IPCC looks into destruction of ‘large number of documents’
UNDERCOVER coppers shredded documents in defiance of an official order, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) confirmed yesterday.
The policing watchdog said there was evidence to suggest the national domestic extremism and disorder intelligence unit, one of several secretive units known to have spied on left-wing activists, had destroyed “a large number of documents” in May 2014.
The IPCC also sensationally revealed that documents had even been destroyed after the government announced the inquiry into undercover policing the following year.
IPCC deputy chair Sarah Green said the watchdog would seek to determine “what the documentation was, why it was destroyed, whether electronic copies were kept and who may have ordered its destruction” as part of a continuing investigation.
“We are also examining what action the Metropolitan Police took once it was alerted by a member of staff to the allegations [of shredding] in December 2014,” she said.
“We are liaising with officials from the undercover policing inquiry and appreciate the serious concern participants in that inquiry will be feeling at this news.”
The IPCC is also investigating a separate allegation from Green peer Jenny Jones, who says the police destroyed evidence of her own surveillance.
The inquiry was announced in March 2015 following allegations of systemic spying on protest groups and abusive practices such as officers deceiving female activists into long-term relationships.
Under chairman Christopher Pitchford, it has held a series of preliminary hearings and could begin full evidence hearings later this year.
Police also spied on trade unionists and are thought to have supplied information to the Consulting Association’s database of blacklisted construction workers.
Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith, a core participant in the inquiry, told the Star: “It’s been two years since the Pitchford inquiry was set up and none of core participants’ lawyers have been provided with any legal documents whatsoever.
“All that’s happening is the police deliberately destroying evidence.
“We demand that Pitchford goes to Parliament and gets the authority to seize the documents himself. This has been a cover-up of epic proportions.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the inquiry said that it “took steps to gain additional assurances about document preservation and retention” after the allegations of shredding were brought to its attention and that it had “ensured that the Metropolitan Police have preserved back-ups of the information.”
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