Content tagged with "Carlo Neri"

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.

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.

[UPDATE July 2017: There are now known to have been at least 144 undercvoer officers – see detail at the end of this article]

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 [UPDATE October 2017: now 24] spycops who have been named. 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

UPDATE March 2017:

18. Roger Pearce AKA ‘Roger Thorley’
SDS. Self-disclosed under real name 2013, full identity confirmed by UndercoverPolicing Inquiry, March 2017

UPDATE May 2017:

19. Andy Coles AKA ‘Andy Davey’
SDS. Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, May 2017

UPDATE July 2017:

20. Mike Ferguson
SDS. Exposed in BBC True Spies documentary, 2003 [transcript, video]

UPDATE August 2017:

21. John Graham
SDS. Exposed by Undercover Policing Inquiry, August 2017

22. Rick Gibson
SDS. Exposed by Undercover Policing Inquiry, August 2017

23. Doug Edwards
SDS. Exposed by Undercover Policing Inquiry, August 2017

UPDATE October 2017:

24. William Paul ‘Bill’ Lewis
SDS. Exposed by Undercover Policing Inquiry, October 2017



UPDATE July 2017: How many spycops have there been?

In February 2017 the National Police Chiefs Council told the Inquiry

The current position is that there are believed to have been 118 undercover officers engaged in the SDS, and a further up to 83 management and ‘backroom’ staff.

In April 2017 the Inquiry said

The Inquiry has written to 54 former members of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit who are believed to have been either undercover police officers or cover officers (26 undercover officers and 28 cover officers).

This makes a total of at least 144 undercover officers in the two units (it should be noted that the Inquiry may not have written to al NPOIU officers).