England: Undercover policing inquiry identifies first suspected miscarriages of justice
The inquiry into undercover policing operations in England and Wales has referred the first suspected miscarriages of justice identified through its investigations to a dedicated panel set up by the Home Office.
The case, involving 12 individuals, relates to an incident on 12 May 1972 when political activists attempted to stop the British Lions rugby team departing the Star and Garter Hotel in Richmond.
Fourteen activists, including the undercover officer HN 298, using the name Michael Scott, were subsequently arrested and charged with obstructing the highway and obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty.
Thirteen of the individuals – including HN 298, Christabel Gurney and Ernest Rodker – were convicted of both offences, one – Professor Jonathan Rosenhead – was convicted of highway obstruction only, and another was acquitted.
The inquiry said that, based on the evidence it had received to date, the undercover officer pleaded not guilty in his cover name of Michael Scott, and his true identity was not revealed to the prosecutor or the court.
As part of its terms of reference, the Undercover Policing Inquiry seeks to identify suspected miscarriages of justice that might have occurred due to an undercover policing operation or an operation not being disclosed when it should have been.
Suspected cases are referred to a miscarriages of justice panel comprising two senior members of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and two from the police, which decide whether further action is required, such as a referral to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
In a statement, the inquiry said further suspected miscarriages of justice may be identified as it progresses chronologically through its investigations into undercover policing operations in England and Wales from 1968 to the present.