Police Scotland chief constable Phil Gormley linked to undercover unit

Phil Gormley Image copyright PA
Image caption Phil Gormley was formally sworn in as the chief constable of Police Scotland earlier this month

The new chief constable of Police Scotland previously had responsibility for a controversial team of undercover officers, the force has confirmed.

Phil Gormley was commander of the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch in 2006, which until 2008 included the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

Some of its officers entered into long-term sexual relationships with women while infiltrating protest groups.

Mr Gormley has told BBC Scotland he knew "nothing at all" at the time.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "We can confirm that Mr Gormley was the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) commander responsible for Special Branch in the MPS during 2006."

Mr Gormley was sworn in as the new chief constable of Police Scotland earlier this month after it had been announced in December he would take over the job from Sir Stephen House.

Scotland Yard last year apologised to and agreed substantial pay-outs for several women who had entered into "abusive, deceitful and manipulative" relationships with undercover officers.

One of the five officers involved fathered children.

The officers had been working undercover for the SDS and the separate National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

Extended to Scotland

Both teams deployed officers on long-term undercover operations to infiltrate radical political or social causes, such as environmental campaigns, anarchy and animal rights.

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced an inquiry into undercover policing in England and Wales - though calls for this to be extended to Scotland have so far been unsuccessful.

It has been claimed that some of the officers spied on activists ahead of the G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005.

The Police Scotland spokesman said further enquiries on the issue were a matter for the Metropolitan Police Service "who are preparing to support the Pitchford Inquiry, which of course Mr Gormley will co-operate with in every way possible".

In an interview with BBC Scotland, Mr Gormley said he knew "nothing at all" about the actions of officers in the 1980s when he took over in 2006.

He said: "I will be as transparent as I'm allowed to be, but I have to respect that there's a public inquiry - I will cooperate fully with that."

Undercover: The allegations made to date

  • Some officers had relationships with women who did not know they were undercover police officers
  • One of the officers involved in a relationship fathered children
  • At least 42 of 106 covert identities used by undercover officers were the names of children who had died
  • Labour MPs, trade unionists and justice campaigns, such as anti-racism groups, were targeted
  • An officer was inside the "wider" Stephen Lawrence campaign - and briefed superiors as they campaigned against Scotland Yard failings and prepared their defence ahead of the public inquiry into his murder
  • Undercover officers were arrested alongside other campaigners - leading to claims of miscarriages of justice
  • Some 57 convictions have been quashed to date - and there could be more than 80 more