London, July 27 (IANS) Undercover police officers who adopted fake identities in deployments lasting several years spied on more than 1,000 British political groups, a public inquiry revealed on Thursday.
It is the first time that the number of political groups infiltrated by the undercover spies over more than four decades has been made public, reports the Guardian.
However, the list of groups that were infiltrated has not been published by the inquiry.
The number of infiltrated political groups was released by the public inquiry that was set up by Theresa May, while she was Home Secretary, to examine the conduct of the police spies since 1968.
At least 144 undercover police officers have been deployed to spy on political groups since 1968.
According to the inquiry, the spies developed elaborate false identities, often based on dead children and supported with fake documentation such as driving licences provided by the state.
They spent long periods, usually five years, pretending to be political activists while they informed their superiors about the activities of campaigners and the protests that were being organised.
Sixteen of the spies have been identified following investigations by campaigners and journalists, the Guardian reported.
The initial groups infiltrated by the spies in the late 1960s and 1970s included campaigns against the Vietnam war and apartheid, and Left-wing organisations such as the International Marxist Group.
On Tuesday, the Home Office confirmed that the public inquiry was now being headed by a new judge, John Mitting.
The inquiry has been delayed as the police are arguing that most of its proceedings should be held in private in order to protect the spies and their techniques.
The police are submitting legal applications that would, if granted, keep secret the identities of their spies.