Unions welcomes public inquiry but says it must investigate revelations by Peter Francis

BlacklistedThe public inquiry into undercover cops must look at how they spied on trade unions, unions have said.

Home Secretary Theresa May has told MPs that Lord Justice Pitchford would head an investigation into the police’s infiltration of political campaigns over more than 40 years.

Unions welcomed the news, but insisted the inquiry must stretch to those who spied on unions, including Peter Francis, a former undercover officer who has admitted spying on CWU, FBU, NUS, NUT, UCATT and UNISON.

Peter Francis wrote a statement that was read out at last week’s launch of Blacklisted by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain.

The statement said: “I am humbled as well as honoured to be offered to speak tonight at such an important book launch here at the prestigious House of Commons.

“However, I cannot appear here for a number of reasons, including and primarily, because of some very serious outstanding legal issues/difficulties with the Metropolitan Police, that continue to hang over me ever since I became a whistleblower and therefore a potential criminal in their eyes.

“I have received clear legal advice that me, even speaking here today, is likely to be considered a breach of the Official Secrets Act because I have not been granted permission from the Metropolitan Police or Home Secretary to speak to you.

“This remarkable, well-researched and must-read book clearly shows how police spying on political activists has destroyed lives and that I, most unfortunately and regrettable, played a part in this.

“The forthcoming Home Secretary’s public inquiry into undercover policing must include a forensic, independent (in other words, non-police) examination into all the blacklisting files compiled by the Consulting Association and then cross-reference them with corresponding Special Branch individual activists’ records to look at the areas of collusion.

“There will be multiple duplicates. Of that I have no doubt at all.

“In relation to Mark JENNER aka Mark CASSIDY, exposed last week in the media as being a UCATT member.

“An anonymous and unaccountable Scotland Yard spokesperson has obviously re-quoted their usual attempted ‘Get out of Jail Free card’ response by saying “We neither confirm nor deny the identity of any individual alleged to have been in a covert role. We are not prepared to confirm or deny the deployment of individuals on specific operations.”

“But tonight, here in this supposed home of UK democracy, please let me state very clearly that Mark JENNER was 100% one of my fellow undercover SDS Police Officers deployed alongside me in the 1990s.

“Jenner, who has now been very publicly exposed, should be forced to appear in person at the public inquiry to account for his spying on, amongst numerous other political protesters, the totally law-abiding construction union UCATT members whose only ‘crimes’ were being union members.

“I would also like take this opportunity to unreservedly apologise to all the union members I personally spied upon and reported back on whilst deployed undercover in the SDS.

“Including those not only engaged in working in the construction industry but also those in the National Union of Students (NUS), National Union of Teachers (NUT), Communications Workers Union (CWU), UNISON and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

“As everything I have previously stated, I am prepared to repeat all of this under oath at the public inquiry and should UCATT or any other union or the blacklisted campaigners wish me to, in any court cases they might bring against the relevant UK authorities.

Yours in solidarity/ Because at this precise moment in time, before the public inquiry, there is “No Justice there is Just US”.

Peter FRANCIS former SDS undercover Police Spy and now Police Whistleblower”.

GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “The decision by Peter Francis to blow the whistle on undercover police spying on five further unions is to be congratulated.  Until all the information about the undercover spying activities of the police is fully in the public domain, and the police held to account for their activities, trust cannot even begin to be restored.

“The latest revelations from Peter Francis highlight exactly why it is essential that Lord Justice Pitchford’s inquiry into undercover policing and the operation of the Metropolitan Police’s controversial Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), must also include blacklisting.”

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: “Once again the secret state is revealed. It seems trade union activists are still the enemy within.

“More transparency on such matters would perhaps have avoided some of many miscarriages of justice, including Hillsborough, and the Jimmy Saville cases. We need a full public inquiry to address the blacklisting scandal.”

* You can buy a copy of Blacklisted here.  

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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