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SpyCops Inquiry as History (pt1). It was 50 years ago today

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2020 by kmflett

SpyCops Inquiry as History (pt1). It was 50 years ago today

The public hearings into SpyCops, undercover political policing between 1968 and 2008, are into a second (virtual)week and will go on for a good while yet. The inquiry has been in progress since 2015 and has already amassed considerable documentation, which is gradually being posted on the inquiry website:

There are lots of issues with the way the inquiry is being run, information and particularly names that are redacted and, while there are a considerable number of reports and statements already posted, its clear that there are many more which remain secret (several police witnesses have made broad reference to this point).

Moreover one cant be certain as to whether at 50 years and more distance police witnesses cannot remember some detail or simply prefer to avoid mentioning things which might now reflect badly on them. The chair of the inquiry has very significantly restricted the ability of lawyers of some of the core participants to ask questions of police witnesses.

With all those caveats the proceedings of the inquiry are of some interest to historians and particularly radical and socialist historians.

It is a reflection in part of the longevity of some lives in the early twenty-first century. Imagine for example if it had been possible to hold an inquiry into the policing of the Chartist demonstration on Kennington Common on 10th April 1848, 50 years later, with many of the key figures giving evidence.

It didn’t and could not have happened. In that sense the SpyCops Inquiry is, whatever else it is, a fascinating historical episode.

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