Ricky Reel: Police 'spied on dead student's family'

Ricky Reel Ricky Reel died in 1997 after a night out in south west London

Related Stories

A mother campaigning for an inquiry into her son's death in 1997 says she has been told she was spied on by undercover Scotland Yard officers.

Student Ricky Reel was 20 when he vanished during a night out in London, shortly after he and his friends had been racially abused by two white men.

His body was found in the River Thames.

The man tasked with investigating undercover policing did not name specific families but criticised the "routine gathering" of information.

Mr Reel's mother, Sukhdev, said she had been informed that officers gathered intelligence on her in 1998 and 1999.

'Time to grieve'

She wants a public inquiry into the spying claims and told the BBC: "This was happening at a time we were feeling very low, we should have been left alone to grieve for our son, instead of being spied upon."

Mr Reel, a student at Brunel University, was last seen alive on 15 October, 1997, after a night out with three friends in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London.

Two white youths had attacked the group of young Asian men. As his friends fought them off, Mr Reel disappeared.

His body was found a week later.

Police said his death had probably been an accident, and an open verdict was recorded at an inquest in 1999.

Sukhdev Reel Sukhdev Reel called for a public inquiry into the spying claims

There were two police investigations, neither of which established exactly how he died. His family are critical of those inquiries and have always maintained he was murdered.

Mrs Reel said she had been informed by a senior officer of five occasions when police were gathering intelligence on her.

That officer was from Operation Herne, the inquiry into undercover policing.

She said: "As soon as I heard it, the room started spinning and I felt sick."

The undercover operation involved the unit known as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) which also spied on the parents of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Civil rights campaigner Suresh Grover, who has worked with Mr Reel's family on its campaign, said: "The first real gesture that needs to take place is for the police to come and explain who these officers were and exactly what their remits were."

Stephen Lawrence A judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing was ordered after news the Lawrence family was spied on

Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon, who is leading Operation Herne, said he had found no evidence any family justice campaign was targeted or infiltrated.

He said he would be publishing a report on Thursday into allegations that officers were tasked with infiltrating justice campaigns.

'Weeding process'

He added: "Whilst it is also clear that there was neither an SDS or Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) tactic to infiltrate or report on such campaigns for justice, my report will be critical of the MPS, and in particular of MPS Special Branch for the routine gathering and retention of information that was collateral, not linked to an operation or the prevention of crime and it should have been disposed of as part of a weeding process."

He said he would not name the families visited as part of his inquiry.

Operation Herne was launched in October 2011 after claims that some undercover officers engaged in long-term sexual relationships with people they were spying on.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced a judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing after a separate investigation found that the Lawrence family had been spied on.

More on This Story

BBC London

Weather

London

14 °C 10 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    09:15: Liverpool 2 2 Arsenal Phil McNulty Chief football writer

    Martin Skrtel's equaliser seven minutes into stoppage time gave Liverpool a fully deserved point against Arsenal at Anfield.

    Martin Skrtel

    Read my full match report which includes analysis from Match of the Day analyst Phil Neville.

     
  2.  
    09:00: News on the hour

    The lead story in the capital at 09:00 on BBC London 94.9: A study by the Labour Party has found 75% of councils are turning off or dimming street lights late at night to save money. In Barnet 92% of lights are dimmed at night.

     
  3.  
    08:53: On air listener special

    On Vanessa Feltz's programme it's our lovely listener special. The programme will be guest edited by two listeners and we have an invited audience of 40 people.

    You can listen live on BBC London 94.9 and contact the team on 020 7224 2000.

     
  4.  
    @VanessaOnAir 08:45: On Air

    The producers on Vanessa Fletz's programme tweet: Today on @BBCLondon949 it's our lovely listener special! Here are our guest editors hard at work choosing the stories

    Guest editors

    You can listen live on BBC London 94.9.

     
  5.  
    08:32: Faberge works stolen

    A number of "high value" items including jewellery, antiques and rare works by Faberge have reportedly been stolen from the headquarters of Christie's the auctioneers in St James's.

    The burglary's said to have happened two weeks ago and Scotland Yard says there've been no arrests.

     
  6.  
    08:23: DNA scheme to fight cancer James Gallagher Health editor, BBC News website

    A new genetics project could help "unlock a series of secrets about devastating diseases", the NHS says.

    DNA

    Under the scheme, 11 Genomics Medicine Centres are being set up in to gather DNA information to help devise targeted treatments for a wide range of diseases including cancer.

    The London trusts taking part in the trial are Guy's and St Thomas', Great Ormond Street Hospital and Imperial College Healthcare.

     
  7.  
    08:14: Train delays Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    On the trains, Southern services are suspended between Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes Central due to a staff shortage. Disruption is expected all day.

    Overground has no service between Surrey Quays and New Cross due to planned engineering works.

    And there are no services at London Bridge until 4 January from Southern and Thameslink. Get the latest with BBC Travel.

     
  8.  
    08:07: On the roads Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    On the M3 it's slow northbound from J3, at Bagshot, towards the M25, due to roadworks.

    There's also reports of a crash on the A12 westbound after Green Man roundabout, which is causing delays.

    Get the latest and see traffic cameras with BBC Travel.

     
  9.  
    08:00: Beth Rose BBC News Online

    Good morning, I'll be guiding you through BBC Local Live today.

    Get in touch with your comments and photos by emailing london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet us @BBCLondonNews.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.