POLICE Scotland has confirmed its new chief constable Phil Gormley previously headed a division of the Metropolitan Police responsible for a controversial unit using undercover officers who spied on campaign groups in both Scotland and England.
The force said in a statement that Gormley had been head of Special Branch in 2006 – the division which had responsibility for the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), which investigated environmental and political activist groups.
Confirmation of Gormley’s role comes days after Labour justice spokesman Graeme Pearson called on the police chief to clarify his SDS role.
Gormley, who took up his post as Chief Constable of Police Scotland this month, headed up a merger of Special Branch and Counter-terrorism units at the Met in 2005 – while undercover officers, including Mark Kennedy, were bedding women they had duped into believing they were activists. He also worked as Commander of Specialist Operations from 2003.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We can confirm Mr Gormley was the Met Commander responsible for Special Branch during 2006. Any further enquiries are a matter for the MPS who are preparing to support the Pitchford Inquiry, which of course Mr Gormley will co-operate with in every way possible.”
Environmental campaigner Kate Wilson this week became the first woman duped by undercover officers to formally win her case against Scotland Yard as a result of her two-year relationship with Kennedy, who is believed to have had a relationship with another woman for six years until 2009 – while Gormley was in charge of the unit.
She was one of three women suing the Met after being hoodwinked into relationships by undercover officers.
Justice secretary Michael Matheson is to hold talks with Home Secretary Theresa May over extending the scope of the Pitchford Inquiry – set up to investigate SDS conduct – to include Scotland amid claims that protesters were spied upon at the G8 summit protests in Gleneagles in 2005.
Kennedy, who slept with women in the groups he infiltrated, is said to have visited Scotland 14 times and was G8 “transport co-ordinator”.
At the weekend a woman known as “Andrea,” who had a two-year relationship with undercover officer Carlo Neri, said she was suing the Met. Neri – who posed as a locksmith and told the woman, whose parents live in Scotland, that he wanted a baby with her – was actually married with children.