Tag Archives: Bob Lambert

‘Undercover’ book: lists revisited, and thoughts on a first flick through

Undercover - The True Story of Britain's Secret Police

So, I have been flicking through Undercover, the spy-cops book by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans. Some interesting stuff in there, much of it unfamiliar – notably the material on Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’. They certainly kept him under wraps for a long time.

But first – the numbering issue. The best I can make out is that the Dispatches methodology excludes ‘Rod Richardson’ and both ‘Officer 10’ (who reportedly had a child) and ‘Officer 11’ (who reportedly took on the identity of a child killed in a car crash). This may be on the grounds either that there was not enough corroborating evidence to confirm that they were a police spy (in the case of ‘Richardson’, who in the book is referred to only as a “suspected police officer”), or for other reasons, such as not wanting to implicate a source. ‘Wellings’ appears to be the unnamed tenth officer in silhouette. It may be that there were rights issues over using the existing pictures of him, all of which appear to have been taken by Globalise Resistance people. That takes our twelve down to nine; then we add Chitty/‘Blake’ to take us back up to ten.

Of course, it may be that Chitty/‘Blake’ (presumably the “South African resident” mentioned in the acknowledgements) is either ‘Officer 10’ or ‘Officer 11’ (though more likely the latter than the former given the lack of any reference to a child fathered by him whilst on deployment).

Undercover - The True Story of Britain's Secret PoliceSo, the book. Of interest to many will be exactly whom the SDS, NPOIU and other police units were targeting.

In terms of anarchist groups, the book claims (at least) three in the early 1990s – one in the Direct Action Movement (a key component of Anti-Fascist Action, it should be noted), and two in Class War. Peter Francis/‘Pete Black’/‘Peter Daley’/‘Officer A’ was also to have been deployed into the anarchist milieu, but was retasked to anti-fascist/anti-racist groups at the last minute:

As Black prepared to start his covert mission, senior officers in the SDS were deciding on his future undercover role. They were constantly working out which political groups needed infiltrating and which officers would make suitable spies. Initially, Black was lined up to become an anarchist. At least three SDS officers had already been embedded in anarchist groups in the early 1990s. One was in a small anarchist group called the Direct Action Movement (DAM), which had existed since 1979. Its associates believed capitalism should be abolished by workers organising themselves at the grassroots level, a political philosophy known as anarcho-syndicalism dating back to the late 1890s. Oneconfidential Special Branch document states that a detective constable who worked as an SDS spy ‘successfully’ infiltrated DAM between 1990 and 1993.

Another group of interest to the SDS was the better-known Class War, which achieved some notoriety after it was set up in the 1980s.

…The SDS viewed [Ian] Bone and his friends as considerably more sinister. The unit posted at least two undercover police into the group.

There then follows a chortle-worthy reference to former MI5 ‘whistleblower’ David Shayler, who ruffled feathers in the late 1990s with his various claims. Adopting the stance of a courageous campaigner for a more efficient, more effective spy service, Shayler – who along with his girlfriend Annie Machon had worked on the counter-subversion F Branch desk – had characterised Class War as being very much full of crustie-with-a-dog-on-a-string types (suggesting ineffectiveness or dilettantism), whilst at other times claimed it had been riddled with informers.

When those such as Larry O’Hara (and others) have called on him to back up his claims, or asked him to explain the issue of the proven attempts of sometime-fascist Tim Hepple AKA Tim Matthews to infiltrate the orbit of Green Anarchist, and the interconnected targeting of effective Class War organiser Tim Scargill through smears and other such activity, Shayler has never responded satisfactorily.

Anyway, let’s continue with the story:

One was in place in February 1992 when he had a meeting in a London safe house with David Shayler, the MI5 officer later jailed for breaking the Official Secrets Act after leaking details of alleged incompetence in the secret services. Shayler had at that time been assigned to investigate whether Class War posed a threat to British democracy. The SDS officer supplied intelligence to the Security Service, and had become an official MI5 informant, designated the code number M2589.

According to Shayler, the ‘peculiar arrangement’ in which the SDS officer lived the life of an anarchist for six days a week, returning only occasionally to his friends and family, had ‘affected the agent psychologically’. Shayler recounts: ‘After around four years of pretending to be an anarchist, he had clearly become one. To use the service jargon, he had gone native. He drank about six cans of Special Brew during the debrief, and regaled us with stories about beating up uniformed officers as part of his “cover”. Partly as a result, he was “terminated” after the 1992 general election. Without his organisational skills, Class War fell apart.’

According to Black, the true story was a little different. He says the SDS officer in question was a ‘top end’ operative who served the unit well. During the encounter with the MI5 officer, he acted the part of a coarse anarchist because he had little time for Shayler, who was perceived to be a ‘desk wanker’ – though Black concedes that ‘some MI5 desk officers who came out to talk to us were superb and we had a very, very good relationship with them’. A second SDS officer was later sent into Class War, but it became apparent the group was fading out. Rather ignominiously for the anarchists who wanted to tear down the state, the SDS concluded they could no longer justify spending money to infiltrate them.

Ultimately Francis found himself (via the ‘stepping stone’ method) in Militant’s Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) group. This was at a time when the SWP had resurrected the Anti-Nazi League, and even the Labour Party had its own front, the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) (notable for calling for a pointless Trafalgar Square demonstration on the same day that YRE and the ANL announced their ‘Unity’ demo would ‘shut down the BNP bookshop’ in Welling). And, of course, the aforementioned AFA – which was definitely of interest to the state for both its willingness to engage in physical conflict with fascists on the streets and its robust, resolutely working class politics.

There is very little mention of AFA in the book – which is strange, really, considering how effective its record was on the streets at this time, and how much more ‘of interest’ it became when members of Red Action (another constituent part of AFA) were convicted for involvement in Irish Republican bomb campaigns. But then the small mention that there is does seem to be rather illuminating:

The key group the SDS believed was involved in confronting the far right was called Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). Formed in the mid-1980s through a loose alliance of anarchists and left-wingers, the SDS said it was now subject to a political rift. In a trait painfully familiar to radical politics over the decades, there was an alphabet soup of competing organisations campaigning against racists. To make matters more complicated, each group was often just a front, controlled by another political faction.

Beating The Fascists - The Untold Story of Anti-Fascist ActionIt doesn’t betray a great deal of understanding of AFA or what was going on in the organisation at the time (for that see Beating The Fascists), but it does give an indication of why Francis was deployed where he was, and what the ultimate objective – in a best case scenario – was.

The book continues:

Black was told he should penetrate Youth Against Racism in Europe, better known by its acronym YRE. It was a front for the revolutionary left-wing group, Militant. The head of the SDS believed there was a new anti-fascist alliance forming ‘within the loose confederation’ of the YRE, a second Trotskyist group and ‘sundry ad-hoc student and Asian youth groups’. The SDS boss identified an obscure anti-fascist group at a further education college in Camden, north London, as a possible stepping stone into the YRE.

The SDS technique was to identify a key individual within a political group and get close to them. In Black’s case, the target was an anti-fascist campaigner at Kingsway College. Black was instructed to attend the college and befriend this particular individual, who had connections with the YRE. ‘This allows an entry into the YRE and possibly AFA,’ his boss wrote.

Again this lends itself to the interpretation that deployments were not defined by a single target organisation, but by political currents. London Greenpeace appears to have been infiltrated in order to build up legends for the spycops involved as much as it was a specific target of interest in itself. From that platform the infiltrators could then explore other groups and tendencies – such as those acting under the ALF banner.

Similarly whilst not doubting the sincerity of YRE activists, and notably their stewards’ group, clearly AFA was an even more prime target – as also suggested by the targeting of DAM. Trying to reach AFA both through having a pedigree within the physical anti-fascist left, and through DAM, seems entirely plausible given the evidence here and elseewhere.

Another intriguing titbit comes directly after this:

If this failed, there was a plan B: Black could penetrate ‘an autonomous group of anarchists’ based in Hackney, east London who had been previously infiltrated by the SDS.

As we have seen, Hackney – and Stoke Newington, and then also Haringey – was a prime hunting ground for the spycops. I feel certain we shall be returning to this issue.

Spycops roundup

Following up on the previous spycops post, Paul Lewis has tweeted something approaching an explanation over the numbering issue:

Will try to clarify later but nothing more than C4 has slightly different rules / counting method to the G.

That’s not to say everything is now clear – no explicit clarification over whether Chitty/‘Blake’ is either ‘Officer 10’, ‘Officer 11’, or someone else; or whether the silhouette represents ‘Wellings’, ‘Richardson’, or someone else – but at least we seem to be still on track.

Meanwhile, some interesting links related to the theme of spycops and to the Dispatches programme…

Emily Apple from FITwatch has written an intensely personal post on the effect of infiltrators forming close relationships with and then betraying targets like her:

I also can’t express how important it is these revelations are coming out, and the depth of the operation against so many people is being exposed. We need to know who these bastards were, and we need to get their names and faces into the public domain. But it isn’t easy, and the psychological impact is massive.

Radical History of Hackney blog has a brief article pulling together the threads linking the spycops to the borough:

The radical history of Hackney has lead to police spies being active in the Borough.

This is a theme that it will hopefully return to in more detail at some point.

Newham Monitoring Project has released a statement in relation to the vague ‘cops spied on groups that held cops to account’ story it closed the evening with yesterday:

…Whilst the limited information in the Guardian report suggests NMP was never infiltrated directly, it nevertheless raises severe concerns that we do not have the full facts and the confidential nature of our casework might have been compromised. We demand, for the sake of transparency, that the name of the second SDS officer who was responsible for spying on NMP is made public immediately…

The Met’s current muscular Chief Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has put out a statement of his own on the Lawrence family smears, distancing himself and officers now serving under him from any of the beastly business we’re hearing about, which obviously happened a long, long time ago, if it did happen, and if it did happen then it was only ever the work of a few bad apples, etc:

…Finding out the truth about what happened 20 years ago is not a straightforward task. There are many, many documents and a large number of witnesses which is complicating the review. It has proved difficult to recapture the way in which police officers in this specialist area have operated since the Special Demonstration Squad was formed in the 1960’s…

Of course, the Stephen Lawrence murder was a long time ago, twenty years back, and many lessons were learned, it couldn’t happen again. Oh wait – here’s the Yorkshire Post reporting how police tried to smear the family of Christopher Alder, a former serviceman – and would you believe it, a Black Briton – who died in police custody in 1998:

…As part of their investigation into Mr Alder’s death, Humberside Police obtained social service records dating back to the births of all the Alder children – Christopher, Richard, Emmanuel, Stephen, and Janet, who were brought up in care…

Finally the Guardian is again plugging the imminent release of the Undercover book with another titbit story, this time with the revelation that the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) tracks nearly 9,000 ‘domestic extremists’ (as those previously deemed worthy of the equally ill-defined label ‘subversive’ are now officially described):

…A total of 8,931 individuals “have their own record” on a database kept by the unit, for which the Metropolitan police is the lead force. It currently uses surveillance techniques, including undercover police, paid informants, and intercepts against political campaigners from across the spectrum.

Senior officers familiar with the workings of the unit have indicated to the Guardian that many of the campaigners listed on the database have no criminal record…

One slightly odd bit: “Francis’s unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), was disbanded in 2008, but later replaced with the National Domestic Extremism Unit.”

Yet the NDEU was more a successor unit to the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) which employed Kennedy/‘Stone’. It was one of three units run through the aegis of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) by the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism, until the #phnat fuck-ups bled into the spycops shitstorm first flaring up in 2010. Then, along with the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) and the National Domestic Extremism Team (NDET), NPOIU was transferred over to the Metropolitan Police in 2011, where the three were jointly rebranded NDEU. Exciting stuff I think you will agree.

Twelve become ten? More spycop number confusion…

Dispatches: Ten spy cops...

Tonight’s Dispatches documentary, ‘The Police’s Dirty Secret’ – with The Guardian‘s Paul Lewis fronting it based on the reports filed by him and Rob Evans (and others) over the past couple of years on undercover police infiltrating protest groups – was an interesting watch.

Whilst much of it felt like an extended trailer for the forthcoming book, plus a stage-managed opportunity for star witness ‘Officer A’ AKA ‘Peter Daley’ AKA ‘Pete Black’ to come out from the shadows to call for an independent inquiry under his own name of Peter Francis, it was a powerful film.

Whilst much of it was built around the whistleblower testimony of Francis, it did not dwell on the personalities of the professional liars of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) or the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), but on their actions and the effects of these on their victims.

Three women – Jacqui (AKA ‘Charlotte’), Belinda Harvey (AKA ‘Sarah’), and Helen Steel (AKA ‘Claire’) – bore powerful witness to the lengths Special Branch was prepared to go to in order to maintain a political status quo.

As Belinda put it:

You hear about people having their phones hacked – well that’s nothing compared to what happened to me, and what happened to us, absolutely nothing. It’s like our bodies were hacked. It’s… It’s just unforgivable.

This was echoed just as potently by Jacqui:

For my body to be used to gain intelligence on a protest group, yeah… Well, I feel like I was raped. Multiple times, wasn’t I? It’s like being raped by the state. And I just want it all to go away, and it doesn’t. It doesn’t go away. And the thing is I’m going to have Lambert in my life for a long time because he’s the father of my son.

Both Belinda and Jacqui had been seduced by Bob Lambert, a veteran detective who went undercover in pursuit of the ALF. Animal rights activist Jacqui bore him a son. Belinda was not even involved in politics, and was seemingly a (and I know this sounds distasteful) tactical conquest for Lambert. But she still had her doors kicked in by police on a cover-bolstering search for ‘Bob Robinson’ in the aftermath of the Debenham’s bombings.

All that, plus the spying-on-the-Lawrence-family bombshell dropped earlier in the day, made it a packed three-quarters-of-an-hour programme.

Yet in places it posed more questions than it answered.

Take this curious section from Paul Lewis:

In 2008 the SDS closed its doors. But its work continues in the form of the NPOIU.

Accusations of undercover officers engaging in sexual relations have persisted.

Mark Jenner, who infiltrated left wing groups posing as ‘Mark Cassidy’, reportedly lived with an activist girlfriend for four years.

Jim Boyling is said to have had two serious relationships in his time undercover.

Marco Jacobs, who posed as an anarchist, allegedly also had two unsuspecting girlfriends before he disappeared in 2009.

And Mark Kennedy – outed as a police spy in 2010 – had several relationships with women, all over Europe, the longest lasting six years.

In total, ten undercover officers have been identified; of those, it’s alleged that nine had sexual relationships with people they were spying on.

The graphic above is then shown – from left to right, top row then bottom, we have:

  • Peter Francis / ‘Officer A’ / ‘Peter Daley’ / ‘Pete Black’
  • Bob Lambert / ‘Bob Robinson’ / Dr Robert Lambert MBE
  • Mark Kennedy / ‘Mark Stone’ / ‘Flash’
  • Andrew James Boyling / ‘Jim Sutton’
  • John Dines / ‘John Barker’
  • Mike Chitty / ‘Mike Blake’
  • ‘Lynn Watson’
  • ‘Mark Jacobs’ / ‘Marco’
  • Mark Jenner / ‘Mark Cassidy’
  • Unknown

But previously we have established that the Lewis/Evans team has been working with a list of (probably) twelve known – if not publicly identified – undercover officers.

The Dispatches list of ten broadly matches that list, except for the new face on the block, Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’, mentioned nowhere else except in the brief photo gallery released a couple of days ago, in which we are told he “infiltrated animal rights campaigners in the 1980s”. This makes him a possible fit for ‘Officer 10’ or ‘Officer 11’.

 

Yet where is ‘Rod Richardson’ or ‘Simon Wellings’ on the list? Both were noted for not having had sexual relationships whilst undercover – which means either would chime with the 1/10 on the Dispatches graphic having been abstinent, if Mike Chitty (in keeping with the SDS tradecraft of the 1980s) was not.

Either way, the pond is getting muddy once more – and not helped by the post-show release of another (peculiarly vague and limp) story telling us one unnamed officer didn’t infiltrate Newham Monitoring Project

PS Another related story released after the show:

 

A brief, incomplete but hopefully somewhat illustrative contextual timeline of spycop infiltrations around London Greenpeace and beyond throughout the 1980s and 1990s

Put together purely from information in the public domain. Broadly chronological. A ‘rough cut’.

  • The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) infiltration/provocation programme began in 1968
  • London Greenpeace – an avowedly anarchist environmentalist group – is set up in 1971 in opposition to French nuclear testing
  • Dave Morris began regularly attending London Greenpeace meetings in 1979
  • In the early/mid 1980s, animal rights and environmental activist groups were a high priority target for Special Branch, the SDS and other similar police units
  • In 1983 local activists, including Dave Morris, set up the North London anarchist group Haringey Community Action (Steel later joins)
  • Special Branch officer Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’ was infiltrated into the London activist scene in 1983 – and almost immediately entered into his first on-deployment long-term sexual relationship, with an activist woman ‘Charlotte’ (she was 22 and he 10 years her senior, and secretly married to another woman)
  • Lambert infiltrated London Greenpeace in 1984
  • In 1985 ‘Charlotte’ gave birth to a son by Bob Lambert
  • In 1985 London Greenpeace begins a non-violent campaign highlighting issues such as animal abuse, advertising, nutrition and labour conditions at McDonald’s.
  • In 1986 the initial Animal Rights National Index (ARNI) was set up by Special Branch in Essex – a database tracking animal rights activists and actions
  • Activists from London Greenpeace – including Bob Lambert, but not Dave Morris or Helen Steel – wrote the ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s’ factsheet in 1986
  • In 1987 Bob Lambert knowingly instigated a long-term sexual relationship with a non-activist woman, Karen/’Sarah’/’Jenny’, to further build up his cover
  • In 1987 three incendiary devices are set at department stores around south-eastern England as part of an ALF campaign – two men are arrested, prosecuted and convicted based on Bob Lambert’s inside intelligence; subsequently he is accused of having set the third device
  • In 1987 Special Branch sergeant John Dines (AKA ‘John Barker’) is sent in to Hackney to infiltrate political groups including London Greenpeace
  • Activists from the now winding-down HCA in 1988 set up Tottenham Against The Poll Tax, one of the first English AntiPoll Tax Unions; it is followed by the Hornsey & Wood Green and Green Lanes APTUs, and subsequently all three come together as the Haringey APTU
  • By the end of 1988 Lambert comes to the end of his deployment and disengages from his relationship with ‘Sarah’/’Jenny’ – who despite not being an activist had had her home raided by Special Branch purportedly looking for Lambert as part of the ALF firebombing dragnet
  • ARNI was further established at Scotland Yard in 1989
    McDonald’s security bosses Sid Nicholson and Terry Carrol – both former senior Met borough officers from Brixton police station – attend meetings with Special Branch in relation to London Greenpeace and anti-McDonald’s protests from 1989, and possibly earlier
  • From 1989, McDonald’s contract at least two separate private investigation agencies (Bishops Investigation Bureau/Westhall Services and Kings Investigation Bureau) to infiltrate and spy on the London Greenpeace to ascertain who wrote the ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s’ fact sheet; the infiltration continues until at least 1991
  • In 1990 McDonald’s issues libel writs against five named London Greenpeace activists, including Morris and Steel, for distributing the fact sheet; three offer apologies and give an undertaking not to further distribute the leaflet but Morris and Steel decide to defend the case
  • In 1990 John Dines begins a relationship with ‘Clare’ AKA Helen Steel which will last the rest of his deployment
  • In 1991 the remit of ARNI was extended so that it could now act operationally (i.e. it is no longer simply running a database)
  • The Earth First!-aligned road protest group Reclaim The Streets emerges in 1991 through the Claremont Road resistance to the M11 Link Road in East London
  • Following the success of the anti-Poll Tax campaign, in 1991 the three local groups which comprise HAPTU first use the joint banner ‘Haringey Solidarity Campaign’ and look towards wider community organising; in 1994 the three groups formally come together as HSG, with Dave Morris one of the driving forces
  • After a five year period spent infiltrating not just London Greenpeace but also squatter groups, anti-Poll Tax unions and other anti-capitalist groups in Haringey, Hackney, Stoke Newington and elsewhere, in 1992 John Dines is exfiltrated suddenly, to the distress of Helen Steel, who at the time is embarking on the start of the pre-trial period of the McLibel defence campaign
  • Stephen Lawrence is murdered in 1993; police infiltrate Peter Francis AKA ‘Peter Daley’ AKA ‘Pete Black’ into anti-racist groups, police watch-style campaigns and leftist politics in the lead up to the October ‘Unity’ demonstration, as well as the M11 anti-roads campaign; he leaves his undercover posting in 1997
  • Following several years of legal arguments – which see the defendants denied legal aid or a jury trial – the McLibel trial proper begins in 1994
  • Special Branch’s remit is extended to include environmental activists
  • In 1995 police officer Mark Jenner AKA ‘Mark Cassidy’ is infiltrated into the north London activist scene; he targets the Colin Roach Centre in an attempt to get close to Red Action/Anti-Fascist Action, as well as the anti-blacklisting Building Workers Group, and the Hackney Community Defence Association – he has a relationship with an unwitting local woman ‘Alison’ from 1996-2000, when he disappears
  • RTS starts down a very different road to its previous actions and hosts the first of its street parties in Camden High Street in May 1995, followed swiftly by other ones in Islington and elsewhere
  • Special Branch officer Andrew James Boyling AKA Jim Sutton is deployed into the London activist scene in 1995, and starts by working his way into hunt sabotage before finding himself in RTS
  • By 1996 the RTS ‘Street Party’ tactic has found itself replicated autonomously across the UK and abroad; the London RTS group reaches out beyond the environmental movement and forges links with the striking Liverpool dockers, militant RMT unionists on the London Underground, and elsewhere – culminating in a two-day long period of solidarity actions in and around the Merseyside Docks where jobs and safety are at stake as the private employer enforces casualisation
  • The final submissions to the court in the McLibel case are heard in December 1996 after 313 trial days, leaving the Judge unable to estimate when he will have a ruling
  • In early 1997 the repercussions of the McLibel trial are felt elsewhere, with arms fair company COPEX backing down from a libel case threatened against Peace News and Campaign Against Arms Trade, who decide to follow the example of Morris and Steel and not back down; COPEX pay out over £30k in costs
  • Similarly by Summer 1997 John Lewis plc backs down from a libel action against the National Anti-Hunt Campaign, who sought advice from the McLibel defence campaign
  • The Liverpool dockers and RTS come together again in 1997 for the ‘Reclaim The Ballots’ event in central London where despite police efforts thousands hold an open air party-cum-protest (though not at the planned location and minus much of the propaganda materials)
  • The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) is set up at Scotland Yard in 1998, bringing together ARNI and other similar police intelligence units into a single unit focused on animal rights activists
  • In 1998 RTS and the rest of the PGA network coordinate a ‘Global Street Party’ to mark the G7 summit taking place in Birmingham with international protest
  • The remit of the NPOIU is extended to include the wider environmental movement in 1999
  • 1999 sees more RTS/RMT actions on the London Underground, before the second ‘Global Street Party’, marking the G8 summit in Cologne; in the UK this means the J18 Carnival Against Capitalism – Andrew James Boyling is a driver of an RTS blockade vehicle, which he deliberately fails to secure
  • Later in 1999 members of RTS and other groups, including Class War and London Greenpeace, organise the UK end of the third Global Street Party, ‘N30′, marking the World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle; the UK events are more diffuse than previously, with lower numbers, more locations and a more proactive police presence that culminates in the first proper British kettle outside Euston train station
  • A longer series of events, actions, meetings and bookfair in London for Mayday 2000 are coordinated by a group including RTS, ending in the ‘Guerilla Gardening’ event on Parliament Square and an attempted kettling; under extreme pressure from police and with the media pursuing ‘organisers’, some from RTS issue a televised statement
  • In 2000 Andrew James Boyling leaves his infiltration of RTS, as does Mark Jenner; meanwhile ‘Rod Richardson’ goes in, followed by ‘Simon Wellings’, Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’, ‘Lynn Watson’, ‘Marco Jacobs’ etc…

Edited 24/6/13 to tidy up, add in Peter Francis’ real name

McLibel fact sheet authorship clusterfuck blows up at last: spycop chickens most definitely start coming home to roost

So the spycop story – bubbling away on a low simmer for many months, publicly at least – has boiled over once more.

With Friday’s ‘revelation’ that police infiltrator Detective Inspector Bob Lambert co-wrote the contentious ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s’ fact sheet which precipitated the libel action against London Greenpeace finally coming out into the open, The Guardian‘s Rob Evans and Paul Lewis (Lewvans? Evis?) have brought the whole sorry saga back into the public eye.

Whilst not strictly news (after all, the core London Greenpeace activists knew all along who contributed to their leaflet, and Lambert was publicly unmasked in October 2011), the story that a cop effectively set loose the whole McLibel chain of events has had a strong impact. Of course, that impact will be compounded by the Evans/Lewis book Undercover: The True Story Of Britain’s Secret Police due out in early July, and the joint investigation with Channel 4’s Dispatches that will air on Monday night.

However, for me more interesting was the more in-depth article published on Saturday, which didn’t even merit a link at the top of the front page of the Grauniad‘s website: Undercover policemen, undercover lovers.

Tucked away in the Family section, it was an extended excerpt from the book which more effectively ties together the different threads, and shows the patterns in the behaviour of the supposed cops-gone-rogue/few rotten apples/whatever label NSY senior management damage control is running this week.

By way of a flavour, committed but non-violent activist Helen Steel was:

…spied on by three undercover officers – [Boyling], Lambert and John Dines.

First by Lambert, the sexual and emotional predator, a consummate liar and a proven Janus, seasoned Special Branch provocateur turned trainer, teacher of tradecraft, mentor…

Second by Dines, committed political cop, stealing into the feelings of a committed campaigner, conniving to be privy to privileged legal information…

Third by Boyling, Lambert’s protégé, the controlling sociopath sent in to undermine links and interconnections between environmental, labour and social movements.

The cynical abuse of people – just collateral damage in some secretive, ill-defined dirty war on dissent – that is something that leaps out from the relatively brief overview that the article gives, whether we are talking about the SDS, ARNI or NPOIU.

And you know what? It’s simply not cricket. These pricks don’t fight fair. And I think that’s why the McLibel article has had such resonance – this goes beyond cracking hippy heads, or somesuch similar rationalisation. This is as bent as is possible to be.

We know – we know - this is not about ‘isolated instances’ or ‘exceptional circumstances’ or ‘the actions of an inexperienced new recruit’. This was planned, strategised, calculated. This involved malice aforethought, stepped approval processes, the involvement of lawyers both internal and external. Paper trails. Inter-service rivalries. Personality conflicts. All the petty bullshit that these muppets can never keep a lid on indefinitely. And no matter how many internal reviews they instigate, with tightly defined scopes and pre-limited evidence, the truth will out.

Because already we know what it will look like. All that’s really left is to match the shade of shit all over the walls to a colour chart.

PS After reading Friday’s article but before Saturday’s, I started to put together a brief timeline of what was going on with the few infiltrations we do know about in the 1980s and 1990s around London Greenpeace, and to put them into some kind of context. The Saturday article rather took away the need to do that, but I’ll stick it up anyway, as incomplete as it is.

More on the mystery of ‘Officer 10’ and ‘Officer 11’ – a ‘cheesed off’ former spy-cop?

Whilst googling my way around the whole spy-cops thing, I came across this user contribution on The Guardian website from October 2011, relating to the then-imminent publishing of Hogan-Howe’s HMIC report into Kennedy’s shenanigans:

Should be an interesting read then and here’s hoping that HOGAN-HOWE wasn’t helped too much in his ‘review’ by the likes of Peter BLEKSLEY and any of the other so called Undercover Police ‘Experts’.

Speaking of which, here’s is the link to the recent BBC Programme about KENNEDY if anyone needs it again. With only 3 more days to watch it, having first been broadcasted on Monday, 19:30 on BBC One (East Midlands area only)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0161mc6/Power_Struggle

Having now watched it I don’t know what personally winds me up the most hearing and seeing Mark KENNEDY still obviously in his method man role of Mark STONE and therefore evidently lying as easily as any normal person actually finds breathing. Or Peter BLEKSLEY, as ever and yet again, talking out his backside as the so called rent a ‘media expert’ on deep and long-term total undercover Covert Police work.

BLEKSLEY isn’t, never has been and never will be an ‘expert’ on this matter as long as he has got a hole in his arse.

Up until when he was finished and totally burnt out in 1996 he only ever did numerous short-term crime cover Ops for SO10. Allowing him after each and every single short term role he played, to pop back to the local Police station or NSY afterwards to continue playing with his truncheon, gun, blue lights and numerous Police friends.

His ‘expert’ knowledge is like comparing the method actors of long-term deep undercover Policing, on parr with the likes of Christian BALE or Daniel DAY-LEWIS to his own appearance alongside the cast of East Enders.

The same actually goes for another familiar rent a ‘media expert’ on Terrorism. Whom is known by them in the actual real know I.e. former Met Police Special Branch Officers (RIP) as never having spent one day in his entire 30 years Police service involved in counter-terrorism work! Yes you know who you are.

Basically, if you have ‘been there, done it and got the t-shirt ‘ like some of us have, that’s fine and go ahead and spout. Or otherwise, please just keep your gob shut because everyone is laughing at you.

Pete BLACK

Ps: If you are no doubt reading this cheesedoff69 and also watched the above programme. Well just imagine how ‘cheesedoff’ you are going to be when the full Documentary comes out about him! Then followed by the inevitable KENNEDY’S self publizing book and Film. Contact Paul and Rob (for your personal anonymity best by e-mail) who will do their journalistic best to right any perceived wrongs you or indeed anyone else feel strongly enough about.

As you can see, it’s purportedly by ‘Pete Black’, the former spy-cop who blew the whistle on the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) in The Observer in early 2010. He makes some amusing references to ex-undercover Met officer Peter Bleksley, who these days punts himself around as an expert on counter-terrorism and whatever else to the media, as well as writing true crime-style books.

Anyway, it’s the postscript that is most interesting.

A quick search shows that ‘cheesedoff69’ has only ever posted once, in August 2011. That post claims that its author is a former NPOIU employee:

I used to work for the NPOIU and I can say without any fear of being accurately contradicted that the officers accounts and expenditure were always scrupulously examined and overseen by independent accountants. The vast majority of members of the unit were based in London and as such were responsible for subsisting themselves i.e. their own money not the taxpayers. I was based elsewhere and as such if I had to spend the night in London then my evening meal was paid for. Far from how Mark Kennedy portrays it I regularly ate in the Chinese Buffet in Strutton Ground, £10 including a drink. Anyone thinking that is excessive has not eaten in London. The apartment close to Tower Bridge (no view of the bridge) was rented at half the market value because the owners could not get a tenant. Mark would not know this because he had nothing to do with anything other than his own day to day expenses. Cars were leased, again the buying power of the Mets allows a much higher standard of vehicle for the same cost of a basic model, I repeat no money was wasted, the senior officers watched every penny. I had great respect for the work Mark did gathering top class intelligence against the hooligans bent on causing serious damage in the UK and mainland Europe, I find it sad that he has lost the plot despite the Support he was afforded.

So did ‘cheesedoff69’ take the advice proffered by ‘Pete Black’ and contact Paul Lewis and Rob Evans? Is ‘cheesedoff69’ actually ‘Officer 10’, or even ‘Officer 11’? Or someone who was able to make the appropriate connections, act as a conduit, and enable other former undercover officers to spill the beans?

Frankly, all a bit far-fetched. Would ex-spies really take to the comments section of a public news website to exchange exhortations to whistleblow?

When is an undercover police officer not an undercover officer? On The Guardian’s spy-cop arithmetical methodology

In many respects the reporting by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans on the spy-cop story at The Guardian over the past two years has been exemplary.

However, in some areas they can be seen to obfuscate rather than illuminate.

A case in point: in January 2013 Lewis & Evans wrote an article on the legal action brought by women activists against the Met in relation to long term intimate relationships its undercover officers entered into in the course of their operations.

As the journalists put it:

Of the nine undercover police identified by the Guardian over the past two years, eight are believed to have slept with the people they were spying on. In other words, it was the norm.

Note that this was after the January 2012 ‘Officer 10’ revelation (that an undercover who wasn’t Lambert or Boyling had fathered a child by an activist with whom he had had a brief relationship), but before the ‘Rod Richardson’ story broke in February 2013.

The legal action, started back in December 2011, names five officers: Lambert, Kennedy, Boyling, ‘Barker’ (subsequently identified – in February 2013 – as Dines) and ‘Cassidy’. Let us call that five out of five.

Both ‘Watson’ and ‘Jacobs’ had also by this point been accused of sleeping with targets. The tally moves to seven for seven.

‘Pete Black’ has said ‘it was “part of the job” for fellow agents to use “the tool of sex” to maintain their cover and glean intelligence’, though I can’t find any direct admission of having done it himself. Let’s err on the side of ‘Black’ – following in the footsteps of his predecessor libertine cops Lambert and Dines and providing a good operational example to his own mentee Boyling – using “the tool of sex’ in his work. 8/8.

At this stage the only other publicly uncovered undercover was ‘Simon Wellings’. I can find no reference to him sleeping with any targets. That gives us more or less 8 out of 9.

However, The Guardian identified neither ‘Black’ (The Observer) nor ‘Wellings’ (BBC). So let’s scrub them and take the tally back down to 7/7.

So let’s go back to the mystery ‘Officer 10’ – he definitely had sex, insofar as like Boyling and Lambert he fathered a child. We are now back at 8/8.

Now, one of the interesting things with the ‘Rod Richardson’ story that Lewis & Evans gave us in February 2013 is the assertion that “the man calling himself Rod Richardson was an exception” to the ‘rule’ of having sex with targets. If in their January story Lewis & Evans were already working the ‘Richardson’ angle, then this could give us  the magic ‘eight out of nine’.

But then what about the anonymous Special Branch officer Lewis & Evans use to corroborate their ‘Jackal Run’ stories this month (for reference purposes ‘Officer 11’)? Is ‘Officer 11’ the same person as ‘Officer 10’? Or someone who they only became aware of after the January reference to “nine undercover police identified by the Guardian”?

Given that they are journalists who have ploughed this furrow largely alone in the mainstream media, Lewis and Evans are clearly in a position where they must protect their sources. It is notable that they appear to have gained the trust of the SDS whistleblower ‘Pete Black’, who initially only featured in stories co-bylined by The Observer‘s Tony Thompson.

To this end, it is conceivable that ‘Officer 10’ is also ‘Officer 11’, or that either or both is also ‘Mark Cassidy’, or even ‘Simon Wellings’ or ‘Marco Jacobs’, and that Lewis and Evans have deliberately blurred the details in each mention of their anonymous sources.

In the case of ‘Wellings’ and ‘Jacobs’ this is unlikely without knowingly publishing false information. ‘Officer 10’ bore a child from a target relationship, and no one has come forward to indicate that either ‘Wellings’ and ‘Jacobs’ became spy-parents. ‘Officer 11’ is described as an SDS infiltrator – and the SDS was supplanted in 1999 by the NPIOU. ‘Wellings’ first appeared in 2001, and ‘Jacobs’ in 2005 – so we may reasonably discount both of them.

The are other elements which muddy the water. When ‘Watson’ was identified in the wake of the Kennedy story in January 2011 in a pair of stories by Lewis and Evans co-written with Northern Editor Martin Wainwrightfirst tangentially and then directlyThe Guardian gave her a pseudonym and sat on pictures of her. This was:

At the request of intelligence officials, the Guardian has agreed to withhold identifying details about the woman, who is still a serving officer, and will refer to her only as “Officer A”.

It was three days after the first mention of the female undercover officer on 10 January 2011 that The Guardian published a pixelated photo of ‘Watson’ (story by Lewis, Evans and Crime Correspondent Vikram Dodd). It would not be until 19 January – a full nine days on from the original story – before her cover name was used, in a story attributed to Rajeev Syal, who covers the Whitehall beat, and Wainwright. Note that her undercover name and photos of her were already circulating via IndyMedia from at least 13 January.

A similar situation came about on 15 January 2011 with the initial unmasking of ‘Marco Jacobs’ – again without naming or picturing him:

The latest officer, whose identity has been withheld amid fears for his safety in other criminal operations, worked for four years undercover with an anarchist group in Cardiff.

That story was bylined to Lewis, reporter Matthew Taylor and Syal. Again, his ‘true fake identity’ and picture were not published until 19 January 2011 (story by Syal), despite his details being published on FITwatch (14 January), IndyMedia (15 January) and elsewhere before then.

These are clearly not issues relating to the protection of sources: this was a favour extended to the Met, ostensibly to facilitate the safe exfiltration of ‘Watson’ and ‘Jacobs’ from the undercover operations they were then engaged in.

And if nurturing and protecting sources is so important, why in 2009 did Lewis give assurances to his source that the CO11 spotter card he had been shown in confidence would not be published in full if he could not deliver on that promise?

Of course we all make mistakes. But to stonewall straightforward requests to elucidate on opaque reporting is not the way to remedy them.

ETA:

Paul Lewis has clarified in a series of tweets [1, 2, 3] that the ‘eight of nine identified undercover officers slept with targets’ reference takes into consideration all those identified publicly, with ‘Simon Wellings’ the only abstinent (and not for want of trying):

Ha. Well. The nine are all those who have been identified in public, by us and others.

Doesn’t include Rod, or the others we know of/have spoken to, but not yet identified. Includes Black and Wellings.

PS: Blog post is right: Wellings is the one who didn’t have sex. (Though he often complained he wasn’t getting any)

That means the “nine undercover police identified…over the past two years” when that particular report was published in January 2013 are:

  1. ‘Pete Black’
  2. Mark Kennedy
  3. ‘Lynn Watson’
  4. ‘Marco Jacobs’
  5. Jim Boyling
  6. ‘Simon Wellings’
  7. Bob Lambert
  8. John Dines
  9. ‘Mark Cassidy’

…And that “eight are believed to have slept with the people they were spying on

  1. ‘Pete Black’
  2. Mark Kennedy
  3. ‘Lynn Watson’
  4. ‘Marco Jacobs’
  5. Jim Boyling
  6. Bob Lambert
  7. John Dines
  8. ‘Mark Cassidy’

He also confirms that ‘Officer 10’ and ‘Officer 11’ are different people:

They’re not the same person.

With the subsequent ‘Jackal Run’ articles of February which revealed ‘Rod Richardson’, and the confirmation above of the existence of ‘Officer 10’ and ‘Officer 11’ as separate individuals, this indicates that the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list I posted up yesterday is accurate.

That certainly clears up some of the confusion. Thanks Paul.