Tag Archives: Paul Lewis

‘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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pete BLACK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the journalists put it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ETA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re not the same person.

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

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

Not FIT for purpose? Police ‘Forward Intelligence Team’ implicated in student protest fit-up

Remember the Forward Intelligence Teams? Well, camera-wielding cops are back in the news again, this time in relation to the policing of the anti-cuts and student protests that exploded across the country at the end of last year. It seems that at least one FIT officer – according to the London Evening Standard – has been implicated in a shameless attempt to fit up a protester on false charges at the ‘DayX3’ protest on 9 December.

Unfortunately for the police involved it seems that the FIT cop was wired for sound and, after catching a young protester who had “breached a police cordon”, that officer was apparently recorded as he “conspired to falsely arrest the 20-year-old” with his colleagues. The arrestee sustained a broken tooth in the arrest. The circumstances are now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

You may remember that the FIT has history with the IPCC. Experienced FIT cops, including PC Alan Palfrey from Camden, PC Steve Discombe and others, witnessed the deadly assault on Ian Tomlinson by riot cop PC Simon Harwood at the 2009 G20 protests, but failed to come forward and give evidence until long after the original police narrative (‘a tragic collapse/police under hail of missiles’) had been discredited. Their unwillingness to come forward helped stymy attempts to properly investigate the circumstances of Mr Tomlinson’s death, and Harwood – a veteran on the Territorial Support Group – was able to avoid justice as the clock ran down in his favour. The Crown Prosecution Service announced in July 2010 that no charges would be brought against Harwood.

So just what legitimate purpose do the FITs serve? We have seen, as with the Tomlinson case, that these so-called experts in political protest are not actually very good at identifying ‘domestic extremists‘ (as their bosses in the publicly unaccountable National Public Order Information Unit like to call any protesters they don’t like – which boils down to anyone involved in effective activism) – otherwise why would they point out a luckless bystander like Ian Tomlinson for TSG special treatment?

We have also seen FIT officers direct violent attacks on activists when they question why some cops are not wearing their identifying numbers in order to have them photographed against their will, even when they knew full well who they were, in a manner consistent not with any desire to maintain public order or to prevent crime, but to embarrass, humiliate or otherwise harm recalcitrant protesters.

And now we appear to have FIT cops directly involved in brazen attempts to subvert the law, and possibly even to assault those they do not like.

But then should we expect anything else? The FITs are police units tasked with ‘harassment policing’ – identifying, surveilling, folllowing and hassling persons of interest in a range of fields, be it in relation to football fans, antisocial behaviour on housing estates or political protest. Their targets might never have committed an offence; but then that is the point – this is, after all, harassment policing, in which the message is loud and clear: if you come onto our radar, we will do our best to intimidate you, scare you, threaten you.

No, the reason the FIT are tolerated, nurtured, supported by the police is clear – to make life uncomfortable for anyone who challenges the status quo, to grind down those who fight against injustices and inequalities (by means legal or otherwise), and to dissuade others from taking action by illustrating just how unpleasant it can be. It’s education in action: pour encourager les autres.

WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: A moment of victory – FITwatch blog back online…

In the words of the FITwatch blog team:

We’re backs!

And with a secure server, massive coverage and a clear message that we’re here to stay.

On Monday night we received notification that our site had been suspended due to “attempting to pervert the course of justice” due to our posting offering advice to the Millbank students. Whilst the email requesting the site be closed on the basis it was being used for “criminal activity” came from DI Paul Hoare, from the Police Central e-crime Unit, the authorisation to close was given much closer to home, by acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson. Hodgeson, who was involved in the first Fitwatch case, and has sat through many of our trials and appeals, evidently finally had enough and decided to shut us down.

However, through totally underestimating the power of social media, this pathetic attempt has failed miserably. Within minutes of networking what had happened, people were re-publishing the post anywhere and everywhere. There are now over 100 sites carrying the original post – we haven’t managed to count them all. We have been overwhelmed by the support and solidarity and send massive thanks to everyone who’s offered to help and reposted the information. If we haven’t replied personally, it’s only because we’ve been inundated, and haven’t had time.

This was a real attempt to squash dissent and criticism of the police, as well as attempting to stifle common sense advice to protesters subject to a witch hunt by the right wing press. The solidarity given by so many people has ensured this hasn’t happened, and has shown we can fight back. Even if we were to be arrested and prosecuted now, we would still be grateful to CO11 for the amount of publicity they’ve generated for us.

We’re back, and we’re stronger than ever.

WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: FITwatch press release on the Met Police taking down website

FITwatch press release concerning the shut down of fitwatch.org.uk by the Metropolitan Police

NEWS RELEASE

For immediate release

15th November 2010

*Police shut down activist website after support of demo students*

Police have shut down an activist website for openly supporting the student demonstrations at Millbank. FITwatch – a direct response to police Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) – has a history of challenging excessive police surveillance and breaches of civil rights.

The website was shut down at the request of the Metropolitan police after FITwatch issued advice to students fearful of arrest after the Millbank demonstration. A number of national newspapers made reference to an activist ‘anti-police site’ that urged demonstrators not to panic into giving themselves up.

“Our advice was simply good sense based on the understanding we have of police operations”, said Val Swain, a FITwatch activist. “We don’t want to see students arrested, convicted and criminalised for what was an entirely justified action.”

The Metropolitan police applied to the websites host to suspend the site on the grounds that it was involved in ‘criminal activities’- specifically, ‘attempting to pervert the course of justice’.

“This is an attack on freedom of speech,” said Emily Apple, another FITwatch activist. “The police don’t like what we do. They have seized a flimsy excuse to shut us down, and are trying to silence criticism of the police, and support for political dissent”

*For more information, contact:*

defycops@yahoo.co.uk

Notes for the Editor:

i. The use of the domain name www.fitwatch.org.uk has been suspended following a request to the web hosting company, Just Host, from the Metropolitan police. The Met claimed the site was being used for ‘criminal activities’ following comments made on the blog following the student demo at Millbank. The police stated that the blog was being used in an ‘attempt to pervert the cause of justice’.

ii. Fitwatch published an article on Friday 12th November that contained advice to protesters who were fearful of being identified by press photography, cctv or FIT. That advice has been copied widely around the internet, indicating the support that FITwatch has received on this issue. A copy of the post can be found at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/11/468002.html?c=on#comments

iii. FITwatch contributed to a major story on the police use of ‘protester databases’ in the Financial Times on 17th October 2009.

iv. FITwatch was also in the news in July when the Evening Standard reported on a court victory by three Fitwatch supporters who had successfully challenged the right of police to place attendees at an open public meeting under surveillance. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23860752-protesters-rights-were-violated-by-met-surveillance.do

v. A number of FITwatch activists are currently taking legal action against the police for assault and unlawful arrest

vi. A number of newspapers including the Mail and Independent carried the story of ‘anti-police’ website giving advice. The Independent stated:

“Activist websites have published step-by-step instructions to those who fear they may be identified and arrested in the aftermath of the violence. One anti-police site told participants to destroy potential evidence, including clothing and any distinctive jewellery worn. A contributor urged demonstrators not to panic or give themselves up as a result of the flood of media coverage.”

vii. The last post to the site before suspension was highly critical of the way the police have been capitalising on the aftermath of the protests to defend their own budgets and justify repression of protesters.

WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: Watching the detectives behind the website shutdown

The letter sent to FITwatch’s website hosts was written over the names of Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgson and Detective Inspector Paul Hoare.

DI Hodgson, from Public Order Crime Team in the CO11 Public Order branch of the Metropolitan Police, is in charge of Operation Malone, the Met’s investigation into the events at the Millbank building in Central London last week during the #demo2010 student protests. It would appear that his most high profile work before this was busting ticket touts.

DI Hoare, on the other hand, seems to be a cyber crime specialist working out of the Met’s Central eCrime Unit (PCEU). DI Hoare may be found on business networking site LinkedIn, which helpfully tells us that previously he spent four-and-a-half years doing a similar job at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the half-baked British attempt at an FBI-type outfit.