Tag Archives: SOCA

Half Bakered at The Shard…

Occupy The Shard posterSo, the other day the owners (that would be various members of the Qatari royal family) of the Shard, a boutique towerblock in Central London notable for its numerous empty luxury apartments, initiated pre-emptive legal action against erstwhile anarchist Ian Bone (and that ever-popular beat combo ‘persons unknown’).

Why? Because the in-his-seventies-but-still-fuckin’-angry Class War founder called for protests against the Shard. He sees it as an example of the gilded skyscrapers increasingly dominating the London skyline, often empty of any actual residents, like enormous rich men’s follies, spunking steel-and-crystal tumescences contemptuously drawing shade over the capital’s poorer denizens. Turns out them vastly wealthy Qatari royal dudes do not have a sense of humour when it comes to shouty anarchists threatening to picket their valuable, shiny metropolitan real estate. Turns out they take it really fucking seriously, in fact.

Apart from the ridiculousness of them thinking even for a minute that they were going to win a propaganda war against Bone (IAN. FUCKING. BONE.), there were some interesting titbits which emerged from news stories about the injunction. Interesting titbits which, one might say, prove somewhat instructive at a time when elsewhere, for example, the judge running the supposedly independent Undercover Policing Inquiry has suggested giving ex-spycops anonymity on the frankly bizarre grounds that married men don’t tell lies; the Scottish Justice Minister has decided not to have a Scottish spycops inquiry because the HMICS police investigation of undercover policing has found no evidence of malfeasance (despite self-limiting its scope to after the Mark Kennedy shitstorm which blew the whole thing wide open); and top Scots cop Phil Gormley (himself sporran-deep in shady spycops shenanigans thanks to his time RUNNING SPECIAL BRANCH) deciding to take the I’m-leaving-before-you-sack-me-oh-is-that-my-pension-thank-you-very-much route to retirement, conveniently sidestepping the numerous investigations into his behaviour.

So anyway, those titbits. First off, the whole harassment-of-Bone shebang was organised by the Shard’s security manager, one André Frank Baker. He contracted a private security company, VSG, to compile a dossier on The Most Dangerous Man In Britain in order to put it before the court as evidence of the threat he and his unruly kind present to innocent empty multi-million pound flats. Currently Team Shard is looking to sting Bone for £525 for the privilege of being injuncted, with that figure only likely to rise.

In case you were wondering why that security manager’s name is familiar, it’s because he’s an ex-Met cop who over the years has popped up everywhere, a contemporary of such luminaries as John Yates (latterly an advisor to the democracy demonstration-crushing Bahraini police) and Bob ‘No Plainclothes Cops Here Honest Guv’ Broadhurst. After not doing very well in the Daniel Morgan or Milly Dowler murder inquiries, ‘Andy’ shifted over to the second-raters of SOCA, and then onto the anti-kiddie porn unit CEOP.

After retirement his attempts at becoming a self-employed security consultant didn’t go so well. How he landed the cushy job of security chief at the Shard isn’t exactly clear, but it wouldn’t be any stranger than career mediocrity Sid Nicholson bagging the post of Head of Security for McDonald’s UK back in the 80s after an unillustrious time spent in the boroughs.

André Baker: a man without dignity?

It helps that despite being turned over by Sun and NOTW hacks during the Dowler investigation *coff* *phonehacking* Baker later demonstrated his absolute lack of dignity by praising the Currant Bun, despite him being at (and, indeed, requesting) that awkward meeting between Morgan inquiry detective Dave Cook and Murdoch’s representative on Earth, Rebekah Wade, brokered by Slippery Dick Fedorcio, when Wade tried to deny that News Corp had Cook and his wife Jacqui Hames under surveillance by Southern Investigations-aligned journalists. Zing!

As for the private security company he commissioned the risk assessment of Bone from, VSG, that was a penny-ante little firm of shopping centre woodentops before it teamed up with – wait for it – a catering company. Always more geared towards static guarding than sophisticated investigative work, in 2016 it was boasting how it had secured a contract to operate the national business-facing counter terrorism information campaign Project Griffin… Which is convenient, seeing as how VSG’s head of counter terrorism Ian Mansfield was, err, in charge of Project Griffin whilst at the City of London Police right up until he left for a cushy private sector job!

So what sort of high grade intel did the failed detective-hired mall cop company serve up on Bone?

The VSG report described Class War as “a small but passionate group of leftwing, pro-anarchy activists with a long and proven history of campaigning against ‘the elite’ and other entities associated with wealth or perceived social injustice”.

The report advised the Shard’s owners that if Bone’s protest was allowed to take place it could endure for months and “attract widespread media coverage”. It also warned that activists could use “pyrotechnics and large, offensive banners of a derogatory nature”…

“Class War is a far-left, pro-anarchy, UK-based pseudo-political party, originally borne out of a newspaper established in 1982. The group opposes the ‘ruling elite’ for their exploitation of the poor and the disadvantaged and have recently been involved in campaigns against the demolition of social housing in London to make way for the construction of luxury housing, as well as campaigns against inequality and austerity. Class War vocally supports, and engages in, civil disobedience, violence and anarchy as acceptable methods of pursuing their objectives.”

Wow. Mind blowing – truly exceptional levels of wiki fu going on there.

Still, at least the obscenely rich Shard barons are being cost money. But perhaps VSG should bring on some fresh new talent to reenergise the company.

I hear Phil Gormley is available.

 

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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.

Laughing at policemen (all the way to Millbank)

Tomorrow is the Police Federation rally and march down in that there Lunnon.

Apparently coppers aren’t paid enough. Apparently police “regularly face danger in the course of their duties”. Apparently “the demands and requirements of the office of constable cannot be compared with any other occupation”.

So, our clip-on tie-wearing friends in serge have decided that they are, in fact, the horny-handed vanguard of the workers. They are even talking about the possibility of forming a trades union should their noble struggle for “an element of compensation for the move from a private sector index to a public sector index at the most disadvantageous time” be rebuffed by the government – rousing words indeed.

So, should you wish to get behind these brave custodians of the streets and their selfless cause, you can join their demonstration and let them know what you think of them.

It will assemble on Park Lane at the junction with Achilles Way from 10am, and will head towards Millbank via Hyde Park Corner, Grosvenor Place, Lower Grosvenor Place, Bressenden Place, Victoria Street, Artillery Row, Great Peter Street, Marsham Street and Horseferry Road, before dispersing at the Tate.

If you are concerned about the orderliness of the event, you can pop along to the stewards’ briefing at Central Hall at 8.30am (there’ll even be tea and coffee, and come to think of it, probably breakfast doughnuts).

If that still hasn’t set your mind at rest, fear not:

The event will be policed by the Metropolitan Police Public Order Team who are responsible for public safety and public order. Approximately 100 Metropolitan Federation stewards will assist the police to marshall [sic] the rally in accordance with the agreed route and plan. They will be ably assisted by stewards from Federation branch boards.

Don’t you feel safer already?

Well, it seems the porkers themselves are feeling a little nervous:

Our march has received a lot of media attention. It is therefore possible that small groups with any grievance against the police may seek to stage counter demonstrations. The Metropolitan Police are monitoring this, and if need be, will deal with any impromptu protests. We would ask that you do not react to any taunts, do not get involved and allow our Metropolitan colleagues to police as they see appropriate. We do not want other peoples’ protests to become the story of the day.

Ooooooh, narky!

After all, what possible “grievance” might anyone have with the polis?

If you want to find out, well, you could pop along to the ‘Boo A Bobby’ event organised entirely coincidentally by London Class War. Quite by chance they’ve only gone and called it for 11am at Achilles Lane on the very same day!

Similarly, FITwatch* have put out a call for those wishing to ensure that “violent trouble makers and threats to public order, including veterans from J18, Mayday and G8…”** are kept under overt surveillance throughout the day to assemble at the Tyburn pub on the Edgware Road (Marble Arch tube) at 9.30am.

But let’s hope that things go swimmingly for our poor ickle jacks, and that no one deflects attention from their cause, which obviously is more important on every level than, say, pit villages, or the poll tax, or the right to free speech, or poverty…

*That* ATNA Harry Roberts poster…To download a PDF of the Police Federation’s brochure explaining all about why they’re demonstrating, click the picture on the right! (It’s the back cover from an old fanzine, All Talk No Action #3… If you want an A4-sized, 300 dpi copy, go to my Flickr 🙂 )

* FITwatch is a group of concerned citizens who disrupt unlawful, distressing or downright harassing police surveillance units – ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ – at protests.

** Hint: the ones with the blue flashing lights

Bloody borders, dirty cash and tax cops: On the Slab

The trial of Slab Murphy

Remember Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy? He was the chap I mentioned was having a few Bulgarian difficulties a while back. Well, he’s been sent to Dublin’s special criminal court, after a decision a week ago by Dundalk district court to try him on tax-related charges.

As The Irish Times notes, “The Special Criminal Court normally deals with terrorist-related offences but the Director of Public Prosecutions has the discretion in any case to certify that the ordinary courts are inadequate to deal with it and to send it for trial to the three-judge non-jury court.”

Murphy, from Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, whose farm straddles the County Louth/County Armagh border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, faces nine counts of failing to provide correct tax returns. The fifty-eight year old farmer, who faced the SCC in Dublin this Tuesday following last Thursday’s appearance in Dundalk, has been remanded on bail of €20,000, with sureties totalling €100,000, whilst his legal team argues against the validity of a special criminal court trial.

So what’s it all about? A farmer on tax charges sent before a terrorism court?

Well, Murphy is no ordinary farmer. He is considered a senior republican, and at various times has been accused of being a member of the Provisional IRA’s army council, or else its chief of staff. The Irish justice minister Michael McDowell made both claims of Murphy in public. In 1987 Britain’s Sunday Times was sued for libel by Murphy after it named him as a top-ranking IRA commander; he lost that trial, and the subsequent retrial in 1998.

His current legal troubles stem from raids in both County Louth and in Manchester in October 2005. These raids, and the ensuing investigations, focused not on arms caches or on bomb factories, but on money trails and property ownership. Reportedly around 250 houses across the UK may have been involved, with the theory that they were bought with iffy, untaxed money. Murphy denies owning any property.

I’ve been casually following this for some time, and it seems closely linked to the development of the strategy to dog Northern Irish military-political organisations and individuals via financial paper trails rather than by ordinary criminal investigation, military means or intelligence/counter-intelligence operation. This change in nuance might be said to have begun in earnest back in 1996, with the establishment in the Irish Republic – following the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin – of the Criminal Assets Bureau. The CAB is an interdepartmental body commanded by a Garda officer and tasked with “the identification of assets, wherever situated, of persons which derive or are suspected to derive directly or indirectly from criminal activity”, and it “has secured convictions against persons involved in organised crime and continues to freeze or confiscate, through Court proceedings, assets and other wealth, including real estate, vehicles, cash and other property.”

Then, in 2002, a similar body was set up in the UK – the Assets Recovery Agency, which was granted powers of civil recovery by way of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

By the mid 00s the ARA and CAB appeared to have converged on the potentially fruitful territory of the Irish Republic/Six Counties border, where in some areas state sovereignty, price differentials and an unsecured frontier contribute to, amongst other things, a profitable fuel smuggling trade. Cross-border cooperation between agencies of the Irish and British states – post-Good Friday Agreement and all that – was all the rage, and for agencies whose effectiveness is measured in terms of forfeitures and confiscations, the bootleg diesel racket must surely have been a tempting prey. Add into the mix the idea that prominent Irish republicans, on both sides of the border, were inextricably linked to the highly profitable but illegal trade in untaxed fuel, and you end up attracting attention from certain other elements within the organs of state. If – for instance – there are individuals and organisations in strongly republican border areas, which are engaging in tax avoiding business, and might reasonably be held to be using money accrued in this way to fund paramilitary activity, and they are doing it in such a way which crosses international sovereign boundaries, then you end up with both means and motive for vigorous and wide-ranging investigation. Not only that, but the boundaries of the game shift considerably, away from eyewitness testimony, corroboration, circumstantial assumption and forensic evidence – with all the subjective, political, sociological tensions they create – towards a baser burden of proof: where did this money come from? Can you prove this?

So no doubt with this in mind, the October 05 raids were orchestrated by the CAB and ARA in concert. There followed in March 06 a coordinated raid on Murphy’s home – involving not just the CAB but also the British and Irish armies, Gardaí, PSNI and Irish Customs – during which financial records were seized; and then the freezing of nearly £14 million-worth of property assets in Manchester between November 06 and January 07 by the ARA.

And in November 2007 it was Garda Síochaná detectives from the CAB who actually arrested Thomas Murphy. Could it be that a Provisional warlord – a supporter of the Adams/McGuinness peace process, apparently – might be felled, not for complicity in killings, but for failing to adequately launder dirty cash? And caught not by Special Branch, or by MI5, but by accountants-with-badges? Such a shebang stamps up all the predictable clichés: “Well, Al Capone was brought down by the Treasury Department” and all that… For the ARA, any success the Murphy case might bring will be too late. Dogged from its inception by criticism of its effectiveness, the agency is being merged with the SOCA, jurisdiction-hungry Serious Organised Crime Agency.

It’s certainly too late to save the life of Paul Quinn, who was murdered last October.

Lest we forget (and in the words of the tautonymic Lord Laird):

One of the most serious incidents has too many shades of the past for us all: the brutal murder of Paul Quinn. It resulted from a dispute between Paul and a son of Vincent Traynor, a local IRA chief. Paul Quinn and some other youths from the area were involved in activities that did not go down well with the senior republican leadership in South Armagh, especially as this new breed of republicans is defying the leadership. It is now quite clear that Vincent had oversold the case against Paul.

Several weeks ago Traynor asked the republican leadership, including Peter and Patrick Quinn from Bog Road—no relations—who run most of the illegal fuel laundering plants in South Armagh for the IRA, to have Quinn executed. After consultation with PJ Carragher and his son Michael, the well known murderous sniper, Thomas “Slab” Murphy, the Provisionals’ commander in the area, Sean Gerard Hughes, known as “the Surgeon”, and James McArdle, permission for the execution was given. Almost 20 republicans were present at the murder as executioners, lookouts, drivers and so on. The eight or nine who conducted the execution were dressed in boiler suits and wore surgical gloves. All were IRA or former IRA members. It took almost half an hour for Paul to die. Every major bone in his body was broken. During the execution he cried for mercy.

Following the murder and the outcry from all parts, a meeting took place in Cullyhanna on Friday 2 November. Although “Slab” Murphy did not attend, a trusted lieutenant was there to speak on his behalf. To quell local discontent, and under pressure from the top, “Slab” offered to put a large amount of cash into the Cullyhanna area in the hope that buying people off with blood money would stop a rift between republicans in South Armagh. The involvement of the republican leadership in South Armagh in the planning, commission and now cover-up of this murder means that it is directly implicated. “Slab” also ordered that no one in the community was to speak to the Garda or PSNI. He was taking full responsibility for the incident because his close associates were involved.

This is a man of whom Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was reportedly moved to say:

Tom Murphy is not a criminal, he is a good republican… He is also, very importantly, a key supporter of the Sinn Fein peace strategy and has been for a very long time… “If he denies being a member of the IRA, then I have to accept that.

Times

The investigation into Paul Quinn’s brutal execution, and the involvement or otherwise of key republicans along the County Armagh/Louth/Monaghan border (of which Thomas Murphy, regardless of specific rank, role or job title, is clearly one), continues to rumble on, though with less fanfare than the tax trial. Earlier this month the Gardaí issued an appeal for information on a van which may have been involved.

But (for the moment at least) a mere murder can wait. The money’s where the real effort is being put in. What’s the life of a single twenty-one year old tearaway in comparison with alleged multi-million Euro tax swindles?