An anonymous letter by a whistle-blower to Green Party peer Jenny Jones has claimed that a secretive Scotland Yard unit with the help of Indian hackers snooped on political campaigners’ passwords and accessed private email accounts of activists, journalists and at least one press photographer for a number of years without any legal authority.
“Hacked passwords passed to cops; e-mails spied on illegally,” claims whistleblower.
The whistle-blower has claimed to have worked with the team that scrutinised the activities of political campaigners and alleged that the Metropolitan police’s Domestic Extremism and disorder intelligence unit were in touch with the Indian cops, who in turn used hackers to illegally collect email passwords.
Hacked passwords were passed to Met which then regularly checked the emails of the campaigners and the media to gather information.
The letter has also revealed the names of 10 political campaigners and journalists, including four from Greenpeace and two from The Guardian, whose email account details have been compromised. Jones’ lawyer contacted six of the victims to check if the passwords matched and five of them did while the sixth one too was close. The remaining four people either couldn’t be traced or were yet to be approached.
The peer passed on the information to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for investigation and has urged them to find out more about the individuals whose privacy was compromised.
The letter stated that the documents were allegedly shredded by cops to cover up the “illegal gathering of intelligence on protest groups.” After months of investigation, the IPCC has agreed that the documents were shredded over a number of days in May 2014 despite a specific instruction that files should be preserved to be examined by a judge-led public inquiry into the undercover policing of political groups. The letter claimed that the shredding “has been happening on a far greater scale than the IPCC seems to be aware of”.
All possible steps are being taken to ensure that all relevant material and associated computer systems are preserved to assist the IPCC’s investigation. The IPCC has assured that the MPS will provide full support during the investigation. IPCC has met Jones twice with her lawyer regarding the case.
The secretive Scotland Yard unit had in the past justified monitoring of thousands of activists citing the need to track those who resort to criminal activities, but it has received a huge backlash this time around after it was revealed that some of the campaigners and journalists, who were snooped upon, are law-abiding citizens.