A secret police squad stole the identities of dead babies and children, using them to attempt to infiltrate political groups and parties, it was revealed yesterday.
A public inquiry should be held into police undercover activities, the former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald demanded in response to the revelations, which were published in the Guardian newspaper.
The ‘Special Demonstration Squad’ (SDS) had been established by the Special Branch in the wake of massive anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in 1968 in London.
It was set up to infiltrate suspected ‘subversive organisations’ and stole the identities of about 80 children who had died at an early age.
Dead children’s identities were used because they would stand up to scrutiny if birth records were checked.
The allegations come two years after an undercover officer was revealed to have infiltrated environmental protest groups where he had relationships with two women.
Lord Macdonald said that it was ‘completely inappropriate’ for officers to use a dead child’s identity or form sexual relationships with people they were gathering information on.
‘How are you supposed to maintain a level of fair and objective evidence-gathering if you are having sex with the person you are targeting, fathering a baby and then abandoning it, using a dead child’s identity?’ he asked.
‘These are all examples of areas in which the police have completely lost their moral compass and have completely failed to understand the boundaries.’
He added: ‘What we really need is a public inquiry into undercover policing which takes evidence, takes advice, sets out some guidelines, sets out some mechanisms so we can be confident these sorts of procedures are not being followed today.’
Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz MP, described the revelation as ‘disgusting, distressing’, and ‘most distasteful’.
Vaz said: ‘It is absolutely shocking that the identity of dead children has been used by undercover agents.’
He continued: ‘It is absolutely vital the parents of those involved should be informed immediately. It can’t be right that this information is being kept from them.’
Vaz pointed out that the Home Affairs Select Committee has a session today, saying: ‘We will be hearing from some of those women who were duped by undercover officers.’
He added: ‘We will also hear from the Metropolitan Police.
‘I am glad that they are investigating these issues, though a little surprised that it’s being treated as a professional standards issue.
‘This is actually much, much more important than that in my view, since it concerns a lot of individuals who will have known nothing about the use of their family’s identities.