All content from September 2016

Scotland Asks Police to Self-Investigate Spycops

John Dines on Barra

SDS officer John Dines on Barra in the Outer Hebrides. His activity is excluded from the Scottish inquiry

The Scottish government has asked a group of senior police officers to investigate spycops activity in their country.

It comes in response to the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing being limited to events in England and Wales. The Home Office refused a request, supported by every party in the Scottish Parliament, to extend the Pitchford remit to Scotland.

As we’ve said previously, Scotland was not merely incidental to the political spying of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). The majority of known officers worked there. Officials admit Mark Kennedy made 14 authorised visits to the country. During these, he had numerous sexual relationships that the Met themselves have described as ‘abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong’ and a breach of human rights. He was far from the only one – Mark Jenner, Carlo Neri and John Dines all did the same.

Having failed to secure Scotland’s inclusion in the main Pitchford inquiry, every party in Holyrood except the SNP backed the call for a separate Scottish inquiry. On Wednesday the Scottish government announced its decision. It has asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to look into it. HMICS is a body of senior police officers.

HMIC’s FIRST BUCKET OF WHITEWASH

Its sister organisation for England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has already got a history of whitewash on the spycops scandal.

The whole issue first hit the headlines in 2011 when Mark Kennedy’s exposure caused the collapse of a trial. Since then, 49 convictions have been overturned due to Kennedy’s involvement. HMIC were asked to look into Kennedy and the two spycops units.

The report was drafted by Bernard Hogan-Howe, on a two year stint at HMIC between his roles as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and Commissioner of the Met. By the time the report came out he was spending huge sums of Met money deploying lawyers to obstruct justice for spycops’ victims.

The HMIC report was completed by Denis O’Connor, who had been Assistant Commissioner of the Met at the time of the MacPherson Inquiry into the killing of Stephen Lawrence.

The report is believed to have portrayed Mark Kennedy as a rogue officer who had strayed from the purpose of his deployment. It was dramatically withdrawn and pulped just five hours before publication because The Guardian published revelations that another officer, Jim Boyling, had caused miscarriages of justice just as Kennedy did.

It underwent four months of rewriting and, when finally published in 2012, it still came out saying senior officers knew nothing, and basically hung Kennedy out to dry.

‘operational supervision, review and oversight were insufficient to identify that his behaviour had led to disproportionate intrusion.’

Kennedy had been in daily contact with his cover officer, who will have known where he was and what he was doing. Documents released since the HMIC report show that Kennedy was sanctioned from on high and people far up the ladder took a keen and detailed personal interest in his work.

Above the spycops units were their authorising officers.

‘it was not evident that the authorising officers were cognisant of the extent and nature of the intrusion that occurred; nor is it clear that the type and level of intrusion was completely explained to them’

What is an authorising officer doing if not asking about the necessity and impacts of the things they authorise?

But the HMIC report, in the classic style of self-investigations, says it was incompetence and ignorance rather than anything more sinister, only the lowlings did any really bad stuff, lessons have been learned and we can all move on.

It is a challenge for anyone to seriously expect anything different from the forthcoming Scottish report.

CHRONOLOGICAL BLINKERS

As if choosing police to self-investigate isn’t bad enough, the Scottish Government’s remit to HMICS is

‘to report on the extent and scale of undercover policing in Scotland conducted by Scottish policing since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act came into force: and the extent and scale of undercover police operations carried out in Scotland by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the Special Demonstration Squad in the same period.’

This means the earlier abuses of officers like Mark Jenner and John Dines – who were committing what their bosses admit were breaches of human rights on Scottish soil – will be ignored.

This isn’t just the police getting to mark their own homework. It is police who have been caught after decades of wrongdoing, with a history of cover-ups on this very topic, being given a narrow section of their misdeeds on which to report. Even if they could see clearly, they are looking at the picture through a toilet roll tube.

The Pitchford Inquiry has designated 200 people who were seriously involved in spycops activity – mostly those who were spied on – as ‘core participants’. A group of 24 of them were also personally targeted in Scotland and demand to know the truth of what was done to them there.

As with the police’s spycops self-investigation Operation Herne, it’s unlikely that victims will lend credibility to HMICS’ inevitably flawed and partisan effort by participating. Not that HMIC asked any victims for the 2012 report anyway.

SCOTLAND’S TOP COP DID IT, HIS WIFE’S AN INVESTIGATOR

Any idea that this will produce mere hopeless bias rather than corruption is largely dispelled by the tangle of personal involvement between Scottish police, the two spycops units and HMIC.

Scotland’s Chief Constable, Phil Gormley, was head of the Met’s Special Branch – and therefore oversaw its sub-unit the Special Demonstration Squad – from 2005-2007. He was also secretary of ACPO-TAM, the committee that oversaw Mark Kennedy’s unit the NPOIU, from 2005-2008.

Gormley supervised both units at the exact time that is under investigation. Beyond the usual bias of police investigating police, will fear of besmirching Scotland’s top cop further influence the report? What about the fact that Phil Gormley is married to Detective Superintendent Claire Stevens who has been at HMIC since 2011 (according to her recently deleted LinkedIn profile)?

If this were happening in some tinpot failed state we would express incredulous outrage. The police chief oversaw disgraced secret units that abused dozens of women, engineered hundreds of miscarriages of justice, illegally gave information on political activists to industrial blacklists, disrupted legitimate campaigns and undermined the struggle for justice by families whose loved ones died at the hands of his constabulary. An inquiry run by his senior officers with links to his wife is touted as credible.

That this is the response of the Scottish government, as it seeks to show itself as a fairer than Westminster, beggars belief.

AN INSULT AND A BETRAYAL

These aren’t suggestions or allegations. They are the established facts of large-scale, systematic sustained abuse of power and violation of the citizens that the police are supposed to serve.

To appoint HMICS to investigate these events places huge trust in those who have emphatically proven themselves unworthy. It is an insult to all those who were abused by spycops in Scotland – the people who have done all the work of exposing these outrages – whilst the police, including HMIC, smeared victims in an attempt to mitigate, justify and deny. It is a betrayal of those who expect truth and justice.

To let HMICS go ahead in light of the facts is frankly corrupt. More than that, it is an acceptance by the Scottish government that abuses serious enough to warrant a public inquiry in England count for less, or even nothing, when done in Scotland.

 

 


COPS Scotland is being launched with two public meetings featuring:

Glasgow, Wednesday 5 October 7.30pm
Jury’s Inn, 80 Jamaica Street G1 4QG

Dundee, Thursday 6 October, 7.00pm
Dundee Voluntary Action, 10 Constitution Road DD1 1LL

Public Meeting: Voices of the Spied Upon

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is proud to announce the next Voices of the Spied Upon public meeting.

On Monday 10 October 2016 at the University of London, we will bring together four very different people who have been affected by Britain’s political secret police. They will speak of their personal experience, allied spycops struggles, and the path ahead to justice.

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson – before we knew him 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 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.

Lisa Jones with Mark Kennedy

Lisa Jones with Mark Kennedy

Lisa Jones was an environmental and social justice activist. In 2010 she discovered that her partner of six years, Mark Stone, was actually undercover police officer Mark Kennedy.

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 late last year. Now she is coming forward to tell the story for herself.

Duwayne Brooks

Duwayne Brooks

Duwayne Brooks was the main witness to the murder of his friend Stephen Lawrence. 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.

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, his experience is especially important and pertinent.

Tamsin Allen

Tamsin Allen

Tamsin Allen is a partner at Bindmans, a law firm who were themselves monitored by the Special Demonstration Squad.

She has represented many clients who were spied on by political police.

She has also represented victims at the Leveson Inquiry and is currently 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 the Pitchford inquiry looms.

DATE: Monday 10 October, 7-9pm

LOCATION: The Venue, University of London, Malet Street WC1E 7HY

Entry is free, but as places are limited it is advisable to book. Reserved spaces will be held until 18.50 on the day, after which people without reservations will be given entry.

Book your place at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/voices-of-the-spied-upon-tickets-27743181603

You can also spread the word through the Facebook event.

 

Voices of the Spied Upon October meeting poster

How Many Spycops Have There Been?

Poster of 14 exposed spycops among 140 silhouettes

Political spying is not new. The Metropolitan Police founded the first Special Branch in 1883. Initially focusing on Irish republicanism in London, it rapidly expanded its remit to gather intelligence on a range of people deemed subversive. Other constabularies followed suit.

But in 1968, the Met did something different. The government, having been surprised at the vehemence of a London demonstration against the Vietnam War, decided it had to know more about political activism. The Met were given direct government funding to form a political policing unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

About twelve officers at a time would change their identities, grow their hair and live among those they spied on for years at a time. They would ‘become’ activists, each infiltrating a particular group on the far left, far right or in other areas of dissent such as the peace movement and animal rights. They were authorised to be involved in minor crime.

The police and the secret state have always used informers, and even private investigators, as part of their surveillance work. However, the SDS was unique in being a police unit set up to focus on political groups with extended periods of deployment. The model was rolled out nationally in 1999 with the creation of the SDS off-shoot, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is primarily concerned with these dedicated political secret police – the long-term, deep-cover officers of the SDS, the NPOIU, and the successor units that subsumed them and their roles.

It’s generally accepted that there have been around 150 of these undercover officers since the SDS was formed in 1968. This figure comes from work by the Undercover Research Group and activists, and extrapolation from details in official reports.

Operation Herne, the Met’s self-investigation into the spycops scandal, said in July 2013

‘To date Operation Herne has verified one hundred and six (106) covert names that were used by members of the SDS.’

This is just the SDS. Last year, Mark Ellison’s report into spycops causing miscarriages of justice asked about the NPOIU, which ran from 1999-2011.

‘Operation Herne has identified fewer than 20 NPOIU officers deployed over that period’

However,

‘Operation Herne’s work to investigate the nature and extent of the undercover work of the NPOIU was only able to begin in November 2014 and has barely been able to ‘scrape the surface’ so far’.

There may well be more spycops from either or both units.

Other, similarly hazy, approaches arrive at a similar number. The SDS ran for 40 years and is understood to have had 12 officers deployed at any given time, usually for periods of four years. This would make a total of 96 undercover officers. However, it’s known that some officers were active for a fraction of the usual time, so the real figure will be somewhat higher.

Assuming the same scale for the NPOIU gives a total of 36 officers. That is a fuzzy guess though – the NPOIU was a new, national unit and may have deployed more officers.

The Operation Herne report from 2013 said that, of the 106 identified SDS officers, 42 stole the identity of a dead child, 45 used fictitious identities, and 19 are still unknown. The practice of stealing identities was mandatory in the unit for about 20 years until the mid-1990s. The NPOIU, starting in 1999, is only known to have stolen a dead child’s identity for one officer, Rod Richardson.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

There are certainly some more spycops from the successor units.

The Met merged its Special Branch (including subsidiaries like the SDS) with its Anti-Terrorist Branch in October 2006 to form Counter Terrorism Command. They reviewed and shut down the SDS in 2008.

Although the NPOIU used a number of Met Special Branch officers, from 2006 it was overseen by the Association of Chief Police Officers as part of their National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU). In 2012, the NDEU was also absorbed into the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. At the same time, the NDEU changed its name and stopped having any responsibility for undercover officers.

Last November the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt issued an abject apology to eight women deceived into relationships with undercover officers. Two months later Carlo Neri, another officer who had similar relationships, was exposed. Assistant Commissioner Hewitt assured the BBC that the Met

‘no longer carries out ‘long-term infiltration deployments’ in these kinds of groups but would accept responsibility for past failings’

That appears to contradict a 2013 report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. It plainly says today’s spycops are deployed by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command and similar regional units.

‘The NDEU restructured in January 2012, and now operates under the umbrella of the MPS Counter Terrorism Command (which is known as SO15). NDEU has also recently been renamed, and is now called the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU)…

‘The NDEU’s remit changed at the same time as its restructure and no longer carries out any undercover operations. All deployments of undercover officers which target the activity of domestic extremists are coordinated either by the SO15 Special Project Team (SPT), or by one of the regional SPTs…

‘The SPTs are in the North West, North East and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Units, and the Counter Terrorism Command in London.’

HOW MANY SPYCOPS ARE KNOWN?

There are 17 spycops who have been named and well documented. There are strong suspicions about several more. Fifteen of the seventeen have been exposed by their victims. One has been exposed by journalists, one by the officer himself – Peter Francis, the only whistleblower. None have come from the police.

Journalists – notably Rob Evans and Paul Lewis at the Guardian – have substantially fleshed out the activists’ research. The Met recently claimed to be having trouble even sorting their records into order.  If that is true then perhaps the best bet would be to allow these tenacious activists and journalists, who have done such sterling work despite police obstructions, to come and have a go.

Although the 17 spycops’ identities are properly established, with most of them having extensive details and numerous photos in the public domain, the Met are reluctant to give any further information.

Until the cover names are known, the majority of people targeted don’t even know it happened. Waiting for victims to investigate and gather evidence is a denial of justice. This is why most people granted ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming public inquiry – mostly activists confirmed as significantly affected – have called for the release of all cover names and the names of the groups who were spied upon.

The Met say they must ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that anybody was ever an undercover officer (for a demolition of their ‘policy’ of Neither Confirm Nor Deny, you cannot do better than Helen Steel’s superb speech to the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing). On many occasions they have even refused to refer to Mark Kennedy by name, as if it’s still a secret. This came long after he hired Max Clifford to sell his story for a tabloid front page splash, which is about as unsecret as it’s possible to get.

After three years of legal wrangling, in August 2014 courts forced the Met to admit that Jim Boyling and Bob Lambert were spycops (again, long after both officers had personally talked to the media).

In March 2014 the Met’s Operation Herne produced an 84 page report concerning SDS whistleblower Peter Francis’ revelations about spying on the family of Stephen Lawrence. It said it

‘will not confirm or deny if Peter Francis was an undercover police officer’

As if they might devote all that time and effort to the ramblings of a fantasist.

It’s an insult to those who have been abused. It’s also a double injustice familiar to other victims of state wrongdoing – there’s what the state does, then how it pours resources to smear, lie and obstruct justice for its victims.

This doesn’t bode well for the forthcoming public inquiry.

Today, Kennedy, Lambert and Boyling are still the only three spycops the Met will officially admit to. Here is the list of 17.

WHO ARE THE SPYCOPS?

  1. Peter Francis AKA ‘Peter Daley’ or ‘Pete Black’
    SDS. Self-disclosed. Initial exposure March 2010, real name given June 2013
  2. Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’
    NPOIU. Exposed by activists, October 2010
  3. Jim Boyling AKA ‘Jim Sutton’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, January 2011
  4. Marco Jacobs (alias)
    NPOIU? Exposed by activists, January 2011
  5. Mark Jenner AKA ‘Mark Cassidy’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, January 2011. Real name given March 2013
  6. Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, October 2011
  7. Lynn Watson (alias)
    NPOIU? Exposed by activists, January 2011
  8. Simon Wellings (alias)
    SDS? Exposed by activists 2005, publicised March 2011
  9. Rod Richardson (alias)
    NPOIU. Exposed by activists, February 2013
  10. John Dines AKA ‘John Barker’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, February 2013
  11. Matt Rayner (alias)
    SDS. Exposed by activists, 2013
  12. Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’
    SDS. Exposed by journalists, June 2013
  13. Jason Bishop (alias)
    SDS. Exposed by activists, July 2013
  14. Carlo Neri (alias)
    SDS? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, January 2016
  15. RC (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, February 2016
  16. Gary R (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, July 2016
  17. Abigail L (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, July 2016