Packed public meeting debates ‘The Truth About Britain’s Political Secret Police’

Helen Steel, left, Max Watson, Merrick Badger, and Dave Smith

Left-right: Helen Steel, Max Watson, Merrick Badger, and Dave Smith. Photo (C) David Hardman

London Met University UNISON Branch were very proud to host a packed public meeting in Henry Thomas lecture Theatre on Wednesday 12th November, titled ‘‘The Truth About Britain’s Political Secret Police’.

Our AGM in March voted to support the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), calling for a full public inquiry into undercover policing. The three invited speakers from ‘COPS’, were people targeted by the spy units:

Helen Steel  has been a social justice activist in North London all her adult life. She was a defendant in the McLibel trial – the longest in English history. She later found out that her partner who lived with her for several years at the time of the case was an undercover police officer. She is one of the women in the Police Spies Out of Lives campaign and legal case.

Helen Steel is also an active member of UNISON and an elected member of the Local Government Service Group Executive.

Dave Smith was a construction worker who was a victim of an industry blacklist. A private company ran an illegal database of over 3,000 people known to raise health and safety issues, be involved in union activities or be politically active outside work. This illegal activity was built on information supplied by employers and police officers. He is now a lynchpin of the Blacklist Support Group.

Merrick Badger is an environmental and social justice activist. He was one of the group who became suspicious of their friend Mark Stone, confronting and exposing him as police officer Mark Kennedy in 2010. He has since helped to expose other police spies, researching and campaigning on the political policing issue.

The speakers talked about their own experience and the wider issues.

There was a lively debate, chaired by Branch Secretary, Max Watson, with plenty of questions and discussion. As well as the wider issues, staff also discussed the University’s public support for Dr Bob Lambert, MBE who teaches at London Met.