London police's secret "domestic extremist" list includes people who sketch protests

Baroness Jenny Jones, a Green Party councillor, writes in the Guardian about the bizarre smears and tittle-tattle she found about herself in the Metropolitan London Police's secret database of "domestic extremists," such as her tweets from a protest in Trafalgar Square.

Jones is just one of many people who have found themselves placed on the "domestic extremist" watchlist by the Met on the flimsiest of excuses. For example, John Catt, an 89 year old peace and human rights campaigner, is in the database along with a notation about the fact that he sketches demonstrations. The police cast a wide net indeed — noting, for example, that Green politician Ian Driver organised a meeting in support of marriage equality.

The Met's definition of "domestic extremism" didn't occur in a vacuum. It's part of a wider, more militarised view of dissent and protest in general, reflected around the world in the use of illegal "kettling" tactics against protesters, the deployment of "stingray" surveillance devices used to capture the identities of all attendees at peaceful protests, and other examples of officialdom's pants-wetting terror at the thought of people protesting the decisions made by plutocrats and their tame technocrats.

Flicking through the file I was able to read copies of tweets I had made, a note that I was speaking at a demonstration in Trafalgar Square – even something saying I was the Green party mayoral candidate for London and was worried that I might be kettled on a protest. Most of the information came from public sources. How could it in any way be seen as useful intelligence? This was a complete waste of police time and resources.

As an elected politician who has never been arrested, I was naturally surprised to find I even had a file on this database. But I am not alone. There is a Green party councillor in Kent who was spied on for two years for peacefully and legally protesting about live animal exports. His file even included details of organising a public meeting in support of equal marriage.

There is also John Catt, an 89-year-old from Brighton who campaigns for peace and human rights. He found he had a file on this database which even included descriptions of his appearance ("clean shaven") and his habit of sketching demos. He has since launched legal action against the Met, winning a decision at the court of appeal to have information held on him deleted. A police appeal is due before the supreme court soon.

The Met turned me into a domestic extremist – with tweets and trivia [Jenny Jones/The Guardian]