Category Archives: Activista

Monkeywrenching, subverting, blockading, flanning, investigating, invading…

Radio ramblings: on Interference FM and the need for mass communications to sustain mass movements

Interference FM J18 flyer 1

In times like these – a post-truth world of alternative facts – having access to the tools of mass communication is essential; but then so it ever was, even in the pre-blog, pre-Twitter, pre-YouTube era (if you can imagine such a palaeolithic era).

In the late 1990s, a confluence of environmental activists, anarchists and socialists helped build a transnational anti-capitalist, ‘anti-globalisation [of the rich]’ movement, helped in no small part by energy, enthusiasm, tactical successes and growing public disquiet.

In the UK this growing movement necessitated (given the antipathy of the mainstream media) the creation of effective communication channels, both for internal discussion and to reach outside. In time these included things such as the SchNEWS weekly alternative news sheet, Squall magazine (for ‘sorted itinerants’), the monthly Earth First! Action Update and the EF! journal Do Or Die, each of which helped facilitate nationally (and even internationally) wider discourse between and amongst what were often localised campaigns and groups. As online technology and culture grew, so this movement also sequestered tools such as email discussion lists. Similarly, as video cameras became more of a mass market commodity, so too did this movement appropriate the trappings of television and film, either with wholly produced ‘video magazines’ (such as Undercurrents and iContact) or by providing activist-shot footage to the mainstream news programmes.

And then there was the trusty old radio. Of course, whilst the reception equipment for radio was ubiquitous (for all intents and purposes every single person in the land had at least one radio), the transmission side of things was firmly in the grip of those licensed by the state – big, fusty old ‘public’ bodies such as the BBC, or else avaricious commercial beasts locked into the current economic and social status quo. However, bar the legal niceties of radio broadcasting, in terms of the cash costs and complexity of technology set against potential audience reach and likelihood of getting away with it, radio – more specifically, illegal pirate radio – was a no-brainer.

So it was that in the mid- to late nineties a small group of people connected to both music pirates and anti-capitalist politics set about fusing these two worlds together, and providing the means for mass communication beyond of the boundaries of state control and commercial imperatives, to a political groundswell aiming at becoming a mass movement. It all came to a head in the lengthy preparations which built to the J18 ‘Carnival Against Capitalism’ (AKA ‘Global Street Party’ etc) in June 1999, of which one autonomous component was the ‘Interference FM’ pirate radio group.

There’s a decent summary of the J18 radio project and the setting up of Interference FM/Radio Interference, with links to various articles on the Pirate Radio Archive.

But anyway, a nice excuse to post these flyers.* Oh, and here’s a spread from The Big Issue magazine, under the groansome title of ‘MUSIC FArticle on Interference FM in The Big Issue #352 (1999)OR YOUR BUCCANEARS’:

» Article on Interference FM in The Big Issue #352 (1999)

Interference FM J18 flyer 2

  • The flyers were put together with torn-off bits of old paper, newspaper financial pages, the stickers from TDK D90 cassettes, and appropriated bits of Carlos Ezquerra artwork from his and Pat Mills‘ near future dystopian comic strip ‘Third World War’, which ran in Crisis from the late 80s to the early 90s. Oh, and look – EMAIL ADDRESS! MOBILE PHONE NUMBER!! REQUESTS FOR MINIDISKS!!!
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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

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]

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:

‘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: