Partner, 80, of racial activist killed by police during protest in London in 1979 accuses Scotland Yard of ‘misuse of surveillance powers to protect herself from justice’
- Blair Peach died at the age of 33 after being hit by an officer during a protest in 1979
- His grieving partner Celia Stubbs was spied on by undercover agents
- She recounted an investigation into the practice she felt violated after hearing about it
The grieving partner of an anti-racism campaigner who was murdered by a police officer said she felt “ violated ” – and didn’t understand why she was being spied on.
Celia Stubbs, 80, told the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) that agents were “ misusing their supervisory powers … to protect themselves from justice. ”
Blair Peach, a teacher and trade unionist, died at the age of 33 after being hit by an officer on April 24, 1979 during a protest in Southall, West London.
The demonstration came amid tensions stemming from the National Front staging a general election campaign that year.
Ms. Stubbs said the “improper surveillance” of her was particularly unpleasant because it took place when she was mourning Mr. Peach and trying to campaign for justice for him.
In her written statement, she said: ‘The murder of Blair Peach is a major episode of alleged police misconduct of the most serious kind that remains unsolved.
Celia Stubbs, Blair Peach’s former partner who died in 1979 after an argument with the police
Blair Peach was killed by a police officer during a protest in Southall, west London, in 1979
“I believe my case and the circumstances of my security shed light on an important aspect of how the police behaved in response to Blair’s murder.
‘They have misused their supervisory powers. They don’t use them to protect the public from harm, but to protect themselves from justice.
“They wanted to know what I was doing and what others who helped me were doing, with the clear conclusion that they were doing it to make sure they were one step ahead of our campaign to hold Blair’s killers to account.”
Ms. Stubbs provided evidence for the investigation, saying, ‘I just don’t understand why I was being spied on, what was the purpose?
“And I would like to know for sure how it will be used, how long it will be kept, and why they did it.”
In her written statement, she said: ‘I am afraid I never suspected that I was the subject of direct undercover espionage, but I cannot speak on behalf of others.
“I never thought I’d done anything that spied.”
She was referring to a 1998 document in which she spoke of her reluctance to get involved in events to mark the 20th anniversary of Mr. Peach’s death.
Celia Stubbs outside the inquest into the death of her ex-partner Blair Peach in a protest
‘I find this very painful. Personally, I find the big anniversaries extremely difficult, but I did participate.
‘When I received the documents in December 2019, it was extremely shocking to see this material and to see how the police handled our actions and events complying with the law and just trying to find out the truth of what had happened.
‘I was surprised by how upset and angry I felt. They seem to have lost all awareness that Blair was murdered by police officers and that our grief about it had been criminalized.
“It’s hard to describe how violent this is.”
Ms. Stubbs spoke of “not feeling that you are being listened to,” adding that core participants “are fighting injustice in a climate where we are vilified by authority.”
She said, “We don’t know why we’re targeted. I just hope that this research will protect the core participants and that when you come to write your report it will be the most important thing on your mind.
“Me and I am sure that many other core participants, I know those that I have listened to, all feel really violated, just like me.”
Investigative attorney David Barr QC said in a previous hearing that the campaign for justice for Mr. Peach was described by agents as “the subsequent campaign against the police.”
The 1979 Metropolitan Police Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) report stated: with the ability to mount an ongoing campaign to discredit and criticize the police. ‘
The SDS insisted that coverage of the campaign allowed uniformed agents to be deployed in locations where public unrest could arise.
The final series of hearings in the gigantic UCPI began last month, looking at the activities of the SDS between 1973 and 1982.
The investigation was suspended until 10:00 am Friday.