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



13 °C 9 °C

BBC Local Live

    09:30: Tube strike talks to begin

    Talks will take place later in an attempt to avoid a 24 hour strike on the the Northern Line scheduled for next Monday in a row over a driver being sacked.

    The talks at the conciliation service ACAS will involve both Transport for London and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union.

    09:21: Rail contact awarded

    A consortium made up of Stagecoach and Virgin has won the franchise to run the East Coast mainline rail route between London and Edinburgh.

    East Coast train

    The firms have promised to invest £140m in the route over eight years, and will pay the government £3.3bn for the contract.

    09:12: Attempted murder charge

    A man has been charged with the attempted murder of a woman in a street in Ilford.

    The Met said the 43-year-old will appear at North East Barkinside Magistrates Court later charged with threatening a person with a bladed article and possession of a bladed article after an attack on Ilford Lane.

    09:01: News on the hour

    The lead story at 09:00 on BBC London 94.9: Surrey Police have begun a huge manhunt for a man from Walton-on-Thames following a double murder overnight in Leatherhead.

    08:56: On air Vanessa Feltz Presenter, BBC London 94.9

    On with Vanessa Feltz this morning, Steve Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, will be in the hot seat and taking your questions.

    You can listen live on BBC London 94.9 and call in with your questions on 020 7224 2000.

    08:47: Manhunt for double murder suspect

    A manhunt is under way after a man and woman in their 50s were found stabbed to death in a house in Fetcham, near Leatherhead.

    Viktoras Bruzas

    Surrey Police are trying to trace Viktoras Bruzas who they said was now likely to be in Sussex although he also had links to south-east London. Another man in his 30s has been arrested in Walton-on-Thames on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

    08:38: Student loans 'bankroll terrorism' The Daily Telegraph

    One of London's top anti-terror officers is warning that some extremists are using welfare payments and student loans to bankroll terrorism in Syria and across the world.

    The Telegraph reports that the Met's Assistant Commander Terri Nicholson believes women who are not known to the police are also being used to smuggle money out of the country.

    08:27: Road delays Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    On the roads the M25 is queuing anticlockwise from Junction 2 to the Dartford Tunnel following a collision after the tunnel exit earlier on.

    There are still some periodic closures of the tunnel.

    08:22: Police shooting protest 'peaceful'

    Scotland Yard has said a demonstration at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, which turned into an impromptu march to Westminster, passed off peacefully last night.

    Michael Brown

    About 1,000 people gathered to condemn the decision not to prosecute the police officer who shot dead the unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year.

    08:15: Railway delays Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    A fire on an engineering train at Epsom has closed all lines affecting South West Trains and Southern services which are diverting.

    First Great Western are delayed in and out of Paddington following a signal failure at Reading and Southeastern Services between London Bridge and Charlton via Greenwich are not running following a signal failure.

    08:05: Cloudy and misty start

    It will be a cloudy and misty start to Thursday with occasional rain or drizzle and hill fog, but becoming mainly dry later.

    BBC weather

    Some bright spells may develop and south easterly breezes will persist.

    08:00: Good morning Beth Rose BBC News

    I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across the capital today for BBC Local Live.

    You can also send your news, pictures and comments to london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or Tweet @BBCLondonNews.



  • photo of patient zero, two year-old Emile OuamounoPatient zero

    Tracking first Ebola victim and and how virus spread

  • A young Chinese girl looks at an image of BarbieBarbie's battle

    Can the doll make it in China at the second attempt?

  • Prosperi in the 1994 MdSLost in the desert

    How I drank urine and bat blood to survive in the Sahara

  • Afghan interpetersBlacklisted

    The Afghan interpreters left by the US to the mercy of the Taliban

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.