Special Branch had ‘file open’ on John Lennon, spy cops inquiry hears.
The public inquiry into undercover policing heard some shocking evidence this week.
Special Branch detectives within the Metropolitan Police had a “file open” on John Lennon, the spy cops inquiry heard this week.
The Undercover Policing Inquiry was commissioned after shocking stories emerged about the behaviour of officers on deep undercover missions to infiltrate various political groups.
The inquiry is led by retired judge Sir John Mitting, and will examine 139 undercover officers who have spied on more than 1,000 organisations since 1968.
Allegations include that officers manipulated women, used violence and threats to conceal their identities and assumed the identities of dead children.
Last week James Scobie, QC, instructed by the Public Interest Law Centre which is representing several alleged victims, said undercover officers regularly began assuming leadership and organisational roles in groups they infiltrated.
This became common after DC Richard Layton Clark was deployed to spy on the Troops Out Movement (TOM) in 1974.
Mr Scobie detailed DC Clark’s manipulation and sexual exploitation of members of the TOM, including Richard Chessum and a woman referred to as ‘Mary’, which lead to Clark taking the highest position of power in the organisation.
Mr Scobie told the inquiry neither ‘Mary’, a 27-year-old anti-racist, women’s liberation campaigner, nor 32-year-old Methodist preacher Mr Chessum had a special branch file prior to encountering Clark and joining the TOM branch he created, and described them as “peaceful law-abiding citizens, targeted solely because of their politics”.
The inquiry heard that between March to June 1975, Clark got himself elected as the Secretary of branch, and also as a delegate to the London Co-ordinating Committee of the Movement and the All London meeting.
On September 19, 1975, at the London Co-ordinating Committee that DC Clark was a delegate to, he was elected to the Organising Committee for London – a National position.
Clark became a powerful organiser of the movement and managed the national rally where he failed to secure the attendance of any of the proposed headline acts, including John Lennon who Mr Scobie told the inquiry had a Special Branch file open.
Mr Scobie said: “Ordinary people have been involved in campaigns for a better society, for social equality, anti-racism, anti-fascism, against apartheid and for trade union rights.The best of reasons, and the best of traditions.We hope the Inquiry is ready, willing and equipped to meet that challenge. The Inquiry must be fearless and unflinching in the pursuit of the truth.The people of this country expect nothing less”.