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.