Sunday, October 30, 2011

two cover ups for the price of one

To briefly recap: Bernard Hogan-Howe's report said Mark Kennedy was a one-off rogue and the police would be fine watching themselves. At the last minute the report was pulped when it was revealed that one officer, Jim Boyling, had been prosecuted under his false identity, even testifying and being present in meetings between activists and their lawyers.

Then it came out that Boyling was not the only one. When his boss, Bob Lambert, had been an undercover officer he too had been prosecuted.

Hogan-Howe either hadn't looked into his subject at all and had simply made some stuff up, or else he knew full well that Kennedy's actions were sanctioned, and wrote a whitewash report of deliberate lies. Given Hogan-Howe's position as chief of the Metropolitan Police, the force that runs the undercover infiltrator officers, I think we can guess which answer is correct.

You'd think being so glaringly shown up would have taught them a little humility, perhaps even inclined them towards a sense of honesty and justice. Think again. Only a week after the shocking revelations that forced the climbdown, Hogan-Howe came out fighting, telling the Metropolitan Police Authority on Thursday that being prosecuted and giving evidence under oath using a false identity, lying about your involvement in the incident before the court, is absolutely fine.

There's no law that says it can't happen. The fact that someone has concealed their identity doesn't mean the crime didn't happen. In absolute terms, the criminal law does not make a crime of it. If you are dealing with more serious crimes, we have to seek all options.

The 'more serious crime' Jim Boyling was prosecuted for was a brief peaceful occupation of an office. In Lambert's case it was leafletting outside a shop.

With even more gall, considering last week's proof that his inquiry was a sham, Hogan-Howe has launched two more internal inquiries. One will look into how many times undercover police officers have been prosecuted under their fake identities. Another, headed by the Met's deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons, will look into 'a range of issues' about undercover policing.

In other news, Alex Ferguson has decided to counter Manchester United's recent dip in form by appointing himself referee for every remaining game this season. He has decreed that matches will be played without spectators or any officials from the opposition's team being present, and no cameras will be allowed.

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