Category Archives: Politik

Gang warfare with a suit and a smile

Magic Eye Pics #001: Emma Harrison (A4e)

Well, it was time for a new section, wasn’t it? And this seemed natural – there’s just been a glut of wonky-eyed arseholes around recently. Is this nature’s way of warning us?

Anyway, we kick off with slave-trading profiteer Emma Harrison, late of the parish of A4e. I’m sure you are all aware of this whole #workfare malarkey she and her type are embroiled in; if not, shame on you, and go catch up on it at The Void.

In the meantime, those of you in the BSville area may like to make use of Bristol Anarchist Federation’s handy – and, they assure us, up to date – list of local companies exploiting enforced unpaid labour. Just in time for the local leg [FB page] of tomorrow’s national day of action against workfare, called by the appropriately-monickered Boycott Workfare.

Have a good’un!

Wikipediaphile: EUROGENDFOR

A timely wiki for you, given it’s all kicking off in Greece at the moment. Only spotted this via a mention on twitter linking to a cranky-sounding website which suggested that a “non-Greek militarized riot force may have arrived to enforce austerity” in the Hellenic Republic.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about EUROGENDFOR:

The European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR or EGF) was launched by an agreement in 2006 between five members of the European Union (EU): France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Romania subsequently joined in 2009. Its purpose is the creation of a European intervention force, designed after the French Gendarmerie and the Italian Unità Specializzate Multinazionali (M.S.U.) of the Carabinieri; that force will have militarised police functions and specialise in crisis management. Its status is enshrined in the Treaty of Velsen of 18 October 2007.

The EGF is based in Vicenza, in northeastern Italy, and has a core of 800-900 members ready to deploy within 30 days. This includes elements from the;

An additional 2,300 reinforcements will be available on standby. The Polish Military Gendarmerie are also a partner force, and on 10 October 2006, Poland indicated it would like to join the EGF.[1] More countries will be allowed to join in the future.

On cop-spies and paid betrayers (1.1): Lambert’s a bottler – sex-pest cop-spook “startled” by hecklers

A little update on Special Branch spy-turned-touchy-feely ‘academic’ Bob Lambert – there’s a report on IndyMedia about a talk by him being disrupted by animal rights activists:

…Bob Lambert poses as a ‘progressive academic’ and sat on a panel at his home university, the University of St. Andrews, for a talk titled ‘Overcoming Obstacles: Counter-Terrorism Police and Community Engagement.’ Several activists leafleted the talk outside handing out leaflets that read:

Do you think it’s alright to…trick someone into a romantic relationship so that you can spy on them and their friends?…lie to them and everyone else about your identity in order to do so?…maintain this pretence of love and trust for more than a year? …have a child with your deceived ‘partner’ and then abandon the child for decades while concealing your identity from them?

Robert Lambert, the man speaking before you seems to think that this is acceptable behaviour for a public servant. He engaged in all of them during his years as an officer with the Metropolitan Police, sent to spy on peaceful environmental and animal rights campaigns. Perhaps this is Lambert’s idea of ‘community engagement.’

Is it yours?

As soon as Bob Lambert started his talk two animal rights activists stormed out after shouting and pointing at Bob Lambert phrases like, ‘shame!’, ‘where is your son, Bob?’ and ‘sex is not community engagement!.’ Audience members reported him as startled and mumbled the first section of his speech.

We were thrilled.

We challenge the State’s use of womyn’s bodies; all animals are equal regardless of gender or species.

Go vegan.

[Signed] off the pig

Meanwhile, Lambert – AKA Robert Lambert MBE, AKA Bob Robinson – has put up something of a mea culpa on his University of St. Andrews page, in which he shamelessly plugs his recent book (which, comment junkies, has yet to receive a review on Amazon

In his own words:

I always knew that if details of my earlier role as an undercover police officer became public my own credibility and integrity would come under close scrutiny.

…Understandably, that anger towards my deception intensifies when considering the cases of relationships that male undercover police officers, myself included, are alleged to have had with women. These cases are now the subject of civil litigation and therefore I should wait for the outcome of these legal proceedings before adding to the public apology I have made already. I should also wait for the outcome of several investigations and reviews of undercover policing in general before commenting more widely on the topic. I am also keen to ensure that the security and welfare of many brave and faultless undercover police officers is not compromised.

Yet when he says “covert policing – especially undercover policing – is a tactic [that is] reserved for those engaged in political violence of one kind or another” it clearly does not match his own infiltration of London Greenpeace, nor his protégé Jim Boyling’s embedding in Reclaim The Streets.

The limp apology (or rather pre-apology) Lambert proffers in relation to the sex-by-deceit aspect of these undercover spy-cop operations is not helped by his failure to even acknowledge his own child.

Lambert’s claim that he has “learned from mistakes as well as successes all my life and will probably continue to do so” is somewhat undermined by the disjointed way these sorts of wishy-washy words match with what is actually known about his actions; that is to say the words do not match the actions.

Whether this is a shameless attempt to bail out the leaky professional life raft that is his pseudo-academic niche as ‘the copper who got chummy with some Muslims’, or heartfelt but flawed candour remains to be seen.

Bristol City Council ‘consultation’ on care services: “Keeping things as they are is not an option”

In line with central government’s desire to strip away services which provide a safety net for the most vulnerable amongst us whilst financially benefiting the richest in society, Bristol City Council is “seeking your views on the future of care services in Bristol”.

Hey, groovy! It’s a meaningless consultation exercise with predetermined parameters!

Reductions in funding for local services, coupled with the fact we are living longer – mean keeping things as they are is not an option. The changes being proposed reflect the demand for people to make their own choices about tailoring their care (personalisation). This will see the council becoming more of a commissioner of care services rather than a provider.

Consultation runs until the end of Feb and looks at day and residential care services.

Join the online debate on ASK Bristol

Cabinet Member Jon Rogers is reading all your comments and has joined the online discussion.

Perhaps it is less a case of “becoming a commissioner of care services” and more about providing “don’t care services”?

Of course, any similarity between the Liberal Democrats (party of national government) and the Liberal Democrats (party of city government) is of course a coincidence. It’s some other bugger’s fault cuts ‘have to be made’!

If you want to add your voice to the (obviously not pre-determined) consultation on either day care or residential care, you have until the end of February.

Obviously whatever necessary changes are ultimately put into effect it will be for the good of Harry, England and Saint Geo- sorry, I mean Bristol and the nation. Sacrifices have to be made, and if that means your Aunt Nelly has to get bashed about a bit in a private ‘home’ run by some carpetbagger who once threw a bung sideways at some snivelling party apparatchik’s election campaign, so be it. Think of the national interest!

Just make sure you and your loved ones never get sick, laid off or unable to pay your rent. Otherwise they’ll be going the same way as Aunt Nelly.

ETA:

Reminds me of the “there is no fifth option” warning trotted out during the trial of welfare-to-work prototype Project Work in the 1990s. There is always another option – where there is the political will backed up by action.

Occupy Everything – Reflections on why it’s kicking off everywhere

From the introduction:

Penned in February 2011, Paul Mason’s blog post “20 Reasons Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere” responded to the recent wave of student unrest, the European anti-cuts struggles, and what was fast becoming known as the Arab Spring. In his short post Mason offered 20 tentative forays into these globally disparate yet somehow connected struggles.

“20 Reasons” was warmly received within the social movements it commented upon, albeit not without criticisms. What resonated for us, was its lack of certainty as to where these movements were headed, and a pronounced distance from either ideological interpretation or “off the shelf” solutions.

It seemed that many in the social movements were content to carry on with business as usual, attaching longheld ideological certainties onto these developments. However some in existing activist groups, networks and organisations, began to question whether ideas, assumptions and certainties held from previous cycles of struggle could stand up to present challenges.

We saw “20 Reasons” as a chance to start an enquiry, a framework around which to better discuss our understandings of the present and as a means to gauge the effectiveness of movement responses to the crisis’s facing capitalism and the nation state.

“20 Reasons” itself highlighted a series of political, economic, social, communicative and technological developments and suggested how these were being appropriated in struggle. The emergence of new or often ignored social subjects were also central to the piece – be that the “graduate with no future” or the socially excluded.

Understanding the present became an issue of importance and urgency for those interested in radical social transformation. As such, we commissioned a series of essays, responding to Paul’s “20 Reasons”, as a means to do just that.

Tip o’ the titfer: Dan Hancox on Twitter

“I’ve been to a few protests back in my day!” – shit the FBI says…

Courtesy of Will Potter at the anti-greenscare blog Green Is The New Red

G20 police witnesses revisited: PC Nick ‘T3′ Jackson – flaky at inquest, ‘courageous & professional’ at riots?

I notice from my visitor logs that someone arrived here today after searching for PC Nick Jackson.

Jackson, you may remember, was one of the cops right by Ian Tomlinson when he was beaten to the floor by TSG officer PC Simon Harwood at the 2009 G20 protests in London. Before his name became known I gave him an alphanumeric label (‘T3′) as I did with other police officers seen in video footage and still photos in order to better track their movements throughout the events surrounding the Tomlinson assault.

He was even called before the Tomlinson inquest last April – that’s two years after the G20 and all that happened there – to give evidence.

Curious as to the reason for the sudden interest in Jackson I reread the transcript of his inquest appearance.

In doing this I was quickly reminded of how easily Jackson became flustered under the mildest of prodding form cuddly QC Mr Matthew Ryder, who took him by the hand through his original witness statements.

Having originally claimed that Ian Tomlinson was some sort of threat to the assembled riot cops and attack dog handlers, Jackson was under the gentle coaxing of Mr Ryder forced to back-pedal, as this sequence from the end of his testimony shows:

  • Q. Other than the fact that Mr Tomlinson wasn’t actually moving as fast as you would like him to, he didn’t personally present to you in any threatening way, did he?
  • A. No, Mr Tomlinson wasn’t a threat.
  • Q. Mr Tomlinson wasn’t a threat?
  • A. Wasn’t a threat, no.
  • Q. You see, can I just come back to one small point we were mentioning earlier, which is about distinguishing between people?
  • A. Mm-hm.
  • Q. If you don’t distinguish between different types of people, then you don’t distinguish, as we heard, between someone who could be disabled or someone who is just trying to make their way home and innocently caught up in the middle of something. An older man, for example, moving slowly, trying to get home?
  • A. Yes.
  • Q. I don’t think anyone would dispute that was Mr Tomlinson’s position?
  • A. No.
  • Q. I suggest to you, Officer, if we are not careful about discriminating between different types of people, then there is a danger that, by treating everyone as a threat, you could be attacking the very people you are there to protect.
  • A. Possibly.

It would seem our Jacko is not an exemplar of common sense, reasoning, consistency or level-headedness under pressure.

But in light of the puzzling interest in the Level II-trained Fulham and Hammersmith constable, I googled him to see what he had been up to recently…

And lo, it seems that the G20 shenanigans – fatal assault right in front of him included – has not dimmed Action Jackson’s willingness to mix it up in hairy public order situations.

Last November a PC Nick Jackson received not one but TWO awards “for courage and professionalism” he showed during “serious disorder” at both the TUC march (M26) and at unspecified “student protests”.

But could this really be the same Fulham & Hammersmith PC Nick Jackson who witnessed two shoves, a dog bite and a baton strike on an unarmed, middle-aged man who, by the officer’s own admission, posed no danger to police, and might have been incapacitated or otherwise disabled?

The same PC Nick Jackson who despite seeing Ian Tomlinson brutally felled offered no assistance?

The same PC Nick Jackson who crumbled under the polite probings of a lawyer at an inquest?

Surely not!

It would, after all, beggar belief that Hammersmith & Fulham borough commander Chief Inspector Lucy D’Orsi would send a flaky doughnut-botherer like the G20 Jackson into the front line of anything too lively, given his lead feet and fast-unravelling Tomlinson testimony… Wouldn’t it?

So we must assume two cops in Fulham & Hammersmith share the same name and rank – it’s the only thing that makes sense.

In which case, perhaps CI D’Orsi could refer to her two Nicholi differently; Jacksons Minor and Major, maybe?

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.

Never forget our dead: Fred Hampton, RIP

Fred Hampton

Born, 30th August 1948

Murdered, 4th December 1969

Assassinated by the State.

Tomlinson Inquest – Day 6: PC Simon Harwood to give evidence

Today is the day PC Simon Harwood is due to give evidence for the first time at the Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Ian Tomlinson on April Fool’s Day two years back. According to the court timetable, his testimony may overrun into tomorrow.

He will be preceded by Inspector Timothy Williams, his serial commander at 4TSG.

Tomlinson Inquest – Day 5: Two years on from the killing of Ian Tomlinson

Today is both the second anniversary of the death of Ian Tomlinson at the hands of the police, and the fifth day of the Coroner’s Inquest into that death. The end of a life, and the end of a week of evidence.

Thoughts and love to the whole Tomlinson family.

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.

      Green Scare book – sample chapter now available!

      Will Potter has been following with interest and writing about the ‘Green Scare’ – by which governments, police agencies and corporations characterise non-violent environmental direct action as ‘eco-terrorism’ or similar – for several years now, and in April his book about the subject, ‘Green Is The New Red’, will be published.

      If you are in the Washington, DC area on either Tuesday 19th or Saturday 23rd April, then you may want to crash a reading event or the launch party – more details on Will’s blog.

      For the rest of us, there’s a sample chapter available for free

      If you’re not quite sure what this ‘Green Scare’ really is – or suspect that it’s a hullabaloo about nothing, then you’d be as well to check out Will’s intro to the subject:

      “The No. 1 domestic terrorism threat,” says John Lewis, a top FBI official, “is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement.”

      The animal rights and environmental movements, like every other social movement throughout history, have both legal and illegal elements. There are people who leaflet, write letters, and lobby. There are people who protest and engage in non-violent civil disobedience. And there are people, like the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front, who go out at night with black masks and break windows, burn SUVs, and release animals from fur farms.

      Animal rights and environmental advocates have not flown planes into buildings, taken hostages, or sent Anthrax through the mail. They have never even injured anyone. In fact, the only act of attempted murder in the history of the U.S. animal rights movement was coordinated by corporate provocateurs. Yet the FBI ranks these activists as the top domestic terrorism threat. And the Department of Homeland Security lists them on its roster of national security threats, while ignoring right-wing extremists who have bombed the Oklahoma City federal building, murdered doctors, and admittedly created weapons of mass destruction.

      …Fear. It’s all about fear. The point is to protect corporate profits by instilling fear in the mainstream animal rights and environmental movements—and every other social movement paying attention—and make people think twice about using their First Amendment rights.

      Industry groups say “this is just the starting gun” for the Green Scare. But this could be the starting gun for activists as well. I’ve talked with hundreds of activists around the country over the years. There’s a lot of fear. But there’s also a lot of rage. And that’s a very good thing.

      Because today’s repression may mimic many of the tactics of the Red Scare, but today’s response cannot. It’s not enough to cowardly distance ourselves from anyone branded a communist, I mean, terrorist. Naming names and making loyalty oaths didn’t protect activists then, and it won’t protect activists now.

      The only way activists, and the First Amendment, are going to get through this is by coming out and confronting it head-on. That means reaching out to mainstream Americans and telling them that labeling activists as terrorists wastes valuable anti-terrorism resources and is an insult to everyone who died in the twin towers. That means reaching out to other activists and saying loud and clear that these activists are just the canaries in the mine.

      Together, we can stop they cycle of history repeating itself.

      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.

      Balkans Scrapbook – remembering the Yugoslav Civil War through news cuttings, photographs and documentaries (plus Bolivian adventurers, Hungarian fascists, Irish bouncers, British spy cops…)

      See http://davecinzano.wordpress.com for more info

      I’ve long been interested in the Balkans and the break up of the former Yugoslavia, so it’s good to see Balkan Scrapbook, a blog pulling together newspaper clippings, pictures and documentary film on what went down in the early 1990s.

      It’s not been up long, but there’s already some interesting content, with new stuff being uploaded all the time. The focus at the moment seems to be on foreign fighters taking part in the conflict, and the death of journalist Paul Jenks near Osijek in east Slavonia, Croatia. Jenks was investigating the earlier death of Swiss reporter Chritian Würtenberg, who himself had joined the International Platoon (PIV) fighting with the Croatian HOS militia whilst looking into links between it and a pan-European fascist network. John Sweeney (he of shouting-at-Scientologists fame) was a colleague and a friend, and he returned to Osijek nearly three years after Jenks’ death to try and uncover what had happened – which made for a riveting documentary film, Dying For The Truth, which opened the Travels With My Camera strand on Channel 4.

      The whole torrid tale brought together damaged ex-servicemen in search of excitement, wannabe warriors, and some seriously scary political soldiers – not least Eduardo Rózsa-Flores, a Bolivian-born Hungarian-Spanish Catholic fascist (try saying that in a hurry) who came to lead the PIV. Flores had turned up in Croatia ostensibly to work as a journalist, but soon set up the PIV under the patronage of Branimir Glavaš, a regional powerbroker subsequently convicted of war crimes.

      After the deaths of Würtenberg and Jenks, and a third PIV volunteer, Anthony Mann Grant – all blamed on Serbs, but with many unanswered questions hanging in the air – Flores did a runner to Zagreb, before melting away from the Balkans. Ultimately he was involved in a right-wing secessionist movement in Bolivia, and he was shot dead by security forces there in 2009, alongside fellow mercenaries Mario Tadic, a Croatian, and Előd Tóásó, variously described as a Romanian and a Hungarian, plus Irishman Michael Dwyer.

      Dwyer had been a security thug working at Shell’s Corrib gas pipeline project in County Mayo, where Integrated Risk Management Services had accrued a reputation for violence against environmental protesters, before he was apparently recruited for the Bolivian adventure by other IRMS goons with a background in Magyar autonomist politics. As if to demonstrate how the world is getting smaller, the Metropolitan Police’s “vancop” agent provocateur PC Mark Kennedy, AKA Mark ‘Flash’ Stone, had previously infiltrated the anti-Corrib activist groups, which were of great interest to Irish and British police as well as business interests and private security groups.

      But I digress – if you’re interested in the former Yugoslavia and all that happened there in recent history, then keep an eye on Balkan Scrapbook.

      Edited 9 September 2012 to reflect move of blog.