David Ford contacts Theresa May over activities of undercover police - The Irish News
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David Ford contacts Theresa May over activities of undercover police

 A picture taken of former undercover police officer Mark Kennedy taken in south Belfast in 2005
Connla Young

FORMER justice minister David Ford has asked British home secretary Theresa May to consider if an inquiry into the activities of undercover police officers in England and Wales can also consider evidence collected in the north.

Mr Ford wrote to Ms May after being contacted by solicitors acting for American citizen Jason Kirkpatrick.

He is one of several anti-globalisation campaigners who were befriended by former police officer Mark Kennedy while they held events on both sides of the border over a decade ago.

Kennedy is one of several former undercover officers accused of tricking women in to having sexual relationships with them.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, which is being headed by Lord Justice Pitchford, was set up last year to probe the infiltration of political organisations by undercover police units since 1968.

Mr Kirkpatrick and other campaigners want the terms of the inquiry to be extended to include the north after it emerged that Mark Kennedy had visited the north with anti-globalisation activists in 2005.

As a member of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit he infiltrated protest groups in England between 2003-2010.

It is believed he also made separate trips to the Republic over a period of several years.

A former vice mayor of the Californian city of Arcata, Mr Kirkpatrick has been named as a ‘core participant’ in the Pitchford Inquiry after giving evidence last year.

He and two other female activists travelled with Mark Kennedy to the north in 2005 and held several anti-globalisation events.

One of the venues they visited was the City Church in south Belfast.

In a letter to Mr Kirkpatrick's legal team, Mr Ford confirmed that he has written to Teresa May.

“I have written to the Home Secretary setting out the issues you raised and asking her to consider whether the UCPI might be able to take account of the relevant evidence of activities that have taken place in the UK jurisdiction, whether it is considering the case in England and Wales in which the operative has subsequently crossed the jurisdicational boundary,” he said.

He also said the DoJ is continuing to “engage with police authorities in England to “seek confirmation of and further information on the deployment of undercover police officers” in the north.

A spokesman for the department last night said no response has been received from Ms May.

Mr Kirkpatrick, who lived in the north between 1999 and 2000 and later moved to Berlin, said it is vital that the inquiry is extended here.

“It’s extremely important,” he said.

“These undercover officers operated in many places, not only England and Wales and it’s absolutely essential anybody who was targeted by these undercover officers have a right to receive justice in whatever places these injustices have occurred.”

His solicitors argue that Mr Kennedy violated Mr Fitzpatrick’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article eight which protects private and family life.

Mr Kirpatrick’s solicitor Darragh Mackin said Mr Kennedy “operated with a sheer disregard for human rights in his role as an undercover agent”.

A failure to extend the Pitchford Inquiry, will leave our client with no alternative, but to initiate legal proceedings to compel investigative action in this jurisdiction. "

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