“While Ministers claim that the Bill simply formalises existing protocols for undercover police, it actually allows them to commit serious crimes with impunity – including murder, sexual assault & torture – & could effectively license them to act as agent provocateurs.”
By the Labour Assembly Against Austerity Team
The Government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill (or CHIS Bill) is going through the “ping pong” process of being amended by the House of Lords. While Ministers claim that the Bill simply formalises existing protocols for undercover police, it actually allows them to commit serious crimes with impunity – including murder, sexual assault and torture – and could effectively license them to act as agent provocateurs. No wonder, then, that it’s faced widespread opposition from trade unions, human rights lawyers, and campaign groups such as the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and the Spy Cops campaign.
Unfortunately, Labour’s frontbench has abstained on a number of amendments – notably those proposed by Baroness Shami Chakrabarti in the House of Lords – that uphold human rights and defend civil liberties. For that reason, we would encourage you to pass the motion from the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, below, at your branch or CLP to ensure that Labour maintains a strong commitment to defending human rights.
CLPD model motion – Stop the Spy Cops Bill
This CLP [/Party unit] welcomes the campaign against the ‘Spy Cops’ Bill (Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill) supported by 14 Trade Unions, Labour MPs including Jeremy Corbyn MP and a wide range of human rights campaign groups.
This CLP further welcomes the stand taken by Baroness Chakrabarti in promoting progressive amendments to the Bill in the House of Lords and regrets the abstention by other Labour peers on her amendment seeking to strike out immunity for undercover agents acting within authorised guidelines leading to the amendment’s defeat.
This CLP notes with concern that the Bill
- Allows state agents to commit crimes without limit to their gravity, including murder, torture, kidnap or sexual offences, and to remain undercover;
- Allows them to commit crimes in the vague pursuit of maintaining ‘economic well-being’ or ‘preventing disorder’ which could be interpreted to allow spying on legitimate trade union activity or justice campaigns;
- Gives no provision for innocent victims to receive compensation;
- Allows a wide-range of agencies like even the Food Standards Agency to spy on people and commit crimes;
- Does not protect human rights;
- Lacks prior judicial authorisation to commit a crime; and
- Pre-empts any recommendations from the Mitting Inquiry into previous intrusive state surveillance of lawful trade union activity and justice campaigns.
This CLP calls on the Labour Front Bench and PLP to support Lords’ amendments on the prevention of the use of under 18s in covert activity, and on the inclusion of a list of grave crimes that would not be committed, but ultimately to oppose the Bill in principle during its final Parliamentary stages. We oppose the decision of the party leadership not to support Baroness Chakrabarti’s amendments and we also oppose Keir Starmer’s call on Labour MPs to abstain on the bill.
This CLP resolves to send this motion to Sir Keir Starmer, the General Secretary and all other members of the NEC.