- By Rochelle Igbindadolor
The division tasked with spying on alleged extremists has been ordered to track and monitor the political activities of Caroline Lucas and Sian Berry
According to the Guardian, a secretive police unit tasked with spying on alleged extremists intent on committing serious crimes has been monitoring leading members of the Green party.
Newly released documents show that the intelligence unit has been tracking the political activities of the MP Caroline Lucas and Sian Berry, the party’s candidate for London mayor.
Some of the monitoring took place as recently as last year and seemed to contradict a pledge from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, that the unit would only target serious criminals rather than peaceful protesters or those who speak out against police corruption and violence.
Extracts from the files show that the police have chronicled how the Green politicians had been speaking out about issues such as government cuts, the far right, police violence and corruption and the visit of the pope.
The police’s actions have been described as “chilling” and come only weeks after the police were accused of abusing their powers by irrationally pursuing people without evidence over sex abuse claims including what has been described by many as a modern day witch hunt against high profile figures.
The disclosures bring the total number of elected Green party politicians whose political movements are known to have been recorded in the files of the unit to four. The files give no indication that they were involved in any serious criminal activity.
The file on Lucas, which stretches over a period of eight years, records how she gave a speech at an anti-austerity demonstration last June in London. Lucas accused the government of conducting an “ideological war on welfare” at the rally, attended by thousands.
With anti-war, anti-austerity, anti-war-on-welfare, anti-government and anti-gentrification peaceful protests an almost daily occurrence in the British capital, many ordinary citizens have expressed fear that all forms of public disapproval of government actions are being treated as a serious crime.
Another entry records how Lucas attended a demonstration in February 2014 against disability cuts in Brighton where she has been an MP since 2010. Police accusingly noted she “spoke with some of the assembled” journalists.
Lucas is also logged as attending a demonstration in Brighton in April 2014 opposing an extreme-right march in the city.
Police have refused to comment on sources or methodology of collecting audio visual surveillance of the elected politicians and those around them.
The government domestic extremism unit, which operates across the country and is based within the London Met Police, has kept files on thousands of protesters, activists and political figures said that it “needed to identify those who use, or may potentially use, criminal methods to further their political aims.”
Peter Francis, a whistleblower who worked undercover for the Met, has alleged that the police have practiced this type of oppression for decades having kept secret files in the 1990s on 10 Labour MPs, including the now Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, after they had been elected to parliament.