Fresh revelations of undercover policing infiltration of unions must not be glossed over
- Sunday 25 April 2021
Unite, the UK’s leading union, is demanding that the Mitting Inquiry into undercover policing does not gloss over the infiltration of unions by spycops.
The union issued its demand following the opening statements in the latest phase of the inquiry which is examining the period from 1973-82 when David Barr QC, the counsel to the inquiry, revealed for the first time that several undercover officers had been members of the TGWU (a predecessor union to Unite).
It has been revealed that the undercover police officer with the code name David Hughes infiltrated the TGWU during his deployment from 1971-76 and the undercover officer with the code name Barry Tompkins also infiltrated the TGWU during his deployment from 1979-83.
The revelations of trade union infiltration in the 1970’s is far earlier than previously admitted. Undercover officer Mark Jenner (code name Mark Cassidy) infiltrated construction union Ucatt (also now part of Unite), during the early 1990’s.
Disturbingly, in his opening statement, Barr said: “However, we have found no evidence that trade unions were the specific target of an SDS (Special Demonstration Squad) deployment.” This is despite him also revealing that various campaigns seeking justice for the Shrewsbury pickets, which by their nature were trade union dominated, were heavily infiltrated by undercover police officers.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett, said: “The latest revelation that undercover police officers infiltrated the TGWU is deeply disturbing and must not be glossed over.
“This revelation shows that undercover spycops were joining unions 20 years earlier than had previously been admitted.
“There must be full disclosure on how many Spycops infiltrated unions, who they were and which unions were affected.
“It is becoming increasingly obvious that infiltrating unions was often essential for the Spycops in order for them to spy on union campaigns such as those dedicated to achieving justice for the Shrewsbury pickets.
“After 47 years the Shrewsbury pickets have finally overturned their convictions and it is now crucial to understand if the initial attempts to secure justice for construction workers, who were the innocent victims of a state conspiracy against them, was undermined by covert police activity.
“This entire Mitting Inquiry is not just about exposing the misdeeds of the past, it is about ensuring these heinous actions are never repeated.
“This is especially relevant given the dangerous legislation being championed by this government, including the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Act and the Police Crime and Sentencing Bill.”
Notes to editors:
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.