The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign has spoken out strongly against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill currently going through Parliament. Our concerns are that the content of the Bill has serious implications for trade unions and peaceful campaigners and the government is trying to push this Bill through at great speed with little time for scrutiny.
The speed means the government is not waiting for the findings of the Under Cover Police Inquiry (UCPI). The inquiry is looking at the behaviour of covert operatives in the police from 1968 onwards. By pushing through this Bill the voices of the victims of previous reprehensible behaviour by under cover police officers are yet again being ignored. Several Trade unions are also core participants in the UCPI. The findings of the UCPI could help the state to learn lessons from the past and should be shaping future legislation.
Whilst amendments from the Lords will be considered by MPs on Wednesday 27th January 2021, given the majority that the Tories have, it is likely that these will not be passed. We are of the view that whilst these amendments may be well intended, they cannot make the unacceptable acceptable.
There has been much concentration on the need for legislation to enable covert operatives to better infiltrate and stop terrorist and serious organised crime. However these new powers will also be able to be utilised in the interests of the “economic wellbeing of the UK”, and the definition of what “economic wellbeing” is remains unspecified.
There is legitimate concern, given previous actions by covert operatives, that future covert operatives could be deployed to not only interfere with lawful trade union activity, such as lawful industrial action, but also to use agent provocateurs to commit and incite criminal activity to do so with full immunity from prosecution.
There may have been times when the actions of covert operatives has been for the benefit of the country. However, the sheer scale and scope of the ongoing UCPI demonstrates that their actions have also done much harm.
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign remains firmly against this Bill and we encourage people to contact their MPs to express your concerns as well.
You can find out who your MP is here: