Content tagged with "SDS"

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!’.

Germany Asks to Join Spycops Inquiry

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

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

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

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

SCOTLAND WAITS AND WAITS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Francis says SDS officers were given

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

NORTHERN IRELAND ALSO IN THE QUEUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALL IRELAND SPYING

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

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

HOW MUCH MORE?

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

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

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

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

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

Spycops Investigator was Spycops Overseer

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

Chief Constable Mick Creedon

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

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

OPERATION HERNE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DECAPITATE THE HYDRA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work continues to identify the provenance of the remaining identities.

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

Creedon explicitly rebuffed calls for an independent inquiry into spycops.

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

THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS

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

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

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

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

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

BY HIS OWN HAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

Undercover Officer John Dines Teaching Police in Australia

John Dines, undercover as John Barker

John Dines, undercover as John Barker

Australian politician David Shoebridge MLC gave this statement to the New South Wales legislative council today:

In 1968 a young boy called John Barker, only 8 years old, died from leukaemia. 19 years later an undercover UK police officer called John Dines stole John Barker’s identity.

Using the stolen identity of a dead boy, and a complete lack of principles, John Dines then sought to infiltrate British environmental and left-wing movements. John Dines wasn’t working alone. He was just one of a number of undercover police employed by the UK Special Demonstration Squad using the stolen identities of dead children to infiltrate protest groups.

The SDS was established in 1968 and operated until 2008. Its purpose was to infiltrate left wing groups using undercover police officers, who provided intelligence to MI5. It has been revealed that the SDS used the names of at least 80 dead children to create the false identities for its agents. Many of these agents then entered into long term personal and sexual relationships with protest organisers and activists to gain trust and increase their access to information.

John Dines started attending Greenpeace meetings in 1987 as a member of the squad, using the name of “John Barker”. As part of his undercover activities he, and other members of this squad, entered into close and often intimate relationships with the activists that they were spying on.

In 1990 John Dines entered a serious relationship with activist Helen Steel that continued until 1992 when he simply disappeared. Helen, who is present in the chamber tonight, spent years searching for Dines. In 2011 Helen was informed that he had been an undercover police officer.

The first case similar to this that came to public attention was portrayed by the police as just being a rogue officer, but this was not an isolated incident. 8 women including Helen, then took legal action against the police as a result of being deceived into relationships with 5 different undercover officers who infiltrated environmental and left-wing movements over a period spanning 25 years, strongly suggesting an institutional practice. Theirs are not the only cases being taken over these relationships.

There have been a large number of legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Service as a result of the SDS actions. This includes a £425,000 payment to a woman whose child was fathered by undercover police officer Bob Lambert when she was a 22 year old activist. When her child was 2 years old his father vanished, she only found out his real identity 25 years later through reading a newspaper article.

The Metropolitan police now accept this practice was morally and legally offensive. In a public apology issued in November 2015, they said:

“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”

It is hard to truly understand the impact that this would have on someone’s life.

In Helen Steel’s own words:

“I certainly feel violated by what they have done. It’s about power. We didn’t consent, and wouldn’t have consented if we had known who they were.”

“They’ve allowed this to happen in a unit of mainly male officers, in a culture where sexism is undoubtedly at play. Politicians and police officers have tried to justify it on the basis that it’s ‘necessary’, or that we deserved it in some way … The whole thing just demonstrates institutional sexism. The assumption is that, as a woman, you haven’t got the right to make a fully informed decision about who you want a relationship with, or have sex with – and that basically it’s not a problem for police to use women in this way.”

Why am I raising this case in the NSW Parliament? The answer is disturbingly simple. John Dines is now teaching police in Sydney. He is currently attached to Charles Sturt University. Since at least 2012 he has been at the Australian graduate School of Policing & Security at that University, and is now Course Director for the Mid-Career Training Programme.

This program is intended to provide senior level guidance to police officers. The learning outcomes of the unit include providing students with advanced knowledge in areas including:

  • Identifying and sharing good practice
  • Human Rights
  • Gender Sensitivity

It is offensive in the extreme that John Dines can be involved in teaching these matters to police in this State. This is a man who professionally and systematically abused human rights as a police officer in the UK and showed a culpable lack of gender sensitivity. He has no place teaching police in NSW or in any country that says it respects human rights.

We need to ensure that similar abusive political undercover policing tactics are not replicated here or abroad. This must start with an investigation into whether NSW police have been trained by any officers from these UK units.

As part of the Metropolitan Police’s public apology, a spokesperson said:

“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. I am aware that money alone cannot compensate the loss of time, their hurt or the feelings of abuse caused by these relationships”

The Metropolitan Police recognizes that this should never happen again and the necessary steps must be taken to ensure that it does not.

Was Charles Sturt University aware of John Dines past when they employed him? Are the NSW police aware of the history of this man?

Whatever their knowledge before now, this much is clear, he must cease any involvement with teaching police in this state, before a similar apology is needed by the NSW Police.

= = = =

UPDATE: In this Guardian report Charles Sturt University’s executive dean of the faculty of arts, professor Tracey Green, said “Mr Dines was engaged by the university as a business manager and his role is solely administrative. He does not and never has held a teaching position or delivered any form of training for or on behalf of the university. He does not train police officers”.

Dines told the Guardian “You will already be aware that I met with Helen Steel on 6 March, where I gave a her a personal and unreserved apology for all and any hurt that she may have suffered. I do not intend to make any other comment.”

Targeted Activists Call for List of All Spycops

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

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

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

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

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

3 – Release the Special Branch files on all core participants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The full text of the letter:

Dear Lord Justice Pitchford,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,

The following Core Participants

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

1 Advisory Service for Squatters

3 AJA

4 Albert Beale

5 Alice Cutler

6 Alice Jelinek

7 Alison (RAB)

8 Alex Beth Stratford

9 Alistair Alexander

10 Amelia Gregory

14 ARB

15 Barbara Shaw

17 Belinda Harvey

19 Ben Stewart

21 Blacklist Support Group

23 Brendan Mee

24 Brian Farrelly

25 Brian Healy

26 Brian Higgins

28 C

29 Cardiff Anarchist Network

30 Celia Stubbs

31 Chris Dutton

32 Claire Fauset

33 Claire Hildreth

34 Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army

35 Climate Camp Legal Team

36 Colin Roach Centre

38 Dan Gilman

39 Dan Glass

40 Danny Chivers

41 Dave Smith

43 Debbie Vincent

44 Defend the Right to Protest

46 Dónal O’Driscol

47 Duwayne Brooks OBE

48 Ellen Potts

49 Emily Apple

51 Frances Wright

52 Frank Smith

53 Gabrielle Bosely

54 Genetic Engineering Network

55 Geoff Sheppard

56 Gerrah Selby

57 Graham Smith

58 Gráinne Gannon

60 Hackney Community Defence Association

61 Hannah Dee

62 Hannah Lewis

63 Hannah Sell

64 Harry Halpin

65 Helen Steel

66 HJM

67 Hunt Saboteurs Association

68 Indra Donfrancesco

69 Ippy Gray

70 Jacqueline Sheedy

71 Jacqui

72 Jane Laporte

73 Jason Kirkpatrick

75 Jennifer Verson

76 Jesse Schust

77 John Jones

78 John Jordan

79 Juliet McBride

80 Kate Allen

82 Kate Wilson

84 Kim Bryan

85 Kirk Jackson

86 Kirsty Wright

87 Kristina Bonnie Jones (aka Tina Miller)

89 Leila Deen

90 Lisa (AKJ)

91 Lisa Teuscher

92 Lois Austin

93 London Greenpeace

95 Marc Wadsworth

96 Mark Metcalf

97 Martin Shaw

98 Martyn Lowe

99 Matt Salusbury

100 Megan Donfrancesco

101 Melanie Evans

102 Merrick Cork

103 Michael Dooley

105 Michael Zeitlin

106 Morgana Donfrancesco Reddy

110 Naomi (SUR)

112 Newham Monitoring Project

113 Nicola Benge

115 Norman Blair

117 Olaf Bayer

118 Oliver Knowles

119 Oliver Rodker

120 Paddy Gillett

121 Patricia Armani da Silva

122 Paul Chatterton

123 Paul Gravett

124 Paul Morrozzo

126 Piers Corbyn

127 Rhythms of Resistance Samba Band

128 Robbin Gillett

129 Robert Banbury

130 Roger Geffen

131 Rosa (Dil)

133 Ruth (TEB)

125 Sarah Shoraka

136 Shane Collins (aka William Shane Collins)

138 Sian Jones

139 Simon Chapman

140 Simon Lewis

141 Simon Taylor

142 South Wales Anarchists

143 Spencer Cooke

144 Stafford Scott

145 Steve Acheson

146 Steve Hedley

148 Suresh Grover

149 Suzan Keen

151 Terence Evans

152 The Monitoring Group

153 Thomas Fowler

154 Thomas Harris

155 Tim Byrne

157 Tomas Remiarz

158 Trapese

159 Trevor Houghton

160 VSP

161 William Frugal

163 Youth Against Racism in Europe

163 Zoe Young

Additional people made Core Participants since v2 list:

“Andrea”

Ceri Gibbons

Smash EDO

Scotland’s Top Cop Gormley – New Broom Sweeps Dirty

Phil Gormley Being Sworn in as Chief Constable of Police Scotland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Findlay MSP told yesterday’s Sunday Herald

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

Lindsay Davies from COPS succinctly added

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

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

Release MPs’ Spycops Files – and All The Rest Too

Jeremy Corbyn, MP spied on by the SDS

Jeremy Corbyn, MP spied on by the SDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A furious Corbyn told this week’s Islington Tribune

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

the Met police apologised

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

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

Back in parliament, Jack Dromey made the bold claim that

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

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

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

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

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

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