Spy cops watching British Green Party figures despite Met Police pledge

Britain's Green Party MP Caroline Lucas  © Stefan Wermuth
Green Party figures, including elected MP Caroline Lucas, are being watched by an anti-extremism spy unit, despite a 2013 pledge by the Met Police only to target actual criminals.

A document obtained by the Guardian indicates that figures like Lucas and mayoral candidate Sian Berry were spied upon and their activities record as recently as 2015.

This all appears to contradict a pledge by Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe that the police would use its resources to watch criminals, not activists.

Section of the files show that Green politicians were observed while speaking about topics as unextreme as government cuts, nationalist sects, the papal visit and police brutality.

The file on Lucas, a democratically-elected member of Parliament, span eight months and include records of her speaking at a London anti-austerity rally in June 2015 and opposing cuts to disabled welfare in her own constituency area of Brighton.

The File on Berry record her giving a mayoral speech and signing an open letter on the papal visit in 2015.

Lucas told the Guardian Wednesday that spying on politicians was “a clear waste of the public’s money” and sent “a chilling message to those who want to engage in peaceful political demonstrations.

Berry, who is currently campaigning against Tory Zac Goldmsith and Labour’s Sadiq Khan, told the paper: “As mayor I would want the Met police focused on catching serious criminals and terrorists, not wasting time and our money snooping on Green politicians and campaigners who they think might want to change the status quo.

The police’s ‘domestic extremist’ unit operates nationwide and claims that it need to keep files on people to figure out who is likely to carry out criminal acts.

In 2013, after a scandal about undercover cops forming relationships with activists – in some cases leaving them pregnant and abandoned – Hogan-Howe said police spying programs would be reset to focus on “serious criminal activity motivated by a political or ideological viewpoint.

He said at the time that that “low levels of civil disobedience such as civil trespass or minor obstruction” would generally be excluded from observation.

In 2015, it emerged that the police had for years spied on left-wing Labour MPs including current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Development Minister Dianne Abbot.