Calderdale Trades Union Council is holding a public meeting at 2pm on 10th April at Hebden Bridge Trades Club, with “Deep Deception” co-author Helen Steel and Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) core participant Mark Metcalf, a National Union of Journalists delegate to Calderdale Trades Council.
McLibel campaigner Helen Steel tells the story of ‘the spycops network’ and the women like herself who uncovered the shocking truth about shadowy undercover policing set up to to spy on protesters in mainly left-wing and progressive groups.
In 1968, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS )was established. Along with its successor – the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), formed in 1999 – the SDS targeted anyone with a desire to protest the status quo.
That included anyone expressing a dissenting voice, or attempting to hold the government or big business to account. Steel, as part of ‘The McLibel Two’ campaign that began in 1990 and lasted well over a decade, was just such a voice.
Officers from the SDS and NPOIU secretly infiltrated organisations by ‘any means necessary’. This included forming long-term, intimate sexual and emotional relationships with women activists, having children with some and robbing others of the chance of motherhood.
Helen Steel was targeted by an SDS officer whose real name was John Dines but who hid behind the name of John Barker, who had died at aged 8 in 1968. Steel had no idea she was involved with a police spy.
Dines is amongst over twenty undercover officers who have been identified as having deceived women into intimate relationships. The women had no idea they were involved with men who were police spies.
Steel and the women have discovered the truth about these men’s identities and tactics through their own research and shared experiences.
It was those efforts that led to the public exposure of the officers and subsequent widespread outcry about the activities of these units.
Since these initial discoveries, the tactics of the SDS and NPOIU have become one of the biggest policing scandals of our time. The revelations led in part to the announcement of an undercover policing inquiry (UCPI), which began taking evidence in November 2020. The fight for truth and justice is far from over.
Steel and four women involved are now releasing a book DEEP DECEPTION ON 31STMarch. Come along to Hebden Bridge Trades Club at 2pm (prompt) on Sunday 10 April to listen to Helen Steel, a remarkable woman.