The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has demanded that the Metropolitan Police Service hand over all of its files concerning the surveillance of union members and officials, after it was revealed that police have destroyed records relating to spying on politicians and campaigners.
The call comes in the wake of the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s investigation into allegations that documents kept by the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit were shredded in May 2014 – just two months after the then home secretary Theresa May set up the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, was one of the activists spied upon by police. He said: “We know that FBU officials and members have been spied upon by police over many years. We are participating in the Pitchford inquiry, which has promised to release a whole warehouse of documents related to spying on trade unionists and campaigners.
“For a year and a half the police have stalled the inquiry. Now we hear allegations they have destroyed vital evidence that could substantiate our fears about police spying and interference within trade unions. If they refuse to hand over the files to the inquiry, it is proof that a cover-up is underway.
“The FBU wants full disclosure of all documents related to spying on our members. We want the Pitchford inquiry to get its act together, get hold of the relevant documents and give our people the resources to go through them to find out what has happened.”
A joint statement from the generals secretary's of several trade unions was released Monday, 13 February.
Joint Union Statement:
We the undersigned are outraged at the news that despite court orders to the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service has destroyed evidence required for use in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry. State spying on trade unions and political campaigns is a human rights scandal that affects millions of British citizens.
Despite continued reassurances, the Pitchford Inquiry has failed to secure the documents that will be central to the investigation. Trade union core participants are beginning to question whether the Inquiry team has the ability to stop the police from obstructing the pursuit of justice. Lord Justice Pitchford needs to act now to restore our faith.
We are calling on Lord Justice Pitchford to announce an urgent Inquiry hearing to examine the destruction of evidence by the police. The Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe should be forced to give evidence under oath to explain why, how and under whose authority documents have been destroyed.
Lord Justice Pitchford needs to take immediate measures to secure all documentation held by the police, in order to prevent future destruction and avoid the entire inquiry descending into a hugely expensive cover-up on the part of the Metropolitan Police.
Gail Cartmail (Acting General Secretary) and Len McCluskey UNITE the Union, incorporating UCATT
Matt Wrack (General Secretary) Fire Brigades Union
Chris Kitchen (General Secretary) National Union of Mineworkers
Mick Cash (General Secretary) Rail Maritime and Transport union
Michelle Stanistreet (General Secretary) National Union of Journalists
Dave Smith and Roy Bentham (joint secretaries) Blacklist Support Group