THE CAMPAIGN FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT (CND) has been granted Core Participant status in the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI).
The judge-led inquiry into undercover policing, chaired by Sir John Mitting QC, is now set to examine evidence that the UK’s best-known peace organisation was targeted for infiltration by both Special Branch and the Special Demonstration Squad of the Metropolitan Police during the 1980s.
Files released under the 30-year rule indicate that Special Branch reported on a number of CND events, including a national demonstration in October 1983 which was attended by over 200,000 people.
Police spies under the cover names ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’ also infiltrated CND’s head office and an East London group, sending regular reports to Scotland Yard and MI5 on the organisation’s activities. The true identities of ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’ are still not publicly known. CND, which was founded in 1958, campaigns non-violently for unilateral nuclear disarmament on the part of the UK as well as for a global nuclear weapons ban.
CND has instructed The Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) to represent them at the inquiry. The PILC has issued an appeal to current and former members of CND to come forward with any information about the activities of ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’, the two undercover officers known to have targeted CND in the 1980s.
The UCPI was announced by the government in 2015 in response to independent reviews which found “appalling practices in undercover policing”. The inquiry is due to report its findings in full in 2023. It will hear evidence in relation to CND’s infiltration by undercover officers in early 2022.
Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “CND has a long record of democratic engagement, working in a peaceful and open way to question and challenge government policies that put citizens in the way of great harm. We have been part of the very fabric of British society for over six decades, working widely across civil society.
“It is shocking to discover that public resources were wasted on ‘infiltrating’ CND as if we were a risk to life and limb or a threat to the security of the realm. We hope that the Inquiry will provide us with an understanding of why this happened and help to ensure that our democratic rights to peaceful protest are assured.”
Paul Heron, solicitor at PILC, said: “The Special Demonstration Squad was set up in 1968 to monitor public disorder and criminality. It is therefore disturbing that officers were sent to spy on CND, a peace organisation. The extent to which the British state has actively sought to infiltrate and potentially destabilise peaceful and democratic protest movements should alarm the general public.’
“We are urgently looking to hear from any current or past CND members who may have information about the activities of ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’ so that this information can be brought before the Inquiry.”
* Current or past CND members who may have information about the activities of ‘John Kerry’ and ‘Timothy Spence’ are asked to contact the responsible solicitor Paul Heron [email protected]
* More information on the Undercover Policing Inquiry here.
* Source: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament