On 3 November, retired judge sir John Mitting asked the question we all want to know the answer to. On the second day of the public hearings into undercover police officers sent in to spy on political groups, Mitting, the head of the inquiry, asked the QC for the Metropolitan police whether the spying was continuing.
The QC avoided giving an answer.
Mitting said he would insist on an answer... but no such answer has yet emerged.
We now know that the Metropolitan police deployed at least 42 undercover officers to spy on more than 1,000 political groups since 1968.
Four families are suing the Met for using the names of their dead children without their knowledge or permission – to create fake driving licences and passports to hide the real identities of undercover police officers.
The Guardian reported on 7 January that the 42 undercover officers we currently know about had not only obtained the birth and death certificates of the children, they had also researched the families of the dead children. They visited the neighbourhoods where the children had lived and even their graves, so as to create fake identities based on the details of dead children.
The four families are suing the Met in relation to: a boy who died at birth; a five-year old killed in a plane crash; a severely disabled boy who died at six; and a teenager who died at sea.
The families are arguing that the police misused private information and intruded on their personal grief, causing them distress and damaging their mental health.
Over the years, the Met has paid ‘substantial’ but undisclosed sums to at least seven women who have taken legal action after being deceived into relationships with officers under their false identities.
Last October, Scotland Yard apologised and also paid ‘substantial’ but undisclosed compensation to the son of undercover cop Bob Lambert, who formed a long relationship with the man’s mother while undercover.
The son said in his lawsuit that he had suffered psychiatric damage after discovering, at the age of 26, that his father was not the committed left-wing activist he had been led to believe. Lambert had abandoned him and his mother when the child was two, claiming in 1988 that he was ‘wanted by the police’ and had to flee to Spain.