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.