Category Archives: NewsBurst

Random crap that’s ‘current’

Umbrellas out

No particular reason, just love this GIF of Michael Ironside using his weaponised mind powers in David Cronenberg’s Scanners.

Oh, that and today was the day That Letter was hand-delivered to the European Council in Brussels, which has had a similar effect on much of Twitter as the above.

Judgement on Trumpton..?

blogjudgecalpresidenttrump

HT @pauljholden via Dan Whitehead

Wikipediaphile: Gadsden flag

Feminist ‘Gadsden snake’ t-shirts

Today whilst revving up the ol’ Tweetdeck for the first time in ages to see wagwan with the global agin-Trump stuff, I spotted an RT by always reliably interesting MD twitterer Jen Gunter:

What’s this ‘Gadsden snake’ thing? thought I. Well…

The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words “DONT TREAD ON ME”. The flag is named after American general and politician Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution. It was used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie Flag.

Modern uses of the Gadsden flag include political movements such as Libertarianism and the American Tea Party as well as American soccer supporter groups, including Sam’s Army and the American Outlaws since the late 1980s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadsden_flag

Trump inauguration – all a bit Rexall ‘N’ Effect

Rexall 1996Rexall 2009Rexall 2012

‘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:

 

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.

The Bristolian is back! (slight return)

The Bristolian returns (again)

So, it seems that Bristol’s “favourite muck-raking scandal sheet”, The Bristolian, has returned (again).

Now in its third iteration (lovingly retconned to v4.0 through a quick history lesson that drags in James Acland’s 19th century anti-establishment rag serendipitously of the same name), there’s also a website to back it up, plus Twitter account and Facebook page. How terribly modern!

One gripe: first issue seems to be rather council-focused (I know, it does say ‘CRAP COUNCIL SPECIAL’ in big letters on the cover) – hopefully they shall be casting their net a little wider with future issues.

Anyway, there’s stuff on outgoing council capo Graham Sims getting a sweetheart deal from new Mayor George Ferguson, a new crap legal supremo replaces old crap legal supremo, and some righteous anger at adventure playgrounds & youth centres being dumped as large swathes of our public play facilities and services are privatised…

There’s a growing list of places to pick up paper copies (I suspect it will take a while to get it out though, so might be best to contact the Bristolian people first before trekking out).

Fourth spy-cop ‘John Barker’ named as PS John Dines; five more to go (and then the rest)

Undercover spycop Sergeant John Dines posing as activist 'John Barker'

The Guardian today published a number of disturbing stories [1, 2, 3] related to the massive Metropolitan Police operation to infiltrate spy-cops into protest movements over a period of decades, and named the ‘fourth man’ as Police Sergeant John Dines from Special Branch. They also published pictures of him.

Dines, previously known only by his assumed identity of ‘John Barker’, is one of five police officers who entered into long-term, intimate relationships with eight women on whom they spied who are now bringing legal action against the police and individuals concerned. A further three complainants are represented in a similar action.

The other officers are former Police Constable Mark Kennedy, AKA ‘Mark Stone’; former Police Constable Andrew James ‘Jim’ Boyling, AKA ‘Jim Sutton’; former Detective Inspector Dr Robert Lambert MBE, AKA ‘Bob Robinson’; and an undercover police officer known only as ‘Mark Cassidy‘.

A number of other police officers who infiltrated protest groups, social justice groups and political organisations over the years have also been unmasked in recent times, including ‘Lynn Watson‘, who targeted the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army; ‘Mark/Marco Jacobs‘, who disrupted the Cardiff Anarchist Network; and ‘Simon Wellings‘, who reported on Globalise Resistance.

Another ex-infiltrator, ‘Pete Black’, came out in 2010 to spill the beans on the Met’s Special Demonstration Squad, which later morphed into the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). He backs up the claims in today’s Guardian stories that undercover officers are trained to adopt the identities of dead children.

Police spy Sergeant John Dines AKA activist 'John Barker'

Edited 2:38 for clarity with regards the legal action.

Malians in the middle as al-Qaeda steps up a gear

Picture by May Ying Welsh

“Ansar al Din is a Malian armed group that hosts Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) much as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.”

A rather interesting article on the Al Jazeera website by May Ying Welsh about al-Qaeda in Mali, as flagged up by Andy Morgan.

…Al-Qaeda has based itself in northern Mali for 10 years, as part of an alleged secret agreement with Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), the president of Mali who was deposed in a military coup in March 2012 as northern cities were falling to Tuareg rebels.

During ATT’s presidency, AQIM amassed an outrageous fortune in Mali – collecting up to $250m in hostage ransoms from Western governments for more than 50 European and Canadian hostages kidnapped over the past decade, usually from neighbouring Niger.

At this moment there are still European hostages being held by al-Qaeda in northern Mali pending delivery of a $132m ransom.

The ransom negotiations, which were carried out under the auspices of the presidency, were confirmed by the Wikileaks cables to be a goldmine for the Malian VIPs involved – with each receiving his cut of the jackpot including, according to a former Malian official with knowledge of the deals, the president himself…

…According to numerous northern residents, AQIM fighters have been circulating openly in Tuareg towns, not for the past year, but for the past 10 years; shopping, attending weddings, and parading fully armed in the streets, in front of police stations and military barracks.

Colonel Habi ag Al Salat, a Malian army commander who defected in 2011 to join the [secular Tuareg rebel movement] MNLA, was one of the first to notice the Algerian fighters from the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) entering Tuareg towns of the far north such as Aguelhoc, which was under his command.

But when Habi warned his army superiors they told him to stand down and leave the men alone because they were “not enemies” of Mali. When the GSPC changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, following a pact announced by Ayman Al Zawahiri, that policy did not change.

“Mali opened the field to al-Qaeda – to roam among the camps and villages, to build relationships with the people,” says Habi.

“Local people benefitted up to a point from the trickle down of money flowing to al-Qaeda by way of Mali. And this ensnared many of our youths who are unemployed. Mali facilitated al-Qaeda, providing them complete freedom of movement among our families because they believed the presence of this group would impact the Tuareg struggle against the governing regime which has been going on for 50 years”…

…Meanwhile the Tuaregs have a sinking feeling: The fear that they are the ones who will be killed in any coming war, in the name of fighting al-Qaeda.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/2012review/2012/12/20121228102157169557.html

PC Alex MacFarlane racist arrest trial two: second jury fails to reach verdict

Following the failure of the jury in the first trial of Met cop PC Alex MacFarlane to come to a consensus on his guilt or otherwise, a second jury has done likewise.

Are we to draw a conclusion from this?

Oxbridge boatrace protester gaoled for six months: “failure to prostrate yourself before the ruling classes is basically racism” suggests judge

Trenton Oldfield, who disrupted the Oxford-Cambridge University Boat Race back earlier this year by swimming out in front of it in protest at elitism in British society, has today been sentenced to six months imprisonment.

He had said that his action was a symbolic gesture to raise awareness of elites dominating British society, such as how an Oxbridge-heavy Cabinet forces through cuts in the NHS.

Former City law firm partner Judge Anne Molyneux also ordered him to pay £750 costs.

Her sentencing report was tweeted by Right To Protest and is transcribed below:

On 7th April 2012 you swam into the River Thames during the University Boat Race. You intended to disrupt the race and you did so. You have been convicted of Public Nuisance. Thousands of people had lined the banks of the river to enjoy a sporting competition. Many more were watching at home on television.

The race officials were alarmed that you were at risk of death or serious injury, or that you might cause a crash between the 20 or so launches which were following the rowers. They took swift and decisive action to stop the race. The crews of both boats responded quickly and you were not harmed. You were arrested and the Police acted with great diligence to ensure that you were kept safe from an angry crowd. It is a fact, upon which you should reflect, that the first thought of all those you came to disrupt was to ensure your safety.

It took some 25 minutes to restart the race. At your trial you placed great emphasis on the fact that the race was restarted and was completed. That is so. No one will ever know what the outcome would have been if you had not acted as you did. What we do know is that you spoiled the race. You caused delay and disruption to it and to the members of the public who had gone to watch it and to enjoy the spectacle of top athletes competing.

The rowers had trained for many months. You had no regards for the sacrifices they had made or for their rigorous training when you swam into their paths.

You gave evidence at your trial of your views that this was an elitist race supported by an elite society. You said that you acted as you did to draw attention to inequality. You said that you planned to disrupt the race, that you are content with what you did and that you have no regrets. You said “I knew that there would be people upset. There is a long history of protest, that is part of British culture, and unfortunately delays are a part of protest”. It is a fact, upon which you should reflect, that the race you interrupted is a free spectacle open to all.

Lord Hoffman said, in a speech upon which you reply, “It is a mark of civilised society that it can accommodate protests, but there are conventions which are generally accepted by the law breakers on one side and the law enforcers on the other. Protesters behave with a sense of proportion and do not cause excessive damage or inconvenience. And they vouch for the sincerity of their beliefs by accepting the penalties imposed by the law”.

You have drawn that speech to the attention of the court, together with the case of Anwen Jones and other cases to suggest that your sentence should be a conditional discharge. Each case must, of course, be considered on its own facts. It is notable that those who protested in the Anwen Jones case did so with elements of spontaneity. Your actions were planned. The offence they were convicted of was different from that for which you have been convicted. They all accepted responsibility for their actions and pleaded guilty to them. That cannot be said of you.

The prosecution accepted that you are a man with a social conscience. A great many good people gave evidence at your trial on your behalf. You have worked for the benefit of the community both paid and unpaid over the last 11 years since you came to the UK. You are an intelligent man. You have observed the strict conditions of your bail for many months. A full pre sentence report has been prepared and the court has had regard to it. All of those matters are taken into account in your favour.

On 7th April at least 5 elements of your decision and behaviour were wrong:

  1. You acted disproportionately. There were many other ways in which you could have promoted your views more effectively. It was not clear to anyone who saw what you did what your views actually were.
  2. There was no immediate or instant need to act as you did. Other means were available to you of drawing attention to your cause. As Lord Justice Buxton said “in those circumstances, criminal self help can not be reasonable”.
  3. Your actions were dangerous. You placed your life at risk and in doing so endangered the health and safety of others.
  4. You decided that you had the right to stop members of the public enjoying a sporting competition which they had chosen to go and watch. You did not have that right. You did nothing to address inequality by giving yourself the right to spoil the enjoyment of others. In doing so you acted without regard for equality and contrary to the meaning of it.
  5. You made your decision to sabotage the race based on the membership or perceived membership of its participants of a group to which you took exception. That is prejudice. No good ever comes from prejudice. Every individual and group of society is entitled to respect. It is a necessary part of a liberal and tolerant society that no one should be targeted because of a characteristic with which another takes issue. Prejudice in any form is wrong.

Your offence was planned. It was deliberate. It was disproportionate. It was dangerous. You have shown no regret.

The court has regard to the principles of sentencing as set out in the Criminal Justice Act. The Court has weighed the culpability and harm of your actions.

» Sentencing report (1)
» Sentencing report (2)

ETA:

The sentencing remarks are now available on the Judicial Office website as a PDF.

PC Alex MacFarlane racist arrest trial: day four – jury fails to reach a verdict

The jury in the trial of Metropolitan Police officer PC Alex MacFarlane for a racially aggravated public order offence failed to reach a verdict today.

The judge has ordered a retrial, which will take place next week from Monday.

» Day one tweets
» Day two tweets
» Day three tweets

PC Alex MacFarlane racist arrest trial: day three – summing up

Today the Judge at Southwark Crown Court has been summing up the evidence in the trial of Metropolitan Police officer, PC Alex MacFarlane, who is accused of making racially aggravated threats or provocations of violence.

BBC London’s Nick Beake has been livetweeting from the courtroom. The jury has now retired to consider its verdict.

PC Alex MacFarlane trial, day three: 17 October 2012

  • Morning. I’ll be tweeting from @cSouthwark court where @metpoliceuk officer Alex MacFarlane denies racist abuse towards black suspect
  • Will give updates as and when I can. Judge expected to start summing up case shortly
  • Judge: this is a “very serious case” from the defendant, the public and the complainant’s point of view
  • Judge: Claimant had “set views about how the police behaved” from the beginning of the incident
  • Judge to jury: ask yourself if you can accept as truth what the defendant, Mr Demetrio has told you
  • Judge: Mr Demterio is of bad character, but that doesn’t answer the questions you (the jury) have to decide
  • Judge: defendant says being called a n***** left him violated and abused, really really low- like a bad dream
    • ian bishop ‏@bish1964
      @Beaking_News defendant????
  • Judge : Mr Demetrio was provoking the police in the back of the van
  • Judge: “entirely inappropriate” that fellow officer of Pc MacFarlane called suspect a “c***
  • Judge: same officer (not Pc Macfarlane) admitted on tape, “I did strangle you” to suspect who alleges abuse
  • Judge: wrong that police called “scumbag” . Judge: clearly this should never be said by a police officer
  • Judge: defendant says being called a n***** left him violated and abused, really really low- like a bad dream
    •  ian bishop ‏@bish1964
      @Beaking_News defendant????
  • @bish1964 good spot. judge did use word defendant, but has just clarified that he meant complainant
  •  @Beaking_News CLARIFICAITON: Judge: COMPLAINANT says being called a n***** left him violated & abused
  • Judge: defendant says he was repeating the N word after suspect had used it first
  • Judge: did PC’s use of N word come out of blue, or was continuation of a conversation – which wasn’t recorded
  • Judge : one officer said “calm it down” after PC used N word. Judge: at this point “tensions are raised”
  • Judge asks did PC use N word in a “horrible, abusive way” ?
  • Judge: suspect was in control of the recording that was made. Was the suspect goading officers ?
  • Judge: Pc MacFarlane had @metpoliceuk training in 2001 which told him he should never use the N word
  • Judge: background of PC – teacher training for a year, then in banking – joined Met in 1994
  • Judge: PC is of good character and has never been in trouble before.
  • Judge: you (jury) must decide what weight to place on PC ‘s good character
  • Judge: it may be reasonable for him (PC) to ask you to place considerable weight on his good character
  • Judge: not surprisingly Pc was exhausted after dealing with riots that week
  • judge: Pc was told in week of riots an eye problem was skin cancer – since been treated for that
  • Judge: lots of anti police feeling that week. Very stressful for officers. None of those officers knew what was going to happen next
  • Judge: first PC says he knew of suspect was when he heard “white c***s” being shouted from police van
  • Judge : Pc said “if I were to use the word black c*** I’d lose my job” to suspect
  • Judge: Pc says he was pointing out to suspect he cd only have 5 years to live because of his drug lifestyle – may get attacked by dealer
  • Judge: Pc denies that he made sexual reference to suspect’s mum
  • Judge: in fact PC says he did say he may have to tell suspect’s mother one day he’d been killed in drug related violence
    • Bristle KRS ‏@BristleKRS @Beaking_News
      Did Judge say that “in fact” MacFarlane said that re mum, or that “in fact” MacFarlane /claimed/ that he said that?
  • Judge: PC says suspect was the one making sexual and racist comments about officers’ families
  • Judge: Pc admits it was stupid to use he N word in the “heat of the moment”
  • Judge: pC Adamantly denies committing the offence he is accused of.
  • Judge: PC says he was repeating the N word which suspect used first
  • Judge: PC said suspect had left him with impression that he had low self esteem because he called himself a n*****
  • Judge: PC thought it was time this young make should start to take responsibility for his life – and that’s why he told him …
  • Judge: … To be proud of who he was and proud of his black skin.
  • Judge has sent jury out to consider their verdict.
    • Bristle KRS ‏@BristleKRS @Beaking_News
      Did Judge say that “in fact” MacFarlane said that re mum, or that “in fact” MacFarlane /claimed/ that he said that?
  • @BristleKRS it’s the latter – judge was summarising PC’s evidence to jury

» Day one tweets
» Day two tweets