Content tagged with "NPOIU"

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.

 

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 [UPDATE March 2017: now 18. UPDATE May 2017: now 19] 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

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

Germany Asks to Join Spycops Inquiry

Most Known Spycops Worked Outside England & WalesThe German government have formally asked to be included in the forthcoming Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing. Five officers from Britain’s political secret police units are known to have been in the country.

Special Demonstration Squad whistleblower Peter Francis says he was the first officer to work abroad when he was sent to an anti-racist gathering in Bavaria in 1995. Francis was accompanied by his handler who stayed in a nearby hotel – the infamous former officer turned overseer Bob Lambert. The recently exposed officer known as RC is also reported to have been in Germany around ten years after Francis.

Mark Kennedy was also a frequent visitor to the country, and in 2007 went with fellow officer Marco Jacobs. Kennedy was arrested in 2006 in Berlin for arson after setting fire to a dumpster, and again at an anti-G8 protest in 2007. He gave his false name to authorities which – along with arson, of course – is a crime in Germany.

Like the Scottish government’s similar request, the German demand follows years of sustained effort by parliamentarians from the left-wing and Green parties. Tenacious parliamentarian Andrej Hunko has been working on this since Kennedy was first uncovered, and this week he welcomed his government’s call and spelled out the seriousness and breadth of the issue.

SCOTLAND WAITS AND WAITS

The forthcoming Pitchford inquiry is planning to only examine actions of spycops in England and Wales. As the majority of exposed officers were active in Scotland (and Scottish chief constable Phil Gormley had oversight of both spycops units at the key time) it is patently absurd to exclude Scotland from the inquiry.

Despite their government formally asking to be included last year, and even Tories demanding Theresa May accede, there has been no real response. It has been six months now, yet we have merely been told time and again that “talks are ongoing”.

With the preliminary sessions of the inquiry mostly over, it is starting to look like the Home Office is simply stalling and that the lack of a response will effectively become a refusal once the inquiry begins.

For their part, two representatives of the inquiry fielded questions at the recent conference hosted by the Monitoring Group and Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. They told those attending that it would be nonsense to exclude part of an officer’s story just because it happened abroad, and the inquiry would want the full picture.

Whilst this is some comfort, it is far from good enough. Firstly, the spoken assurance of underlings is very different to the declared decision of the Chair.

More importantly, it avoids many of the real issues. Spying abroad raises questions far beyond the officers’ own stories. Who organised it? Who decided their remit and purpose? How much did the host country know? Who is responsible for crimes committed by officers whilst abroad?

Peter Francis says SDS officers were given

absolutely zero schooling in any law whatsoever. I was never briefed, say for example, if I was in Germany I couldn’t do, this for example, engage in sexual relationships or something else.

NORTHERN IRELAND ALSO IN THE QUEUE

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) says police weren’t even told that spycops were being deployed there. Yet German police confirmed to Andrej Hunko that Mark Kennedy was directed and paid by German police. Which operations were done which way, and why?

That mention of ignorance is the first official comment from police about spycops being in Northern Ireland. SDS officer Mark Jenner was there in August 1995 fighting with nationalists in a violent clash with the loyalist Apprentice Boys of Derry march.

This week PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the BBC that nobody in the Northern Ireland police was ever aware the SDS were there, nor of any information being passed to them from the SDS.

With myriad other undercover operations going on in Northern Ireland during the conflict, to have sent Met officers in seems dangerously blase at best. Hamilton said

risk assessments have to be carried out. Anybody who’s deployed here without those assessments would be, in my view, an act of madness.

It seems hard to believe the SDS were so cavalier as to send their officers blundering in like that. Perhaps their contacts in the Northern Irish police aren’t admitting anything. Perhaps the SDS was working with some other arm of the British state. Or maybe this really is another area where the SDS simply didn’t think about the possible impacts on the people it worked among.

All this only refers to the SDS in Northern Ireland. Mark Kennedy, of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, was active in Belfast in 2008. He was there with activist Jason Kirkpatrick who has had confirmation that the Northern Irish government has also asked to be included in the Pitchford inquiry.

ALL IRELAND SPYING

Kennedy was a repeat visitor south of the border as well, notably fighting with police in a Mayday demonstration in 2004. It’s been five years since this was made public knowledge and Michael D Higgins TD – now president of Ireland – demanded an explanation.

SDS officer Jim Boyling was there in the mid 1990s so it’s clear the Republic, like the North, has a long history of being targeted by both of Britain’s main spycops units.

HOW MUCH MORE?

Last year we compiled a list of 17 countries visited by spycops over a period of 25 years. It is barely the beginning. All of these instances come from the fifteen exposed officers from the political secret police units. There are over a hundred more about whom we know nothing.

How much more of this – and what else that we haven’t even imagined – did they do? What campaigns did they infiltrate? Whereabouts were they? What crimes did they commit? Which children are still looking for disappeared fathers under false names?

Their actions – which the Met itself describes as “manipulative, abusive and wrong” – were perpetrated against uncounted numbers of people. The apologies and inquiry apply to actions in England and Wales, but it is no less abhorrent if the victim is abroad and/or foreign.

The German request is a major event. The extensive incursion of spycops into politically sensitive Irish territories surely means there will surely be more demands for inclusion and information coming from there as well. Affected activists have also initiated a legal case in Northern Ireland to force inclusion in the inquiry, a tactic that may well spread to other countries. Yet the disdain with which the Scottish government’s long-standing demand has been treated by the Home Office means the fight is far from over.

The arrogant disregard for the personal integrity and wellbeing of individuals was carried over to the laws and statutes of entire countries. Everyone who has been abused by spycops deserves the full truth, be they a solitary citizen or a sovereign nation.

Spycops Investigator was Spycops Overseer

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

As the full scale public inquiry into Britain’s political police continues to limber up, it’s worth noting that they’re reliant on the same police that committed the abuses.

New evidence this week shows that’s not institutional, but that a individual senior officer responsible for spycops is posing in a key role as a neutral trustworthy figures.

OPERATION HERNE

The first serious attempt at inquiring into the spycops scandal was a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing in February 2013.

It took testimony from three women who had relationships with undercover officers, Helen Steel (anonymised as ‘Clare’), Lisa Jones and Alison.

It also heard from Assistant Chief Constable Pat Gallan of the Metropolitan Police, then-head of the police’s self-investigation into the issue, known as Operation Herne.

The three women who had relationships had done successful investigations to prove that their former partners were Metropolitan police officers. In contrast Pat Gallan, with a staff of several dozen, said she had uncovered very little indeed.

The hearings were the day after the Guardian revealed that Mark Kennedy’s predecessor officer had stolen the identity of a dead child called Rod Richardson. The report estimated it had happened in around eighty other cases.

Gallan, who admitted being aware a case of theft of dead children’s identities five months earlier, had somehow found no further instances and cast doubt on the Guardian’s guess.

She says she does not know if the figure of 80 children’s identities being used is accurate.  She knows of two cases.

Gallan’s numeracy is clearly as strong as her detective ability. Even by that time, there had been published stories about three officers who used dead children’s identities – Rod Richardson, John Barker (aka officer John Dines) and Peter Black (aka Peter Daley, aka officer Peter Francis).

Gallan flatly refused to apologise for the practice of stealing dead children’s identities, or for anything else. It was a PR disaster and she was removed from her post at Operation Herne by the end of the week.

With a new layer of scandal to fend off, they needed to front it someone ‘independent’.

DECAPITATE THE HYDRA

They brought in Derbyshire’s top cop, Chief Constable Mick Creedon.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has said revelations that police used the identities of dead children will be investigated by an independent police chief with an expertise in corruption.

Well that is certainly true, though perhaps not in the way Theresa May meant. Yet again we see the exceptionalism afforded to police. No other industry would regard a sister company whose top brass frequently transfer between one another as independent and free from bias.

It continues to this day – the police are still holding the spycops files that will be wanted by the Pitchford public inquiry. Even though a whistleblower officer has reported ‘domestic extremist’ files being destroyed by fellow officers, even though the Met corruptly destroyed a ‘lorry-load’ of documents relating to its own corruption including the Stephen Lawrence case, the public inquiry has not requisitioned the relevant documents.

What other organisation found to have committed systematic abuse of citizens would be treated this way? Which other criminals get to be custodians of the evidence that incriminates them?

The Home Affairs Select Committee issued an interim report (it never did a full one). They emphatically insisted that all families whose dead children’s identities were stolen by spycops be informed. They expected it to happen by the end of 2013. We are still waiting.

At that time Creedon, keen to calm the furore and retain credibility, rapidly produced an Operation Herne report rubbishing the idea of there only being two isolated instances of dead children’s identity theft. He said that for around 20 years – mid 1970s to mid 1990s – it was standard practice in the Special Demonstration Squad.

At this stage one hundred and six (106) covert identities have been identified as having been used by the SDS between 1968 and 2008.

Forty-two (42) of these identities are either confirmed or highly likely to have used the details of a deceased child. Forty-five (45) of these identities have been established as fictitious.

Work continues to identify the provenance of the remaining identities.

There are definitely more, though. For one, the officer known as Rod Richardson wasn’t in the SDS, he was from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. Who knows how many of their officers did it?

Creedon explicitly rebuffed calls for an independent inquiry into spycops.

‘There has always been public concern about police investigating the police, but I’ll be brutally honest: there is no one as good at doing it as the police. We don’t seek to hide things. We do actually seek to get the truth and we do it properly and I frankly find it almost insulting that people suggest that in some way, because I’m a police officer, I’m not going to search the truth.’

THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS

The proof that Operation Herne was just a figleafing exercise came in March 2014. After whistleblower SDS officer Peter Francis revealed his unit had spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence, Mark Ellison produced his comprehensive and damning report into the matter. His findings eventually forced the resignation of the head of Counter Terrorism Command, Richard Walton, a classic case of ‘go before they bring misconduct charges and thereby preserve your pension’.

On the very same day as Ellison’s report was published, Creedon issued his Operation Trinity report. It looked at the same issue and reached essentially opposite conclusions. He basically said that if there isn’t documentary proof of spying on the Lawrences we can’t say it happened.

So immersed was Creedon in protecting the police from exposure that the 84 page report subtitled Allegations Of Peter Francis said it

will neither confirm or deny if Peter Francis was an undercover police officer.

Four months later came a third and seemingly final Herne report, into the spying on similar racial and family justice campaigns. Two years on, the 18 families identified are still waiting for answers. Creedon and Herne are publicly silent on that and all other matters.

BY HIS OWN HAND

But this week there’s a new twist in the tale. When spycops were active, they had to be authorised by a senior officer from the constabulary they were in, as well as their bosses at the Met. More than one of the exposed undercover officers was in Derbyshire; Mark Kennedy was there many times. We know from leaked papers of Kennedy’s deployments in North Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire that the proper protocol of these authorisations was meticulously adhered to.

As Derbyshire’s Assistant Chief Constable (Operations), Mick Creedon will have been briefed on these deployments and he will have personally authorised them to go ahead. It’s quite possible that Operation Herne has custody of documents authorising Kennedy’s abuses and bearing Creedon’s signature, unless they too have been deliberately lost or destroyed.

The Undercover Research Group have just published a profile of Mick Creedon that maps his career and shows a particular involvement in protests by environmentalists, anti-fascists and other groups who were infiltrated by spycops.

Far from being a clean, neutral figure, Creedon came to Operation Herne as an insider of many years’ standing. Once again, having been proven to have abused citizens the police are shown to respond with deceit.

These attempts at self-preservation backfire by undermining any idea that the police could have a  serious commitment to honesty and integrity, let alone justice. Top to bottom and side to side, we’ve seen brand protection as their highest priority – indeed, that is the very thing that led to them undermining the justice campaigns in the first place.

There can be no faith in Operation Herne, nor any police self-investigation. There can be no trust in the people whose wrongdoing is the subject of the public inquiry being allowed to decide what does and doesn’t get revealed. The problems highlighted by the spycops scandal are endemic and institutional. The revelation of Mick Creedon’s true history proves that there is no independence in the police.

Targeted Activists Call for List of All Spycops

Poster of 14 exposed spycops among 140 silhouettesAs the public inquiry into undercover policing prepares itself, it has designated 200 people and organisations that have a known significant link to the issue as ‘core participants’.

Of these, 21 are police and other state agents or agencies, whilst 179 are those who were targeted.

From those 179, 133 have signed a letter to the Inquiry with three demands:

1- Release the ‘cover names’ of all officers from the Special Demonstration Squad and National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

2 – Release the names of the groups who were targeted, believed to be over 500

3 – Release the Special Branch files on all core participants

This demand for disclosure echoes Doreen Lawrence’s call for there to be ‘a presumption in favour’ of naming the spycops.

It also attacks the police’s blanket use of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to frustrate attempts to find the truth. Last year’s apology from the Met to seven of the women deceived into relationships with undercover officers admitted

these legal proceedings have been painful distressing and intrusive and added to the damage and distress.

The exposure of the officers whose misdeeds the Inquiry takes so seriously has been a matter of chance – with 13 properly documented, there are still well over a hundred that nothing is known about. The only way to get the truth is if those who were targeted can tell their story, and that can only happen if they know they were spied upon.

The letter is a powerful call from the overwhelming majority of those the Inquiry recognises as being seriously affected. One core participant who signed, Stafford Scott, has likened the inquiry as it stands to a blindfolded boxer with their hands tied.

Another signatory is Kate Wilson, who successfully sued the police after being deceived into a long-term relationship by Mark Kennedy. She told the Guardian

It was only by chance that we found out Mark’s real identity. I might just as easily have been one of the hundreds who still don’t know. Everyone abused deserves the truth, not just those who happen to stumble upon it

 

The full text of the letter:

Dear Lord Justice Pitchford,

As 133 of the Inquiry’s Core Participants, we write to share our collective view that a fundamental requirement for the Inquiry’s success is to instruct police to disclose, as soon as possible, a list of names of all the organisations about whom intelligence was gathered; the cover names (not the real identities) of the individual officers responsible for infiltrating and reporting on activists and campaigns; and the individual Special Branch reports for each Core Participant group or individual.

We are aware that Preliminary Hearings are due to deal with anonymity and disclosure issues, but we feel it is vital to raise this broader point now on our own behalf and for those whose personal lives or political activities may have been profoundly affected by undercover policing but who are in no position to participate in the Inquiry because of the failure to identify the cover names of undercover agents or the groups spied upon.

Without this basic information, it is effectively impossible for the Inquiry to have a full picture of undercover policing. The only Core Participants in any position to give even a partial summary of facts they might eventually rely upon are the limited number who have already themselves researched and revealed, largely by chance, the existence of undercover officers, or those who have been informed by the media they had been subject to covert surveillance. Even then, it is difficult for non-state core participants and witnesses to contribute in any meaningful way while virtually all the documentary evidence remains in the hands of the police.

On top of this, Operation Herne [police self-investigation into the SDS & NPOIU] confirmed in July 2014 that the SDS alone targeted at least 460 groups for surveillance. When added to the unknown number of operations by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, there are hundreds of organisations who still have no idea that they were spied upon. This means the overwhelming majority of individuals and organisations targeted since 1968 have had no opportunity to consider the possible consequences of the actions of undercover officers on their work and cannot currently participate as witnesses.

Core Participants and other current and potential witnesses are likely to struggle to provide testimony as long as there remains inadequate or non-existent information available to them. We are deeply concerned that a unique and historic opportunity may be lost unless the Inquiry is able to provide the vital details we seek.

The terms of reference of your Inquiry are broad: to examine the scope and motivations of undercover police operations in practice and their effect upon individuals in particular and the public in general. We therefore believe the issue of disclosure is absolutely critical. In our view, if the Inquiry is to have any realistic prospect of providing accurate insight into the “purpose, extent and effect of undercover police operations targeting political and social justice campaigners” it must do more than look at the activities of the tiny proportion of officers – less than 10% of the total from the SDS and NPOIU – that have already received publicity and exposure.

By their own admission, police records were patchy and much of what was documented has subsequently been lost or destroyed. Even without the resistance to genuine openness and transparency we are expecting, it is plain the police alone cannot provide an adequate narrative of their actions. The only way to discover a true picture of the impact of their undercover operations is to hear the testimony of those about whom intelligence has been gathered – and this is only possible if they know who spied on them and can reflect on the possible scale, implications and potential disruption caused by undercover officers.

We appreciate that the police will use every possible argument against providing greater openness and transparency, although there is no evidence that the public exposure of any undercover officer to date has either placed them at personal risk or posed any threat to national security. In our view, the police’s ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ policy is less about protecting individuals and far more about blocking exposure of misdeeds.

We believe such a policy is untenable in a transparent public inquiry and that full disclosure is essential to discovering the truth. We urge you to set the tone for the future work of the Inquiry by insisting police disclose the information we need to fully participate.

Yours sincerely,

The following Core Participants

(numbers from the inquiry list of core participants v2. An updated PDF, v3, is here)

1 Advisory Service for Squatters

3 AJA

4 Albert Beale

5 Alice Cutler

6 Alice Jelinek

7 Alison (RAB)

8 Alex Beth Stratford

9 Alistair Alexander

10 Amelia Gregory

14 ARB

15 Barbara Shaw

17 Belinda Harvey

19 Ben Stewart

21 Blacklist Support Group

23 Brendan Mee

24 Brian Farrelly

25 Brian Healy

26 Brian Higgins

28 C

29 Cardiff Anarchist Network

30 Celia Stubbs

31 Chris Dutton

32 Claire Fauset

33 Claire Hildreth

34 Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army

35 Climate Camp Legal Team

36 Colin Roach Centre

38 Dan Gilman

39 Dan Glass

40 Danny Chivers

41 Dave Smith

43 Debbie Vincent

44 Defend the Right to Protest

46 Dónal O’Driscol

47 Duwayne Brooks OBE

48 Ellen Potts

49 Emily Apple

51 Frances Wright

52 Frank Smith

53 Gabrielle Bosely

54 Genetic Engineering Network

55 Geoff Sheppard

56 Gerrah Selby

57 Graham Smith

58 Gráinne Gannon

60 Hackney Community Defence Association

61 Hannah Dee

62 Hannah Lewis

63 Hannah Sell

64 Harry Halpin

65 Helen Steel

66 HJM

67 Hunt Saboteurs Association

68 Indra Donfrancesco

69 Ippy Gray

70 Jacqueline Sheedy

71 Jacqui

72 Jane Laporte

73 Jason Kirkpatrick

75 Jennifer Verson

76 Jesse Schust

77 John Jones

78 John Jordan

79 Juliet McBride

80 Kate Allen

82 Kate Wilson

84 Kim Bryan

85 Kirk Jackson

86 Kirsty Wright

87 Kristina Bonnie Jones (aka Tina Miller)

89 Leila Deen

90 Lisa (AKJ)

91 Lisa Teuscher

92 Lois Austin

93 London Greenpeace

95 Marc Wadsworth

96 Mark Metcalf

97 Martin Shaw

98 Martyn Lowe

99 Matt Salusbury

100 Megan Donfrancesco

101 Melanie Evans

102 Merrick Cork

103 Michael Dooley

105 Michael Zeitlin

106 Morgana Donfrancesco Reddy

110 Naomi (SUR)

112 Newham Monitoring Project

113 Nicola Benge

115 Norman Blair

117 Olaf Bayer

118 Oliver Knowles

119 Oliver Rodker

120 Paddy Gillett

121 Patricia Armani da Silva

122 Paul Chatterton

123 Paul Gravett

124 Paul Morrozzo

126 Piers Corbyn

127 Rhythms of Resistance Samba Band

128 Robbin Gillett

129 Robert Banbury

130 Roger Geffen

131 Rosa (Dil)

133 Ruth (TEB)

125 Sarah Shoraka

136 Shane Collins (aka William Shane Collins)

138 Sian Jones

139 Simon Chapman

140 Simon Lewis

141 Simon Taylor

142 South Wales Anarchists

143 Spencer Cooke

144 Stafford Scott

145 Steve Acheson

146 Steve Hedley

148 Suresh Grover

149 Suzan Keen

151 Terence Evans

152 The Monitoring Group

153 Thomas Fowler

154 Thomas Harris

155 Tim Byrne

157 Tomas Remiarz

158 Trapese

159 Trevor Houghton

160 VSP

161 William Frugal

163 Youth Against Racism in Europe

163 Zoe Young

Additional people made Core Participants since v2 list:

“Andrea”

Ceri Gibbons

Smash EDO

Scotland’s Top Cop Gormley – New Broom Sweeps Dirty

Phil Gormley Being Sworn in as Chief Constable of Police Scotland

Phil Gormley being sworn in as Chief Constable of Police Scotland earlier this month

The demand to be included in the Pitchford inquiry isn’t the only prominent element of the undercover policing scandal in Scotland.

The country is still reeling – and waiting for answers and justice – from the revelation that officers broke the law and breached human rights in operations that spied on over a hundred journalists.

It was into this environment that the new chief constable of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, was sworn in earlier this month. He needs to be seen as an person of untarnished integrity. He is far from it.

Gormley was in the Met from 2003-2007. For the latter half of that time he was head of Special Branch, which included the infamous Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) who are at the centre of the political policing scandal. He oversaw Special Branch’s 2006 merger with the Anti Terrorist Branch to form Counter Terrorism Command.

It gets worse. Yesterday’s Sunday Herald reported that Gormley was on the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Terrorism and Allied Matters committee (ACPO-TAM), and Undercover Research Group confirmed he was the Committee’s secretary from 2005-2008. This was the body overseeing the other disgraced spycops unit, the NPOIU.

They deployed notorious officers including Mark Kennedy, Lynn Watson and Marco Jacobs at the time Gormley was there. It covers the period of both NPOIU & SDS saturation involvement with the protests against the G8 in Gleneagles, and the NPOIU’s intensive renting of Kennedy to foreign governments. According to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, they sent Kennedy to 11 countries, including 14 separate spying trips to Scotland during his seven year deployment.

It is simply inconceivable that Phil Gormley did not understand what Special Branch was there for, that he failed to ask what his SDS unit was doing before he assessed how it would fit into the restructure. It is equally implausible that his oversight of the NPOIU somehow missed the fact that it was deploying officers doing the same work as the SDS using the same methods.

Assuming he knew and approved of all this, his moral judgement as a police officer – indeed, as a human being – is utterly deplorable and he should not be running a police force.

If, on the other hand, he claims that he had no idea what either of his units did then he is a woefully incompetent and negligent manager. That too means he should not be running a police force.

Seemingly knowing he is damned either way, Gormley has flatly rebuffed repeated requests to come clean and say what he knows. He amended it on Thursday to merely confirming that he worked at Special Branch.

He is still refusing to comment on what he did know about the disgraced units and officers under his command, a position that is as suspicious as it is untenable.

Neil Findlay MSP told yesterday’s Sunday Herald

Phil Gormley has taken up a very important job with Police Scotland. He needs to get off on the right footing, so should be completely open about what he knows about the SDS, the NPOIU and the discredited officers who worked for them. If he fails to do this then this issue will hang over him and questions that need answered won’t go away.

Lindsay Davies from COPS succinctly added

He should tell the truth about his past. As the police and security services so often tell us, the innocent have nothing to fear.

Police Admit Liability But Not The Truth

Stop The Shredding! Release the Files! Protest 15 January 2016In the wake of revelations of Britain’s political secret police units destroying files that incriminate them, last Friday COPS went to Scotland Yard and demanded that they stop the shredding and release the files.

The only way we will ever know the truth is if those who were spied on come forward. For that, we need disclosure of the list of ‘cover names’ used by officers and the list of groups targeted.

The forthcoming public inquiry is relying on the police to be archivists of their own damning files. The Undercover Research Group, who did such astonishing work this week exposing officer Carlo Neri, called for the ‘domestic extremist’ database unit to be suspended to protect the files.

Later the same day there was another demonstration outside the High Court ahead of the latest hearing in the case of Kate Wilson, who is bringing action after being deceived into a relationship by Mark Kennedy.

Like so many campaigners, Wilson has been subjected to a double injustice. Firstly, there was what the state did to her and then there was the gruelling ordeal of years of blatant obstructions and chicanery to obstruct her quest for the truth.

The police said the relationships weren’t authorised, they were the fault of Kennedy himself, so she shouldn’t sue the police as a body. Then they said the relationships were authorised after all so they would have to go to a secret tribunal where neither she nor her lawyers were allowed.

Kate Wilson on the today Programme, 19 Jan 2016

Kate Wilson on the today Programme, 19 Jan 2016

On Friday, after more than four years, the police finally withdrew their defence and admitted liability. But Wilson does not accept that as the end of it – it still doesn’t actually tell us who was liable. Who authorised it, why, and who else knew and approved it?

Furthermore, is it continuing? Certainly, the surveillance of Kate Wilson did not end when she split up with Mark Kennedy in 2005. Less than a year ago, she found a tracking device on her car.

She gave a powerful and moving interview on the Today Programme and also gave her analysis of the hearing.

 

The police had already unequivocally accepted that the relationships were wrong. It is now clear that wrongdoing goes far beyond the individual undercover officers. Yet we are denied access to any information about the extent of the intrusion into our lives, who knew and how far up the hierarchy it went.

The police’s decision not to defend the claim is clearly motivated by a determination to avoid disclosure of documents relating to the undercover operations, at any cost. Alongside recent revelations that they are unlawfully destroying files, it makes you wonder what further horrors they are really trying to hide.

How many more women may have been affected by these abuses? How many more children may have been fathered by these undercover officers? It is clear the police are not going to come clean. The only way there can be real justice is if the Inquiry releases the cover names and opens the files so that these women can come forward themselves.

 

Just like the refusal to tell people they were spied on, and our reliance on volunteer researchers to do the digging, the police’s stonewalling of Kate Wilson shows that they are not interested in admitting the truth, let alone learning from it. Instead, despite knowing that there is still more to come than has been revealed, they are closing ranks around their abusers, putting their fingers in their ears and singing lalalala.

But the years of mounting evidence, the unrelenting determination of the swathes of people affected and the groundswell of public outrage are combining to create a pressure that cannot be resisted much longer. Stop the shredding. Publish the names. Release the files.

==========

Kate Wilson gives her first UK public talk about her experience at our public meeting in London on Thursday. She will be alongside:

  • Stafford Scott, race advocacy worker at The Monitoring Group and former co-ordinator of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign
  • Janet Alder, who has been repeatedly targeted by spycops in her campaign for justice for her brother Christopher, killed by police in 1998
  • Jules Carey, lawyer who represented Ian Tomlinson’s family and now represents several women deceived into relationships with spycops

 

 

Scotland Asks to Join Inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Activist Jason Kirkpatrick told the Sunday Herald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He told the Scotsman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

German MPs Demand Answers About UK Spycops

Andrej Hunko (left) and Hans-Christian Stroebele

Andrej Hunko (left) and Hans-Christian Stroebele

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

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

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

To the German Ministers for Justice and the interior:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MSP Calls for Scottish Inquiry into Blacklisting

Blacklisting meeting at HolyroodBlacklisted activists Dave Smith and Ellenor Hutson spoke at a meeting inside the Scottish parliament at Holyrood on Wednesday last week. They called on MSPs to take action over the issue of blacklisting and the activities of undercover police officers in Scotland.

A large number of MSPs were present including Elaine Smith, deputy speaker of the Scottish parliament.

Ellenor Hutson, an environmental activist from Glasgow who was blacklisted by the notorious Consulting Association, told the MSPs that she had been spied on by a number of undercover police officers over many years.

She relayed the story of those other women activists who had been deceived into having long term sexual relationships with the officers who cynically used the relationships as a way of ingratiating themselves within campaigns. Hutson told how some of the women activists have described this as “like being raped by the state”.

She also explained how during protests against the G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005, she had worked alongside the undercover police officer Mark Kennedy who while a serving officer was one of the central organisers of the anti-globalisation protests.

Kennedy had been part of the Dissent network for some time and was the Transport Co-ordinator for the ‘Horizone’ – a camp of several thousand anti-G8 activists near the summit itself – which involved hiring flatbed lorries and minibuses to transport materials and people, a key logistical role during the summit protests.

Kennedy wasn’t the only National Public Order Intelligence Unit officer at the camp – Marco Jacobs had driven a minibus of activists from Brighton, and Lynn Watson was part of the medic team.

Dave Smith, secretary of Blacklist Support Group (BSG) and co-author of the book ‘Blacklisted‘ also spoke at the meeting and told how undercover police officers had posed as construction workers even infiltrating trade unions. Smith alongside other blacklisted workers and the Blacklist Support Group have been granted ‘core participant’ status in the Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing that has just opened.

However, the remit for the public inquiry set up by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, specifically limits the inquiry to undercover policing in England and Wales, so the activities of the police officers playing leading roles in the protests at Gleneagles and who may have spied on trade unions in Scotland appear to be excluded from the investigation.

Smith & Hutson both called for a full public inquiry into the role of undercover police operating in Scotland – either by the Scottish government writing to Lord Pitchford and asking him to extend the geographical scope of his inquiry or else by setting up a separate inquiry.

Dave Smith also called on the Scottish government and other public authorities across not just Scotland but the whole UK to implement the proposal of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting and to ban blacklisting firms from publicly funded contracts.

Smith explained how the major construction firms have now fully admitted their guilt and made a public apology in the High Court.

Smith told MSPs, “Blacklisted workers don’t want sympathy from politicians: we’re drowning in sympathy. What we need is action, not just fine words”

The meeting was hosted by Unite the Union with Neil Findlay, Labour MSP for the Lothians, also speaking.

Findlay commented after the meeting:

This was an excellent and shocking event at the Scottish Parliament. The meeting heard from two people whose lives have been directly affected by being put on a blacklist. To hear how Dave Smith was prevented from earning a living because of his trade union activity and for questioning health and safety practices and welfare on construction sites was truly scandalous. Likewise to hear from Ellenor how she was placed on a blacklist for the ‘heinous crime’ of caring about our environment, despite having never worked on a construction site, was remarkable.

What compounded the shocking nature of Dave and Ellenor’s testimonies was their description of the role played by undercover police. This speakers explained the central role played by the police in compiling names and passing them on construction companies. Ellenor described how she was an activist alongside Mark Kennedy, who it is now known was an undercover policeman pretending to be an activist. This collusion needs investigating, and I and others will be calling for an inquiry.