Scottish Government under pressure to order undercover policing probe
The Scottish Government has faced calls to use its powers to call an inquiry into undercover policing north of the Border after UK ministers ruled out such a probe
credit - parliament TV
The Scottish Government is under pressure to set up its own inquiry into the alleged activities of undercover police who targeted campaigners after UK ministers refused to extend an existing probe on the issue north of the Border.
Calls to expand the Pitchford Inquiry to Scotland were backed by representatives of all parties.
However, the UK’s policing minister Brandon Lewis said this was "not possible".
Scottish Labour now wants Holyrood to conduct its own probe into the conduct of undercover police officers.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay had issued a series of pleas to the then Home Secretary Theresa May, asking for the inquiry to be expanded to Scotland.
He won backing from MSPs, MPs and MEPs from Labour, the Greens, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.
However, in a letter to Findlay, Lewis, the minister for policing and the fire service said there was a risk that the inquiry could be "acting outside of its powers" as defined in its terms of reference.
He said May, now the Prime Minister, had "carefully considered" the request, but said the probe was already "extensive and complex", adding: "In the interests of learning lessons from past failures and improving public confidence, it is important that the inquiry can proceed swiftly and make recommendations as soon as possible."
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it was "extremely disappointed" that Pitchford would not be extended, and is now considering the next steps.
The Pitchford inquiry was set up in July last year after a series of revelations about officers spying on left-wing, environmental and animal rights activists.
Several undercover officers had sexual relationships with the women they were spying on and one even fathered a child while concealing his true identity.
The Metropolitan Police in November made an “unreserved apology” and agreed to compensate women who were deceived into having relationships by officers - behaviour the force now admits was “unacceptable” and “a violation of the women’s human rights”.
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