The murky world of private security and its involvement in spying on ‘enemies of the state’: the road protest years

What follows is a skeleton summary of the involvement of private security firm Brays – amongst others – in monitoring anti-roads protesters on behalf of the state (at great public expense, almost entirely unaccountably, and largely in secret) during the Thatcher and Major administrations’ massive expansionist programme of building. It is mostly based on Hansard – the official Parliamentary record – and is offered here by way of rekindling interest in the topic, especially as it brings together both the issue of construction industry (and activist) blacklisting, and the use of long-term police (and private) infiltrators.

The Brays Detective Agency was hired to monitor roads protesters during the 1990s – variously by the Department of Transport, the Highways Agency (an Ibbs/Next Steps ‘Executive Agency’ under the purview of DoT) and the Treasury Solicitor.

There is no clear overall picture of exactly how much money was spent, as the various overlapping, conflicting or otherwise obfuscatory Ministerial and Agency replies to Parliamentary questions over the course of three years show:

  • 25 February 1993: £7,000 (detective agency fees to Brays on M3/Twyford Down protests)
  • 26 February 1993: £7,000 (detective agency fees to Brays on M3/Twyford Down protests)
  • 18 March 1993: £7,000 (detective agency fees to Brays on M3/Twyford Down protests)
  • 11 May 1993: £35,000 (detective agency fees on M3/Twyford Down protests since February 1992)
  • 18 January 1994: £256,211 (total manpower costs of security and policing in 1993 for M11 link road)
  • 23 February 1994: £200,000+ (additional costs of police operation on 16 February at M11 link)
  • 23 February 1994: £470,075 (total manpower costs of policing and security since September 1993 at M11 link)
  • 4 March 1994: £228,000 (payments to Brays by DoT from March 1992 to end of January 1994)
  • 4 March 1994: £193,875 (£165,000 ex VAT) (total cost of legal fees to date at Twyford Down)
  • 22 April 1994: £16,163 (additional manpower costs – NI contributions and overtime but not basic pay – for policing at M11 link/Wanstead Common in January)
  • 25 April 1994: £760,000 (total spend with private detective agencies by DoT since 1991)
  • 4 May 1994: £250,829.52 (detective agency fees on M3/Twyford Down protests)
  • 1 July 1994: £253,800 (£216,000 ex VAT) (total legal fees on M3/Twyford Down protests)
  • 14 July 1994: £100,000 (sum set aside to cover HA’s solicitors’ payment to private detective agencies in relation to Batheaston/Swainswick (Solsbury Hill) bypass protests)
  • 14 July 1994: £21,000 (payment due to be made to private detective agencies by HA’s solicitors in relation to Batheaston/Swainswick (Solsbury Hill) bypass protests)
  • 14 July 1994: £71,450 (expenditure to date by HA with Bray’s relating to M11 link, A11 (Norfolk) & Batheaston bypass)
  • 12 December 1994: £1 million (approximate security cost to HA of operation the previous week at M11 link protest site)
  • 12 December 1994: £100,000 (approximate cost to HA of site clearance at Claremont Road M11 link protest)
  • 12 December 1994: £3 million (approximate cost to HA for security staff at M11 link/Claremont Road from September 1993 to date)
  • 12 December 1994: £185,000 (fees paid by HA to Brays for Claremont Road/M11 link)
  • 12 December 1994: £180,000 (approximate legal fees payable by HA for Claremont Road/M11 link)
  • 12 December 1994: £500,000 (estimated monthly cost to HA for security at Claremont Road/M11 link)
  • 12 December 1994: £25,000 (estimated monthly cost to HA for engaging Brays at Claremont Road/M11 link)
  • 12 December 1994: £4,000 (estimated monthly cost in legal fees to HA at Claremont Road/M11 link)
  • 27 February 1995: £267,377 (total sum paid to Brays by DoT up to end of contract 31 July 1994)
  • 21 March 1995: £276,000 (total legal fees payable by HA for M3 Twyford Down protests)
  • 23 March 1995: £310,930 (total expenditure by Treasury Solicitor to Brays for work sponsored by DoT)
  • 5 April 1995: £294,000 (payments to Brays by HA, M11 link)
  • 5 April 1995: £25,000 (monthly payments to Brays by HA, M11 link)
  • 5 April 1995: £150,000 (payments to Brays by HA, Batheaston bypass)
  • 5 April 1995: £259,000 (payments to Brays by HA, M3 Twyford Down)
  • 5 April 1995: £1,500 (payments to Brays by HA, M65 Blackburn)
  • 5 April 1995: £200 (payments to other detective agencies by HA, M65 Blackburn)
  • 5 April 1995: £300 (payments to Brays by HA, A34 Newbury Bypass)
  • 5 April 1995: £450 (payments to Brays by HA, A11 Besthorpe-Wymondham)
  • 5 April 1995: £705,450 (total payments to Brays & other detective agencies by HA in relation to road protests)
  • 9 January 1996: £950,588 (total expenditure by HA’s solicitors on services supplied by Brays)

John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen raised some interesting points in his adjournment debate of 2 December 1994:

Twyford down was, as far as I can establish, the first time that widespread surveillance was carried out on British people by private detective agencies acting on behalf of the Government. Secondly, the Government have played a direct role in the retention of private security guards who used violence against protestors. Thirdly, the Government are now pursuing, at taxpayers’ expense, a punitive legal action against people who allegedly took part in protests of the most innocuous and innocent form.

Brays detective agency was hired, for what turned out to be a cost of more than £250,000, to take photographs of protesters and to serve papers on them. As far as I can establish, that scale of surveillance has never been undertaken by any Department. The privatisation of surveillance and snooping should therefore have been approached with great sensitivity and care—but far from it.

There are no guidelines, either in the Department of Transport or in the Government, as to the use of private detective agencies. I asked the National Audit Office to investigate the hiring of Brays, and the Comptroller and Auditor General confirmed to me in a letter dated 18 October that expenditure on Brays was allowed to grow from an initial £836 allowed within delegated authorisation to £250,000.

Expenditure reached nearly £100,000 before a proper written contract was let—albeit then without competitive tendering. It was only after I had tabled parliamentary questions about contracts that any formal contract was let. The Comptroller and Auditor General concluded: Whilst the Department felt they had to respond quickly to the escalating protest action it is still important for them to follow authorised contract procedures … in this case, however, the Department neither established a contract when the scope of the work changed from a one-off action to an on-going surveillance operation, nor held a competitive tender exercise once they recognised the extent of the work involved. The rules of the Department were not followed.

The National Audit Office was clearly not initially convinced that expenditure on Brays was even legal. The Comptroller and Auditor General wrote to me, saying: there were no special guidelines in place on employing private detective agencies; our financial auditors have looked into whether this expenditure should have treated as novel and contentious, and therefore subject to Treasury approval. I understand that the Treasury has now ruled that the expenditure was allowable, and there I suspect that the issue will remain unless it is challenged in the courts.

I must say that I doubt whether Parliament has ever knowingly voted money to the Department of Transport for such a use of private detective agencies. I hope that we can be told what the role of Ministers was in the affair. Were all the decisions taken by junior civil servants rattling around out of control, or were Ministers involved in the decisions on the surveillance? If so, which Minister took the decision to use Brays in this role, to overrule normal contracting procedures and to spend £250,000 of public money? I hope that the Minister for Railways and Roads can tell the House the answers.

Exactly who Brays were/are is an interesting question. The company has a surprisingly light internet footprint, comprising mostly an array of corporate records (such company and director filings) which are difficult to hide, being legally required documentation and made available for free by Companies House licensees such as Duedil, or else references on listings sites derived from scraped content from same.

A moderately detailed search on Brays will tell you that it began as a detective agency in 1929, but with little or no more detail than that.

In terms of Brays’ involvement in the monitoring of roads protests, the first reference to them comes on 11 November 1992, again via John Denham MP, during a debate on the Rio Agreement:

Are there no limits on how far the Government will sink in the promotion of environmental destruction, including the hiring of a private detective agency, Bray’s detective agency of Southampton, to photograph peaceful protesters at Twyford Down? Does the Minister have any limits as to how far the Government will go in destroying the environment and suspending the basic civil liberties of Her Majesty’s subjects?

On 18 November 1992 Roads & Traffic Minister Kenneth Carlisle MP acknowledged that the Department of Transport “has employed Bray’s Detective Agency (Southampton) Ltd. to serve papers on people who have trespassed on the Department’s land and to photograph trespassers” in relation to protests against the M3 extension at Twyford Down.

Carlisle further admitted that Brays “has been employed from time to time since March this year on an hourly basis at its standard rates, plus expenses,” an arrangement he envisages “will continue to be employed on this basis for as long as necessary.” (A statement by Carlisle on 4 March 1994 confirms that Brays was engaged by the DoT in March 1992, adding that “its contract runs until the end of July 1994”.)

A week later, on 25 November, Carlisle states (whilst describing the range of work for which the DoT might use private detectives) that “the cost of tracing an individual is usually in the range of £60 to £90 per case.”

The first reference to the specific cost to the tax payer of the DoT’s arrangement with Brays in relation to roads protests is, as noted in the list above, on 25 February 1993, when Mr Carlisle states that Brays – recommended to the Department by the Twyford Down engineer (presumably WS Atkins) – has up until that point “been paid approximately £7,000.” The £7,000 figure is repeated in Carlisle’s response to Bob Cryer MP the next day (26 February 1993), and then again on 18 March in response to a question from Mike Gapes MP.

Yet in just over a month, the cost of doing business had jumped up six-fold to £35,000, according to Carlisle’s 11 May response to Denham, snowballing yet further to £228,000 by the end of January 1994 (according to a subsequent Carlisle statement on 4 March), and then £250, 829.52 a couple of months later (see written answer on 4 May 1994 by Carlisle’s successor as Minister for Roads & Traffic, Robert Key MP).

Curiously, by 25 April 1994 Key was telling Martyn Jones MP that the Department of Transport had spent a whopping £760,000 on private detective agencies since 1991. No breakdown was offered of when, where and with whom this vast amount of spy cash was doled out.

The government did not even seem to be getting value for money, regardless of the constitutional or ethical ins and outs of spying on the citizenry. In his 11 May 1994 comment, Carlisle stated that Brays had by then served papers on “an additional three individuals” to the three served at the time of his 12 March statement (serving papers being – according to Denham himself on 25 February the sole reason for engaging Brays in the first place). In other words, by its own figures the government was paying a private company nearly £6,000 to serve papers on each protester accused of committing a civil offence of trespass.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

REBOOTING… On #spycops, and more

NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED SOON

It has been a fair old while since last I posted; it’s been a busy old time. But I will endeavour to start updating this ol’ blog more assiduously now things are back on an even keel.

Firstly – belatedly – I should point you to the website of the Undercover Research Group, which was launched a couple of months ago to serve as a platform for URG’s detailed investigations into the use by police of long-term infiltrators within political movements.

It is still very much a work-in-progress, so please excuse the odd typo, as we strive towards both keeping up with current events (for example, the announcement of the public inquiry into undercover policing, the Hillsborough inquest, construction industry blacklisting, the convergence of private and state intelligence agents, etc), and publishing detailed profiles on the themes, units, individuals and documents associated with the topic. We are a small team, but already we have put in many thousands of work-hours. We hope that the fruits of our labour, which we shall make publicly available as soon as possible, will help civil society make better, well-informed sense of this subject.

And secondly, I hope also to return to my less serious online projects on film and comics as soon as time and work pressures allow. Because there has to be more to life than just digging into barrelfuls of rotting apples.

The Chuckle Brothers – A Neo-Maoist Posadist Perspective On Chuckle Theory

BristleKRS:

A chuckle by one is a chuckle for all

Originally posted on Proletarian Democracy:

PD Chuckle Brothers Cmbbes Barry And Paul, we salute you

Comrades

For many years the British children’s television show “Chucklevision” was written off by the chinstroking Bond Street lounger pseudo-Marxists and their backsliding fellow travellers as a simplistic expression of ruling class ideology; a perfect illustration of lowest common denominator bourgeois distractionist TV trash with no other purpose but to divert children from wholesome interests (such as humming along to Rage Against Machines, scanning the skies for aliens, engaging in the rough and tumble of juvenile streetfighting gangs, and collecting politically sound comics like Johnny Red) in an ignoble attempt to pervert the flowers of revolutionary youth and prevent them from embracing their ultimate destinies as ruthlessly disciplined neo-Luddite cadres.

However upon closer inspection, and illuminated by the effervescent light of Posadist theory, it becomes clear that Paul and Barry Chuckle are not the comic figures or tragic simpletons they invariably appear to…

View original 718 more words

‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny”… except when it suits THEM

‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ = Neither TRUTH nor JUSTICE

This Thursday and Friday at the High Court in London the state’s strategy of infiltrating spy-cops into the lives of political activists goes on trial, after a fashion at least.

Essentially a bunch of women who were treated like patsies by undercover cops and their bosses – tricked into intimate relationships, used as living, breathing camouflage, exploited as a means of infiltrating political groups more convincingly – will argue that the Metropolitan Police should drop the ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) approach which it has so far used to avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of its decades-long domestic spying operation.

The concept of NCND has been wheeled out from time to time, but those of a more sceptical bent, cynical even, would note how it has only been since the legal case brought against the police that it has been wheeled out as some kind of inviolable principle underpinning the very fabric of democracy and protecting those brave, selfless souls who volunteer to become well-paid, under-supervised flatfooted spooks of the state…

So if you are around London either today or tomorrow, get thee down to the Royal Courts of Justice(!) on The Strand from 9am and show how you stand in solidarity with these women and all those others targeted by undercover cops.

For more info on how the case goes, check Police Spies Out of Lives on Twitter.

Seven Magnificent Reasons why NCND is bullshit!

1: Some former undercover spy-cops have outed themselves

Well, it’s rather difficult to keep this whole NCND charade going when the very people it’s supposedly there to protect are exposing themselves, isn’t it?

  • Peter Francis: In March 2010, then using the pseudonym ‘Officer A’, former Special Branch officer Francis candidly talked to The Observer about his infiltration of left-wing and anti-fascist groups on behalf of the SDS from September 1993 until September 1997. He also noted the interest that his superiors had in infiltrating ‘black justice groups’, particularly in the wake of criticisms of the Met’s handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.[1][2]
  • PC Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’ - NPOIU spy

    PC Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’ – NPOIU spy

    Mark Kennedy: A Metropolitan Police officer who worked undercover within the environmental movement for the NPOIU between 2003 and 2009, before leaving the Met and continuing the same for private spying company Global Open for a further ten months, Kennedy admitted his role as a cop to activists who confronted him in October 2010.[3] He then repeated his admissions to another activist in November 2010.[4]

These admissions were then the basis for the collapse of the second Ratcliffe-on-Soar trial, and subsequent quashing of convictions from the first – admissions supported by the Crown Prosecution Service, Nottinghamshire Constabulary, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and others in their various reports on the debacle.
Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the hagiographic documentary about him that Max Clifford brokered…[5]
  • DI Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’ - undercover cop & SDS spymaster

    DI Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’ – undercover cop & SDS spymaster

    Bob Lambert: Since his exposure in October 2011 by members of the London Greenpeace group on which he spied in the 1980s,[6][7][8][9] the former Metropolitan Police Special Branch spy-cop and then spymaster Lambert has repeatedly acknowledged that he was an SDS infiltrator, notably in the brief statement he himself put out.[10]

In his filmed interview with Channel 4 News in July 2013, Lambert again accepted that he had been an undercover officer, and that Francis had been too.[11][12]
  • PC Jim Boyling AKA ‘Grumpy Jim Sutton’ - moved from SDS to Muslim Contact Unit with boss Lambert

    PC Jim Boyling AKA ‘Grumpy Jim Sutton’ – moved from SDS to Muslim Contact Unit with boss Lambert

    Jim Boyling: Mentored by Francis and commanded by Lambert – with whom he later helped set up the ‘Muslim Contact Unit’ within Special Branch[13][14][15] – Boyling infiltrated Reclaim The Streets as ‘Jim Sutton’ on behalf of SDS from 1995 until 2000.[16][17][18][19][20]

In 1999 he began going out with a female activist. He ended their relationship suddenly and disappeared from the environmental movement in late 2000 when his SDS deployment came to an end. But in November 2001 she tracked him down and they restarted their relationship.[21]
Soon he admitted to her that he had been an undercover police officer, got her pregnant, isolated her from her environmentalist friends. In time he also persuaded her to change her name by deed poll to reduce the chance of his police bosses discovering that he was sleeping with a former target, told her personal information about activists who had been spied upon, and revealed the identities of several other undercover officers, including John Dines and Bob Lambert, the latter of whom even visited their home.[20]
They had two children together and married in 2005, before the relationship disintegrated. By 2009 they had divorced.[22][23]

2: The police have already confirmed some infiltrators were officers

…And even if the spy-cops aren’t outing themselves, their bosses are quietly confirming as much off the record!

  • Mark Kennedy: Whilst in the early stages of the scandal the Met maintained a ‘no comment’ response to questions about Kennedy or the NPOIU, soon there was such a deluge of further embarrassing details that police chiefs were forced to acknowledge him as a cop in under a fortnight.[24]
  • ‘Lynn Watson’ - the NPOIU infiltrator whom Kennedy betrayed

    ‘Lynn Watson’ – the NPOIU infiltrator whom Kennedy betrayed

    ‘Lynn Watson’: Exposed by The Guardian in January 2011, ‘Watson’ was initially known only as ‘Officer A’ (the newspaper’s editors presumably having forgotten that less than a year previously its sister title had assigned that pseudonym to Peter Francis) thanks to a deal with “senior officers” and “senior intelligence sources” who in the face of overwhelming evidence (including being grassed up by Kennedy) admitted she was NPOIU, but asked for a head-start before publishing her work name or her photograph so that she could be relocated from a subsequent undercover operation.[25]

Almost immediately her full work name, unpixelated photograph and undercover biography became known through activist news media.[26][27][28]
Police sources further confirmed to The Times that she was a serving police officer who had worked undercover for NPOIU, offering additional information on her deployments.[29]
  • ‘Marco Jacobs’ - NPOIU's disruptive cuckoo in Cardiff's anarchist movement

    ‘Marco Jacobs’ – NPOIU’s disruptive cuckoo in Cardiff’s anarchist movement

    ‘Marco Jacobs’: At the same time as ‘Watson’ was confirmed as a serving officer working in NPOIU, so was ‘Jacobs’ – or ‘Officer B’ – who infiltrated groups in Brighton and Cardiff.[20]

  • Jim Boyling: Earlier this year during legal proceedings to have the conviction quashed of an environmental protester who was tried alongside Boyling in 1997, prosecutors agreed that John Jordan had been wrongfully convicted. However, they refused to say why they considered it a miscarriage of justice, even though it was patently obvious it was because Boyling had been an infiltrator using a fake identity, preferring instead to strike an NCND pose – all whilst the Met itself confirmed that Boyling had been a police officer.[30]

3: Senior police officers have spoken with impunity about undercover units and their personnel

In fact, some of the biggest cops think that the rules don’t apply to them, and will run their gums pretty much anywhere…

  • Chief Constable Ben Gunn - the former Special Branch supremo who nurtured SDS, laid ground for NETCU, and led ACPO into turf war with MI5?

    Chief Constable Ben Gunn – the former Special Branch supremo who nurtured SDS, prepared the ground for NETCU, and led ACPO into turf war with MI5?

    Ben Gunn: A career Special Branch officer since 1963, Gunn spent two years running SO12 before moving to leadership roles at Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 1991, becoming Chief Constable in 1994, a rank he held until retirement in March 2002. It was Gunn – an officer intimately familiar with SDS, its officers and operations, and who in later years chaired the ACPO Security Committee – who facilitated the participation of ex-SDS infiltrators and Special Branch case officers in Peter Taylor’s 2002 documentary television series True Spies.[31]

  • Chief Constable Denis O'Connor - the Chief Inspector of Constabulary whose fairweather application of NCND identified numerous undercover officers

    Chief Constable Denis O’Connor – the Chief Inspector of Constabulary whose fairweather application of NCND identified numerous undercover officers

    Denis O’Connor: In his capacity as Chief Inspector of Constabulary, O’Connor (a Chief Police Officer since around 1990) openly acknowledged Mark Kennedy as having been an undercover police officer in media appearances and interviews.[32]

O’Connor’s HMIC review of ‘national police units which provide intelligence on criminality associated with protest’ (that’s version three of the report: an initial, insipid draft by Bernard Hogan-Howe was rewritten by O’Connor himself, before that second version then had to be pulped and rush-written a third time as the story that Jim Boyling had given evidence under oath whilst using his fake identity broke the night before the report was due to be released)[33][34] – explicitly references the arbitrary exercise of NCND:
It is normal practice for the police to neither confirm nor deny the true identity of undercover officers. This is to protect both the officers themselves, and the effectiveness of the tactic. However, the case of Mark Kennedy is one of exceptional circumstances, including his own public revelations, the media interest in him, and the fact that the Court of Appeal named him on 19 July 2011. Because of this, HMIC has chosen on this occasion to use his real name.[35]
  • Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe - veteran of the Hillsborough police and author of the original HMIC whitewash on undercover policing

    Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe – veteran of the Hillsborough police and author of the original HMIC whitewash on undercover policing

    Bernard Hogan-Howe: After leaving HMIC, where he authored the never publicly released original report on spy-cop units (as noted above),[33][34]Hogan-Howe was made Metropolitan Police Commissioner – and in that capacity he too has made numerous public statements in which he accepts that various people were undercover officers, either directly or by implication.

Facing questions from the Metropolitan Police Authority in October 2011 in relation to allegations that Jim Boyling perjured himself whilst undercover, the Commissioner by implication confirmed that he had been a Metropolitan Police officer at that time: “I am just a little careful about answering the point about whether he is still working for us and what he is doing. He is in the misconduct process, which is a publicly reported fact, so he must be still working for us.”[36]
Following the allegations made by Peter Francis that SDS officers had been invited to contribute to a ‘smear campaign’ against the Lawrence family in the lead up to the Macpherson Inquiry, in June 2013 Hogan-Howe again failed to invoke NCND, instead stating: “I am personally shocked by the allegations that an undercover officer was told to find evidence that might smear the Lawrence family… If these allegations are true, it’s a disgrace, and the Metropolitan Police Service will apologise.”[37][38]
  • Chief Constable Mick Creedon - bangs on about NCND but names report after a confirmed former undercover officer!

    Chief Constable Mick Creedon – bangs on about NCND but names report after a confirmed former undercover officer!

    Mick Creedon: The serving Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, Creedon – currently in charge of the cops-investigating-cops Operation Herne – has freely acknowledged that some suspected spies (such as Francis and Lambert) were police infiltrators… Whilst also invoking NCND in the first report, but then devoting the entire second report to ‘Allegations of Peter Francis’![39][40]

4: Parliament has taken evidence under oath from serving and former undercover officers

It takes a very special type of person to fold so quickly under a Keith Vaz interrogation. But dangit, these guys will give it a go!

The Home Affairs Select Committee has heard evidence from a number of police officers – both serving and former – in relation to undercover policing, and issued both an interim report in March 2013[41] and a follow-up in October of the same year.[42]

  • Mark Kennedy: The former Metropolitan Police officer appeared in person before the committee in February 2013. He attested that he had undertaken undercover duties since 1998[43] and was accepted into the NPOIU in 2001,[44] where he subsequently worked as an undercover officer infiltrating political groups in the UK and overseas.
  • DAC Patricia Gallan - the original Herne top cop whose investigation got nowhere

    DAC Patricia Gallan – the original Herne top cop whose investigation got nowhere

    Patricia Gallan: Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan ran the Met’s Operation Herne until February 2013, when it was transferred to the care of Derbyshire Constabulary. She appeared before the committee in February 2013 and made reference to a “policy” of NCND whilst discussing the topic in the abstract;[45][46] yet she also explicitly referred both to Mark Kennedy and an SDS officer exposed in his wake (who can reasonably be deduced to be Boyling).[47]

  • Mick Creedon: The Derbyshire Chief Constable, who took over the running of Operation Herne from DAC Gallan at the invitation of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe in February 2013, gave evidence before the committee in July of that year. He acknowledged that Peter Francis was an officer in SDS,[48] and neither here nor in his earlier letter to the committee, in which he noted the allegations made by Peter Francis in relation to the Lawrence family”, did he make reference to NCND.[49]

5: Inquiries by a number of authorities have clearly identified undercover officers

Since January 2011, when Mark Kennedy was publicly exposed in the mainstream media as an undercover police infiltrator, there have been almost countless official investigations, inquiries, reviews and reports into every possible aspect of the undercover policing issue – though not all of them public. The ones so far in the public domain all identify at least some officers to some degree, though…

  • Sir Christopher Rose - apparently it's alright for him to name undercovers, so long as it's whilst he's bollocking lawyers

    Sir Christopher Rose – apparently it’s alright for him to name undercovers, so long as it’s whilst he’s bollocking lawyers

    Rose Report (CPS): In April 2009 114 people were arrested in relation to a planned protest at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant, based on intelligence supplied by undercover Metropolitan Police officer Mark Kennedy. 26 were charged, with twenty tried (and convicted) in December 2010, and a further six due to go on trial in January 2011.

Neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service disclosed to the defence that there had been a spy in their midst; but in October 2010 suspicious activists themselves had confronted Kennedy with indisputable evidence that he had been a policeman, and he confessed. With the cat out of the bag, the second trial collapsed before it began, with the convictions from the first trial subsequently quashed.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer then commissioned Sir Christopher Rose to inquire into the issue of disclosure. Rose’s report, published in December 2011, freely acknowledges that Kennedy was an undercover police officer working for NPOIU, and details not just Kennedy’s actions but those of his superior in NPOIU, the Nottinghamshire investigation team, and the CPS prosecutors.[50]
  • Operation Soisson/Operation Herne (Met Police/Derbyshire Constabulary): The Metropolitan Police first began to investigate allegations about its SDS undercover unit in October 2011, when Operation Soisson was initiated with just four officers. Soisson then became Herne, with first Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan and then Derbyshire Constabulary’s Chief Constable Mick Creedon taking nominal charge.
The first report of Operation Herne was published in July 2013, focusing on the use of ‘covert identities’ (most notably employing the identities of dead children) by undercover police.[39] This report makes early mention of the “policy of ‘neither confirming nor denying’ the use of or identity of an undercover police officer”, which it describes as “a long established one used by UK policing”.[51] Accordingly, this report does not refer to any undercover officer by their covert identity or real name. Only the identity of a dead child – Rod Richardson – suspected of having been appropriated by an NPOIU undercover spy is mentioned.
However, the report makes copious references to codenamed officers which make deduction simple. Creedon, for example, notes “allegations that a former SDS officer (N14) had a relationship with a woman whilst he had worked undercover and that he had gone on to father children with her,” in circumstances that make it plain to deduce that this is Jim Boyling.[52]
There is also reference to “a video interview provided to the Guardian by the former SDS Officer N43”, who is clearly Peter Francis.[53] Reminiscences by retired officer ‘N2’ about a situation in which he “found himself in a situation where he had penetrated an organisation and was then asked by the group to help trace a mole among them” suggests this may be Mike Ferguson, an early SDS spy[54] previously outed in the True Spies documentary series.[55] Similarly ‘N85’ would appear to be the former Commander of Special Branch, Roger Pearce – a career Branch man with extensive experience of covert policing and himself a former SDS undercover officer.[56]
The second Herne report, which came out in March 2014, focused on the claims of ex-SDS officer Peter Francis.[40] Yet despite even being called Report 2 – Allegations of Peter Francis, Creedon sticks to the NCND credo, this time even throwing in some case law and legislative references to try and plug some of the leaks.[57]
Notwithstanding this, the report still refers to Francis’ boss Bob Lambert by name, as well as by implication as ‘N10’.[58]
  • Mark Ellison QC - how come a case review by a brief and his assistant can uncover dodgy police activities that numerous well-staffed investigations by the Met, IPCC, CPS, HMIC and the rest couldn't?

    Mark Ellison QC – how come a case review by a brief and his assistant can uncover dodgy police activities that numerous well-staffed investigations by the Met, IPCC, CPS, HMIC and the rest couldn’t?

    Stephen Lawrence Independent Review (Mark Ellison QC): Appointed by Home Secretary Theresa May as a sop to the Lawrence family, who were calling for a full independent inquiry, the Ellison Review – released the same day in March 2014 as the second Herne report – was an unexpected bomb, forensically blowing apart many of the Met’s orthodoxies on not just its investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence but also on the behaviour of Special Branch and its undercover unit SDS.[59][60][61][62]

The Review makes no claims about NCND, and instead simply assigns number codes to pretty much all undercover officers, with the exception of obvious ones such as Peter Francis and Bob Lambert.
  • HMIC Review: As noted above, the O’Connor/Hogan-Howe Review of national police units which provide intelligence on criminality associated with protest (snappy title) for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary was another report which potentously explained the importance of NCND, before then completely undermining it as a concept by naming Mark Kennedy throughout.[35]
  • Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure Final Report (IPCC): Covering similar ground as the Rose Report but concentrating on the actions of police officers, the IPCC report names Kennedy as an undercover officer, but refers to his case officer David Hutcheson only as ‘NPOIU DI’, and their superior responsible for disclosure as ‘NPOIU DCI’.[63][64]

6: Earlier tribunals have rejected the idea that the NCND convention can be rigidly and indefinitely deployed

Previous attempts by official bodies to apply a blanket NCND response to any inquiries relating to the use of spies or secret intelligence against those who were demonstrably not violent or threats to the state have been met with short shrift.

The job of adjudicating on appeals to the Information Tribunal – where a data controlling organisation has refused to release information under the Data Protection Act (1998) citing a section 28 ‘national security’ exemption – belongs to the National Security Appeals Panel. Already the NSAP has made a number of interesting decisions on this issue – and ones involving the ‘big boy’ spooks of the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), not just the more déclassé rubber heelers of Special Branch, or – worse! – the impertinent young bucks of the newer national ‘domestic extremism’ units.

Typically in these appeals the state has argued that by letting ‘innocent’ people know that no information is held on them, this enables a ‘guilty’ person to incrementally build up an accurate understanding of whether information is held on them.

Whilst – repeatedly – the Panel tends to point appellants towards the Investigatory Powers Tribunal as a means to pursue such issues, the clear implication is that the ‘incremental’ argument is not monolithic and must be weighed against other contributory factors.

  • Norman Baker MP - a dangerous terraist and government minister who weakened MI5's blanket NCND defence (just don't ask about Dr Kelly)

    Norman Baker MP – a dangerous terraist and now government minister who weakened MI5’s blanket NCND defence (just don’t ask about Dr Kelly)

    Norman Baker v. Home Secretary (2001): The Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes won a landmark judgement which removed the ability of the Security Service to use a blanket NCND policy.[65][66]

It came after the Lewes MP received an anonymous tip-off that he had been under Special Branch surveillance in 1986-1989, that intelligence on him was held by the Animal Rights National Index (ARNI, a precursor to NPOIU and NETCU), and that this information was then passed onto MI5 in 1998 by a ‘source’ inside South Downs Earth First![65][67][68]
On hearing this claim he put in a DPA subject access request to MI5 asking to see what information it held on him, but this was stonewalled with an NCND response.
In its conclusion, the NSAP noted that:
the blanket exemption given by the Certificate in relation to section 7(1)(a) is wider than is necessary to protect national security…the blanket exemption relieves the Service of any obligation to give a considered answer to individual requests…[69]
  • Phillip Hilton v. Foreign Secretary (2003): In this case a former GCHQ employee sought to find out whether his personal data had been shared with other public bodies or private companies, and to clarify whether the travel restrictions that were customarily part of his employment conditions then remained in force even though he had left the job more than a decade previously.
Following an NCND response from GCHQ, he appealed to NSAP; the Panel declined to rule on the principle of NCND, though noted that it found it “difficult to accept that the NCND reply can always be justified on this ground, because as a matter of commonsense it may be thought that there are some cases where a definite response would not enable any inference to be drawn in other cases.”[70]
Nevertheless, the Panel dismissed the appeal and instead pointed to the secret Investigatory Powers Tribunal established under RIPA as the appropriate body to consider whether it was “an unjustified claim by GCHQ to give a NCND response or to withhold personal data on national security grounds”.[71]
  • Tony Gosling v. Home Secretary (2003): Here a journalist requested from MI5 any information held on him by them, citing the Baker decision; the Service turned him down and gave an NCND response, citing s28. He then appealed to NSAP.
Whilst this appeal too was dismissed, the Panel indicated that the Service conceded ground:
Assuming that the general NCND policy is itself justified…the Service accepts that the policy is not absolute. …There may be other, as yet not specifically identified cases, where departure from NCND might be justifiable.[72]
  • Peter Hitchens v. Home Secretary (2003): A journalist and former activist with the International Socialists in the early 1970s, Hitchens made a subject access request to the Security Service on the back of the Baker decision.
Whilst sympathetic to Hitchens’ argument that the passage of time should affect the degree to which NCND might be considered appropriate, the Panel also gave weight to the ‘incremental’ argument, noting that “If (the appellant) and a university contemporary both made requests under section 7(1)(a) for records which, if they exist, are more than thirty years old, a NCND reply in one case but not the other might suggest that more recent data are held in that case alone.”
The appeal was dismissed, for essentially the same reasons as in Gosling.[73]

7: Police only invoked the NCND defence after legal action was brought against them

As noted by the women’s support group Police Spies Out Of Lives:

The women launched their legal action in December 2011, but it was not until June 2012 that the police first mentioned NCND in relation to the claim.[74]

What a funny coincidence…

Yes – I think we have a winning ticket here!

Notes

  1. Tony Thompson, ‘Undercover policeman reveals how he infiltrated UK’s violent activists’, The Observer, 14 March 2010 (accessed 1 May 2014).
  2. Tony Thompson, ‘Inside the lonely and violent world of the Yard’s elite undercover unit’, The Observer, 14 March 2010 (accessed 1 May 2014).
  3. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, pp307-311.
  4. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, pp311-314.
  5. Brian Hill, ‘Confessions Of An Undercover Cop’, Cutting EdgeChannel 4, 14 November 2011 (accessed 15 April 2014).
  6. London Greenpeace, ‘Undercover police agent publicly outed at conference’, Indymedia UK, 15 October 2011 (accessed 15 March 2014).
  7. London Greenpeace, ‘Stop police infiltration of campaign groups!’, London Greenpeace (via Indymedia UK), 15 October 2011 (accessed 15 March 2014).
  8. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber/Guardian Books, 2013, pp59-61.
  9. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber/Guardian Books, 2013, pp331-332.
  10. Robert Lambert, ‘Rebuilding Trust and Credibility: A preliminary commentary reflecting my personal perspective’, Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) (via Scribd), February 2012 (accessed 1 April 2014).
  11. Andy Davies, ‘Interview: Ex-Met’s Bob Lambert on Stephen Lawrence smear’, Channel 4 News, Channel 4, 2 July 2013 (accessed 15 April 2014).
  12. Andy Davies, ‘I’m sorry, says ex-undercover police boss’, Channel 4 News, Channel 4, 5 July 2013 (accessed 15 April 2014).
  13. Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence staff page, ‘Dr Robert Lambert – Lecturer in Terrorism Studies’, University of St. Andrews website (accessed 15 March 2014).
  14. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber/Guardian Books, 2013, 56
  15. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber/Guardian Books, 2013, p194.
  16. unknown author, ‘Undercover police: the unmasked officers’, Daily Telegraph, 10 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  17. Sue, ‘Jim Sutton – undercover cop in Reclaim the Streets’, Indymedia UK, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  18. Sue, ‘Jim Sutton – undercover cop in Reclaim the Streets’, Sheffield Indymedia, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  19. Transpontine, ‘Undercover in East Dulwich’, Transpontine, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  20. Paul Lewis, Rob Evans & Rowenna Davis ‘Undercover policeman married activist he was sent to spy on’, The Guardian, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  21. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, pp188-192.
  22. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, pp192-197.
  23. Paul Lewis, Rob Evans & Rowenna Davis, ‘Ex-wife of police spy tells how she fell in love and had children with him’, The Guardian, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  24. Paul Lewis & Rob Evans, ‘Spying on protest groups has gone badly wrong, police chiefs say’, The Guardian, 19 January 2011 (accessed 5 June 2014).
  25. Paul Lewis, Rob Evans & Martin Wainwright, ‘Second police officer to infiltrate environmental activists unmasked’, The Guardian, 12/01/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
  26. quiteliketheguardianactually, ‘Officer A’, Indymedia UK, 13/01/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
  27. ABC Anarres, ‘Three undercover political Police unmasked as infiltrators into UK Anarchist, Anti-Fascist and Climate Justice movements’, Indymedia UK, 19/01/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
  28. infiltrators, ‘Lynn Watson’, Infiltrators & Informers blog, 08/03/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
  29. Sean O’Neill, ‘Police infiltrator in fear for her life after gang cover is blown’, The Times, 20/04/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
  30. Rob Evans, ‘Prosecutors ‘behaving ludicrously’ in case of alleged undercover officer’, The Guardian, 27 January 2014 (accessed 5 June 2014).
  31. Daniel Foggo & David Bamber, ‘BBC accused of putting MI5 agents’ lives at risk’, Daily Telegraph, 10 November 2002 (accessed 2 June 2014).
  32. Simon Israel, ‘Policing undercover policing: how far is too far?’, Channel 4 News, 2 February 2011 (accessed 15 April 2014).
  33. Sean O’Neill, ‘Met chief’s report on undercover police was rewritten’, The Times, 24 March 2014 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  34. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, ‘Police accused of allowing undercover officers to lie in court’, The Guardian, 19 October 2011 (accessed 4 June).
  35. HMIC, A review of national police units which provide intelligence on criminality associated with protest, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, February 2012, p4 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  36. Metropolitan Police Authority, ‘Transcript of MPA meeting’, MPA website, 27 October 2011, pp20-27 (accessed 23 April 2014).
  37. Paul Peachey, ‘Met head Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe ‘shocked’ by allegations of smear campaign against Stephen Lawrence family ’, The Independent, 24 June 2013 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  38. Simon Israel, ‘Was Stephen Lawrence’s family smeared by police?’, Channel 4 News, Channel 4, 24 June 2013 (accessed 15 April 2014).
  39. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 1: Use of covert identities, Derbyshire Constabulary, 2013 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  40. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 2: Allegations of Peter Francis (second edition), Derbyshire Constabulary, 2014 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  41. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover Policing: Interim Report, The Stationery Office Limited, 1 March 2013 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  42. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover policing: follow-up – Oral and written evidence, The Stationery Office Limited, 28 October 2013 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  43. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover Policing: Interim Report, The Stationery Office Limited, 1 March 2013, p51 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  44. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover Policing: Interim Report, The Stationery Office Limited, 1 March 2013, p54 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  45. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover Policing: Interim Report, The Stationery Office Limited, 1 March 2013, p45 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  46. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover Policing: Interim Report, The Stationery Office Limited, 1 March 2013, p47 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  47. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover Policing: Interim Report, The Stationery Office Limited, 1 March 2013, p61 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  48. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover policing: follow-up – Oral and written evidence, The Stationery Office Limited, 28 October 2013, p17 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  49. Home Affairs Committee, Undercover policing: follow-up – Oral and written evidence, The Stationery Office Limited, 28 October 2013, p22 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  50. Rt Hon Sir Christopher Rose, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Protest Inquiry into Disclosure, Crown Prosecution Service, December 2011 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  51. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 1: Use of covert identities, Derbyshire Constabulary, 2013, p3 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  52. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 1: Use of covert identities, Derbyshire Constabulary, 2013, p5 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  53. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 1: Use of covert identities, Derbyshire Constabulary, 2013, p9 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  54. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 1: Use of covert identities, Derbyshire Constabulary, 2013, pp9-10 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  55. Peter Taylor, True Spies episode 1, BBC2, 27 October 2002 (accessed 15 April 2014).
  56. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 1: Use of covert identities, Derbyshire Constabulary, 2013, p14 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  57. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 2: Allegations of Peter Francis (second edition), Derbyshire Constabulary, 2014, pp27-30 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  58. Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Operation Herne – Report 2: Allegations of Peter Francis (second edition), Derbyshire Constabulary, 2014, pp54-59 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  59. Mark Ellison QC, Stephen Lawrence independent review: summary of findings, HMSO, 2014 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  60. Mark Ellison QC, Stephen Lawrence review: volume 1, HMSO, 2014 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  61. Mark Ellison QC, Stephen Lawrence review: volume 2, part 1, HMSO, 2014 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  62. Mark Ellison QC, Stephen Lawrence review: volume 2, part 2, HMSO, 2014 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  63. Gareth Tobin & Gemma Jackson, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure, Independent Police Complaints Commission, 2012 (accessed 16 April 2014).
  64. Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, p244.
  65. Philip Johnston, ‘MP wins landmark test case over secrecy of MI5 files’, Daily Telegraph, 2 October 2001 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  66. unknown author, ‘MP wins landmark battle over MI5 files’, BBC News website, 1 October 2001 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  67. Arthur Mix, ‘UK, CYCLE OF REPRESSION’, A-Infos website/e-list, 2 February 2001 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  68. Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Test case allows ‘right to know’ on MI5 files’, The Guardian, 2 October 2001 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  69. Sir Anthony Evans, Hon Michael Beloff QC & James Goudie QC, In the Information Tribunal (National Security Appeals Panel) between Norman Baker MP and Secretary of State for the Home Department, National Security Appeals Panel, 1 October 2001 (accessed via Bailii.org 4 June 2014).
  70. Sir Anthony Evans, James Goudie QC & Kenneth Parker QC, In the Information Tribunal (National Security Appeals Panel) between Philip Hilton and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Ministry of Justice website, 2003, p12 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  71. Sir Anthony Evans, James Goudie QC & Kenneth Parker QC, In the Information Tribunal (National Security Appeals Panel) between Philip Hilton and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Ministry of Justice website, 2003, p16 (accessed 4 June 2014).
  72. Sir Anthony Evans, Robin Purchas QC & Kenneth Parker QC, In the Information Tribunal (National Security Appeals Panel) between Tony Gosling and Secretary of State for the Home Department, National Security Appeals Panel, 1 August 2003 (accessed via FoIwiki 4 June 2014).
  73. Sir Anthony Evans, James Goudie QC & Kenneth Parker QC, In the Information Tribunal (National Security Appeals Panel) between Peter Hitchens and Secretary of State for the Home Department, National Security Appeals Panel, 4 August 2003 (accessed via FoIwiki 4 June 2014).
  74. Police Spies Out Of Lives, ‘Secrecy Hearing – why “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” should not stand’, Police Spies Out Of Lives website, 6 March 2014 (accessed 5 June 2014).

Glossary

There are a lot of acronyms in this article, so here’s a handy guide to all them initials…

Police

  • ACPO: Association of Chief Police Officers (private company acting as a forum for senior cops – with no statutory foundation and no democratic oversight – which at times has had authority over units including NPOIU, NDET and NETCU)
  • ACPO (TAM): ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters (ACPO ‘business area’ responsible for devising and driving counter-terrorism and anti-‘domestic extremism’ policy within UK policing, which operated NCDE and its subordinate units NPOIU, NDET and NETCU)
  • ARNI: Animal Rights National Index (precursor to NPOIU and NETCU whose remit was widened out to include environmentalists)
  • CIU: Confidential Intelligence Unit (sub-unit of NPOIU)
  • NCDE: National Coordinator Domestic Extremism (ACPO-controlled office commanding NPOIU, NDET and NETCU until they were all brought together as NDEU in 2010)
  • NDEDIU: National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (rebranded NDEU, under control of Metropolitan Police’s SO15)
  • NDET: National Domestic Extremism Team (investigatory ‘domestic extremism’ unit set up in 2005 to provide national strategic support to localised investigations, which later developed its own intelligence-gathering capability; merged into NDEU in 2010 and moved from ACPO to Met control in 2011)
  • NDEU: National Domestic Extremism Unit (merged unit formed in 2010 from NPOIU, NDET and NETCU and transferred to Met control in 2011)
  • NETCU: National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (preventative ‘domestic extremism’ unit set up under Cambridgeshire Constabulary  in 2004, coming under the control of NCDE in ACPO until merged into NDEU in 2010 along with NPOIU and NDET , and then transferred to the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command in 2011)
  • NPOIU: National Public Order Intelligence Unit (intelligence-gathering ‘domestic extremism’ unit set up under Metropolitan Police Special Branch in 1999, moved to ACPO in 2006, and after merger with NETCU and NDET into NDEU transferred back to the Met in 2011 under Counter Terrorism Command/SO15 as a single unit, NDEU)
  • SDS: Special Demonstration Squad (originally Special Operations Squad, later Special Duties Section; political infiltration unit of Metropolitan Police Special Branch)
  • SO12: Metropolitan Police Special Branch (intelligence-gathering police unit most concerned with ‘subversion’, ‘domestic extremism’ and terrorism)
  • SO13: Anti Terrorism Branch (investigatory unit)
  • SO15: Counter Terrorism Command (formed through the union of SO12 and SO13 in 2006)

Other

  • CPS: Crown Prosecution Service (responsible for bringing about prosecutions on behalf of the state)
  • DPA: Data Protection Act (1998) (enumerates the responsibilities of any organisation which holds or processes data on individuals)
  • FOIA: Freedom of Information Act (2000) (providing public access to information held by public authorities)
  • GCHQ: Government Communications Headquarters (the national signals intelligence agency of the UK)
  • NCND: Neither Confirm Nor Deny (the position surrounding the avowal or otherwise of undercover officers claimed as an official policy by the police)
  • NSAP: National Security Appeals Panel (hearing appeals made to the Information Tribunal where a data controller has invoked s28 ‘national security’ defence under the Data Protection Act 1998)
  • RIPA: Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) (legislative framework governing undercover policing and the use of informants)

Edited 12 June 2014 for minor typos & style points.
Edited 29 July 2014 for minor typo.

Mark Kennedy, Stratfor & Densus Group – how the cop-spy turned private sector spook tried to beg himself a job

Mark Kennedy AKA Mark Stone

It’s been a while since last I blogged on this, but now is as good a time as any to return, seeing as someone (Jason Kirkpatrick, who currently is crowdfunding for the Spied Upon documentary on this very subject) brought to my attention a rather intriguing email.

It purports to be from unmasked cop-spy Mark Kennedy, AKA Mark Stone:

Ryan Sims
Global Intelligence
STRATFOR
T: 512-744-4087 | F: 512-744-0570
221 W. 6th Street, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78701
http://www.STRATFOR.com
Begin forwarded message:

From: stanage.consulting@yahoo.com
Date: December 12, 2011 10:56:16 AM CST
To: service@stratfor.com
Subject: [Custom Intelligence Services] Domestic extremism
Mark Kennedy sent a message using the contact form at
https://www.stratfor.com/contact.

Dear Sir, STRATFOR has in the past been a reliable research resource for me in my role as a covert officer for British Special Branch. Now that that role has finished I am looking to channel my expertise regarding domestic extremism and political activism from across Europe and the USA. I have expert knowledge in the use of social media for the purposes of intelligence gathering and have an in depth understanding of the trends and influences of activism on a domestic and international level having infiltrated many groups throughout eight years of international deployment. With your experience in the field of Strategic Forecasting are you able to advise as to how my skills and expertise may now be applied and whether your summer analysts course might be something I should consider?
Kind Regards
Mark Kennedy UK +44 7411-286652 US 216-526-1774

The message was sent to Stratfor, the now notorious American ‘global intelligence’ company five million of whose emails were obtained by Anonymous in 2011 and which have subsequently have been released through Wikileaks.

This particular email, from December 2011, seems only to have been released a fortnight ago.

Note how he skims over the details of why his “[covert officer] role has finished”. (Note also how he describes himself as having worked for “British Special Branch” when in fact he was employed by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), which is separate from SB.)

In October 2009 Mark Kennedy was pulled out of his undercover deployment by his bosses. In December he attended an HR meeting where he was (apparently) told he was “only qualified to drive a panda car”.

In January 2010, three things of note happened:

Exactly what order these three things happened in is not clear, especially as the source for some of it is Kennedy himself – notably from his January 2011 interview with the Mail On Sunday. By the March 2011 Simon Hattenstone interview in the Guardian, he was denying some of the things he previously claimed – though it seems irrefutable that he was working for Global Open after he left the Met. (ETA: As Merrick has noted in the comments below, by his February 2013 appearance in front of Keith Vaz’s Home Affairs Committee, Kennedy was once again acknowledging that he had worked for Global Open.)

In February 2010 Kennedy set up his own company, Tokra Limited. This company was dissolved in August 2010. As the Guardian has noted, it was linked to Global Open via solicitor, Heather Millgate.

In March 2010 Kennedy set up a second company, Black Star High Access Limited. This remains extant.

In November 2011, Kennedy set up a third company, Stanage Consulting Limited. This was only dissolved this summer (2013). It was from an email account (stanage.consulting@yahoo.com) ostensibly connected to this company that Kennedy approached Stratfor in December 2011.

Interestingly, Kennedy conflates much of the above into a single entry on his CV to cover the years since leaving (or preparing to leave) the police:

Director

Stanage Consulting Limited

January 2010 – Present (3 years 11 months)Facilities security consultant. Assessing and managing risks amd threats to facilities, Designing and providing bespoke preventative protocols and proactive measures to mitigate future incidents and training security staff to meet the companies expectations. Current portfolio includes industrial, commercial and leisure facilities in the US and the UK.

By February/March 2012, Kennedy had apparently started work for an American security/intelligence outfit called Densus Group.

Consultant

Densus Group

March 2012 – Present (1 year 9 months)

Consultant for the Densus Group.The Densus Group provides a range of specialty consultancy and training, primarily on behalf of government institutions and private firms in respect of risk analysis and threat assessment from protest groups and domestic extremism.

As one might expect from anyone’s LinkedIn profile, let alone that of a proven dissembler such as Kennedy, his is full of bluster, hyperbole and provable nonsense:

Summary

Provides expert knowledge and skills in the fields of intelligence gathering, investigation, support for litigation and facility threat assessments and the implementation of proactive security protocols.

Facilities security consultant. Assessing and managing the risks and threats to facilities, Designing and providing bespoke, preventative protocols and proactive measures to mitigate ongoing and future incidents.
My current portfolio includes industrial, commercial and leisure facilities in the US and the UK.

I have many years experience in covert operations and deployments, intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination, statement taking, investigations and case preparation, evidential court apperances, surveillance and counter-surveillance skills and the use of technical covert, recording equipment.

I have lectured for law enforcement agencies and services regarding infiltration tactics and covert deployments and have lectured for the private sector regarding risk management, the threat from extremist and protest groups and creating preventative protocols.

My exeperience is drawn from over 20 years as a British Police officer, the last ten of which were spent deployed as a covert operative working within extreme left political and animal rights groups throughout the UK, Europe and the US providing exacting intelligence upon which risk and threat assessment analysis could be made.

That knowledge and experience is now drawn upon to provide expert consultation to the public / private sectors to provide investigative services, deliver informative lectures and training, provide risk and threat assessments to companies, corporations and their staff.

We further offer the discreet service of missing persons investigations on behalf of private, corporate and government clients.

Yet still there was something about him that tickled those boys in Stratfor.

Sean Noonan, STRATFOR

Here’s tactical analyst Sean Noonan flagging up an article in the Guardian about Mark Kennedy’s work:

Very impressive undercover work… He sure looks like a dirty hippy.

Marko Papic, STRATFOR

Here’s a response from fellow Stratfor analyst Marko Papic:

This part is most interesting to me:

The documents state that planning meetings for the protest took place at Kennedy’s house and he paid the court fees of another activist arising from a separate demonstration. “It is assumed that the finance for the accommodation, the hire of vehicles and the paying of fines came from police funds,” they state.

So the police funds were used to prepare the sabotage? That is awesomely insidious.

And those admiring emails at Stratfor? They were exchanged in October January 2011. That’s two eleven months prior to Kennedy’s begging letter.

As Eveline Lubbers, author of Secret Manoeuvres In The Dark – an examination of how state and private sector spy on political activists – notes:

On Australian crime drama – from ‘Scales Of Justice’ to ‘Bikie Wars’

Been watching a few rather decent Australian crime dramas lately…

Firstly there’s Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms, a recent based-on-true-events series revolving around the Comanchero-Bandido split that culminated in the 1984 Milperra Massacre (that’s not a spoiler, it’s presaged in an on-title screen before each episode).

Reviews I saw moaned about it being slow going, with lots of unanswered questions hanging in the air (like why did Jock Ross want to ‘expand’), but I’ve found it pretty decent viewing three episodes in. Plenty of familiar faces: Callan Mulvey (Drazic from Heartbreak High and Mark Moran in Underbelly series one), Damian Walshe-Howling (Benji Veniaman in Underbelly series one), Jeremy Lindsay Taylor (Norman Bruhn in Underbelly season four, Razors), Lauren Clair (Tracey in Underbelly series one), Richard Cawthorne, Anthony Hayes, Luke Hemsworth, Fletcher Humphrys etc. One bum note, though – what’s with ex-Australian rugby league player Matthew Nable (Gary Jubelin in Underbelly season five, Badness) and that terrible Scots accent?

Also based on real events is 2011’s Killing Time, which focuses on the events leading up to the imprisonment of Andrew Fraser, brief-of-choice for a bunch of Melbourne crims that includes the Pettingill family (subject of the film Animal Kingdom and the thinly-veiled earlier TV series Phoenix). With the notorious Walsh Street killings as its fulcrum, infamous real life grotesques such as Kath Pettingill, Dennis Allen and Victor Peirce all involved, and police incompetence/corruption endemic, it’s pretty dark stuff – and far less stylised than anything in the Underbelly franchise.

David Wenham is very strong in the lead role, and there’s beefy backup from the likes of Colin Friels as Lewis Moran (cf Underbelly series one, where he was played by Kevin Harrington), Richard Cawthorne and Fletcher Humphrys from Bikie Wars, Kris McQuade (Jacs Holt in the Prisoner reboot Wentworth), and Ian Bliss (science teacher Mr Bell in Heartbreak High, and Thomas Hentschel – originally anonymised as ‘Mr L’ – in Underbelly series one). All round, Killing Time is very strong.

Also recently I saw for the first time Joh’s Jury, a telemovie about the perjury trial of former Queensland Premier Johannes Bjelke-Petersen in the wake of an inquiry into corruption…

Good to see some familiar, solid faces in the cast: Norman Yemm (The Sullivans), an early appearance for Noah Taylor as a tetchy young juror, plus a strong performance from Malcolm Kennard (who appears a few years later in both Bikie Wars and Killing Time). In terms of staging, nothing outstanding, but a nice little mood piece that helps provide a bit of context for us non-antipodeans wading through period crime drama.

On the writing side, though, it packs a punch, thanks to the pen of Ian David (who would later be responsible for Killing Time). Previously he had written two other similar docu-drama style TV films about bent cops: Police Crop, about an investigation into corruption in New South Wales, and Police State – which covered the Fitzgerald Inquiry that forms the backdrop to Joh’s Jury.

Immediately after Joh’s Jury, David scripted the peerless mini-series Blue Murder, which looked at the symbiotic relationship between crooked detective Roger Rogerson, and career standover man Neddy Smith. That one covered a whole slew of grim true crimes, like the murder of Sallie-Anne Huckstepp, and includes real-life wackoes like Chris Flannery (as featured in series two of Underbelly as well as The Great Bookie Robbery and feature film Everynight … Everynight). Matching the bite of the story toothmark by toothmark, Blue Murder is directed in a gritty, almost documentary style by Michael Jenkins, who also handled Scales Of Justice in much the same way.

Meanwhile, handling direction for Joh’s Jury – as he did for Police Crop – is Ken Cameron. It’s unflashy (well, how flashy can a film largely set in a jury deliberation room be?), but gets the job done. Cameron also helmed a few other works of note, including internationally successful mini-series such as Brides Of Christ and Bangkok Hilton. Then there was The Clean Machine, a semi-fictionalised movie about a team of police ‘untouchables’ set up to get rid of corrupt cops in New South Wales, which he co-wrote alongside Terry Hayes. Hayes, who earlier had scripted also worked on Bangkok Hilton, later penned breakout Oz psychological horror film Dead Calm and then a clutch of Hollywood pictures (Payback, From Hell)…

The so far unmentioned element linking many of these dramas is the production environment. Many of them came out of Kennedy Miller Productions, the ambitious Australian company set up by George Miller and Byron Kennedy to manage the birth of Mad Max. Kennedy Miller then gave us lightning in the same place a second time with Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, which announced the arrival of professional, popular Australian film making, particularly in America.

Whilst Byron Kennedy died in 1983, the company went on to produce an impeccable run of theatrical features, TV movies and mini-series, including Dismissal, about the constitutional shenanigans that led to PM Gough Whitlam being booted out, The Cowra Breakout (about a little-known mass escape of Japanese PoWs from an Australian camp), Bodyline – about the notorious 1932/3 Ashes tour – and, of course, the third installment of their post-apocalypse franchise, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985.

The magic did not stop there – next came historical mystery The Riddle Of The Stinson, then Vietnam, about the Aussie involvement in southeast Asia, Hollywood star-packed hit The Witches Of Eastwick, the more parochial The Year My Voice Broke, domestic epic The Dirtwater Dynasty and then the aforementioned The Clean Machine.

Rounding out the 1980s were Dead Calm, which gifted the world Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane (well, I take it we’re not calling Omen 3, BMX Bandits or a telemovie about the Hillside Stranglers year zero for these three actors), followed by Bangkok Hilton (another strong performance from Kidman), and then from writer-director John Duigan 1991’s Flirting, a continuation of his earlier The Year My Voice Broke. In both Duigan films young Noah Taylor was afforded the opportunity to shine – much as he would again in Joh’s Jury. John Duigan had previously notched up story credits on Vietnam, which he co-directed along with Chris Noonan, who also helmed The Cowra Breakout and The Riddle Of The Stinson for Kennedy Miller, before taking on Police State for ABC in 1989. It was back to Kennedy Miller that Noonan returned in 1995 for his biggest hit: Babe, the talking pig kids’ flick. And there we leave KMP, as we’re straying far from the crime drama path.

But the point is clear: in the 1980s-1990s there was a real concentration of creative talent in Australian television and film, which – particularly when backed by strong production support, whether from an independent like Kennedy Miller, or from a broadcast network like ABC – meant that the local industry was boxing well above its weight.

‘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.