All content from May 2017

Another Spycop Outed: Andy Coles / ‘Andy Davey’

Andy Coles, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer Andy Davey

Andy Coles, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer Andy Davey

A new name has been added to the infamous list of Britain’s political secret police. Last week Andy Coles was known to the public as Cambridgeshire’s Deputy Police Commissioner and a Conservative member of Peterborough City Council. Now we know he was also Special Demonstration Squad officer ‘Andy Davey‘.

He infiltrated London animal rights campaigns from 1991-1995.

His old comrade Paul Gravett, having learned of other spycops in the movement, seriously suspected ‘Davey’ as far back as 2013. He was confident enough to name Davey three years ago in How Special Branch Spied on Animal Rights Movement.

‘Davey was so well entrenched that he begun to produce the group’s newsletter. Shortly afterwards he also transferred the mailing list onto a computer. We were in the era when some organisations still did not have their own PC or internet access and his IT expertise was considered invaluable. Spies are trained to exploit skills shortages like this, to ensure they become trusted and above suspicion.’

No conclusive proof of Davey’s identity, or his real name, was forthcoming until the Undercover Research Group followed the trail from clues from a most unlikely source – the autobiography of Andy Coles’ brother, ex-Communards keyboard player turned vicar and broadcaster the Reverend Richard Coles. The story of their investigation is fascinating, and has led to their comprehensive profiles of both his time undercover and his life outside it.

Long after his deployment, Coles was on the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Terrorism and Allied Matters committee (ACPO-TAM) when it was running the deployment of spycops such as Mark Kennedy in the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). Coles was Head of Training up until the time when the unit was taken out of ACPO-TAM’s control in March 2011.

SEXUAL PREDATOR

During his time undercover Coles was known for forcing himself on women. This went on unbeknownst to ‘Jessica’, an activist with whom he cultivated a serious long-term relationship, a practice the Metropolitan Police have conceded was

‘a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’

Jessica has only recently learned the truth and made this statement

‘Although I was 19, I had never been in a proper relationship before. Events in my life had taught me it’s best to keep people at arm’s length.  So, I didn’t know how to react when he made advances towards me, I was embarrassed, awkward, and what truly makes me feel sick now, is that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.  I look back now and realise I was naive, idealistic, unsophisticated and a very young 19.’

She believed he was slightly older than her, considerably younger than his actual age of 32.

‘Although not legally underage, I feel that my youth and vulnerability were used to target me. I was groomed by someone much older, and far more experienced (he had been an acting police officer for 10 years) and I was manipulated into having a sexual relationship with him.  I didn’t even know his real name…

‘my life as I knew it was a lie. One of the people that I trusted most never existed.  I can’t look back at those times in the same way now. I can’t trust my judgement, because I got things so wrong. I am now beginning to look at people I know differently. I can’t even feel that I’m being paranoid, because it’s justified.’

In March this year, Coles was the opening speaker at the annual conference of Link to Change, an organisation supporting young people facing sexual exploitation. He is Chair of Families First Peterborough, a community interest company working with disturbed and vulnerable children in danger of being excluded from school. He is a governor of two Peterborough schools, West Town Primary Academy and The Voyager Academy. Until last year, he was served on Peterborough’s council cabinet as a Lead Member with responsibility for Children’s Services.

There is no suggestion of anything untoward in Coles’ particular focus on groups concerning young people, but it is surely intolerable for a man who groomed a teenager for sexual exploitation to hold such positions.

Coles’ boss at the SDS was Bob Lambert, who had himself been undercover in the same campaiging groups, also having a number of sexual partners among those he spied on. Lambert was awarded an MBE for services to policing when he retired in June 2008. Coles had received the Police Long Service & Good Conduct Medal three months earlier, for 20 years’ service in which ‘the officer’s character has been very good’. That both men retain their awards having committed human rights violations and abuses of police power is an insult to those they abused and to decency itself.

Lambert resigned from his policing-oriented academic posts after the truth came to light. Coles’ position as arbiter of policing in Cambridgeshire, and in a variety of civic functions that require integrity, is equally untenable.

HE SAW IT COMING BUT STILL HE HID

Since undercover officer Mark Kennedy hit the headlines in 2011, every spycop must have been wondering if they will be the one who is exposed next. Coles’ cover name was published more than three years ago, presumably something he’s been aware of. Yet he did not come forward to apologise to the campaigns he undermined nor to those whose trust he abused or the women he violated. He hoped he would get away with it.

Even now, in the full glare of publicity, he refuses to even speak, let alone try to atone. Instead, he has locked his Twitter accounts – even the public servant ones as a councillor and Deputy Police Commissioner.

Once again, we see that the depravity and arrogance of spycops was not something in the distant past. The same things that took them undercover – a sense of superiority, a cavalier disregard for the welfare of the citizens they abuse – remain integral to their character today.

But the truth is out and we know who Andy Coles is. An unrepentant part of one of the darkest episodes in Metropolitan Police history, he has no place in positions that deal with the vulnerable, nor roles that require integrity and transparency. He must come clean. He must resign.


UPDATE 15 May 2017: Coles has resigned as Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner. He has been referred to the Independent Police Comapints Commission. He still has two school governorships, roles in organisations for young people and a seat on Peterborough City Council.

Spycops Activists Meet Scottish Minister, Demand Inquiry

Spycops campaigners at the Scottish Government, Glasgow, 10 May 2017. From left: Donal O'Driscoll, Merrick Cork, Helen Steel & Tilly Gifford

Spycops campaigners at the Scottish Government, Glasgow, 10 May 2017. From left: Donal O’Driscoll, Merrick Cork, Helen Steel and Tilly Gifford

People spied on by political undercover police in Scotland met with the Scottish Justice Minister Michael Matheson last week, demanding an independent public inquiry.

The forthcoming Undercover Policing Inquiry, led by Lord Pitchford, is limited to events in England and Wales, despite the fact that most known spycops were also active in Scotland.

After the Home Office refused to include Scotland in the inquiry, last September the Scottish Government appointed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to conduct a review of undercover policing in the country.

As HMICS is a body of senior police officers, many victims of the spying do not find it credible and eighteen of them recently declared a boycott of the process. Outraged that the Justice Minister commissioned a review without even speaking to those affected, they requested a meeting, and on Wednesday a delegation they met him in Glasgow.

The group included Helen Steel, who had been in Scotland with her partner John Barker, aka undercover officer John Dines; Climate activist Tilly Gifford, targeted by undercover Scottish police and so outside Pitchford’s remit; Donal O’Driscoll and Merrick Cork, spied upon at the G8 protests in 2005; and the sister of ‘Andrea‘ who was deceived into a relationship by undercover officer Carlo Neri who then integrated into Andrea’s Scottish family.

Matheson repeated his claim that the HMICS review will be ‘thorough and independent’, despite the fact that it only covers policing in Scotland since 2000 and is done by police officers, some of whom have personal connections to the abuses.

The group recounted their personal experiences. Andrea’s sister recalled a number of family occasions, including Carlo Neri coming to her graduation.

Tilly Gifford was a member of climate campaigners Plane Stupid when she was singled out by undercover officers who tried to recruit her as an informer. She told the Evening Times

‘I don’t know who these people were. They were using Strathclyde Police resources but their names did not appear on any Strathclyde Police databases…

‘Because this happened in Scotland, I will not be included in the Pitchford Inquiry. Although there is evidence, and it is documented, that I was targeted, I will be completely left out of the inquiry.’

Gifford is applying for a judicial review of the UK and Scottish government’s exclusion of Scotland from a real inquiry. She has already crowdfunded the costs to get it going (though more is needed and you can donate here).

It was pointed out to Matheson that, given the fact that the spycops targeted elected Labour and Green politicians, it’s probable the SNP were spied on too, including his colleagues and their families.

The group made plain to Matheson that there is already enough established fact to warrant an a full scale inquiry that is credible to the victims, and were absolutely clear that they will not settle for less. Describing the HMICS review as ‘a figleaf’, they demanded it be scrapped immediately.

Matheson insisted he would wait for the HMICS review – planned for publication around September – and only then decide if further inquiry is needed. He made it plain that he would not be dissuaded on this point.

The Scotsman weighed in with an unequivocal opinion piece

Campaigners have already won a judicial review of the Home Office decision in Northern Ireland and should Ms Gifford’s action be successful in Scotland, the courts may take the dilemma out of the SNP’s hands.

If not, those spied on by police in Scotland face the prospect of being the only ones unable to get accountability for what happened to them.

Scotland cannot be left behind. Should the English inquiry not be extended north of the Border, then Scottish ministers must act to fill the void.

Mr Matheson was left in no doubt that this is what is required of him.

Spycops Victims Boycott Scottish Inquiry

HMICS whitewashPeople spied upon by Britiain’s political secret police in Scotland are boycotting the forthcoming Scottish review of the issue, saying ‘it cannot be trusted’ and branding it ‘pointless’.

The review by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) was commissioned by the Scottish government. Although most known officers from the disgraced units were active in Scotland, the Home Office has limited the full-scale public inquiry to events in England and Wales. The Scottish government – supported by every party in Holyrood – formally asked for inclusion but were rebuffed in July last year.

The Scottish government responded by asking HMICS to do a review, but only of events in Scotland since 2000.

Now eighteen people have written to HMICS, decrying both the remit and the choice of the body itself.

Most of them were so heavily spied upon that they are among the 200 people designated core participants at the London-based public inquiry. They include several women who were deceived into relationships by undercover officers and have received an abject apology from the Metropolitan Police.

Others were only targeted in Scotland and so cannot be part of that inquiry. Among them are former MSP Frances Curran and climate activist Tilly Gifford who is bringing a case to force a judicial review of Scotland’s exclusion.

Many were also on the illegal construction industry blacklist, despite never having worked in that trade. Several hundred activists were on the list as every constabulary’s Special Branch illegally supplied it with the details of people who were politically active.

‘The HMICS review has none of the muscle it takes to bring the truth to light, even if it were within the remit and was so disposed.

‘There is little point in another report that simply says things were wrong but it has all changed now. We and the Scottish public need proper answers. We want to know the truth of who spied on us, how we were targeted and why police thought they could get away with it. Without that truth there is no path to justice.’

The group add that they ‘do not want to be complicit with measures that treat a violation as less serious if it occurs on Scottish soil’.

Citing earlier reviews in England as inadequate, they call for an entirely different approach that puts the abused first, rather than leaving everything to the abusers and their colleagues;

‘the HMICS review should be scrapped and replaced by something that is credible to all sides and to the public at large’.

 


The full text of the letter:

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland
1st Floor West
St Andrew’s House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

27 April 2017

Dear HMICS,

Re: Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland

We were spied upon by undercover political secret police officers in Scotland. Some of us were spied on to such a significant extent that we are core participants at the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI), yet the same officers committing the same acts against us in Scotland will not be considered by the UCPI. Some of us were only spied upon in Scotland and so are ignored by the UCPI. We all deserve the truth, as do the Scottish public whose democratic rights have been interfered with.

In 2011, when the truth of what had been done to us came to public attention, we were met with denials from senior police, and sham inquiries that were narrow investigations by police officers. We have no faith in police investigating themselves. We said these reviews were not sufficiently transparent, robust or independent to satisfy public concern and would not come close to addressing all of the issues raised. We were proven right.

As the scale of what went on became clearer and the content of many of these reports – including one from your sister body HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) – were discredited, more serious action was taken. Mark Ellison’s reviews were followed by the announcement of the UCPI. Its exclusion of events in Scotland is a serious limitation. Most of the exposed officers were active in the country and the truth of what happened in Scotland is just as important as it is in England.

For the Scottish Government to commission a review by HMICS is a retrograde step. It is much like the response we had in 2011; police self-investigating a tiny part of what happened, a fob-off to give the appearance of doing something.

We are far beyond that now. We are not dealing with allegations, but proven abuses. This includes officers initiating and furthering intimate relationships with women in Scotland, which the Metropolitan Police has conceded was a violation of human rights and an abuse of police power. It warrants comprehensive and impartial investigation, which we have no faith HMICS is capable of delivering.

Firstly, there is a mater of trust. HMICS is a body of career police officers investigating their colleagues. On that basis alone, it cannot be trusted.

The proposal to look at two disgraced units that were, at the time in question, overseen by the current chief constable of Scotland (whose wife works for your sister organisation, HMIC). This makes it even harder to feign independence. Additionally, the review is being led by Stephen Whitelock who has been working in and alongside the posts that deployed undercover officers, including authorising Strathclyde’s deployments of the abusive Met officers this review examines. The decision to choose him and HMICS gives the appearance of corruption. We cannot think of anyone less appropriate to be doing this.

Secondly, there is a matter of scope. The HMICS remit is limited to events since 2000, a fraction of the lifetime of the units. Among the many outrages committed was the targeting of women through intimate relationships, the use of stolen identities of dead children and the illegal blacklisting of construction workers, environmental and community campaigners. All of these took place in Scotland before 2000 but the investigation will treat them as if they did not happen. To ignore such a significant part of the pattern of abuses makes the investigation unable to see anything like the whole picture and renders it pointless.

Thirdly, there is the element of HMICS’ power to investigate. We have battled for years to get as far as we have, faced by a police culture that will do anything it can to avoid accountability. We have some hope that the UCPI, with its power to compel witnesses who give testimony under oath, might elicit some truth. The HMICS review has none of the muscle it takes to bring the truth to light, even if it were within the remit and was so disposed.

There is little point in another report that simply says things were wrong but it has all changed now. We and the Scottish public need proper answers. We want to know the truth of who spied on us, how we were targeted and why police thought they could get away with it. Without that truth there is no path to justice. There is also no means for the Scottish public to learn how these undemocratic abuses came about and so put steps in place to ensure they do not happen again.

No police report to date has offered anything like that and there is no reason to believe HMICS could, let alone would, do so.

We believe the Justice Secretary should have spoken to those of us abused by these officers in Scotland before deciding on an appropriate course of action. Instead, he spoke only to police and their satellite bodies and then hired them.

We do not want to be complicit with measures that treat a violation as less serious if it occurs on Scottish soil. The HMICS review should be scrapped and replaced by something that is credible to all sides and to the public at large.

The Scottish public and those abused in Scotland deserve a proper Inquiry into the abuses committed by political undercover policing units, just as those in England and Wales deserved one.

Andrea
Alison
Claire Fauset
Donal O’Driscoll
Dr Nick McKerrell
Frances Curran
Harry Halpin
Helen Steel
Jason Kirkpatrick
John Jordan
Kate Wilson
Kim Bryan
Lindsay Keenan
Lisa
Martin Shaw
Merrick Cork
Olaf Bayer
Tilly Gifford