Met sued by families of dead children whose IDs were used by cops
7th December 2020

Met Police are sued by devastated families of dead children whose IDs were stolen by undercover officers

  • Police spies used the identities of dead children during undercover missions
  • They would infiltrate political groups using the names of the deceased people 
  • Families said it felt like grieving for a second time after they learned of the tactic
  • They are now suing the Metropolitan Police for the mental health damage 

The families of dead children whose identities were stolen by undercover officers are suing the Metropolitan Police.  

Police spies infiltrated political groups using the names of the dead children without informing their relatives.

Among the victims were a boy who died during birth, a teenager who drowned at sea, a disabled boy who died aged six and a five-year-old who died in a plane crash, according to The Guardian.

The families of dead children whose identities were stolen by undercover officers are suing the Metropolitan Police

Four bereaved families have now launched legal action against the force, claiming the Met misused private information and added to their grief, damaging their mental health.

The legal action has been submitted in a formal claim to Scotland Yard. 

Informally, police called the process ‘doing the jackal’ a reference to Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Day of the Jackal, where the tactic was described.

The Met carried out operations using dead children’s names for more than 30 years, with at least 42 officers using the identities to go undercover.

They would spend hours trawling through birth and death certificates to find the right people to impersonate.

Officers would receive fake driving licences and passports with the name of the dead children, and even visited their graves and home towns.

To make their identity convincing, the police spies even researched the family members of the dead children.

The undercover cops would typically use the identity of the children for around four years in what MPs labelled a ‘ghoulish and disrespectful’ tactic in 2013.

Informally, police called the process ‘doing the jackal’ a reference to Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Day of the Jackal, where the tactic was described

Frank Bennett and Honor Robson are among those launching action against the Met after their brother Michael died aged 18 while working on a trawler in 1968.

His body was never found and they believe he fell overboard, triggering his mother’s mental health issues which led to her suicide nine years later, they said.

They only recently discovered a policy spy pretended to be Michael while infiltrating two left-wing groups in the 1980s.

Frank said he was ‘totally disgusted’ that his brother’s name was used for the mission which investigated the Socialist Workers party and the Revolutionary Communist Group.  

Another family joining the legal fight are the relatives of Kevin Crossland, who died in a plane crash in 1966.

Kevin, who was five at the time, died alongside his mother and sister in the plane disaster in Yugoslavia.  

His identity was used by officer James Straven to infiltrate animal rights groups, at the same time as Kevin’s father Malcolm was battling cancer from which he died in 2001. 

Neil Mason, who died aged six after suffering from a number of physical disabilities, also had his identity used by police.

His mother Faith, now 72, discovered last year that police had used Neil’s name to go undercover in the Revolutionary Communist Party and the anarchist group Class War.

She said it brought back the trauma again of losing her son.

The identity of Rod Richardson, who died at just two days  old in 1973, was used by an officer posing as anti-capitalist protester in radical groups in London and Nottingham in the early 2000s.

Rod’s mother Barbara Shaw said the discovery caused her to mourn her loss for a second time.  

Families were informed about the tactics in recent years after a judge-led public inquiry started examining undercover police operations.  

The Met said: ‘The claims relate to the historical use of deceased children’s identities by undercover officers. The Metropolitan police is investigating the claims and is unable to comment further at this time.’

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