Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Met 'institutionally corrupt' says ex-spy

It’s a plum number: £260,000 a year salary, Thames-side flat, luxury car complete with chauffeur and a bullet-proof pension. And there’s a vacancy if you feel like applying.

The Metropolitan Police are currently seeking a new boss in the wake of hackgate which brought down its top two officers last month. Former Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and counter-terrorism chief Assistant Commissioner John Yates resigned within the same 24 hours on July 18.

Both were seen as being compromised by their too-intimate relationship with News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis. More and more evidence of the web of connections and cover-ups is still emerging.

Top contenders include Cressida Dick who replaced Yates as head of the anti-terrorism section. She remains best known for her role in the killing of Brazilian electrician Jean de Menezes as he travelled to work on the Underground. Dick was commander of the operation that resulted in de Menezes being executed as he sat reading his paper.

Joint favourites are Sir Hugh Orde, president of the unaccountable and secretive Association of Chief Police Officer and Deputy Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe. But as yesterday’s London Evening Standard notes, the position is actually a poisoned chalice. The Met is clearly in disarray and losing credibility by the day.

Yesterday it had to chastise its own colleagues in the City of Westminster’s “counter-terrorist focus desk” (whatever that may be when it’s at home). Under the auspices of Project Griffin, which is supposed to raise awareness of security issues, a police station in Belgravia last week asked citizens to inform on any anarchists they might spot, stating:

"Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police”.

The appeal provoked accusations that this amounted to the criminalisation of anyone with an anarchist bent of mind. Some called on people to report suspect police officers to their local anarchist branch. Now the Met has had to soothe its critics, stating that it “does not seek to stigmatise those people with legitimate political views”.

Serious divisions within the Met and between Scotland Yard and the military also came to light yesterday. Met detectives have sat on documents showing that the News of the World had been snooping on an army intelligence officer’s emails for four years. Ex-army spy Ian Hurst complained that his computer was secretly hacked for three months after he wrote a book alleging that an IRA member was actually working as a double agent for British intelligence.

Hurst complained that he was shocked to find that these crimes were not investigated by the Met, “which, given everything else that happened reinforces my belief that that Met is institutionally corrupt”.

Apart from more revelations about its incestuous relationship with the media, there is another serious issue. When the London Olympic Games open in July 2012, the Met will face its biggest-ever challenge.

The current “ring of steel plan” involves an army of 27,000 police and security officials. Assistant police commissioner Chris Allison has announced that there will be 300 search and scanning entry points in the main Olympic stadium alone.

Not surprisingly, he anticipates that security threat levels will rise to “severe” before and during the games. The Olympics organising committee LOCOG will be installing thousands of CCTV cameras and hundreds of search arches, which will mean an average 20-minute wait for spectators.

The Olympics will be certainly be a target for those seeking everything from publicity to revenge. Recent history demonstrates only too clearly that existing have huge difficulties in preventing those who have no qualms targeting innocent civilians.

It is a misplaced hope to rely on the forces of the capitalist state to protect the population from possible acts of terror or protect human rights. A deconstructed and re-shaped democratic state is a realistic and positive approach to this issue.

Corinna Lotz

A World to Win secretary

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