Police Scotland confirms secret G8 file on notorious undercover police unit

POLICE Scotland has confirmed that a secret file was created on the activities of a disgraced undercover unit at the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

The “intelligence briefings” on the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, whose officers had sex with the protestors they spied on, will now be examined by a watchdog as part of its covert policing probe. Police Scotland said they would not comment on the contents of the file.

Two Met-based units – the Special Demonstration Squad and the NPOIU – were set up to keep tabs on so-called subversives and domestic extremists.

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A key strategy was to embed undercover officers in campaign groups, which included anti-racism organisations, and report back to handlers.

However, some of the tactics deployed by officers in the units, such as using the identities of dead babies and deceiving women into long-term sexual relationships before vanishing, have since been exposed.

The Pitchford Inquiry, set up by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, is examining undercover policing going back decades.

Although the judicial-led investigation does not apply to Scotland, NPOIU activity took place north of the border in the run up to the G8 summit in Scotland in 2005.

Mark “Stone” was a driver for campaigners at the G8, but was unmasked as undercover officer Mark Kennedy.

He later said in an interview: “My superior officer told me on more than one occasion, particularly during the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005, that information I was providing was going directly to Tony Blair’s desk.”

Ahead of the G8, the then Scottish Executive issued a Ministerial Certificate blocking the release of information connected with the summit. The blackout applied to all Scottish public authorities, including police forces, health bodies and the Government.

However, it can be revealed that the SNP Government quietly revoked the certificate in 2010, a decision that could result in information on the summit being released.

After being asked by this newspaper for the titles of all files produced by on the G8 in 2005, Police Scotland confirmed the names of 1168 files.

Forty-four were created by the former Fife Constabulary, whose patch included the Gleneagles hotel, while 1124 files were produced by Lothian and Borders police.

Many of the files are on routine policing matters, but one document is described as “intelligence briefings” on the “National Public Order Intelligence Unit”.

Other files include “stop the war coalition – regulatory board” and “indymedia”, which was a left-wing website at the time.

There was also correspondence with the security services on the “Senior Leadership Development Programme”, a funding request for a “special branch operation” in May 2005 and over a dozen files on the peaceful Make Poverty History march.

After the UK Government refused to extend the Pitchford Inquiry to Scotland, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland launched its own review of undercover policing.

A spokesperson for HMICS said: “As outlined in our terms of reference HMICS will examine the scale and extent of undercover police operations in Scotland conducted by the SDS and the NPOIU. As part of our scrutiny, we will review the authorisations for undercover deployments during the G8 Summit in Scotland in July 2005. HMICS are currently engaged in this process with the full cooperation of Police Scotland. With specific regard to the intelligence file, HMICS will ?examine this file for any information that may inform our review process.”

Donal O’Driscoll, a core participant in the Pitchford Inquiry who was spied on in Scotland, said: “We have long argued that the both the SDS and the NPOIU were active in Scotland, particularly around the 2005 G8. The existence of this file strengthens our case that there needs to be a full inquiry into the activities of spy cops in Scotland – and renders the exclusion of Scotland from the Pitchford Inquiry even more inexplicable.

“We continue to have no confidence in the HMICS review. Nevertheless, I’d expect them to at least make the effort to examine this and related briefings as part of the bare minimum they need to do. Not least because it is now beyond dispute there were multiple undercover police from the NPOIU and foreign police forces present at the G8 protests. However, only a full public inquiry can get to the truth as to what the police and the state had planned and co-ordinated when they interfered in legitimate democratic protest.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland does not routinely comment on covert policing or intelligence. We will not offer any comment on the contents of any specific files. Any inquiries relating to the NPOIU should be directed to the Met Police. Police Scotland will also fully and openly co-operate with the review of undercover policing to be carried out by HMICS.”

/ Paul Hutcheon, Investigations Editor / @paulhutcheon

Find this story at 25 March 2017
© Copyright 2017 Herald & Times Group

Revealed: how energy firms spy on environmental activists

Leaked documents show how three large British companies have been paying private security firm to monitor activists

Three large energy companies have been carrying out covert intelligence-gathering operations on environmental activists, the Guardian can reveal.

The energy giant E.ON, Britain’s second-biggest coal producer Scottish Resources Group and Scottish Power, one of the UK’s largest electricity-generators, have been paying for the services of a private security firm that has been secretly monitoring activists.

Leaked documents show how the security firm’s owner, Rebecca Todd, tipped off company executives about environmentalists’ plans after snooping on their emails. She is also shown instructing an agent to attend campaign meetings and coaching him on how to ingratiate himself with activists. The disclosures come as police chiefs, on the defensive over damaging revelations of undercover police officers in the protest movement, privately claim that there are more corporate spies in protest groups than undercover police officers.

Senior police officers complain that spies hired by commercial firms are – unlike their own agents – barely regulated.

Sir Hugh Orde, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, which until recently ran the secretive national unit of undercover police officers deployed in protest groups, said in a speech last week that “the deployment by completely uncontrolled and unrestrained players in the private sector” constituted a “massive area of concern”.

Revelations about Mark Kennedy and three other undercover police officers in protest groups caused a furore last month and led to four official inquiries into their activities.

Now a Guardian investigation has shed new light on the surveillance of green campaigners by private security firms whose intrusive operations include posing as activists on mailing lists and infiltrating full-time agents into campaign groups over many years.

Multinational companies, ranging from power producers to arms sellers, hire these firms to try to prevent activists running campaigns against them or breaking into their sites.

The leaked documents lay bare the methods of one firm, Vericola, run by 33-year-old Todd. Based in Canterbury, Vericola, according to Todd, is a “business risk management company” offering a “bespoke” service to clients “regarding potential threats” to their businesses.

Over the past three years, Todd, using different email addresses, has signed up to the mailing lists of a series of environ-mental groups organising major demonstrations such as the G20 rallies in London, demonstrations against E.ON’s Kingsnorth power station and the expansion of Heathrow airport, giving her access to communications and advanced notice of demonstrations.

Last July, she forwarded details about Climate Camp campaigners to two company directors she called “the usual suspects”.

One was Gordon Irving, the security director of Scottish Power since 2001 after spending 30 years in Strathclyde police force. The other was Alan Somerville, then a director of Scottish Resources Group which produces a large amount of Britain’s coal.

Todd highlighted a call from campaigners to submit more objections to coal-producing developments which needed planning permission.

Activists say she regularly attended meetings of an environmental group, known as Rising Tide, for around a year in 2007/08.

The documents also show her advising a colleague on how to fit in with the other activists at meetings held to organise future protests. One tip was that he should not mention he was flying to Germany as “obviously” the environmentalists “hate short-haul flights”.

Todd, who says she is not a corporate spy, told the Guardian that all the information she acquires comes from public sources such as subscribing to emailing lists through the websites of the environmental groups.

Despite emails revealing how she repeatedly tried to find ways for her agents to access protest gatherings, Todd denied her company “infiltrates” meetings of protest groups as they are open to any member of the public.

The environmental activists are angry that, by posing as a supporter, she has gained access to emails and meetings where tactics and strategies are discussed. Eli Wilton, a Climate Camp organiser, said: “It’s frightening that in a meeting about how to stop the fossil fuel industry, the person sitting next to you might be a spy paid for by the energy giants themselves.”

He said Todd and her colleagues “couldn’t have gotten subscribed without attending our meetings. These were internal lists where, for example, we strategised about how to stop new coal-fired power stations being built by E.ON.”

E.ON said it had hired Vericola and another security firm, Global Open, on an “ad hoc” basis as its executives wanted to know when environmentalists were going to demonstrate at or invade its power stations and other premises, as they had done in the past.

The E.ON spokesman said it asked Vericola only for publicly available information and if Todd and her colleagues had obtained private information, they had done so “under their own steam”.

SRG and Scottish Power did not comment.

Rob Evans and Paul Lewis
Monday 14 February 2011 21.00 GMT Last modified on Tuesday 20 May 2014 07.51 BST

Find this story at 14 February 2011

© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

Cross-border undercover networks are a ‘global puzzle’

Exposure of police spy Mark Kennedy revealed a little about international espionage, but much remains hidden

More light has been shed recently on a particularly hidden area of undercover policing. The Mark Kennedy controversy helped to provide a little glimpse of this, but much remains unknown.

During his seven years infiltrating the environmental movement, Kennedy spent quite a lot of time spying on, and disrupting, activists in other countries.

The Channel Four documentary on him called him ‘the go-to cop for foreign governments who needed information about their own activists’.

He was deployed in 11 countries on 40 occasions, according to one official report. These countries included Germany, Denmark and Iceland. In Denmark, for instance, he says that he infiltrated a Danish community centre that had housed progressive causes for more than a century, obtaining intelligence to help police storm it and close it down in violent raids.

Mark Jacobs was another of the undercover officers who appears to have engaged in frequent Euro-travel to monitor campaigners.

What has emerged is a highly secretive official apparatus among governments for organising and co-ordinating this cross-border espionage. There appears to be a network of clandestine bodies in which police and governments manage the infiltration and surveillance of political as well as criminal groups.

We would of course be interested in any information on this subject.

Statewatch, which monitors civil liberties in Europe, has recently published this here, noting :”Information currently in the public domain makes up only a small piece of a global puzzle of police working groups and networks dealing with infiltration, intrusion and surveillance not just of criminal groups, but political activists”.

One politician who has pursued this with some vigour is German MP Andrej Hunko. He has recently published a detailed document collating information about these official networks, mainly from official answers in the German Parliament. It can be found here at the end of this document.

Hunko said :”When police forces and intelligence services engage in international cooperation, parliamentary oversight is the loser. The increasing significance of undercover police networks is making this situation far more critical.”

He added that Kennedy’s “infiltration of European leftist movements exemplifies police cooperation conducted beyond the bounds of parliamentary oversight. It remains unclear under whose orders the undercover investigator was operating during the years of his activity.”

He added :”The Icelandic police are stubbornly rejecting requests from the Minister of Justice to release full details of his activity into the public domain, claiming that disclosure would prejudice British security interests. Even though Members of the Icelandic Parliament have a right to ask questions on police matters, they are not being given any information.”

The British government has not disclosed much about these confidential networks either.

Rob Evans
Friday 31 August 2012 15.33 BST Last modified on Wednesday 21 May 2014 08.01 BST

Find this story at 31 August 2012

© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

Political secret police units

Don’t let the police self-investigations like Operation Herne fool you with their focus on the disbanded Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) – this is not a historic problem. The political secret police are still with us says Merrick Godhaven.

The shift from different units leaves us whirling in acronyms. Here, as far as I’m able to tell, is what’s what (corrections welcome!). It’s an alphabet soup of acronyms that swirl before the eyes, so thanks to Jane Lawson for designing the diagram below to make it easier to grasp.

In the beginning

The SDS was a secret unit within Special Branch from 1968 to 2008. Formed as the Special Operations Squad after a demonstration against the Vietnam War kicked off in March 1968, its temporary infiltration was decided to be useful and made permanent at the end of the year. Somewhere in late 1972 or early 1973 it was renamed the Special Demonstration Squad, a moniker it kept until around 1997 when it was renamed the Special Duties Section.

There were other units who amassed and collated intelligence from the SDS and other sources.

The Animal Rights National Index (ARNI), had been set up in 1986. It seems that it may have expanded to include activists from other movements. Around the same time the Southern Intelligence Unit (SIU) was based in Wiltshire and, with its Cumbrian sister team the Northern Intelligence Unit (NIU), ran a database of eco protesters, ravers, travellers and free party types. There is some indication of a third unit that focused on hunt saboteurs. These units had no ‘operational role’ of fake-identity spies in the field, they just gathered information and advised police forces.

Now comes the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Sounds like a cosy staff body, and indeed it was more like that when it was formed in 1948. But in 1997 it became a private company and got itself funding to flog police information. Then it took on running the spy stuff by establishing the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU)

Established in March 1999 the NPOIU was, along with the Terrorism Act 2000, ID cards and detention without trial, part of a raft of New Labour attacks on civil liberties (those who think of state repression as being a right wing tendency should note that the SDS was also founded by a Labour government). Operation Herne, the police’s self-investigation into secret political policing, says that the NPOIU was formed as a reaction to the large 1995 protests against the export of live animals from Shoreham in Sussex.

The running of the NPOIU was given to the Met, and so it was, to all intents and purposes, a unit within the Met’s Special Branch. Although it used serving Met officers for NPOIU spies, because ACPO was (and still is) a private company it was exempt from Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation and so protected even further from public scrutiny.

Like the SDS, the NPOIU was directly funded by the Home Office, which hints at an answer to the big question – who ordered all this spying and authorised its methods?

The NPOIU absorbed SIU/NIU and effectively replaced ARNI running a database of political activists. It also had an ‘operational role,’ that is to say they deployed undercover agents in target groups under the aegis of its Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU). Whilst the SDS was London-based, the CIU officers from the NPOIU went national. The NPOIU was granted a huge budget and began by putting an officer using the stolen identity ‘Rod Richardson’ into a group of anti-capitalist activists in Nottingham.

Within a couple of months of Richardson’s departure in 2003, those activists were joined by Mark Kennedy, aka Mark Stone. It was his exposure by activists in late 2010 that alerted the world to the existence of the political secret police.

For Operation Herne and other inquiries to focus on the long-defunct SDS but leave out the most notorious undercover officer of them all shows how incomplete an SDS-only picture is. Some managers worked for both the SDS and NPOIU, and officers from both units knowingly overlapped in deployments. Whilst SDS and NPOIU officers knew each other, nonetheless there may well have been some rivalry. As the case of ‘Rod Richardson’ shows, the NPOIU wasn’t initially warned against using the woefully anachronistic practice of stealing the identities of dead children.

As an aside, in 2001 the former ARNI boss Rod Leeming left Special Branch to set up a private spy firm Global Open. In early 2010 he head-hunted Mark Kennedy before his police contract had even finished. This indicates that that it’s a fairly standard career path, and suggests such firms are tipped off about officers who are leaving and cold-call them. It seems unlikely that Kennedy was the first one they got. With virtually no oversight or firm rules, private spies can stay in the field indefinitely. Indeed, had Kennedy been smart enough to change his name by deed poll to Mark Stone, he’d have had ID in the right name and would probably still be spying today.Undercover units chart

(Click to enlarge the chart)

The unholy trinity – NPOIU, NETCU and NDET

In 2004 ACPO created a new post, the National Co-ordinator Domestic Extremism, which oversaw both the NPOIU and a new unit, the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU). NETCU was established during the drafting of the 2005 amendment Serious Organised Crime and Police Act which made it illegal to ‘interfere with the contractual relations of an animal research organisation’ or to ‘intimidate’ employees of an animal research organisation. Run from Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, NETCU’s remit was defined as ‘prevention’ and it was tasked with helping companies such as Huntingdon Life Sciences frustrate campaigns waged against them by animal rights activists.

NETCU didn’t just advise corporations about threats to their profits from campaigns, it took a proactive political role in discrediting and undermining those campaigns. Its website linked to the pro-vivisection Research Defence Society, and the unit issued several press releases boasting of activists being prevented from doing street collections.

NETCU’s ‘mission-creep’ saw it move to encompass environmental and climate activists. It also helped the illegal construction blacklisting company the Consulting Association (as documentation from a November 2008 meeting between NETCU and the Consulting Association obtained through an FoI request confirms). Additionally, the Independent Police Complaints Commission says it was likely that every constabulary’s Special Branch will have supplied information about citizens to the construction blacklist.

A third ACPO unit, the National Domestic Extremism Team, was set up in 2005. It was intended to provide an investigatory function, drawing on intelligence gathered through NPOIU spies as well as Forward Intelligence Teams and Evidence Gatherers, for use by forces across the country. All three ACPO units – the NPOIU, NETCU and the NDET – were overseen by the National Co-ordinator Domestic Extremism, or NCDE. Around the same time, direct management of the NPOIU (and presumably the two allied units) passed to ACPO.

Goodbye SDS, hello NDEU

In 2006 the Metropolitan Police’s merged its intelligence-oriented Special Branch (aka SO12) with the investigatory Anti-Terrorist Branch (SO13) to form Counter Terrorism Command (known as SO15). It was headed by Richard Walton, until he was moved from his post following revelations about his key role in the SDS’ spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family in the Ellison report earlier this year.

With Special Branch, the SDS’ parent unit, now part of Counter Terrorism Command and much of the SDS’s work superseded by the NPOIU, the SDS faded. It has been suggested that when Counter Terrorism Command officers took over the SDS they were alarmed at its targets and methods and moved to close it down. The unit is described as ‘having lost its moral compass’ by the time of its closure in 2008 – as if it ever had one in the first place.

The three ACPO units (the NPOIU, NETCU and the NDET) were merged into the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) in early 2011. At that time they had a combined budget of around £9m per year.

At the same time as the name change, management of the unit was then passed from the FoI scrutiny-shielded ‘private company’ ACPO to the (not exactly accountable themselves) Metropolitan Police under the ‘lead force’ model. There had been several reviews pushing for this, including Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report ‘Counter Terrorism Value For Money’.

Certainly, it will have taken a lot of discussion and planning so it seems very unlikely that the exposure of Kennedy in October 2010 played a part. This didn’t stop government ministers trying to portray it as a response a mere week after the Kennedy story hit the media.

The NDEU was brought to operate under the umbrella of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.

As happened when they were three separate units, all the ACPO political police operations under the NDEU were overseen by the National Co-ordinator Domestic Extremism, though the rank for the post was downgraded from Assistant Chief Constable to Chief Superintendent, the first holder of the post being Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway.

Despite the budget for political spy units being public when they were run by ACPO, in 2012 the Met refused to follow suit, and with its gift for exaggerated flourishes it cited text from an Al-Qaeda training manual by way of a reason.

Modern times: mergers and yet another acronym

The unit’s remit changed at the same time as its restructure and it no longer carries out undercover operations. It has taken on the ‘prevention and detection’ tracks previously associated with NETCU and NDET, maintaining a database of activists and working with companies and organisations that activists campaign against. Kennedy-style deployments of undercover officers are now run either by the Special Project Team (SPT) of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, or one of the regional SPTs run by North West, North East and West Midlands Counter Terrorism Units.

Official reports say that this change is, indeed, a result of the exposure of undercover officers as the established anti-terrorism units were felt to have ‘more robust procedures for the deployment of undercover officers’ than their NPOIU/SDS-derived police equivalents.

In April 2011 Tudway sent a private email confirming that the English Defence League were not domestic extremists. Organising racist violence on the streets is fine because it’s understood and safe, whereas fluffy but explicitly anti-capitalist things like Climate Camp get multiple officers like Mark Kennedy and Lynn Watson. This isn’t key to the story, it just illustrates the fact that it’s not threat of political public disorder, damage to property or violence to citizens that concerns the secret police – it’s threats to the present parliamentary political norm and police credibility.

In 2012 the NDEU split its work into two sub-units. The Protest and Disorder Intelligence Unit (PDIU) collates and provides strategic analysis relating to protest and disorder across the UK, whilst the Domestic Extremism Intelligence Unit (DEIU) provides strategic analysis of domestic extremism intelligence within the UK and overseas.

Quite how they define ‘protesters’ as separate from ‘domestic extremists’ isn’t clear. Given their very wide and loose use of ‘domestic extremism’ in the past, it is worrying that they feel the need to spy on even less dangerous campaigners. But it was ever thus. As Merlyn Rees, Home Secretary in the Labour government 1976-79, said, the role of Special Branch is “to collect information on those who I think cause problems for the state”. Although the two subunits are physically separate, they share an intelligence database, the National Special Branch Intelligence System (NSBIS), implying that there is no clear boundary between protesters and domestic extremists.

As if in an attempt to close the book on an embarrassing subject, in May 2013 the NDEU was renamed the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU).

But there is no reason to believe that the outrages perpetrated by the SDS, NPOIU and associated units have stopped, despite the musical chairs and name changes. When political campaigns are counter-democratically undermined by the state, and participants subjected to sustained psychological and sexual abuse, changing the acronym doesn’t change the immorality and injustice.

Thursday, 05 February 2015 04:54
By Merrick Godhaven

Find this story at 5 February 2015

© Spinwatch

How Special Branch Spied on Animal Rights Movement

Since 2010 there have been revelations about police infiltration of protest groups. For over 40 years the state sanctioned the use of undercover police to gain intelligence on political activists, including animal rights campaigners.

Though it was widely assumed that groups were under surveillance, no-one would have imagined the extent to which the secret state burrowed deep into organisations, established close friendships and sexual relationships with activists, and broke the law to further its objectives. This article will explain how it happened and what can be learnt from it.

The Special Demonstrations Squad

The story begins in 1968, when tens of thousands of people marched against the Vietnam War. In March there was rioting as protesters fought with police outside the American Embassy in London and the government was so alarmed that it set up of the Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS).

Although the police had used undercover officers before to catch criminals, this was as Rob Evans and Paul Lewis say in their book ‘Undercover’, ‘a new concept in policing.’ Special Branch officers transformed themselves into activists and lived amongst their targets for several years. They changed their appearance and used fake identities to penetrate political groups to the highest levels to gain intelligence and to enable the police to maintain public order. The nickname for the SDS was ‘the hairies’ because – in the early days at least – their operatives had to grow their hair long in order in order to blend into the milieu of radical politics.

The job of the SDS was to infiltrate groups considered subversive which meant those that ‘threatened the safety or well-being of the state or undermined parliamentary democracy’. Initially this meant mainly Marxist or Trotskyist groups, as well as the anti-apartheid movement in the seventies.

The eighties: Robert Lambert

By the early eighties, however, the animal rights movement had become established. It was attracting thousands of people on protest marches against vivisection and groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) were rescuing animals and damaging property. To the state this was a dangerous and subversive threat.

Evans and Lewis say Special Branch first became involved when one of its operatives was deployed at the World Day for Lab Animals march in April 1983. Shortly afterwards a second spy was sent in. His name was Robert Lambert and he became an almost legendary figure amongst his colleagues. For the activists who knew him he was equally unforgettable, though nowadays it is for all the wrong reasons.

Lambert called himself Bob Robinson. Like all SDS agents he stole the identity of a dead child. Mark Robert Robinson died aged seven in 1959, only to be quietly resurrected 24 years later by Lambert who would have found his birth and death certificates. He was then given a forged driving licence, passport and other documents. This procedure was known in SDS circles as the ‘Jackal Run’ because it was based on the book, ‘The Day of the Jackal’.

Lambert quickly immersed himself in the world of animal rights by going to protests and meetings. At a demo outside Hackney Town Hall he met Jackie, 12 years younger than him, and they soon started a relationship and their son was born in 1985. Lambert was already married with two children but knew an activist girlfriend would give his cover an added dimension, making him appear a fully rounded, genuine person.

London Greenpeace and the ALF

In 1984 Lambert became involved in London Greenpeace (LG). This wasn’t an AR group as such but a radical organisation (not to be confused with the much larger Greenpeace International) that embraced anarchism and direct action. Up to then it had been mainly concerned with anti-nuclear and environmental issues but in the mid-eighties it adopted much more of an animal liberation stance.

The first LG meeting I attended was a public meeting with a speaker from the ALF in 1985. Lambert chaired the discussion and obviously had a prominent role in the group. He soon became a close friend. Like all the spies that followed him, Lambert had a van that was used to take people to demos. He said he was a gardener and needed a vehicle for his job.

Lambert’s mission was to infiltrate the ALF and he made it clear he was a strong supporter of illegal actions. In 1986 he organised a benefit gig for the ALF Supporters Group but kept back some of the takings to buy glass etching fluid, used to damage windows. Soon afterwards he confided to friends that he had dressed as a jogger and thrown paint stripper over a car belonging to the director of an animal laboratory.

He also wrote two notable publications. One was a simple A5 leaflet titled ‘You are the ALF!’ which exhorted people to do direct action themselves, not ask others to do so on their behalf. The other was a booklet called ‘London ALF News’ which had articles on the ALF and a diary of actions, including attacks he had carried out.

Debenhams

In July 1987 the ALF targeted three Debenhams’ department stores with incendiary devices because they sold fur. In two, water from the sprinklers caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in losses, but at the Luton branch they had been switched off and fire gutted the store, causing over £6m in damage.

Two months later, Andrew Clarke and Geoff Sheppard were caught at the latter’s bedsit in Tottenham in the act of making incendiary devices as the police burst in. In June 1988 at the Old Bailey Sheppard received 4 years and 4 months and Clarke 3 ½ years. Obviously the police had been tipped off but neither activist knew who it was until nearly 24 years later when Lambert was uncovered as a spy.

Lambert, according to Sheppard, was the third member of this cell. Neither activist suspected him but then they had good reason not to – as far as they were concerned he had planted the device in the Harrow store that caused £340,000 in damage.
The last time I saw Lambert was in a pub near the LG office in Kings Cross in November 1988. He was unusually downbeat as he told me his father who had dementia had just died and the values he fought for in World War II were dying too under Thatcherism. He also said Jackie had started a relationship with a fascist and he was no longer allowed to see his son. Both stories were lies and I now know he was preparing for his exit.

All undercover spies have an exit strategy, usually prepared months if not years in advance. Lamberts would have been devised around the time of the Debenhams action but departing too soon would have appeared suspicious. He waited for over a year, until he left allegedly on the run from Special Branch, which was in fact his employer. They even staged a fake raid at the flat where he was staying.

John Dines

By the beginning of 1989 Bob Robinson was just a memory but LG already had another spy in its ranks. John Dines, using the surname Barker, had joined the group in October 1987. During the next year as he rose to prominence, Lambert was on the wane – going to fewer meetings and demos. This was a pattern that would be repeated time and time again.

Like his mentor, Lambert, Dines had van which he used for demos. He twice drove activists all the way to Yorkshire to sab grouse shoots and he also took them to a protest against Sun Valley Chickens in Herefordshire. While there he was apparently arrested but released without charge. He too produced an anonymous publication called ‘Business as Usual’, which comprised a diary of actions, and he also organised two benefit gigs for London Greenpeace in late 1989.

John Dines and McLibel

While LG was well known in activist circles – mainly for the anti-McDonald’s campaign it had started several years earlier – it hardly registered to the outside world. Most people confused it with Greenpeace International. All that began to change, however, when five of its supporters were sued for libel by McDonald’s in September 1990.

None of the defendants had written the pamphlet that was the subject of the writ; in fact three of them weren’t even part of the group at that time. Ironically Lambert had been one of the architects of the ‘What’s Wrong with McDonald’s’ factsheet but he was long gone.

McDonald’s placed several infiltrators of its own in the group from the autumn of 1989 onwards with the result that it became infested with spies. At some meetings there were more of them than genuine activists. These new corporate spies aroused suspicion – they didn’t quite fit in – and some of them were followed. One of those doing the following was Dines, together with Helen Steel, who would later be sued and become Dines’ girlfriend..

In January 1991 I and two others decided to cut our losses and apologise. Helen and Dave Morris carried on fighting the case as the McLibel 2. By their side was Dines who was the group’s treasurer and a key player. He relayed the legal advice they received and the tactical discussions they had with other group members back to his bosses in the SDS who then passed it on to McDonald’s. Several years later the McLibel trial revealed that Special Branch and McDonald’s had exchanged information about London Greenpeace. Morris and Steel sued the Metropolitan Police over this and received £10,000 in an out of court settlement and an apology.

London Boots Action Group: Andy Davey and Matt Rayner

By the early nineties the animal rights movement was on a roll again and three activists decided to set up a new London-wide organisation called London Boots Action Group (LBAG), to target Boots plc, which at that time did animal testing. LBAG was unashamedly pro-direct action so it is no surprise that it became a target for the SDS. The group was launched in November 1991 with a public meeting that attracted nearly 100 people, two of whom were spies.

Andy Davey and Matt Rayner were two of the many new people to join the fledgling group. But they were slightly different – they had vans, which made them both unusual and useful, and they got quickly involved. Both also had jobs (quite rare in those days as many activists were either unemployed or students). Davey was a ‘man with a van’ removal service – his nickname was ‘Andy Van’ – while Rayner said he worked for a company that delivered musical instruments.

Each lived in a bedsit, Davey in Streatham, south London, Rayner in north London. They even looked similar – tall, dark haired and with glasses, and spoke with Home Counties accents. What set Davey apart from other agents was his dog, named Lucy who came from an animal rescue person that lived locally. His bosses probably decided he would appear a more authentic activist if he had a companion animal.

Personality-wise they differed though. While Rayner was easy going and friendly, enjoying social situations, Davey had a somewhat hesitant and nervous manner and could at times appear too eager to please. Initially there were suspicions about both but they quickly assimilated into the protest scene. They would have known who each other were, as their unit had only about a dozen operatives at any time, but they weren’t close. This meant that if one spy was uncovered, the other wouldn’t fall under suspicion.

It was not common practice for two spies to be placed in the same group. In the book Undercover, the whistleblower Peter Francis says the SDS had two animal rights spies when he joined it in January 1993. This was indicative of the threat posed by animal rights in general and LBAG in particular.

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.

Rayner, too, was a fixture in the London scene. He would usually be the one to drive activists to demos outside London. A notable example was the 1993 Grand National when he took a vanload of people to Aintree. This was the year the race had to be abandoned because the course was invaded, costing the betting industry over £60m.

In 1995 – following former spy Dines’ example – he drove a carload of saboteurs to the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ to sab a grouse shoot. While there he was arrested and taken into police custody, only to be released a few hours later. He wasn’t charged but this brush with the law only served to improve his standing.

London Animal Action: Davey’s exit

Rayner had a long term relationship with a female activist. Davey never managed this though it wasn’t for want of trying and he gained a reputation as a lecher. This no doubt undermined his status – some saw him as a bit sad, others didn’t really take to him – and it probably played a part in the decision to take him out of the group. This happened quickly as he announced he was ‘stressed’ and was going to Eastern Europe. The double life he was leading was probably taking its toll as well. He left in February 1995 with a farewell social to which only a few people came. Shortly afterwards a hunt sab whom he knew received a couple of letters postmarked abroad.

As Davey’s exit was hasty, the spy who replaced him joined London Animal Action – as LBAG was now called – around the same time he left. Unusually the new agent was female and her name was Christine Green. As she set about inveigling herself into the group, Rayner’s deployment was reaching its climax. In May 1995 Geoff Sheppard’s flat was raided again by the police where they found materials for making an incendiary device and a sawn-off shotgun. In October he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

After Geoff’s release we speculated on why the police had chosen him. Devices were being placed in various targets and it appeared to have been simply a chance raid due to his arrest in the eighties. However, it is now clear that Rayner set Geoff up just as Lambert had done years earlier. No-one suspected him of the sting because he was, like his boss had been, an established and trusted of the group: by 1995 he was LAA treasurer.

Lambert the spymaster

By the mid-nineties Lambert was the operational manager of the SDS thanks to his ‘legendary tour of duty’ a decade earlier. According to Evans and Lewis he was ‘the gaffer…pulling the strings like a puppet-master’ and he used his experience to guide a new generation of infiltrators who were in some cases spying on the same activists as he had. Geoff was one of those and he describes Rayner as being ‘up to his neck’ in direct action. The final proof came in April 2013 when it was discovered the real Matthew Rayner died aged four in 1972. We still don’t know his true identity.

One of Lambert’s first duties when he re-joined the SDS was to write a report on a spy who had ‘gone rogue’ named Mike Chitty. Chitty – known as Mike Blake – had penetrated the animal rights movement in London at the same time as Lambert but in comparison his deployment had been a failure. It resulted in no high-profile ALF arrests and it seems he enjoyed socialising more than targeting subversives. Even worse, when his deployment finished he returned to his activist comrades, leading a double life unbeknownst to his employers or his wife. He was eventually pensioned off after he began legal action against the Met for the stress he suffered due to his covert role.

Rayner’s exit strategy

Clearly not everybody could cope with the demands of undercover work. Davey may have been one of those but Rayner made of different stuff. His exit strategy was masterly in execution, bearing the hallmark of his mentor and manager, Lambert, who had written a report highlighting the importance of ‘carefully crafted withdrawal plans’ to convince ‘increasingly security-conscious target groups of the authenticity of a manufactured departure…inevitably this entails travel to a foreign country.’

In November1996 Rayner apparently went to work in France for a wine company. He had always liked France and could speak the language fluently. To a few close friends he mentioned his unease with activism after being raided by the police and the breakdown of the relationship with his girlfriend. Very well liked, he was given a big going away party, presented with a camera from the group and a speech wishing him well in his new life.

The next day he drove to France in his van and with him were two activist friends. At the port they were questioned by a police officer who said he was from Special Branch before letting them go on their way. This plan was concocted for the activists’ benefit in the knowledge they would tell others about it, lending further credibility to Rayner’s exit. A few weeks later he briefly came back to London and met up with friends before supposedly returning to France for good. Then over a period of about a year letters were sent and phone messages were left saying he had moved to Argentina, and after that he was never heard from again.

Christine Green

By 1997 Green was occupying a key part of the group, driving activists to demos, going to meetings and mailouts and taking part in protests, as her predecessors had done. She had even taken over Rayner’s role of group treasurer. The same pattern repeating itself but no-one was aware of it. For the next two years Green appears to have been the only spy in LAA. Perhaps there was another who remains unexposed – though this seems unlikely – or the SDS may have deployed another spy elsewhere.

To enhance her cover, Green began a relationship with a well-known hunt saboteur whose job was a coach driver and they took coach loads of protesters to some of the high profile demos of the time, for example at Hillgrove Farm. There is no suggestion that the sab was a spy. There was speculation surrounding her, however: she was not always easy to get along with – though she did make some friends -and she always carried the same bag around with her, which inevitably drew suspicion.

Towards the end of 1999 Green let it be known she was tired with activism. Early in 2000 she said she was departing to Australia for a relative’s funeral and would stay there travelling. About a year later, though, she reappeared and made contact with a few activist friends. Several years later in 2010 she cropped up once more, this time in Cornwall where she was spotted with the same boyfriend in a veggie café. Someone who knew them from LAA tried to have a chat and was all but ignored.

Dave Evans

Green’s replacement in and the last known SDS spy was Dave Evans. Like Dines he appeared to be from New Zealand and he had the same rugged appearance. He had a van and was a gardener too, so very much in the Lambert mould, except his personality couldn’t have been more different. While his boss was amiable, even charming, Evans could be a bit peevish and erratic: once he turned up at a demo then left after only a few minutes saying his flatmate was locked out. Typically spies spent five or six days in the field, only returning to their families for one night per week, but on one occasion he went missing for so long that people became concerned and went round to his flat.

A lot of the time he gave the impression of not being very committed and more interested in the social side of the group. LAA had a big drinking culture which he took to like a duck to water and he often took part in fundraising at festivals by working in bars. In SDS parlance he was a ‘shallow paddler’, not a ‘deep swimmer’.

In the last year or so of his deployment, Evans’ involvement in animal rights tapered off somewhat and it was recently revealed that his flatmate was Jason Bishop, a spy active in anti-capitalist groups. The pair drove minibuses to the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005. Both were arrested with other activists for conspiracy to commit a breach of the peace but the charges were dropped.

Evans’ exit and the end of the SDS

Evans was last seen at the AR Gathering in 2005. While sitting around a bonfire he began asking other activists questions about LAA, which had just folded after its bank account containing thousands of pounds was seized by Huntingdon Life Sciences. The mask slipped and it became obvious that he was a cop. He must have realised this because he left the next morning and was never seen again. Evans was the last known SDS spy in London animal rights circles. There were also at least two corporate infiltrators during this period, one of whom worked her way up to be group treasurer before she was uncovered.

In 2008 the SDS was disbanded, its functions supplanted by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) set up a few years earlier. This was one of three pillars of a new secret state established by the Labour government to combat ‘domestic extremism’, a term which encompassed anyone who wanted to ‘prevent something happening or to change legislation or domestic policy outside of the normal democratic process.’ The others were the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU) and the National Domestic Extremism Team.

There is no reason to believe that intelligence gathering has diminished in the last few years. The animal rights movement has been perceived as less of a threat, mainly due to the imprisonment of certain activists, but the emergence of the anti-badger cull campaign will undoubtedly lead to an increase in surveillance and spying. The ‘Undercover’ book also mentions a recent spy in the Welsh animal rights scene but does not go into detail.

Conclusion: (1) How were we duped?

With the benefit of hindsight it appears obvious that animal rights groups in London were targeted by undercover police who followed the same pattern over a period of at least two decades. In that case why did no-one find out what was going on?

The answer lies in Lambert, the spymaster, who established the template the rest followed. For 23 years ‘Bob’ as he was known was held in such high esteem and affection that his authenticity wasn’t doubted. He was one of us, an anarchist and animal liberationist, who had fled overseas to build a new life. Nobody guessed he was working just a few miles away at Scotland Yard.

The agents that followed – Dines, Davey, Rayner, Green and Evans – did attract suspicion but only individually, not as a sequence. The people they spied upon were activists fighting for animal rights and a better world, welcoming of outsiders into their groups, not spycatchers. Moreover the suspicions were usually no more than of the ‘they are a bit dodgy’ variety, with little or no concrete evidence. Many people have been falsely accused in this way over the years.

The whole thing finally fell apart thanks to the determination of two women: Helen Steel and Laura, the girlfriend of a spy called Jim Boyling, whom she met in Reclaim the Streets in 1999. She managed to track him down after he left her and he confessed about Lambert and Dines. Helen had spent years searching for the latter after he supposedly ran off abroad in 1992. By 2010 she knew he had been a cop but it was Laura who confirmed that he was also a spy. At the same time Mark Kennedy, who worked for the NPOIU, was unmasked.

Conclusion: (2) What difference does it make?

The next important question is what difference does it make? Isn’t this just history? While a lot of this happened a long time ago it does stretch up almost to the present. Those who experienced this also have to show what the state is capable of doing to other, newer activists. Should we should trust politicians and believe the promises made by political parties or is the state fundamentally a force for repression? Can we cooperate with a system that tries to disrupt and undermine groups and individuals in this way?

What went on still matters because when we sweep away all the intrigue and scandal, we are left with a very simple fact: the spies were there to prevent animals being saved. This article has concentrated on what occurred in London because that’s where the writer has mainly been active but there is no question that infiltration went on elsewhere. We know, for instance, that there was a spy active inside SHAC before the mass arrests of 2007.

Many people have been arrested, convicted and even imprisoned during the struggle for animal rights and if it can be proved that a spy was involved, then those convictions are possibly unsafe. Even if their role was only driving activists to a demo where they were arrested, then there could be good grounds for an appeal. This is especially true if those nicked discussed their case with the spy, because this information would have been passed on to the police.

So far a total of 56 convictions or attempted prosecutions of environmental protesters have been overturned, abandoned or called into question over the past two years following disclosures surrounding the activities of undercover police officers. Most of these relate to Mark Kennedy and two climate change actions against power stations in 2008 and 2009.

Most defendants are being represented by Mike Schwarz from Bindmans and he has said he is keen to act for animal rights campaigners who want to try to overturn their convictions. But in order to do that we first have to find out who the spies were.

Conclusion: (3) Learning the lessons

There are no fewer than 15 investigations taking police into the role of undercover police. The main one is Operation Herne which is an internal Metropolitan Police enquiry This will last up to three years and cost millions of pounds but many of the victims of the SDS, including women who had relationships with spies, are boycotting it. They have instead called for an independent public enquiry as when the police investigate themselves the result is inevitably a whitewash.

What can activists themselves learn? Well firstly we should not succumb to paranoia. This may sound strange after what we know now but it is important to realise that the spies were in a small minority. Yes there were several in LBAG/LAA over the years but the group was large and regularly attracted over 50 people to its meetings.

There are, however, commonsense precautions that can be taken. The modus operandi of Special Branch agents – such as using dead children’s’ identities and driving vans – will not be replicated by current spies but if there are certain aspects of a person’s behaviour that don’t make sense or appear suspicious , then it is entirely reasonable to find out the truth. If that means questioning the person to ascertain whether they are a bone fide activist, then so be it. A genuine person would not object to this line of enquiry if the reason for it were explained to them.

Finally the lesson to take from all this is that we are making a difference. The state would not have invested such huge resources in trying to undermine the animal rights movement if it did not fear what we stand for. This is something we should be proud of.

If you have any further information or would like to join an email distribution list called ARspycatcher please contact: ARspycatcher@riseup.net

AR Spycatcher
Buro Jansen & Janssen

Find this story at 26 February 2014

On the trail of Britain’s undercover police

Recent revelations have exposed the routine embedding of undercover police officers within environmental and social justice campaigns. But piecing together the public evidence on undercover police tactics brings as many questions as answers.

When activists exposed their long-term comrade Mark Stone as police officer Mark Kennedy in 2010, the British public was stunned. On the surface he appeared indistinguishable from his ‘targets’. The long-haired, pierced and tattooed man had lived among environmental and social justice groups for seven years. Perhaps most shockingly, he had long-term sexual relationships with activists, including a woman he lived with as a committed partner for six years.

Senior police initially portrayed Mark Kennedy as a rogue officer who had strayed off mission. But a swift flurry of further unmaskings have shown his tactics to be textbook methods, endemic in Britain’s secret police.

Since they were formed amidst the political upheaval of 1968, around 150 officers of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) – later the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, and nowadays the National Domestic Extremism Unit – have infiltrated political groups this way. Behaving in a similar manner to the earlier COINTELPRO operation in the USA, their secret, counter-democratic remit finds them deeply and seriously involved in far left, animal rights, environmental, peace, anti-racist, and far right groups.

The secret police do not gather evidence to be used in court. Instead, they infiltrate groups, collecting information on individual campaigners. The aim is to preemptively disrupt a threat before it begins. Sometimes it is a threat of violence on the streets but much more often it is a threat to corporate profits, to police credibility or to the dominance of capitalist ideology. Being critical of corporations and government policies, being the victim of police corruption, or holding anti-capitalist views, is deemed ‘subversive’ in itself.

Their work has included undermining numerous justice and anti-racism campaigns for people who either died in police custody or whose deaths were under-investigated by police. The undercovers would get actively involved in the campaigns, even holding official positions, looking for personal information with which to discredit the participants – including the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

In going so deep undercover with so little oversight, officers have sometimes crossed the line to become agent provocateurs, instigating the very activities they are there to prevent.

Textbook methods
Twelve officers have now been exposed. Almost all of them had sexual relations with the citizens they targeted, most of them having serious relationships that integrated them into activists’ lives, work and families. Sexual relationships with targets provided a fast track into the social circle and staved off potential suspicions. One woman explained how she had been used to get social credibility: ‘people trusted me, people knew that I was who I said I was, and people believed, therefore, that he must be who he said he was because he was so welcomed into my family’.

Three of the exposed officers fathered children. This included the man who would go on to be in charge of SDS operations, Bob Lambert, who had a planned pregnancy with one of his activist girlfriends, being present at the birth before disappearing from their lives three years later. The mother of his child only found out the truth by reading a newspaper article 25 years later in June 2012.

The police need a warrant from a judge to search your home once. Yet the secret police decided for themselves to send these men to move in and stay for years, sharing an activist’s innermost feelings and of course the details of their political plans and legal cases. It is the most complete invasion of privacy that it is possible for the state to enact.

The women would think they were meeting The One when it wasn’t even a person – it was a mask, a set of techniques. The whole relationship was controlled, monitored and quite possibly directed by an unseen group of analyst officers. The lasting trauma visited on the women was seen as just collateral damage.

The women were not giving informed consent to the relationships. Had they known the men’s true identities, they would not have allowed them close. One of them has said it feels ‘like being repeatedly raped by the state’. They have been left psychologically devastated, their judgment and trust shattered, unable to form new relationships as they used to.

Identity theft
To create false identities that have official documentation such as passports and driving licenses, a large proportion of officers stole the identity of someone who died as a child. A recent internal police report concedes it was ‘an established practice that new officers were taught’. It is believed that around a hundred secret police officers did it between 1973 and around 2005.

This is not merely in poor taste. Social justice campaigner Helen Steel tried to track down John Barker, a boyfriend who had disappeared. She got the birth certificate and went to the address on it, discovering that ‘John Barker’ was a boy who died of leukemia aged eight. Her boyfriend was police officer John Dines, who had passed off Barker’s identity as his own.

The real John Barker’s brother Anthony spoke of the danger that the police put unwitting bereaved families in: “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.”

Miscarriages of justice
Undercover officers have been arrested and prosecuted under their false identities, committing perjury whilst bolstering their undercover identities. In the case of undercover police officer Jim Boyling, prosecution under his false identity granted him access to confidential meetings with lawyers as one of the ‘defendants’.

The judicial process has been undermined in other ways by the presence of undercover police: most shockingly through the withholding of evidence that exonerated accused activists.

In April 2009, Mark Kennedy was part of a group of 114 climate activists preemptively arrested at a meeting for conspiring to shut down a coal-fired power station. Kennedy was the intelligence source for this police action, and had secretly recorded the gathering prior to the police raid. Despite the fact that Kennedy’s surveillance tapes exonerated many of the arrested activists, it was not disclosed to the defence at the subsequent trial, and 20 people were convicted of conspiracy.

A later trial of six others charged with conspiracy occurred following the exposure of Kennedy as a police spy. Prosecutors were forced to disclose the previously withheld evidence – and the case collapsed.

This wasn’t just a police cover-up. Senior members of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) knew of the planned action, and of police plans to preemptively arrest, before it even happened – including the use of an undercover officer. It seems clear that between the arrests and trials senior officials in the CPS worked with police to ensure that Kennedy’s crucial evidence did not come to light.

The original 20 activists had their convictions quashed, with the appeal judges saying that Kennedy had arguably been an agent provocateur and a juror at the original trial lambasting the ‘prolonged entrapment’ of the police operation. 29 convictions from another action that Kennedy was involved in are due to be overturned as well.

These miscarriages of justice were prevented or overturned only because Kennedy was exposed as an undercover police officer. If this one officer can set up at least 55 wrongful convictions, how many thousands can the secret police be responsible for? Even now, police policy to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ whether someone is an undercover police officer, is keeping similar cases in limbo.

Transparently secret
A group of women who were in relationships with undercover officers are suing police – the managers who orchestrated it, not the individual officers – for assault as well as an assortment of crimes of deceit. They are suffering a double injustice. Firstly there was what was done to them, and now – just like with the wrongful convictions – there are the legion legal obstructions, delays and other tricks the police perform in order to avoid accountability and justice.

The human rights claims – infringement of the right to privacy and a family life – are to be heard in a bizarre secret tribunal. They do not get to be in court, to see what evidence the police present (or omit), do not get given the reasons for the judge’s verdict, and have no right to appeal.

So much for the right to a fair trial. The given reason is the protection of security around the secret police. But Mark Kennedy could scarcely be less secret: he hired the notorious press agent Max Clifford and sold his story to tabloid newspapers years ago.

As this scandal rolls on the authorities are forced to respond to the outcry. There have been 17 inquiries commissioned, largely just the police investigating themselves. Others have been given to satellite bodies, such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission or Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, who have an established record of obediently waving through the police’s requirements. Many will not be publishing their findings. All but one have been given very narrow remits that cannot join the dots to create a picture of any systemic problem.

The one inquiry taking a broader view is Operation Herne. It consists of 44 staff, the vast majority of whom are from the same Metropolitan Police force under investigation. They include serving officers who have their future careers to think of before flagging up anything that embarrasses their superiors. It is not due to report for several years and there is no promise to publish the findings. The overseeing officer, Chief Constable Mick Creedon, claims police will do a better job than the independent public inquiry that many people are calling for.

But with secrecy comes impunity. The very fact that the allegations involve secret police covering up the actions of other police who unarguably acted wrongly undermines the credibility of any police self-investigation. Some victims, like the Lawrence family, have much of their grievance based on the consistent failure of police self-investigation.

The smattering of reports out so far show that the truth is not being searched for. Worse than that, there is no redress for victims, nor believable assurances that the same disruption of justice, stifling of protesters and persecution of individuals has ended. The promised tightening up of rules about undercover policing merely requires authorisation from higher ranks and a bit more involvement of the compliant rubber-stamp body of Surveillance Commissioners.

Exporting police spies
After two years among British activists Mark Kennedy was hired out to other states, working in 14 different countries. Whilst under contract to the German police, Kennedy had sexual relationships with activists and, upon arrest for arson, disclosed only his false identity to the public prosecutor, all of which is illegal under German law. Questions abound over the German police’s hiring of this British police spy.

Tenacious research by German parliamentarian Andrej Hunko has revealed that such contracts are not piecemeal: shining light on the hitherto unknown European Co-ordination Group on Undercover Activities that organises and focuses undercover work.

Established in the 1980s, it is comprised of all EU member states and other countries such as the USA, Israel, South Africa and New Zealand, plus selected private companies. It meets irregularly and says it doesn’t keep minutes. According to the German government, the UK and Germany are the trailblazers in the group. Far from the undercover scandal being centred on a rogue officer or a rogue unit, the UK’s tactics seem to be part of a concerted effort in which governments and corporations act together across borders.

The big question
Three years on from Kennedy’s exposure, the flow of facts is not abating. As more activists uncover old spies and former officers come forward out of conscience, it seems that we have still barely begun to get the full story of Britain’s political secret police. It is also becoming clear that Britain is by no means unique in this.

Beyond the ‘who and what’ lies a bigger question – ‘why?’ Where do these monstrously intrusive, anti-democratic, ill-defined, open-ended missions come from? Do the police make them up for themselves? Or are they ordered from higher up? The stoic silence from British politicians seems telling.

We know that these activities, like the individual officers themselves, cross borders. Answers will not come from the UK police investigating themselves. Rather the police forces and governments involved across Europe must be compelled to reveal the truth.

MERRICK BADGER 13 August 2013

Find this story at 13 August 2013

Copyright opendemocracy.net

Women start legal action against police chiefs over emotional trauma – their statement

Eight women have started to sue police chiefs saying they were duped by undercover officers into forming long-term relationships. Below is the statement they have issued. One line has been removed for legal reasons.

Birnberg Peirce and partners have commenced legal action against the Metropolitan Police on behalf of eight women who were deceived into having long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers.

The five undercover officers* were all engaged in infiltrating environmental and social justice campaign groups between the mid 1980’s and 2010 and had relationships with the women lasting from seven months and the longest spanning nine years.

The women assert that the actions of the undercover officers breached their rights as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 3 (no one shall be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (respect for private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state).

The women are also bringing claims for deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence, and seek to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers.

After deceiving at least one woman into having a relationship with him, one of the officers, Bob Lambert, went on to supervise other undercover officers who had long term intimate relationships with campaigners. This, and the extended period in which these relationships were undertaken confirms that recently exposed police spies were not ‘rogue officers’, but were in fact part of an unacceptable pattern of engaging in long term intimate relationships (including embedding themselves in extended families) as part of the infiltration of environmental and other activist groups, which seems to have been condoned at high levels.

Through their collective experiences the women have identified a pattern that covers more than two decades of police operations and is therefore indicative of systemic abuse of female political activists involved in a range of different groups. Officers are given extensive training in how to spin tales, groom, deceive and embed themselves deeply in protest movements. After the women formed loving relationships with these men, they disappeared when their posting ended, leaving the women to cope with the trauma of not knowing whether or not the person they were in love with would return, not knowing if they should be worried or angry and trying to discover what was real and what was not. In one case where the officer re-appeared, his training enabled him to create a new deceit and further abuse the woman who had been left in a state of shock and trauma. The responsibility for the lasting damage this caused goes right back to the undercover operation by the Metropolitan police and the training they gave him in the art of duplicity.

The subsequent discovery that the men they had loved were in fact undercover police officers spying on them and others they knew was a horrifying experience, leaving the women with both a sense of violation and difficulties in trusting others and their own judgement. Discovering that the fundamentals of the relationship were lies has left them trying to comprehend how someone they shared dreams with, knew so intimately and trusted so deeply had never actually existed This abuse has had a severe and lasting emotional impact on those affected.

Quote:

“We believe our case highlights institutionalised sexism within the police. It is incredible that if the police want to search someone’s house they are required to get the permission of a judge, yet if they want to send in an agent who may live and sleep with activists in their homes, this can happen without any apparent oversight!”

“We are bringing this case because we want to see an end to the sexual and psychological abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers. It is unacceptable that state agents can cultivate intimate and long lasting relationships with political activists in order to gain so called intelligence on those political movements.”

So far twelve inquiries have been set up in relation to undercover officers, however none of them are focussed on the human rights abuses perpetrated by the unit, none is independent and none of them are open and transparent.

* The five undercover officers are Mark Kennedy, Jim Boyling, Bob Lambert and two others who have not yet been exposed, known when undercover as John Barker and Mark Cassidy.

Rob Evans
Friday 16 December 2011 19.45 GMT Last modified on Tuesday 20 May 2014 21.11 BST

Find this story at 16 December 2011

© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

Police Spies Out of Lives Support group for women’s legal action against undercover policing

We are supporting the legal action by eight women deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers who were infiltrating environmental and social justice campaign groups.

In December 2011 eight women launched legal action against the Metropolitan Police and ACPO for the harm caused by undercover officers deceiving them into long term intimate relationships.

The women assert that the actions of the Metropolitan police officers breached their human rights, subjecting them to inhumane and degrading treatment, and disrespecting their private and family life and their right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state.

The women are also bringing claims for deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence. They seek to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers.

Read more: The Case / Where We Stand

Police Spies Out Of Lives is a support group for the women involved with this case. It is not a legal entity, but a loose affiliation of concerned individuals, friends, and family members of the eight women who are bringing the case.

As part of our support, we are exposing the immoral and unjustified practice of undercover relationships, and the institutional prejudices which have led to the abuse. We are calling for an unequivocal end to the practice, a full inquiry into the past, and changes to prevent it ever happening again.

Find this story at December 2011

How Special Branch Spied on Animal Rights Movement

Since 2010 there have been revelations about police infiltration of protest groups. For over 40 years the state sanctioned the use of undercover police to gain intelligence on political activists, including animal rights campaigners.

Though it was widely assumed that groups were under surveillance, no-one would have imagined the extent to which the secret state burrowed deep into organisations, established close friendships and sexual relationships with activists, and broke the law to further its objectives. This article will explain how it happened and what can be learnt from it.

The Special Demonstrations Squad

The story begins in 1968, when tens of thousands of people marched against the Vietnam War. In March there was rioting as protesters fought with police outside the American Embassy in London and the government was so alarmed that it set up of the Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS).

Although the police had used undercover officers before to catch criminals, this was as Rob Evans and Paul Lewis say in their book ‘Undercover’, ‘a new concept in policing.’ Special Branch officers transformed themselves into activists and lived amongst their targets for several years. They changed their appearance and used fake identities to penetrate political groups to the highest levels to gain intelligence and to enable the police to maintain public order. The nickname for the SDS was ‘the hairies’ because – in the early days at least – their operatives had to grow their hair long in order in order to blend into the milieu of radical politics.

The job of the SDS was to infiltrate groups considered subversive which meant those that ‘threatened the safety or well-being of the state or undermined parliamentary democracy’. Initially this meant mainly Marxist or Trotskyist groups, as well as the anti-apartheid movement in the seventies.

The eighties: Robert Lambert

By the early eighties, however, the animal rights movement had become established. It was attracting thousands of people on protest marches against vivisection and groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) were rescuing animals and damaging property. To the state this was a dangerous and subversive threat.

Evans and Lewis say Special Branch first became involved when one of its operatives was deployed at the World Day for Lab Animals march in April 1983. Shortly afterwards a second spy was sent in. His name was Robert Lambert and he became an almost legendary figure amongst his colleagues. For the activists who knew him he was equally unforgettable, though nowadays it is for all the wrong reasons.

Lambert called himself Bob Robinson. Like all SDS agents he stole the identity of a dead child. Mark Robert Robinson died aged seven in 1959, only to be quietly resurrected 24 years later by Lambert who would have found his birth and death certificates. He was then given a forged driving licence, passport and other documents. This procedure was known in SDS circles as the ‘Jackal Run’ because it was based on the book, ‘The Day of the Jackal’.

Lambert quickly immersed himself in the world of animal rights by going to protests and meetings. At a demo outside Hackney Town Hall he met Jackie, 12 years younger than him, and they soon started a relationship and their son was born in 1985. Lambert was already married with two children but knew an activist girlfriend would give his cover an added dimension, making him appear a fully rounded, genuine person.

London Greenpeace and the ALF

In 1984 Lambert became involved in London Greenpeace (LG). This wasn’t an AR group as such but a radical organisation (not to be confused with the much larger Greenpeace International) that embraced anarchism and direct action. Up to then it had been mainly concerned with anti-nuclear and environmental issues but in the mid-eighties it adopted much more of an animal liberation stance.

The first LG meeting I attended was a public meeting with a speaker from the ALF in 1985. Lambert chaired the discussion and obviously had a prominent role in the group. He soon became a close friend. Like all the spies that followed him, Lambert had a van that was used to take people to demos. He said he was a gardener and needed a vehicle for his job.

Lambert’s mission was to infiltrate the ALF and he made it clear he was a strong supporter of illegal actions. In 1986 he organised a benefit gig for the ALF Supporters Group but kept back some of the takings to buy glass etching fluid, used to damage windows. Soon afterwards he confided to friends that he had dressed as a jogger and thrown paint stripper over a car belonging to the director of an animal laboratory.

He also wrote two notable publications. One was a simple A5 leaflet titled ‘You are the ALF!’ which exhorted people to do direct action themselves, not ask others to do so on their behalf. The other was a booklet called ‘London ALF News’ which had articles on the ALF and a diary of actions, including attacks he had carried out.

Debenhams

In July 1987 the ALF targeted three Debenhams’ department stores with incendiary devices because they sold fur. In two, water from the sprinklers caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in losses, but at the Luton branch they had been switched off and fire gutted the store, causing over £6m in damage.

Two months later, Andrew Clarke and Geoff Sheppard were caught at the latter’s bedsit in Tottenham in the act of making incendiary devices as the police burst in. In June 1988 at the Old Bailey Sheppard received 4 years and 4 months and Clarke 3 ½ years. Obviously the police had been tipped off but neither activist knew who it was until nearly 24 years later when Lambert was uncovered as a spy.

Lambert, according to Sheppard, was the third member of this cell. Neither activist suspected him but then they had good reason not to – as far as they were concerned he had planted the device in the Harrow store that caused £340,000 in damage.
The last time I saw Lambert was in a pub near the LG office in Kings Cross in November 1988. He was unusually downbeat as he told me his father who had dementia had just died and the values he fought for in World War II were dying too under Thatcherism. He also said Jackie had started a relationship with a fascist and he was no longer allowed to see his son. Both stories were lies and I now know he was preparing for his exit.

All undercover spies have an exit strategy, usually prepared months if not years in advance. Lamberts would have been devised around the time of the Debenhams action but departing too soon would have appeared suspicious. He waited for over a year, until he left allegedly on the run from Special Branch, which was in fact his employer. They even staged a fake raid at the flat where he was staying.

John Dines

By the beginning of 1989 Bob Robinson was just a memory but LG already had another spy in its ranks. John Dines, using the surname Barker, had joined the group in October 1987. During the next year as he rose to prominence, Lambert was on the wane – going to fewer meetings and demos. This was a pattern that would be repeated time and time again.

Like his mentor, Lambert, Dines had van which he used for demos. He twice drove activists all the way to Yorkshire to sab grouse shoots and he also took them to a protest against Sun Valley Chickens in Herefordshire. While there he was apparently arrested but released without charge. He too produced an anonymous publication called ‘Business as Usual’, which comprised a diary of actions, and he also organised two benefit gigs for London Greenpeace in late 1989.

John Dines and McLibel

While LG was well known in activist circles – mainly for the anti-McDonald’s campaign it had started several years earlier – it hardly registered to the outside world. Most people confused it with Greenpeace International. All that began to change, however, when five of its supporters were sued for libel by McDonald’s in September 1990.

None of the defendants had written the pamphlet that was the subject of the writ; in fact three of them weren’t even part of the group at that time. Ironically Lambert had been one of the architects of the ‘What’s Wrong with McDonald’s’ factsheet but he was long gone.

McDonald’s placed several infiltrators of its own in the group from the autumn of 1989 onwards with the result that it became infested with spies. At some meetings there were more of them than genuine activists. These new corporate spies aroused suspicion – they didn’t quite fit in – and some of them were followed. One of those doing the following was Dines, together with Helen Steel, who would later be sued and become Dines’ girlfriend..

In January 1991 I and two others decided to cut our losses and apologise. Helen and Dave Morris carried on fighting the case as the McLibel 2. By their side was Dines who was the group’s treasurer and a key player. He relayed the legal advice they received and the tactical discussions they had with other group members back to his bosses in the SDS who then passed it on to McDonald’s. Several years later the McLibel trial revealed that Special Branch and McDonald’s had exchanged information about London Greenpeace. Morris and Steel sued the Metropolitan Police over this and received £10,000 in an out of court settlement and an apology.

London Boots Action Group: Andy Davey and Matt Rayner

By the early nineties the animal rights movement was on a roll again and three activists decided to set up a new London-wide organisation called London Boots Action Group (LBAG), to target Boots plc, which at that time did animal testing. LBAG was unashamedly pro-direct action so it is no surprise that it became a target for the SDS. The group was launched in November 1991 with a public meeting that attracted nearly 100 people, two of whom were spies.

Andy Davey and Matt Rayner were two of the many new people to join the fledgling group. But they were slightly different – they had vans, which made them both unusual and useful, and they got quickly involved. Both also had jobs (quite rare in those days as many activists were either unemployed or students). Davey was a ‘man with a van’ removal service – his nickname was ‘Andy Van’ – while Rayner said he worked for a company that delivered musical instruments.

Each lived in a bedsit, Davey in Streatham, south London, Rayner in north London. They even looked similar – tall, dark haired and with glasses, and spoke with Home Counties accents. What set Davey apart from other agents was his dog, named Lucy who came from an animal rescue person that lived locally. His bosses probably decided he would appear a more authentic activist if he had a companion animal.

Personality-wise they differed though. While Rayner was easy going and friendly, enjoying social situations, Davey had a somewhat hesitant and nervous manner and could at times appear too eager to please. Initially there were suspicions about both but they quickly assimilated into the protest scene. They would have known who each other were, as their unit had only about a dozen operatives at any time, but they weren’t close. This meant that if one spy was uncovered, the other wouldn’t fall under suspicion.

It was not common practice for two spies to be placed in the same group. In the book Undercover, the whistleblower Peter Francis says the SDS had two animal rights spies when he joined it in January 1993. This was indicative of the threat posed by animal rights in general and LBAG in particular.

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.

Rayner, too, was a fixture in the London scene. He would usually be the one to drive activists to demos outside London. A notable example was the 1993 Grand National when he took a vanload of people to Aintree. This was the year the race had to be abandoned because the course was invaded, costing the betting industry over £60m.

In 1995 – following former spy Dines’ example – he drove a carload of saboteurs to the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ to sab a grouse shoot. While there he was arrested and taken into police custody, only to be released a few hours later. He wasn’t charged but this brush with the law only served to improve his standing.

London Animal Action: Davey’s exit

Rayner had a long term relationship with a female activist. Davey never managed this though it wasn’t for want of trying and he gained a reputation as a lecher. This no doubt undermined his status – some saw him as a bit sad, others didn’t really take to him – and it probably played a part in the decision to take him out of the group. This happened quickly as he announced he was ‘stressed’ and was going to Eastern Europe. The double life he was leading was probably taking its toll as well. He left in February 1995 with a farewell social to which only a few people came. Shortly afterwards a hunt sab whom he knew received a couple of letters postmarked abroad.

As Davey’s exit was hasty, the spy who replaced him joined London Animal Action – as LBAG was now called – around the same time he left. Unusually the new agent was female and her name was Christine Green. As she set about inveigling herself into the group, Rayner’s deployment was reaching its climax. In May 1995 Geoff Sheppard’s flat was raided again by the police where they found materials for making an incendiary device and a sawn-off shotgun. In October he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

After Geoff’s release we speculated on why the police had chosen him. Devices were being placed in various targets and it appeared to have been simply a chance raid due to his arrest in the eighties. However, it is now clear that Rayner set Geoff up just as Lambert had done years earlier. No-one suspected him of the sting because he was, like his boss had been, an established and trusted of the group: by 1995 he was LAA treasurer.

Lambert the spymaster

By the mid-nineties Lambert was the operational manager of the SDS thanks to his ‘legendary tour of duty’ a decade earlier. According to Evans and Lewis he was ‘the gaffer…pulling the strings like a puppet-master’ and he used his experience to guide a new generation of infiltrators who were in some cases spying on the same activists as he had. Geoff was one of those and he describes Rayner as being ‘up to his neck’ in direct action. The final proof came in April 2013 when it was discovered the real Matthew Rayner died aged four in 1972. We still don’t know his true identity.

One of Lambert’s first duties when he re-joined the SDS was to write a report on a spy who had ‘gone rogue’ named Mike Chitty. Chitty – known as Mike Blake – had penetrated the animal rights movement in London at the same time as Lambert but in comparison his deployment had been a failure. It resulted in no high-profile ALF arrests and it seems he enjoyed socialising more than targeting subversives. Even worse, when his deployment finished he returned to his activist comrades, leading a double life unbeknownst to his employers or his wife. He was eventually pensioned off after he began legal action against the Met for the stress he suffered due to his covert role.

Rayner’s exit strategy

Clearly not everybody could cope with the demands of undercover work. Davey may have been one of those but Rayner made of different stuff. His exit strategy was masterly in execution, bearing the hallmark of his mentor and manager, Lambert, who had written a report highlighting the importance of ‘carefully crafted withdrawal plans’ to convince ‘increasingly security-conscious target groups of the authenticity of a manufactured departure…inevitably this entails travel to a foreign country.’

In November1996 Rayner apparently went to work in France for a wine company. He had always liked France and could speak the language fluently. To a few close friends he mentioned his unease with activism after being raided by the police and the breakdown of the relationship with his girlfriend. Very well liked, he was given a big going away party, presented with a camera from the group and a speech wishing him well in his new life.

The next day he drove to France in his van and with him were two activist friends. At the port they were questioned by a police officer who said he was from Special Branch before letting them go on their way. This plan was concocted for the activists’ benefit in the knowledge they would tell others about it, lending further credibility to Rayner’s exit. A few weeks later he briefly came back to London and met up with friends before supposedly returning to France for good. Then over a period of about a year letters were sent and phone messages were left saying he had moved to Argentina, and after that he was never heard from again.

Christine Green

By 1997 Green was occupying a key part of the group, driving activists to demos, going to meetings and mailouts and taking part in protests, as her predecessors had done. She had even taken over Rayner’s role of group treasurer. The same pattern repeating itself but no-one was aware of it. For the next two years Green appears to have been the only spy in LAA. Perhaps there was another who remains unexposed – though this seems unlikely – or the SDS may have deployed another spy elsewhere.

To enhance her cover, Green began a relationship with a well-known hunt saboteur whose job was a coach driver and they took coach loads of protesters to some of the high profile demos of the time, for example at Hillgrove Farm. There is no suggestion that the sab was a spy. There was speculation surrounding her, however: she was not always easy to get along with – though she did make some friends -and she always carried the same bag around with her, which inevitably drew suspicion.

Towards the end of 1999 Green let it be known she was tired with activism. Early in 2000 she said she was departing to Australia for a relative’s funeral and would stay there travelling. About a year later, though, she reappeared and made contact with a few activist friends. Several years later in 2010 she cropped up once more, this time in Cornwall where she was spotted with the same boyfriend in a veggie café. Someone who knew them from LAA tried to have a chat and was all but ignored.

Dave Evans

Green’s replacement in and the last known SDS spy was Dave Evans. Like Dines he appeared to be from New Zealand and he had the same rugged appearance. He had a van and was a gardener too, so very much in the Lambert mould, except his personality couldn’t have been more different. While his boss was amiable, even charming, Evans could be a bit peevish and erratic: once he turned up at a demo then left after only a few minutes saying his flatmate was locked out. Typically spies spent five or six days in the field, only returning to their families for one night per week, but on one occasion he went missing for so long that people became concerned and went round to his flat.

A lot of the time he gave the impression of not being very committed and more interested in the social side of the group. LAA had a big drinking culture which he took to like a duck to water and he often took part in fundraising at festivals by working in bars. In SDS parlance he was a ‘shallow paddler’, not a ‘deep swimmer’.

In the last year or so of his deployment, Evans’ involvement in animal rights tapered off somewhat and it was recently revealed that his flatmate was Jason Bishop, a spy active in anti-capitalist groups. The pair drove minibuses to the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005. Both were arrested with other activists for conspiracy to commit a breach of the peace but the charges were dropped.

Evans’ exit and the end of the SDS

Evans was last seen at the AR Gathering in 2005. While sitting around a bonfire he began asking other activists questions about LAA, which had just folded after its bank account containing thousands of pounds was seized by Huntingdon Life Sciences. The mask slipped and it became obvious that he was a cop. He must have realised this because he left the next morning and was never seen again. Evans was the last known SDS spy in London animal rights circles. There were also at least two corporate infiltrators during this period, one of whom worked her way up to be group treasurer before she was uncovered.

In 2008 the SDS was disbanded, its functions supplanted by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) set up a few years earlier. This was one of three pillars of a new secret state established by the Labour government to combat ‘domestic extremism’, a term which encompassed anyone who wanted to ‘prevent something happening or to change legislation or domestic policy outside of the normal democratic process.’ The others were the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU) and the National Domestic Extremism Team.

There is no reason to believe that intelligence gathering has diminished in the last few years. The animal rights movement has been perceived as less of a threat, mainly due to the imprisonment of certain activists, but the emergence of the anti-badger cull campaign will undoubtedly lead to an increase in surveillance and spying. The ‘Undercover’ book also mentions a recent spy in the Welsh animal rights scene but does not go into detail.

Conclusion: (1) How were we duped?

With the benefit of hindsight it appears obvious that animal rights groups in London were targeted by undercover police who followed the same pattern over a period of at least two decades. In that case why did no-one find out what was going on?

The answer lies in Lambert, the spymaster, who established the template the rest followed. For 23 years ‘Bob’ as he was known was held in such high esteem and affection that his authenticity wasn’t doubted. He was one of us, an anarchist and animal liberationist, who had fled overseas to build a new life. Nobody guessed he was working just a few miles away at Scotland Yard.

The agents that followed – Dines, Davey, Rayner, Green and Evans – did attract suspicion but only individually, not as a sequence. The people they spied upon were activists fighting for animal rights and a better world, welcoming of outsiders into their groups, not spycatchers. Moreover the suspicions were usually no more than of the ‘they are a bit dodgy’ variety, with little or no concrete evidence. Many people have been falsely accused in this way over the years.

The whole thing finally fell apart thanks to the determination of two women: Helen Steel and Laura, the girlfriend of a spy called Jim Boyling, whom she met in Reclaim the Streets in 1999. She managed to track him down after he left her and he confessed about Lambert and Dines. Helen had spent years searching for the latter after he supposedly ran off abroad in 1992. By 2010 she knew he had been a cop but it was Laura who confirmed that he was also a spy. At the same time Mark Kennedy, who worked for the NPOIU, was unmasked.

Conclusion: (2) What difference does it make?

The next important question is what difference does it make? Isn’t this just history? While a lot of this happened a long time ago it does stretch up almost to the present. Those who experienced this also have to show what the state is capable of doing to other, newer activists. Should we should trust politicians and believe the promises made by political parties or is the state fundamentally a force for repression? Can we cooperate with a system that tries to disrupt and undermine groups and individuals in this way?

What went on still matters because when we sweep away all the intrigue and scandal, we are left with a very simple fact: the spies were there to prevent animals being saved. This article has concentrated on what occurred in London because that’s where the writer has mainly been active but there is no question that infiltration went on elsewhere. We know, for instance, that there was a spy active inside SHAC before the mass arrests of 2007.

Many people have been arrested, convicted and even imprisoned during the struggle for animal rights and if it can be proved that a spy was involved, then those convictions are possibly unsafe. Even if their role was only driving activists to a demo where they were arrested, then there could be good grounds for an appeal. This is especially true if those nicked discussed their case with the spy, because this information would have been passed on to the police.

So far a total of 56 convictions or attempted prosecutions of environmental protesters have been overturned, abandoned or called into question over the past two years following disclosures surrounding the activities of undercover police officers. Most of these relate to Mark Kennedy and two climate change actions against power stations in 2008 and 2009.

Most defendants are being represented by Mike Schwarz from Bindmans and he has said he is keen to act for animal rights campaigners who want to try to overturn their convictions. But in order to do that we first have to find out who the spies were.

Conclusion: (3) Learning the lessons

There are no fewer than 15 investigations taking police into the role of undercover police. The main one is Operation Herne which is an internal Metropolitan Police enquiry This will last up to three years and cost millions of pounds but many of the victims of the SDS, including women who had relationships with spies, are boycotting it. They have instead called for an independent public enquiry as when the police investigate themselves the result is inevitably a whitewash.

What can activists themselves learn? Well firstly we should not succumb to paranoia. This may sound strange after what we know now but it is important to realise that the spies were in a small minority. Yes there were several in LBAG/LAA over the years but the group was large and regularly attracted over 50 people to its meetings.

There are, however, commonsense precautions that can be taken. The modus operandi of Special Branch agents – such as using dead children’s’ identities and driving vans – will not be replicated by current spies but if there are certain aspects of a person’s behaviour that don’t make sense or appear suspicious , then it is entirely reasonable to find out the truth. If that means questioning the person to ascertain whether they are a bone fide activist, then so be it. A genuine person would not object to this line of enquiry if the reason for it were explained to them.

Finally the lesson to take from all this is that we are making a difference. The state would not have invested such huge resources in trying to undermine the animal rights movement if it did not fear what we stand for. This is something we should be proud of.

If you have any further information or would like to join an email distribution list called ARspycatcher please contact: ARspycatcher@riseup.net

AR Spycatcher

Find this story at 26 February 2014

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Scotland Yard in new undercover police row; Force accused over attempts to block claims by women allegedly deceived into sexual relationships

Scotland Yard stands accused of covering up “institutionalised sexism” within the police in trying to block civil claims launched by women allegedly deceived into sexual relationships with undercover officers.

Police lawyers are applying to strike out, on secrecy grounds, the claims of five women who say they were duped into intimate long-term relationships with four undercover police officers working within the special demonstration squad (SDS), a Metropolitan police unit set up to infiltrate protest groups.

The legal bid, funded by the taxpayer, is being fought despite widespread outrage and promises of future transparency by Scotland Yard, following official confirmation last week that an undercover officer was deployed 21 years ago to spy on the grieving family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The Observer understands that police lawyers are asking the high court to reject claims against the Metropolitan police on the grounds that the force cannot deviate from its policy of neither confirming nor denying issues regarding undercover policing.

It is understood that Scotland Yard will say in a hearing, scheduled to be held on 18 March, that it is not in a position to respond to claims and therefore cannot defend it.

Last week an independent inquiry revealed that an officer identified only as N81 was deployed in a group “positioned close to the Lawrence family campaign”. The spy gathered “some personal details relating to” the murdered teenager’s parents. It was also disclosed that undercover officers had given false evidence in the courts and acted as if they were exempt from the normal rules of evidence disclosure.

A separate report on a police investigation into the SDS found that three former officers who had had sexual relations with women who had not known their true identities could face criminal charges.

Harriet Wistrich, a lawyer at Birnberg Peirce & Partners representing the women, said it was absurd that Scotland Yard claimed to be transparent while blocking her clients’ bid for justice in open court. On Friday the former director of prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, accused the police of engendering a “culture of conceit”.

Wistrich said: “They should just hold up their hands and say, ‘this is terrible, we recognise that and are doing everything we can do to put it right’.”

Wistrich said Scotland Yard had made no move to reverse its legal position despite calls by Theresa May, the home secretary, for transparency in the wake of what she last week described as “profoundly disturbing” findings.

“They are basically saying that we have this policy and we have to uphold the policy because we gave lifelong assurances that we would not reveal their identities. This is nonsense when some have confessed themselves to being undercover officers.

“In total, we have got five different officers between the eight claimants and our own evidence suggests there was a deliberate kind of encouragement to do this. We are not just talking about a bad apple … but a rotten-to-the-core, institutionalised sexism.”

The officers accused of forging long-term sexual relationships with women while undercover are Jim Boyling, Bob Lambert, John Dines and Mark Jenner.

Last week May announced a public inquiry into the work of undercover police officers shortly after the publication of the inquiry on allegations of spying on the Lawrence family.

There are additional calls, including by shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, for an examination of the role of undercover officers in providing information for a blacklist operation run by major companies within the construction industry which forced more than 3,000 people out of the sector.

Brian Richardson, a barrister who has set up an umbrella group, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, said: “It is extremely important that the proposed inquiry considers the infiltration of the Lawrence family campaign and that of [all] the targets of police surveillance. However, we must continue to campaign to ensure that the inquiry is fully transparent and that those responsible … are held to account.”

Daniel Boffey, policy editor
The Observer, Saturday 8 March 2014 20.30 GMT

Find this story at 8 March 2014

© 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Stephen Lawrence’s mother: ’21 years of struggle, and there is still more to come’

Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered black teenager, finds that Scotland Yard corruption even extended to spying on her family, as public inquiry is announced

After being told she had been the victim of two decades of corruption, spying and cover-up, Doreen Lawrence might have vented fury at the Home Office minister opposite her in the House of Lords.
Instead she was dignity defined as she held her tears in check and spoke quietly of her “21 years of struggle” to get to the truth about Scotland Yard’s shameful behaviour over her son Stephen’s murder.
“We weren’t asking for anything special,” she said. “Just what we should have had, like any other citizen of this country.”
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, who was made a peer last October, had earlier been given confirmation that the Metropolitan Police planted a “spy in the Lawrence family camp” to “smear” them.
Yet it was she who was doing the apologising as she told her fellow peers that “I’m getting a bit emotional”.

A report by Mark Ellison QC, which took a year to complete, found that an undercover officer codenamed N81 was planted by the Met’s top secret Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and passed on information about the state of Doreen and Neville Lawrence’s marriage and other family details to senior officers.
Mr Ellison also found “reasonable grounds” to suspect that one of the detectives investigating her son’s murder had a “corrupt relationship” with the gangster father of one of the killers, and that other officers may also have been corrupt.
Baroness Lawrence, who had to pause to compose herself more than once during her understated speech, said that “still there is more to come out”.
The findings of the report – commissioned by Theresa May, the Home Secretary – were so disturbing that Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Home Office minister, also struggled to maintain his composure as he faced Baroness Lawrence across the Lords chamber.
“Stephen Lawrence was murdered more than 20 years ago and it’s deplorable that his family have had to wait so many years for the truth to emerge,” he said, clearly on the brink of tears.
Mrs May immediately announced a public inquiry into undercover policing – the second public inquiry into the Met’s handling of the case – describing the report’s findings as “profoundly shocking”.
After Stephen Lawrence, 18, was murdered in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993, Scotland Yard failed for 19 years to bring his killers to justice. The force’s failings prompted the Macpherson Report in 1999, which found that the Met was “institutionally racist”.
But the Ellison report had access to material which was not made available to the Macpherson inquiry, including evidence that suggested DS Davidson was corrupt and had links to Clifford Norris, the father of David Norris, who was convicted of Stephen’s murder together with Gary Dobson in 2012.
Baroness Lawrence, whose first response in the Lords was to thank Mrs May for tackling such a “difficult” issue, spoke of her difficulties over the years in convincing police officers and home secretaries that her suspicions about the Met were valid.
“It’s taken over a year for that [to be proved],” she said, as she spoke without notes. “But it’s taken nearly 21 years since Stephen has been killed and the fact that we as a family had to go through all this…
“It has been 21 years of struggle and no family should have to do that. It is the job of the justice system and the police service to give service to the whole community, not just to one section, and that’s what I have been campaigning for for the last 21 years.”
Lord Taylor, speaking to barely 30 peers who had bothered to stay in the chamber to hear Baroness Lawrence speak, described her speech as “one of the most potent occasions that I can remember, and I would like to thank the noble baroness for her dignity”.
Outside the chamber, Baroness Lawrence called for criminal action to be taken against Met officers, describing the report as the “final nail in the coffin” and calling on those involved to resign for their “disgraceful” actions.
“You can’t trust them,” she said. “Still to this day. Trust and confidence in the Met is going to go right down.
“People look at the Met Police as a good example of what everyone else should be doing across the world. Once this goes out now… they can’t be trusted.
“Why would you want to smear a family when they are grieving because they’ve lost a loved one? At a time when you are suffering, the way my son was murdered, to find out rather than them supporting us as a family, they were doing the complete opposite.”
Stephen’s father, Neville Lawrence, who was divorced from Doreen in 1999 and now lives in Jamaica, said: “What the Home Secretary has announced today is 21 years overdue. Mark Ellison’s report has simply corroborated what I have known for the past 21 years and our long fight for truth and justice continues.
“I sat through the last inquiry but I have yet to decide whether I can go through another inquiry. I’m not sure I can go back to square one again. It is very painful. While all this has been happening, our family has been destroyed. I now live 5,000 miles away from my children and my grandchild.”

By Gordon Rayner, and Steven Swinford8:53PM GMT 06 Mar 2014

Find this story at 6 March 2013

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2014

Counter-Terror Cop Moved After Lawrence Report

Police counter-terrorism Commander Richard Walton has been temporarily removed from his post following after a report into the original Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.

The Ellison report revealed an undercover officer, known only as N81, had been planted among supporters of the Lawrence family at the time of the Macpherson¦nbsp;inquiry into racism in the Metropolitan Police.

In 1988, Mr Walton, who was then an acting detective inspector working on Scotland Yard’s Lawrence review team, responsible for making submissions to the judicial inquiry, met N81, the report found.

Commander Walton will now be moved from¦nbsp;SO15¦nbsp;to a non-operational role, Scotland Yard said on Friday.

Earlier, former Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon has said he did not know about the undercover officer.

Lord Condon said that he had neither authorised nor encouraged an officer to be used to get information about the parents of the murdered London teenager.

In a statement, Lord Condon, who was commissioner of the force at the time of Mr Lawrence’s murder in 1993, added that he did not even know it had been done.

The “spy in the camp” fed back information about the Lawrence family to the upper levels of the Metropolitan Police, the report by the barrister Mark Ellison QC concluded.

Lord Condon said: “I confirm and restate the comments I made in the House of Lords last month. That at no stage did I ever authorise, or encourage, or know about any action by any undercover officer in relation to Mr and Mrs Lawrence or their friends or supporters or the Macpherson Inquiry hearings.

“Had I known I would have stopped this action immediately as inappropriate.”

The publication of the report triggered a full public inquiry into the actions of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), a now-defunct wing of special branch, amid fears some convictions may be unsafe as a result of their unorthodox work.

The Macpherson Report, which was published in 1998, concluded the police investigation into the murder of the 18-year-old at a bus stop in south London was hampered by institutionalised racism within the Met.

Speaking during a visit to Bedford on Friday, David Cameron said the revelations in the report had been “shocking” and said he agreed with the Home Secretary that there should be a full independent inquiry.

He said: “It should not have taken this long and the Lawrence family have suffered far too much.

“But this will get to the truth and will help us to make sure that we have the very best in terms of British policing which is what this country deserves.”

David Norris and Gary Dobson were finally convicted of and jailed for Mr Lawrence’s murder in 2012.

The teenager’s mother, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, described the report as the “final nail in the coffin”.

She said: “You can’t trust them. Still to this day. Trust and confidence in the Met is going to go right down.

“People look at the Met Police as a good example of what everyone else should be doing across the world. Once this goes out now … they can’t be trusted.”

The present Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe¦nbsp;said the report was “devastating” for the force and described it as “one of the worst days that I have seen as a police officer”.

He said: “I cannot rewrite history and the events of the past but I do have a responsibility to ensure the trust and the confidence of the people of London in the Met now and in the future.

“This will need a considered response to meet head-on the concerns that have been expressed in yesterday’s report.”

Friday, 7th March 2014 13:37

Find this story at 7 March 2014

Copyright Sky News 2014

‘Shocking’ findings prompt new police corruption law

A new criminal offence of police corruption will be created following “profoundly shocking” revelations about Scotland Yard’s investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, the home secretary says.

Addressing the House of Commons on Thursday morning, Theresa May said that an addition to the criminal justice and courts bill, which is currently making its way through parliament, would be made to deal with serious police corruption.

The announcement comes after a major review of Scotland Yard’s investigation of the racist murder of the black teenager in south east London found evidence to suspect one of the detectives involved acted corruptly. Mark Ellison QC said that the Met displayed a “significant failure” when allegations made against detective sergeant John Davidson were not brought to the attention of the Macpherson inquiry.

Ms May also announced that a judge-led inquiry into the work of undercover officers is to be held after Ellison found that a Metropolitan Police “spy” was working within the “Lawrence family camp”.

The inquiry will cover the work of Scotland Yard’s special demonstrations squad (SDS), members of which have been revealed to have stolen the identities of dead children and assumed them for decades at a time. Ellison found that the “extraordinary level of secrecy” employed around the squad, which was operational between 1968-2006, meant that there was a “real potential for miscarriages of justice to have occurred”.

In a speech to the Commons that has put the spotlight on the state of British policing, Ms May …

Said a judge will investigate the SDS, which Ellison found to have acted as if it were not bound by normal rules
Said proposals to protect police whistleblowers will be brought forward
Asked Ellison to carry out a further review into potential miscarriages of justice caused by SDS actions
Ordered a “forensic external review” of the Home Office’s role in SDS’ operation
Asked HMIC to look into police anti-corruption efforts
Asked the National Crime Agency to look into how to investigate the allegations in Ellison’s report
Said policing has been “damaged” and needs to rebuild trust
“The totality of what the [Ellison] report shows is deeply troubling,” Ms May told MPs.

The report found that allegations of corruption were made against Mr Davidson, who has now left the police, by a colleague Neil Puttnam. But those were not brought to the attention of Macpherson. “Ellison finds that this lack of disclosure was a significant failure by the Metropolitan Police.”

And Ellison, who successfully prosecuted Gary Dobson and David Norris in 2012 for Stephen Lawrence’s murder, said that there remained lines of inquiry related to Mr Davidson that could provide evidence of corruption among other officers. Although he added that that evidence did not currently exist.

“It is a source of some concern to us that nobody in the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) who was aware of the detail of what Neil Putnam was saying about Mr Davidson appears to have thought to ask him about Mr Davidson’s motives in the Lawrence case,” the Ellison report stated.

‘Completely improper’
The review also refers to links between the allegedly-corrupt Mr Davidson and the murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan in 1987.

Referring to the finding that a spy, referred to as “N81”, operated within the Lawrence family camp, Ms May said: “In August 1998, the SDS arranged for N81 to meet Richard Walton, then a Detective Inspector involved in writing the Met’s submissions to the McPherson inquiry. SDS files record that they had a ‘fascinating and valuable’ exchange.

“Ellison finds that the opening of this channel of communication was ‘completely improper’. He finds no discernable public benefit to the meeting taking place and says that, had it been disclosed at the time of the inquiry, it would have been seen as the MPS trying to achieve some secret advantage in the inquiry from SDS undercover deployment.

“If it had been made public in 1998, Ellison finds serious public disorder of the very kind so feared by the MPS might well have followed.”

And she said that Ellison’s report found that SDS operated with an “extraordinary level of secrecy”, which meant there was a “real potential for miscarriages of justice to have occurred”.

Ms May said: “In particular, Ellison says there is an inevitable potential for SDS officers to have been viewed by those they are infiltrating as encouraging and participating in criminal behaviour.

“He refers to officers in criminal trials failing to reveal their true identities, meaning that crucial information that should have been disclosed, was not given to the defence and the court.

“And he finds that undercover officers sometimes failed to correct evidence given in court which they knew to be wrong. This means that there is a chance that people could have been convicted for offences when they should not have been. We must, therefore, establish if there have been miscarriages of justice.”

‘Significant failings’
Last June, former SDS officer Peter Francis claimed he had been deployed undercover from September 1993 and tasked to find out any intelligence that might be used to “smear” or undermine the Lawrence family campaign.

As a result, Mr Ellison’s terms of reference were extended, and Operation Herne, an existing police investigation into the activities of the SDS supervised by Mick Creedon, chief constable of Derbyshire, agreed to prioritise “Lawrence-related” aspects of its work.

The Home Secretary acknowledged that undercover officers work in “difficult and dangerous conditions” and that they have helped to bring criminals to justice.

But she said that the Ellison review revealed “very real and substantial failings”. She said: “The picture which emerges about the SDS from this report and from other material in the public domain is of significant failings of judgment, intrusive supervision and leadership over a sustained period.”

She added: “I don’t say this lightly but I think that the greatest possible scrutiny is now needed into what has taken place. And so given the gravity of what has now been uncovered, I have decided a public inquiry led by a judge is necessary to investigate undercover policing and the operation of the SDS.

Only a public inquiry will be able to get to the full truth behind the matters of huge concern contained in Mark Ellison’s report.

Theresa May, home secretary
She told MPs that, alongside the public inquiry, will be a “forensic external review” of the exact role Home Office played in relation to the SDS after a police investigation into the undercover unit – Operation Herne – found the government department was instrumental in setting it up, and initially funded it directly.

Mr Ellison will carry out a further review into cases where SDS secrecy may have caused miscarriages of justice.

Mrs May said the police have been damaged by today’s revelations and action was needed to improve trust and confidence in the Met and other forces.

In a statement, Stephen Lawrence’s father Neville said: “What the Home Secretary has announced today is 21 years overdue. Mark Ellison’s report has simply corroborated what I have known for the past 21 years and our long fight for truth and justice continues.

“I sat through the last inquiry but I have yet to decide whether I can go through another inquiry. I’m not sure I can go back to square one again. It is very painful. While all this has been happening, our family has been destroyed. I now live 5,000 miles away from my children and my grandchild.”

Met Police deputy commissioner Craig Mackey said: “There can be no serving police officer today who will not be saddened, shocked, and very troubled by what the Home Secretary has said, and the conclusions that Mr Ellison has reached.”

He said that the force would “fully support” the public inquiry and other processes ordered by the home secretary.

7 MARCH 2014 UK

Find this story at 7 March 2014

Channel 4 © 2014

Dozens more cases now in doubt: Undercover police unit routinely lied to the courts

Review finds Met’s undercover unit failed to reveal its involvement to courts
Hundreds of political activists could now have their convictions quashed
Those wrongly jailed could also mount civil claims against the Met
SDS came under scrutiny over alleged attempts to smear Lawrence family

New Scotland Yard: The Met Police’s Special Demonstration Squad routinely lied to courts about the actions of its undercover agents, a review has found
Dozens of historic police investigations involving undercover officers are to be re-opened over potential miscarriages of justice.
A review has found that the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstrations Squad routinely lied to the courts and failed to reveal the involvement of its undercover officers to defence lawyers.
The revelations raise the prospect of decades- old cases being revisited.
Hundreds of political activists could have their convictions quashed, with animal rights campaigners and protesters from the far Left and Right among those whose charges will now be re-examined.
Anyone wrongly jailed could mount a civil compensation claim against the Met.
The SDS came under scrutiny over its alleged involvement in smearing the family of Stephen Lawrence – but a review by Mark Ellison QC revealed even more worrying allegations in other cases.
He said the nature of undercover work placed serving officers inside groups of activists who came into conflict with the police and faced arrest and prosecution.
He added that a system where this activity was ‘shrouded in almost total secrecy’ and the roles of undercover officers and the intelligence they gathered ‘was not considered in relation to the prosecution’s duty of disclosure in criminal proceedings’ produced ‘the potential for there to have been unfairness in some of those proceedings’.
The Ellison review also found ‘inevitable potential for SDS officers to have been viewed by those they infiltrated as encouraging, and participating in, criminal behaviour.’
As a result ‘there is a real potential for miscarriages of justice to have occurred’, Home Secretary Theresa May said.
Mr Ellison will now review cases involving the unit, which could then be referred to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve.

Doreen Lawrence fights back tears in House of Lords as she says family has endured ‘21 years of struggle’ after shock revelations of police corruption
Mrs May told the Commons that the SDS, which was set up by the Home Office in 1968, had operated ‘as if exempt from the proper rules of disclosure in criminal cases’, and used an ‘extraordinary level of secrecy’ to protect undercover officers’ identities.
This included failing to reveal their true identities in court.
In Stephen’s murder investigation, an undercover officer, referred to as N81, was found to have held a meeting with acting detective inspector Richard Walton, who had been seconded to the team making submissions to the Macpherson Inquiry.
Mr Ellison branded this meeting ‘a completely improper use’ of intelligence, adding: ‘We find the opening of such a channel of communication at that time to have been wrong-headed and inappropriate.’
He continued: ‘The mere presence of an undercover Metropolitan Police officer in the wider Lawrence family camp in such circumstances is highly questionable in terms of the appearance it creates of the [Met] having a spy in the family’s camp.’
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Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, leaves the Home Office with her son Stuart Lawrence, after meeting with Theresa May last June. They were spied on by an undercover officer as they fought for justice +4
Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, leaves the Home Office with her son Stuart Lawrence, after meeting with Theresa May last June. They were spied on by an undercover officer as they fought for justice
Mrs May has now announced that corrupt police officers will face longer jail terms as part of a new misconduct offence. She outlined measures designed to restore trust in the police, which she admitted was ‘damaged’ by the latest revelations. Mrs May told the Commons that the findings of the Ellison review were ‘deeply concerning’ and stressed it was ‘imperative that public trust and confidence in the police is maintained’.
She said: ‘I do not believe corruption and misconduct to be endemic in the police, and it is clear that the majority of policemen and women conduct themselves honestly and with integrity.’
However, she admitted: ‘In policing as in other areas, the problems of the past have a danger of infecting the present, and can lay traps for the future. Policing stands damaged today.
‘Trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police, and policing more generally, is vital. A public inquiry, and the other work I have set out, are part of the process of repairing the damage.’
In memory: Mark Ellison QC called a meeting between the officer spying on the Lawrence family and an officer on to the team making submissions to the Macpherson Inquiry ‘a completely improper use’ of intelligence +4
In memory: Mark Ellison QC called a meeting between the officer spying on the Lawrence family and an officer on to the team making submissions to the Macpherson Inquiry ‘a completely improper use’ of intelligence

Theresa May orders new Stephen Lawrence public inquiry

A new offence of police misconduct will replace the existing common law offence of misconduct in public office. This comes with a maximum sentence of life, but is rarely used. The new law will reflect the importance of maintaining trust in the police – and the serious consequences of police corruption.
Mrs May said the current rules are ‘outdated’ and the new offence will be ‘focused clearly on those who hold police powers’. It could become law within months.
The Home Secretary has also ordered a review of police forces’ standards departments, to ensure they are capable of investigating lower-level complaints.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission will be given an extra £15million and the power to probe all serious complaints, instead of leaving forces to investigate their own. Mrs May said the watchdog was being ‘expanded and emboldened so it will have responsibility for dealing with all serious and sensitive cases’.

By JACK DOYLE
PUBLISHED: 23:24 GMT, 6 March 2014 | UPDATED: 23:29 GMT, 6 March 2014

Find this story at 6 march 2014

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Lies, spies, cover-ups and corruption… the sickening extent of Stephen Lawrence’s betrayal by the police is exposed as May orders inquiry into undercover smear op

Police lies exposed in official report into the Stephen Lawrence case
Report also reveals allegations of a ‘spying operation’ on teen’s family
Evidence suggests Detective Sergeant John Davidson acted corruptly
Findings are described as ‘profoundly shocking’ by Theresa May
Investigation into murder case carried out by barrister Mark Ellison, QC
Home Secretary orders a judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing
Stephen Lawrence was killed in an unprovoked racist attack in April 1993
His mother Doreen says her family has endured ’21 years of struggle’
Baroness Lawrence calls for those involved to resign

Damning: An official report has exposed two decades of police lies about the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, who died in 1993
Two decades of shameful police lies about the Stephen Lawrence case were exposed in a damning official report yesterday.
Shocking allegations of corruption, a police cover-up and a ‘spying operation’ on the teenager’s grieving family were laid bare.
And the report also revealed that undercover police operations spanning decades may have led to scores of wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice.
The findings – described as ‘profoundly shocking’ by Home Secretary Theresa May – were contained in a major report into the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation by barrister Mark Ellison, QC.
Mrs May has now ordered a judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing in light of the report, in particular the Met’s now disgraced undercover unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). She has also demanded a fresh criminal probe into the corruption allegations that have dogged the Met’s Lawrence investigation for 21 years.
Stephen’s mother Doreen, now Baroness Lawrence, fought back tears in the House of Lords as she said her family had endured ‘21 years of struggle’ and called for those involved to resign.
On a day of extraordinary revelations, it emerged that:
Evidence suggests a detective on the original murder investigation, Detective Sergeant John Davidson, acted corruptly.
Key documents relating to corruption in the original inquiry were shredded by Scotland Yard in 2003.
A number of serving and former senior Met officers, including former Commissioner John Stevens, are facing difficult questions over the scandal.
A criminal offence of police corruption is to be brought forward by the Government to replace the ‘outdated’ offence of misconduct in public office.
The report comes barely two years after two of the original murder suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convicted of Stephen’s murder following a marathon quest for justice by his parents.
Stephen, who was 18 and hoped to become an architect, was stabbed to death by a group of up to six white youths in an unprovoked racist attack as he waited at a bus stop in Eltham, South-East London, with a friend on April 22, 1993.

Dozens more cases now in doubt: Undercover police unit routinely lied to the courts
Doreen Lawrence fights back tears in House of Lords as she says family has endured ‘21 years of struggle’ after shock revelations of police corruption
The 1999 Macpherson Inquiry into his death accused the Met of being institutionally racist but concluded that police corruption had not thwarted the case.
The Lawrences have always disagreed with the conclusion and yesterday’s Ellison Review is seen as a vindication of their campaign. It was also another bad day for the Met, still reeling over the Plebgate row.
Emotional: Stephen’s mother Doreen, now Baroness Lawrence, fought back tears in the House of Lords as she said her family had endured ’21 years of struggle’ +11
Stephen’s devastated father Neville said the findings were ’21 years overdue’ +11
Emotional: Stephen’s mother Doreen, now Baroness Lawrence, fought back tears as she said her family had endured ’21 years of struggle’, while his devastated father Neville said the findings were ’21 years overdue’
Announcing the public inquiry, Mrs May told the Commons the actions of undercover officers – such as failing to reveal their true identities in court or to correct evidence they knew was wrong – meant there was ‘real potential for miscarriages of justice’.
‘Policing stands damaged today,’ she said. ‘Trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police and policing more generally is vital. A public inquiry and the other work I have set out are part of the process of repairing the damage. Stephen Lawrence was murdered over 20 years ago and it is still deplorable that his family have had to wait so many years for the truth to emerge.’
Former home secretary Jack Straw said he believed institutional corruption might have been found within the Met if the Macpherson Inquiry had received all the evidence.
‘How can we trust them? Confidence in the Met will go right down’
Doreen Lawrence
The Labour MP said it was now clear there was probably dishonesty at the highest level of the force, which led it to refuse to offer evidence despite being required to do so.
Baroness Lawrence described the latest revelations as the ‘final nail in the coffin’ and said those involved should resign for their ‘disgraceful’ actions.
‘You can’t trust them. Still to this day. Trust and confidence in the Met is going to go right down,’ she said.
Stephen’s devastated father Neville said the findings were ‘21 years overdue’.
He added: ‘I sat through the last inquiry but I have yet to decide whether I can go through another inquiry. It is very painful. While all this has been happening, our family has been destroyed. I now live 5,000 miles away from my children and my grandchild.’
The activities of police moles were a key part of the Ellison review after a former SDS officer, Peter Francis, claimed he had been deployed undercover from September 1993 and tasked to ‘smear’ the Lawrence family campaign.
Theresa May orders new Stephen Lawrence public inquiry

Campaign: Neville and Doreen Lawrence attend a press conference at the commission for racial equality in 1997 +11
Campaign: Neville and Doreen Lawrence attend a press conference at the commission for racial equality in 1997
Landmark: The Daily Mail’s front page from February 14, 1997 which launched the paper’s campaign to achieve justice for Stephen Lawrence +11
Landmark: The Daily Mail’s front page from February 14, 1997 which launched the paper’s campaign to achieve justice for Stephen Lawrence
In his report Mr Ellison, who successfully prosecuted Gary Dobson and David Norris for Stephen’s murder in 2012, found that an SDS ‘spy’ was working within the ‘Lawrence family camp’ during the Macpherson public inquiry.
The SDS was a shadowy undercover unit formed by the Met’s Special Branch, and operated between 1968 and 2008.
‘The presence of an undercover officer in the Lawrence family camp is highly questionable’
Mark Ellison, QC
Mr Ellison also said there evidence to suspect one of the detectives on the original Lawrence murder investigation, Detective Sergeant John Davidson, was in a corrupt relationship with David Norris’s gangster father Clifford Norris. There was a high level of suspicion that the former officer was corrupt both before and after he worked on the police investigation, he added.
He said his review had not been able to uncover all material evidence relating to the issue of corruption, adding that it was clear there were ‘significant areas’ where relevant Met records should exist but could not be found. The original anti-corruption intelligence database itself could not be accounted for, the report added.
Met Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey: ‘There can be no serving police officer today who will not be saddened, shocked, and very troubled by what the Home Secretary has said, and the conclusions Mr Ellison has reached.
QUESTIONS POLICE CHIEFS MUST ANSWER
Sir Paul Condon, Met Commissioner 1993-2000
Q What did you know about the alleged spying operation into the Lawrence family and if you didn’t know why not?
Sir John Stevens, Met Commissioner 2000-05, Deputy Commissioner 1998-99
Q What did you know about the decision to pulp key documents on corruption relating to the Lawrence case? Should the Met have been more transparent about corruption to Macpherson?
Ex-Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve, asked in 1998 to head a new murder inquiry.
Q What did you know about the secret bugging of meetings between Dwayne Brooks, Stephen’s friend who was there on the night, and his lawyer?
Commander Richard Walton
Q Who asked you to meet the police spy and why?
Ex-Assistant Commissioner Sir Dave Veness, in overall charge of SDS from 1994.
Q How much did you know about the activities of SDS in relation to the Lawrence case?
Whistleblowers: Leveson got it wrong +11
The killer’s gangster father who’s accused of menacing witnesses… and a disgraced cop he’s alleged to have corrupted
Pictured: A down-at heel Clifford Norris yesterday +11
Pictured: A down-at heel Clifford Norris yesterday
Known as the Godfather of Eltham, his menacing shadow hung over the Lawrence case from its earliest days.
Clifford Norris, one of South London’s most ruthless gangsters, is suspected of intimidating key witnesses and corrupting police officers to stop his son David being convicted of Stephen’s murder.
Although on the run for drugs and gun offences when Stephen was stabbed to death, Norris senior remained a feared and enormously powerful figure in the Eltham area. Witnesses knew their life would be in jeopardy if they testified against his son.
At the time, Norris lived the high-life. In keeping with his crime baron status, he drove fancy cars, owned a Kent mansion, and his penchant for expensive restaurants and fine wines turned him into a bloated little man with a double chin and a paunch that strained the buttons of his designer suits. However, today he cuts a very different figure.
With the fortune he made from drug deals sequestered by the courts, and his empire usurped by rivals during his years in prison, the 55-year-old has sought solace in the bottle.
Now a scrawny, emaciated man with rheumy eyes and a hard drinker’s broken veins, he lives in a scruffy flat above a shop called the Hose and Bearing Company, on a narrow street of dilapidated terrace houses close to the Eurostar terminal in Ashford, Kent.
His power may have gone, but the destruction he wreaked on the Lawrence investigation lives long in the memory.
How far his tentacles extended into the Metropolitan Police is hard to ascertain, even after yesterday’s report by Mark Ellison QC, which suggested he had a corrupt relationship with Detective Sergeant John Davidson, who worked on the initial Lawrence murder inquiry.
This is partly because – disgracefully – many of the records have been destroyed in an apparent attempt to cover up the corruption which blighted the original inquiry.
It is also known that Norris once had a close relationship with at least one other officer, Detective Sergeant David Coles, of the Flying Squad. Coles told a police disciplinary inquiry that he had been cultivating Norris as an informant in the 1980s.
Investigators concluded that there was ‘a much closer relationship than Coles was prepared to admit to’. He was disciplined for a separate matter and dismissed, but reinstated at a lower rank on appeal.
The damage Norris caused to the Lawrence investigation began to unravel in the summer of 1994, a year after Stephen was killed, when a new senior detective, Bill Mellish, took charge of the case and decided it was time to sort out the ‘Norris problem’ once and for all.
Norris’s jailed son David +11
Gary Dobson was also jailed for Stephen’s murder +11
Jailed: Norris’s son David (left) and Gary Dobson (right) were both jailed for Stephen’s murder
Detectives believed that Norris had attempted to bribe a teenager called Stacey Benefield, who was stabbed by his tearaway son David in March 1993, a few weeks before Stephen’s death.
Shortly after Mr Benefield had left hospital, he was approached by one of his henchmen. He was said to have made the teenager an offer he couldn’t refuse: his boss (Clifford Norris) wanted to ‘make things right’.
According to police, the thug took Mr Benefield to an undisclosed location to meet Norris senior, who handed him £2,000 and said: ‘This is how I sort people out by not shooting them.’
At the subsequent trial, Mr Benefield changed his story and said he now could ‘not remember’ who had stabbed him. Amid allegations that the jury had been nobbled, David Norris was acquitted of attempted murder.
Murder squad chief Mr Mellish believed that in relation to the Lawrence case, Clifford Norris had ‘schooled’ his son and the other suspects in anti-surveillance techniques and the importance of keeping silent.
The breakthrough against the crime boss came when his team rummaged through a dustbin outside Norris’s home in Chislehurst, Kent, and found a birthday card addressed to his wife, Theresa ‘Tracie’ Norris.
They tailed her to a holiday cottage near Battle, in East Sussex, where they pounced on Norris. He was later convicted of conspiracy to import cannabis and related firearms offences and in June 1996 was jailed for nine and a half years. He was freed from Maidstone prison in January 2001.
By the time of his release, he had been abandoned by his lieutenants. His money had dried up, too. While behind bars, Customs ordered him to hand over £386,000 in drugs profits and seized his mansion in Chislehurst, Kent, claiming it was bought with the proceeds of crime. His wife also left him.
Today he spends most days watching daytime TV – his favourites include The Jeremy Kyle Show, This Morning and Loose Women.
There are occasional visits to the off-licence to stock up on alcohol and to his local, a particularly grotty haunt of heavy drinkers and fellow down and outs.
Approached by the Mail yesterday, he said: ‘I’ve got nothing to say to you about anyone.
‘I’ve got no questions to answer, it’s got nothing to do with me. It’s 20-odd years old, it’s too old for me now all this. I don’t know anything about a report, I can’t comment.’
Asked about his son’s conviction for Stephen Lawrence’s murder, he said: ‘I don’t agree with that.’
Disgraced detective to be questioned over claims he helped shield Stephen’s killers
Retirement in the sun: Former detective John Davidson outside his bar in Menorca in 2006 +11
Retirement in the sun: Former detective John Davidson outside his bar in Menorca in 2006
A detective who investigated the murder of Stephen Lawrence is expected to be questioned by police over claims he helped shield the teenager’s killers.
The National Crime Agency will probe claims that former Detective Sergeant John Davidson had a corrupt relationship with Clifford Norris, father of one of the original Lawrence suspects, during the early stages of the investigation.
Last night speculation was mounting that Davidson could be questioned on suspicion of misconduct in a public office or perverting the cause of justice – both of which carry heavy jail terms – by Britain’s new crime fighting force.
Mark Ellison’s hard-hitting review of the Lawrence case concluded there is evidence to suspect Davidson had acted corruptly. The QC said there was a high level of suspicion that the former officer was corrupt both before and after he worked on the Lawrence investigation.
And there were still lines of inquiry that may be capable of providing evidence of corruption among other officers, although that evidence did not currently exist, his review added.
His bombshell conclusion is a major embarrassment to Scotland Yard which two years ago dismissed renewed corruption claims against Davidson. The officer, who has previously denied sabotaging the Lawrence investigation, could not be reached for comment last night.
He is thought to be running a bar/restaurant on the island of Menorca, where he retired after controversially escaping prosecution over a series of police corruption allegations.
In 2006, former Met Assistant Commissioner John Yates told a BBC programme about the Lawrence case he had no doubt that Davidson was corrupt.
But in his report into the Lawrence case, published in 1999, Sir William Macpherson criticised Mr Davidson’s conduct but did not accuse him of corruption: ‘We are not convinced DS Davidson positively tried to thwart the investigation.’
Now it seems it will only be a matter of time before officers from the NCA track him down to quiz him over his role in the Lawrence case. The claims against him originate from a former corrupt colleague turned supergrass called Neil Putnam.
In late July 1998, Scotland Yard’s Anti-Corruption Command held a debriefing with former Detective Constable Putnam, in which he alleged that Mr Davidson had admitted he had a corrupt relationship with Clifford Norris.
Retreat: Davidson is thought to be running a bar/restaurant on the island of Menorca, where he retired after controversially escaping prosecution over a series of police corruption allegations (file photo) +11
Retreat: Davidson is thought to be running a bar/restaurant on the island of Menorca, where he retired after controversially escaping prosecution over a series of police corruption allegations (file photo)
In his report yesterday, Mr Ellison said that both the intelligence picture suggesting Mr Davidson was a corrupt officer and the content of Mr Putnam’s debriefing should have been revealed to Sir William Macpherson’s public inquiry – but it was not.
‘It is a source of some concern to us that nobody in the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) who was aware of the detail of what Neil Putnam was saying about Mr Davidson appears to have thought to ask him about Mr Davidson’s motives in the Lawrence case,’ the report stated. Mr Ellison said that, while independent corroboration of Mr Putnam’s allegation did not currently exist, there were ‘outstanding lines of inquiry’ that could be investigated, which may change that assessment.
Davidson, a tough-talking ‘old school’ detective who began his career as a constable in Glasgow, joined the Lawrence investigation within 36 hours of the stabbing in Eltham, south-east London in April 1993.
He is said to have mishandled a key informant known as ‘James Grant’ who had just identified David Norris and others as suspects for the murder. He also arrested and interviewed Gary Dobson and carried out the interview of another suspect, Luke Knight.
In the Macpherson report he was criticised as ‘self-willed and abrasive’ and offering ‘undoubtedly unsatisfactory’ evidence. However the inquiry panel concluded: ‘We are not convinced that DS Davidson positively tried to thwart the effectiveness of the investigation.’
But it is now know that over four months between July and October 1998, as Sir William Macpherson continued to take evidence at his inquiry, Putnam detailed shocking corruption at East Dulwich branch of the regional crime squad.
This included three specific acts of dishonesty he claimed to have carried out with Davidson and an informant they managed together: the disposal of stolen watches, handling stolen electrical equipment, and the theft of cocaine from a drug dealer.
Putnam says he told investigators that Davidson had one day casually admitted to him that he was in a corrupt relationship with Clifford Norris. Davidson was allowed to retire on ill health grounds to run a bar on the island of Menorca after prosecutors decided there was a lack of corroborating evidence.
In 2006, the Lawrence family asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate Putnam’s claims to Panorama that the Met failed to disclose to the Macpherson inquiry what he had told them of a Davidson-Norris link.
The police watchdog said in 2007 it could not find evidence for Putnam’s Panorama allegations.
Two years ago, when there were new claims about Davidson’s links to Norris, the Met was dismissive.
It said Davidson ‘was subject to an in-depth corruption investigation’ but there was never any evidence of him being involved in corrupt activity within the Lawrence inquiry ‘or doing anything to thwart that investigation’.
The Met added: ‘We do not consider that any new or significant information has emerged.’

By STEPHEN WRIGHT
PUBLISHED: 23:37 GMT, 6 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:09 GMT, 7 March 2014

Find this story at 6 March 2014

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Undercover police: What have we learned?

A review into allegations of corruption surrounding the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation has published its damning verdict.

It prompted the home secretary to announce a public inquiry into undercover policing.

The report by Mark Ellison QC, which was commissioned by the home secretary, led to Theresa May making a statement to the House of Commons.

She told MPs: “The problems of the past have a danger of infecting the present, and can lay traps for the future. Policing stands damaged today.”

Operation Herne, the current criminal investigation into Scotland Yard’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), also issued an update report.

So, what did we learn?

Home Secretary Theresa May: “Only a public inquiry will be able to get at the full truth”
Theresa May statement
New public inquiry into undercover policing to be held after final report of Operation Herne – the criminal investigation into SDS undercover police unit – and completion of a review into possible miscarriages of justice
New offence of police corruption that would replace one of misconduct in public office announced. Government legislation is likely within weeks, says the BBC’s chief political correspondent Norman Smith
Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor to look at the anti-corruption capabilities of police forces, including professional standards departments
The director general of the National Crime Agency to “consider quickly” how best outstanding lines of inquiry into alleged corruption by a specific officer – and possibly others – can be investigated
A “forensic external review” into how much the Home Office knew about SDS
A review, led by Mark Ellison and working with the Crown Prosecution Service, into possible miscarriages of justice caused by SDS’s secrecy
New code of ethics for police
Expansion and “emboldening” of Independent Police Complaints Commission, so that it is responsible for dealing with all serious and sensitive cases involving the police
Stronger protection for whistleblowers in the police. Proposals to be brought to the House in due course
From the autumn, people from outside the police can be brought in to senior positions. A fund for direct entrant superintendents from then until spring 2018.
Stephen Lawrence
Mrs May said: “Stephen Lawrence was murdered over 20 years ago and it is still deplorable that his family have had to wait so many years for the truth to emerge.”

Ellison review
The report from Mark Ellison QC – who successfully prosecuted Gary Dobson and David Norris in 2012 for Stephen’s murder – was entitled the Stephen Lawrence Independent Review; it considered possible corruption and the role of undercover policing in the Stephen Lawrence case.

It found:

A Special Demonstration Squad “spy” worked within the “Lawrence family camp” during the Macpherson inquiry, which looked into the way the police had investigated Stephen Lawrence’s death
This was “highly questionable”
The “spy” – referred to as N81 – was found to have met acting Detective Inspector Richard Walton. Mr Walton had been seconded to the MPS Lawrence review team, responsible for making submissions to the Macpherson inquiry
This meeting was “a completely improper use” of intelligence
Information on undercover policing had been withheld from the Macpherson inquiry
The review was unable to make “definitive findings” concerning former undercover officer Peter Francis’s claims and suggested a public inquiry could be better placed to do so
There were “reasonable grounds” to suspect one of the detectives on the original Stephen Lawrence murder investigation – Det Sgt John Davidson – acted corruptly
There was no evidence of corruption by other officers, but there were lines of inquiry which may uncover other cases
The Independent Police Complaints Commission 2006 report into corruption allegations and the Metropolitan Police’s own review in 2012 were inadequate
Scotland Yard’s record keeping on its own investigations into police corruption were a cause of concern, with key evidence the subject of mass shredding in 2003
Operation Herne
Set up in 2011 in response to allegations made by the Guardian newspaper about alleged misconduct and criminality engaged in by members of the SDS, the operation is led by Mick Creedon, chief constable of Derbyshire police.

Duwayne Brooks
There was no evidence the Met attempted to smear Duwayne Brooks, said Operation Herne
It published its first report in July last year. In Thursday’s update, it said:

It has found “no evidence” that a member of SDS was tasked to smear murdered Stephen Lawrence’s family – as claimed by former undercover officer Peter Francis
No evidence Peter Francis was tasked to smear or investigate Duwayne Brooks, Stephen’s friend who was with him when he was murdered
No evidence Mr Francis was prevented by managers within Special Branch from making disclosures to the Macpherson Inquiry
On the question of whether criminal charges should be brought over sexual relationships SDS officers had with unsuspecting women, there were “no sexual offences committed however, the offence of misconduct in public office may be applicable”
It found that while management did not authorise the relationships, a “tradecraft” document gave informal advice about those situations
A “distinct lack of intrusive management by senior leaders within the Metropolitan Police Service appears to have facilitated the development and apparent circulation of internal inappropriate advice regarding an undercover police officer’s engagement in sexual relationships”
Three undercover officers – one of whom is still serving – could face prosecution.

6 March 2014 Last updated at 19:08 GMT

Find this story at 6 March 2014

BBC © 2014

UK police squad ‘out of control’

HUNDREDS of political activists could have their convictions quashed after the publication of a report into the conduct of a secret undercover police unit in the Stephen Lawrence case.

The prosecutions of protesters from the far Left and Right, as well as animal rights campaigners, black justice groups and Irish republicans, will be checked against the records of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) amid concerns that some were unsafe.

The review will pave the way for a public inquiry into the SDS, which was set up by the Home Office in 1968, learnt its tactics from the intelligence services and evolved into an out-of-control wing of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.

A report by Mark Ellison, QC, into the actions of the SDS in the Lawrence case revealed yesterday (Thursday) that it had placed a “spy in the camp” of the murdered black teenager’s family. Information gathered by that spy was fed back to the upper echelons of Scotland Yard.

Twenty-one years after Stephen’s death, and weeks before new inquests open into the Hillsborough disaster and with the Plebgate affair still rumbling, the latest disclosures are immensely damaging for confidence and trust in the Police Service and the international reputation of British policing.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said that Mr Ellison’s findings were profoundly disturbing and a judge-led public inquiry was necessary to get to the full truth.

Before that can happen, however, criminal cases involving the SDS — whose officers gave false evidence in the courts and believed that they were exempt from the normal rules of evidence disclosure — will be reviewed.

“There is a chance that people could have been convicted for offences when they should not have been,” Mrs May told the Commons.

Stephen, 18, who wanted to become an architect, was murdered by a gang of white youths in an unprovoked racist attack in Eltham, southeast London, in April 1993. A group of men were identified as suspects within hours, but it took 18 years for the Met to bring two of them to justice.

The Macpherson report, published after a public inquiry in 1998, said that the Met’s approach to the investigation had been hampered because the force was institutionally racist.

Mr Ellison’s review of the case found that key material had been withheld by the Met from the Macpherson inquiry team.

His key findings included:

— An SDS officer, known as N81, was embedded in an activist group allied to the Lawrence family campaign and had wrong-headed and inappropriate meetings with a member of the Scotland Yard team at the Macpherson inquiry;

— Senior police showed clear evidence of a strong feeling of indignation and a degree of hostility towards the family’s criticisms of the murder investigation;

— There were reasonable grounds to suspect that a detective sergeant on the murder team was corrupt and might have had links to a key suspect’s father;

— The Met carried out a mass shredding of intelligence files on corrupt officers in 2003;

— There was no conclusive evidence to prove or disprove a claim by the former SDS officer Peter Francis that he was asked to smear Stephen Lawrence’s family.

A separate report on the police investigation into the SDS said that three former officers who had sexual relations with women who did not know their true identities could face criminal charges.

In addition to the public inquiry, Mrs May announced other measures to reinforce her drive to improve police integrity and change policing culture.

A specific offence of police corruption would replace the outdated crime of misconduct in a public office and greater safeguards for police whistleblowers would be brought in, she said.

A national audit of police forces’ anti-corruption capabilities will be carried out and the Home Office will fund the entry into policing at senior ranks of talented people from other walks of life.

THE TIMES MARCH 08, 2014 12:00AM

Find this story at 7 March 2014

Copyright theaustralian.com.au

More shocking police revelations – but will another judicial inquiry really help?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse for the police after the Hillsborough cover-up allegations and the Plebgate row, it just has. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has just told MPs about the shocking findings of an inquiry into how they dealt with the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence murder 20 years ago.
We know they handled the investigation incompetently because the Macpherson inquiry told us so and they failed for a long time to bring anyone to justice for the killing. Macpherson said their investigations were hampered by “institutional racism”. Not until 2012 were Gary Dobson and David Norris found guilty of murdering Stephen and jailed.
Recently, however, it has further been alleged that the Met also tried to cover up their mistakes both by seeking to besmirch the Lawrence family and by getting rid of evidence. A review by Mark Ellison QC found that a police undercover officer attached to the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was working within the Lawrence family camp during the course of the Macpherson inquiry but this had been kept secret.
Undercover officers were deployed by the SDS into activist groups that then sought to attach themselves to the Lawrence’s family’s campaign to challenge the adequacy of the investigation into Stephen’s murder.
Mr Ellison said: “The mere presence of an undercover Metropolitan Police officer in the wider Lawrence family camp in such circumstances is highly questionable in terms of the appearance it creates of the MPS having a spy in the family’s camp.”
Mrs May said the review was “deeply troubling” and has now ordered another judge-led public inquiry into the activities of the SDS, a Special Branch unit wound up in 2008. Ellison’s review said there is evidence to suspect one of the detectives on the original Stephen Lawrence murder investigation acted corruptly.
But do we need yet another judicial inquiry? Ellison himself concluded that a public inquiry would have “limited” potential to uncover further evidence regarding corruption in the original murder investigations. Since the SDS no longer exists examining its role will be of hisorical interest, though many will say there are lessons for current policing to be learnt.
On the other hand if there is evidence that would stand up in court why not put any officer suspected of an offence on trial? Mrs May says she proposes to introduce a new offence of “police corruption” because it was untenable to rely on the outdated offence of misconduct in public office in such cases. But it is hard to believe there are not already laws against such behaviour that could be used.
As with Hillsborough, many of the allegations made against the police and initially dismissed appear to have more than a semblance of veracity. At every turn the reputation of the police is taking a hammering, which must be frustrating for the majority of officers who do their duty every day.
The Macpherson inquiry left a legacy that the Met has found hard to shake off, even though its culture has been transformed since. It is hard to see what another judicial inquiry will achieve.

By Philip Johnston Politics Last updated: March 6th, 2014

Find this story at 6 March 2014

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2014

Doreen Lawrence: ‘You can’t trust the Met Police’

The mother of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in 1993, told ITV News she still does not trust the Metropolitan Police after a review into the police inquiry looking at her son’s death uncovered evidence of corruption.

When asked whether black people could trust the force, Doreen Lawrence said: “This is going to put another nail in their coffin, definitely not, you just can’t trust them,”

Last updated Fri 7 Mar 2014

Find this story at 7 March 2014

© Copyright ITV plc 2014

Did an undercover cop help organise a major riot?

The wrongly convicted activist John Jordan claims the Met helped plan serious civil disorder. An independent public inquiry is now vital

From the Stephen Lawrence inquiry we learned that the police were institutionally racist. Can it be long before we learn that they are also institutionally corrupt? Almost every month the undercover policing scandal becomes wider and deeper. Today I can reveal a new twist, which in some respects could be the gravest episode yet. It surely makes the case for an independent public inquiry – which is already overwhelming – unarguable.

Before I explain it, here’s a summary of what we know already. Thanks to the remarkable investigations pursued first by the victims of police spies and then by the Guardian journalists Rob Evans and Paul Lewis (whose book Undercover is as gripping as any thriller), we know that British police have been inserting undercover officers into protest movements since 1968. Their purpose was to counter what they called subversion or domestic extremism, which they define as seeking to “prevent something from happening or to change legislation or domestic policy … outside the normal democratic process”. Which is a good description of how almost all progressive change happens.

Most of the groups whose infiltration has now been exposed were non-violent. Among them were the British campaign against apartheid in South Africa, the protest movements against climate change, people seeking to expose police corruption and the campaign for justice for the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Undercover officers, often using the stolen identities of dead children, worked their way into key positions and helped to organise demonstrations. Several started long-term relationships with the people they spied on. At least two fathered children with them.

Some officers illegally used their false identities in court. Some acted as agents provocateurs. Seldom did they appear to be operating in the wider interests of society. They collected intelligence on trade unionists that was passed to an agency which compiled unlawful blacklists for construction companies, ensuring that those people could not find work. The policeman who infiltrated the Stephen Lawrence campaign was instructed by his superiors to “hunt for disinformation” about the family and their supporters that could be used to undermine them. When their tour of duty was over, the police abandoned their partners and their assumed identities and disappeared, leaving a trail of broken lives. As the unofficial motto of the original undercover squad stated, it would operate By Any Means Necessary.

The revelations so far have led to 56 people having their cases or convictions overturned, after police and prosecutors failed to disclose that officers had helped to plan and execute the protests for which people were being prosecuted. But we know the names of only 11 spies, out of 100-150, working for 46 years. Thousands of people might have been falsely prosecuted.

So far there have been 15 official inquiries and investigations. They seem to have served only to delay and distract. The report by Sir Christopher Rose into the false convictions of a group of climate change protesters concluded that failures by police and prosecutors to disclose essential information to the defence “were individual, not systemic” and that “nothing that I have seen or heard suggests that … there was any deliberate, still less dishonest, withholding of information”. Now, after an almost identical case involving another group of climate activists, during which the judge remarked that there had been “a complete and total failure” to disclose evidence, Rose’s findings look incredible.

The biggest inquiry still running, Operation Herne, is investigating alleged misconduct by the Metropolitan police. Of its 44 staff, 75% work for, er, the Metropolitan police. Its only decisive action so far has been to seek evidence for a prosecution under the Official Secrets Act of Peter Francis, the police whistleblower who has revealed key elements of this story. This looks like an attempt to discourage him from testifying, and to prevent other officers from coming forward.

Bad enough? You haven’t heard the half of it. Last week, the activist John Jordan was told his conviction (for occupying the offices of London Transport) would be overturned. The Crown Prosecution Service refuses to reveal why, but it doubtless has something to do with the fact that one of Jordan’s co-defendants turns out to have been Jim Boyling, a secret policeman working for the Met, who allegedly used his false identity in court.

Jordan has now made a further claim. He alleges that the same man helped organise a street party that went wrong and turned into the worst riot in London since the poll tax demonstrations. The J18 Carnival Against Global Capitalism on 18 June 1999 went well beyond non-violent protest. According to the police, 42 people were injured and over £1m of damage was done. One building was singled out: the London International Financial Futures Exchange (Liffe), where derivatives were traded. Though protesters entered the building at 1.40pm, the police did not arrive until 4.15pm.

After furious recriminations from the Lord Mayor and the people who ran the Liffe building, the City of London police conducted an inquiry. It admitted that their criticisms were justified, and that the police’s performance was “highly unsatisfactory”. The problem, it claimed, was that the police had no information about what the targets and plans of the protesters would be, and had no idea that Liffe was in the frame. The riot was “unforeseen”.

Jordan was a member of “the logistics group that organised the tactics for J18. There were about 10 of us in the group and we met weekly for over six months.” Among the other members, he says, was Boyling. “The 10 of us … were the only people who knew the whole plan before the day itself and who had decided that the main target would be Liffe.” Boyling, he alleges, drove one of the two cars that were used to block the road to the building.

It is hard to think of a more serious allegation. For six months an undercover officer working for the Metropolitan police was instrumental in planning a major demonstration, which ended up causing injuries and serious damage to property. Yet the police appear to have failed to pass this intelligence to the City of London force, leaving the target of the protest unprotected.

Still no need for an independent public inquiry? Really?

A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com

George Monbiot
The Guardian, Monday 3 February 2014 20.30 GMT

Find this story at 3 February 2014

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