PRESSURE is mounting on Sussex Police to explain whether it was involved in the monitoring of Green MP Caroline Lucas by counter-terror police.

A source close to the force said it was "almost certain" that Sussex officers would have shared information on Ms Lucas from demonstrations.

Meanwhile campaigners described the monitoring of the parliamentarian as an "outrageous affront".

Yesterday The Argus told how police have been monitoring Caroline Lucas, the Green Party's MP for Brighton Pavilion, for nine years.

The National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU), based in the Met force in London, has tracked her activity at public demonstrations such as the anti-fracking demonstration in Balcombe in 2013 and the counter-demonstration to the March for England in Brighton in 2014.

Silkie Carlo, a policy officer at human rights group Liberty, told The Argus: “For a counter-extremism unit to be monitoring the lawful activities of a Member of Parliament is an outrageous affront to the rights to freedom of speech and protest, and an assault on privacy.

"This disturbing revelation demonstrates lessons have not been learnt in the ongoing saga of police misuse of surveillance to target peaceful democratic dissent.

"As Parliament debates a drastic extension of police surveillance capability, it should keep in mind these chilling abuses.”

The same police unit has also been tracking Sian Berry, the party's candidate for London Mayor, according to reports.

The Green Party's candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, James Doyle, said he had asked Sussex Police whether its resources had had been used to monitor Ms Lucas during demonstrations in its area, but had yet to receive a response.

He said: "If they have, we will be calling on Sussex Police to say do they think this is a legitimate use of their resources and their time - tracking a democratically elected politician."

Former city council leader Bill Randall, who also attended the March for England counter-demonstration in 2014, echoed that call, saying: "I think if they [Sussex Police] were involved we should be told. They should be transparent about what they were doing."

He added: "I think it is outrageous that they should monitor someone like Caroline. She is not a violent person and does not have a hidden agenda; she is always open with her views."

Ms Lucas' opposite number in Hove, Labour MP Peter Kyle, also questioned the tactic, adding: "It’s hard to imagine the circumstance where putting Caroline under surveillance could be in the interests of public safety or wise allocation of precious public resources."

A spokeswoman for Katy Bourne, incumbent Tory candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, said Mrs Bourne had no plans to raise the issue with the chief constable.

Asked whether Sussex Police officers monitor demonstrations and shares information with the extremism unit, a Sussex Police spokesman said: "Yes, Sussex Police does share information with other relevant agencies in accordance with relevant legislation."

But the force declined to comment on Caroline Lucas's case, citing due to data protection rules.

A spokesman said: "Sussex Police gathers data for policing purposes in accordance with UK law.

"We fully comply with stringent data protection legislation in regard to the collation, retention and deletion of records.

"We do not discuss details of records which may or may not have been compiled in relation to named individuals."


LOOKING seriously at the camera, the photograph printed left captures Caroline Lucas as she is taken into custody after getting arrested while out fighting for the environment.

The Green Party MP has been arrested three times while demonstrating, ending in a fine in 2007 for breach of the peace at an anti-nuclear demo and acquittals in 2014 when a district judge in Brighton found she had not obstructed anything during her protest.

Yet unknown to the politician, the picture was attached to her name in a database run by a secretive policing unit designed to root out extremists at risk of committing serious crime to meet their aims.

“Nobody should be subject to arbitrary surveillance,” the 55-year-old said this week, having learned of her tracking only after submitting a request for information on herself. “What worries me is that at a time of increasing police cuts to budget, the idea that this can be in any way a good use of resources is unbelievable, really.”

Others have been gone further in condemning her monitoring, with the leading human rights group Liberty calling it “outrageous” and the Labour Party’s Hove MP Peter Kyle agreeing that it’s “hard to imagine the circumstance where putting Caroline under surveillance could be in the interests of public safety or wise allocation of precious public resources”.

Ms Lucas requested information on herself after the experience of the Green Party’s Baroness Jenny Jones, who previously learned she had also been tagged as a domestic extremism unit – starting when she was a representative of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Her campaigning led the Met in 2014 to agree a new definition for domestic extremism, saying it “relates to the activity of groups or individuals who commit or plan serious criminal activity motivated by a political or ideological viewpoint”.

“They are breaking their own rules on this,” Baroness Jones told The Argus this week.

“Being on the database can affect people’s lives; there are people that cannot get jobs, that are blacklisted due to police information.

“If they did it to me, an elected person, how much more likely is it they will do it to people who cannot speak up for themselves?”

She and others in the Green party believe the extremism unit is particularly pre-occupied with the Green Party and other environmentalists, although that’s not clear from the evidence.

“The Greens have always had very strong policies on civil liberties and human rights,” she said.

“The other parties, when you talk about national security and law and order, they pretty much roll over.”

The log Caroline Lucas obtained on herself from the National Domestic Extremism Unit shows her presence noted at public demonstrations since 2007, when she is recorded as being arrested by Strathclyde Police during a protest against nuclear submarines in Faslane.

On April 27, 2014, her presence at the counter-demonstration to the March for England was noted by the so-called Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) deployed to the operation, according to the log.

Bill Randall, a former Brighton and Hove City Council leader who was also part of the counter-demonstration, said: “Ninety per cent of people who went were protesting peacefully against the unwelcome visit of a racist and homophobic organisation.

“I think it is outrageous that they should monitor someone like Caroline Lucas.

“She is not a violent person and does not have any hidden agenda.”

Kevin Blowe, co-ordinator for the grassroots Network for Police Monitoring, says the unit’s approach to protesters is similar to that against organised crime, sweeping up huge amounts of information to produce personal profiles of people involved.

“But taking part in protests is not organised crime,” he said. “It is a legitimate and essential part of democracy. Once on a database, the consequences for an individual is often repeated harassment, labelling as a so-called domestic extremist and an increased risk of arrest as a possible troublemaker.”

The Green Party’s candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, James Doyle, agreed that tracking protesters was a bad idea.

He said: “It sets the precedent that someone who disagrees with the establishment is someone who needs to be monitored.”