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by Bethany Rielly
SIR KEIR STARMER is being urged to give evidence at the spycops inquiry to shed light on his potential role in miscarriages of justice cases against activists when he was head of public prosecutions.
A group of 18 environmental activists are demanding the Labour leader answer questions over whether he helped to conceal information about the role of undercover police in their and other campaigners’ wrongful convictions 10 years ago.
The activists said in a statement, published by the Guardian today, that they were seeking to “get to the truth about non-disclosure, prosecutions and miscarriages of justice that involved undercover police officers” and want Sir Keir and other figures to give evidence to achieve that.
The Undercover Policing inquiry was launched to investigate abuses by officers serving in secret police units that infiltrated more than 1,000 political groups over 50 years.
Mr Starmer became embroiled in the scandal while he was director of public prosecutions, when 20 activists were wrongly convicted in 2009 of plotting to occupy the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. A group of 114 people were arrested while planning the action.
A further six were prosecuted separately but their case collapsed after it emerged that prosecutors had concealed information that one of the lead protesters was undercover police officer Mark Kennedy. This led to the 20 who were convicted in the earlier trial having their convictions quashed.
Sir Keir ordered an inquiry into the case by retired judge Christopher Rose, who pinned the blame on a junior prosecutor.
Two other trials involving Mr Kennedy also collapsed due to the CPS withholding evidence that he was an undercover officer.
However Mr Starmer only ordered the inquiry into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar case.
The Labour leader told Channel 4 at the time that the problem was not “systemic,” but activists are now demanding answers as to whether Mr Starmer helped bury evidence of other miscarriages of justice involving undercover officers.
The power station case led to the unfurling of the spycops scandal, which resulted in the unmasking of dozens of other undercover officers who infiltrated progressive groups for years at a time.
The demands come after Sir Keir controversially ordered Labour MPs to abstain on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, which seeks to give undercover officers immunity from committing authorised crimes.
The activists, who were all part of the group arrested during the power plant action, said their demands “now take [on] an even greater urgency, following the provisions for spying on the public” in the Bill.
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