Public meeting to discuss why Met was spying on Hackney activists

Mark Jenner with the Colin Roach Centre banner

Mark Jenner with the Colin Roach Centre banner - Credit: Archant

The founder of the centre that helped expose police corruption in Hackney has urged Lord Pitchford to “stand up to” the Met, which has applied for much of his public inquiry into undercover cops to be held in secret.

Graham Smith, photo Ant Clausen

Graham Smith, photo Ant Clausen - Credit: Archant

Graham Smith, co-founder and Secretary of the Hackney Community Defence Association (HCDA) – which investigated claims of police brutality in the 1980s and 1990s and exposed 77 police officers at Stoke Newington who were dealing cocaine – believes the Met needs to answer whether there was a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice when they infiltrated his group.

But in a detailed legal submission to the Pitchford Inquiry lawyers for the Met have argued the move to hear evidence in private is necessary to protect the identity of the officers who infiltrated hundreds of political groups since 1968, and the covert nature of their tactics.

The HCDA operated from the Colin Roach Centre in Bradbury Street, Dalston. It was found to have been targeted by Mark Jenner, below, after a woman he met there, with whom he had a five-year relationship, found out he was an undercover police officer with a wife and kids.

This month the Gazette spoke with “Alison”, one of seven women to whom the Met apologised “unreservedly” over the “abusive and manipulative” long-term relationships with undercover officers, and paid substantial compensation.

Dr Smith, who is now Director of Social Responsibility at Manchester School of Law and advises the government and European Commission on investigations involving the police, said: “The decision by senior officers to send undercover officers into lawful organisations has been a bit lost in the sex scandal.

“In terms of the HCDA, the real issue is: what on earth were the police doing sending in an undercover police officer into an organisation that was entirely lawful, where the Met were themselves defendants in legal proceedings brought by members of that organisation?

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“They will have to answer the charge there was a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in seeking inside information on what claimants were actually doing.”

Dr Smith, who believes he was under police surveillance when he was campaigning for Trevor Monerville, who was injured in police custody, said: “We don’t know what Mark Jenner got from the Colin Roach Centre, and unless his log of findings is disclosed we will never know what he found out.

“The Met is trying to make sure it’s an ineffective inquiry in their application to not have public hearings.”

Dr Smith, who received abusive phone calls and hate mail at the time, continued: “If the police are not willing to disclose 20 years on exactly what they were doing then and what they found out, what sort of trust can the public have in the police now, that the police are not doing the same thing to people currently campaigning for justice?”

A public meeting takes place at Chat’s Palace in Brooksby’s Walk, Homerton, tomorrow night at 7.30pm.

Speakers include Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Dr Smith.