Content tagged with "SDS"

Police Demand Money From Compensated Spycops Victim

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

Helen Steel at the Royal Courts of Justice

The Metropolitan Police are demanding £7,000 from a woman they paid damages to after she discovered that her long-term partner was a police spy. The claim is part of their ongoing campaign for secrecy around political undercover police units who have committed human rights abuses.

Helen Steel has been a lifelong social justice campaigner. In the 1990s she was one of the defendants in the McLibel trial, which arose after McDonald’s sued campaigners for libel over a leaflet produced by London Greenpeace. McDonald’s spent millions on the case, but a public support campaign meant the trial was dubbed ‘the greatest corporate PR disaster in history’.

POLICE SPIES AND CORPORATE SPIES

At the trial it was revealed that London Greenpeace had been infiltrated by several corporate spies hired by McDonald’s. But it was only years later that it emerged the group was also infiltrated by undercover police officers from the now-disgraced Special Demonstration Squad. One of them, Bob Lambert, co-wrote the What’s Wrong With McDonald’s leaflet that caused the trial, though this fact was kept from the court. Another officer in the group, John Dines, deceived Steel into a two-year relationship. They lived together, discussed starting a family and planned to spend the rest of their lives with one another. Then Dines feigned a breakdown and disappeared from Steel’s life back into his police career.

In 2011, Steel was one of a group of eight similarly deceived women who brought a legal case against the Metropolitan Police for abuse by five undercover officers. The Met spent many years and huge sums of public money obstructing the case.

NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY

After almost three years of the Met claiming they could ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) that anyone was an undercover officer – a tactic Steel forensically dismantled at a later public inquiry hearing – in 2014 the courts forced their hand.

The women challenged the police use of NCND. In July 2014 they won an important victory when the High Court ruled that there was no legitimate public interest in the Met Police asserting NCND in respect of the allegations that officers had engaged in long term intimate sexual relationships while undercover.

The Court also ruled that as Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling had already been publicly confirmed as undercover officers, the police could no longer maintain NCND in respect of their identities.

MET POLICE CONTINUE TO HIDE THE TRUTH

However, regarding Mark Jenner and John Dines, the Judge said that although the evidence amassed by the women was overwhelming, and it was surely only a matter of time until they were confirmed, he could not force the naming of people who hadn’t outed themselves.

As Steel said at the time

‘It is very disappointing that despite the overwhelming evidence our former partners John Dines and Mark Jenner were also undercover SDS officers, the Judge has allowed the Met to continue to hide the truth about them.’

Steel put in an appeal against this decision. These men were not private individuals, they had been acting as public servants, so the public had a right to know.

A few months after this appeal was lodged the Met held talks with the women to seek a settlement for their civil claims. Just before Christmas 2014 the Met agreed to apologise to the women, though it wasn’t finalised and published for another 11 months.

On 31st December 2014, the Appeal Court agreed that NCND was an important issue and Steel’s argument was well-grounded. They granted her leave to appeal.

COURT GRANTS APPEAL, MET CLAIMS DECEPTION

The Met, with their tactic of trying anything to undermine those they have victimised, attempted to get the appeal struck out. They claimed Steel had misled the appeal court by not informing them that a settlement had been agreed. This was an underhanded trick, given that the settlement hadn’t been finalised, she was unrepresented for the appeal, and the events happened over the Christmas period when people are generally not focussed on legal proceedings.

Steel argued that it was in the public interest to name those responsible for the abuses. A hearing for the Met’s strike-out application took place in July 2015. Steel was unrepresented, and mentally exhausted from the long battle for the truth. She reluctantly acceded to the court’s twofold advice.

Firstly, if she lost the appeal she would be liable to pay the Met’s legal costs, which could wipe out her entire damages in the main claim. Secondly, the forthcoming public inquiry would provide a safer route to argue about the use of NCND and the release of spycops’ names as there were no costs risks. 

STEEL DROPS APPEAL, MET CLAIMS £10,000 COSTS

Letter from Metropolitan Police to Helen Steel demanding £7,000Despite the hearing lasting only about an hour, the police then claimed over £10,000 costs. Although later reduced to £7,000, the ludicrous amounts charged act as a deterrent, intimidating members of the public seeking accountability for wrongdoing committed by police officers. The threat of such an award can be used by the police as a means to intimidate people out of seeking redress.

The police’s whole argument – that a settlement was agreed – rested on them issuing an apology admitting these men were Met officers who inexcusably abused women. The Met concede they were wrong, and that the women who were deceived into relationships were blameless. Why should officers who have abused members of the public be allowed to hide behind a wall of secrecy?

The apology came with damages for the harm caused by the extreme deception. The Met are now trying to claw money back from a woman they victimised because she tried to get them to do something that they should have done anyway.

PARTIAL CONFIRMATION, MORE DENIAL

The Undercover Policing Inquiry eventually confirmed that Dines was a police officer in December 2016 – a grudging and minimal admission that Steel excoriated. To this day, the police won’t admit Mark Jenner was the undercover officer Mark Cassidy, even though he’s been publicly identified since January 2011.

Women deceived into intimate relationships by undercover police officers want to ensure that these human rights abuses never happen to anyone else. This requires the Met to stop protecting the identities of the abusers. It also requires a legal system that allows funding to enable those who have been abused to challenge their abusers without the risk of becoming bankrupt or losing their homes.

For the Met to have abused these women is horrific enough. For them to inflict the second injustice of legal tricks and obstructions compounds their cruelty. To then to go after Helen Steel for money is an utterly outrageous further leap into the shameless bullying and corruption that has driven their response to the spycops scandal from the start.

Why is Spycop Andy Coles Still Silent?

Andy Coles wearing a Conservative Party rosetteFormer undercover police officer Andy Coles will not be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the watchdog announced earlier this month.

He was referred to the IPCC after his exposure as an ex-member of the disgraced Special Demonstration Squad in May, which included details of how he groomed a teenager known as Jessica into a sexual relationship during his time infiltrating animal rights and peace groups.

She described it in a statement:

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

‘Appallingly I also now know my new “boyfriend” was a 32 year old, married undercover policeman working for the SDS, Special Demonstration Squad. I had believed him to be about 24 at the time…

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

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, which is examining the misdeeds of Britain’s political secret police, recently designated Jessica as a core participant, a status given to less than 200 of the most significantly targeted people.

Three days after being publicly exposed on Channel 4 News, Coles resigned as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, despite being less than a year into the £28,000pa part-time role.

But now the Independent Police Complaints Commission, a body largely comprised of people who, like Coles, are ex-police officers, have decided there is nothing worth looking at, just as they did with other abusive spycops. They did not consult Jessica, nor any of the other women Coles sexually abused. Nothing has been investigated.

However, in some ways it does not need to be, because the issue rests on three simple and indisputable facts.

1 – Andy Coles was the Special Demonstration Squad officer known as Andy Davey

2 – He deceived Jessica into a relationship

3 – This was an abuse of police power, a violation of her human rights and far beyond anything police could ever justify

Although that last point is strongly worded, it is the emphatic and unequivocal position of the Met themselves, as explained by Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt [text or video].

‘it has become apparent that some officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which 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. I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service… relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity…

‘none of the women with whom the undercover officers had a relationship brought it on themselves. They were deceived pure and simple. I want to make it clear that the Metropolitan Police does not suggest that any of these women could be in any way criticized for the way in which these relationships developed.’

Coles has promoted himself as a figure of civic credibility, becoming governor at two schools, being the opening speaker at this year’s annual conference of Link to Change (an organisation supporting young people facing sexual exploitation). He personally endorsed the Children’s Society’s Seriously Awkward campaign to protect older teenagers from abuse and sexual exploitation.

Andy Coles promoting the Children's Scoiety's Seriously Awkward campaign

He must have known all this was richly hypocritical but hoped that he would be able to keep his past secret. As soon as he was unmasked, his position as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner became instantly untenable and he resigned.

COUNCIL CANCELLED

Despite all this, Coles is retaining his position as a Conservative member of Peterborough City Council, defying cross-party calls for him to step down from that post too.

Human Rights Abuser Andy Coles banner, Peterborough Town Hall

Human Rights Abuser Andy Coles banner made by Jessica, Peterborough Town Hall, 19 July 2017

Dozens of people attended a protest outside the council meeting on 19 July. Hundreds of leaflets about Coles were given out to those passing or entering the Town Hall. The protest included spycops campaigners alongside LibDem councillors, and representatives of Peterborough’s Labour and Green parties.

The council refused to consider a question, submitted by Jessica, on Coles’ suitability for his role. A banner she made was hung from the public gallery. The Mayor refused to continue the meeting until it was taken down; protesters refused to remove it while Coles was present; he refused to leave. After an hour of this stalemate, the Mayor abandoned the meeting.

IF YOU’VE NOTHING TO HIDE YOU’VE NOTHING TO FEAR

Council leader John Holdich OBE told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire that Coles was ‘not allowed to make a comment about it’, but this is not true. Several exposed spycops have given statements and interviews. It is Coles’ choice not to speak, which is odd if he feels his position were in any way defensible.

Holdich went on to defend Coles’ refusal to resign from the council.

‘Until you’re proved guilty, why should you get out? That’s a sign of your guilt, isn’t it, if you resign?’

But this was two months after Coles had resigned as Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. What was that then, if not a sign of his guilt?

Coles said he was unable to comment on the matter, pending the IPCC’s decision. But now there is to be no criminal trial that could be influenced, he is free to come forward and explain. If it’s possible for him to exonerate himself in the way his fellow Conservative – and an outlier LibDem – councillors say they expect, why isn’t he doing it?

He knows no denial is possible. He knows there is no doubt that if he had been unmasked sooner, he would have been among those that the Met already condemned and apologised for. He behaved in the same way as other sexually abusive officers. There is no excuse. There is no justification.

He grossly abused a position of trust while in public office. He has no place in a public body with any measure of integrity.

There is a meeting of Peterborough City Council on 11 October. If Coles is still a councillor, there will be a protest outside.

Three New Spycops Named – But Others Get Hidden

Troops Out Movement demonstration at military recruitment office

Troops Out Movement demonstration at military recruitment office

The public inquiry into undercover political policing has published three new names of spycops and, for the first time, they’re new names rather than just confirming what activists, whistleblowers and journalists had already revealed.

However, among the hefty tranche of new papers from Inquiry Chair Sir John Mitting are grave indications of that he is seeking to prevent the full truth coming to light.

Having dragged out the process of beginning the inquiry for years, earlier this year the Metropolitan Police were given a firm timetable for applying for ‘restriction orders’ for the anonymity of undercover officers.

As expected, the Met are pushing for maximum secrecy, arguing that it would make officers worried and sad to be publicly known for what they’ve done. The Met also argue that the officers would be at risk of violent reprisal, despite nothing of the kind happening to the swathe of officers who have been very publicly exposed since 2010. With deadlines passing, the Met have had their hand forced and, finally, we are getting a small measure of new information from the Inquiry.

THREE NEW SPYCOPS

As had been suggested by some victims, the new names are all from the early days of the Special Demonstration Squad in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With those involved being of advanced age, there’s some merit in tackling these cases first. Indeed, one of the three newly named officers is already dead.

We’ve been given only the officers’ cover names, but not their real identity. These three releases have major redactions, including whether the officer had intimate relationships or was arrested. Given the long history of SDS officers having such abusive relationships and instigating miscarriages of justice, these are very serious omissions.

John Graham‘ was deployed in 1968, the first year of the Special Demonstration Squad, to infiltrate the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (Kilburn and Willesden Branch), and says the worst thing anyone in the group ever suggested doing was jumping on the back of a police officer. He also spied on the Revolutionary Socialist Students Federation.

In 1969 his deployment was cut short when he refused a senior officers instruction to attend a certain meeting, feeling it would have exposed him. He was moved to other duties shortly after. The Undercover Research Group have produced a profile of John Graham.

Rick Gibson‘ spied on left wing groups between 1974 and 1976. He infiltrated socialist feminist campaign/newspaper Big Flame, and became a prominent member of the south-east London branch of the Troops Out Movement which campaigns to end British involvement in Northern Ireland.

The police say that in 1976 Gibson was confronted by a Big Flame activist who had become suspicious of him and discovered that he was – as was standard for spycops at the time – using the identity of a dead child. Gibson said that he was indeed using a false identity as he was on the run from the police, and his comrades could not be certain that he was a spy. His deployment was ended shortly afterwards. He is now dead.

Doug Edwards‘ was one of the earliest Special Demonstration Squad officers, deployed between 1968 and 1971. He infiltrated anarchist groups, and says that ‘some of them were quite nasty pieces of work’. He then moved on to the Dambusters Mobilising Committee, a coalition opposed to the huge Cabora Bassa dam project in the then-Portuguese colony of Mozambique, a collaboration between apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia and Portugal to supply electricity to South Africa.

Like so many of his colleagues, he was very active in groups he infiltrated, becoming treasurer of Cuban-founded group Tricontinental. He also describes going to a wedding, showing that ‘collateral intrusion’ into the lives of those around the spied-upon has always been part of how spycops work.

He continues

‘Some of the people in these groups were really nice, pleasant, intelligent people. They were different politically in their views, but in this country you can have different political views.’

He says

‘I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion… I don’t have anything to hide and I’ll answer all questions, I won’t mind’

But then he immediately backtracks with

‘I don’t want all this dragging up though when it was 50 years ago… I don’t want the interference at my stage of life.’

 

These three bring the total of exposed undercover officers to 23 out of a total of at least 144.

DOORS CLOSING BEFORE THEY OPEN

The three newly named spycops are among 28 whose anonymity has been considered by the inquiry. The Inquiry has published a brief profile of each of them, with a position on their anonymity.

Of the 25 still unnamed:

  • 2 aren’t being named yet but the Chair intends to release the cover names soon
  • 3 are dead with no known cover name, their real names will be published later
  • 2 have no known cover name and the Inquiry won’t release the real name
  • 3 have both cover and real names known and the Chair intends to withhold both
  • 1 has already had the cover name confirmed, and the Chair intends to withhold the real name
  • 3 are undecided pending further information
  • 3 are having secret hearings with the Inquiry before a decision is made
  • 1 has been given more time to apply for anonymity
  • 7 were backroom staff so had no cover name, their real names will be published later

Put another way, they have taken decisions on eight officers and are withholding the cover names of three. This is not a good ratio. Without the publication of the overwhelming majority of cover names we cannot know who was spied on, so we cannot hear from victims and establish the truth.

Mitting is giving a lot of weight to the possible psychological impacts on spycops if they are named, but since when are abusers given protection because exposure would be detrimental to them?

As Pitchford Watcher’s analysis of Mitting’s statement explained

‘In one case, that of ‘HN7’, he has already given a unilateral order for anonymity on the basis of HN7’s mental health. For others, he is accepting that the minimal risk of press intrusion may be sufficient for such anonymity orders, even when there is no risk to safety. In another instance, his main concern is the effect on the widow of an undercover.

‘He also appears to be of the opinion that he can do what he needs to meet the terms of reference of the Inquiry, just by reference to cyphers and cover names, an approach that increases secrecy and further limits participation by those targeted by the undercovers. These core participants believe that in doing this, he is completely disregarding their needs and that they are being denied the right to the truth.’

THE LAWRENCE FAMILY SPY

Of the three officers applying for full anonymity who will have secret hearings before a decision, one is officer N81, who spied on Stephen Lawrence’s family as they campaigned for justice for their murdered son.

Doreen Lawrence has been very clear about the need to know who spied on her, telling the Guardian in 2015

‘They were doing the deception. Why should they be allowed to be anonymous while people like me had their faces all over the newspapers? These people were not innocent. They knew what they were doing.’

This is the key issue at the moment for many of the people targeted. The cover names of the officers and the names of the groups they spied on are not optional or incidental. They are the sole foundation on which the truth can be established. Whether to publish them should not be an issue to wrestle with, it should not be the focus of the discussion, it should be a given.

Inquiry core participant Carolyn Wilson told Pitchford Watcher

‘The police tend to tell us “If you’ve nothing to hide, then you’ve got nothing to fear”. People are trying to come to terms with the very real trauma of finding out they’d been deceived into intimate relationships with cops from these secret units. They are desperate for information so they can deal with what’s happened, and heal their lives.

‘How dare those same cops now have the nerve to claim that they face being “traumatised” by details of their past activities being brought out in public? If they haven’t done anything wrong, why would they be embarrassed about their neighbours and families finding out about it all?’

This inquiry is not about arbitrating between equals. It is about establishing the full truth about the known abuses of power committed by these disgraced units against citizens and democracy. If it does not publish the overwhelming majority of cover names it defies its purpose, protects the guilty and betrays the victims.

Another Spycop Outed: Andy Coles / ‘Andy Davey’

Andy Coles, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer Andy Davey

Andy Coles, aka Special Demonstration Squad officer Andy Davey

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

He infiltrated London animal rights campaigns from 1991-1995.

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

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

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

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

SEXUAL PREDATOR

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

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

Jessica has only recently learned the truth and made this statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HE SAW IT COMING BUT STILL HE HID

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

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

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

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


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

Official: Simon Wellings was a Spycop

Simon Wellings, Special Demonstration Squad officer

Simon Wellings, Special Demonstration Squad officer

Simon Wellings was an undercover police officer in the Special Demonstration Squad, the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing confirmed today.

It comes as the latest in a flurry of admissions of spycops’ identities in recent weeks. However, it still leaves the majority of the 17 known officers unconfirmed.

They still ‘neither confirm nor deny’ Mark Jenner was in Britain’s political secret police, even though his profile, including photo and real name, have been in the mainstream media for years and the Met have paid damages for his abuses.

PHONE A FRIEND

Simon Wellings infiltrated anti-capitalist group Globalise Resistance from 2001-2005. In a farcical moment that rivals his colleague Carlo Neri instinctively standing for God Save The Queen, Wellings accidentally rang one of his target activists whilst he was in a police meeting.

It went to voicemail and so he was recorded being shown photos of protesters and identifying them. He could be heard giving personal details that were nothing to do with politics such as

‘She’s Hanna’s girlfriend – very overt lesbian – last time I saw her, hair about that long, it was blonde, week before it was black.’

Wellings even took his spying to Glastonbury Festival, as Mark Kennedy would later repeatedly do. One of the people he targeted there was Globalise Resistance’s Guy Taylor who was astonished to find out the truth, saying

‘If they need to know the plans and schemes of anti-capitalists, the worst place to look is Glastonbury as we were rarely in a fit state to plan the downfall of a parish council, let alone the world financial system.’

Though it sounds far removed from the horrific psychological and sexual abuse spycops inflicted on citizens, it’s yet another of the ways in which the spycops went much further than anyone could justify, a result of their impunity and unaccountability.

TELL US SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW

Whilst the ending of state stonewalling is a minor relief, there is nothing welcome in today’s announcement. It merely admits something that was all over the mainstream media six years ago. They are telling us what everyone already knows because the people who were spied on discovered it.

If the Inquiry is to be worth anything it must release the cover names of all the officers from the spycops units, and the names of the groups that were targeted too. Only then can people realise they were spied on and come forward with the truth of what happened.

All the horrors we’ve heard of come from around 10% of the officers, the ones who have, by chance, been unmasked. We can be sure the 100+ others worked in similarly abusive and counter-democratic ways. We need the whole truth.

Spycops Stealing Dead Children’s Identities

Barbara Shaw, holding the death certificate of her son Rod Richardson

Barbara Shaw, holding the death certificate of her son Rod Richardson

Parents who want to know if their dead child’s identity was stolen by undercover police officers have been invited to ask the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.

Anyone whose child was born between 1938 and 1975 can do it, as long as they have somehow stumbled across the invitation (www.ucpi.org.uk  > Preliminary Issues > Deceased Children’s Identities > scroll to the bottom of a list of 16 PDFs > click the last one) .

The issue came to light when activists exposed their comrade ‘Rod Richardson’ in 2013. The people who had unmasked Mark Kennedy had become suspicious of someone else they had known who now appeared to have been Kennedy’s predecessor. They found that the real Rod Richardson had died as a baby.

How common was dead child identity theft?

In the same week as ‘Richardson’ was exposed, Pat Gallan – Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met and, at that point, head of its spycops investigation Operation Herne – gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. She said that they had only found one case of dead child identity theft and the combined efforts of Herne’s 31 staff had failed to find any more in the subsequent five months until activists exposed ‘Richardson’.

The select committee insisted on the truth about the issue and demanded all parents be told and given an apology by the end of 2013. We’re still waiting.

Later in 2013 Herne reported that, contrary to Gallan’s claim of it being isolated and unauthorised, identity theft of dead children was commonplace, and mandatory in the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), with instructions laid out in the SDS Tradecraft Manual.

The practice began soon after the formation of the SDS in 1968 and continued until the mid-1990s. Herne reported that, of 106 fake identities used by SDS officers, 42 were of dead children, 45 were fictitious and 19 were unknown.

Known as ‘the Jackal run’, after its use in Frederick Forsyth’s 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal, new recruits would trawl the death registers looking for a child with their first name and a similar date of birth. There is some indication that other state agencies such as Customs, also used the practice.

It has been criticised as being ghoulish, but it’s more than that. As Anthony Barker – whose brother John died of leukaemia aged 8 and had his identity stolen by SDS officer John Dinespointed out, it puts bereaved families at risk. After Dines ended his deployment and disappeared, his worried and bereft activist partner Helen Steel traced John Barker and went to the house listed on the birth certificate.

‘Now, imagine that policeman had infiltrated a violent gang or made friends with a volatile person, then disappeared, just like this man did. Someone wanting revenge would have tracked us down to our front door – but they wouldn’t have wanted a cup of tea and a chat, like this woman says she did.’

Why did spycops steal children’s identities?

Time and again we were told that it was done to give officers a credible back story. Operation Herne said

‘As outlined in the SDS Trade Craft Manual, the practice of using a genuine deceased identity was developed to create a plausible covert identity that was capable of frustrating enquiries by activists’

It later reiterates

‘the subject chosen had to have an ‘existence’ to show up in case of basic research by suspicious activists’

Met police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said

‘At the time this method of creating identities was in use, officers felt this was the safest option’

But, as one of the activists who exposed ‘Rod Richardson’ explained, it actually posed a significant risk.

‘How many times have you looked up a friend’s birth certificate because you thought they were actually someone else? It is the rare act of someone with a deep distrust. A real birth certificate wouldn’t allay the reasons for that suspicion. More than that, if an activist is suspicious enough to look for a birth certificate, they can find a death certificate too.

‘There are many reasons why someone might not have a British birth certificate. They may have been born abroad, they may have been adopted. There is, however, no reason for someone who comes round to your house to have a death certificate… Having found Rod Richardson’s birth certificate, the next thing I did was search for and find his death certificate and I immediately knew my friend had in fact been a fraud.’

In truth, the spycops stole these identities for the same reason most other thieves do it. Before passports were commonplace, a birth certificate was the primary proof of identity. Using a real one enabled them to open bank accounts, get tenancies and various other bits of officialdom that construct an ordinary functional life.

More brass monkeys at the Met

Brass monkeys

The Met responded to the revelations with their typical secrecy and cavalier attitude to the damage they have done to citizens they’re supposed to serve.

A number of bereaved families contacted police to ask if their child’s identity had been used. The Met refused to answer. A Freedom of Information request was made asking for the ages of the dead children, not even the exact dates or their sexes. At least with that barest detail, many worried families would be able to rule out their children if there wasn’t a match. The Met refused to do even that.

In August 2014 the Information Commissioners Office declared that the police must release the list of ages. Five months later, the Met admitted they had stolen the identity of dead children of every age between 0 and 17 except for 2, 3 and 15.

Bernard Hogan-Howe personally issued an apology of sorts. It was addressed to nobody in particular, refused to give any names or contact any affected families, and basically said he was sorry he got caught.

‘It was never intended or foreseen that any of the identities used would become public’

Years after the exposure of ‘Rod Richardson’ and John Dines, the Met still ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that either was an officer. The real Rod Richardson’s mother, Barbara Shaw, made a complaint to the police. It was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in February 2013 and they handed it back to the police but said it would be a ‘supervised investigation’. It was then downgraded to a straightforward unsupervised police self-investigation known as Operation Riverwood.

When it was completed the police announced that no action would be taken against any officer. They are still refusing to publish the investigation’s report.

Barbara Shaw’s lawyer Jules Carey said

‘The families of the dead children whose identities have been stolen by the undercover officers deserve better than this. They deserve an explanation, a personal apology and, if appropriate, a warning of the potential risk they face, in the exceptional circumstances, that their dead child’s identity was used to infiltrate serious criminal organisations.

‘The harvesting of dead children’s identities was only one manifestation of the rot at the heart of these undercover units which had officers lie on oath, conduct smear campaigns and use sexual relationships as an evidence-gathering tool.’


What happens next?

Last week’s announcement from the Pitchford Inquiry says it may publish names used by spycops. However, it actively warns that it, too, may join in with the Met’s cover-up practice of Neither Confirm Nor Deny.

‘the Inquiry may be unable to give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to your question, even after the Inquiry has concluded its work and knows the answer. The reason for this is that in order to protect the rights of other individuals or in the public interest the Chairman of the Inquiry may have to make a restriction order under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005 that prevents the Inquiry from releasing information in its possession.’

Bear in mind that this is not disclosing the identity of an officer, just the identity of someone else that they stole and stopped using years ago. But still, they say that your right to know what was done to your family without consent can be trumped by a desire to stop people knowing something that isn’t even about the police officer.

The Inquiry says that it will, later, attempt to contact all families whose children’s identities were stolen. This is a significant step forward and raises the real prospect of names being published.

If the Inquiry decides not to publish, will it also gag the families? Has it considered how secrecy may compound the damage to a family? As we’ve learned from countless justice campaigns, public acknowledgement of state wrongdoing is vital for victims to be able to come to terms with what was done to them.

The Inquiry also says that any families applying will be initially contacted by the police. Once again, we see the police as being placed as trustworthy independent arbiters. The police are the subject of the Inquiry because we proved they ran a sustained, systemic, strategic campaign of counter-democratic subterfuge and brazen abuse of citizens.

The Inquiry’s increasing tendency to side with police perspective and norms is deeply alarming for anyone hoping for truth and justice. We know from other cases of police wrongdoing that ‘liaison officers’ were not friendly faces but actually evidence gatherers used to undermine attempts to find justice. We know that police lied to the family of Ian Tomlinson, telling them a protester may have been their father’s attacker, and warned against contact between the family and journalists seeking the truth.

The Inquiry must recognise that what limited light falls on this murky abuse has been shed by the hard work of victims. The Inquiry should seek to emulate and expand on this approach rather than copying the acts of the perpetrators.

The police have attempted to frustrate justice and cannot be trusted. Although the police have all the files and the answers, they choose to withhold them. Their refusal to tell their victims what was done is an arrogant intensification of torment. They are acting as an enemy of justice.

Scotland Asks Police to Self-Investigate Spycops

John Dines on Barra

SDS officer John Dines on Barra in the Outer Hebrides. His activity is excluded from the Scottish inquiry

The Scottish government has asked a group of senior police officers to investigate spycops activity in their country.

It comes in response to the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing being limited to events in England and Wales. The Home Office refused a request, supported by every party in the Scottish Parliament, to extend the Pitchford remit to Scotland.

As we’ve said previously, Scotland was not merely incidental to the political spying of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). The majority of known officers worked there. Officials admit Mark Kennedy made 14 authorised visits to the country. During these, he had numerous sexual relationships that the Met themselves have described as ‘abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong’ and a breach of human rights. He was far from the only one – Mark Jenner, Carlo Neri and John Dines all did the same.

Having failed to secure Scotland’s inclusion in the main Pitchford inquiry, every party in Holyrood except the SNP backed the call for a separate Scottish inquiry. On Wednesday the Scottish government announced its decision. It has asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to look into it. HMICS is a body of senior police officers.

HMIC’s FIRST BUCKET OF WHITEWASH

Its sister organisation for England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has already got a history of whitewash on the spycops scandal.

The whole issue first hit the headlines in 2011 when Mark Kennedy’s exposure caused the collapse of a trial. Since then, 49 convictions have been overturned due to Kennedy’s involvement. HMIC were asked to look into Kennedy and the two spycops units.

The report was drafted by Bernard Hogan-Howe, on a two year stint at HMIC between his roles as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and Commissioner of the Met. By the time the report came out he was spending huge sums of Met money deploying lawyers to obstruct justice for spycops’ victims.

The HMIC report was completed by Denis O’Connor, who had been Assistant Commissioner of the Met at the time of the MacPherson Inquiry into the killing of Stephen Lawrence.

The report is believed to have portrayed Mark Kennedy as a rogue officer who had strayed from the purpose of his deployment. It was dramatically withdrawn and pulped just five hours before publication because The Guardian published revelations that another officer, Jim Boyling, had caused miscarriages of justice just as Kennedy did.

It underwent four months of rewriting and, when finally published in 2012, it still came out saying senior officers knew nothing, and basically hung Kennedy out to dry.

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

Kennedy had been in daily contact with his cover officer, who will have known where he was and what he was doing. Documents released since the HMIC report show that Kennedy was sanctioned from on high and people far up the ladder took a keen and detailed personal interest in his work.

Above the spycops units were their authorising officers.

‘it was not evident that the authorising officers were cognisant of the extent and nature of the intrusion that occurred; nor is it clear that the type and level of intrusion was completely explained to them’

What is an authorising officer doing if not asking about the necessity and impacts of the things they authorise?

But the HMIC report, in the classic style of self-investigations, says it was incompetence and ignorance rather than anything more sinister, only the lowlings did any really bad stuff, lessons have been learned and we can all move on.

It is a challenge for anyone to seriously expect anything different from the forthcoming Scottish report.

CHRONOLOGICAL BLINKERS

As if choosing police to self-investigate isn’t bad enough, the Scottish Government’s remit to HMICS is

‘to report on the extent and scale of undercover policing in Scotland conducted by Scottish policing since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act came into force: and the extent and scale of undercover police operations carried out in Scotland by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the Special Demonstration Squad in the same period.’

This means the earlier abuses of officers like Mark Jenner and John Dines – who were committing what their bosses admit were breaches of human rights on Scottish soil – will be ignored.

This isn’t just the police getting to mark their own homework. It is police who have been caught after decades of wrongdoing, with a history of cover-ups on this very topic, being given a narrow section of their misdeeds on which to report. Even if they could see clearly, they are looking at the picture through a toilet roll tube.

The Pitchford Inquiry has designated 200 people who were seriously involved in spycops activity – mostly those who were spied on – as ‘core participants’. A group of 24 of them were also personally targeted in Scotland and demand to know the truth of what was done to them there.

As with the police’s spycops self-investigation Operation Herne, it’s unlikely that victims will lend credibility to HMICS’ inevitably flawed and partisan effort by participating. Not that HMIC asked any victims for the 2012 report anyway.

SCOTLAND’S TOP COP DID IT, HIS WIFE’S AN INVESTIGATOR

Any idea that this will produce mere hopeless bias rather than corruption is largely dispelled by the tangle of personal involvement between Scottish police, the two spycops units and HMIC.

Scotland’s Chief Constable, Phil Gormley, was head of the Met’s Special Branch – and therefore oversaw its sub-unit the Special Demonstration Squad – from 2005-2007. He was also secretary of ACPO-TAM, the committee that oversaw Mark Kennedy’s unit the NPOIU, from 2005-2008.

Gormley supervised both units at the exact time that is under investigation. Beyond the usual bias of police investigating police, will fear of besmirching Scotland’s top cop further influence the report? What about the fact that Phil Gormley is married to Detective Superintendent Claire Stevens who has been at HMIC since 2011 (according to her recently deleted LinkedIn profile)?

If this were happening in some tinpot failed state we would express incredulous outrage. The police chief oversaw disgraced secret units that abused dozens of women, engineered hundreds of miscarriages of justice, illegally gave information on political activists to industrial blacklists, disrupted legitimate campaigns and undermined the struggle for justice by families whose loved ones died at the hands of his constabulary. An inquiry run by his senior officers with links to his wife is touted as credible.

That this is the response of the Scottish government, as it seeks to show itself as a fairer than Westminster, beggars belief.

AN INSULT AND A BETRAYAL

These aren’t suggestions or allegations. They are the established facts of large-scale, systematic sustained abuse of power and violation of the citizens that the police are supposed to serve.

To appoint HMICS to investigate these events places huge trust in those who have emphatically proven themselves unworthy. It is an insult to all those who were abused by spycops in Scotland – the people who have done all the work of exposing these outrages – whilst the police, including HMIC, smeared victims in an attempt to mitigate, justify and deny. It is a betrayal of those who expect truth and justice.

To let HMICS go ahead in light of the facts is frankly corrupt. More than that, it is an acceptance by the Scottish government that abuses serious enough to warrant a public inquiry in England count for less, or even nothing, when done in Scotland.

 

 


COPS Scotland is being launched with two public meetings featuring:

Glasgow, Wednesday 5 October 7.30pm
Jury’s Inn, 80 Jamaica Street G1 4QG

Dundee, Thursday 6 October, 7.00pm
Dundee Voluntary Action, 10 Constitution Road DD1 1LL

How Many Spycops Have There Been?

Poster of 14 exposed spycops among 140 silhouettes

Political spying is not new. The Metropolitan Police founded the first Special Branch in 1883. Initially focusing on Irish republicanism in London, it rapidly expanded its remit to gather intelligence on a range of people deemed subversive. Other constabularies followed suit.

But in 1968, the Met did something different. The government, having been surprised at the vehemence of a London demonstration against the Vietnam War, decided it had to know more about political activism. The Met were given direct government funding to form a political policing unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

About twelve officers at a time would change their identities, grow their hair and live among those they spied on for years at a time. They would ‘become’ activists, each infiltrating a particular group on the far left, far right or in other areas of dissent such as the peace movement and animal rights. They were authorised to be involved in minor crime.

The police and the secret state have always used informers, and even private investigators, as part of their surveillance work. However, the SDS was unique in being a police unit set up to focus on political groups with extended periods of deployment. The model was rolled out nationally in 1999 with the creation of the SDS off-shoot, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance is primarily concerned with these dedicated political secret police – the long-term, deep-cover officers of the SDS, the NPOIU, and the successor units that subsumed them and their roles.

It’s generally accepted that there have been around 150 of these undercover officers since the SDS was formed in 1968. This figure comes from work by the Undercover Research Group and activists, and extrapolation from details in official reports.

Operation Herne, the Met’s self-investigation into the spycops scandal, said in July 2013

‘To date Operation Herne has verified one hundred and six (106) covert names that were used by members of the SDS.’

This is just the SDS. Last year, Mark Ellison’s report into spycops causing miscarriages of justice asked about the NPOIU, which ran from 1999-2011.

‘Operation Herne has identified fewer than 20 NPOIU officers deployed over that period’

However,

‘Operation Herne’s work to investigate the nature and extent of the undercover work of the NPOIU was only able to begin in November 2014 and has barely been able to ‘scrape the surface’ so far’.

There may well be more spycops from either or both units.

Other, similarly hazy, approaches arrive at a similar number. The SDS ran for 40 years and is understood to have had 12 officers deployed at any given time, usually for periods of four years. This would make a total of 96 undercover officers. However, it’s known that some officers were active for a fraction of the usual time, so the real figure will be somewhat higher.

Assuming the same scale for the NPOIU gives a total of 36 officers. That is a fuzzy guess though – the NPOIU was a new, national unit and may have deployed more officers.

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

The Operation Herne report from 2013 said that, of the 106 identified SDS officers, 42 stole the identity of a dead child, 45 used fictitious identities, and 19 are still unknown. The practice of stealing identities was mandatory in the unit for about 20 years until the mid-1990s. The NPOIU, starting in 1999, is only known to have stolen a dead child’s identity for one officer, Rod Richardson.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

There are certainly some more spycops from the successor units.

The Met merged its Special Branch (including subsidiaries like the SDS) with its Anti-Terrorist Branch in October 2006 to form Counter Terrorism Command. They reviewed and shut down the SDS in 2008.

Although the NPOIU used a number of Met Special Branch officers, from 2006 it was overseen by the Association of Chief Police Officers as part of their National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU). In 2012, the NDEU was also absorbed into the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. At the same time, the NDEU changed its name and stopped having any responsibility for undercover officers.

Last November the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt issued an abject apology to eight women deceived into relationships with undercover officers. Two months later Carlo Neri, another officer who had similar relationships, was exposed. Assistant Commissioner Hewitt assured the BBC that the Met

‘no longer carries out ‘long-term infiltration deployments’ in these kinds of groups but would accept responsibility for past failings’

That appears to contradict a 2013 report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. It plainly says today’s spycops are deployed by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command and similar regional units.

‘The NDEU restructured in January 2012, and now operates under the umbrella of the MPS Counter Terrorism Command (which is known as SO15). NDEU has also recently been renamed, and is now called the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU)…

‘The NDEU’s remit changed at the same time as its restructure and no longer carries out any undercover operations. All deployments of undercover officers which target the activity of domestic extremists are coordinated either by the SO15 Special Project Team (SPT), or by one of the regional SPTs…

‘The SPTs are in the North West, North East and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Units, and the Counter Terrorism Command in London.’

HOW MANY SPYCOPS ARE KNOWN?

There are 17 [UPDATE August 2017: now 23] spycops who have been named and well documented. There are strong suspicions about several more. Fifteen of the seventeen have been exposed by their victims. One has been exposed by journalists, one by the officer himself – Peter Francis, the only whistleblower. None have come from the police.

Journalists – notably Rob Evans and Paul Lewis at the Guardian – have substantially fleshed out the activists’ research. The Met recently claimed to be having trouble even sorting their records into order.  If that is true then perhaps the best bet would be to allow these tenacious activists and journalists, who have done such sterling work despite police obstructions, to come and have a go.

Although the 17 spycops’ identities are properly established, with most of them having extensive details and numerous photos in the public domain, the Met are reluctant to give any further information.

Until the cover names are known, the majority of people targeted don’t even know it happened. Waiting for victims to investigate and gather evidence is a denial of justice. This is why most people granted ‘core participant’ status at the forthcoming public inquiry – mostly activists confirmed as significantly affected – have called for the release of all cover names and the names of the groups who were spied upon.

The Met say they must ‘neither confirm nor deny’ that anybody was ever an undercover officer (for a demolition of their ‘policy’ of Neither Confirm Nor Deny, you cannot do better than Helen Steel’s superb speech to the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing). On many occasions they have even refused to refer to Mark Kennedy by name, as if it’s still a secret. This came long after he hired Max Clifford to sell his story for a tabloid front page splash, which is about as unsecret as it’s possible to get.

After three years of legal wrangling, in August 2014 courts forced the Met to admit that Jim Boyling and Bob Lambert were spycops (again, long after both officers had personally talked to the media).

In March 2014 the Met’s Operation Herne produced an 84 page report concerning SDS whistleblower Peter Francis’ revelations about spying on the family of Stephen Lawrence. It said it

‘will not confirm or deny if Peter Francis was an undercover police officer’

As if they might devote all that time and effort to the ramblings of a fantasist.

It’s an insult to those who have been abused. It’s also a double injustice familiar to other victims of state wrongdoing – there’s what the state does, then how it pours resources to smear, lie and obstruct justice for its victims.

This doesn’t bode well for the forthcoming public inquiry.

Today, Kennedy, Lambert and Boyling are still the only three spycops the Met will officially admit to. Here is the list of 17.

WHO ARE THE SPYCOPS?

  1. Peter Francis AKA ‘Peter Daley’ or ‘Pete Black’
    SDS. Self-disclosed. Initial exposure March 2010, real name given June 2013
  2. Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’
    NPOIU. Exposed by activists, October 2010
  3. Jim Boyling AKA ‘Jim Sutton’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, January 2011
  4. Marco Jacobs (alias)
    NPOIU? Exposed by activists, January 2011
  5. Mark Jenner AKA ‘Mark Cassidy’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, January 2011. Real name given March 2013
  6. Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, October 2011
  7. Lynn Watson (alias)
    NPOIU? Exposed by activists, January 2011
  8. Simon Wellings (alias)
    SDS? Exposed by activists 2005, publicised March 2011
  9. Rod Richardson (alias)
    NPOIU. Exposed by activists, February 2013
  10. John Dines AKA ‘John Barker’
    SDS. Exposed by activists, February 2013
  11. Matt Rayner (alias)
    SDS. Exposed by activists, 2013
  12. Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’
    SDS. Exposed by journalists, June 2013
  13. Jason Bishop (alias)
    SDS. Exposed by activists, July 2013
  14. Carlo Neri (alias)
    SDS? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, January 2016
  15. RC (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, February 2016
  16. Gary R (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, July 2016
  17. Abigail L (full alias withheld)
    NPOIU? Exposed by Undercover Research Group in conjunction with activists, July 2016

UPDATE March 2017:

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

UPDATE May 2017:

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

UPDATE July 2017:

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

UPDATE August 2017:

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

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

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



UPDATE July 2017: How many spycops have there been?

In February 2017 the National Police Chiefs Council told the Inquiry

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

In April 2017 the Inquiry said

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

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

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.

Core Participant? Your Name’s Not Down, You’re Not Coming In

BouncersIn the early 1990s it seemed like every dance track needed to have a sample. The Prodigy – the now stadium band famous for ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Invaders Must Die’ – started out with a track that sampled Charlie the Cat from a government safety information advert.

It was probably this track that launched a thousand copies of that sampling template. Another ‘memorable’ track was one called The Bouncer. This again had a typical dance backing track of the 1990s era – and it sampled a bouncer saying ‘your name’s not down you’re not coming in’. Hard to believe this was a big hit.

The reason why this is mentioned is that recently COPS held its monthly meeting and discussion. Our concern is based on recent decisions being pumped out from the Inquiry particularly regarding those who have applied for Core Participant (CP) status and the fact that despite a supposed ‘open door’ policy, the Inquiry is increasingly turning applications away. Not just any applications – but extremely compelling applications. We are worried.

Let us remember that the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and its later manifestations have been involved in undercover policing of political activists since 1968. The Met themselves admit the SDS spied on over 460 groups at one time or another. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference refers to undercover policing and does not restrict itself to the SDS. It therefore should, we believe, have a remit to look at how police forces have used undercover policing in the classic sense – that is, the way in which Mark Kennedy, Peter Francis and Marco Jacobs operated – with a new identity and ‘deep swimming.’ Yet it is not just that.

Terms of reference and an open approach?

The Terms of Reference prefers a broad definition of undercover policing. This would, it seems, include undercover policing carried out by non-SDS Special Branch and also regional police authorities. It should and could even refer to that type of state policing by MI5

A core participant broadly speaking is an individual or an institution that played, or may have played, a direct or significant role in relation to the matters to which the Inquiry relates; has a significant interest in an important matter to which the Inquiry relates; or may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the Inquiry proceedings or in a report prepared by the Inquiry.

When the Inquiry was established there were over 200 applications for CP status. Most were accepted. A judgement made in October 2015 illustrates the open character of the Inquiry.

Based on this initial ruling we felt that the Inquiry was going to do two things, listen to those of us who were spied upon and investigate undercover policing of political groups who were engaging in their right to protest.

It was also said that there would continue to be an open door for those who wish to seek Core Participant status. We now question that initial promise, as recent refusals have thrown it into doubt.

High profile cases rejected

In the last few months a number of high profile, and not so high profile applications have been made. Many have been rejected, or should we say in legal speak they are not rejected but ‘being kept under review’.

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones is a high profile Green Party figure. She has run for London mayor, was a Greater London Assembly member for 16 years and now sits in the House of Lords.

She was spied upon for many years and has been told by a whistleblower that some of her ‘domestic extremist’ files were shredded by the Metropolitan Police.

Apparently this was not good enough to secure Core Participant status.

Tony Mulhearn

Tony Mulhearn

Tony Mulhearn is a high profile member of the Socialist Party (formerly Militant) in Merseyside. Previously he was a Labour councillor and one of the leaders of the Liverpool Labour council that battled the Thatcher government in the 1980s.

In the True Spies documentary undercover officers explain that they spied on Militant. Stella Rimington and David Shayler have also advised that MI5 spied on Militant’s leading figures in Liverpool.

Again, this application for CP status was rejected.

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell is a lifelong campaigner for LGBT equality, starting with the Gay Liberation Front and helping to organise London’s first Pride march in the early 1970s.

The gay rights movement was a new political force, challenging the status quo and with the potential to hugely embarrass establishment figures who were in the closet.

He renewed his commitment to LBGT direct action in the 1990s with FROCS (Faggots Rooting Out Closeted Sexuality) who exposed public figures who made homophobic pronouncements whilst having a secret gay life. He also famously attempted a citizen’s arrest of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in London.

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson was imprisoned because of his trade union activities. He is one of the Shrewsbury 24, and along with Des Warren was sentenced to 3 years in prison. The first episode of True Spies – ‘Subversive – My Arse’ opens the trilogy about him. A police officer accepts there is a file on Ricky Tomlinson.

He also had a file with illegal blacklisters Economic League file, and it is well established that the Metropolitan Police had close links with them and shared information.

Despite the evidence provided to the Inquiry, these four high profile cases have all had their applications for Core Participant status refused.  An impartial observer would probably be surprised at this. (Core participant rulings can be found here).

Spied on – balance of probabilities? Or beyond doubt?

In the initial period of consideration Core Participants were not only encouraged, but assessed on what can be best described as a balance of probabilities. That is to say, whilst many were able to point to an actual officer who spied on them, some CPs were unable to do so but had sufficient evidence to show that in all likelihood, given membership of a particular campaign, they would have been spied on. The Inquiry appeared to accept it had an inquisitorial function.

Since allowing 200+ people to be CPs, has there been a panic at Inquiry HQ? Recent applications have been given a much tougher time. It would appear that the assessment has gone from one of probabilities to certainty. Now it appears – particularly in the matter of the high profile cases listed above – the weight of evidence showing an overwhelming probability of being spied upon has been replaced by those applicants having to literally name the officer or officers who spied on them. For many targets of political policing, this is impossible.

The Inquiry seems to have moved the assessment goal posts without providing any announcement or guidance.

An Inquiry with an old style bouncer?

There appears to have been a change in emphasis. The Inquiry appears to have forgotten that it is inquisitorial. Its purpose is to uncover police wrongdoing, it should be assisting victims of the political secret police, rather than insisting they do their own detective work before being allowed to hear more.

This Inquiry is an extremely important. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the state to come clean, for the undercover officers of the SDS, National Public Order Intelligence Unit and Special Branch to come clean, and for the upper reaches of government responsible for these abuses to be held properly accountable.

For this to happen the Inquiry needs to be not only open and transparent but comprehensive too. Our fear is that, by insisting that new CP applications prove beyond doubt that they were spied upon rather than on the basis of a reasonable probability, this Inquiry – our Inquiry – is turning away from its true purpose and the demands of justice.

If these refusals continue for the flimsiest reasons it would appear that the Inquiry and the stewards of it are acting like the worst kind of bouncer –they may be registered and may have passed all the tests to become a ‘proper security’ guard but one that is still old school, still one that refuses entry on a whim – ‘you’re name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in!’.