Met Commander Bob Broadhurst 'sorry' over G20 claim

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Media captionMet Commander Bob Broadhurst says he "genuinely did not know" there were covert officers in the crowd

A senior Metropolitan Police commander has apologised for giving false information to MPs over the 2009 G20 protests in London.

A month after the protest Commander Bob Broadhurst claimed no plain clothes officers were deployed in the crowd.

Scotland Yard has now admitted covert officers were used.

Mr Broadhurst told an MPs' Home Affairs Select Committee the information was "true to the best of my knowledge at the time".

In 2009 he told a parliamentary committee: "We had no plain clothes officers in the crowd.

"It would have been dangerous to have plain clothes officers in the crowd like that."

A Met statement released this month said: "The officers were covertly deployed by the Metropolitan Police Service to G20 protests to identify individuals who may be involved in the organisation of criminal activity and to give intelligence as to the protesters' activity."

Commander Broadhurst was so-called 'gold commander' of the police operation on the day.

He told the latest hearing: "I first of all apologise. When I appeared before you I gave you information that appears to be inaccurate.

"At the time it was true to the best of my knowledge."

Asked by panel chairman Keith Vaz if he should have been aware, he said: "There is a review going on into that.

"Normally they would tell me. It didn't happen on this occasion.

"It may well be, as you said, I didn't ask the right questions."

'Sharp lesson'

He was supported at the hearing by acting Met commissioner Tim Godwin, who said: "If you are running a huge operation like that you can't know everything all the time.

"In intelligence you don't always know the source.

"However, I think what this has done is given us a sharp lesson and we will look at that."

Image caption The Met said the officers were covertly deployed to identify potential criminals at the protests

Acting Commissioner Godwin went on: "The vast majority of men and women who fulfil this function [working undercover] on behalf of the police service are some of the bravest people that we actually have.

"They have lots of controls in terms of governance and oversight.

"Every now and then, things go wrong and we need to investigate those, but the vast majority do a splendid job for this country."

He added that the use of covert officers on large operations was "not an exception at all".

Commander Broadhurst's 2009 claim came under scrutiny after the unmasking of former undercover officer Mark Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy spent seven years posing as a green activist and reporting back to police.

He caused the trial of six men accused of conspiring to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire to collapse after he said he would testify for the defence.

Police were heavily criticised after clashing with protesters at the 2009 G20 demonstrations.

Newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson died after being pushed over by a police officer, but no prosecution was brought.

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