Undercover policing by the Metropolitan police faces scrutiny from a judge-led inquiry, the home secretary has announced, in a major move revealing the true extent of ministers’ collapsed confidence in the police.
The Metropolitan police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) will face its biggest ever probe after the government openly questioned a number of convictions obtained through undercover police work.
It follows a review of the Metropolitan police’s handling of the murder which David Cameron has already called “profoundly shocking”.
A new offence of ‘police corruption’ is also set to be introduced after Ellison found officers were deployed into activist groups that sought to influence the Lawrence family.
!I cannot even imagine how a law-abiding citizen who is supposed to be protecting the community could try and find dirt on a grieving family,” Stephen’s father Neville Lawrence said.
Former undercover officer Peter Francis had alleged last year that he had been ordered to find information which could be used to discredit the Lawrence family.
Ellison said there was insufficient evidence to either confirm or reject his allegations.
But his review suggested a further inquiry could uncover the extent to which attempts were made to discredit the Lawrence family by using undercover officers to investigate them.
He also found that one of the undercover officers deployed into activist groups which had sought to influence the Lawrence family met with a senior Met officer seconded to the Lawrence review team.
Ellison concluded “the opening of this channel of communication completely improper”.
Responding to his report, May said: “I think the greatest possible scrutiny is now needed into what has taken place.
“So, given the gravity of what has now been uncovered, I have decided that a public inquiry led by a judge is necessary to investigate undercover policing and the operation of the SDS. Only a public inquiry will be able to get to the full truth.”
Francis told the Guardian newspaper: “When the full truth comes out about the police’s work and activities, across the UK, against political campaigns and protests since 1968, I think they will be very shocked.”
Ellison’s probe established one officer, Detective Sergeant John Davidson, was corrupt.
He found that allegations made against Davidson by a former police detective in 1998, together with other intelligence about the officer, were not revealed by Sir William Macpherson’s inquiry – but that this cover-up was the Met’s fault.
“Ellison finds this lack of disclosure was a significant failure by the Metropolitan police,” May told MPs.
Today’s report stated: “The inquiry was clearly most troubled about the possible motives behind the investigative deficiencies of DS Davidson.”
It found Davidson’s dealings with ‘James Grant’, an informant, were “highly unsatisfactory” and noted “a number of dealings with potential witnesses that resulted in little evidence being obtained, and which were conducted in an inappropriate manner”.
The Met’s record-keeping was “a cause of real concern”, the review added, noting “mass shredding” of key evidence had taken place in 2003. A hard drive containing relevant data was only discovered in 2013.
May told MPs: “The totality of what the report shows is deeply troubling.”
“In policing as in other areas, the problems of the past have a danger of infecting the present, and can lay traps for the future. Policing stands damaged today.
“Trust and confidence in the Metropolitan police, and policing more generally, is vital. A public inquiry, and the other work I have set out, are part of the process of repairing the damage.”
May has asked the National Crime Agency to determine how best to investigate outstanding lines of enquiry identified by Ellison.
The Home Office’s permanent secretary will investigate the extent to which the department was aware of the SDS’ undercover policing work in the 1990s.
Meanwhile Ellison will begin a fresh review investigating the extent to which any cases where convictions could have been made on the basis of undercover policing work need reconsidering.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper offered the opposition’s support to the public inquiry but called for the Independent Police Complaints Commission to be replaced with a stronger watchdog.
“Families should never have to wait 20 years to get to the truth,” she said.
“The institutional failure to get to the truth and to justice over so many years continues to cast a long shadow over policing and the criminal justice system.
“It is only through the determination of the Lawrence family that this new shocking information has been uncovered now.
“For the sake of the Lawrence family and for the sake of confidence in the vital and much valued work the police do, we need forensic pursuit of the truth about what went wrong as well as every sinew strained to get justice.”
daily alternative | alternative news – Undercover policing inquiry ordered after Stephen Lawrence review shocks ministers
Argentine and Brazilian Doctors Name Larvicide as Potential Cause of Microcephaly
A report from the Argentine doctors’ organisation, Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, challenges the theory that the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil is the cause of the increase in the birth defect microcephaly among newborns.
The increase in this birth defect, in which the baby is born with an abnormally small head and often has brain damage, was quickly linked to the Zika virus by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. However, according to the Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, the Ministry failed to recognise that in the area where most sick people live, a chemical larvicide that produces malformations in mosquitoes was introduced into the drinking water supply in 2014. This poison, Pyriproxyfen, is used in a State-controlled programme aimed at eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes.
The Physicians added that the Pyriproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese “strategic partner” of Monsanto. Pyriproxyfen is a growth inhibitor of mosquito larvae, which alters the development process from larva to pupa to adult, thus generating malformations in developing mosquitoes and killing or disabling them. It acts as an insect juvenile hormone or juvenoid, and has the effect of inhibiting the development of adult insect characteristics (for example, wings and mature external genitalia) and reproductive development. It is an endocrine disruptor and is teratogenic (causes birth defects), according to the Physicians.
The Physicians commented: “Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyriproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage.”
They also noted that Zika has traditionally been held to be a relatively benign disease that has never before been associated with birth defects, even in areas where it infects 75% of the population.
Since 2014, the insecticide Pyriproxyfen has been use to kill mosquitos in water tanks in Brazil
Larvicide the most likely culprit in birth defects
Pyriproxyfen is a relatively new introduction to the Brazilian environment; the microcephaly increase is a relatively new phenomenon. So the larvicide seems a plausible causative factor in microcephaly – far more so than GM mosquitoes, which some have blamed for the Zika epidemic and thus for the birth defects. There is no sound evidence to support the notion promoted by some sources that GM mosquitoes can cause Zika, which in turn can cause microcephaly. In fact, out of 404 confirmed microcephaly cases in Brazil, only 17 (4.2%) tested positive for the Zika virus.
Brazilian health experts agree Pyriproxyfen is chief suspect
The Argentine Physicians’ report, which also addresses the Dengue fever epidemic in Brazil, concurs with the findings of a separate report on the Zika outbreak by the Brazilian doctors’ and public health researchers’ organisation, Abrasco.
Abrasco also names Pyriproxyfen as a likely cause of the microcephaly. It condemns the strategy of chemical control of Zika-carrying mosquitoes, which it says is contaminating the environment as well as people and is not decreasing the numbers of mosquitoes. Abrasco suggests that this strategy is in fact driven by the commercial interests of the chemical industry, which it says is deeply integrated into the Latin American ministries of health, as well as the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organisation.
Abrasco names the British GM insect company Oxitec as part of the corporate lobby that is distorting the facts about Zika to suit its own profit-making agenda. Oxitec sells GM mosquitoes engineered for sterility and markets them as a disease-combatting product – a strategy condemned by the Argentine Physicians as “a total failure, except for the company supplying mosquitoes”.
The poor suffer most
Both the Brazilian and Argentine doctors’ and researchers’ associations agree that poverty is a key neglected factor in the Zika epidemic. Abrasco condemned the Brazilian government for its “deliberate concealment” of economic and social causes: “In Argentina and across America the poorest populations with the least access to sanitation and safe water suffer most from the outbreak.” The Argentine Physicians agreed, stating, “The basis of the progress of the disease lies in inequality and poverty.”
Abrasco added that the disease is closely linked to environmental degradation: floods caused by logging and the massive use of herbicides on (GM) herbicide-tolerant soy crops – in short, “the impacts of extractive industries”.
The notion that environmental degradation may a factor in the spread of Zika finds backing in the view of Dino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist. Martins said that “the explosion of mosquitoes in urban areas, which is driving the Zika crisis” is caused by “a lack of natural diversity that would otherwise keep mosquito populations under control, and the proliferation of waste and lack of disposal in some areas which provide artificial habitat for breeding mosquitoes”.
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