Scottish government calls for undercover police inquiry to be extended north of border

Michael Matheson

The Scottish government has called on the Home Office to extend its judge-led inquiry into undercover police activity to be extended to Scotland.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has written to the Home Office to ask whether the Pitchford Inquiry will examine “any activity in Scotland conducted by English and Welsh forces”.

Lord Justice Pitchford’s inquiry will look at police infiltration of campaign groups in England and Wales over the past four decades.

The Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a review to be undertaken following claims Scotland Yard spied on those who sought justice for murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

At present the inquiry does not deal with activity north of the border, with its remit being “to inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968”.

Among other things, the inquiry, divided into three “modules”, will look at “Establishing what has happened: the motivation for, and the scope of, undercover police activities in practice and their effect upon individuals in particular and the public in general.”

It will also “look at the role of and the contribution made by undercover policing towards the prevention and detection of crime.”

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.”

In November, seven women who found themselves in “abusive, deceitful and manipulative” with undercover officers received an apology and significant payouts from Scotland Yard.

The Metropolitan Police, meanwhile, said it had reached a settlement with the women regarding “totally unacceptable” behaviour of policemen in two units that have since been shut down.

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