Category Archives: Politik

Gang warfare with a suit and a smile

On cop-spies and paid betrayers (1.2): Doctor Bob Lambert, his academic friends and the tightening purse-strings

So, let us return to Bob Lambert, AKA animal activist Bob Robinson, AKA academic Dr Robert Lambert MBE, AKA Detective Inspector Lambert of Special Branch.

We have not heard much about him since June, when Green MP Caroline Lucas used Parliamentary privilege to repeat allegations that whilst infiltrating animal activist circles in the 1980s, Lambert was personally responsible for setting off an incendiary device that partially destroyed a Debenham’s department store in Harrow, causing £340,000 worth of damage.

It is interesting to note that where formerly (certainly in January 2012 when I wrote my original piece) he was listed on the staff page of the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC), now only his co-director Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer is named.

Could it be that the EMRC’s work with Muslims was being disrupted by the very public suggestion that Lambert had a long history as a seducer, infiltrator and provocateur?

Of course, there is nothing in the newly-censored EMRC profile page that suggests Lambert is not still wholly entwined with the project. They are simply not advertising it.

Lambert’s relationship with Githens-Mazer is worth looking at. The EMRC profile page suggests he is from Baltimore, but with familial connections to Ireland. He hints at having (Irish) republican-with-a-small-r leanings; how that sits with him working as a wingman for someone whose career was focused on detailed, long-term betrayal whilst at an organisation set up specifically to deal with Irish republicanism is not clear.

According to his LinkedIn profile, after graduating from the private liberal arts college Swarthmore near Philadelphia, Githens-Mazer then pitched up in London to work on a PhD at the LSE, which he completed in 2005. He then took up a professorship at the University of Exeter, and assumed co-directorship of the EMRC in September 2009. Whilst working on his PhD, he lectured at the University of London’s Queen Mary College (2003-4), and from 2005-6 he also lectured at Nottingham Trent.

The EMRC webpages indicate that Githens-Mazer and Lambert began collaborating in October 2007. Since then Githens-Mazer has worked closely with Lambert over a number of years, clocking up co-authorship credits on an academic article [July 2010], two website articles [(i) February 2010; (ii) June 2011], a pair of EMRU research reports [January 2010], a book chapter [2009] and seven Comment is Free pieces in The Guardian [(i) April 2009; (ii) October 2009 ; (iii) October 2009; (iv) December 2009 ; (v) January 2010; (vi) June 2010; (vii) July 2010]. Busy scribblers indeed.

Besides their work together in the EMRC, in March 2009 Lambert also recruited Dr Githens-Mazer (plus his wife Gayle) to the company which he had set up in August 2008, Lambert Consultancy And Training. That company was dissolved in March 2010, having filed no accounts.

Curiously, LC&T was registered to a large, 6 bedroom semi-detached house at 54 Anson Road in Cricklewood, north-west London (estimated value: £650,000), which subsequently appears to have been turned into a multi-occupancy dwelling (that’s developer jargon for ‘divided into bedsits and flats’). One wonders whose property it was then, and indeed whose it is now.[1]

Since December 2010, the Githens-Mazers have been living in a quarter-million pound house in Penryn, Cornwall – somewhat closer to Exeter, where they both work (him at the Uni, her at Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry), than Anson Road in leafy NW2. Lambert, in addition to his work at the EMRC in Exeter, as previously noted also puts in the hours as an online lecturer on the Terrorism Studies course run by the Centre for Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews; so it seems unlikely the ex-copper has the time (or indeed money) for a £650k pied à terre in The Smoke when he lives and works in the toes of England and spends a significant amount of his time Skyping with students up in Scotland.

To make things even more interesting, between May 2008 and November 2009, Lambert was a consultant to another company, Strategy To Reach Empower and Educate Teenagers (STREET UK). He was appointed to STREET on 18 May, twelve days after it was registered. The next day Dr Abdul Haqq Baker – a colleague of Lambert’s from the CSTPV, and according to his biography, the person who initiated STREET – was named as director. In addition, Mohammed Alyas Karmani was added as director in April 2010. The registered address of STREET is… 54 Anson Road in Cricklewood – the same as Lambert Consultancy And Training.[2]

Things now get a bit confusing. According to a paper produced by the Fourth Freedom Forum‘s Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation, ‘A Case Study in Government-Community Partnership and Direct Intervention to Counter Violent Extremism‘ (written by Jack Barclay[3], December 2011), STREET “was created and is run largely by members of a Muslim community in south London” and was “[L]aunched in 2006″. The south London location is re-emphasised a number of times: “…Brixton, the immediate south London locale where STREET is based…strong connections to the south London Salafi community…youth in Lambeth and other parts of south London…” and so on. The paper does name Dr Baker as STREET’s founder and managing director, and also names ‘Alyas Karmani’ as a co-director “who joined the programme three years after its inception”.

Are you keeping up? Well, Mohammed Alyas Karmani, AKA Alyas Karmani, AKA Mohammed Karmani, is based in Bradford, where he is now a city councillor for George Galloway’s Respect Party, having beaten the incumbent Labour candidate (and previously the Leader of the council) in the May 2012 local elections. In coverage at the time of the campaign, Karmani was described as “director of Street, a national project working with at-risk young people“. He’s also co-director of a Bradford-registered company called The Diversity Project, along with Saima Butt.

Getting back to the CGCC report… So we have both current directors of STREET quoted in it. We then have a surprise guest appearance by none other than “Robert Lambert, a former head of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Muslim Contact Unit”. No mention is made of his directorship with STREET, though the author claims that he “has had more than 10 years of close contact with STREET and the south London Salafi community, both as a police officer and subsequently as a scholar at [EMRC]“. How the numbers on that are supposed to work I am not sure, but we’ll let it slide.

Of more interest within the article are two things in particular: (i) the framing of STREET as predating the government’s own Prevent – the prevention workstream of the over-arching CONTEST counterterrorism strategy – whilst also pursuing similar goals; and (ii) Lambert’s comments that “I have seen some very well-meaning Muslims who want to challenge violent extremism who give it a go and fail because they’re not equipped; they don’t have the street credibility. I’ve also seen Muslims who have that street credibility but lack the requisite religious position.”

In light of this observation perhaps it is not so odd that Lambert – a ‘former’ cop-spook of extremely long standing – would have resigned as a director of STREET.

Let’s move on. Firebug Bob – or Mr Robert Lambert MBE as he prefers to style himself for the purpose of Companies House registrations – is also director and company secretary of Siraat, set up in January 2009 and based on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton. Hmmm, Brixton, you say? In south London? Why is this ringing bells? His fellow directors are Carey Anderson and Raymond Boakye. Who they? Well, I’d like to know too. The web yields not a lot about Siraat[4] or them, except for a gem of a Telegraph story from February 2011, very Telegraphically entitled ‘Counter-terrorism projects worth £1.2m face axe as part of end of multiculturalism‘:

The first to be hit is the Street project, which is associated with Brixton Mosque in South London. The project has received more than £500,000 in three years from the government.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that the Home Office has told the project it will have its money withdrawn this year in the first step towards switching funding away from strains of Islam with which the government disagrees.

The Street project is likely to be only the first to feel the effect of the new policy, with other organisations including Siraat, a £500,000 prison-based mentoring project across southern England and Impact[5] that has received £280,000 and is based in Hounslow, West London, both facing closure.

…[STREET] currently employs 12 staff and received £326,990 in 2009-2010 and £191,310 from 2010 until October this year.

It caters for Muslims from across South London, providing sports and social activities at the mosque youth centre and running classes on Islamic religious precepts, social responsibilities and citizenship. Over the last 18 months, it has completed 12 of the 40 cases it has managed.

The Street project was founded by Abdul Haq [sic] Baker, who is its secretary and one of its directors. Mr Baker is also a trustee of the Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre…

Companies Houses notes that there is a proposal to strike Siraat off the register, that the last accounts are ten months overdue, and that the last tax return, which should have been filed in February, hasn’t been. STREET is in similar straits.

So it seems that not everything Dr Robert Lambert MBE turns to gold. The Police Community engagement for Conflict Transformation (PCCT) hub, set up by University of Birmingham academics, seems to be taking no chances and makes no mention of Lambert or the CSTPV, with which (according to Bob) they are in partnership.

Still, there’s always the likes of the Cordoba Foundation to fall back on – you may remember that their journal Arches published a puff piece on the Met’s Muslim Contact Unit (MCU) written by Dr Robert. You know, the one linking Islamists to anarchism. Anyway, the Foundation’s chief executive is one Anas Altikriti, who just happened to be on the advisory board of the CSTPV. Given that both Bob and Cordoba – which in 2009 was accused by David Cameron of being “a front for the Muslim Brotherhood” – appear to be on the (currently) losing side in some kind of turf war between competing strategic viewpoints in Whitehall, I’m sure we can expect to see future cooperation between them.

Notes:

[1] For more on 54 Anson Road, see the next post on Bob Lambert.

[2] And here’s a bonus prize: from its establishment in February 1998 until its dissolution in 2001, a company called Al – Anssar – founding director one Dr Abdul Haqq Baker – was also registered to 54 Anson Road.

[3] ‘Jack Barclay’ appears to be a pseudonym. The CGCC paper describes him as “the Director of Scanner Associates, a counter-extremism consultancy that works with governments to help them better understand and challenge violent extremist radicalisation. He is based in the United Kingdom.” Scanner Associates is not a company name registered in the UK. A google on ‘”jack barclay” “scanner associates”‘ throws up a single result – a spreadsheet of work done hosted on New York’s City government website(!) – this lists one Richard Scanner from Scanner Associates at 10 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island NY 10301, telephone 718 816 4321, amongst nearly 1,500 other entries.

‘Jack Barclay’ pops up in other counterterrorism articles published by other think tanks I’ve never heard of, like ‘Challenging the Influence of Anwar Al-Awlaki‘ (International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, September 2010), and those I have, such as ‘The Language of Jihad‘ (Royal United Services Institute, December 2011).

In the former, the biography of ‘Barclay’ reads thus: “Jack Barclay is a Strategic Communication consultant specialising in the use of strategic messaging to counter violent extremism. He works with a range of organisations to improve their understanding of radical Islamist ideologies and the strategic communication activities of Salafi-Jihadi movements. He has provided support to counterterrorism strategic communication research and campaign development by a range of public sector agencies. He is based in the United Kingdom and can be contacted at jack_barclay@yahoo.co.uk.”

In the RUSI one, it says: “‘Jack Barclay’ is a strategic communication adviser specialising in the study of violent extremist radicalisation, extremist strategic communication and the use of strategic messaging to counter violent extremism. He works closely with a range of public sector organisations, both foreign and domestic, to improve their understanding of radical Islamist ideologies and the strategic communication activities of violent jihadist and other extremist movements.”

[4] It may be worth mentioning that a google on “siraat, counterterrorism” gives as a top-ranking result a link to the front page of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (second when I did it); a search on just “counterterrorism” brings up the NaCTSO in a lower placing (eleventh).

[5] Does anyone know anything about ‘Impact’? Without any firm information on it it’s rather tricky trying to trawl the usual data sources. ETA: Many thanks to Piombo for correctly identifying Impact as the Initiative For Muslim Progression & Advancement of Community Tolerance, AKA West London IMPACT.

Hey – guess who was a director of and consultant to IMPACT, from inception in December 2009 until May 2012? It’s our friend Dr Abdul Haqq Baker! Also serving through the same period was one Valerie Chung, with Graham Michael Cowan appearing to have done the paperwork. Electronics trader Najeeb Ahmed – a professional businessman, it would seem – remains a director, and unlike Siraat and STREET, IMPACT is up to date with its company filings.

Registered to an address in Southall in west London, IMPACT appears to have been established as a ‘deradicalisation’ programme for west London following “confidential discussion [between Hounslow Council's Corporate Community Investment and Cohesion Unit and] the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office,” based on “the award winning and successfully established work streams of STREET”.

Edited: 7 September 9:30am to add bits about Al – Anssar and IMPACT.
Edited: 8 September 3:30pm to add links & sort out typo.
Edited: 9 September 4:15pm to modify internal links.
Edited: 15 October 11:15am to correct a couple of typos only just spotted.

Happy J18

Thirteen years… Unlucky for some.

PC Simon Harwood’s trial began today. He’s being prosecuted for manslaughter in relation to the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in London on 1 April 2009.

Here’s to justice being done, and being seen to be done. Much love to the Tomlinson family.

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.