Northern Ireland: Amnesty welcomes justice minister call on undercover police inquiry

Amnesty International has welcomed Northern Ireland Justice Minister Claire Sugden’s call for an extension to the Pitchford Inquiry into controversial undercover police units working for Scotland Yard.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“Amnesty International welcomes Justice Minister Claire Sugden’s call for an investigation of these undercover operations in Northern Ireland.

“Amnesty International shares the concerns of many campaigns groups, activists and politicians across the UK that the Metropolitan Police has been involved in covert operations that have violated trust, privacy and intimacy.

“Clear evidence is emerging that this happened in Northern Ireland, so it is imperative that the current inquiry into undercover policing is now extended beyond just England and Wales to address this as a matter of urgency, with appropriate redress for the potential victims here.”

Prime Minister Theresa May, when Home Secretary, established an inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Pitchford to examine allegations about the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. However, its scope has been limited to England and Wales.

It has been confirmed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) that members of the units worked in Northern Ireland, without the knowledge of local police. In June, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the Northern Ireland Policing Board that the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the PSNI had been “completely blind to their activities” and their presence in Northern Ireland.

Allegations include that one of the intimate relationships based on deception was initiated and conducted while a Metropolitan Police officer was operating undercover within Northern Ireland. It has also been reported by the BBC that the Metropolitan Police has contacted the family of at least one Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ murder victim to say an undercover officer infiltrated a protest about the killing.

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