Harriet Harman has demanded to see a police file kept on her after it was revealed she was under surveillance while serving as an MP for Peckham – and possibly even when serving as a Cabinet Minister.
The Labour party deputy leader said the security services had ‘overstepped the mark’ when they monitored her movements in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, while she says she was simply campaigning for the rights of women and workers.
She told the News: “The thing about my situation is I was never involved in anything illegal at any stage. It shows how far from the mark the security services can be. If I’m supposed to be a threat, how wrong can they be getting it? It’s a complete waste of time and money of the security services,” she added.
A former undercover officer revealed last week that he read ten secret police files on MPs, including Ms Harman, while he worked for the Met’s Special Branch, but she says she has been asking to see her file since the 1980s when she was first made aware of it. She has always been refused, but hopes that this latest revelation and a public enquiry into undercover police operations will be a “break through.”
“The thing about it is who knew about it?” she asked. “Were they [the security services] out of control or was there political complicity?”
Last year the Metropolitan police said it did not know how many elected politicians it was currently monitoring, after it was revealed that it had monitored Camberwell’s own Green party peer, Jenny Jones.
Speaking to the News, Jenny Jones said she was “shocked” but “not surprised” to hear that Harriet Harman was also kept under surveillance. “I bet there’s quite a few more as well,” she said.
Jenny Jones was logged on the police’s ‘domestic extremist’ database after she took on a role scrutinising the force.
“I think they like to watch the people who cause them trouble,” she said. “It’s nothing to do with protecting the public, it’s about protecting the police.
“It’s just about being careful that they don’t get challenged at all, which I think is utterly inappropriate. They are funded by tax payers so they have to be held accountable,” added the London Assembly Member.
A spokesperson for the Met said they would be contacting Ms Harman in writing, to offer an opportunity to discuss the “issues raised” by Special Branch officer, Peter Francis.
Home Secretary, Theresa May, has been called upon to ensure an existing judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing examines the extent of the surveillance of members of parliament.