We are writing to urge you to vote against the Spy Cops Bill which is back in the Commons today Wed 27 Jan. This Bill paves the way to a police state, giving sweeping powers to authorise undercover agents, including from corporations, to commit all kinds of crimes, without any judicial involvement. Such agents would be immune from prosecution and their victims barred from compensation. The Bill has been called a licence to rape and murder, and the most dangerous law of our time. It must be stopped.
The Bill has attracted broad public opposition – see statement here and below from Women Against Rape signed by over 50 organisations, including the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Black Lives Matter groups, disability, women’s and environmental justice campaigners. We have been publicising our opposition with the Lords as have other respected organisations, including Big Brother Watch, Just for Kids Law, Justice, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, Pat Finucane Centre, Privacy International, Reprieve, Rights of Women/End Violence Against Women Coalition, UNITE with several other trade unions. Collectively we represent many thousands of people.
As you will know, the Bill was amended in the Lords to: 1) prevent legal immunity to commit serious crimes, such as murder, torture, rape and other sexual offences; and 2) limit the use of child undercover agents.
We support these amendments but they don’t go far enough as undercover agents would still be above the law. We urge you to vote for these amendments and then vote against the Bill.
Shockingly the Labour leadership, as front bench peer Lord Rosser said, “supports the essence of the Bill” and in the summer Keir Starmer whipped Labour MPs to abstain – just 34 defied him and voted against. This is despite several senior peers, such as Peter Hain and Doreen Lawrence, having described personal experiences of surveillance by undercover police who were on the wrong side of justice!
The government claims the Bill is needed to control serious crime such as drugs and fraud. Given the rapid descent of millions of people into deeper poverty, expected cuts to wages to pay for the Covid lockdowns, further attacks to human rights, and the destruction of society and the natural world, there is good reason to believe that the Bill is aimed at repressing dissent. We expect the first targets to be women and children, people of colour, disabled people, those without a passport and anyone engaged in legitimate protest, including by going on strike, in this country and overseas.
This unleashing of State criminality must be stopped. We urge you to represent growing opposition by voting for the amendments and against the Bill. People are following this vote and want to know who is encouraging state corruption and illegality by granting impunity to agents of the state and corporations.