The alarming story of how at least 10 Labour MPs were spied on by the police

26th March, 2015 7:43 am

Guardian MPs spying

There’s a deeply depressing, alarming but (unfortunately) not especially surprising story on the front page of the Guardian this morning:

“Police conducted spying operations on a string of Labour politicians during the 1990s, covertly monitoring them even after they had been elected to the House of Commons, a whistleblower has revealed.

Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer, said he read secret files on 10 MPs during his 11 years working for the Metropolitan police’s special branch. They include Labour’s current deputy leader, Harriet Harman, the former cabinet minister Peter Hain and the former home secretary Jack Straw.

Francis said he personally collected information on three MPs – Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and the late Bernie Grant – while he was deployed undercover infiltrating anti-racist groups. He also named Ken Livingstone, the late Tony Benn, Joan Ruddock and Dennis Skinner as having been subjected to special branch intelligence-gathering. The files on all 10 were held by Scotland Yard.

The whistleblower said special branch files were often “very extensive” and typically described the subject’s political beliefs, personal background such as parents, school and finances, and demonstrations they attended. Some contained “some personal and private matters”, Francis added.”

The full story of how at least 10 Labour MPs were spied on is well worth reading, and raises some serious questions about the way the police operate. As there appear to have been no Tory MPs under surveillance, it also raises some pretty serious questions about the potential politicisation of the police force too.

Peter Hain has called for an existing judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing examines the surveillance of MPs – and he’s right. Because we need to know how widespread this was, who knew about it – and who instigated it.

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  • treborc1

    I bet we do not have a socialist in labour which is about twelve to fourteen which have not been investigated, and have files on them especially if they are active within trade Unions or going over seas to talk to other socialist groups like in Russia.

    This was well known in the 1960/1970.s right up until labour became New labour, I’m sure a file was drawn up on Kinnock all his contacts and his association with trade Union officials, especially after the miners strike. Harold Wilson always though the police had been investigating him so are all those from the old so called hard left which were mainly socialist and then removed leaving labour as it is today,

    The issue is that only ten labour MP’s are now seen as being people who need to have files on them, not a surprise really those who are named tend to be seen as the last of the old socialist MP’s

    I bet most of the Union leaders have files as well, they sure as hell did in the 1970’s files the Tories could use if needed.

    Then we had people who it was claimed were part of the old PIE Group who wanted the age of consent lowered , we had at the protection of people like Cyril Smith and god knows how many others. Files would have been made on those people they may have never come to light except for Jim Saville dying and the news media wanting stories. Then we had the problems with the police and Hillsbrough the lies and the truth being hidden files were made on any one who demanded the truth and action any MP who backed that.

    Of course labour MP’s were investigated less need for it now.
    These days only ten people well that is no surprise really.

    These days of course the files would be more about hacking people phones, but I bet you £10 Tom Watson has a file on him after all his issues with the press and the media and that beloved hero of the right Murdock.

    This should not come as a surprise that the police MI5/6 have files on socialist.

  • bikerboy

    Labour MPs? The enemy within? Never!

    • CrunchieTime

      Only when they become Home Secretary. That’s when they become enemies of us all.

  • David Pickering

    The police have long forgotten, they our servants, not our masters.

    • MonkeyBot5000

      They were never our servants, they are our masters’ servants and they are there to keep us in line. If you’re robbed, they investigate because the Queen’s laws have been broken, not because they give a damn about your suffering.

  • CrunchieTime

    And what did Labour do when they were in power? Give the police every new power that they wanted and some they hadn’t even dreamed of. Labour have zero credibility in the subject of human rights or police accountability. They did their damdest to politicise the police to their own ends.

    Quite frankly, I’ve enjoyed watching the current Home Secretary taking them down a peg. I wish I could have said the same under Labour. But we are living in politically topsy turvy times.

    • Andy Harvey

      Well said. The New Labour ‘Enid – goodie goodie here come the police – Blyton’ tendency were a disgrace. Like you I have a lot of time for the way May has confronted their worst excesses. Shame it had to be a Tory Home Secretary to do this.

      • CrunchieTime

        I know. It’s depressing isn’t it? It goes against everything I thought was politically set in stone and completely dependable.

  • driver56

    Why is anybody surprised by these revelations? Back in the 70s files were kept on every trade union activist, New labour did nothing to curb their power in fact Tony and jack gave them anything they wanted and then some while at the same time curbing union powers through further legislation. It is time we claimed back our party values.

  • MonkeyBot5000

    …while he was deployed undercover infiltrating anti-racist groups

    Why no outrage about the ordinary members of the public who were under surveillance?

    They’ve no right to bitch about this when it was Labour who brought in RIPA – which became known as the snooper’s charter – and then wanted to catalogue every detail of our lives on a government database.

    If anything, we need MORE surveillance of MPs as every time we let them do something out of the public eye they start burying their snouts in the trough.

  • keithveness

    More worryingly, if you were a left wing M.P. and not spied upon, does that mean you were working for MI5, the Branch or whoever? Makes you think!

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