Corbyn slams 'spy cops' in peace group as 'disgraceful interference'

Jeremy Corbyn was elected Islington North MP in 1983. Picture: PA

Jeremy Corbyn was a member of CND when he was elected Islington North MP in the 1980s, when undercover police are believed to have been infiltrating London groups. - Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES

Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn has spoken out about undercover police officers believed to have been planted in a well-known peace organisation in the 1980s.

The judge-led Undercover Policing Inquiry is examining whether the Met police placed spies in Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) groups, with one officer believed to have been based in its Hackney branch. 

Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North, has been a "proud" member of CND since he was 15.

He serves as the group's vice-president having had various roles in the peace movement throughout his life. 

Police attend the CND march to keep the peace Picture: OWEN HINES

Police attend a CND march. - Credit: Owen Hines

Mr Corbyn told the Gazette: "The revelations that 'spy cops' were planted in the CND office and with local groups in the 1980s have exposed disgraceful interference in peaceful democratic activities from the state.

"The public has a right to know how much resources were used on such activities and why."

The MP said such interference demonstrates why citizens must oppose measures such as the "Spy Cops" Act, passed by parliament in March and otherwise known as the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Act.

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Critics of the bill have said the proposed legislation authorises undercover operatives to commit criminalised offences with impunity. 

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn 

Mr Corbyn says "spy cops" infiltrating the CND is an example of "disgraceful interference" in peaceful activities. - Credit: PA

Fourteen trade unions and 20 Labour MPs including Mr Corbyn and Hackney's Diane Abbott, along with campaigning organisations released a joint statement expressing concerns in October 2020. 

Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights also called out the bill, in a 2020 report, saying it could allow for "state sanctioned crimes such as rape, murder or torture being carried out under authorisation."

The report suggested that "the bill requires amendment to include a prohibition on the authorisation of serious criminal offences".

But the government says to do so "would place into the hands of criminals, terrorists and hostile states a means of testing CHIS".

A Home Office spokesperson said: “It is important that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have the right tools to keep us safe.

"The CHIS Act 2021 does not provide any new capabilities, and authorisations for agents to participate in criminal activity are subject to robust and independent oversight.”

Enhanced safeguards for authorisations for deployment now include a higher rank of authorising officer and additional independent oversight provided by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. 

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