Baroness Clark of Kilwinning tabled an Oral Question to ask HMG what assessment they have made of the progress of the Undercover Policing Inquiry into police surveillance, established in 2015.
I said: My Lords, the chair of the inquiry has ruled that the Special Branch registry files, which could give more information about the work of undercover officers, will not be part of the inquiry. That means that the truth will be very filtered, which makes it hard for core participants, who feel that they will not get justice. Would the Minister agree to a meeting with me and perhaps a member of each of the opposition parties to discuss the major flaws in the inquiry and why the core participants are so upset?
This week the Guardian reported that non-fatal strangulation is to carry a five year prison sentence as an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill. This news comes after Jenny and Natalie have both worked hard to propose and support improvements to the Bill.
The Domestic Abuse Bill was the one positive Bill in this awful Parliamentary session, but it still needed a few friendly amendments to make it a perfect Bill. Over 190 amendments were tabled at Committee Stage in the House of Lords, covering areas like police training, revenge porn, the links with drug abuse and the inclusion of statutory duties. Perhaps the key set of amendments was the creation of a specific crime of non-lethal strangulation in recognition of how this is employed in numerous relationships as a means of control.
During the Policing and Security APPG on 14th Dec 2020 I asked you what investigations were happening within the Met on the issue of the historic unlawful sexual relations between undercover police officers and their targets.
You told me that there were no ongoing investigations, yet the HoL Minister has made it clear in the debate on the CHIS Bill that such interactions are now and always have been unlawful. It seems remiss not to examine previous instructions to establish wrongdoing by senior officers.
Can you please therefore outline, in full, the Met’s position on whether these sexual relations were lawful. Could you also please explain when and why the Met decided to take no further action on the issue?
My amendment 75A would introduce a requirement for the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to refer potentially unlawful or improper conduct undertaken through a criminal conduct authorisation to the police for investigation.
The Government say that amendments such as these are not necessary, because of the complex legal web of proportionality and the Human Rights Act. That argument might carry more weight if the Government were not constantly fighting a culture war against human rights lawyers. However, one does not need to be a human rights lawyer to understand that rape, murder and torture are never justified, so these restrictions have to be in the Bill.
The big problem with this Bill is that the legal tests are too wishy-washy. They give the authorising bodies free rein. If we do not contract those processes in some way, there will be mistakes – there are bound to be. It will become very difficult to challenge even the most obviously wrong authorisations.
The CHIS (spycops) Bill is in the Lords at the moment. The Minister couldn’t tell me if criminals who are authorised as police spies will be able to keep the proceeds of any criminal activity during the period when they are immune from prosecution. At the moment criminal proceeds are often confiscated by the state. Will they be taxed instead? I have written asking again…