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(en) Britain, March issue of Freedom* - SECRET POLICE IN THE DOCK

Date Sun, 08 Apr 2012 22:08:30 +0300

An important high court case is currently being decided upon that will, whatever the outcome, have a massive impact on radicals and anarchists, especially those who play an active role in putting their politics into practice. ---- John Catt, a 87 years old anti-war and anti-militarist campaigner based in Brighton, has launched a landmark legal challenge against the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner over their controversial £9 million publicly funded secret ‘domestic extremist’ intelligence database on political activists. ---- The lawyer representing Catt told the judges he had come to court to fight for “a citizen’s right lawfully to manifest his political views without being labelled a domestic extremist subject to a special and apparently arbitrary form of state surveillance”.

The police acknowledged in court that they hold a secret dossier on Catt detailing his attendance at 66 different protests over a four-year period. The documents show police logged personal details, including that of his daughter, which are stored and provide ‘intelligence’ for other forces to use. It is also understood the data is sold to clients such as energy companies exploiting power plants and airline companies involved in the expansion of airports and flights, and other businesses that may be targeted by campaigns or activists.

The ‘domestic extremist’ database is run by the discredited National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), under the authorisation of ACPO and the Metropolitan Police command. It was this same unit which employed under-cover police spy, Mark Kennedy, to infiltrate environmental groups for several years. It also spent £3 million of public money on spy cameras targeting Muslims in Birmingham, which provoked such a public outcry that they had to be withdrawn.

ACPO is also currently being investigated internally for its role and the manner in which it employed and encouraged undercover police to infiltrate protest and anarchist groups.

Catt, who has been involved in the Smash EDO campaign to get the illegal arms manufacturers closed down, is challenging the legality of the database under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to private life), the Data Protection Act 1998 (breach of legislation on personal and sensitive personal data). If he wins his judicial review it will have far reaching consequences for the already beleaguered secret political police and their surveillance methods, and will open the doors for all those radicals who data is stored by ACPO to pursue a grievance against the private company and have their database destroyed.

In response the lawyer representing both ACPO and the Metropolitan Police told the court: “Where you engage in public activity [demonstrations] you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

The judges are expected to return their verdict sometime before the summer.

Image courtesy of Smash Edo website: http://smashedo.org.uk/
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