Hearings

Evidence & hearings

Find the hearings schedule and all evidence published by the Undercover Policing Inquiry, including witness statements and transcripts of hearings.

Information on preliminary issues which the Inquiry has resolved to enable its substantive investigations to progress can also be found here.

For information on core participants and specific undercover police officers, including anonymity applications, please see the ‘Who is involved’ section.

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Preliminary issues
Issues lists
Evidence
Hearings schedule
Venues
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Preliminary issues

In order for the Inquiry to get to their truth of undercover policing and provide recommendations for the future, it has been necessary to resolve certain preliminary issues.

In coming to his conclusions, the Chairman sought and considered input from multiple stakeholders relevant to the issue in hand.

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It is critical that documents held by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) that are potentially relevant to the Inquiry are adequately preserved. The Inquiry is working to establish where the MPS holds these documents and understand the steps taken to identify and retain them. The Inquiry has requested and received witness statements as evidence of these steps. Several of these statements, along with their exhibits, can be found here.

On 30 August 2018, the Inquiry invited all core participants and interested parties to share their views on how the evidence hearings should be conducted. The consultation asked five specific questions:

  • how and when evidence should be posted on the Inquiry website
  • how best to facilitate witnesses giving their evidence
  • the level of support that witnesses in the Inquiry would wish to receive when giving evidence, and methods by which this may be provided
  • whether or not providing a small number of rooms for use by attendees other than witnesses would be needed
  • views on live streaming from potential witnesses and those wishing to have access to the proceedings

Eight responses were received, with the views of state and non-state core participants of the Inquiry and the national media all represented.

Following a review of the submissions, the Chairman set out his preliminary conclusions on the Inquiry’s approach to the administration of evidence hearings in a statement on 19 December 2018. A summary can be found in the Inquiry’s eighth update note.

The Chairman issued a further statement on 30 October 2019 and invited submissions on the opening statements, questioning of witnesses and publishing of audio recordings of evidence. On 18 December 2019, the Chairman issued a hearings protocol and an accompanying statement.

This preliminary issue focused on establishing the legal principles upon which the Chairman would base his decisions on applications for restriction orders and the process of applying for and determining these applications.

A hearing took place from 22 – 23 March 2016, and the Chairman issued a ruling on 3 May 2016. A consultation was then held on a proposal to change the process in December 2017. After reviewing the relevant submissions and witness statements, the Chairman issued a statement outlining the updated approach the Inquiry would be taking.

Further applications from the Metropolitan Police Service

Separately, the Metropolitan Police Service made two related applications:

  • For an extension of time for restriction order applications on behalf of police officers formerly employed by the Special Demonstration Squad; and
  • In respect of the Inquiry’s approach to those restriction order applications.

A hearing took place from 5 – 6 April 2017, and the Chairman issued a ruling on 2 May 2017.

Redacting documents

Given the subject matter of the Inquiry and the high volume of relevant documents expected, the Inquiry anticipates many applications to restrict the publication of information from police bodies and government agencies.

To facilitate processing these applications and avoid the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and other state bodies needing to repeat identical submissions the Inquiry has adopted a system which uses generic documents to record grounds, submissions and evidence which it is anticipated will be common to many applications for restrictions. This will avoid unnecessarily delaying the substantive progress of the Inquiry.

The Inquiry’s approach is outlined in paragraphs 8-13 of the ‘Protocol for the Imposition of Restrictions to the Publication of Documents and other Evidence Produced to the Inquiry by the Metropolitan Police Service’ (‘the Restriction Protocol’).

There is evidence that the identities of deceased children and other individuals were used by officers to create their undercover identities. This preliminary issue considers whether:

  • The state has a duty to disclose to the parents of a deceased child that the identity of that child was used for police purposes;
  • There is a public interest test to be applied and, if so, what it comprises and how to measure it.

A hearing took place on 22 June 2016, and the Chairman issued a ruling on 14 July 2016.

On 2 November 2016 the Inquiry Chairman issued a notice inviting parents or close relatives of deceased children who wish to know whether the child’s identity was used by undercover officers to contact the Inquiry by 22 December 2016. A question and answer sheet was prepared to provide more information.

This preliminary issue concerns how to provide individuals with privacy, without undermining the public interest in the Inquiry being conducted as publicly as possible. The Inquiry has also had to consider the extent to which it has an obligation under the General Data Protection Regulations and the Data Protection Act 2018 to provide information to those whose data it is processing.

Hearings took place on 31 January 2019 and 25 March 2019. Following the hearings, the Chairman issued two statements:

Photographs

The Chairman has issued two statements setting out the Inquiry’s approach to disclosing photographs of undercover officers taken at the time of their deployment. The first was published on 29 January 2020 and the second on 7 April 2020.

In the second statement, the Chairman decided that:

  1. Contemporaneous photographs of undercover officers produced to the Inquiry by civilian witnesses will be posted on the Inquiry website along with their witness statements.
  2. For contemporaneous photographs of undercover officers whose cover name has been released, produced from Police archives or by former SDS and NPOIU officers and staff, the following process will apply:
    • Photographs will be provided to the recognised legal representatives of core participants and witnesses who are legally represented, subject to a restriction order that requires the legal representative to keep the photograph in their possession and not to permit it to be photographed or otherwise copied. The legal representative will be free to show the photograph to the named core participant or witness.
    • If any of them (core participant, witness or legal representative) consider that the photograph should be shown to any other named individual or individuals to afford them the opportunity to provide relevant information to the Inquiry, they should apply to the Inquiry for the restriction order be varied to permit that to occur. Unless there is good reason to refuse, permission will be given.
    • When a core participant or witness is not represented, a member of the Inquiry staff will show the photograph to them.
    • If the core participant or witness suggests that it would be of assistance to the Inquiry to show the photograph to another person or persons that suggestion will be considered and, if worthwhile, will be put into effect by the Inquiry.

This preliminary issue considers the standard of proof that the Chairman should apply to issues of fact that arise in the evidence given to the Inquiry.

On 13 January 2016 the Chairman issued his ruling on the matter, which incorporates the Inquiry Counsel team’s note dated 16 December 2015 and the Chairman’s ‘minded to letter’ dated 17 December 2015.

The Chairman concluded (and the core participants agreed) that he should apply a flexible and variable standard of proof. This means that the starting point is whether it is more likely than not an event occurred (the civil standard), but certain instances may require certainty beyond reasonable doubt (the criminal standard).

This preliminary issue dealt with whether the Inquiry should invite the Attorney General to make an undertaking and, if so, on what terms.

On 28 August 2016, the Attorney General granted the Chairman’s request for an undertaking that meant evidence provided by a witness will not be used against them (or against their spouse or civil partner) in any criminal proceedings, or when deciding whether to bring criminal proceedings.

This was deemed necessary for the Inquiry to fulfil its objective to get to the truth of undercover policing. Without this protection, a witness might choose not to answer a question.

Further information on undertakings can be found in the FAQs.

The Chairman’s ruling on The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and its impact on the Inquiry’s work dated 29 November 2017 set out an intention to invite the Secretary of State for Justice to lay before Parliament an amendment to Schedule 3 to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 for the reasons set out in that ruling. This invitation was sent on 12 December 2017. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2019 was made on 24 June 2019 and definitively addresses a gap in the statutory scheme for the conduct of inquiries.

The Inquiry requested the amendment for two primary reasons: in order for the Inquiry to fairly examine whether any justification for deployment of an undercover officer was sufficient the Inquiry will need to consider the activities of the individuals and/or groups targeted including their previous convictions and the circumstances ancillary to their convictions which were known by the police at the time of determining whether the deployment was justified. In addition, the Inquiry needs to be able to look at the circumstances surrounding a conviction in order to determine whether any convictions were unsafe due to the unknown involvement of an undercover officer.

View related publications
Direction

Issues lists

Issues lists identify the focus and direction of the Inquiry’s investigations. Four have been published to date:

  1. Module One investigation into the Special Demonstration Squad: the draft list was released for consultation on 5 July 2018, with the list published on 5 February 2019
  2. Module One investigation into the National Public Order Investigation Unit: the draft list was released for consultation on 26 July 2018, with the list published on 21 February 2019.
  3. Module One investigation into other policing operations: the draft list was released for consultation on 26 July 2018, with the list published on 21 February 2019.
  4. Module Two (a) investigation into the Special Demonstration Squad: The draft list was released for consultation on 27 February 2019, with the list published on 26 September 2019.
Direction
View related publications

Evidence

As a public inquiry, all relevant and necessary evidence that the Inquiry considers as part of its investigations will be published, subject to any redactions.

Before hearings, general documents – such as annual reports submitted by the Chief Inspector of the SDS to the Special Branch Commander – relevant to the upcoming tranche will be published.

Following each open hearing, the Inquiry will publish a daily transcript of the hearing, together with any documents (e.g. witness statements and supporting evidence) referred to that day.

Once the hearings for a particular tranche has finished, all further, publicly available evidence from the hearing bundles for that tranche – even if it is not expressly referred to during the hearings – will be published.

Below you will find all evidence published to date. Certain documents are accompanied by a schedule that sets out the basis for redactions.

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Schedule

Evidence hearings schedule

The Inquiry’s first evidence hearings are due to start on Monday 2 November 2020. The November hearings will be virtual and conducted remotely due to the expectation that social distancing measures will still be in place at this time.

The Inquiry will consider the undercover policing activities of officers and managers and those affected by deployments in tranches ordered chronologically.

The first evidence hearings will focus on officers and managers in the SDS active between 1968 and 1982. This tranche will also include evidence from non-state core participants and witnesses affected by these officers’ deployment. The opening statements and first evidence hearings will last for around three weeks in November 2020, with the latter continuing in early 2021.

The Inquiry will usually sit for up to four days per week although both the frequency of hearings and times may vary.

Virtual hearings

For the Inquiry’s virtual hearings, opening statements given live will be live-streamed on the Inquiry website with a five-minute delay. Recorded and written opening statements will also be published on the Inquiry website.

The open oral evidence of witnesses will be viewed and heard in real-time by the Chairman, Counsel to the Inquiry and the recognised legal representative of the witness. Core participants with a direct interest in the evidence given will also be able to hear it in real-time. An audio recording will be made and, once checked to ensure that it contains nothing which should not be broadcast, will be uploaded onto the Inquiry website alongside a transcript.

Further information can be found in the Chairman’s statement.

When the Inquiry’s open hearings are held in-person in a hearing room, members of the public are welcome to attend.

Special measures

In the normal course of events, a witness called to give evidence at open hearings will be expected to provide their evidence in public, in full view of those attending.

However, witnesses can request special measures to protect restricted identities or information, of because of their health or location. Special measures could include counselling, a hearing loop or giving evidence via a video-link.

On 7 April 2020, the Chairman issued a statement in response to special measures applications invited from former undercover officers who will give evidence in Tranche 1, which covers those active in the Special Demonstration Squad between 1968 and 1982. Further background can be found in the accompanying press notice.

Schedule
Buildings

Venues

The open hearings will take place at 18 Pocock St, London, SE1 0BW.  This is the hearings venue used by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Its hearings will not be affected.

The Pocock Street venue provides the following:

  • Capacity for up to 16 legal teams in the hearing room;
  • Seating for up to 60 members of the public in the hearing room;
  • Additional capacity for up to 40 members of the public and media in the adjoining overflow room serviced by a live-link transmission of proceedings (with a short time delay);
  • Rooms for witnesses to meet their legal teams and for private consultation;
  • A small room set aside for the media;
  • Access and facilities for those with mobility issues;
  • Publicly available Wi-Fi throughout the venue.

Read more in our hearings protocol.

Buildings

To date, all open preliminary hearings have been held at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Those attending any preliminary hearings at the Royal Courts of Justice should note that security checks are conducted and the following restrictions currently apply:

  • Camera and recording equipment are strictly prohibited and should not be brought into the Royal Courts of Justice.
  • Mobile phones and Blackberry devices must be switched off or switched to ‘silent’.
  • Telephone calls are not permitted in the hearing rooms when the Inquiry is in session. Telephone calls may be made in the hearing rooms during breaks in proceedings but must conclude before the hearing resumes. To make calls during the hearing attendees must leave the hearing room.
  • Text-based media is allowed in the Inquiry hearing rooms and public areas of the Royal Courts of Justice. However, they must not cause a disturbance or distraction to proceedings and are subject to the Chairman’s right to remove that privilege if he believes it is harming the administration of justice; further, by order, no transmission of any statement made during the course of a hearing may be made until a period of 60 seconds has elapsed after the statement is made.
  • Laptops may be used in the Inquiry hearing rooms and public areas if they do not disturb others but they may not be used to make live recordings of proceedings. Laptops must be battery-powered as power sockets are not available.
  • Personal entertainment devices such as MP3 players and iPods may not be used in either hearing room when the Inquiry hearing is in session.
  • The Inquiry Secretariat reserves the right to eject (and if necessary to review the accreditation of) individuals who fail to comply with these conditions.
  • Parking is not available within the Royal Courts of Justice and parking outside the court is extremely limited.