On Monday February 5 2018, the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) held a preliminary hearing at the Royal Court of Justice, London.
The Inquiry was launched March 2014 to investigate how, over 50 years, undercover police officers embedded themselves within protest groups, posing as activists for years at a time under false identities. "Spycops" would monitor the activities of individuals and organizations, and be involved with protest actions, all the while feeding intelligence back to Scotland Yard.
Along the way, officers stole
the identities of dead children, committed perjury
, engaged in illegal activities, undermined activists' democratic rights, and deceived
a great many women into long-term relationships. In at least one case, a spycop - Bob Lambert - fathered a child
In all, over 1,000 activist groups were infiltrated by undercover officers, including environmental protest bodies (such as London Greenpeace), socialist parties, pacifist organizations, and over a dozen justice campaigns.
The February 5 hearing did not focus on these issues, but the anonymity of undercover officers instead - a septet of "spycops" had sought
to hide both their real and covert identities from public view.
If successful, hundreds of spycops could follow their lead, meaning thousands of individuals they spied on may never know the true extent to which UK authorities invaded and monitored their lives.