Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill – An attack on Human Rights in Britain
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) was heartened on Monday 5th October by the Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds statement in parliament confirming the Labour Party’s committment to a full independent public inquiry into the events at the Orgreave coking plant on 18th June 1984. His comments made during the parliamentary debate on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill added to the campaigns optimism when he stated that “It will only be by shining a penetrating light on the events of that day (18/6/84) that we can have justice and I commend those that have been campaigning on this for so long”.
This support along with the work done by campaigners, Neil Findlay MSP and the National Union of Mineworkers and reported recommendations from the Scottish Independent Review of Policing during the 1984/5’miners’ strike, that hundreds of Scottish miners, who received criminal convictions during the strike should be pardoned, is extremely welcomed. The Early Day Motion initiated last week by Ian Lavery MP proposing setting up an independent review into policing in the UK also gives optimism to the many people who have been campaigning for justice for mineworkers since the strike.
The OTJC was therefore very disappointed to learn over the weekend that the Labour Party leadership had whipped their MPs to abstain in the vote on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill rather than vote against it. This dangerous piece of legislation would give the police and other intelligence agents who commit crimes while undercover, protection against criminal prosecution.
Kate Flannery, OTJC Secretary said: “If this Bill becomes an Act it would effectively protect police officers, MI5 agents and civilian informants from future blame and could ultimately give informants and agents a “licence to kill”. This is a further serious threat to the civil liberties of people in Britain, extending powers to put citizens under surveillance, particularly those who are involved in campaigns against actions by the British state”
John Dunn, miner assaulted by the police and wrongfully arrested during the 84/5 strike said: “Covert operations were launched in the 1960s sending undercover police into campaigning groups for years. It has been terrifying to learn that many of those police even had sexual relationships with campaigners under their fake identities and even manufactured information about the people they spied on. In addition to the sexual and psychological abuse of campaigners, this resulted in the wrongful prosecution or conviction of at least fifty campaign activists”
Chris Peace, OTJC activist said: “We have yet to see justice for the victims of clandestine police activities in recent years. The intention of the Conservative government is to extend powers and impunity for undercover agents who commit crimes against us. This kind of authoritarian legislation will result in many innocent people, including anti-fascists, trade unionists and campaigners for justice becoming legal victims of state violence”