Judicial review of Home Office refusal to extend Pitchford Inquiry looms closer

Judicial review of Home Office refusal to extend Pitchford Inquiry looms closer

An environmentalist seeking judicial review of the Home Office’s decision not to extend an inquiry into undercover policing to Scotland is close to reaching her fundraising target.

Tilly Gifford, 32, started a crowdfunding effort this month after being refused legal aid to have the decision not to extend Sir Christoper Pitchford’s north of the border re-examined.

So far, Ms Gifford has raised nearly £4,000 of the £5,000 required to get her case to court.

Should the judge believe her case has merit, another application can be made for legal aid.

Ms Gifford said: “I’m really relieved at the response. Going public about this kind of thing makes you feel quite exposed, but seeing the messages and the financial support shows that people from all walks of life are deeply concerned about the issue.

“There’s a general concern around democracy and what the police are doing. It’s not niche at all – we’re looking at trade unions, people who work in construction who have been blacklisted; campaigners who have been targeted. It’s so widespread.”

The inquiry is looking at undercover policing dating back to 1968 in England and Wales.

Jason Kirkpatrick, a campaigner who has secured judicial review in Northern Ireland, said: “I find it shocking that legal aid was denied , given that it was granted in my identical case in Northern Ireland.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “We continue to believe that a single inquiry across the UK would be the best option for a comprehensive and coherent investigation into these matters.

“As the UK government has refused our request for this, we have directed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to carry out an independent review of undercover policing in Scotland.

“The review will be essential in gathering facts about existing and historical undercover policing activities, over the period the Scottish Parliament has had responsibility in this area, and will inform any future decisions we make.”

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