A behind-the-scenes look at whistle-blowing

A behind-the-scenes look at whistle-blowing

The front page of the Guardian from 22 March 2017 

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb recounts how a whistle-blower revealed to her how her files and those of hundreds of others were shredded by the domestic extremism unit at the Met Police to cover up the hacking of their e-mail accounts

You may have seen the front- page article in the Guardian about the whistle- blowing letter that I received from a police officer who used to work in the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit. I thought it might be interesting to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what happened in the month between the letter and the headline. 

First, I had to verify the authenticity of the shocking claim that my files and those of hundreds of campaigners were shredded by the domestic extremism unit to cover up illegal hacking of our personal email accounts by the police. The letter contained a list of personal emails and phone numbers collected by a hacker in India, employed by the police. My lawyer, Jules Carey of Bindmans, contacted six of the 10 and established that the information was legitimate. The tone of the letter also felt right, and Bindmans handed it to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate. I then held a follow-up meeting with the IPCC deputy chair, who was already investigating the shredding of my files, as disclosed by a different whistle-blower several months before. 

By this stage, I had already handed over a redacted version of the letter to two trusted journalists at the Guardian and the BBC. There were several weeks of stop/start negotiations over when we would break the story and what facts the IPCC wanted excluded. Much as I wanted to get the story into the public domain, I also wanted to push the IPCC to get on with unhindered investigation, ahead of the letter alerting the police and prompting further file shredding. 

With the IPCC in contact with New Scotland Yard and the Pitchford Undercover Policing Inquiry keen to make the information public, I decided it was time to launch the story, along with a Green Party petition and letter to members. 

The terrible events at Westminster have obviously dominated the news agenda since then, and my thoughts have been with the victims. In the coming months, I will make the same case that I have made for over a decade – the police need to focus on catching terrorists and those involved with organised crime, rather than wasting their time and our money chasing environmentalists and social justice campaigners. I hope and believe that it is because I’ve made this case that the brave whistle-blowers within the police have sent me this information.