Undercover Policing Inquiry - Scotland.

by Tilly Gifford

Undercover Policing Inquiry - Scotland.

by Tilly Gifford
Tilly Gifford
Case Owner
My name is Tilly Gifford. I am a social justice campaigner who was spied upon by undercover police in Scotland.
on 29th April 2017
pledged of £10,000 stretch target from 219 pledges
Tilly Gifford
Case Owner
My name is Tilly Gifford. I am a social justice campaigner who was spied upon by undercover police in Scotland.

Latest: Sept. 16, 2017

Judicial Review granted permission!

Judicial Review granted permission:

On the 15th September 2017 the application for Judicial Review brought by the Public Interest Law Unit on behalf of Tilly Gifford was heard. 

Sitting in the Cou…

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The Home Office has failed to extend the Undercover Policing Inquiry into Scotland and the Scottish Government has failed to order its own public inquiry into #spycops. I am taking them to Court to make sure an Inquiry is held into Undercover Political Policing in Scotland. 

On 16th July 2015 Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced a public inquiry into undercover policing. This announcement followed revelations that police officers involved in spying on political campaigners had used the names of dead children to create their new identities. They had long term, intimate relationships with women, fathered children, and in some cases acted as agent provocateurs.

We know that these activities were also carried out in Scotland.

For example,  during the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005 the Metropolitan Police sent undercover police officers across the border.  
In addition, English undercover officers also had intimate relations with a number of women they targeted in Scotland, a repeated human rights violation made by the Metropolitan Police Service that they have publicly apologised for.
Extending the Pitchford Inquiry to Scotland

Despite dozens of activists having been verified as being spied upon in Scotland,[2] the public inquiry into these violations has been limited only to England and to Wales.[3] 

The Home Office failed to extend the Undercover Policing Inquiry into Scotland. The Scottish Government also failed to order its own public inquiry into these issues. As a result, I am taking them to Court to make sure an Inquiry is held.

Through the Pitchford inquiry, communities in Wales and England who have suffered extreme abuses of their Right to Private Life, have the chance to have light shed on such violations carried out by the State. As it stands now, people in Scotland have no such recourse to truth or accountability.

This court case is not just to highlight one person who was spied on, but to highlight the case of hundreds of people who deserve a public inquiry into this abuse of police power in Scotland also. We seek truth and justice.

Targeted as an Informant

In 2009 I was targeted to be an informant. I had been campaigning and working with communities for many years on environmental issues.

There was an attempt by police officers to recruit me through threats and coercion - they detained me, intimidated me and kept the keys to my home. I was asked to spy on behalf of the police. In an on-going “business arrangement”, I was asked to betray my friends, my beliefs and the communities in Scotland we were supporting. In the course of three meetings, police officers indicated that they would give me cash payments in exchange for information. I was lucky in that I was able to record these exchanges and expose the Police and their tactics in the media.  They can be heard on The Guardian website.[4] Mixed with these promises was a threat that if I did not co-operate I might later find myself in jail.

To date we don't know who these people were - they claimed to be from Strathclyde police - although that has since been denied. How long had they been following me? Which official decided that I should be targeted? And on what basis? I, and as yet unknown number of people like me, deserve answers. We deserve the same opportunities for truth, justice and resultant safeguards that is not allowed to happen again.

Through the undercover police stories emerging over the last few years, we've seen just the tip of the state policing which has been put in motion to undermine social movements across the UK. The scope and scale is not fully understood, but we do know that over 1000 campaign groups were spied on. Undercover political policing is targeting trade unionists, socialist parties, justice campaigners, anti-racist activists, and environmentalists.

At a later date I came into contact with Mark Kennedy who was working under the control of the National Police Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). Police officers from the Metropolitan Police operated in Scotland possibly without the -permission of the Scottish authorities. It is known that Mark Kennedy, who has played a central role in the undercover policing scandal related to Scotland, also violated human rights here. [5]

I got off lightly, I wasn't targeted for a sexual relationship, nor deep friendship, nor trusted relationship. However many people in England, Wales and Scotland were, and we demand to know the truth.

Legal Action – Scotland

On 24th October 2016 the Public Interest Law Unit[6] through solicitors in Scotland launched Judicial Review proceedings against the Home Office and the Scottish government. The proceedings filed in Edinburgh seek to challenge the following:

  1. the decision of the UK Government to refuse to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry into undercover policing to cover Scotland; and separately
  2. the decision of the Scottish Ministers to refuse to set up a Scottish Inquiry under and in terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 with terms of reference equivalent to those of the Inquiry but covering Scotland.

Why no Legal Aid?

Despite this being a strong case, with good facts, supported by clear domestic and human rights law, the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) have refused my legal aid application in March 2017.

I hope to initially raise £5,000 in order to take this case forward and to get the Court to grant permission for it to proceed to a full Judicial Review. Please support this case, it is important to me, but is just as important to hundreds of others.

[1] http://news.met.police.uk/news/claimants-in-civil-cases-receive-mps-apology-138574

[2] http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/tag/scotland/

[3] https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Terms-of-Reference.pdf

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/uk/audio/2009/apr/24/police-surveillance-intelligence-1 ; https://www.theguardian.com/uk/audio/2009/apr/24/police-surveillance-intelligence-2 ; and https://www.theguardian.com/uk/audio/2009/apr/24/police-surveillance-intelligence-3.


[6] The Public Interest Law Unit is a project that specialises in challenges to decision made by public bodies. It specialises in judicial review, human rights and public inquiries. It is currently representing core participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry (www.ucpi.org.uk) which has a remit to look at undercover policing in England & Wales.

[7] https://www.holyrood.com/articles/news/michael-matheson-orders-review-undercover-policing-scotland

[8] http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/inquiry-into-undercover-police-actions-in-northern-ireland-moves-step-closer-35430921.html)

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Update 2

Tilly Gifford

Sept. 16, 2017

Judicial Review granted permission!

Judicial Review granted permission:

On the 15th September 2017 the application for Judicial Review brought by the Public Interest Law Unit on behalf of Tilly Gifford was heard. 

Sitting in the Court of Session yesterday, Lord Arthurson allowed the case to go forward to a full judicial review.

As you are aware the UK government had refused to extend the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) north of the border. The Scottish government declined to establish an inquiry in Scotland but MSPs believe there is evidence that the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) and the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) monitored campaigners in Scotland and that there were Scottish officers in those units.

The granting of permission for a full judicial review of the UK and Scottish governments’ decisions is very welcome and a big victory our client Tilly Gifford and all campaigners who seek truth and justice around the issues of undercover policing.

At the hearing, and as expected, the UK Government argued that the time bar (three months in Scotland) ruled out the legal action. Their counsel argued that  the remit of the public inquiry into Undercover Policing had been announced in the summer of 2015 – meaning that the three month limit ran from there. Lord Arthurson did not dismiss this argument but said more evidence would have to be led before he could finally decide it.

The advocate on behalf of the Scottish Government took a different approach. They argued that given the government in Holyrood had conceded an internal police investigation, and had not ruled out an independent public inquiry  that the challenge as it related to them was academic. The judge did not accept this and stated there was a need for the issues to be explored judicially.

Lord Arthurson  concluded that a full hearing was required and therefore granted permission for the Judicial Review to proceed. 

Allowing the issues, at least some of the wider legal issues a full hearing will put further pressure - we hope - on the UK and Scottish governments to concede a public inquiry to Scotland.

Once again this would not have been possible without your support and donation - we are now hoping that the Scottish Legal Aid Board will see sense and grant legal aid for the case to proceed.




Update 1

Tilly Gifford

May 19, 2017

Press coverage

Thanks to all those who have supported our legal fund and challenge. It really is appreciated.

Outlined below is some of the coverage we have had from the press in Scotland:

"Protester claiming to be victim of undercover police abuse after they tried to recruit her as a spy refused legal aid to challenge government"


"Activist Raises fund for legal challenge into police spying"


Finally an appeal from Chris Marshal at 'The Scotsman': 

"Scotland needs undercover policing inquiry"


"Nor is this an issue affecting only a small number of environmentalists and political  activists.The scope of the Pitchford inquiry, which is expected to hear evidence of undercover policing during the 1984-5 miners’ strike and the poll tax riots, shows potentially how widespread the activity was and how many people it affected. Scotland cannot be left behind. Should the English inquiry not be extended north of the Border, then Scottish ministers must act to fill the void."

We kindly ask that you share these stories among your networks and on social media along with the link to the funding page.

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