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Bob Lambert Resigns Academic Posts

Protest against Bob Lambert's employment at London Metropolitan University, March 2015

Protest against Bob Lambert’s employment at London Metropolitan University, March 2015

Former spycops officer – and later boss – Bob Lambert has resigned from both his positions at British universities.

It comes after more than a year of pressure on the University of St Andrews – where COPS gave a presentation on Lambert in March – culminating in a letter two weeks ago from four prominent activists including George Monbiot, who holds an honorary doctorate from the univesity.

Lambert’s other employer, London Metropolitan University, has seen even more intensive activity. As well as having the COPS presentation on Lambert to staff and students, there have been monthly pickets as part of a dedicated campaign that has made the controversy front page news.

As a Special Demonstration Squad officer, Lambert was deployed into the animal rights movement in the early 80s. He had sexual relationships with four women whilst undercover, including fathering a planned child with one. He co-wrote the What’s Wrong With McDonald’s? leaflet that triggered the McLibel trial, yet kept his role and that of the SDS from the court. He was part of an Animal Liberation Front cell that firebombed department stores that sold fur, and stands accused of planting the devices that burned down Debenhams in Harrow.

Afterwards, he was promoted to running the SDS, where his officers also had long-term life-partner relationships. He oversaw the spying on the the family of Stephen Lawrence and many similar black and family justice campaigns, as well as Labour MPs including Jeremy Corbyn.

His hiring to academic positions teaching counter-terrorism and criminology to future police managers is entirely at odds with the disgraced history of the man, his methods and his unit. As Observer columnist Nick Cohen put it, Lambert was ‘uniquely unqualified’ for his positions.

The story broke yesterday in the University of St Andrews’ newspaper The Saint. Outgoing principal Louise Richardson said

I’m not going to get involved in what people do privately

That is a bizarre response to what Lambert did on duty as a paid public servant.

Lambert was also employed by Exeter University, embarking on a ten year project, but resigned in 2011 shortly after he was exposed. The university has rebuffed inquiries as to why. Likewise, this week London Met refused to say why he had resigned.

Today’s Guardian quotes Lambert saying

Henceforward I will pursue my academic interests in responses to terrorism and political violence as an independent researcher. I will also continue to cooperate with the investigations and inquiry into undercover policing.

Scotland Asks to Join Inquiry

saltireIn a dramatic turn of events, the Scottish government has written to the Home Secretary asking for Scotland to be included in the public inquiry into undercover policing.

Just three weeks ago the Scottish government said it would be happy to wait and see what the Pitchford inquiry concluded – even though that’s several years away and is not due to examine events in Scotland. This week they confirmed to campaigners that they have changed their minds.

The call comes just days after German MPs demanded their government get answers about UK undercover police in Germany.

As it stands, the Inquiry’s terms of reference begin

Purpose: To inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968

However, it is clear that activity elsewhere was a significant part of the work of Britain’s political secret police. Eight of the 12 exposed officers worked abroad, covering 17 countries over a period of decades. As the Undercover Research Group have documented, Scotland was a common location for them, with six of the 12 known officers deployed there.

Neil Findlay MSP welcomed his government’s appeal to the Home Secretary, saying

I hope the UK government agree to this request and open up the Pitchford inquiry to examine what went on in Scotland, but if they don’t then there has to be a separate Scottish Inquiry.

Whilst being better than nothing, a separate inquiry would raise the possibility of conflict and competition between the two. There would not only be duplication of resources but raises the possibility of one uncovering information unknown to the other.

These Metropolitan Police officers moved freely between countries in their deployment, so excluding certain events from the inquiry on grounds of geography is arbitrary and prevents any chance of a proper overview.

Activist Jason Kirkpatrick told the Sunday Herald

I would sincerely be outraged if documented and admitted undercover policing scandals in Scotland are not allowed to be looked at in this investigation.

Why should I be asked to tell Lord Pitchford everything that happened to me in England, but be banned from telling him that I suspect undercover police were involved in sabotaging my legally protected journalistic work in Edinburgh?

Mark Kennedy, Lynn Watson and Marco Jacobs – all officers from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) – were at the anti-G8 protests at Gleneagles in 2005. Kennedy had a major organisational role as transport co-ordinator.

Sarah Hampton, who had a year-long relationship with Kennedy at the time, told the Guardian

He was an amazing activist. He was a full-time activist. He was paid to be an activist. None of us were paid to be activists. He was very efficient. He had a fund to spend on us which came from the state.

The NPOIU officers were joined at the G8 protests by Jason Bishop and another suspected officer from the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). A 2012 report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) admitted there were SDS and NPOIU officers were at the G8.

That same HMIC report says that Kennedy defied orders to travel abroad with an activist in 2009. It’s thought this was Harry Halpin, with whom Kennedy travelled to a climate activist meeting in Copenhagen.

Halpin, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, say Kennedy spied on him when he was a student at Edinburgh University. In Copenhagen, he was badly beaten by police.

He told the Scotsman

It was terrifying. I could hardly see or walk by the time they had finished with me. I was never given an explanation by the Danish police on why I was targeted, but I think it was because of information passed to them by Mark Kennedy.

It’s intelligence which is still being used to target people for no clear reason. It’s intelligence which should be removed.

Five women are known to have been in Scotland with undercover officers from both units who deceived them into intimate relationships – a practice the Metropolitan police has admitted was

abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong… these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma.

With this catalogue of abuses stemming from just a handful of the political secret police, it’s clear that there needs to be disclosure about the actions of all officers from these units and which groups they targeted.

Abuse is equally abhorrent wherever it is committed. A personal violation is no better if done in Stirling or Copenhagen than in London.

The Home Secretary should extend the Inquiry’s remit to Scotland – and to all actions of Britain’s disgraced political secret police, wherever they took place.

German MPs Demand Answers About UK Spycops

Andrej Hunko (left) and Hans-Christian Stroebele

Andrej Hunko (left) and Hans-Christian Stroebele

Two German MPs have written to their government demanding answers about activities of British undercover police in their country.

Andrej Hunko and Hans-Christian Stroebele’s letter to the Ministers of Justice and the Interior was sent yesterday.

Hunko tweeted the text of the letter (it may only be an excerpt):

To the German Ministers for Justice and the interior:

  • The government should ask the British authorities, who ordered and took responsibility for Kennedy’s operations in Berlin.
  • The Interior Ministry, and the German Federal Criminal Police as the international contact for exchange of undercover police, should obtain details if Mark Kennedy (or other British police) also practiced illegal sexuality or had emotional bonds outside the obligations of their duties.
  • If applicable, those residing in Germany must be informed about possibilities of seeking legal redress in Germany, and about civil litigation options in the UK.
  • The British undercover officers and their police managers must disclose how far the operations in Germany (for example in the regional states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Baden-Weurttemberg or Berlin) used the support of listening technologies to record conversations, and on which legal basis this occurred.
  • According to a report in the British daily newspaper the Guardian from 24 September 2014, at least 56 were falsely convicted due to the activities of undercover police officers. This also involved operations by Mark Kennedy. The Interior Ministry and Federal Criminal Police must investigate, with all relevant regional state authorities, whether the activities of the British police may have led to false convictions.

Only twelve officers from the British political secret police units have been exposed so far – less than 10% of the true total. Of these, three are confirmed as having worked in Germany.

Mark Kennedy was deployed to the country numerous times, and Peter Francis and Marco Jacobs also visited. This means there were officers from both the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit in Germany over a period of 15 years.

Whilst in Germany, Kennedy committed arson and was arrested twice, illegally going through the system under a false name. He is also known to have engaged in sexual relationships with women he spied on.

Now that the British state admits that undercover officers deceiving women into intimate relationships was a breach of the womens’ human rights, it puts additional pressure on all governments to investigate what happened.

With just a handful of officers publicly known, it’s already certain that these British state agents committed human rights abuses in Ireland, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Israel, Iceland, Greece, the Netherlands, Thailand, Italy and Vietnam.

As Hunko and Stoebele’s letter demanding answers from not just the German authorities but the British too, it increases the pressure for the Pitchford inquiry to play its proper part.

Spying abroad was clearly a significant element of the work of Britain’s political secret police. Their disgraced behaviour and offences against citizens are just as serious whether committed in Bermondsey or Berlin.

As in Scotland, the increasing pressure for a proper inquiry – and for the British government to provide answers – is coming not just from from activists but also from MPs of more than one party. This groundswell makes it increasingly apparent that the public inquiry’s proposed limit to events in England and Wales is untenable.

Activists Demand Lambert’s Sacking

Bob Lambert then and now

Four prominent activists have written to the University of St Andrews demanding the sacking of lecturer Bob Lambert, former Special Demonstration Squad officer and manager.

The letter, sent on Friday, lists a swathe of wrongdoing by Lambert and officers under his command.

It was signed by:

  • George Monbiot, a campaigning journalist who holds an honorary doctorate awarded by the university
  • Lois Austin, former chair of Youth Against Racism in Europe, a group spied on by undercover officer Peter Francis under Lambert’s command
  • Dave Smith, trade unionist and secretary of the Blacklist Support Group
  • Helen Steel, who was in several groups targeted by Lambert and officers he deployed, and was deceived into a long-term relationship by one of them.

It comes after Lambert’s other employer, London Metropolitan University, has faced similar calls with a succession of pickets and the issue making front page news locally.

The University of St Andrews said

He has been entirely open with the university and his students about his past. His teaching is highly valued by students. Beyond that, as matter of policy, we don’t comment on personal matters or the circumstances of our staff.

Whilst this isn’t as bold as London Metropolitan University’s saying

He has extremely rich experience in professional practice, accepting that some of that is now controversial

it nonetheless tests our credulity. Are they really saying Lambert told the university and students things he says he didn’t even tell his wife? Or has he just been firefighting, admitting each revelation after it has been made public?

Do they really think Lambert’s history has no bearing on his position? Would they continue to employ, say, a medical lecturer was found to have run a disgraced and disbanded secret clinic that performed unethical, traumatising experiments on patients without consent?

The Sunday Herald reports that the call for Lambert to lose his post is endorsed by MSP John Finnie, himself a former police officer.

I consider his continuing employment a blight on our highly regarded education system and trust it ends soonest.

It adds a new facet to the clamour around the spycops scandal in Scotland. With Scottish police already under fire for spying on journalists, in recent weeks, as we have already covered, there has been a call in the Scottish Parliament for a proper inquiry into the political secret police’s activities there. As well as coverage in the Scotsman, there has been a series of articles in the Sunday Herald and an MSP calling for an inquiry into blacklisting.

 

FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER

 

Dear Professor Richardson,

We write regarding Bob Lambert who is listed as a lecturer at the University of St Andrews’ Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence. We believe that his past conduct as a central figure in the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad means that he is supremely unsuitable for teaching and shaping the thoughts of others in his current position.

His University biography asserts that “For the bulk of his police service (1977–2007) Robert Lambert worked in counter-terrorism, gaining operational experience of all forms of violent political threats to the UK, from Irish republican to the many strands of international terrorism that include what may now best be described as the al-Qaida movement.”

In reality much of his career was spent within the Special Demonstration Squad which was set up to monitor protest groups – more counter-democratic than counter-terrorist. The SDS’ abuse of citizens and undermining of legitimate campaigns are one of the darkest corners of Metropolitan Police history. Lambert is no role model and should not be trading on his abuses.

It is not only Lambert’s personal conduct undercover that is damning. He went on to run the Special Demonstration Squad, overseeing deployments that largely repeated his pattern of behaviour, hallmarked by the same abuses. For years he directed a raft of officers whose actions were – to use the words of police investigators – morally wrong, completely improper, gross abuses of their role in deployments that were abject failures.

In the four years since he was exposed, many new facts about the SDS have come to light. With each new revelation the scandal grows, and there are two notable constants in almost every case – Bob Lambert is integrally involved, and he has not mentioned it before.

Bob Lambert is responsible for acknowledged human rights abuses.

Last month the Metropolitan Police issued an unprecedented apology to seven women deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover officers, including one of Lambert’s former partners, Belinda Harvey, and women targeted by officers supervised by Lambert. The apology unequivocally states that the relationships were “abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong” and that “these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma”.[1]

In a separate case Bob Lambert deceived another woman, Jacqui, into a relationship and even fathered a child with her despite knowing he would disappear from their lives once his posting as an undercover officer ended. This relationship led to a record compensation payout by the Metropolitan Police to Jacqui in October 2014.[2] Even after he was outed in October 2011, Lambert did not make contact with Jacqui or their son, waiting until she discovered the truth by chance in the press. A statement he issued in Oct 2011 apologised to Belinda Harvey (about whom he had been questioned) but made no mention of Jacqui or other women he had deceived.[3]

Lambert now admits that he had four sexual relationships whilst in his undercover persona.[4] He not only had these relationships, he was later the SDS manager who deployed numerous other officers who did the same. Operation Herne, the police’s own investigation into political undercover policing notes of these relationships; “Such an activity can only be seen as an abject failure of the deployment, a gross abuse of their role and their position as a police officer and an individual and organisational failing.”[5]

In addition to these abusive relationships, Lambert and the SDS have been shown to be involved in:

Stealing the identities of dead children: Lambert stole the identity of Mark Robert Charles Robinson, who died aged seven of a heart defect.[6] The practice has been condemned by the Home Affairs Select Committee who said it “was not only ghoulish and disrespectful, it could potentially have placed bereaved families in real danger of retaliation”.[7]

Deceiving courts: Lambert admits being arrested “four or five times” and prosecuted under a false identity. He claims he cannot remember if he was convicted.[8] This raises serious questions about perjury and perverting the course of justice. Additionally, he co-wrote the What’s Wrong With McDonald’s? leaflet that triggered the McLibel trial, the longest trial in English history.[9] The fact of Lambert and the SDS’ involvement was kept from the court.

Spying on the family of Stephen Lawrence: Lambert was the SDS manager whose officers spied on the Lawrences. He oversaw Peter Francis, who says he was tasked to ‘find dirt’ with which to discredit the family (a charge Lambert denies but which the Ellison Review recommended is fully investigated by the Public Inquiry into undercover policing).[10]

Five years after the murder Lambert brokered a meeting between one of his officers who had been spying and the Commissioner’s team at the Lawrence Public Inquiry. This has been condemned by Mark Ellison QC’s report as “wrong-headed and inappropriate… a completely improper use of the knowledge the MPS had gained by the deployment of this officer”,[11] and Lambert was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The investigation appears to still be ongoing. The fact of the SDS spying was kept from the Public Inquiry and all other investigations into the case.

This was one of at least 18 similar family and black justice campaigns spied on by the SDS, including others targeted by officers under Lambert’s direction.

Acting as an agent provocateur: Those who knew Lambert under his pseudonym assert that he often berated activists for being “too soft” and encouraged them to take more serious action. He instigated many of the protests he spied on. Perhaps the most serious charge against him is the allegation that he planted an incendiary device in the Harrow branch of Debenhams in 1987 as part of a co-ordinated action against the fur trade which caused damage totalling £9m in three Debenhams stores.[12] It is a charge he has strenuously denied.

However, he claims credit for getting two of the group jailed and yet fails to explain how the mysterious firebomber of the Harrow store got away without even being named or apprehended.

Spying on MPs: In March it emerged that at least ten MPs had been spied on by the SDS. These are elected, public figures rather than the clandestine figures the SDS claimed to be countering. Lambert was one of the SDS managers who deployed officers who spied on the likes of Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn.[13]

Construction industry blacklist: The Consulting Association was a company that ran an illegal blackllist of thousands of politically active construction workers. Their files contain information that can only have come from police or the security services. The Independent Police Complaints Commission says it appears likely that every Special Branch supplied information that appears in files for the blacklist run by the Consulting Association.[14] Lambert was the SDS manager who oversaw Peter Francis, who says he believes intelligence he collected is in blacklist files,[15] and also Mark Jenner, who posed as a construction worker and infiltrated construction union UCATT under his false identity.

This was no one-off error, it was a catalogue of abuse that Lambert turned into a blueprint for others.

One has to wonder, if all this is not enough to make him unfit to teach others, what does it take? With fresh revelations coming to light almost weekly and the public inquiry about to begin, we can be confident there will be more.

These were not the actions of a young naïve person. This was years of deliberate, strategic abuse of citizens and undermining of legitimate campaigns.

Lambert’s apologies, such as they are, come in carefully worded phrases that only take partial responsibility for what has already been exposed. They appear to be little more than firefighting each revelation as it appears. Did he declare this grossly abusive past – which he says he kept secret from his own family – to the University when he applied? Or did he deceive you as he deceived so many women and other campaigners?

Whichever, it is abhorrent that a man so lacking in moral compass should be in a position where he is shaping the minds of others. The University of St Andrews should terminate his contract.

Yours,

George Monbiot (Honorary DSc, University of St Andrews)

Lois Austin (ex-chair, Youth Against Racism in Europe)

Dave Smith (secretary, Blacklist Support Group)

Helen Steel (McLibel defendant and one of seven women who recently received an apology from the Metropolitan Police)

REFERENCES

[1] Claimants in civil cases receive MPS apology, Metropolitan Police, 20 November 2015
[2] Met pays £425,000 to mother of undercover policeman’s child, BBC News site, 24 October 2014
[3] Bob Lambert replies to Spinwatch, 23 October 2011
[4] I was weak and cruel, admits ex-undercover police boss, Channel 4 News, 5 July 2013
[5] Operation Trinity: Report 2 – Allegations of Peter Francis, 16.2, Mick Creedon, March 2014
[6] Anatomy of a betrayal: the undercover officer accused of deceiving two women, fathering a child, then vanishing, The Guardian, 21 February 2013
[7] Home Affairs Select Committee, Undercover Policing: Interim Report, p8, 26 February 2013
[8] I was weak and cruel, admits ex-undercover police boss, Channel 4 News, 5 July 2013
[9] McLibel leaflet was co-written by undercover police officer Bob Lambert, The Guardian, 21 June 2013
[10] The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, Summary of Findings, p30
[11] The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, volume 1, p264
[12] Undercover policeman ‘fire-bombed shop,’ MPs told, BBC News site, 13 June 2012
[13] Police continued spying on Labour activists after their election as MPs, The Guardian, 25 March 2015
[14] Police colluded in secret plan to blacklist 3,200 building workers, The Observer, 12 October 2013
[15] Police ‘spied on activists for blacklisting agency’, The Guardian, 18 August 2013

Any Means Necessary: Spycops on Stage

Any Means NecessaryMark Kennedy’ spent his seven year deployment living in Nottingham. His infiltration of activists planning to shut down Nottinghamshire’s Ratcliffe on Soar coal fired power station led to the collapse of a trial, catapulting the issue to national awareness and starting the slew of revelations that is still flowing forth.

Nottingham Playhouse have commissioned a play, Any Means Necessary, based on events around the Ratcliffe action.

Award-winning writer Kefi Chadwick spent over a year researching the piece, speaking to many of the activists who were spied on as well as the legal teams who represent them.

Drawing from the experience of numerous people targeted by political secret police – far beyond just Kennedy – Any Means Necessary conveys the human cost of the spycops scandal.

Chadwick said, “these cases show an incredible abuse of human rights and civil liberties and are one of the biggest police scandals of all time. To be able to bring the events to life on the stage at Nottingham where one of the worst offenders lived and spied is a great privilege and an important part of the victims right to have their stories heard.”

Directed by Giles Croft as part of the Nottingham Playhouse’s Conspiracy season, Any Means Necessary runs from 5th to 20th February 2016.

Tickets start at £10.50 and can be booked from Nottingham Playhouse

There are some audio described, sign interpreted and captioned performances.