Category Archives: We Are All FITwatch

On cop-spies and paid betrayers (1): Doctor Bob Lambert & bloody McLibel

I haven’t properly blogged for a long time, but I have been following the #vancop situation, in its myriad guises, for a fair while, but have not had the time to put anything down. (Others have ploughed this furrow, I know, and ploughed well.) Today I found a moment to scribble something down…

I wonder if (former) Met spook Detective Inspector Bob Lambert (AKA ‘Bob Robinson’, Special Branch 1980-2006; infiltrated London Greenpeace 1984-1988; founder and head of the Muslim Contact Unit 2002-2007) knew any of the private spooks employed by McDonald’s to infiltrate London Greenpeace (1989-1991)?

 With a revolving door policy between NSY and the security offices of big business – and also the fertile environment for sharing or trading of information which that creates – it would be interesting to see from whence the roots sprang and whereto the branches grew.

For instance, McDonald’s security during the 1980s/1990s McLibel period (when two London Greenpeace activists, Helen Steel and Dave Morris, defended themselves against a lawsuit brought by the greasy clown’s boys) was run by ex-Met copper Sid Nicholson.

Nicholson was formerly a Chief Superintendent at Brixton; his number two at the McDonald’s Security Department was Terry Carrol, also ex-Met and an oppo from Brixton, before himself making Chief Superintendent at Carter Street. In evidence, Nicholson characterised his Security Department as “all ex-policemen“, and that ‘if he ever wanted to know information about protesters he would go to his contacts in the police‘.

A memo by Carrol from 1994 read out in court during the McLibel trial noted:

I had a meeting with ARNI [Animal Rights National Index, later grew into National Public Order Intelligence Unit/NPOIU] from Scotland Yard today who gave me the enclosed literature. Some of it we have, other bits are new.

Nicholson himself noted that he had “quite a lot of experience with Special Branch officers,” and that his first contact with them in relation to London Greenpeace had taken place at a meeting at McDonald’s HQ in September 1989.

After this meeting McDonald’s decided to hire two separate private detective agencies to spy on London Greenpeace, Bishops Investigation Bureau/Westhall Services and Kings Investigation Bureau.

Eveline Lubbers claims “at least seven [private] detectives” were embedded undercover in LG, from two different firms hired separately. (Some six of the paid informant-provocateurs are named by Lubbers, based on trial evidence published by McSpotlight.)

 From Bishops Investigation Bureau, there was Brian Bishop and Allan Clare. From Kings Investigation Bureau, there was full-time investigator Roy Pocklington (‘Tony’), ex-copper-turned-freelance nark Michelle Hooker (AKA ‘Shelley’), KIB secretary-cum-spy Fran(ces) Tiller née Davidson (‘Jan Goodman’), and one ‘Jack Russell’ (not thought to be the legendary Somerset wicket-keeper).

Hooker entered into a relationship (“a six month love affair”) with actual LG activist Charlie Brooke, which ended in mid-1991, when she left the operation – eight months after Maccy D’s served libel writes on five LG members for the ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s?’ leaflet.

 Clare admitted burgling London Greenpeace’s office, stealing documents, and carrying out illicit photography. Evidence he gave at the libel trial based on his claimed contemporaneous notes was found by the European Court of Human Rights to be not wholly accurate.

 The theft by McDonald’s-tasked private dicks was known to Nicholson, but he does not appeared to have been reported this criminal act to the police.

 Nicholson’s interest in London Greenpeace stretched back – on his own admission – to 1987, when first he saw the ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s?’ leaflet. Between then and his hiring of BIB and KIB in 1989, Nicholson personally visited both London Greenpeace’s postal address and an anti-McDonald’s Fayre at Conway Hall to try to ascertain the identities of those behind the leaflet, as well as tasking various McDonald’s Security Department underlings with the surveillance of London Greenpeace activists.

 But in his evidence he notes that “prior to the demonstration [of 21 October 1989] I was able to learn the identity of two of the organisers, Paul Gravett and Helen Steel.”

Let’s just recap: Between 1987 and 1989 Nicholson and his corporate security goons didn’t know who was in London Greenpeace; in September 1989 Nicholson meets with Special Branch. In October 1989 he knows the identities of two LG activists (both of whom would be served with writs). He then instructed the “two firms of enquiry agents” to further investigate London Greenpeace.

 In the course of the next two years at least seven spooks infiltrated the LG group on Nicholson’s behalf. Burglary, theft and other crimes were committed during the execution of this operation, to the knowledge in part at least of Nicholson. At least one private eye entered into an intimate relationship with one of the targets.

Collusion between police and the corporate security goons was such that in 1998 the McLibel Two defendants Helen Steel and Dave Morris went on the attack, and in 2000 won a £10,000 award and an apology from the Met in an out-of-court settlement for the disclosure by the police to McDonald’s of confidential information about them.

The case helped to expose how “police (including Special Branch) officers had passed private and in some cases false information about the McLibel 2 (and other protesters), including home addresses, to McDonald’s and to their private investigators”.

In addition to the award by the Met, a named officer, Detective Sergeant David Valentine, was also made to apologise for his own specific role. Finally, the Met was made to remind all police personnel across the Greater London area “of their responsibility not to disclose information held on the Police National Computer to third parties”.

On this victory against the Met Steel and Morris released a statement that resonates just as strongly more than a decade on:

At the eleventh hour the police pulled out of facing a case which would’ve demonstrated illegal police practices. In recent years there have been a number of publicised [sic] incidents of the police passing information about campaigners to private companies. It’s clear that their claim to be impartial defenders of the public is a hollow one. This collusion reveals the political role of the police in ensuring the wheels of big business keep turning. This case has forced the Met to warn all London police officers against such practices.

Which brings us full circle back to Bob Lambert, and a whole bunch of questions…

  1. After his exit from London Greenpeace in 1988 did any other undercover police officers either remain inside the group, or replace him?
  2. Did Special Branch pass on work product derived from Lambert (and possibly other cop-spies) to Nicholson, Carrol or others at McDonald’s, its Security Department or contracted external detective agencies?
  3. What was the nature of the relationship between Nicholson, Carrol and McDonald’s on the one side, and Special Branch and ARNI on the other?
  4. Were other police, security service or private sector agencies involved?
  5. Furthermore, just what was Lambert’s role at Special Branch between his exit from undercover work in London Greenpeace in 1988 and his role in setting up the MCU in 2002?

In view of that last question, we are told that whilst at the Special Demonstration Squad Lambert was responsible for Detective Constable Andrew Jim Boyling (AKA ‘Jim Sutton’), who was infiltrated into Reclaim The Streets via anti-GM and hunt sab groups in 1995, staying behind the lines until 2000.

Both Boyling and Lambert are accused of lying to courts to preserve their cover; both Boyling and Lambert duplicitously entered into sexual relationships with activists on whom they were spying; both Boyling and Lambert sired children by these women. Is this coincidence, or an indication of the nature of the training Lambert offered his protégés?

(It is also interesting that the woman with whom Boyling became involved was someone he met in the immediate aftermath of the J18 Carnival Against Capitalism – an event that Reclaim The Streets had brought off successfully right under the noses of the Met and the City of London Police – at an RTS meeting to discuss how it had all gone. This was four years into his infiltration of the environmental movement.)

Through his time at the MCU, and in his subsequent academic (and journalistic) work, ‘Dr Robert Lambert MBE’ has striven to be seen as a moderate, a progressive, someone keen to engage with Muslim activists to, in the words of a Demos report, “service the needs of grass roots Muslim community groups tackling the adverse impact of al-Qa’ida inspired terrorist propaganda at close quarters in London”.

Yet even in an article about the MCU and its work with communities in the January/February 2007 issue of Arches, a magazine of the Cordoba Foundation, Lambert links “the strategists behind 9/11″ to “the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin”. For someone with an intimate understanding of anarchist and anti-authoritarian political movements, that is an interesting parallel to draw.

An accident? A casual mistake? Or operational afterburn?

Four short years on from when he originally made that remark – and given his recent ‘little trouble’ coming out – that throwaway comment by Detective Inspector Lambert of the Yard (retd) seems better chosen, more deliberately chosen, and chosen for a reason. Our political movements aren’t infiltrated by the state for the fun of it.

Background on McLibel case

Useful resources

Articles and reports

Other notes

Edited 24/1/12 to add tags, correct typos & for style.

Edited 25/1/12 for another fucking typo.

Edited 26/1/12 to add ‘Jack Russell’ & tidy things up.

Edited 26/1/13 for typos etc.

G20 police witnesses to fatal Ian Tomlinson assault – UPDATE

Two years ago, when this project began ten days after Ian Tomlinson died at the hands of PC Harwood of the Territorial Support Group under the noses of the Forward Intelligence Teams and others, it it looked like it was going to be another brushed-under-the-carpet death-by-police-contact.

Here we are now two years on, and are we any closer to justice? How much more heartache for the Tomlinson family? Will Smiley Culture’s family have to endure the same agony as they try to get at the truth?

One thing we do know, and that’s that the police, collectively and as individuals, have singularly failed to be as candid or as honest as they could have been from the very beginning. Everything has been prised from them, not volunteered by them.

So we must continue prising; prising and prising until every mailed fist is broken open.

Accordingly here is the updated list of police witnesses to the deadly assault on Ian Tomlinson:

A = PC Simon Harwood, (4TSG, Met – Aitken Road, Catford, driver, U4103)

T1 = PC Andrew Moore (L2, Met – Fulham, driver, FHxxx)
T2 = PC Kerry Smith (L2, Met – Fulham, driver, FH521)
T3 = PC Nicholas Jackson (L2, Met – Fulham, driver, FH268)

D1 = PC Jon Bish (City of London, dog handler, CP807, same serial as PC Stevens) & Max the black & tan German Shepherd
D2 = PC Trevor Stevens (City of London, dog handler, ???, same serial as PC Bish) & Finn the black German Shepherd
D3 = PC unknown (City of London, dog handler, CP788)
D4 = PC Clive Wilkinson? (City of London, dog handler, ???)
D5 = PC unknown (City of London, dog handler, A712)

F1 = PC Alan Palfrey (Forward Intelligence Team, Met – Camden, EK127)
F2 = PC Steve Discombe (POIU/CO11/Forward Intelligence Team, Met, CO2558)
F3 = unknown (FIT)
F4 = unknown (FIT)
F5 = PC R Cowlin (POIU/CO11/Forward Intelligence Team, Met, CO5466)

C1 = unknown (City of London, 204)

U1 = unknown (City of London, possibly PS Timothy Slade, superior of Bish & Stevens?)
U2 = unknown (possibly not a cop)
U3 = unknown (possibly not a cop)

Pictures and further updates to follow.

[Edited 24/1/12 to add small details based on rereading inquest transcripts]

M26. 26 March. March 26. See you on the streets!

Via Deterritorial Support Group.

Useful links:

Key messages*:

    1. NO COMMENT to all police questions
    2. GIVE NO DETAILS IN A STOP & SEARCH and only give them if arrested and in a police station
    3. USE A GOOD SOLICITOR eg Bindman’s, Birnberg Pierce, Hodge Jones & Allen

      * Per GBC.

      Not FIT for purpose? Police ‘Forward Intelligence Team’ implicated in student protest fit-up

      Remember the Forward Intelligence Teams? Well, camera-wielding cops are back in the news again, this time in relation to the policing of the anti-cuts and student protests that exploded across the country at the end of last year. It seems that at least one FIT officer – according to the London Evening Standard – has been implicated in a shameless attempt to fit up a protester on false charges at the ‘DayX3′ protest on 9 December.

      Unfortunately for the police involved it seems that the FIT cop was wired for sound and, after catching a young protester who had “breached a police cordon”, that officer was apparently recorded as he “conspired to falsely arrest the 20-year-old” with his colleagues. The arrestee sustained a broken tooth in the arrest. The circumstances are now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

      You may remember that the FIT has history with the IPCC. Experienced FIT cops, including PC Alan Palfrey from Camden, PC Steve Discombe and others, witnessed the deadly assault on Ian Tomlinson by riot cop PC Simon Harwood at the 2009 G20 protests, but failed to come forward and give evidence until long after the original police narrative (‘a tragic collapse/police under hail of missiles’) had been discredited. Their unwillingness to come forward helped stymy attempts to properly investigate the circumstances of Mr Tomlinson’s death, and Harwood – a veteran on the Territorial Support Group – was able to avoid justice as the clock ran down in his favour. The Crown Prosecution Service announced in July 2010 that no charges would be brought against Harwood.

      So just what legitimate purpose do the FITs serve? We have seen, as with the Tomlinson case, that these so-called experts in political protest are not actually very good at identifying ‘domestic extremists‘ (as their bosses in the publicly unaccountable National Public Order Information Unit like to call any protesters they don’t like – which boils down to anyone involved in effective activism) – otherwise why would they point out a luckless bystander like Ian Tomlinson for TSG special treatment?

      We have also seen FIT officers direct violent attacks on activists when they question why some cops are not wearing their identifying numbers in order to have them photographed against their will, even when they knew full well who they were, in a manner consistent not with any desire to maintain public order or to prevent crime, but to embarrass, humiliate or otherwise harm recalcitrant protesters.

      And now we appear to have FIT cops directly involved in brazen attempts to subvert the law, and possibly even to assault those they do not like.

      But then should we expect anything else? The FITs are police units tasked with ‘harassment policing’ – identifying, surveilling, folllowing and hassling persons of interest in a range of fields, be it in relation to football fans, antisocial behaviour on housing estates or political protest. Their targets might never have committed an offence; but then that is the point – this is, after all, harassment policing, in which the message is loud and clear: if you come onto our radar, we will do our best to intimidate you, scare you, threaten you.

      No, the reason the FIT are tolerated, nurtured, supported by the police is clear – to make life uncomfortable for anyone who challenges the status quo, to grind down those who fight against injustices and inequalities (by means legal or otherwise), and to dissuade others from taking action by illustrating just how unpleasant it can be. It’s education in action: pour encourager les autres.

      PC Simon Harwood to face disciplinary charges for death of Ian Tomlinson – but FIT officers, ‘Bronze’ Robertson, G20 chief Broadhurst & top cop Stephenson all get off scot-free

      As Reuters puts it:

      The police officer who allegedly struck Ian Tomlinson and pushed him to the ground during last year’s G20 demonstrations shortly before the newspaper seller died was served with gross misconduct charges on Monday.

      The Independent Police Complaints Commission said Police Constable Simon Harwood would face allegations he struck Tomlinson with his baton on the leg and pushed him over, dangerous actions which inadvertently caused his death.

      The use of force was alleged to be neither necessary nor proportionate.

      In July, prosecutors ruled out bringing any criminal charges against Harwood over the incident with Tomlinson, which was caught on camera.

      Footage showed Tomlinson, 47, being pushed in the back by a riot squad officer causing him to fall as he became caught up in the fringes of a violent demonstration in central London in April last year.

      IPCC Commissioner for London Deborah Glass said the decision to include the allegation that Harwood’s actions caused Tomlinson’s death was a tough but correct decision.

      “From the moment the video was published to the world in April 2009, there has been an overwhelming public feeling that the officer seen to strike Ian Tomlinson should be held accountable for his actions,” she said.

      “I have agreed with the Metropolitan Police Service that the officer should face an allegation of gross misconduct.”

      A three-person panel of two senior police officers and an independent member of the public chosen by the force’s governing body, the Metropolitan Police Authority, will preside over the disciplinary hearing, which unusually will be held in public.

      If found guilty of gross misconduct, Harwood faces losing his job.

      The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said in July Tomlinson had been on his way home and had not been taking part in the protests when the incident occurred.

      He had been walking slowly with his hands in his pockets away from a line of riot squad officers when one moved forward, hit him on the leg with a baton and then pushed him forcefully in the back.

      Tomlinson collapsed shortly afterwards and died. Starmer said no charges could be brought for manslaughter because of conflicting medical evidence.

      An initial post-mortem recorded that Tomlinson had died from a heart attack, but two further checks showed the cause of death to be internal bleeding.

      Even though Starmer said there was sufficient evidence to show that Harwood’s actions had constituted an assault, no charges for that could be brought because there was a six-month time limit.

      Tomlinson’s family said at the time that the decision was a disgrace.

      “The possibility Harwood might lose his job is not the genuine accountability that our family have waited so long for,” said Tomlinson’s widow Julia.

      “Whilst we believe that any disciplinary hearings must be held in public, we have already been badly let down by the Crown Prosecution Service and have real worries that these misconduct proceedings will lead to yet another whitewash.”

      Thug though Harwood may be, he did not act alone.

      He assaulted Ian Tomlinson after a City of London dog handler had already used his animal to attack him.

      He assaulted Ian Tomlinson in front of ‘political protest specialists’ of the Forward Intelligence Team, including part-time FIT cop PC Alan Palfrey from Camden borough.

      He assaulted Ian Tomlinson in front of other ‘public order specialists’ of the Territorial Support Group, as well as volunteer riot-trained Level 2 officers.

      He assaulted Ian Tomlinson with either the tacit approval or under the direct orders of Chief Superintendent Alex Robertson, the operational controller or ‘Bronze Commander’, himself in direct contact with Commander Bob Broadhurst, in overall charge of the G20 policing plan.

      And as for Metropolitan Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson? Well, I think we can all guess just how much responsibility he takes for all this.

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: Round one won…

      Here’s a nice little message from May First/People Link, the US-based progressive internet network to which the new hosts of the FITwatch blog, Tachanka, belongs. In many ways it is a heartwarming note on which to conclude the recent attempt by the police to silence political dissidents challenging the status quo

      We have again provided a protective environment for a website under attack. This one is www.fitwatch.org.uk, a site which monitors and publicizes the activities of England’s Forward Intelligence Team program: a program of demonstration and political activity surveillance.

      Last week, student protesters in the UK organized a massive demonstration to protest eduction cuts. 50,000 people marched and dozens have been arrested. Fitwatch has been reporting on the demonstrations and offering support to the movement.

      On Monday, Nov. 15, 2010, Fitwatch’s U.S.-based host, justhost.com, received an email from England’s Police Central e-Crime Unit. The email requested that justhost take the Fitwatch site off-line because it was being used for “criminal activity”.

      Justhost immediately complied: removing the site and blocking Fitwatch organizers from accessing any of its files. Commercial hosts take sites down for many reasons but blocking an owner of data from accessing it is an action that goes beyond the normal and it is a bizarre capitulation to a police department that has absolutely no authority over this provider.

      What exactly did Fitwatch do wrong? It published a story offering suggestions to protesters who might have been captured in videos or photos and are worried about being arrested. The suggestions included tips on getting rid of the clothes you were wearing, seeking legal counsel, etc.

      When the site came down, May First/People Link member Tachanka intervened. In less than a day, they had restored a backup of the site to a server hosted with MFPL and had the site live.

      But this is wider than the actual story because the implications here are huge. This takes place during a period of very intense movement activity in England with very large, militant demonstrations. There is significant interaction between that movement in the streets and the UK’s large movement of progressive Internet activists. Clearly the government is reacting to this collaboration in the way these governments are most familiar with: repression.

      Clearly, as these governments need to begin to understand, repression fails. With the news of the take-down, support for Fitwatch spread throughout England and expressed itself in many ways. This overwhelming reaction was accompanied by a meteoric spike in the site visits: we know because our monitoring system picked that up.

      This kind of quick, coordinated response is what we need and what will be needed from now on as government’s attempt to deal with valid, on-point protest with stupid, bullying tactics.

      The world’s movement, working through the Internet, is not backing down.

      Here are a couple of links:

      http://www.fitwatch.org.uk

      http://www.thinq.co.uk/2010/11/17/fitwatch-back-after-met-police-ban/

      Abrazos,

      Alfredo

      - –
      Alfredo Lopez
      Co-Director
      May First/People Link
      Growing Networks to Build a Just World
      http://mayfirst.org

      Chair — Information Communications and Technology Working Group
      United State Social Forum 2010
      http://ussf2010.org

      We are all FITwatch – and this time WE won. Let’s make sure we are ready for the next time they come for US.

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: A moment of victory – FITwatch blog back online…

      In the words of the FITwatch blog team:

      We’re backs!

      And with a secure server, massive coverage and a clear message that we’re here to stay.

      On Monday night we received notification that our site had been suspended due to “attempting to pervert the course of justice” due to our posting offering advice to the Millbank students. Whilst the email requesting the site be closed on the basis it was being used for “criminal activity” came from DI Paul Hoare, from the Police Central e-crime Unit, the authorisation to close was given much closer to home, by acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson. Hodgeson, who was involved in the first Fitwatch case, and has sat through many of our trials and appeals, evidently finally had enough and decided to shut us down.

      However, through totally underestimating the power of social media, this pathetic attempt has failed miserably. Within minutes of networking what had happened, people were re-publishing the post anywhere and everywhere. There are now over 100 sites carrying the original post – we haven’t managed to count them all. We have been overwhelmed by the support and solidarity and send massive thanks to everyone who’s offered to help and reposted the information. If we haven’t replied personally, it’s only because we’ve been inundated, and haven’t had time.

      This was a real attempt to squash dissent and criticism of the police, as well as attempting to stifle common sense advice to protesters subject to a witch hunt by the right wing press. The solidarity given by so many people has ensured this hasn’t happened, and has shown we can fight back. Even if we were to be arrested and prosecuted now, we would still be grateful to CO11 for the amount of publicity they’ve generated for us.

      We’re back, and we’re stronger than ever.

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: FITwatch press release on the Met Police taking down website

      FITwatch press release concerning the shut down of fitwatch.org.uk by the Metropolitan Police

      NEWS RELEASE

      For immediate release

      15th November 2010

      *Police shut down activist website after support of demo students*

      Police have shut down an activist website for openly supporting the student demonstrations at Millbank. FITwatch – a direct response to police Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) – has a history of challenging excessive police surveillance and breaches of civil rights.

      The website was shut down at the request of the Metropolitan police after FITwatch issued advice to students fearful of arrest after the Millbank demonstration. A number of national newspapers made reference to an activist ‘anti-police site’ that urged demonstrators not to panic into giving themselves up.

      “Our advice was simply good sense based on the understanding we have of police operations”, said Val Swain, a FITwatch activist. “We don’t want to see students arrested, convicted and criminalised for what was an entirely justified action.”

      The Metropolitan police applied to the websites host to suspend the site on the grounds that it was involved in ‘criminal activities’- specifically, ‘attempting to pervert the course of justice’.

      “This is an attack on freedom of speech,” said Emily Apple, another FITwatch activist. “The police don’t like what we do. They have seized a flimsy excuse to shut us down, and are trying to silence criticism of the police, and support for political dissent”

      *For more information, contact:*

      defycops@yahoo.co.uk

      Notes for the Editor:

      i. The use of the domain name www.fitwatch.org.uk has been suspended following a request to the web hosting company, Just Host, from the Metropolitan police. The Met claimed the site was being used for ‘criminal activities’ following comments made on the blog following the student demo at Millbank. The police stated that the blog was being used in an ‘attempt to pervert the cause of justice’.

      ii. Fitwatch published an article on Friday 12th November that contained advice to protesters who were fearful of being identified by press photography, cctv or FIT. That advice has been copied widely around the internet, indicating the support that FITwatch has received on this issue. A copy of the post can be found at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/11/468002.html?c=on#comments

      iii. FITwatch contributed to a major story on the police use of ‘protester databases’ in the Financial Times on 17th October 2009.

      iv. FITwatch was also in the news in July when the Evening Standard reported on a court victory by three Fitwatch supporters who had successfully challenged the right of police to place attendees at an open public meeting under surveillance. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23860752-protesters-rights-were-violated-by-met-surveillance.do

      v. A number of FITwatch activists are currently taking legal action against the police for assault and unlawful arrest

      vi. A number of newspapers including the Mail and Independent carried the story of ‘anti-police’ website giving advice. The Independent stated:

      “Activist websites have published step-by-step instructions to those who fear they may be identified and arrested in the aftermath of the violence. One anti-police site told participants to destroy potential evidence, including clothing and any distinctive jewellery worn. A contributor urged demonstrators not to panic or give themselves up as a result of the flood of media coverage.”

      vii. The last post to the site before suspension was highly critical of the way the police have been capitalising on the aftermath of the protests to defend their own budgets and justify repression of protesters.

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: Watching the detectives behind the website shutdown

      The letter sent to FITwatch’s website hosts was written over the names of Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgson and Detective Inspector Paul Hoare.

      DI Hodgson, from Public Order Crime Team in the CO11 Public Order branch of the Metropolitan Police, is in charge of Operation Malone, the Met’s investigation into the events at the Millbank building in Central London last week during the #demo2010 student protests. It would appear that his most high profile work before this was busting ticket touts.

      DI Hoare, on the other hand, seems to be a cyber crime specialist working out of the Met’s Central eCrime Unit (PCEU). DI Hoare may be found on business networking site LinkedIn, which helpfully tells us that previously he spent four-and-a-half years doing a similar job at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the half-baked British attempt at an FBI-type outfit.

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: “I’m FITwatch, and so’s my wife!” Cop censorship backfires as news of arbitrary website shutdown goes viral

      Met Police website takedown backfires as interwebz comes out to support FITwatch

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: The FITwatch takedown letter – cops demand hosts shut down police watchdog website

      A letter from the hosts of the FITwatch blog – taken down at the behest of the Metropolitan Police – has been published on IndyMedia, and it makes for interesting reading, not least because it also includes the text of the cops’ email to the hosting company…

      Hi [recipient's name deleted],

      We received a request to close an account the site mentioned below is hosted on:

      Request from Metropolitan Police in London Uk to remove website used
      for criminal purpose – fitwatch.org.uk IP 69.175.66.250

      APPLICATION FOR CLOSURE OF A UK BASED DOMAIN NAME
      Fitwatch.org.uk – IP 69.175.66.250

      To whom it may concern at Singlehop

      Op Malone
      In connection with our criminal investigation into registration or use of the domain name set out in this letter, we hereby confirm that:

      • The domain is being used to undertake criminal activities. Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice, contrary to Common Law

      We hereby request Singlehop to de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months. Please note that this request will be also sent to the domain name registrar for the website. You should provide the following contact phone number, email address and reference number to the registrant: 0207 230 8100 pceu@met.pnn.police.uk

      REASON FOR CLOSURE

      This website are committing offences of attempting to pervert the Course of Justice under Common Law. The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in Central London. The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested with a major police operation underway to identify and arrest further offenders.

      The person controlling these websites has posted material held to be contrary to Common Law within the UK. Therefore to prevent the domain names from being used in crime we request that the domain name is suspended for a minimum period of 12 months (or until expiry of the domain name if earlier).

      This common law offence is committed where a person or persons:-
      (a) acts or embarks upon a course of conduct
      (b) which has a tendency to, and
      (c) is intended to pervert,
      (d) the course of public justice.

      Registrant Information for fitwatch.org.uk

      Registrant : [DELETED]

      All other personal details withheld

      Registered on : 17-Nov-2008

      Authority to close the website and IP address given by

      Will Hodgeson, Acting Detective Inspector

      Metropolitan Police

      CO11 Public Order Branch

      Many Thanks in Advance

      Yours faithfully

      DI Paul Hoare

      Police Central e-crime Unit (Computer Crime Unit)
      SCD6 Economic & Specialist Crime Command, Metropolitan Police.

      1st floor, Indigo Block, Cobalt Square
      1 South Lambeth Road,
      London
      SW8 1SU
      0207 230 8100
      pceu@met.pnn.police.uk


      Kind regards,

      [Senders' name deleted]
      Just Host
      http://www.justhost.com

      JustHost
      SingleHop

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: That censored FITwatch post in full screengrab glory!

      I wrote the previous post in a hurry late at night; I then realised I actually had the ‘offending’ FITwatch post in a tab on my browser from when I started reading it originally. So here it is, in full, stitched-back-together screengrab glory (click for full size)…

      Screengrab of police-censored FITwatch blog post

      Meanwhile Tilting At Windmills has published a very handy list of sites republishing the original FITwatch post, the story is on The Register, the hashtag #FITwatch looks like trending, Guardian journo Paul Lewis has written a story on it, and in general Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson (né Detective Sergeant Hodgson) and his CO11 chums are looking like the proverbial donut-munching Keystones.

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: Cops take down police watchdog website with wild claims, no evidence, spurious legality

      FITwatch blog suspended at behest of police, without court order or evidence

      It seems that FITwatch, the campaign-cum-mindset that has helped turn the tables on the harassment policing strategy employed by cops eager to undermine anti-authoritarian political activists (and working class youths, football fans and any number of others whom the Boys in Blue consider inconvenient but who generally act in a lawful fashion) has really needled someone… The FITwatch website has been suspended by its webhosts, reportedly at the request of Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘public order’ unit CO11. In the words of a posting on IndyMedia, “Following contact from New Scotland Yard, the Fitwatch website and domain name (www.fitwatch.org.uk) have been suspended for a minimum of twelve months for ‘attempting to pervert the course of justice’.”

      Fortunately the wonder that is the interwebz often leaves shadows where once were forms, so you can still read caches of posts on the FITwatch blog. This is the last one published, following the recent raucous student anti-cuts demo that brought public anger to Tory Party HQ. I reproduce it here (typos corrected, bullet-pointed for legibility) for you to decide what all the fuss is about.

      Read it and consider for yourself the implications of police officers demanding the closure of websites without due process. Read it and consider the implications of police officers who were closely linked to the failure to properly investigate the death of an unarmed civilian, Ian Tomlinson, at the hands of other police officers, acting in this manner. Read it and consider what next such police officers will be prepared to do in the name of ‘public order’, in the name of ‘justice’.


      Beating police repression after the student occupation.

      The remarkable and brilliant student action at Millbank has produced some predictable frothing at the mouth from the establishment and right wing press. Cameron has called for the ‘full weight of the law’ to fall on those who had caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage to the expensive decor at Tory party HQ. Responsibility is being placed on ‘a violent faction’, after the march was ‘infiltrated’ by anarchists.

      There are an encouraging number of initiatives to show solidarity with the arrested students – something that is vital if they are to avoid the sort of punitive ‘deterrent’ sentences handed out to the Gaza demonstrators. A legal support group has been established and the National Campaign against Cuts and Fees has started a support campaign. Goldsmiths lecturers union has publicly commended the students for a ‘magnificent demonstration’.

      This is all much needed, as the establishment is clearly on the march with this one. The Torygraph has published an irresponsible and frenzied ‘shop-a-student’ piece and the Met are clearly under pressure to produce ‘results’ after what they have admitted was a policing ‘embarrassment’.

      51 people have been arrested so far, and the police have claimed they took the details of a further 250 people in the kettle using powers under the Police Reform Act. There may be more arrests to come.

      Students who are worried should consider taking the following actions:

      If you have been arrested, or had your details taken – contact the legal support campaign. As a group you can support each other, and mount a coherent campaign.

      If you fear you may be arrested as a result of identification by CCTV, FIT or press photography;

      • DON’T panic. Press photos are not necessarily conclusive evidence, and just because the police have a photo of you doesn’t mean they know who you are.
      • DON’T hand yourself in. The police often use the psychological pressure of knowing they have your picture to persuade you to ‘come forward’. Unless you have a very pressing reason to do otherwise, let them come and find you, if they know who you are.
      • DO get rid of your clothes. There is no chance of suggesting the bloke in the video is not you if the clothes he is wearing have been found in your wardrobe. Get rid of ALL clothes you were wearing at the demo, including YOUR SHOES, your bag, and any distinctive jewellery you were wearing at the time. Yes, this is difficult, especially if it is your only warm coat or decent pair of boots. But it will be harder still if finding these clothes in your flat gets you convicted of violent disorder.
      • DON’T assume that because you can identify yourself in a video, a judge will be able to as well. ‘That isn’t me’ has got many a person off before now.
      • DO keep away from other demos for a while. The police will be on the look-out at other demos, especially student ones, for people they have put on their ‘wanted’ list. Keep a low profile.
      • DO think about changing your appearance. Perhaps now is a good time for a make-over. Get a haircut and colour, grow a beard, wear glasses. It isn’t a guarantee, but may help throw them off the scent.
      • DO keep your house clean. Get rid of spray cans, demo related stuff, and dodgy texts / photos on your phone. Don’t make life easy for them by having drugs, weapons or anything illegal in the house.
      • DO get the name and number of a good lawyer you can call if things go badly. The support group has the names of recommended lawyers on their site. Take a bit of time to read up on your rights in custody, especially the benefits of not commenting in interview.
      • DO be careful who you speak about this to. Admit your involvement in criminal damage / disorder ONLY to people you really trust.
      • DO try and control the nerves and panic. Waiting for a knock on the door is stressful in the extreme, but you need to find a way to get on with business as normal. Otherwise you’ll be serving the sentence before you are even arrested.