Content tagged with "Relationships"

Demo at Spycops Relationships Human Rights Case

Kate Wilson on the today Programme, 19 Jan 2016

When? 10 am Friday 23rd June (the hearing will start at 11am in court 5)

Where? Employment  Appeal Tribunal (EAT) located in Fleetbank House, Salisbury Square,  London, EC4Y 8JX

What about? Showing public support for a woman’s fight to outlaw the abusive and chilling practice of undercover cops deceiving women into intimate relationships

Who should come? Anyone who cares about or right to participate in social justice campaigning without fear of abuse at the hands of the state

Kate Wilson is one of the women, whose stories of their abusive relationships with undercover police, have shocked the nation. She is taking what might be a unique case against the Metropolitan Police concerning the abuse of her human rights when she was deceived into a long term intimate relationship with Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer infiltrating social and environmental justice groups. It is being held at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the secretive court that oversees complaints about the states covert intrusion into our lives.

There is a demo called before a case hearing, where the police are applying to have the whole case heard in secret, meaning Kate or her solicitors would not be able to attend the hearings, argue her case in court, hear or contest any of the police’s evidence, or even hear a reasoned judgement at its conclusion.

It is essential that such appalling abuse of Kate’s and other women’s human rights is challenged, and that this is done in the open, so the truth about what happened can come out, and the public can be reassured that it is being dealt with properly and accountably. Relationships are one of the most profoundly disturbing tools of social control so far unearthed as part of the decades-long activity of undercover units. It is essential that people are able to participate in social and environmental justice campaigning without fear of such abuse.

This case is the first time the Police have had to answer human rights claims about their undercover officers’ deception of women into intimate relationships. Kate is in an almost unique position to be able to do this, and it is possibly our best opportunity yet to force changes in the laws that oversee undercover policing.

Public outrage at the treatment of women at the hands of the police has meant that they have not been able to sweep these cases under the carpet, and it is essential that we continue to show our support for and solidarity with these brave women holding the state to account.

Come to the demo to show your support! Come into the court hearing itself at 11am, and show the Judge the level of public interest.

If you can’t make it, then make noise on social media – talk about it to your friends, or write to your MP. We must keep up the public pressure and hold the state to account.

Spread the word with the Facebook event.

Here’s Kate talking about her experience at a COPS public meeting in January 2016

Video: Voices of the Spied Upon

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Women Speak Out on Spycops

We’ve just uploaded video on our Youtube channel of four women speaking about their different involvement in the undercover police scandal at a seminar in Manchester earlier this year.

‘Alison’ gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on her experience of having been deceived into a five year relationship by undercover officer Mark Jenner, and previously told her story to Newsnight in 2014. As she emphasises here, the overwhelming majority of Jenner’s time was not spent on political work, but on domestic time with Alison and her family.

 


Harriet Wistrich, Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2014, represents numerous women (including Alison and Helen Steel) who had relationships with officers and successfully brought legal cases and obtained an apology from the Metropolitan Police. She also represents others that will be giving evidence to the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

 


Dr Eveline Lubbers is a member of the Undercover Research Group who do a peerless job of researching and exposing Britain’s political secret police, and has published research on the activities of undercover police officers. She is also the author of Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark: Corporate Spying on Activists and Battling Big Business: Countering Greenwash, Front Groups and Other Forms of Corporate Deception.

 


Helen Steel was deceived into an imtimate relationship by ‘John Barker’, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer John Dines. Her story follows a startlingly similar trajectory to those of Alison and the other women, showing that this was no aberration by rogue officers but a long-term deliberate strategy by an institutionally sexist police force.

 

Tlks given at Undercover Policing, Democracy and Human Rights seminar, University of Manchester school of law, 14 April 2016. Video by Reel News.

No Hiding Place for Spycops in Scotland

SaltireGuest blogger Harvey Duke with the view from Scotland:

——

Support is growing for a Public Inquiry into the activities of undercover police in Scotland. Victims of blacklists, fellow trade unionists, environmentalists, Amnesty International, and politicians across the spectrum believe there should be some kind of Inquiry.

The main demands from campaigners are for an expansion of the Pitchford Inquiry (which is currently limited to England and Wales); or, for the Scottish government to launch a parallel Inquiry. Even the Scottish Tories support the call!

So, if all that were required was broad verbal support from politicians and others, then an Inquiry would be underway. Yet, so far, there is nothing; and former Home Secretary, and now recently crowned Prime Minister, Theresa May is at the stodgy heart of the inaction.

Left wing Labour MSP Neil Findlay has led the charge within the Scottish Parliament to get the issue of undercover policing in Scotland recognised as a priority for public examination. He has organised two debates in Holyrood.

SATURATION SPYING IN SCOTLAND

At the first of these, in January this year, he made a clear case for action:

We know that at least 120 undercover officers have been deployed by the Special Demonstration Squad since its formation in 1968, but so far only 12 have been exposed, half of whom worked in Scotland. The most infamous of these is Mark Kennedy, who was deployed here 14 times in his seven-year career.

Police officers have been operating in our country under the identity of a dead child to victimise people whose only crime is to want a fairer, cleaner and more just society.

Potentially, there are decades of such activities waiting to be uncovered in Scotland. At the June debate in the Scottish Parliament, Neil Findlay also referred to another spy in Scotland: “We also know of the involvement during the 1984 miners’ strike of Stella Whitehouse, now Dame Stella Remington, the former head of Mi5, who was regularly on the picket line at Polkemmet colliery, not 3 miles from my house, during that period.

Were spycops also on miners picket lines?

Former MSP Tommy Sheridan took up this same theme. His name is on the notorious Blacklist compiled by the Consulting Association, which is known to have used information from spycops. He told us:

The State has always been determined to infiltrate and spy on the labour and trade union movement, peace campaigns and socialist parties. If anyone doubts it, they should waken themselves up by reading the excellent book The Enemy Within.

It is therefore imperative that either the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing be extended to Scotland or a separate and independent enquiry involving labour movement figures be established. The Establishment protects its vast interests by constantly undermining and destabilising anyone or anybody which threatens it.

 

The majority of known spycops worked in Scotland. Mark Kennedy, ‘Lynn Watson‘, ‘Marco Jacobs‘, ‘Jason Bishop’ and Dave Evans – another suspected Special Demonstration Squad officer – were all at the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005.

Also, as the Undercover Research Group has explained:

Two SDS undercovers John Dines and Mark Jenner were in Scotland as part of their relationships with women being targeted. Kennedy is known to have conducted relationships with at least three women in Scotland, including long term partners. In all cases, this amounts to a breach of their human rights being as well as abuse of police power being committed on Scottish soil.

Addtionally, the recently exposed officer Carlo Neri also travelled to Scotland with his unwitting partner ‘Andrea’.

One of the spycops’ leaders, Bob Lambert, was rewarded with a teaching position in Scotland at the University of St Andrews – until he resigned after pressure from campaigners. Whilst a boss of spycops, Lambert authorised officers who travelled to Scotland as spies.

FACING STASIS

In December last year the Scottish Government, responding to demands raised by supporters of the Blacklist Support Group and others, asked then-Home Secretary Theresa May to expand Pitchford to include Scotland.

Now PM, May is still sitting on the issue seven months later. Yet, waiting for a response seemed to be the main focus of the Scottish Government at the latest debate in Holyrood, on 30th June.

Annabelle Ewing MSP, Scottish Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, said:

we are focused at this point on having the (Pitchford) inquiry extended to activities of the Met in Scotland, if that is where the evidence leads.

This was exactly the type of response given by Annabelle Ewing’s Ministerial predecessor, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, six months previously. There is no commitment yet to a Scottish Inquiry by the Scottish Government should the call for an expanded Pitchford fail.

In January, this led to some goading of the Scottish Government by then-Independent, now Green, MSP John Finnie, who said:

Uniquely on this issue, the Scottish Government seems keen to cede any involvement or control to the UK Government.

It would indeed be a huge lost opportunity to allow the new Tory Prime Minister to have the final say on which cases of injustice are investigated in Scotland.

Following the most recent Scottish debate, Neil Findlay told us:

The debate showed wide-ranging support for a stand alone Scottish inquiry in the event that Theresa May refuses to include Scotland in the remit of the Pitchford inquiry. We now have Labour, Green, Liberal and Tory MPs, MSPs and MEPs supporting this call.

SNP MPs offered support in a motion at Westminster yet not one of their MSPs spoke in my debate or supported my motion at Holyrood. We now need the Justice Secretary to step up to the plate and confirm that he will not allow Scots victims to be denied access to justice.

The current Scottish Government demand is for Pitchford to ‘take account of any activity by Metropolitan Police units that took place in Scotland.’ This could be a step forward – certainly as long as Scottish Police Officers who signed off on such ventures and forces which collaborated with these anti-democratic activities are not shielded or prevented from giving evidence.

The Undercover Research Group has identified four top Scottish police officers who also played key roles in managing spycops. They include:

Phil Gormley, now Scotland’s Chief Constable (who) was in the Met from 2003 to 2007. From 2005, he was head of Special Branch and was on the committee who oversaw the NPOIU (National Public Order Intelligence Unit) and the Special Demonstration Squad.

These were the main political secret police units.

BUILDING THE PRESSURE

Nick McKerrell, a law lecturer in Glasgow, was active in an anti-poverty campaign during the G8 protests in 2005. He recently found that his name was on the Consulting Association’s blacklist, purely because of these activities. We asked him for his views on attempts to gain a public inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland. He said:

Every day seems to throw up a new revelation on the undercover policing scandal. It is clear the Special Demonstration Squad operated way beyond their jurisdictional boundaries of England and Wales.

The setting up of the Pitchford Inquiry was a major concession by the British state but currently its remit is very limited. For us in Scotland it has been shown that people were monitored (and blacklisted) for at least 20 years.

Further actual undercover cops were actually on active duty in Scotland throughout the same period, for example in the G8 demos in Perthshire in 2005.

Pitchford needs to be expanded into Scotland – where the links between Scottish police forces and the undercover work can be fully explored. Neil Findlay MSP has been campaigning hard on this issue as have MPs in Westminster and nominally the Scottish Government also support this position. It needs to be pushed though and if not carried through we urgently need a Scottish Inquiry.

Some of the most horrific aspects of the spycops scandal involve the way in which undercover police deliberately targeted women, and developed intimate relationships to aid their cover story, only to later abandon the women activists, with devastating psychological effects.

We spoke to Sinead Daly about this. Sinead is a leading socialist in Scotland who is also an expert in supporting women victims of abuse. She told us:

As a socialist, trade unionist and women’s rights activist in Scotland, I believe it’s essential that the Pitchford Inquiry is extended to Scotland; or failing that the Scottish Government order a separate independent Inquiry.

I am particularly concerned at the sexual abuse of women by undercover police officers over many years. The trauma that these women must be feeling is unimaginable. The law is very clear about consent with regards to sexual activity. The Sexual Offences Act 1956 states that consent cannot be given if ‘The complainant was deceived as to the identity of the person with whom (s)he had intercourse.’

It is undeniable that these women were sexually assaulted and abused. I truly hope that all of these women who have been sexually violated get the justice and support they deserve.

But we in Scotland also need to be assured that such actions will be investigated thoroughly to ensure accountability and that this never happens again!

In order to push forward demands for justice in Scotland, COPS is working with Scottish activists to organise a series of public events. Lois Austin from COPS (who was spied on by spycops whilst an activist in Youth against Racism in Europe), stressed how important it is to build the campaign in Scotland.

Undercover police who sought to undermine all kinds of campaigns did not care about national borders. They went wherever their targets went: across Europe, and very often in Scotland. Only by having a full Public Inquiry into what spycops did in Scotland, will we get to the truth.

It is hoped that the planned campaign events will give opportunities for people across Scotland to come together and hear about the experience of trade unionists, environmentalists and others who were spied upon by undercover police. We will also discuss the best way to make sure that a Public Inquiry is set up and looks at these issues as soon as possible.

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

 

 

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.

Police Apology for Relationships: Where Next?

L-R: Kate Wilson, Helen Steel, Belinda Harvey and their lawyer Harriet Wistrich at their press conference, 20 November 2015 (Pic: Danny Shaw, BBC)

L-R: Kate Wilson, Helen Steel, Belinda Harvey and their lawyer Harriet Wistrich at their press conference, 20 November 2015
(Pic: Danny Shaw, BBC)

It’s an extraordinary statement by any standards. Even when the police pay large compensation, they usually do so with no admission of culpability for anything. But last Friday they issued a detailed, unreserved apology for the abuse of women who had relationships with undercover police officers.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt even made a video of the admission, bluntly stating for the record that the relationships were

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

Most importantly, relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity.

 

The outrageousness and severity of how these women were treated is finally an acknowledged, settled fact.

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

Some of the harrowing, heart wrenching impacts were spelled out by Lisa Jones – partner of Mark Kennedy for six years and whose discovery of his true identity brought the issue to light – when she gave her first ever interview on Friday.

As “Rosa”, who had children with undercover officer Jim Boyling, said,

This has affected my whole view of the state and it went as deep as my womb

 

Kate Wilson’s description of what was done to her was similarly powerful, and her highlighting of the continuing lack of transparency – “the police have made no effort whatsoever to provide any kind of answers” – shows that all this is far from over.

It echoes what was said a year ago when the Met settled the first such case. Jacqui, who had a child with Bob Lambert, received £425,000 compensation but said

The legal case is finished but there is no closure for me. There is the money, but there is no admission by the police that what they did was wrong, there is no meaningful apology and most importantly there are no answers.

 

Although Friday’s apology is a major historic victory, it is only confirming that what the women already know to be true. There is so much more still hidden from view.

TIME TO TAKE CHARGE

The Met’s admission of their officers’ serious abuse must surely mean that the Crown Prosecution Service have to revisit last year’s extraordinary decision not to bring charges against these officers for sexual offences.

As Gayle Newland starts her eight year sentence for creating a false identity to deceive someone into a sexual relationship, it’s pretty clear that if this gang of men weren’t police officers they would already be behind bars. Nobody else would get away with just giving an apology and a cheque from public funds.

The CPS also decided not to prosecute them for other offences, explaining

In order to prosecute misconduct in public office, the prosecution would have to show that an officer knowingly abused their position in order to bring a sexual relationship about

 

It is hard to see how anyone could say anything else now. The Met have just conceded that the relationships didn’t just happen but

none of the women with whom the undercover officers had a relationship brought it on themselves. They were deceived pure and simple…. [it was] an abuse of police power


STRATEGIC INSTITUTIONAL SEXISM

But even now, the Met can’t quite admit the whole truth. They

accept that it may well have reflected attitudes towards women that should have no part in the culture of the Metropolitan Police

They still can’t bring themselves to use the word ‘sexism’. The Met is institutionally sexist as well as institutionally racist. This cannot ever change if they refuse to fully face the facts, and in this apology they just shied away once again.

Police say relationships were never authorised in advance and were never used tactically. But the overwhelming majority of known officers – all but two – did it. Most had long-term, committed life-partner relationships. One of them, Bob Lambert, lived with a woman and fathered a child before going on to run the unit, overseeing protegee officers who did the same thing, including ones involved in this week’s settlement. He must surely have known.

Sometimes officers were deployed together. Certainly, Lambert, Marco Jacobs and Lynn Watson saw colleagues having relationships. So, did they fail to report this ‘grossly unprofessional, never allowed’ behaviour to their seniors (thereby placing themselves at risk if they were ever found out)? Or did they report it but their bosses didn’t intervene? Or was it, as it appears, an established, accepted tactic?

PULLING BACK THE SHROUD OF SECRECY

Three years ago police lawyers said relationships weren’t authorised, trying to blame individual ‘rogue officers’ and shield managers from responsibility. But then it was pointed out that if this was unauthorised behaviour then it wasn’t covered by the rules governing surveillance in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. If that were so then any case would be heard in open court instead of a secret tribunal where the womens’ side weren’t allowed. So those same lawyers went back to the same court and argued that relationships were actually authorised after all.

That was just one twist in the course of the four years and hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ pounds police spent trying to stop these women bringing the facts to light. The blanket use of “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” to refuse to even admit anyone was a police officer was an additional insulting hurdle to make the path to truth more gruelling.

It’s a pattern familiar from so many other justice campaigns – there’s the injustice of what the police did, then the double injustice of the cover-up, smearing and legal obstacles that follow.

The apology statement rightly mentioned the extra distress caused by the protracted legal case and paid tribute to the tenacity and mettle of the women.

Even now, having just paid compensation and apologised to the women abused by John Dines and Mark Jenner, the police have not actually confirmed they were Special Demonstration Squad officers.

Nonetheless, the apology, like the agreement to be liable for damages paid to people spied on by Marco Jacobs, is effectively an admission that these men were police. It is another hammer blow to the devious, farcical tactic of Neither Conform Nor Deny. With the public inquiry still to come, that is significant.

A GRAIN OF TRUTH – TIME FOR THE HARVEST

All the appalling abuse these women suffered came from just five police officers. Even this isn’t the end of it – there are several other similar cases are still ongoing, including more partners of Mark Kennedy and Marco Jacobs.

We only know of the exposed officers due to the investigations and luck of activists and journalists. These are not necessrily the worst of them, merely what chance has revealed. There is so much more beyond. We have the names of around a dozen officers, less than 10% of those known to have worked undercover in the political secret police units.

How many other women were similarly abused? How many other children searching for their fathers are doomed to failure because it’s a name a police officer made up or stole from a dead child? How many campaigns were stymied? What other outrages have occurred that none of the known officers committed? At least 500 groups and uncountable thousands of individuals were spied on. They all have a right to know.

If these seven women deserve justice, so do the rest. If the public deserves the truth it deserves the whole truth, not somewhere under 10% of it.

Chair of the forthcoming public inquiry, Lord Pitchford, says

The Inquiry’s priority is to discover the truth

The only way we will get the truth is if those who were targeted tell their stories. The only way that can happen is if they know that their former friend and comrade was in fact a police spy. If the Inquiry is to serve its purpose, and if the Met are truly contrite, then they must publish the cover names of all undercover officers from the political policing units.

Suing Private Spycops

Frankenstein's monsterA woman who was Mark Kennedy’s partner in 2010 after he left the police is suing Global Open, the private spy firm he worked for.

Global Open was set up in 2001 by Rod Leeming, the former Special Branch officer who ran the Animal Rights National Index database before going private to do basically the same thing (company profile here by the excellent Undercover Research Group).

Kennedy’s contract with the police formally ended in early 2010. He was immediately hired by Global Open, and at the same time actively targeted the woman (who has been granted legal anonymity for the case) and began a relationship with her.

He continued to live among the same activist community he had spied on, still using his police-fabricated identity of Mark Stone. He went to several animal rights gatherings across Europe in the summer of 2010. If he’d had the nouse to legally change his name to Mark Stone his identity documents would have been in the ‘right’ name and he may still have been spying today – and you would not be reading this.

THE GENERALS NOT THE TROOPS

In October 2010 he was exposed by activists including his long-term partner. Within hours he went to his other partner’s house and told her what had happened. She was devastated. The case she is now bringing mirrors that of around a dozen others who are suing (or have sued) the police for the systematic use of psychologically and sexually abusive relationships.

Like those cases, this one is being brought against the employer rather than the individual officer. The managers either deployed officers to use these tactics, in which case they are directly culpable, or else all these officers separately decided to do the same thing, in which case managers were negligent for not preventing or ending it.

Whilst it would presumably have little legal traction, the police must also bear a serious measure of moral responsibility for Kennedy’s post-police actions in 2010. Having trained him into that one mode of being for many years then withdrawn him with little notice or support, it is hardly surprising that he continued. Frankenstein’s monster may have terrorised the villagers but it was Dr Frankenstein who built it and failed to keep it from its rampage.

NOT JUST KENNEDY

This new case is yet another ray of light on the murky, unregulated world of corporate spying and its tight interweaving with parallel police units. The fact that Special Branch officers take their years of training and contacts to go and do the same job for private profit doesn’t merely raise ethical issues. It raises legal ones too.

The construction industry blacklist was routinely – illegally – given information on political activists by Special Branch officers across the country. Despite the blacklisters’ work being illegal, they had high-level meetings with Britain’s political secret police, including a powerpoint presentation from DCI Gordon Mills, the man who helmed the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit.

The McLibel trial exposed the fact that the entirety of McDonald’s security department were ex-police and that there was an open two-way flow of information between police and private spies. This is not officers upholding the law. This is officers breaking the law to uphold something that they consider more important.

HOW MANY MORE?

How many other political secret police officers continued the same role for a private paymaster, as Kennedy did? The fact that Global Open hired him as he was leaving the police suggests either they had inside information and knew he was becoming available, or else Global Open is known to the secret police as the place to go on to when their contract ends.

We know the names of less than 10% of the officers who worked for the disgraced political units since the Special Demonstration Squad was set up in 1968. Can we really believe that Kennedy was the first one to continue living under the same persona? Or is he just the first one exposed?

POLICE AND PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP

The revolving door between undercover political police and the even less regulated world of private spying means the two groups cannot be separated. As Mark Kennedy proved, the same damage is done for the same reasons, often by the same people, with support from both sectors, irrespective of who signs the cheque.

If the forthcoming public inquiry is to be comprehensive and credible it must examine these documented instances and structural connections, and it must expose more. Police and private political spying are not two worlds, they are one.

We Are All Targets Now

John Catt

John Catt, permanently spied on even though he has no criminal record

Last autumn’s report into undercover policing by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) was as unimpressive as it was long. The 208 pages devoted much of their attention to non-political policing, even though the report was commissioned as part of the response to the revelation that the Special Demonstration Squad spied on Stephen Lawrence’s family.

The report said it was reassured that everyone knew officers shouldn’t have sexual relationships. Yet it appears there’s always been official banning of it. Despite this, numerous ex-officers have said it was unofficially condoned.

Bob Lambert had four sexual relationships whilst undercover. If it were such a bad idea, you would have thought that when he went on to run the Special Demonstration Squad he would make sure other officers didn’t do it. Instead, his proteges also had relationships – including long-term life partner relationships – and even (as Lambert had done) had children with activists they targeted.

Of the 14 officers so far exposed, 13 had sexual relations with activists they spied on. It’s hard to see this as anything other than accepted strategy. So the HMIC’s sense of ‘reassurance’ is based on a faith that has no basis in fact. That, or a desire to cover-up and protect police who’ve done wrong.

WE’RE COMING FOR YOUR FAMILY

Whilst life-partner sexual relationships are the most complete invasion of a person’s privacy that it is possible for the state to enact, there are others. They integrate into people’s lives and families, affecting non-activists. The official term is ‘collateral intrusion’, as if the deceit and damage done to the activists who are the primary focus is justified, as if those who want a fairer world are legitimate targets for psychological manipulation and abuse.

A 2012 HMIC report – when they thought they could pin everything on disgraced National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) agent Mark Kennedy being a sole ‘rogue officer’ – said the evidence

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

However, when he was part of a group of climate activists who planned to stop a coal train, his authorisation papers say the opposite.

It is very rare for collateral intrusion to occur because [Kennedy’s
name redacted] spends the majority of their time with likeminded people
engaged in activism.

He went straight from the coal train action to a friend’s wedding. People’s children and other relatives were there. And there he is in the pictures, whilst being paid overtime, PC Kennedy.

If the friends and children who formed relationships with him are not deemed not to ‘collateral intrusion’ then they are, therefore, in the target group. Just knowing someone who is an activist, being their friends or parent or child, makes you a legitimate target for these spying operations.

Kennedy spent a lot of time with the family of one of his partners, a woman known as Lily who explained to BBC Radio’s File on Four (download podcast here) that ‘he was on duty every minute that he spent with me’.

Lily’s mother mother took out a family photo and said,

That was my mother’s 90th birthday, as you can see from the balloon in the background. He looks comfortable in the photograph. I keep using that word, ‘comfortable’. I felt very comfortable with Mark and he seemed absolutely devoted to my daughter. He used to stay here, slob around watching TV with us, all that stuff that you do in a relaxed way with people in the family.

Kennedy was sanctioned and approved from on high, and it was no mere rubberstamp job. His authorisation papers include a full side of supportive A4 hand written by the person who oversaw all the secret police units, the National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism, Anton Setchell.

So when senior cops at HMIC say they’re reassured that there are no bad relationships, that there’s no collateral intrusion, it’s meaningless and worthless. Just like the Operation Herne inquiry into undercover policing, it’s the police marking their own homework and awarding themselves A grades. There can be no credibility in self-investigation, nor those done by police satellite bodies like HMIC and the Independent Police Complaints Commission. We have given them too much trust for too long and they’ve shown themselves not to deserve it.

GUILT BY ASSOCIATION

Last month’s Supreme Court decision on the John Catt case underlined this. Catt is a 90 year old peace campaigner with no criminal record. After he had attended three demonstrations at the EDO arms factory in his native Brighton, anti-terrorism police stopped his car in London and threatened him and his daughter with arrest under the Terrorism Act if he didn’t tell them where he was going. He later discovered that a marker was placed against his car registration on the Police National Computer and that the network of number plate recognition cameras was used to flag him up to police for stopping.

It’s worth noting that the political police units – Special Demonstration Squad, National Public Order Intelligence Unit and others – have been merged with the Metropolitan Police’s Anti-Terrorist Branch under the name Counter Terrorism Command. Today’s Mark Kennedies are deployed by the same unit as the ones dealing with people who want to set bombs off on public transport. The structure is designed to conflate all dissent.

The Catts mounted a legal challenge but senior officers found their officer’s actions had been ‘proportionate and appropriate’, a finding upheld on appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which concluded that while the case highlighted the concerns over ‘the civil liberties
or protesters’, police had been acting in accordance with ‘national policy’.

Catt then went to court to challenge the retention of his data on the ‘domestic extremist’ database. He won, at first, but the Metropolitan Police launched an appeal and last month they won. The ‘national policy’ prevails and it is considered legitimate to gather data and harass anyone who has been ‘associated with protest’. It is guilt by association, and what you’re associated with needn’t be criminal either; protest is, in and of itself, seen as something to crack down on.

In other words, the Supreme Court just ruled that anyone who speaks out against the government and the established political order – even though there is no suggestion of any involvement with any crime – can be singled out for special treatment by the police. We have a name for that kind of state.

GUILT BY PROXIMITY

As the wedding guests at the wedding Mark Kennedy attended can attest, you needn’t even be as involved as John Catt. The construction industry blacklist run by the Consulting Association was more than an illegal practice used by most of the industry’s big names to deny work to anyone involved in unions or other political activity. There was a two way exchange of information between the blacklisters and police. Even the Independent Police Complaints Commission admit that it was likely to have been part of all Special Branches’ work to illegally supply the illegal blacklist with information.

But it wasn’t just construction workers. There were files on around 200 environmental activists whose information appears to have come from details given to police when arrested. The file on construction worker Frank Smith describes him as a ‘leading light’ in a group known as the Away Team who sought to protect anti-fascist groups from attack. That’s not the kind of thing a building site manager could observe.

Smith’s girlfriend, Lisa Teuscher, was also spied on and had a blacklist file despite having no connection with the industry.

I was shocked when I first read my file. It made me feel physically sick. It’s absurd. I don’t see any reason why my name should be linked with the building industry. I had no professional involvement whatsoever. The only reason I am on the list is because of Frank.

Remember this when they say that counter-terrorism police are needed to target ‘just the paedos and terrorists’ – their definition of legitimate targets is wide. If this is their definition of political threats, who might be included in their net of potential terrorist threats? To trust Counter Terrorism Command to be making reasonable, proportionate decisions puts a lot of faith in people who have repeatedly proven themselves unworthy of it.

The political police’s choice of who it is reasonable to spy on includes anyone who is politically active, anyone who is related to them, anyone who attends an event at which they’re present. The construction blacklist proves that this is not mere background gathering of information in case it becomes useful. The political policing units have actively broken the law to help ensure their targets are denied work, deliberately inflicting the impacts that has on a person and their family. They are there to disrupt the activities and lives of those they spy on, and that can be anyone.

Release MPs’ Spycops Files – and All The Rest Too

Jeremy Corbyn, MP spied on by the SDS

Jeremy Corbyn, MP spied on by the SDS

And still they come. The tide of revelations about the extent of spying by Britain’s political secret police is still flooding in.

When the scandal first broke four years ago, the breadth of groups spied on astonished us. It appeared that the units regarded any political activity outside the sliver of the spectrum represented in parliament as a threat. But we now know it was even broader than that.

In June last year we learned that the Green Party’s Jenny Jones had a file opened on her after she was elected to the Greater London Assembly, and it ran for at least eleven years. A fellow Green, councillor Ian Driver, was also spied on, with his file noting his support for such subversive terrorist causes as equal marriage.

Two weeks ago it went further with whistleblower Special Demonstration Squad officer Peter Francis naming ten MPs who he saw files on, including three that he personally spied on.

The list includes Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Dennis Skinner, Joan Ruddock, Peter Hain, Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant and Labour’s current deputy leader Harriet Harman.

The two other targets have particular resonance. One is Jack Straw who, as Home Secretary, was ultimately in charge of the police. The other is Jeremy Corbyn who was spied on by Francis in the 1990s. Francis was deployed by his manager at the Special Demonstration Squad, Bob Lambert.

Protest against Bob Lambert's employment at London Metropolitan University, March 2015

Protest against Bob Lambert’s employment at London Metropolitan University, March 2015

Ten years later Lambert was running the Muslim Contact Unit (quite why the intelligence-gathering Special Branch would send its most experienced infiltrators and spies into an outreach project is a question for another time).

Shortly after leaving the police he published a book on police efforts to deal with Muslim extremism in London. His parliamentary booklaunch was hosted by Jeremy Corbyn MP, the man Lambert had sent spies to watch, in September 2011, a month before Lambert was exposed by activists.

In a further twist, Lambert is now controversially employed as a lecturer at London Metropolitan University in Corbyn’s constituency of Islington North.

A furious Corbyn told this week’s Islington Tribune

 

I was interested in his book at the time and I was involved in the launch. But for all I know he could have had me under surveillance.

 

Like so many corrupt state officials around the world who’ve been caught and are facing an inquiry, Lambert’s memory has become conveniently selective. He does not deny tasking Francis to spy on Corbyn but says he can’t remember.

The MPs attended parliament the day after the revelations and had a forty minute debate (full transcript here). The Home Secretary wasn’t there, so the government spoke in the form of the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, Mike Penning.

The one bit of positive new information was the assurance that Peter Francis, and any other whistleblowers, will be given immunity under the Official Secrets Act at the public inquiry. It’s notable that the inquiry was singled out – the long standing threat against Francis and, by extension, others who speak elsewhere still stands, apparently.

Challenged on the sexual relationships that officers deceived women into, Penning said that

the Met police apologised

Perhaps he knows a different Met to the rest of us. The Met who deployed all the spies have only admitted that three out of an estimated 200 were actually police officers.

They are still spending huge amounts of public money resisting the plain, established truth in court. The partner of John Dines, Helen Steel, is back in court next month trying to get the Met to drop their absurd, insulting obstruction tactics.

Back in parliament, Jack Dromey made the bold claim that

Labour has for years pressed for much stronger oversight of undercover policing

This flies in the face of the fact that every one of the political police spy units was set up under Labour who, in the early 2000s, handed control of three of them to the Association of Chief Police Officers, a private company exempt from Freedom of Information legislation.

Peter Hain led the targeted MPs’ charge and was the first of several who demanded to see their full files. Penning steadfastly refused.

Neither Confirm Nor Deny = Neither Truth Nor JusticePenning did say more than once that there would be a release of whatever wasn’t needed to be redacted for reasons of security. One of the affected MPs, Joan Ruddock, immediately put in a request to the Met for her file. In the days that followed, the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow underlined the seriousness of the scandal. The following week Ruddock was told that the Met would ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that there was any file on her.

The MPs should certainly get to see the information that was collected about them, but they should not have it as a privilege. It is clearly established that the spy units were extraordinarily intrusive, with a paranoid vision of political activism and scant regard for the rights and wellbeing of citizens.

Most of the official reports such as Operation Herne are self-investigations and have thus been self-discrediting. We cannot trust the words of proven liars. Everyone who was spied on by these units should be told and given proper access to their file to judge for themselves what was recorded and why.