds when serious allegations are made against the police?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

As part of the work that we are doing to expand the remit of the IPCC so that it can look into all serious allegations against police officers, we are discussing with the commission the extra resources that will need to be made available in order to ensure that it can do that. There is of course always a tension between the need for a timely response to an allegation and the need to ensure that the investigation has been conducted properly. We shall be discussing with the IPCC the level of resource that it needs to ensure that it can undertake the extra duties that we require of it.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Labour, Wythenshawe and Sale East

The Home Secretary referred in her statement to last year’s report from Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary, which made a number of recommendations about the authorisation arrangements for undercover operations. On several occasions, she has mentioned new legislation in relation to operations lasting more than 12 months, but does she have any measures in mind that would strengthen the arrangements for serious operations lasting less than 12 months?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Yes, we have been looking at this, and HMIC will be reporting on the extent to which there is better management of those deployments of officers. One of the issues that came up in the Mark Kennedy case, which initiated that HMIC report, related not only to the length of time an individual had been operating in a particular undercover operation but to the question whether there had been proper management of the deployment during the course of the operation. That is something that we and HMIC will be returning to.

Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham

Mick Creedon found that the use of dead children’s identities by undercover officers had been commonplace. Does the Home Secretary recognise that until such time as the parents of all children whose identities have been stolen in that way have been informed, any parent who has lost a child will, having grieved, be left to wonder what deception might have been carried out in their child’s name? How long will it be before this matter can be resolved and those parents can be given the reassurance that they need?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Chief Constable Creedon has indicated that he hopes to be able to respond on that issue before the House breaks for the summer recess. I cannot say what his response to the available information will be, but I hope that Members will welcome the fact that he has put a priority on that particular issue.

Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne East

The full implications of the Home Secretary’s statement are truly shocking, and I share the reservations about the remedies that have been expressed by those on the Labour Front Bench. One thing that the Home Secretary could do now is address the issue raised with her by the Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Mr Whittingdale, and confirm to the House that the report he referred to exists. Will she get a copy of it and place it in the House of Commons Library? Will she also give a copy to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, my right hon. Friend Keith Vaz, who should have been given it some years ago?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I will, of course, take seriously the references made today by my hon. Friend Mr Whittingdale, who chairs the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Conservative, Wyre and Preston North

Undercover work requires exceptional personnel and thorough controls. Selection and training are vital components to ensure that such operations as have been reported to us today do not happen again. Will my right hon. Friend look at training across the country to ensure that the training of undercover officers is of the highest standard and that the training of senior police officers ensures that they understand the very important need for control throughout an operation, whether it be a short-term or a long-term one?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is right to raise the importance not only of training for individual officers, but of the need to ensure that senior officers properly manage any deployment of undercover operatives. That is indeed one of the issues that, as I mentioned earlier, was raised in the HMIC report last year. HMIC will, of course, look at the implementation of its recommendations, and will be reporting this Thursday. Having set up the College of Policing, we now have a body that is responsible for ensuring that for police operations across the board, appropriate training is given and to the right and correct standards.

Photo of Katy Clark Katy Clark Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran

Another of the allegations that have been made is that an undercover police officer was one of the co-authors of the leaflet that led to what became known as the McLibel court case, and that another undercover police officer had a two-year relationship with one of the defendants in that case. Will the Home Secretary ensure that this is also thoroughly investigated?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I can assure the hon. Lady that the remit of Operation Herne in relation to the SDS goes very wide. It is not focused just on a limited number of cases; it looks at the whole operation of the SDS, including the reporting lines, as I indicated to Mr Straw, and a number of other matters. It has a wide-ranging remit.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Minister (Public Health)

These allegations are very shocking, but for those of us involved in campaigning around those issues at the time, they are not entirely surprising. It was era when, for instance, there was a death in police custody and negative information very quickly found its way into the public domain. I was the first Member of Parliament to raise this case on the Floor of the House and I was close to the Lawrence family at the time. I remember that the reason why Doreen was so angry, so upset and so determined was that she felt that the police were not even trying. Now, it seems clear that they not only were not trying, but were actively trying to denigrate and smear the family. Does the Home Secretary appreciate that this was a totemic case for a generation and that she owes it the Lawrence family, but also to the wider community, to get to the bottom of what happened, who knew and who authorised this operation?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I can assure the hon. Lady that I fully understand the seriousness of this case and the allegations made around it. The Operation Herne investigation will get to the bottom of this; it is the whole point of having that investigation, and also the Mark Ellison review to look at issues around the Macpherson inquiry and other matters. We will get to the bottom of this, find out what was happening and how the SDS was operating, how it was being tasked and so forth.

The hon. Lady is right to say that this is a case about which many people were concerned. As she says, she was the first Member of Parliament to raise it in this

House—and appropriately so. I can only join the shadow Home Secretary in paying tribute to Doreen Lawrence and the Lawrence family for the work they have done over the years not to take no for an answer and to carry on campaigning until they have seen at least a degree of justice in relation to Stephen’s murder. But as we have seen from these allegations, there is still more to be done.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I thank the Home Secretary for the statement she has given today. It is something beyond disgusting that, when many of us thought that Macpherson was a moving-on stage in the whole area of public policy in relation to the black community and to policing, we find out that whole elements of the Metropolitan police had not moved on at all, and indeed were busy smearing and obstructing justice in exactly the way they had beforehand. The Guardian reported at great length on Saturday the behaviour of two undercover police officers, Bob Lambert and John Dines. Bob Lambert is known to some of us in this House and is a very clever operator—there is no question about that. It is also clear that during the undercover operations used against the Lawrence family and in the McLibel case and a number of other cases, senior officers in Scotland Yard must have known who was doing what and known of the disreputable personal behaviour of such people, and must still know. I hope the inquiry is not restricted within the police force but, in the words of my hon. Friend Clive Efford, is open and public, and that heads roll at a high level in Scotland Yard for those who have covered up the truth and allowed smearing and injustice to go on for a very long time. Unless that inquiry gets to the bottom of these matters, there will be no credibility and no public confidence in policing.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The investigation is, of course, looking into allegations that have been made that attempts were made to smear the Lawrence family, is looking widely at the operation and tasking of the special demonstration squad, and is looking at how reporting was undertaken, which I assume will include the question of who was aware of what was being done. It is clear that a number of cases are already under the supervision of the IPCC because they relate to the conduct of officers, which it is appropriate for the IPCC to consider, but I am clear, as are those involved in the investigation, that they should follow the evidence, and we must ensure that those who are guilty of wrongdoing will be brought to justice.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

In view of the latest allegations of disgraceful conduct, as well as the names of dead children being used by police agents, and previous misconduct relating to Hillsborough—for which the Prime Minister has apologised—the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, was there not something rotten at the heart of policing for many years?

P

If you want to see what the police do to 84 year-old invalids, simply google: "The Abuse of Grandma B"

Submitted by Peter Haslegrave

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Gentleman has referred to a number of issues other than the operations of the special demonstration squad—of course, the House has debated the events that took place at Hillsborough, which are also being investigated by both former Chief Constable Jon Stoddart and the IPCC—and it is right that we get to the bottom of such matters. What is as important is that we ensure that lessons have been learned from how things were done in the past, and that changes have taken place. As I said in relation to the deployment of undercover operatives, we are clear that we need to continue to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place and that where those operatives are working—they do good work in many cases to keep the public safe—they do so according to ethical lines, and appropriately.

Photo of Andy Sawford Andy Sawford Labour, Corby

It seems that a host of different organisations is involved in looking at the allegations—Chief Constable Creedon, the IPCC, Mr Mark Ellison QC—but would it not be better to have one properly resourced investigation with clear timetables, preferably led by the IPCC?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Gentleman is correct to say that there are several strands to the work that is taking place; it is being done in that way for very good reasons. The investigation of Operation Herne, now led by Chief Constable Creedon, with some aspects supervised by the IPCC, is looking at a wide remit in the operation of the special demonstration squad, but also at whether any criminal activities took place, and whether any appropriate action must be taken in relation to such criminal activities or misconduct by police officers. The Mark Ellison review was set up to look at the information available, to see whether specific corruption was taking place around the investigation into Stephen Lawrence’s murder and whether all the information that should have been given to the Macpherson inquiry was given to it. In due course, there may be a need for investigations to come out of that review, but I suggest we wait until the review has completed before making that decision.