The identities of dead teenagers as old as 17 were stolen by undercover police officers according to figures released by Scotland Yard after Chippenham MP Duncan Hames' near two-year battle to expose the information.
The Metropolitan Police revealed that dead children aged "0, 1, 4 to 14, 16 and 17" had their identities stolen by the potentially rogue Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) in a practice the force conceded was "morally repugnant".
The information was obtained by the Liberal Democrat MP after a two-year Freedom of Information (FoI) battle with the Met.
The force only released the figures after a court date was set to hear the Met's appeal against a ruling by the Information Commissioner to publish the figures, and after Mr Hames had tabled a Parliamentary question on the matter.The newspaper goes on to refer to an investigation of the SDS by Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon, who has also looked at claims that officers were involved in inappropriate sexual relationships while undercover.
He found that out of 106 covert names used by the squad between 1968 and 2008, 42 can be confirmed or be treated as highly likely to have come from dead children.
It also quotes a masterly non-apology apology from the Met's senior information manager:
"Before I get to the information itself the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) believes it pertinent to mention that it has been recognised by the Police Service and the MPS in particular, that the tactic of using the identity of a deceased child to form a legend for undercover police officers may be viewed by some as 'morally repugnant' and that it is no longer police practice.
"The MPS has, in the intervening period, reconsidered its position in challenging the decision of the ICO at Tribunal and has decided that disclosure will indeed be made in this case. Therefore, in accordance with the aforementioned decision notice, please find below the information held by the MPS relevant to your request: The ages of deceased children that were used by undercover officers are 0, 1, and 4 to 14, 16 and 17.
"The MPS fully understands and appreciates that it has been a difficult journey in arriving at this position but does now hope that the information above is of interest."Duncan Hames is also quoted by the Gazette:
"The reason I started pursuing this matter was a constituent who had lost his daughter when she was 15.
"When he first heard about this practice he was galled at the thought that someone could be using her stolen identity, leading the life that she should have led, and he is not alone.
"Unfortunately this practice was sufficiently widespread but now a small proportion of families will be able to use this information to be reassured that their child's identity was not stolen, which does raise the question whether there is any other way that the police could help reassure more families.He is right, of course, but there are many other reasons why this practice was indefensible. For one, it the people being investigated were sufficiently dangerous to justify this extraordinary level of surveillance, it would surely have put the families at risk.
However, at least as far as environmental groups are concerned, you suspect the secret police infiltrated them to cover the awkward gap between the end of Irish Republican terrorism and the beginning of Islamist terrorism that threatened the reason for their existence.