Evidence

Find details about the disclosure of evidence by the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Also on this page, you will find information on preliminary issues and issues lists.

  • For information on core participants and specific undercover police officers, please see the ‘Who is involved’ page.
  • For materials related to evidence hearings, including transcripts, recordings of witness evidence and hearing bundles indices, please see the ‘Hearings‘ page.

SECTIONS

Evidence disclosure
Preliminary issues
Issues lists

Evidence disclosure

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.

View all evidence

Disclosure process

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

During hearings, all materials associated with a witness are published, subject to any redactions, as soon as they begin their oral evidence. At the end of each day, a transcript of the hearing is published.

Materials associated with other witnesses and officers included in the relevant tranche but not giving oral evidence are published throughout the course of the hearings.

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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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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 (PDF, 135.94 KB) was published on 29 January 2020 and the second (PDF, 20.83 KB) 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. Where practicable, those likely to be affected will be given advance notice and the opportunity to apply for a restriction order.
  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.

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 (PDF, 283.9 KB) 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 (PDF, 1.6 MB) on 19 December 2018. A summary can be found in the Inquiry’s eighth update note (PDF, 170.33 KB).

The Chairman issued a further statement (PDF, 58.55 KB) 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 (PDF, 160.03 KB) and an accompanying statement (PDF, 51.6 KB).

Following the postponement of the Inquiry’s hearings scheduled for June 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Chairman issued two statements on the conduct of tranche 1 evidence hearings – the first on 29 May 2020 (PDF, 113.88 KB) and the second on 23 July 2020 (PDF, 56.86 KB).

The Inquiry’s Tranche 1 (Phase 1) hearings, rescheduled from June 2020, took place in November 2020. The hearings were virtual and conducted remotely. Further information can be found in the ‘November 2020: hearings round-up’ article. The arrangements for these hearing are not intended to be a template for future hearings. A directions hearing to discuss arrangements for Tranche 1 (Phase 2) evidence hearings took place on 26 January 2021.

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 on the publications page.

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 (PDF, 596.52 KB) 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 (PDF, 1.48 MB) 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 (PDF, 479.98 KB) 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’) (PDF, 89.77 KB).

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 (PDF, 301.11 KB) on 14 July 2016.

On 2 November 2016 the Inquiry Chairman issued a notice (PDF, 127.4 KB) 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 (PDF, 127.1KB) 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 (PDF, 773.16 KB) and 25 March 2019 (PDF, 363.43 KB). Following the hearings, the Chairman issued two statements:

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 (PDF, 327.41 KB) 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 (PDF, 1.22 MB) 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 (PDF, 33.63 KB)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.

Related files

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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 (PDF, 62.15 KB) was released for consultation on 5 July 2018, with the list (PDF, 329.2 KB) published on 5 February 2019
  2. Module One investigation into the National Public Order Investigation Unit: the draft list (PDF, 2.55 MB) was released for consultation on 26 July 2018, with the list (PDF, 1.93 MB) published on 21 February 2019.
  3. Module One investigation into other policing operations: the draft list (PDF, 1.06 MB) was released for consultation on 26 July 2018, with the list (PDF, 479.37 KB) published on 21 February 2019.
  4. Module Two (a) investigation into the Special Demonstration Squad: The draft list (PDF, 512.93 KB) was released for consultation on 27 February 2019, with the list (PDF, 81.46 KB) published on 26 September 2019.
Direction
View related publications