The first Green party peer Jenny Jones and Green councillor Ian Driver have had their political movements monitored by the Metropolitan police force – even though neither possess a criminal record.
Both have criticised the Met for monitoring their political activities as part of a secret database that lists those considered to be ‘domestic extremists’, the Guardian reports.
Over an 11-year period, while she sat on an official committee that scrutinises the Met, Jones has had her tweets recorded, demonstrations monitored and public meetings observed.
Meanwhile, the file on Driver logs 22 occasions in which he helped organise gay marriage and animal rights meetings and demonstrations between June 2011 and June 2013.
Both Jones and Driver, who is a local councillor for the Green party in Thanet, Kent, have signed witness statements to support a lawsuit that is being taken to the Supreme Court in the hope of curbing the covert list of apparent, future criminals.
The domestic extremism unit is run by Scotland Yard, which has been monitoring thousands of demonstrators under the guise of maintaining civil order. Those who are deemed to advocate law breaking to further political goals are the priority of the unit – which maintains information on all arrested, photographed or simply observed demonstrators on a collective database.
The list has not been without controversy. One campaigner found himself to be observed while at the Glastonbury music festival.
Jones has also stated that all political activities were done while she was in elected office and that she has never been arrested. She has labelled the police monitoring as “unjustifiable” and a “waste of police resources.”
The Met added that the domestic extremism database is maintained in accordance with a code of practice, and that a large number of files had recently been deleted as the individuals listed could not be justifiably monitored. It has not confirmed how many elected politicians were on the database.
Current privacy laws are under review, with documents leaked by Edward Snowden describing an unsettling and aggressive pursuit of civil monitoring by UK authorities. Comedian Stephen Fry last week spoke at a conference organised by the Don’t Spy On Us campaign, saying that the government’s action regarding the monitoring of civilians was “squalid and rancid.”
Photo: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung via Flickr