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British police law risks human rights: parliament report

02 march 2013, 10:05
0
Keith Vaz, the head of Britain's influential Home Affairs Committee. ©REUTERS/B Mathur
Keith Vaz, the head of Britain's influential Home Affairs Committee. ©REUTERS/B Mathur
Britain should conduct a "fundamental review of the law" governing undercover operations after police were accused of stealing the identities of dead children, AFP reports citing a parliamentary report.

The Home Affairs Committee warned that the current legislation threatened human rights.

"There is an unsatisfactory degree of ambiguity in the current legal framework governing undercover operations," said committee chief Keith Vaz.

The current legislation "fails adequately to safeguard the fundamental rights of the individuals affected," warned the study entitled "Undercover Policing: Interim Report".

London's Metropolitan Police stole the identities of some 80 dead children and issued false documents in their names for use by undercover officers, according to a report in the Guardian last month.

The force authorised the practice over three decades for officers attempting to infiltrate protest groups, without informing the children's parents, said the newspaper report.

Scotland Yard said it did not currently authorise the practice and had launched an investigation into "past arrangements".

Home Affairs Committee chairman Vaz called the practice "ghoulish and disrespectful".

"There should be a full and unambiguous apology from the forces concerned to the families and the practice should never be followed in future," he said.

"We heard of one case where a bereaved family might have come face-to-face with a woman who believed that their dead child was her former partner.

"We are not satisfied that the current legislative framework... provides adequate protection against police infiltration into ordinary peoples' lives," he added.

The Labour lawmaker also called for Operation Herne, which is investigating the allegations, to be wound down after producing no arrests despite a cost of £1.2 million (1.4 million euros, $1.8 million).

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