Subversion, Sabotage and Spying: Political Policing and Racism in the UK

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On the weekend of 16th and 17th April 2016, a seminal conference took place in London, and, as the title suggests, it had two central themes to discuss and confront:

  • the nature of State racism – the bedrock for institutional, popular and sometimes violent racism – and policing policies that target or create notions of suspect communities and their damaging impact of British Society
  • the evolution and practice of political policing in UK:. Building on a hugely successful conference in 2015, participants at the conference explored the history and disastrous impact of the policing of social and justice movements, in light of the upcoming Undercover Policing Inquiry, and demanded the Inquiry adopts an open and rigorous approach.


“A challenging and thought provoking conference with a series of great speakers including the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Doreen Lawrence, Imran Khan and many more. The conference effectively demonstrated the huge gap between the reality of the racist surveillance and spying campaigns of recent years by the Police and secret state and how the British establishment likes to think of itself as a set of transparent and democratic institutions. I left feeling both shocked and appalled by the sheer dishonesty and racism of the British State but also exhilarated that so many   activists are starting to organise and form alliances to make their voices heard”. Andy Gregg, Director of Race On The Agenda (ROTA)

tmg_conference 22_ ”I had the privilege of speaking at a very important meting at the weekend, it raised very serious issues for us all” Alastair Morgan, brother of Daniel Morgan, a journalist murdered whist investigating police corruption

“A brilliant conference” Jane Deighton, solicitor



tmg_conference 55_“The conference was a huge and impressive success” Imran Khan, Human Rights solicitor

Alistair Morgan and Imran Khan joined a lineup of formidable and eminent speakers including Courtney Griffiths QC, Colin Prescod, Michael Mansfield QC, and Tony Bunyan; rising academic stars including Becky Clarke and Mark McGovern and those directly affected by racism and/or undercover policing such as Baroness Lawrence, Sukhdev Reel; Stafford Scott (Broadwater Farm Youth Association), Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign; Kate Wilson and Helen Steel (Police Spies Out Of Lives), Dave Smith (Blacklisted trade unionst), Baroness Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, from the Green Party and Suresh Grover from The Monitoring Group.

The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, also spoke, criticising the lack of democratic control, transparency and openness on policing operations. He recognised the need to continue campaigning and maintain pressure to ensure the Inquiry delivers answers.

An official statement was also delivered from Piers Doggart, the Solicitor to the Undercover Policing Inquiry, during the final session of the conference, a copy of which can be viewed on the Inquiry website. The setting was the first occasion in which UPI lawyers addressed and members of the public outside the court setting, and it proved to be riveting exchange between non-state core participants and lawyers representing the Lord Justice Pitchford, the chair of the Inquiry.

The Guardian highlights comments made by Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE, who criticised Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met police commissioner, saying he should be ashamed of himself for attempting to ensure that large parts of the ‘public inquiry’ into police spying be held private. Rob Evans’ full report with more detailed comments from Baroness Lawrence can be read on The Guardian website here.

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Newsweek reported on calls from the conference that the Inquiry be held in public and the names of officers disclosed to ensure transparency.

The Morning Star also reports on newly discovered documents showing that undercover police officers infiltrated campaign groups protesting against deaths at work. It is also reported that undercover officers were attempting to gain information on campaigns against police brutality.

The conference’s success owes much to the extensive experience, unique position and the driving force of The Monitoring Group. The Monitoring Group is not only a core participant in the Inquiry but, given its prominent campaigns, both historic and current, it has become a permanent feature within the Black & Asian communities and their struggle for civil rights and state accountability and occupies a unique space in UK’s social justice landscape.

Below you can view the videos of all the speakers. This conference was co-organised by The Monitoring Group and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, and was supported by Imran Khan and Partners and Tottenham Rights. It was hosted by London South Bank University, School of Law & Social Sciences.

We would like to thank all those who contributed and attended, and those volunteers and staff who gave up their valuable time for this event.

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The videos follow the agenda for the two days. To view a particular video please click the name of the speaker and you will be taken to the video. If you to wish to view all of the videos in a preview format please go to this page HERE.  

Day 1: Saturday 16 April 2016: Policing of Black, Asian & suspect communities – spying, lying, dying and racism

Session 1:  Political Policing: Setting the context

Tony Bunyan (StateWatch)

Professor Mark McGovern

Colin Prescod (Institute of Race Relations)  

Session 2 :  Policing of Suspect Communities

John McDonnell MP (Shadaw Chancellor)

Gareth Peirce (Birnberg Peirce)

Becky Clarke (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Mubeen Hussain (Muslim Youth Forum)

Session 3:  From suspect communities to targeting of campaigns against injustice

Suresh Grover (The Monitoring Group)

Vakass Hussain (Support the Rotherham 12)

Abrar Javid (Support the Rotherham 12)

Session 4:  Why the Undercover Police Inquiry is important?

Baroness Doreen Lawrence

Imran Khan (Imran Khan & Partners)

Kate Wilson (Police Spies Out of Lives) 

Stafford Scott (Tottenham Rights/The Monitoring Group)  

Day 2: Sunday 17 April 2016: Spycops and the UPI – is accountability possible or a pipedream?

Session 5: History of the Special Demonstration Squad and Spycops, Herne and Ellison

Rob Evans (Journalist, The Guardian)           

Session 6: The Spied Upon Speak out

Baroness Jenny Jones (The Green Party)

Sukhdev Reel (Mother of Ricky Reel)

Dave Smith, (Blacklisted)

Helen Steel (Police Spies Out of Lives)

Janet Alder, (sister of Christopher Alder)

Alastair Morgan, (brother of Daniel Morgan)           

Session 7: Challenges facing the Undercover Policing Inquiry

Michael Mansfield QC

Courtenay Griffiths QC

A statement from Peter Francis (Ex-SDS officer turned Whistleblower)

Session 8: An official update from the Undercover Policing Inquiry

Piers Doggart and Stephen Brown, members of the UPI legal team          

Question and Answer session




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