The use of dead infants' identities
20. A further, serious aspect of undercover police
behaviour which has recently come to light is the appropriation
of the identities of dead infants to create legends for undercover
officers. This does not just involve borrowing the individual's
name, but their date and place of birth and parents' identities,
and creating a plausible back-story in which the legend grows
up and goes to school in the area where the child would have lived.
We have been assured that this practice has now ceased, but it
is not clear when this happened. Mr Kennedy told us that the practice
was not used in the NPOIU when he joined the Unit in 2001 but
Paul Lewis of The Guardian suggested that it may have been
used by the SDS as recently as 2003.
21. Quite aside from any questions of decency
and taste, this is a practice which could potentially have put
bereaved families at risk. One of our witnesses told us that,
after her partner went missingshe did not realise at this
stage that he was a police officershe found the birth record
of the child whose identity he had been using and went to the
parents' address in an attempt to find out more about him.
The parents were not there, and in any event her intentions
were not malevolent. But it is easy to see how officers infiltrating
serious, organised criminal and terrorist gangs using the identities
of real people could pose a significant risk to the living relatives
of those people.
22. The practice of "resurrecting"
dead children as cover identities for undercover police officers
was not only ghoulish and disrespectful, it could potentially
have placed bereaved families in real danger of retaliation. The
families who have been affected by this deserve an explanation
and a full and unambiguous apology from the forces concerned.
We would also welcome a clear statement from the Home Secretary
that this practice will never be followed in future.
24 Q 86 [Paul Lewis]. Back
Qq 88 [Paul Lewis] and 278-279 [Mark Kennedy] Back
Qq 9-14 Back