MORE than three years after the then Home Secretary Theresa May announced the government’s intention to establish the undercover policing inquiry, none of the 180 registered victims of state dirty tricks have yet been called to give evidence.
Not that we have no idea of what they might say. Many will testify how members of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad — since disbanded — infiltrated their protest organisations, spied on them, fed back information to smear them, incited and in at least one case committed acts of terrorism in order to discredit them.
The infiltration not only involved lying and deception in order to win and betray personal friendships. It even went so far as forming long-term, family and sexual relationships with women who then bore children — only to be deserted as their plain-clothed partners stole away like thieves in the night.
The organisations and individuals chosen for such treatment were and are perfectly legal campaigning bodies, whose activities were in almost all cases non-violent if not always lawful. They included environmental, anti-racist, anarchist and animal rights groups.
Furthermore, the remit of Sir John Mitting’s public inquiry extends to the collusion between police officers and private companies engaged in the vetting and victimisation of trade unionists, as well as the targeting of members of Parliament for surveillance and intelligence gathering.
Now, thanks to a report from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, we know the chief reason for the inquiry’s lack of progress. The Metropolitan Police has been doing its utmost to withhold valuable information and destroy vital evidence.
The powers that be will not be grief-stricken by such sabotage, although in his forthcoming statement on the future conduct of proceedings we can expect Mitting to express suitable anxiety and regret.
The fact is that his inquiry was only established in the first place because of public outrage over the vile, psychopathic behaviour of undercover police officers.
There was also widespread concern about the use of state power to disrupt and undermine perfectly legitimate organisations exercising their democratic rights in what claims to be a free society.
Of course, the matters referred to this inquiry are merely the scum on the surface of a vast, murky and putrid pool.
For the past century, the British state has conducted thousands of covert operations against individuals and organisations adjudged to threaten the capitalist and imperialist order.
While some of the dirty linen has been exposed or divulged for public display, much of it remains concealed in closed files where not destroyed altogether.
Throughout that time, those in the highest echelons of the state apparatus have perfected the ways in which they deflect, frustrate or discredit attempts to uncover the truth about power and wealth.
The repressive agencies of the British state have long worked fist in glove with big business and foreign intelligence services — from the US and apartheid South Africa to Israel and Australia — to combat the forces of democracy, labour and socialism.
The Mitting inquiry will punch another, very necessary hole in the wall of state secrecy only if it insists that the identities of all accused police officers are revealed, that they face their accusers in an open and public forum and that all relevant documents are secured and made available. Anything less will merely add to the scrap-heap of tame, censored and ineffectual charades that characterise British judicial inquiries.