Step aside, sir – undercover police enquiry chair faces calls to stand down
Sir John Mitting has faced calls to be removed as chair of the public inquiry into undercover policing.
In a packed meeting in Parliament of core participants on Tuesday, other activists and lawyers for those targeted by undercover police voted unanimously for him to stand down following deep unease by those spied on by police about the ‘Minded To’ Notes published by him on the UCPI website.
They are concerned that under Mitting – one of the hand-picked members of the senior legal profession to sit in the secret court the Investigatory Powers Tribunal – the inquiry appears to be heading in the direction of a secret inquiry rather than an open transparent and public inquiry.
Neville Lawrence told the meeting he and many other victims of undercover police spying had “lost faith” in the inquiry given the new direction taken by Mitting.
Imran Khan, lawyer for Doreen Lawrence and the Blacklist Support Group told the meeting that there had been a ‘paradigm shift’ since Mitting took over from the former head of the inquiry Lord Justice Pitchford who was forced to stand down due to ill health.
The public inquiry was announced 3 years ago by the then Home Secretary Theresa May but to this day not a single witness has given evidence and not a single document disclosed to the lawyers of the victims. Suresh Grover from the Monitoring Group told the meeting that “the police have deliberated obstructed justice”.
Helen Steel argued that his credentials as a member of the men-only Garrick Club meant he was the wrong person to rule on institutional sexism of the undercover police. A new ‘timeline’ on the inquiry website fails to mention the public apology made by the Metropolitan Police to the women activists deceived into long term relationships by the police spies.
Stafford Scott, from Tottenham Rights told the meeting that “families of murder victims are being denied access to files kept on them” due to ongoing institutional racism by the Met Police.
Dave Smith, blacklisted union activist said that victims had “always been sceptical whether the British state would truly expose the truth about the UK’s secret political police units”.
The meeting was chaired by Naz Shah MP who said she would raise the concerns on the Home Affairs Select Committee and with the Home Secretary.
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