Content tagged with "Scotland"

Scottish Parliament Debates Spycops Again

 

Neil Findlay MSP addresses the Scottish parliament, 30 June 2016

Neil Findlay MSP addresses the Scottish parliament, 30 June 2016

Last week the Scottish Parliament had a second debate about Britain’s political secret police.

Although the majority of exposed officers from the disgraced units concerned – the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit – were in Scotland, the forthcoming public inquiry is set to only cover events in England and Wales.

It has been six months since the first debate, which came shortly after the Scottish government formally asked to be included in the Pitchford Inquiry, and nothing seems to have happened.

Once again, the issue was brought to the floor by Neil Findlay MSP. In the intervening time he has marshalled a call from Scottish parliamentarians from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties for the inquiry to include Scotland and, if this doesn’t happen, for Scotland to mount its own investigation. The SNP supports the first but not, as yet, the second point.

Findlay pressed the issue in Parliament

I know that the police, the judiciary and others will pressure the cabinet secretary to resist. Those are the very same forces that pressured politicians not to go near the Lawrence case, the Birmingham and Guildford cases, and the Hillsborough case, but brave decisions were made in the interests of truth and justice.

So, I urge the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs and the cabinet secretary to do the right thing: take the brave and right decision to initiate an independent public inquiry in Scotland, should it prove to be not possible to extend Pitchford.

The call was endorsed by Green and Conservative MSPs. Speaking for the government, the SNP’s Annabelle Ewing affirmed

the Scottish Government absolutely agrees that the inquiry should look at events that took place in Scotland if that is where the evidence leads. A single, comprehensive inquiry that was able to gather all the evidence in a coherent manner would best serve the public interest on this occasion. An inquiry that was limited to England and Wales would risk doing a disservice to those who believe that they have been adversely affected by the operations of Metropolitan Police units in Scotland.

However, she simply ignored the issue of the Home Office stalling for six months and what to do if Scotland is shut out of the inquiry. Neil Findlay seized on the omission, asking

Is the minister saying that, if the Home Secretary does not expand the Pitchford inquiry, there will be no Scottish inquiry? If that is the case, can she say very clearly today that victims in Scotland will have no route to justice? Let us be up front and straight about it. Let us not be choosy with our language; let us make it very clear what she means.

But, again, Ewing avoided answering the question and repeated that they were concentrating on inclusion in Pitchford. Conservative MSP Douglas Ross asked the question for a third time, and Ewing simply repeated her previous point once more. Labour’s Claire Baker asked it a fourth time and was also subjected to repetition of a point that did not answer the question.

The session was not entirely fruitless, however. Findlay didn’t just highlight the stasis regarding the Pitchford Inquiry, he also put sensational new information into the public domain.

Today, under the privilege that this Parliament gives me, I can name Gayle Burton, who is a former head of human resources at the Costain construction company, who now works for the Jockey Club and who has been identified as the key link between the construction industry, the Consulting Association and Special Branch. Her name is identified as the source of information on files of blacklisted Scottish workers.

We also know of the involvement during the 1984 miners’ strike of Stella Whitehouse, now Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, who was regularly on the picket line at Polkemmet colliery, not 3 miles from my house, during that period.

The illegal links between police, private surveillance and big business underpin much of the spycops’ targeting of political activists. It is as great an injustice whether perpetrated in England or Scotland, so all its victims deserve the truth.

As we said last month, it does not take six months to make a simple alteration to the terms of the Pitchford Inquiry. The start date looms ever closer and it is beginning to look like the Home Office is stonewalling and that the lack of a response will effectively become a refusal once the inquiry begins.

If the Scottish government – along with the German, Northern Irish and others who have made similar demands – do not set a deadline soon, they are effectively accepting this. They are running the increasing risk of being left behind, unable to secure the truth for their citizens abused by English spycops.

Video of Thursday’s debate is on our Youtube channel, and a full transcript can be found here.

 

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.

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.

Pressure Intensifies on Inquiry to Include Scotland

The Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing is still limbering up and defining its terms, so it’s unclear how trustworthy it will be. One of the major sticking points is that it is limited to deeds done by officers of English and Welsh forces whilst in England and Wales.

The 13 known officers – less than 10% of the true total – worked in 17 other countries. Most of them worked in Scotland. When we say “worked”, we mean doing what the Metropolitan Police themselves describe as being

a violation of human rights, an abuse of police power… abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.

If this is what we know already, we can be sure there is more to come. To underline that point, the officer newly exposed last week, Carlo Neri, was also active in Scotland.

Earlier this month the Scottish Parliament held a debate on undercover policing and there was cross-party support for the Scottish government’s official demand to be included in the Pitchford Inquiry.

On 17 January it was reported that the Home Office is arranging to have talks with the Scottish government about their country’s inclusion.

But only four days earlier the Home Office told COPS they had no plans to include Scotland.

At this stage the Inquiry is receiving evidence from as wide a range of persons who can assist with its terms of reference as possible. The inquiry team are interested in the whole story and are bound to encourage those coming forward to provide a complete picture when submitting their evidence.

The terms of reference as drafted are, we are advised, already eliciting a significant volume of material for consideration.

The Home Secretary is not minded to expand the terms of reference at this time.

Letter from Home Office to COPSLindsay Davies from COPS responded in today’s Sunday Mail

If the inquiry really wants the whole story, then it can’t be shackled by Theresa May.

It’s encouraging that the inquiry is getting a lot of evidence already but it’s a ludicrous excuse for ignoring such a sustained, key part of what these disgraced officers did. If they haven’t got enough staff to do the job properly they should get them, rather than ignoring a significant part of the task at hand.

No court would be allowed to exclude vital evidence this way and, as the Met have admitted officers abused citizens, this should be taken just as seriously.

People in Scotland and elsewhere deserve truth and justice every bit as much as those in England and Wales.

 

Nonetheless, the Home Office reiterated their resistance to the Sunday Herald this week.

But with a range of politicians from numerous parties and none, joined this week by trade union officials, all committed to securing the truth for Scotland the pressure is only going to increase. The Scottish government should have the confidence to be robust and insistent at the forthcoming talks.

Scottish Parliament Debates Spycops, Demands Answers

The Scottish Parliament saw an hour’s debate on Britain’s political secret police last week. Though sparsely attended, its content was extraordinary. One MSP after another expressed real outrage and disgust at what these officers have done and the paucity of accountability and justice.

The forthcoming public inquiry is limited to events in England and Wales. This is absurd, given that half the known officers worked in Scotland, with Mark Kennedy being authorised to go there 14 times in his seven years. These operations included, by the Met’s own admission, human rights violations and other abuses of police power.

A few weeks ago the Scottish government formally asked the Home Secretary to alter the terms of the inquiry and include events in Scotland.

The debate had been called by Labour’s Neil Findlay MSP. In a barnstorming speech that mentioned officers by name, he asked

Do we have a policing system and justice system… that picks out individuals and groups for special treatment because they challenge the prevailing orthodoxy, the established order or threaten, even in a tiny way, the grip that those in positions of power have on our economy and our society?…

Vested interests in the media, big business, government, the police and the courts have worked together to quash dissent, control people’s behaviour and prevent any challenge to their grip on power…

Police officers 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… I find that nauseating and utterly corrupt.

Elaine Smith, also for Labour, expanded on the point.

The demand for the Pitchford inquiry to be extended to Scotland, that should never have been a controversial demand. The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance – a group investigating the role of undercover police – has documented numerous instances where officers who have been proven to have committed acts of abuse were operating and active in Scotland. There can be no doubt about that.

If we look at the frequent pattern of male officers abusing their position to exploit women and start sexual relationships, and the implied approval that this would require from senior officers, then there is the question of whether or not the police, in this regard, are institutionally sexist…

While the victims have stated that no apology or compensation can make up for the abuse they’ve suffered, we owe it to them to fully investigate and expose these horrific practices. The Pitchford inquiry should be extended to cover Scotland but if that is not agreed the Scottish government has a moral duty to undertake its own inquiry.

For the Liberal Democrats, Alison McInnes OBE insisted that there be an inquiry into spycops in Scotland come what may.

It is the kind of behaviour that transgresses professional and moral boundaries and flies in the face of common decency…

Even if the officers were from police forces in England and Wales, it appears that authorisation to work in Scotland came from senior Scottish officers and that’s why I support the call for the Scottish government to hold a similar inquiry…

Unless the SNP government is arguing that unearthing what has gone on in Scotland – both in terms of English officers operating here and of undercover policing within Scottish forces – is of no importance, there needs to be an inquiry here…

We too deserve to know the scale of the operations carried out and the lines of accountability and authorisation.

Roderick Campbell, of the governing SNP, affirmed the call for the Home Secretary to expand Pitchford’s scope.

If Metropolitan Police officers, or their divisions, were operating in Scotland it seems sensible to extend that remit to Scotland.

He said that there is a strong regulatory framework in place, which is of no comfort as the Met have specifically said that tightening rules in 2000 did nothing whatsoever to affect the function of these units.

John Finnie, formerly of the SNP but now an Independent, said

As many will know, I was a police officer for 30 years. Officers I served with were appalled by that sickening behaviour. The worrying thing is that it’s not a rogue individual; it must have been known to supervisory officers. They either ignored it or they were unaware of it, either way they were negligent.

I won’t go into the G8 protests, but to assume that the monitoring that went on across Europe stopped at Gretna is naïve.

Hugh Henry (Labour) was unequivocal in his condemnation of

a horrific catalogue of abuse by the state in this country. It’s unacceptable, and frankly if we in our complacency tolerate it or refuse to properly investigate then we are complicit with it…

I welcome the belated action by the Scottish government to write to ask for the inquiry to be extended but unless we get a guarantee that it will be comprehensive, it will be all encompassing and that the terms of reference will also include things which have gone on in Scotland over the years, to make it a genuine UK inquiry, that unless that’s done we are being short changed and therefore we will need our own inquiry…

This is not about national security, this about protecting the interests of big business or the interests of certain political views… this is the one opportunity we have to put things right.

We know that wrong has been done over many years in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK, and if we fail to take the opportunity now to get to the bottom of what was done and put things right then we are letting Scotland down, we are letting future generations down, but frankly we are also letting ourselves down as individuals.

Speaking for the government, the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, responded

If officers in those units were active in Scotland, and the inquiry has been set up to look at related activity, then the inquiry should, we strongly believe, be able to consider that activity irrespective of where it took place.

That is why the Cabinet Secretary for Justice wrote to the Home Secretary on 10 December last year, asking her to confirm that the inquiry would be able to take account of any activity by the Metropolitan Police units that took place in Scotland.

He was, however, a tad circumspect about what should be done if the UK government refuses to include Scotland in the inquiry.

Two parallel inquiries runs the obvious risk of duplication of resources. They may also embarrass each other if one produces vital details the other has missed.

The decision rests with the Home Secretary. We await her reply.

[The full debate is on our Youtube channel, and a full transcript can be found here].

Bob Lambert Resigns Academic Posts

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

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

Former spycops officer – and later boss – Bob Lambert has resigned from both his positions at British universities.

It comes after more than a year of pressure on the University of St Andrews – where COPS gave a presentation on Lambert in March – culminating in a letter two weeks ago from four prominent activists including George Monbiot, who holds an honorary doctorate from the univesity.

Lambert’s other employer, London Metropolitan University, has seen even more intensive activity. As well as having the COPS presentation on Lambert to staff and students, there have been monthly pickets as part of a dedicated campaign that has made the controversy front page news.

As a Special Demonstration Squad officer, Lambert was deployed into the animal rights movement in the early 80s. He had sexual relationships with four women whilst undercover, including fathering a planned child with one. He co-wrote the What’s Wrong With McDonald’s? leaflet that triggered the McLibel trial, yet kept his role and that of the SDS from the court. He was part of an Animal Liberation Front cell that firebombed department stores that sold fur, and stands accused of planting the devices that burned down Debenhams in Harrow.

Afterwards, he was promoted to running the SDS, where his officers also had long-term life-partner relationships. He oversaw the spying on the the family of Stephen Lawrence and many similar black and family justice campaigns, as well as Labour MPs including Jeremy Corbyn.

His hiring to academic positions teaching counter-terrorism and criminology to future police managers is entirely at odds with the disgraced history of the man, his methods and his unit. As Observer columnist Nick Cohen put it, Lambert was ‘uniquely unqualified’ for his positions.

The story broke yesterday in the University of St Andrews’ newspaper The Saint. Outgoing principal Louise Richardson said

I’m not going to get involved in what people do privately

That is a bizarre response to what Lambert did on duty as a paid public servant.

Lambert was also employed by Exeter University, embarking on a ten year project, but resigned in 2011 shortly after he was exposed. The university has rebuffed inquiries as to why. Likewise, this week London Met refused to say why he had resigned.

Today’s Guardian quotes Lambert saying

Henceforward I will pursue my academic interests in responses to terrorism and political violence as an independent researcher. I will also continue to cooperate with the investigations and inquiry into undercover policing.

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.

Activists Demand Lambert’s Sacking

Bob Lambert then and now

Four prominent activists have written to the University of St Andrews demanding the sacking of lecturer Bob Lambert, former Special Demonstration Squad officer and manager.

The letter, sent on Friday, lists a swathe of wrongdoing by Lambert and officers under his command.

It was signed by:

  • George Monbiot, a campaigning journalist who holds an honorary doctorate awarded by the university
  • Lois Austin, former chair of Youth Against Racism in Europe, a group spied on by undercover officer Peter Francis under Lambert’s command
  • Dave Smith, trade unionist and secretary of the Blacklist Support Group
  • Helen Steel, who was in several groups targeted by Lambert and officers he deployed, and was deceived into a long-term relationship by one of them.

It comes after Lambert’s other employer, London Metropolitan University, has faced similar calls with a succession of pickets and the issue making front page news locally.

The University of St Andrews said

He has been entirely open with the university and his students about his past. His teaching is highly valued by students. Beyond that, as matter of policy, we don’t comment on personal matters or the circumstances of our staff.

Whilst this isn’t as bold as London Metropolitan University’s saying

He has extremely rich experience in professional practice, accepting that some of that is now controversial

it nonetheless tests our credulity. Are they really saying Lambert told the university and students things he says he didn’t even tell his wife? Or has he just been firefighting, admitting each revelation after it has been made public?

Do they really think Lambert’s history has no bearing on his position? Would they continue to employ, say, a medical lecturer was found to have run a disgraced and disbanded secret clinic that performed unethical, traumatising experiments on patients without consent?

The Sunday Herald reports that the call for Lambert to lose his post is endorsed by MSP John Finnie, himself a former police officer.

I consider his continuing employment a blight on our highly regarded education system and trust it ends soonest.

It adds a new facet to the clamour around the spycops scandal in Scotland. With Scottish police already under fire for spying on journalists, in recent weeks, as we have already covered, there has been a call in the Scottish Parliament for a proper inquiry into the political secret police’s activities there. As well as coverage in the Scotsman, there has been a series of articles in the Sunday Herald and an MSP calling for an inquiry into blacklisting.

 

FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER

 

Dear Professor Richardson,

We write regarding Bob Lambert who is listed as a lecturer at the University of St Andrews’ Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence. We believe that his past conduct as a central figure in the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad means that he is supremely unsuitable for teaching and shaping the thoughts of others in his current position.

His University biography asserts that “For the bulk of his police service (1977–2007) Robert Lambert worked in counter-terrorism, gaining operational experience of all forms of violent political threats to the UK, from Irish republican to the many strands of international terrorism that include what may now best be described as the al-Qaida movement.”

In reality much of his career was spent within the Special Demonstration Squad which was set up to monitor protest groups – more counter-democratic than counter-terrorist. The SDS’ abuse of citizens and undermining of legitimate campaigns are one of the darkest corners of Metropolitan Police history. Lambert is no role model and should not be trading on his abuses.

It is not only Lambert’s personal conduct undercover that is damning. He went on to run the Special Demonstration Squad, overseeing deployments that largely repeated his pattern of behaviour, hallmarked by the same abuses. For years he directed a raft of officers whose actions were – to use the words of police investigators – morally wrong, completely improper, gross abuses of their role in deployments that were abject failures.

In the four years since he was exposed, many new facts about the SDS have come to light. With each new revelation the scandal grows, and there are two notable constants in almost every case – Bob Lambert is integrally involved, and he has not mentioned it before.

Bob Lambert is responsible for acknowledged human rights abuses.

Last month the Metropolitan Police issued an unprecedented apology to seven women deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover officers, including one of Lambert’s former partners, Belinda Harvey, and women targeted by officers supervised by Lambert. The apology unequivocally states that the relationships were “abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong” and that “these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma”.[1]

In a separate case Bob Lambert deceived another woman, Jacqui, into a relationship and even fathered a child with her despite knowing he would disappear from their lives once his posting as an undercover officer ended. This relationship led to a record compensation payout by the Metropolitan Police to Jacqui in October 2014.[2] Even after he was outed in October 2011, Lambert did not make contact with Jacqui or their son, waiting until she discovered the truth by chance in the press. A statement he issued in Oct 2011 apologised to Belinda Harvey (about whom he had been questioned) but made no mention of Jacqui or other women he had deceived.[3]

Lambert now admits that he had four sexual relationships whilst in his undercover persona.[4] He not only had these relationships, he was later the SDS manager who deployed numerous other officers who did the same. Operation Herne, the police’s own investigation into political undercover policing notes of these relationships; “Such an activity can only be seen as an abject failure of the deployment, a gross abuse of their role and their position as a police officer and an individual and organisational failing.”[5]

In addition to these abusive relationships, Lambert and the SDS have been shown to be involved in:

Stealing the identities of dead children: Lambert stole the identity of Mark Robert Charles Robinson, who died aged seven of a heart defect.[6] The practice has been condemned by the Home Affairs Select Committee who said it “was not only ghoulish and disrespectful, it could potentially have placed bereaved families in real danger of retaliation”.[7]

Deceiving courts: Lambert admits being arrested “four or five times” and prosecuted under a false identity. He claims he cannot remember if he was convicted.[8] This raises serious questions about perjury and perverting the course of justice. Additionally, he co-wrote the What’s Wrong With McDonald’s? leaflet that triggered the McLibel trial, the longest trial in English history.[9] The fact of Lambert and the SDS’ involvement was kept from the court.

Spying on the family of Stephen Lawrence: Lambert was the SDS manager whose officers spied on the Lawrences. He oversaw Peter Francis, who says he was tasked to ‘find dirt’ with which to discredit the family (a charge Lambert denies but which the Ellison Review recommended is fully investigated by the Public Inquiry into undercover policing).[10]

Five years after the murder Lambert brokered a meeting between one of his officers who had been spying and the Commissioner’s team at the Lawrence Public Inquiry. This has been condemned by Mark Ellison QC’s report as “wrong-headed and inappropriate… a completely improper use of the knowledge the MPS had gained by the deployment of this officer”,[11] and Lambert was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The investigation appears to still be ongoing. The fact of the SDS spying was kept from the Public Inquiry and all other investigations into the case.

This was one of at least 18 similar family and black justice campaigns spied on by the SDS, including others targeted by officers under Lambert’s direction.

Acting as an agent provocateur: Those who knew Lambert under his pseudonym assert that he often berated activists for being “too soft” and encouraged them to take more serious action. He instigated many of the protests he spied on. Perhaps the most serious charge against him is the allegation that he planted an incendiary device in the Harrow branch of Debenhams in 1987 as part of a co-ordinated action against the fur trade which caused damage totalling £9m in three Debenhams stores.[12] It is a charge he has strenuously denied.

However, he claims credit for getting two of the group jailed and yet fails to explain how the mysterious firebomber of the Harrow store got away without even being named or apprehended.

Spying on MPs: In March it emerged that at least ten MPs had been spied on by the SDS. These are elected, public figures rather than the clandestine figures the SDS claimed to be countering. Lambert was one of the SDS managers who deployed officers who spied on the likes of Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn.[13]

Construction industry blacklist: The Consulting Association was a company that ran an illegal blackllist of thousands of politically active construction workers. Their files contain information that can only have come from police or the security services. The Independent Police Complaints Commission says it appears likely that every Special Branch supplied information that appears in files for the blacklist run by the Consulting Association.[14] Lambert was the SDS manager who oversaw Peter Francis, who says he believes intelligence he collected is in blacklist files,[15] and also Mark Jenner, who posed as a construction worker and infiltrated construction union UCATT under his false identity.

This was no one-off error, it was a catalogue of abuse that Lambert turned into a blueprint for others.

One has to wonder, if all this is not enough to make him unfit to teach others, what does it take? With fresh revelations coming to light almost weekly and the public inquiry about to begin, we can be confident there will be more.

These were not the actions of a young naïve person. This was years of deliberate, strategic abuse of citizens and undermining of legitimate campaigns.

Lambert’s apologies, such as they are, come in carefully worded phrases that only take partial responsibility for what has already been exposed. They appear to be little more than firefighting each revelation as it appears. Did he declare this grossly abusive past – which he says he kept secret from his own family – to the University when he applied? Or did he deceive you as he deceived so many women and other campaigners?

Whichever, it is abhorrent that a man so lacking in moral compass should be in a position where he is shaping the minds of others. The University of St Andrews should terminate his contract.

Yours,

George Monbiot (Honorary DSc, University of St Andrews)

Lois Austin (ex-chair, Youth Against Racism in Europe)

Dave Smith (secretary, Blacklist Support Group)

Helen Steel (McLibel defendant and one of seven women who recently received an apology from the Metropolitan Police)

REFERENCES

[1] Claimants in civil cases receive MPS apology, Metropolitan Police, 20 November 2015
[2] Met pays £425,000 to mother of undercover policeman’s child, BBC News site, 24 October 2014
[3] Bob Lambert replies to Spinwatch, 23 October 2011
[4] I was weak and cruel, admits ex-undercover police boss, Channel 4 News, 5 July 2013
[5] Operation Trinity: Report 2 – Allegations of Peter Francis, 16.2, Mick Creedon, March 2014
[6] Anatomy of a betrayal: the undercover officer accused of deceiving two women, fathering a child, then vanishing, The Guardian, 21 February 2013
[7] Home Affairs Select Committee, Undercover Policing: Interim Report, p8, 26 February 2013
[8] I was weak and cruel, admits ex-undercover police boss, Channel 4 News, 5 July 2013
[9] McLibel leaflet was co-written by undercover police officer Bob Lambert, The Guardian, 21 June 2013
[10] The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, Summary of Findings, p30
[11] The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, volume 1, p264
[12] Undercover policeman ‘fire-bombed shop,’ MPs told, BBC News site, 13 June 2012
[13] Police continued spying on Labour activists after their election as MPs, The Guardian, 25 March 2015
[14] Police colluded in secret plan to blacklist 3,200 building workers, The Observer, 12 October 2013
[15] Police ‘spied on activists for blacklisting agency’, The Guardian, 18 August 2013

Spycops in Scotland Exempt from Inquiry

Undercover police officer Mark Kennedy was deployed in Scotland 14 times

Undercover police officer Mark Kennedy was deployed in Scotland 14 times

Six of the exposed undercover political police were in Scotland, yet they are excluded from the Pitchford inquiry and the Scottish government is uninterested.

Today’s Sunday Herald reports that not only was Mark Kennedy the transport co-ordinator at the 2005 anti G8 protests in Scotland, but fellow officer Lynn Watson was there as part of the Action Medics team and Marco Jacobs is reported to have driven a minibus of activists up from England. Special Demonstration Squad officer Jason Bishop is also known to have attended.

Additionally, two of the women who received the extraordinary apology from the Metropolitan police earlier this month for being deceived into relationships with officers were taken to Scotland. Ostensibly going on holiday, John Dines was on paid duty when he took Helen Steel to Barra in 1990, and the same applied to Mark Cassidy’s visits to the country with a woman known as Alison.

The Met’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt frankly admitted that the way Dines and Jenner treated Helen Steel and Alison was

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.

 

Either the Scottish police were complicit in this by authorising the visits, or else they were mistreated by the Met who are obliged to get local police’s authorisation. Whichever, it is surely a serious issue for the Scottish police that such gross abuses took place in their jurisdiction.

But at First Minister’s Questions [scroll to 26:30] in the Scottish Parliament earlier this week, Nicola Sturgeon belittled the issue as mere “allegations of police impropriety” and dismissed a call for a Scottish inquiry.

A Scottish government spokesperson told the Sunday Herald they will

carefully consider the conclusions of the Pitchford Inquiry and, if there are measures over and above these safeguards which could sensibly be delivered in Scotland, we will discuss with Police Scotland and other interested parties how they might best be implemented.

The Pitchford Inquiry is limiting itself to actions in England and Wales, and is not expecting to report until summer 2018. Any recommendations would come somewhat later than that. Safeguards are only useful if they are implemented. One of the things the Met highlighted in their apology was that new, tougher rules were as blithely ignored as the old ones.

It is of particular concern that abuses were not prevented by the introduction of more stringent supervisory arrangements made by and pursuant to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

But more to the point, this is not just about preventing similar abuses in future. Pitchford is concerned with uncovering the truth of what happened in the past.

As well as the known five, how many of the hundred-plus unknown officers were in Scotland too? What campaigns were stymied? Which Scottish citizens were abused?

It’s absurd that the Pitchford Inquiry says its priority is to find the truth yet wilfully blinds itself to a place of prolonged and intensive operations. It’s baffling that the Scottish government doesn’t want to know about ‘violations of human rights and abuse of police power’ perpetrated by English officers on Scottish soil.

Speaking for COPS, Lois Austin told the Herald

A dozen officers from these disgraced units have been exposed, and five of them worked in Scotland. If the English victims of the political secret police deserve justice, so do the Scots. The Scottish government should be demanding inclusion in Pitchford. If they don’t trust the UK government inquiry – or if it continues to slam the door in their face – then Scotland must surely have their own public inquiry.

 

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.