To: All Branches

Dear Colleagues


Following revelations earlier this month that CWU members were among those spied on by the police involved in blacklisting, an EDM has been tabled in parliament on the issue calling for an inquiry. We are encouraging branches and members to ask their MPs to sign this EDM before parliament rises.

Early Day Motion (EDM) 899 is entitled ‘Covert surveillance of trade unions’ and was laid down by Labour MP John McDonnell on 20 March. It calls for the remit of the judge-led inquiry into the abuse of women by under-cover police officers to be extended to include “the involvement of state agencies in the operation of blacklisting and the covert surveillance of lawful trade union activities”. 

The motion reads:

‘That this House is deeply concerned by the revelations of Peter Francis, former member of the Metropolitan Police Force’s Special Demonstrations Squad, in relation to the unit’s covert state surveillance of trade unions and their members, including Unison, the Fire Brigades Union, the Communication Workers Union, National Union of Teachers, and the construction workers union UCATT, together with the family of Stephen Lawrence, anti-racist groups, civil society organisations and political campaigners; welcomes the judge-led inquiry into the abuse of women by undercover police officers; calls for the remit of that inquiry to include the involvement of state agencies in the operation of blacklisting and the covert surveillance of lawful trade union activities; further welcomes the offer of Mr Francis to provide further evidence; and calls on the Home Secretary to offer whistleblowers immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act in order to encourage people to come forward and disclose essential information in the public interest without fear of criminal charges being brought against them.’

We welcome the EDM because we believe it is important that these latest revelations of state snooping on trade unionists aren’t swept under the carpet. In order to get to the bottom of these allegations we need an independent, open inquiry. There isn’t long until parliament rises so we’re asking our branches and members to contact their MPs this week to ask them to sign EDM 899. Whilst this is a short window of opportunity it all helps to raise the profile of this shadowy issue.

Ex-undercover police officer turned whistleblower, Peter Francis, admitted to spying on CWU members – among other trade unionists – in a statement read out at the book launch of ‘Blacklisted’ on 12 March. 

We are currently considering how to find out more details on this revelation.  Being a trade unionist is not a crime and for the state to spy on our members is a disgrace considering we live in a democracy.  Once we have investigated the extent of these claims we will determine next steps we will though support any members who think they may have been victims of blacklisting.

Any enquiries regarding this Letter to Branches should be addressed to the Senior Deputy General Secretary Department on telephone number 020 8971 7237, or email address sdgs@cwu.org.

Yours sincerely

Tony Kearns

Senior Deputy General Secretary

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