London’s Metropolitan Police Service is starting an internal investigation into media claims that it used the identities of dead children for officers’ fake passports in undercover operations.
About 80 police officers in the department’s now-defunct special demonstration squad used such identities to help infiltrate political campaign groups and spy on them, the Guardian newspaper reported yesterday. The “secretive” unit was disbanded in 2008.
“We are investigating the allegation,” a police spokesman said today in a phone call from Bloomberg News. “We can confirm the process referred to is not something that would be currently authorized by the MPS.”
The alleged identity theft adds to a growing scandal over the unit’s practices, including claims that some officers developed sexual relationships with protesters they were spying on, to strengthen their cover. The Met’s Operation Herne is probing the defunct unit’s practices and will now investigate the stolen identities, the Guardian said.
The officers would take the identities from the national registry of births and deaths and create fake details and back-stories to go with them, according to the Guardian.
One of the police officers told the newspaper he chose the name of a child who had died overseas in the 1960s and had a father who was a Royal Marine. He told the Guardian he visited the dead boy’s home town to familiarize himself with the area so he could speak about it convincingly.
The officer previously told the Guardian he had infiltrated a group called Youth Against Racism in Europe.