David Davis comments on news that undercover police spied on the family of Jean Charles de Menezes


Undercover police spied on the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, it has been claimed.

Metropolitan Police personnel were said to have gathered information on relatives of the Brazilian campaigning for justice after he was shot dead by officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber in July 2005.

Tonight reports claimed that several grieving families were subject to similar activities, prompting fresh criticism of Britain’s largest force.

A spokeswoman for the Jean Charles De Menezes Family Campaign said: “It is shameful that the Metropolitan police spied on the legitimate campaign activities of a grieving family who were simply trying to get the answers they deserved after their loved one was killed by police officers.

It begs the question – what exactly were the police spying for? We can only assume they were gathering information in an attempt to discredit the family’s campaign for justice in order to deflect accountability for their own failings.

Hearing the news just one day after the anniversary of the shooting exacerbates the family’s distress at a time when they are remembering Jean Charles and what he meant to them – a loving, caring, 27-year-old, shot down in the prime of his life.”

A Channel 4 News report last night claimed that 12 families have been contacted to say they appear in reports and notes.

Sukhdev Reel, who fought for answers about the death of her son Ricky Reel in 1997, told the station: “Rather than them helping us pick up the pieces trying to find out what happened to us they were spying on us.

I don’t understand it, I just feel I’ve been stripped of my dignity… I feel really angry.”

The allegations came before a major report is set to be published in which undercover squads are expected to come under fire for gathering and keeping information about black justice groups that “served no purpose in preventing crime”.

In the latest investigation into the conduct of Scotland Yard moles, due to be published today, Derbyshire chief constable Mick Creedon will say that the force’s highly secretive Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), Special Branch and senior management flouted rules about what details should be kept.

His officers have been to visit families who are mentioned in SDS files, but Mr Creedon has refused to identify them, saying that many want the issue to remain private.

Mr Creedon was called in to lead an inquiry into the SDS after a series of allegations were made about the unit, including that officers used the identities of dead children without permission and tricked women into serious sexual relationships.

It was also accused of having infiltrated campaign groups close to the family of murder victim Stephen Lawrence and gathering information to “smear” his relatives.

Responding to the latest allegations, Conservative former shadow home secretary David Davis said: “Yet again, we see the Metropolitan Police involved in taking actions which seem aimed to incriminate victims in order to protect the police themselves from embarrassment.

This is a wider problem than simply a single unit, and requires more root-and-branch reform than simply the abolition of that unit.

The public will expect action to be taken to ensure that the police recognise that their task is to serve the public, not to investigate and incriminate them.

I hope we will hear no more of the cry ‘If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’ from the Metropolitan Police in terms of its retention of information in future.”

Labour MP Diane Abbott told C4 News the claims emerging last night were “very sad, but not completely surprising”.

A Scotland Yard spokesman declined to comment beyond Mr Creedon’ s statement.