18 Dec 2020

From Monday 2 November to Thursday 19 November, the Undercover Policing Inquiry held its opening statement hearings and first evidence hearings. The hearings were virtual and conducted remotely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

All evidence and corresponding open ground schedules related to the hearings, which amounts to over 1,000 files, has now been published on the ‘Published evidence’ page of the Inquiry website.

In total, there were eight days of opening statement hearings and six days of evidence hearings.

Oral opening statements were delivered by legal representatives of over 25 different organisations, groups and individuals, as well as David Barr QC Counsel to the Inquiry. All statements were live-streamed on the Inquiry website. Recordings, transcripts, accompanying written statements and other associated documents can be found on the respective hearing day pages.

The evidence hearings focused on phase 1 of tranche 1. In this phase, the Inquiry heard from undercover officers and non-state witnesses about the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) – which was initially called the Special Operations Squad – between July 1968 and the end of 1972 approximately.

Eight witnesses gave oral evidence: one civilian witness – Tariq Ali – and seven former SDS undercover police officers. In addition, the written evidence from Ernest Tate – another civilian witness – was read out in full, along with summaries of evidence from nine further SDS undercover police officers. As a result of the national lockdown, HN 347, HN 45 and Dr Norman Temple did not give evidence in phase 1 of tranche 1 as originally scheduled; they will now give their oral evidence in phase 2 of tranche 1. The full list of officers included in phase 1 of tranche 1 can be found in the relevant press notice.

The evidence hearings were live-streamed to a bespoke screening venue in Central London, open to all core participants, their legal representatives and media representatives. Members of the public were not able to attend due to the national restrictions related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in place at the time.

However, the summaries of witness evidence read out by members of the Inquiry team were live-streamed on the Inquiry website, and a live transcript of the oral evidence was streamed to the Inquiry’s website with a 10-minute delay. Draft transcripts were typically published shortly after the morning session and again at the end of the day. All documents associated with each witness was published shortly before the witness began their oral evidence or the summary of their evidence was readout.

The arrangements for these hearings are not intended to be a template for future hearings. The Tranche 1 (Phase 2) evidence hearings are due to take place from 21 April to 14 May 2021. A directions hearing (PDF, 191 KB) to discuss the arrangements for the next set of evidence hearings is scheduled for 26 January 2021.