Lily Lewis delivers opening statement on behalf of Core Participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry

3 July 2024

Lily Lewis

The Undercover Policing Inquiry was set up in 2015 to get to the truth about undercover policing across England and Wales since 1968 and provide recommendations for the future. Tranche 2 of the Inquiry, which opened this week, will investigate the deployments of officers from the Special Demonstration Squad (‘SDS’), a unit within the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, between 1983 and 1992.

Lily Lewis delivered an opening statement on 3rd July 2024 on behalf of Core Participants Jane Hickman, Rebecca Johnson and Hilary Moore; three women who were involved in the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and were spied upon by undercover officers in the Tranche 2 period.  Watch Lily’s opening statement here, starting at 53:20.

Lily described the evidence that undercover surveillance of the Greenham women 1983 was instigated at the request of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and addressed the underlying political motivations for such targeting. She addressed the lack of any proper justification or consideration of the proportionality of these undercover operations and concluded:

“The evidence in T2 shows, as in T1, that the SDS was a secretive, cynical, political policing unit with no regard for the civil, political and democratic rights of those it spied upon….

“The decision to monitor the women we represent, who were so wholeheartedly devoted to peace and non-violence, represents a further example of policing that had exceeded its powers and gone far beyond anything reasonable in a democratic society.  But it goes further than that. It shows very clearly how the impulse to spy on such groups sprang from the perception that they were opposed to the politics of the government of the day.  

“It is made explicit in the disclosures to the Inquiry that the Greenham women came under intrusive surveillance because the Prime Minister wished to know more about them.  At no stage did any politician or police officer articulate the nature of any threat posed by their activities or even set any criteria by which that might have been judged.  On this basis anyone could be spied upon.  

“Our clients have each, in their respective fields, devoted their working lives and much of their free time to public service.  They are dismayed by the waste of resources and the thoughtlessness of the exercise carried out against them at considerable public expense.

“They hope, Sir, that your Inquiry leads to lasting changes which put in place the mechanisms of scrutiny and accountability that a genuine democracy requires.”

Lily is led by James Wood KC of Doughty Street Chambers and instructed by Mike Schwarz of Hodge Jones & Allen.

The full written opening statement on behalf of Jane Hickman, Rebecca Johnson and Hilary Moore can be read here and the hearing transcript will be published here.

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