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Helen Steel Responds to Spycop Confirmation

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of JusticeThe Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing has just confirmed that John Dines was an undercover police officer known as John Barker.

The announcement follows recent admissions that several other officers – Carlo Neri, Marco Jacobs and Rod Richardson – were also spycops. However, it still leaves the majority of exposed officers, and the 100+ unknown officers, unconfirmed.

Dines was unmasked by his former partner, Helen Steel. She has issued this statement in response to today’s news.


While I welcome the official admission that my former partner John Dines was an undercover policeman in the Special Demonstration Squad, it is a travesty that the police have been allowed to take this long to confirm what I and others exposed years ago.

Even after they issued a public apology for serious human rights abuses to myself and six other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover policemen, the police still argued they could not confirm the identity of my abuser. To date, despite that apology, they have also refused to confirm the identity of Mark Jenner who deceived ‘Alison’ into a five year relationship.

We and other women similarly deceived have had no disclosure at all about how these abusive relationships were allowed to happen, instead we have been subjected to intrusive demands for evidence of the effects of the abuse.  None of those responsible for this abuse have been held to account – even those still employed by the police have kept their jobs.

It is an insult to the many victims of political undercover policing that the police who are responsible for serious human rights abuses have been allowed to cover up the truth and withhold information from those they abused.  The public inquiry should release as a matter of urgency the cover names of all these political police and also the files they compiled on campaigners, so that those spied on are able to understand what happened and give relevant evidence to the inquiry.

We know that over a thousand campaign groups have been spied upon by these political undercover policing units.  This represents a significant interference with the right to political freedom of thought and the right to protest. Ultimately it is a means for those who hold power to preserve the status quo and prevent social change.  For this reason it is in the public interest for the cover names of all the political undercover police to be released, along with the files they compiled so that those who have abused their power can be held to account, the public learns the true extent of this political spying in this country and further human rights abuses by such units can be prevented.

Official: Rod Richardson was a Spycop

NPOIU officer known as Rod Richardson

NPOIU officer known as Rod Richardson

It’s official – Rod Richardson was an undercover police officer. His real name is still unknown – he stole the identity of a boy who died as a baby – but it’s no longer disputed that he was with the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

He was one of the unit’s first officers, infiltrating anti-capitalist, anti-fascist and environmental groups in London and Nottigham from 1999 to 2003, when he was replaced by Mark Kennedy.

The Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing announced today that there will be no application to withhold his cover identity from their forthcoming proceedings, though he will be applying for anonymity for his real identity.

This comes less than a month after the Inquiry confirmed the officers known as Marco Jacobs and Carlo Neri were spycops.

Whilst this is not a bad thing, it is not to be celebrated. It is merely telling us what we already know. Richardson was unmasked by activists he spied on nearly four years ago.

Furthermore, the only reason we know these men were spycops is because their targets investigated and exposed them – a practice criticised by the inquiry and thunderously condemned by the Metropolitan Police.

We should remember that the state have now confirmed a clutch of officers who were discovered by chance. It might just have easily been any of the other 100+ other spycops who were exposed, and conversely the known officers may well have gone undetected. If that had happened then presumably the Inquiry would be confirming those other identities while the Met claimed that it was vital for the safety of the unknown Neri, Richardson and co not to be exposed.

The fact that officers and their bosses feel that it’s fine for the public to know the cover names absolutely shreds the Met’s waffle about security. It shows that it is safe to release all the cover names, as most of the Inquiry’s core participants have demanded.

The only reason that we are meeting such resistance is because the police don’t want to face the outrage that would erupt if the public knew the true scale of what was done.

Barbara Shaw, holding the death certificate of her son Rod Richardson

Barbara Shaw, holding the death certificate of her son Rod Richardson

These new confirmations also expose the cruelty of the Met hiding behind ‘neither confirm nor deny’, refusing to tell Barbara Shaw, mother of the real Rod Richardson, anything about the state’s theft of her dead son’s identity.

It also makes a mockery of the refusal to confirm the other exposed officers. Several, including John Dines and Mark Jenner, have an even greater body of information in the public domain including their real names. It is insulting and farcical for the police to refuse to admit what everyone has known for years.

As we have amply demonstrated, the ‘policy’ of Neither Confirm Nor Deny is merely a tactic used when it suits their desire to avoid accountability. It’s past time for it to end.

Today’s admission does not give us any satisfaction. Instead, it galvanises our anger at years of stonewalling by the police, compounding their damage with a gruelling second injustice against people they abused.

The unconvincing excuses are running out. Everyone who was targeted by these disgraced counter-democratic secret police has a right to know. Every family whose dead child’s identity was stolen by them has a right to know. They always have had. The time has come.

 

Spying Victims Demand Access to Gardai Files

Ireland Satellite ImageOf the thousands of people targeted by Britain’s political secret police, around 180 were known to be so significantly impacted that they have been granted ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming Pitchford inquiry.

Most of the known spycops worked abroad, but the terms Theresa May dictated to Pitchford force the inquiry to disregard anything outside England and Wales.

Several spycops officers were in the Irish republic. Five years ago the police there produced a report on Mark Kennedy’s visits but refused to release it. As the fuss has not died down, the gardai are producing another one but won’t say if it will be published. Either way, it will fall far short of looking at the overall picture of British spycops in Ireland. Like the Scottish inquiry, it’s police investigating into police.

As reported in The Times last week, a group of Pitchford core participants who were also spied on in Ireland have demanded the Irish government undertake a thorough, credible and public investigation so that people abused there get the same level of justice as those in England and Wales.

 


6 December 2016

Spying victims demand access to gardai files

Witnesses in a British inquiry into an undercover policing scandal have urged the Irish government to force the gardai to release any files it has on the spies.

By Ellen Coyne

The Metropolitan police in London formally apologised last year after it was revealed that undercover officers had sexual relationships with members of protest groups they had infiltrated. At least one officer, Mark Kennedy, is known to have been in the Republic of Ireland, while several others were in Northern Ireland.

The Times revealed that the gardai were aware that Mr Kennedy was in the Republic on a number of occasions between 2004 and 2006 but refused to tell ministers whether it knew that he was working as a spy, even though he infiltrated protests in Ireland using his alias.

Theresa May announced an inquiry into undercover policing while she was home secretary and Lord Justice Pitchford’s investigation will examine cases in England and Wales since 1968. It will not include incidents in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Alice Cutler, Helen Steel, Jason Kirkpatrick, Kate Wilson, Kim Bryan, Sarah Hampton and “Lisa Jones”, not her real name, have all asked to have access to files with information about them, which they believe the gardai hold.

Ms Jones, Ms Wilson and Ms Hampton had relationships with Mr Kennedy without any knowledge that he was a policeman. All three visited Ireland with him.

Ms Bryan went to Belfast in 2005 on a trip organised by Mr Kennedy. Mr Kirkpatrick also travelled to Belfast with Mr Kennedy running anti-globalisation events.

Ms Steel had been in a relationship with John Dines, an undercover officer using the alias John Barker. They had visited Northern Ireland and the Republic together [correction: they were only in the Republic]. All seven visited Ireland with officers who were using undercover identities.

The group said:

‘We have all been personally chosen as core participants because we were significantly targeted by officers in England and Wales. We were also all spied upon in Ireland. We cannot have faith in the ability of the inquiry to deliver an opportunity for truth and justice when it is prevented from fully establishing what happened to us.

‘The Metropolitan police has acknowledged that aspects of the officers’ actions were an abuse of police power and a breach of human rights. These deeds are just as serious wherever they were committed. We request that the Irish government work further to ensure Ireland is included in the inquiry. If this is not forthcoming, the Irish government should set up its own investigation.’

In June the PSNI said that undercover officers had been operating in Northern Ireland during the 1990s without its knowledge. Mark Hamilton, the assistant chief constable at the PSNI, told the Northern Ireland policing board that his force had been “completely blind” to the presence of undercover Metropolitan police officers.

Last month The Times revealed that Frances Fitzgerald, the tanaiste, had asked the garda commissioner for a new report on Mr Kennedy. She will not confirm if the report will be made public.

In 2011 President Michael D Higgins, who was a Labour TD at the time, and Dermot Ahern, the justice minister, asked the commissioner to report on Mr Kennedy’s actions in Ireland. The report was never published.

Last Thursday, a spokesman for the Department of Justice told The Times:

‘The tanaiste has also made clear that she will consider this report fully when it is available, including the question of what information might be put into the public domain.’

Last night the department said it was not offering any further comment.

A spokesman for the gardai said that it does not comment on matters of security.

Home Office: Time for the Truth

A ySpycops protest at Home Office, 20 November 2016ear ago today the Metropolitan Police apologised to seven women who were deceived into relationships with officers from Britain’s politcal secret police squads.

Since then the Met have continued to drag out identical cases with other women they abused. They have  tried to draw a thick veil of secrecy over the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry, which is so woefully under-resourced that it is behind schedule before it has even begun.

The Met are still refusing to be accountable, compounding the damage done to citizens.

This afternoon campaigners gathered at the Home Office demanding an end to obfuscation with this statement:

Political Undercover Policing: Time For The Truth

In March 2015 Theresa May, as Home Secretary, ordered a Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing in England and Wales. This followed from shocking revelations made by campaigners, whistleblowers and journalists that since at least 1968 there had been secret political policing units in the UK infiltrating protests groups in order to obtain so called ‘intelligence’ on those movements.

As part of this, undercover police officers were revealed to have:

  • spied on people campaigning for social justice and/or environmental sustainability
  • even spied on grieving families & friends of people who had lost loved ones to racist or police violence or negligence, who were seeking truth & accountability
  • deceived women into relationships while undercover, even fathering children
  • illegally given people’s personal details to private companies who blacklist trade unionists and other campaigners
  • stolen the identities of dead children

The Public Inquiry started in July 2015 but victims of this police spying have learned nothing so far about how and why this spying occurred. Instead they have been sidelined by the Inquiry while the police who are responsible for the abuse have been allowed to continue their cover up and delay and frustrate the purpose of the Inquiry.

It is exactly a year since seven of the women who were deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers were given a public apology by the police who acknowledged that the relationships amounted to an abuse of the women’s human rights. But despite this, no information has been provided about how these relationships were allowed to happen and the police even still ludicrously refuse to admit the names of some of these officers.

Over 180 victims have been granted ‘core participant’ status at the Inquiry, but they are only allowed to represented by one barrister who has to agree responses on important issues without being able to consult. In contrast, the police have been allowed four barristers. Spycops protest at Home Office entrance

On top of this, while the Home Office has provided funding for 63 staff for Operation Herne, the police’s own widely discredited investigation into undercover policing, the Public Inquiry team has just 27 staff and so far does not even have a working secure computer on which to store the massive volume of documents created by Britain’s secret political policing units.

All this facilitates the police in being able to cover up their abuses and in preventing victims and the wider public from learning the truth about political undercover policing in the UK.

The Home Office has also so far refused to extend the Inquiry to include the activities of these officers when they left England & Wales.

Even Scotland has not been included – how can the Inquiry gain a true picture when so much remains hidden from it and the public?

Enough is enough. We demand:

  • the release of the cover names of all the officers in these political undercover units and the names of all the groups spied on, so that people can then give evidence to the Inquiry about the actions and effects of these spies
  • secret files are released to the campaigners and politicians who were spied on
  • funds are redirected away from Operation Herne to the Inquiry
  • the actions of these officers are investigated whichever country they took place in
  • an end to the police cover up We should all be concerned about the existence of secret political police – they undermine and prevent social change so protecting the interests of the wealthy & powerful rather than everyone else.

Official: Marco Jacobs & Carlo Neri were Spycops

UCPI Carlo Neri announcement

Is this the end of the Metropolitan Police stonewalling about the identity of spycops? Yesterday we got official confirmation of the identity of a fifth spycops officer, Carlo Neri, only days after we got the fourth, Marco Jacobs.

The announcements came from the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing, rather than the Met themselves, but it amounts to the same thing.

Although seventeen officers have been identified as belonging to the undercover political policing units, the Met have been at pains to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) it.

This charade has continued long after several have been publicly outed with extensive details, including their real names, and been interviewed by the media. The Met even went as far as saying they ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that whistleblower officer Peter Francis was ever an officer.

The First Admitted Spycops

With Mark Kennedy, the Met had admitted he was an officer before the slew of exposures, so they hadn’t invented their supposed long-standing policy of NCND yet. They have, on occasion, done a merry dance to avoid naming him in court but it was too late to actively try any NCND nonsense.

Two years ago, after three years of obstructions, the courts finally forced the Met to admit that Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling had been in the Special Demonstration Squad.

Marco Jacobs & Carlo Neri

Carlo Neri

Carlo Neri

We’ve all known Marco Jacobs was a police officer since he was publicly exposed by those he targeted in South Wales five years ago.

In March 2015 the police struck a bizarre bargain, saying that whilst they wouldn’t openly admit Marco Jacobs was an officer, they wouldn’t contest anyone saying he was and they’d pay any damages due from his criminal abuse of people he spied on.

Carlo Neri infiltrated anti-racist and socialist groups in London in the early 2000s. He was exposed at the start of 2016. Andrea, who he deceived into a relationship, spoke to Newsnight about what she called the ‘psychological torture’ of being targeted.

Neither Neri nor Jacobs’ real names have been published. Yet other officers, such as John Dines and Mark Jenner, have been even more documented – and with their real names – but still the Met pretend they can’t confirm them. Earlier this year Dines uttered an apology to Helen Steel, who he had deceived into a relationship. What else was that but an admission of his role? How much longer can they keep stonewalling about these spycops?

The Met claim that the officers would be endangered. In the six years of exposure, including some of them being public and locatable, the worst harassment any has suffered is some polite leafleting outside a building Bob Lambert works in, which took place every few weeks on days when he wasn’t there.

Exposure is not a serious threat to their safety. It does not override the public’s right to know, nor the victims’ need for acknowledgement and closure.

The Met have spent sacks of public money sending in lawyers to obstruct the fight for justice. This week’s casual crumbling of NCND is proof it was never needed in the first place, that it was just a ruse which cruelly compounded the damage done to people abused by spycops.

As Pitchford Watcher noted

‘The tactic of NCND has been wielded by the police in both court cases as a way of dragging out matters for five years, adding to the abuse and suffering already experienced by those targeted for relationships…

‘campaigners have been right in consistently pointing out that NCND is not a long standing policy that can never been breached, as the police claim, but something adopted when it suits them, namely when it comes to challenges over their accountability.’

Surely the police have to concede the truth about the rest of the seventeen. Everybody knows they were police officers. Their stories and faces have been online for years. Pretending it’s somehow secret is the act of an institution too petulant or paranoid to be taken seriously.

Release the Names

But it is not enough to merely tell us what we already know. We still don’t have any real details of how and why those people were sent into lives and campaigns.

Furthermore, the seventeen known officers are only a small fraction of the true total. Most of those abused by spycops cannot join the fight for justice because they have no clear idea what was done to them. Unless the cover names of the spycops are released people cannot realise what happened, come forward and tell their story. It also means that the officers’ evidence can’t be examined. If the names remain hidden in the Met and Pitchford’s files, we cannot get the whole truth.

The release of the cover names of officers and the groups they spied upon is the great test of the Pitchford inquiry. Truth is not just deserved by those who, through luck and persistence, have identified their state-sponsored abusers. It must be delivered to everyone subjected to this treatment, be they an individual, a campaign or an institution.

Beyond that, truth and justice are the right of the public who should know what has been done in their name, at their expense, to their society.

Spycops Stealing Dead Children’s Identities

Barbara Shaw, holding the death certificate of her son Rod Richardson

Barbara Shaw, holding the death certificate of her son Rod Richardson

Parents who want to know if their dead child’s identity was stolen by undercover police officers have been invited to ask the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.

Anyone whose child was born between 1938 and 1975 can do it, as long as they have somehow stumbled across the invitation (www.ucpi.org.uk  > Preliminary Issues > Deceased Children’s Identities > scroll to the bottom of a list of 16 PDFs > click the last one) .

The issue came to light when activists exposed their comrade ‘Rod Richardson’ in 2013. The people who had unmasked Mark Kennedy had become suspicious of someone else they had known who now appeared to have been Kennedy’s predecessor. They found that the real Rod Richardson had died as a baby.

How common was dead child identity theft?

In the same week as ‘Richardson’ was exposed, Pat Gallan – Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met and, at that point, head of its spycops investigation Operation Herne – gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. She said that they had only found one case of dead child identity theft and the combined efforts of Herne’s 31 staff had failed to find any more in the subsequent five months until activists exposed ‘Richardson’.

The select committee insisted on the truth about the issue and demanded all parents be told and given an apology by the end of 2013. We’re still waiting.

Later in 2013 Herne reported that, contrary to Gallan’s claim of it being isolated and unauthorised, identity theft of dead children was commonplace, and mandatory in the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), with instructions laid out in the SDS Tradecraft Manual.

The practice began soon after the formation of the SDS in 1968 and continued until the mid-1990s. Herne reported that, of 106 fake identities used by SDS officers, 42 were of dead children, 45 were fictitious and 19 were unknown.

Known as ‘the Jackal run’, after its use in Frederick Forsyth’s 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal, new recruits would trawl the death registers looking for a child with their first name and a similar date of birth. There is some indication that other state agencies such as Customs, also used the practice.

It has been criticised as being ghoulish, but it’s more than that. As Anthony Barker – whose brother John died of leukaemia aged 8 and had his identity stolen by SDS officer John Dinespointed out, it puts bereaved families at risk. After Dines ended his deployment and disappeared, his worried and bereft activist partner Helen Steel traced John Barker and went to the house listed on the birth certificate.

‘Now, imagine that policeman had infiltrated a violent gang or made friends with a volatile person, then disappeared, just like this man did. Someone wanting revenge would have tracked us down to our front door – but they wouldn’t have wanted a cup of tea and a chat, like this woman says she did.’

Why did spycops steal children’s identities?

Time and again we were told that it was done to give officers a credible back story. Operation Herne said

‘As outlined in the SDS Trade Craft Manual, the practice of using a genuine deceased identity was developed to create a plausible covert identity that was capable of frustrating enquiries by activists’

It later reiterates

‘the subject chosen had to have an ‘existence’ to show up in case of basic research by suspicious activists’

Met police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said

‘At the time this method of creating identities was in use, officers felt this was the safest option’

But, as one of the activists who exposed ‘Rod Richardson’ explained, it actually posed a significant risk.

‘How many times have you looked up a friend’s birth certificate because you thought they were actually someone else? It is the rare act of someone with a deep distrust. A real birth certificate wouldn’t allay the reasons for that suspicion. More than that, if an activist is suspicious enough to look for a birth certificate, they can find a death certificate too.

‘There are many reasons why someone might not have a British birth certificate. They may have been born abroad, they may have been adopted. There is, however, no reason for someone who comes round to your house to have a death certificate… Having found Rod Richardson’s birth certificate, the next thing I did was search for and find his death certificate and I immediately knew my friend had in fact been a fraud.’

In truth, the spycops stole these identities for the same reason most other thieves do it. Before passports were commonplace, a birth certificate was the primary proof of identity. Using a real one enabled them to open bank accounts, get tenancies and various other bits of officialdom that construct an ordinary functional life.

More brass monkeys at the Met

Brass monkeys

The Met responded to the revelations with their typical secrecy and cavalier attitude to the damage they have done to citizens they’re supposed to serve.

A number of bereaved families contacted police to ask if their child’s identity had been used. The Met refused to answer. A Freedom of Information request was made asking for the ages of the dead children, not even the exact dates or their sexes. At least with that barest detail, many worried families would be able to rule out their children if there wasn’t a match. The Met refused to do even that.

In August 2014 the Information Commissioners Office declared that the police must release the list of ages. Five months later, the Met admitted they had stolen the identity of dead children of every age between 0 and 17 except for 2, 3 and 15.

Bernard Hogan-Howe personally issued an apology of sorts. It was addressed to nobody in particular, refused to give any names or contact any affected families, and basically said he was sorry he got caught.

‘It was never intended or foreseen that any of the identities used would become public’

Years after the exposure of ‘Rod Richardson’ and John Dines, the Met still ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that either was an officer. The real Rod Richardson’s mother, Barbara Shaw, made a complaint to the police. It was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in February 2013 and they handed it back to the police but said it would be a ‘supervised investigation’. It was then downgraded to a straightforward unsupervised police self-investigation known as Operation Riverwood.

When it was completed the police announced that no action would be taken against any officer. They are still refusing to publish the investigation’s report.

Barbara Shaw’s lawyer Jules Carey said

‘The families of the dead children whose identities have been stolen by the undercover officers deserve better than this. They deserve an explanation, a personal apology and, if appropriate, a warning of the potential risk they face, in the exceptional circumstances, that their dead child’s identity was used to infiltrate serious criminal organisations.

‘The harvesting of dead children’s identities was only one manifestation of the rot at the heart of these undercover units which had officers lie on oath, conduct smear campaigns and use sexual relationships as an evidence-gathering tool.’


What happens next?

Last week’s announcement from the Pitchford Inquiry says it may publish names used by spycops. However, it actively warns that it, too, may join in with the Met’s cover-up practice of Neither Confirm Nor Deny.

‘the Inquiry may be unable to give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to your question, even after the Inquiry has concluded its work and knows the answer. The reason for this is that in order to protect the rights of other individuals or in the public interest the Chairman of the Inquiry may have to make a restriction order under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005 that prevents the Inquiry from releasing information in its possession.’

Bear in mind that this is not disclosing the identity of an officer, just the identity of someone else that they stole and stopped using years ago. But still, they say that your right to know what was done to your family without consent can be trumped by a desire to stop people knowing something that isn’t even about the police officer.

The Inquiry says that it will, later, attempt to contact all families whose children’s identities were stolen. This is a significant step forward and raises the real prospect of names being published.

If the Inquiry decides not to publish, will it also gag the families? Has it considered how secrecy may compound the damage to a family? As we’ve learned from countless justice campaigns, public acknowledgement of state wrongdoing is vital for victims to be able to come to terms with what was done to them.

The Inquiry also says that any families applying will be initially contacted by the police. Once again, we see the police as being placed as trustworthy independent arbiters. The police are the subject of the Inquiry because we proved they ran a sustained, systemic, strategic campaign of counter-democratic subterfuge and brazen abuse of citizens.

The Inquiry’s increasing tendency to side with police perspective and norms is deeply alarming for anyone hoping for truth and justice. We know from other cases of police wrongdoing that ‘liaison officers’ were not friendly faces but actually evidence gatherers used to undermine attempts to find justice. We know that police lied to the family of Ian Tomlinson, telling them a protester may have been their father’s attacker, and warned against contact between the family and journalists seeking the truth.

The Inquiry must recognise that what limited light falls on this murky abuse has been shed by the hard work of victims. The Inquiry should seek to emulate and expand on this approach rather than copying the acts of the perpetrators.

The police have attempted to frustrate justice and cannot be trusted. Although the police have all the files and the answers, they choose to withhold them. Their refusal to tell their victims what was done is an arrogant intensification of torment. They are acting as an enemy of justice.

Spycop Boss Sues Blacklisted Workers

Gordon Mills, one of the spycops chiefs, is suing workers who spycops helped to illegally blacklist.

The extraordinary move follows a letter from John McDonnell MP to Home Secretary Theresa May concerning Mills giving a Powerpoint presentation to a meeting of corporate bosses and an illegal blacklisting firm.

BLACKLISTING

The Consulting Association ran an illegal blacklist of over 3,000 construction workers until it was raided and closed by the Information Commissioners Office in 2009. It helped firms to filter out job applicants who had a history of being ‘trouble makers’ wanting proper health and safety equipment, union membership, or other things that are their protected rights.

Most of the big name construction firms illegally used the list – Skanska & McAlpine were invoiced for around 14,000 vetting checks in the blacklist’s final year 2008-09 when they were both building Olympic venues – but no firm has yet faced any charges or censure apart from a solitary letter telling them not to do it again.

In 2012 it was realised that some of the information on the files must have come from the police or MI5. The following year the Independent Police Complaints Commission said it seemed every constabulary’s Special Branch had supplied the blacklist with information.

Some of this information bore no relevance to the job, and instead concerned the person’s political opinions or friendships. Around 200 environmental activists had their details given to the Consulting Associationj by police. Another person, a teacher by trade, was on the list for having been seen by police at an anti-racist demonstration.

This is not police officers upholding the law, it is police officers breaking the law to uphold something they presumably feel is more important; upholding corporate power.

NETCU

After the second British political secret police unit, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, was established in 1999, a sister unit was devised in 2004 to support companies that were the subject of protests. The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU) was born.

NETCU was established during the drafting of the 2005 amendment to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act which made it illegal to ‘interfere with the contractual relations of an animal research organisation’ or to ‘intimidate’ employees of an animal research organisation. Run from Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, NETCU’s remit was defined as ‘prevention’ and it was tasked with helping companies such as Huntingdon Life Sciences frustrate campaigns waged against them by animal rights activists.

NETCU didn’t just advise corporations about threats to their profits from campaigns, it took a proactive political role in discrediting and undermining those campaigns. Its website linked to the pro-vivisection Research Defence Society, and the unit issued several press releases boasting of activists being prevented from doing street collections.

NETCU’s rapid ‘mission-creep’ saw it move to encompass environmental and climate activists.

SUPPORTING CORPORATIONS IN COURT

After the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 came into force, enterprising lawyer Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden realised that, as well as its intended purpose of protecting vulnerable women from dangerous ex-partners, it could also be used to defend multinational corporations from protest. A large number of injunctions were served against various campaigns, and Lawson-Cruttenden was behind most of them. He developed strong relationships with police officers.

Regfarding the campaign against arms manufacturers EDO and Caterpillar, the Guardian reported that in 2005,

‘Private emails show that Inspector Nic Clay and Jim Sheldrake of NETCU gave Lawson-Cruttenden the names and contact details of officers at two other police forces as he was “keen” to obtain statements about the activities of the campaigners at a third firm.’

On that occasion, the arms firm lost and the judge severely criticised Lawson-Cruttenden for ignoring a court order against receiving confidential police documents. By the time of the Guardian report in 2009 the head of NETCU, Superintendent Stephen Pearl, who had testified in court for many of Lawson-Cruttenden’s corporate clients seeking injunctions, denied that NETCU were involved in any way.

BLACKLISTERS FIGHT BACK

John McDonnell MP has supported the blacklisted workers’ campaign for justice from the start – he hosted the inaugural meeting of the Blacklist Support Group. His prominence meant that he was the chosen recipient for a document leaked in 2014.

It was two handwritten pages from the man who ran the Consulting Association blacklist, Ian Kerr. It documented a meeting at the Bear Hotel, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, attended by Kerr, directors of construction firms using the blacklist and DCI Gordon Mills of NETCU (The Canary has published the original notes). At the meeting, Mills delivered a talk complete with Powerpoint presentation. The police have not released the contents of the presentation.

McDonnell wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May demanding publication of all relevant NETCU files, and an independent inquiry into blacklisting

‘DCI Mills was head of Police Liaison at NETCU and it is alleged that his role was to provide information from the police to companies. NETCU was subsequently subsumed into the National Domestic Extremism Unit of the Metropolitan Police, but despite numerous requests under the Freedom of Information Act for documents relating to NETCU’s activities, the response has been that no documents relating to the meeting of DCI Mills with the association exist.

It appears odd that no report of such an important meeting was written and that no evidence of the meeting is now held by the Metropolitan Police.’

Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith, whose Consulting Association file was 36 pages long, and who recently co-authored the Blacklisted book, added

‘We have been saying for five-and-a half years that the state was involved in blacklisting and we have been told time and time again that is not true and been accused of being paranoid. It is a cover-up. We have a name of a senior police officer, not a rogue constable, who was meeting with them. There must be documentation held by the police and correspondence between the police and the association.’

Many blacklisted workers, and the Blacklisted Support Group itself, are among the 200 people designated core participants at the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

SUING THE PROTESTERS

So it comes as something of a surprise that Mills has, like his NETCU colleague Superintendent Pearl before him, chosen to deny everything. He told the Evening Standard

‘This attack on my integrity by John McDonnell has blighted my life, leaving me unable to move job and fearful for the safety of my family. In the past year I have been called a blacklister, a spy cop, a colluder and an undercover operative — all of which are untrue.’

That’s a bold stance for someone who was one of the officers who ran a spycop unit. The fear for his family is also a somewhat overblown. In five years since the spycops scandal hit the headlines we have learned the names and locations of many officers. Nothing untoward has happened to any of them.

Mills says the ‘highly damaging and serious allegation’ was ‘simply not true,’ adding that he had not even heard of the Consulting Association and its blacklist until he read about it in a newspaper in 2014. He singled McDonnell out for criticism

‘Mr McDonnell has never asked me for my account. I was named with what appears to be no consideration to my personal safety or the safety of my family against an extremist backlash…

With power comes responsibility. Mr McDonnell should think about the horrendous impact this has had on me and my family and apologise for initiating this campaign on an ex-police officer who was simply doing his job.’

A spokesperson for McDonnell replied that he

‘was well within his right to raise with the Home Secretary the matter of a serving police officer meeting an organisation that was involved in the illegal blacklisting of trade unionists, while this officer was working for a unit that kept union activists under surveillance’.

However, Mills is not suing McDonnell. Nor is he suing The Times, who published an interview with Consulting Association boss Ian Kerr (now deceased) who spoke of his links with police and the ‘two way information exchange’.

The sole target of Mills’ legal action is the GMB, who have given extensive legal support to blacklisted workers and helped to organise protests against blacklisters.

A CHANGE OF PLAN

In his claim against the GMB, Mills say it had been his

‘intention to develop and pursue an academic, teaching career exploiting his police experience and training’

In 2013 he published a candid essay aimed at fellow police strategists in entitled The successes and failures of policing animal rights extremism in the UK 2004–2010 as part of his work towards a doctorate. He gained this qualification at London Metropolitan University on a course run by a team including former spycop boss Bob Lambert.

Mills had a part time post at Anglia Ruskin University around that time. The GMB planned a series of demonstrations about blacklisting in March 2015, including one at Andrea Ruskin University. The university’s lawyers wrote to the GMB saying Mills’ employment there had ended in 2014 and there were no plans to renew it. The union framed this in terms of Mills being sacked and alluded to a blacklisting connection, which stretches the truth.

However, it’s clear that any future academic employer of Mills’ policing experience would be subject to demonstrations. Bob Lambert’s post at London Metropolitan University was, at the time, the subject of a campaign of monthly protests, and spycops campaigners had held meetings there and at Lambert’s other employer, the University of St Andrews. These were continued until Lambert resigned from both posts in December 2015. It seems likely that Mills and Lambert discussed all this.

As with Lambert, Mills fears the toll on his prestige and salary if he is held responsible for the unlawful actions of disgraced spycops.

No date has been set for the defamation hearing.

[The Undercover Research Group have produced a profile of Gordon Mills.]

Video: Voices of the Spied Upon

New on our Youtube channel – video of the speakers at our ‘Voices of the Spied Upon’ meeting at the University of London, 10 October 2016.

Lisa Jones was an environmental and social justice activist. In 2010 she discovered that her partner of six years, Mark Stone, was actually Mark Kennedy of Britain’s political secret police unit, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

She gathered evidence, confronted and exposed him. This began a slew of revelations that dragged the murky world of the political secret police into the light.

Eschewing media exposure, Jones was one of eight women who took legal action against the police and, after a gruelling four years, received an unprecedented apology in November 2015.

In this, her first public speech, she talks about Kennedy, the court case, political policing, the forthcoming public inquiry and her hopes for the future.

‘Lisa Jones’ is a pseudonym. She has been granted an anonymity order by the courts to protect her identity, and this video has been made without breach of that.


Duwayne Brooks was the main witness to the murder of his friend Stephen Lawrence in 1993. This began a campaign of persecution by the Metropolitan Police.

Special Demonstration Squad whistleblower Peter Francis has described spending hours combing footage of demonstrations, trying to find anything to get Brooks charged. He was arrested numerous times and on two separate occasions he was brought to court on charges so trumped up that they were dismissed without him even speaking.

The Met have admitted that, years after Stephen Lawrence’s murder, police were bugging meetings with Brooks and his lawyer.

A veteran of the machinery of inquiries, a repeated victim of spycops, as the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing looms, Brooks’ experience and perspective is especially important and pertinent.


Tamsin Allen has represented many clients who were spied on by political secret police. She is a partner at Bindmans, a law firm who were monitored by the Special Demonstration Squad.

She has represented victims at the Leveson Inquiry into tabloid newspaper phone hacking and improper relationships between police and journalists. She is representing members of parliament who were monitored by spycops.

Her experience of public inquiries held under the Inquiries Act puts her in an invaluable position as we prepare for the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing. Here, she talks about the issues with setting up the inquiry and what we can expect from it.


Ricky Tomlinson, before we knew him on TV as Jim Royle or Brookside’s Bobby Grant, was a construction worker and trade unionist.

In 1972 he took an active part in the first ever national building workers’ strike. Tomlinson was among 24 people subsequently arrested for picketing in Shrewsbury. Government papers now show collusion between police, security services and politicians to ensure these people were prosecuted. Six, including Tomlinson, were jailed.

He is one of several high-profile figures who, despite concrete evidence of being targeted by spycops, has been denied ‘core participant’ status at the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing.

Ireland Commissions Another Police Self-Investigation

Mark Kennedy (centre) at Shell to Sea protest in Co Mayo

Mark Kennedy (centre) at Shell to Sea protest in Co Mayo

The Irish government has ordered a report on British undercover officer Mark Kennedy’s activity in the Republic. Any hope that this might be useful is obliterated by the most cursory look at the detail.

The police will investigate this police wrongdoing. They will only look at Kennedy, even though three of the other 16 known officers – John Dines, Jim Boyling and Mark Jenner – were also in Ireland. Who knows how many of the remaining 100+ unknown officers went there too?

This self-investigation mirrors the Scottish government’s recent announcement – get implicated police to investigate, give them a narrow remit that is incapable of seeing the full picture, nobody gets disgraced by their systematic human rights abuses being exposed.

The same pattern was followed in Britain five years ago. A year after Kennedy was exposed in 2010 there were 12 separate inquiries going on, all of them run by police or their satellite bodies such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission. None of them were allowed an overview to see systemic issues, even if they had been that way inclined. It was designed to protect the people in charge and portray Kennedy as a rogue officer.

Ireland’s justice minister Frances Fitzgerald asked the gardai to investigate this month. However, the Department of Justice already have a report. In 2011 they got the gardai to investigate Kennedy’s actions. They’ve had the completed report for over five years but are refusing to publish it.

WHAT WAS KENNEDY DOING THERE?

Ms Fitzgerald gave some detail of the secret report to the Dail last month, responding to questions from Sinn Fein.

Refusing to even name Mark Kennedy, she said

‘The report indicated that An Garda Siochana was aware of the presence of the person in question on a number of occasions between 2004 and 2006. They had established no evidence that while in this jurisdiction the person in question was involved in criminal activities’

The claim is somewhat tenuous. Kennedy was arrested during the 2004 Mayday demonstration in Dublin. In his excruciating 2011 documentary he points himself out in a newspaper clipping of black bloc demonstrators.

‘There’s a photograph of me in one of the Sunday newspapers, the headline says something like “Anarchist Terrorists Come to Dublin”, and there’s like five of us in this picture linking arms.’

Mark Kennedy at Dublin May Day protest, 2004

Mark Kennedy at Dublin May Day protest, 2004

Kennedy was back in the Republic in June 2004 for protests at George Bush’s presence in the country.

He visited several more times over the following two years, including participating in the Shell to Sea gas pipeline protest in Co Mayo.

Commissioning the new report is proof that the Irish government is under pressure and feels it must respond. But, as with the Scottish investigation, and the heap of earlier ones from the same mould, it is not credible.

BIGGER QUESTIONS

Frances Fitzgerald is meeting British Home Secretary Amber Rudd this month. Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has asked for Rudd to be questioned about British spycops in the Republic. Specifically:

  • Who authorised Mark Kennedy’s trips to Ireland?
  • Who sanctioned the list of Irish campaign groups that were to be targeted?
  • Were any convictions in Ireland secured by evidence or actions carried out by undercover British police officers?

How much were the gardai involved? They have already admitted they approved Kennedy’s visits in advance (though claim they did not direct him), unlike the Police Service of Northern Ireland who say they were kept unaware of Special Demonstration Squad officers in their jurisdiction.

Did police in the Republic merely rubberstamp all British requests without asking what they were authorising? Or did they – like German police – have a contract and pay for Kennedy to be in their country?

Whose orders was Mark Kennedy acting on? What about the other British spycops? Which Irish citizens were spied on? Which Irish campaigns were stifled? How much Irish taxpayers’ money was spent getting British agents to undermine the work of Irish citizens?

STARTING WITH THE WRONG ANSWER

The Irish government’s decision to keep their 2011 report secret indicates that the new one for public consumption will omit important details. Looking only at Kennedy plays into the myth of him as an isolated figure. The truth is that there’s nothing Mark Kennedy did as a police officer that wasn’t done by others before him. Far from being rogue, he was textbook.

We need to know about the creation of the archtype and the actions of all those who lived it. They were part of a long-term strategy approved from on high. That is now understood as a plain fact. It is why we are having Lord Pitchford’s public inquiry. That only covers events in England and Wales, but the same officers committed the same abuses elsewhere, and it should be taken just as seriously.

We do not need to be insulted by yet another report saying that Kennedy did some bad things but there was no systemic problem. We cannot be placated by more assurances from the abusive organisations that there was nothing malicious in their intent, lessons have been learned and we can all move on. The more they give us decoys and keep secrets, the more guilty they look.

We need to know the names of the groups that were targeted. We need to know who gave the orders and why. Anything less from state agencies is collusion with the counter-democratic deeds of the spycops.

Hogan-Howe: A Legacy of Cover-Ups

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe is to resign as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Among the numerous dubious areas of his career (see the Undercover Research Group’s profile for more), he cultivated the Met’s cover-up and obstruction in the spycops scandal.

When Mark Kennedy was exposed in 2010, Hogan-Howe was working for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). As we detailed last week, he drafted their report into the scandal, which was pulped just hours before publication because new revelations proved it was untrue.

Even the second version, completed by Denis O’ Connor, was essentially a whitewash that blamed Mark Kennedy and absolved management.

By the time that report came out, Hogan-Howe was Commissioner of the Met. He set up Operation Herne, the Met’s self-investigation into spycops, appointing Pat Gallan as its head.

MARKING THEIR OWN HOMEWORK

In February 2013 Gallan testified at a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on spycops. Repeatedly pushed on the fact that officers stole the identities of dead children, she refused to apologise for the practice (or anything else). She said there had only been one instance that she knew of until the Guardian had exposed another the day before the hearing. In actual fact, the practice was mandatory for Special Demonstration Squad officers from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Gallan’s performance was so outrageous that she was rapidly removed from her post. In an attempt to make Operation Herne appear more independent, her replacement was Mick Creedon, a senior officer from outside the Met but who, in all probability, personally authorised some of Mark Kennedy’s deployments.

The Home Affairs Select Committee’s report insisted the Met inform parents whose dead children’s identities had been stolen by spycops. Hogan-Howe – personally and publicly – refused.

Although revealing the names used would only expose an officer’s fake identity, not the real one, Hogan-Howe said it was much too dangerous because activists targeted by the Special Demonstration Squad included

‘criminals behind bars and at large today who would have no qualms in doing serious harm’

This echoes the phrasing in the HMIC report he drafted, firmly asserting that the protesters Mark Kennedy infiltrated

‘were not individuals engaging in peaceful protest, or even people who were found to be guilty of lesser public order offences. They were individuals intent on perpetrating acts of a serious and violent nature against citizens going about their everyday lives.’

ABUSING THE ABUSED

Hogan-Howe was already Met Commissioner when legal action was launched in 2011 by eight women deceived into relationships with undercover officers. The Met’s lawyers threw every obstruction they could at their victims. They tried to have the case struck out. When that failed, they said the Met was not responsible as such relationships were not authorised. When the women pointed out this meant the case could be heard in open court instead of a secret tribunal, those same lawyers said that the relationships were, after all, authorised.

The Met then claimed the relationships were based on ‘mutual attraction and genuine personal feelings’. Throughout all this, they tried to avoid giving any information, saying they would ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) that any officer was in fact an officer, and further lied saying NCND was a ‘long-standing policy’ when it was merely a recent and erratically applied tactic. They would take this as far as referring to Mark Kennedy by code letters.

Eventually, they were forced to concede Kennedy was a police officer and, three years into the case, they were ordered by a court to admit Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling were too. To this day, they block accountability with NCND for all other officers, even those like Mark Jenner who’s been exposed for years and confirmed by a colleague, and John Dines who has even admitted he was an officer and apologised.

After putting their traumatised victims through four gruelling years of these legal obstructions, late last year the Met finally settled seven cases in order to avoid having to go to court and disclose information. As part of the settlement the women negotiated a powerfully worded admission and apology.

How sincere was that apology? The Met are still forcing others with identical cases – in some cases with the same officers as the settled cases – to battle on in court.

In June, people deceived into intimate relationships with undercover officer Marco Jacobs were back in court. One of them, Tom Fowler, said

‘By dragging their heels the police have increased the psychological damage they’ve inflicted on people, made it a lot worse. It just shows that the public statements made by Bernard Hogan-Howe and other police officers… are totally at odds with what they are directing their lawyers to do in court. It shows they can’t really be believed on any of these matters.’

WHEN IS A PUBLIC INQUIRY NOT A PUBLIC INQUIRY?

Earlier this year Met lawyers formally submitted that, at the forthcoming public inquiry, police should not give evidence in public. They alleged that the operations of the political secret police were too dangerous to be revealed, they claimed that being identified might lead to ’emotional unhappiness’ of the officers. By trying to have as much of the public inquiry held in secret, they were attempting to cover up rather than come clean.

This is the true face of Bernard Hogan-Howe’s Metropolitan police. Just as at Hillsborough, it uses the language of concern as part of an armoury to deny truth and justice to its victims and the wider public.

AS AT HILLSBOROUGH, SO EVERYWHERE

Hogan-Howe was personally present at Hillsborough in a role that has been criticised by the families. Hogan-Howe claimed he gave a statement to the 1989 Taylor Inquiry into Hillsborough and claimed to be one of the resolute champions of integrity who refused to change their statement despite being asked by another officer to do so. In real life, Bernard Hogan-Howe never made a statement to Taylor.

The Hillsborough families’ struggle mirrors that of so many bereaved people abused by police for wanting justice. Not only were they smeared, they were also the targets of spycops. Astonishingly, the Hillsborough families have been denied ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming public inquiry.

As is established beyond all doubt, the fault at Hillsborough rested squarely with the police. This was the conclusion of the 1990 Taylor report, as well this year’s inquests who ruled that the 96 people were unlawfully killed by police action. Yet even after all this time and the damning conclusions of multiple investigations, Hogan-Howe cannot fully admit what happened.

‘A lot of officers did their best [at Hillsborough] in very difficult circumstances, but the leadership was sadly challenged’

They were not ‘sadly challenged’, they were irresponsible, reckless liars who unlawfully killed 96 people. His instinct to defend officers – especially senior officers, especially himself – overrides any need to acknowledge the plain truth, let alone facilitate justice.

Earlier this year Hogan-Howe said a cover-up like the one that followed the Hillsborough disaster couldn’t happen these days.

‘It’s about making sure we are open and transparent… You’ve got more accountability than you’ve had for 20-30 years. I don’t think we would see today that sort of cover-up in the way we have in the past.’

There are many police cover-ups still happening today, with huge resources devoted to preventing the truth being examined. Moreover, in the case of the spycops scandal, Hogan-Howe has been the one directing it.

His protection of spycops means that most victims still have no clue as to the reason for their abuse. We have information on barely 10% of the officers, and the work has been done by victims themselves in the face of obstruction orchestrated at public expense by Hogan-Howe, whether at the pseudo-independent HMIC or as Commissioner of the Met.

It would have been more convincing if, before he reassured us, Hogan-Howe started by actually condemning the police action at Hillsborough for once and then stopped actively running the spycops cover-up. But that would have necessitated a break with his whole approach to police abuse of citizens, and the culture of the Met itself.