Call for undercover policing inquiry to cover activity in Scotland


The Scottish Government has called for the inquiry into undercover policing to be extended north of the border.

Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has written to the Home Office asking it to confirm that the Pitchford Inquiry will look at "any activity in Scotland conducted by English and Welsh forces".

It follows allegations in some newspapers that some officers spied on activists during the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles, Perthshire.

The inquiry, chaired by Lord Justice Pitchford, is set to look into police infiltration of political and social justice groups in England and Wales over more than 40 years.

Home Secretary Theresa May ordered the review after claims that Scotland Yard had spied on campaigners fighting for justice for murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Its remit does not currently cover Scotland, being formally set out "to inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968".

Its purpose, stated on the inquiry website, includes investigating the contribution made by undercover policing towards the prevention and detection of crime and examining the motivation for, and the scope of, undercover police operations and their effect upon individuals and the public.

The Scottish Government has now written to a number of those taking part in the inquiry confirming its belief that Pitchford should look at any activity carried out in Scotland by undercover officers working for the Metropolitan Police, the Scotland on Sunday newspaper reported.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Cabinet Secretary for Justice has written to the Home Secretary asking her to confirm that the Pitchford Inquiry will consider any activity in Scotland conducted by English and Welsh forces."

Labour MSP Neil Findlay told the Sunday Herald: "This is real progress - just a few weeks ago Michael Matheson said he had 'no idea' whether undercover police officers had spied on trade union, political and environmental activists.

"Yet a few weeks later, campaigning by victims, myself and other MSPs has resulted in the Scottish Government now accepting there has to be an inquiry into what went on in Scotland."

Last month, seven women who were deceived into "abusive, deceitful and manipulative" relationships with undercover police officers won an apology and substantial payouts from Scotland Yard.

Following a four-year legal battle, the Metropolitan Police announced it had reached a settlement with the women over civil claims relating to the "totally unacceptable" behaviour of officers working for two now defunct units.