Friends Meeting House, 21 Thorpe Road, Peterborough PE3 6AB, 2pm. Free entry.
Andy Coles has been covered at length on this blog. Despite the revelations of his sordid past as spycop Andy “Van” Davey, he retains an important reputation in Peterborough. He is Conservative councillor for Fletton and Woodston, governor of two academies and one school, and Chair of Families First Peterborough. He has other public roles too.
On Tuesday 5 September “Jessica”- the woman Coles groomed as a teenager and went on to sexually and emotionally abuse – met John Holditch, the leader of the Peterborough Council. He said Coles could not be suspended or dismissed because he has not been convicted of an offence. Even were to be thrown out of the Conservative Party, he could carry on as an independent.
It’s clear it will have to be the people of Peterborough who call time on Coles. They will rightly feel outraged that an elected official who claimed to be an upstanding member of their community was really a part of a secret and discredited unit which the Metropolitan Police itself admitted was guilty of human rights violations. Once they know the truth, Coles’ reputation will be in tatters and he will never be able to stand for public office again.
Peterborough has been shocked to find out that Councillor Andy Coles had been in a disgraced political secret police unit. But what exactly did he do? Did other officers behave like Coles? Why did these units exist? Who authorised them?
Leading ‘spycops’ researchers and campaigners are coming to Peterborough. They will deliver the facts about Coles’ undercover career, the history of these units, and the lasting impact on the people they targeted.
Since 1968, police officers have lived deep undercover as political activists, immersing themselves in their roles, often instigating and encouraging the type of action they were sent to undermine.
They covered a range of groups including peace campaigns, trade unions, environmentalists, animal rights protesters, anti-racists and even political parties. Ten Labour MPs are known to have had files, including Jeremy Corbyn and Jack Straw, as well as Green member of the House of Lords Baroness Jones.
A closely-guarded secret even among police, most officers would not have known of the existence of these units. In 2010, officer Mark Kennedy was exposed by suspicious activists, which led to a slew of shocking revelations culminating in the creation of a full-scale public inquiry.
Officers from the units:
– Deceived women activists into long-term intimate relationships, psychologically and sexually abusing them.
– Infiltrated grieving families seeking justice for loved ones, including those of Stephen Lawrence, Ricky Reel and Jean Charles de Menezes.
– Stole the identities of dead children for use while undercover.
– Orchestrated hundreds of miscarriages of justice by withholding evidence from court, giving false testimony and even being prosecuted themselves under their fake identities.
– Colluded with an illegal construction industry blacklist that kept thousands of people out of work for being ‘trouble makers’, simply because they wanted correct safety gear, union representation and other basic rights.
All of this information comes from the exposure of 23 officers – more than 100 are still completely unknown.
Earlier this year Andy Coles, Cambridgeshire’s Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner and a Peterborough City Councillor, was revealed to have been a member of the Special Demonstration Squad.
For four years, Coles was active among peace and animal rights groups where he gained a reputation for sexual aggression against women. Though 32 and married, he said he was 24 and single and groomed a 19 year old into a long-term relationship.
For the first time in Peterborough, hear from those who were targeted by the ‘spycops’ and have been working to expose the truth and get a measure of justice.
Undercover Research Group, academics and activists who have pieced together comprehensive profiles of the officers, will describe how they discovered the truth about Andy Coles.
Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, an alliance of those targeted, will explain the history and methods of the political undercover police.
Police Spies Out of Lives, a support group for women deceived into relationships by officers, will speak about the strategic abuse of women by these officers and the lasting personal impact.