Joined: 25 Jul 2005
Location: St. Pauls, Bristol, England
|Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:06 am Post subject: Pitchford enquiry into spy cops hacking activists' lives
|The Fifteen Questions we work with
Posted on November 2, 2015
Undercover Research Group
Peter Salmon and Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group,
2 November 2015
As we noted in a recent blogpost on how we work, we have a list of questions that we have developed from close study of the undercovers exposed so far. If someone comes to us with a suspicion about someone in their group, we put these questions to them, to see whether their suspicions are well founded. If many boxes are ticked, there are strong grounds for further investigation.
Here we set out the questions we work with, putting them context (thanks for people taking part in our meeting at the London Anarchist Bookfair for their input!). Some questions are specifically related to the undercover tradecraft. Others are things about what infiltrating officers get wrong, or what we’ve picked up from our own analyses.
Is their background missing?
Generally, the undercover has very little in the way of background story. They will often have a
‘legend’ – where they are from, why they left. Details will generally be quite sparse, and there is very little overlap between their previous world and their activist one. It is rare to meet friends (or see their photos) from their ‘previous’ life, even though they may be discussed or the suspect claims he goes to see them. Undercovers will also have a lack of presence in the public record, though this is not always obvious until one starts investigating them seriously.
Caveat: it is known that several undercovers did bring other people through – generally these are considered ‘background artistes’ used to help bolster an undercover’s story. For example, Lynn Watson introduced several boyfriends to activist friends. Generally these other people have only appeared once or twice, and at times have been noted for their unusual or provocative behaviour.
Is their politics missing, underdeveloped or stereotyped?
Related to the first question, in most cases undercovers have had very little to say in relation to the politics of the movement they are infiltrating. Although they are indeed interested in listening to others (though some eschewed any interest in the name of cynicism), they contribute little on that score and generally avoid or head-off such discussions. Where they demonstrate interest, it is often superficial and the books and background material they have are standard, popular stuff showing little depth or breathe.
Caveat: clearly this can be applied to a lot of campaigners, but in some groups it is a reason for standing out.
Has anyone ever met their family?
Some undercovers never talk about their family, while some talk about them a lot. However opportunities to meet them never quite come off – there are always excuses. Undercovers can produce photos and other material indicating the existence of supposed family members, and talk about having close relationships with them. Others have spun stories about abusive relationships (and used these stories to build trust), but inconsistently talk about how they are going to see them. Sometimes family crises, such as a seriously ill father, are used as an excuse to go away for extended periods of time.
Does their job take them away for periods at a time?
It appears that many undercovers have jobs that require them to be away for extended periods of time, up to several weeks at a time. These jobs would also supply them with money, vehicles and excuses to put receipts ‘through the books’. Depending on the nature of the job, most are reluctant to bring activists into contact with their employers. E.g., Lynn Watson was a care-worker, but when friends asked about working with her agency, she kept them at bay
Did their home look un-lived in?
A common theme is how un-homely or not lived-in their houses were, though – again – not in every case. There would be materials around that indicated ‘political activist’, but they are the exception rather than the norm, looking more staged than anything. There would also be a lack of personal touch and possessions. The most noted case of this was Lynn Watson’s house which had overdone Class War posters and little in the way of personal touch.
Did they have a vehicle?
Most undercovers had vehicles and showed willing to use them for the purposes of campaigning, including doing reconnaissances and actions. The vehicles would vary in type and model, and include vans. Sometimes the undercovers claimed the car came through their work.
Did they have above-average driving skills?
Something commented on a lot of undercovers is their above average driving skills, which is not unsurprising given Special Branch / police background.
Would you consider them someone who went out of their way to be helpful?
The charm, friendliness and general kindness of the undercovers is regularly noted upon. They come across as ready to go out of their way to help. In particular, they are happy to give lifts to and from campaigner’s homes.
Did they have ready access to money and were they generous with it?
They are often ready to help people out with money, such as wave petrol costs or buy rounds of food or drink. Sometimes they will claim that expenses are already covered it in some way – through their work for instance. They are not necessarily flash, but seem to have ready access to cash. They show willing to be generous, and will be quick to buy the rounds.
Did they focus relationships on key people?
It is not uncommon for them to – after getting involved in a group – to ‘make a beeline’ for key people and become very close to them personally and in campaigning. This often leads to them being been seen as ‘second in command’, etc.
Did they ever exhibit noticeable out-of-character behaviour?
A number of undercovers have been known to do something quite out of character that either disrupted an action and alerted police, or was distinctively away from the norm of the group. Examples are: inexplicable carelessness (Jim Boyling sabotaged a blockade during a Reclaim the Streets action by ‘ forgetting’ to keep window closed, so that the car was easy to remove by the police), or doing things beyond the group’s normal mode of behaviour (encouraging activities that put other members at risk, or take them into unplanned confrontations).
Related to this is spreading stories about more serious involvement in radical action elsewhere to give the impression they are ‘up for it’, though this would differ from how they normally present and actually behave in given situations.
12. Have you spotted oddities?
A number of things we have encountered in our research, that are worth noting if you encounter them:
Have documents in other names (sometimes can be explained away; not all are without good reason).
Organisational skills at odds with their persona.
Not having the skills they claim, especially where it is within their alleged job (Mark Jenner, for instance claimed to be a professional joiner but was unable to fit a kitchen). Related to this is not knowing enough about something they claim to be into, particularly a football team.
A focus on cleanliness and order that puts them at the far end of the activist spectrum, or at odds with it (e.g. Mark Kennedy getting his hair regularly styled in professional hairdressers).
Characteristics that indicate some formal training (the way they do their boots).
Reacting to surprise situations in ways that indicated some other training (At a noise outside Jenner dropping in the correct moves to react to a bomb explosion).
Owning a very expensive bit of equipment that is somewhat out of characteristic for them or their milieu (top of the range phone, watch).
Doing something that seems to be signalling to someone else.
Have there been weird things around court cases or – lack of – police interest?
Sometimes undercover officers have been dropped inexplicably from a legal case, or chose to have a different solicitor from everyone else. Or you may have experienced a noticeable lack of police interest during the period the undercover was part of your group, or people would not be arrested when it would be otherwise be expected It is now known that the undercovers’ handlers were turning a blind eye to illegal activities at occasions, and would go out of their way to keep the undercover from going to court.
Caveat: The opposite might be true too: there are several strong examples of undercovers turning up in court using their false names to give evidence for instance – leading to overturned convictions eventually.
Did he or she suddenly disappear and cut off all contact?
This question is a section in itself as the ‘exit strategy’ is one of the most important aspects of the tradecraft when investigating a suspicion. In every case, undercovers have served a term of four to five years, then left relatively abruptly. It is quite telling how time and again two strategies are used, sometimes in combination: a) they go abroad, or b) act out and demonstrate a kind of mental breakdown, including actual tears. More importantly, they disappear completely, totally cutting off from their activist social life.
In several cases, not attending funerals or coming to other events related to people they were once very close to, gave rise to suspicions.
Sometimes, the situation has been more complicated, because the undercover continued to tangle up their personal life and their professional undercover one, which is called ‘going native’. Mike Chitty, for instance, returned after supposedly having left for Canada to socialise with activist friends, while he continued his job in the protective service – a different section of Spacial Branch. Kennedy came back after he had left the police, and tried to use his activist contacts to set up shop as a corporate spy selling the information he gathered.
Can you help us kill these myths?
We are aware from conversations that some people believe or have believed undercovers had a code of conduct, that there were things they would not do. We flag them up here to put an end to these myths:
commit illegal activities;
have sexual relationships with people they were targeting;
deny they are police when asked directly (some would even joke about it).
We now know that all of these things have been done regularly by undercover officers.
If you find someone whose story ticks a number of these boxes, it does not necessarily mean you are dealing with an undercover officer. It merely means that your suspicions warrant further digging and investigating. These questions are a starting point, not an end in themselves to proof a case.
We strongly discourage people from spreading rumours based on suspicions alone, and recommend following up with research and proceeding with that as quickly as possible. Gossiping without confirmation can do much harm and destroy groups from within, regardless of the actual infiltration.
It is important to remember that while there might be commonalities among the way undercovers operate, there are as many differences, particularly around what they seek to achieve: some directly facilitate a group, while others seek to destroy it, for instance.
We also note that there are many good reasons for people to fall into the same categories without being an undercover, our framework is not fail-safe. For example, there are pretty valid reasons for not having contact with your family, or for people to disappear. Suffering from burn out is too common a reason for activists to withdraw, for instance (which should not happen in the first place – but that is another story. For support contact Counselling for Social Change).
Furthermore, not all undercover stories are exactly the same, there will be variations: so not fitting the pattern does not necessarily put someone in the clear either. Apart from that, other forms of infiltration (by security services or corporations, or through informers) will have very different patterns. If you have any questions or concerns or want to run unusual situations by us, do get in contact.
N.B. If you post these questions anywhere, please leave the caveats in place.
The nature of this work means all our experience and research is about historical undercovers, all prior to 2011 and all about those who have been extracted from their role. As this tradecraft is exposed, the police will have to change tactics to some degree.
Furthermore, the growing use of social media makes it more and more impossible to enter into a scene without any traces of a past, another part of one’s life and without family (though we know the police are actively looking into building ‘online legends’ to deal with this problem).
This article is here to help those who have been targeted in the past to identify individuals who should be investigated further, and should not be seen as the most up-to-date understanding of undercover police tradecraft.
Profiles of undercovers mentioned in this article can be found here. Some details taken from undercovers yet to be publicly exposed.
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
Trustworthy Freedom Fighter
Joined: 13 Jan 2007
Location: Westminster, LONDON, SW1A 2HB.
|Posted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:07 pm Post subject:
|Bristle's Blog from the BunKRS
Culture, current affairs, babber chatter and local gossip from the Mild, Wild West Country
‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny”… except when it suits THEM
‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ = Neither TRUTH nor JUSTICE
This Thursday and Friday at the High Court in London the state’s strategy of infiltrating spy-cops into the lives of political activists goes on trial, after a fashion at least.
Essentially a bunch of women who were treated like patsies by undercover cops and their bosses – tricked into intimate relationships, used as living, breathing camouflage, exploited as a means of infiltrating political groups more convincingly – will argue that the Metropolitan Police should drop the ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) approach which it has so far used to avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of its decades-long domestic spying operation.
The concept of NCND has been wheeled out from time to time, but those of a more sceptical bent, cynical even, would note how it has only been since the legal case brought against the police that it has been wheeled out as some kind of inviolable principle underpinning the very fabric of democracy and protecting those brave, selfless souls who volunteer to become well-paid, under-supervised flatfooted spooks of the state…
So if you are around London either today or tomorrow, get thee down to the Royal Courts of Justice(!) on The Strand from 9am and show how you stand in solidarity with these women and all those others targeted by undercover cops.
For more info on how the case goes, check Police Spies Out of Lives on Twitter.
Seven Magnificent Reasons why NCND is bs!
1: Some former undercover spy-cops have outed themselves
Well, it’s rather difficult to keep this whole NCND charade going when the very people it’s supposedly there to protect are exposing themselves, isn’t it?
Peter Francis: In March 2010, then using the pseudonym ‘Officer A’, former Special Branch officer Francis candidly talked to The Observer about his infiltration of left-wing and anti-fascist groups on behalf of the SDS from September 1993 until September 1997. He also noted the interest that his superiors had in infiltrating ‘black justice groups’, particularly in the wake of criticisms of the Met’s handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.
PC Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’ - NPOIU spy
PC Mark Kennedy AKA ‘Mark Stone’ – NPOIU spy
Mark Kennedy: A Metropolitan Police officer who worked undercover within the environmental movement for the NPOIU between 2003 and 2009, before leaving the Met and continuing the same for private spying company Global Open for a further ten months, Kennedy admitted his role as a cop to activists who confronted him in October 2010. He then repeated his admissions to another activist in November 2010.
These admissions were then the basis for the collapse of the second Ratcliffe-on-Soar trial, and subsequent quashing of convictions from the first – admissions supported by the Crown Prosecution Service, Nottinghamshire Constabulary, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and others in their various reports on the debacle.
Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the hagiographic documentary about him that Max Clifford brokered…
DI Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’ - undercover cop & SDS spymaster
DI Bob Lambert AKA ‘Bob Robinson’ – undercover cop & SDS spymaster
Bob Lambert: Since his exposure in October 2011 by members of the London Greenpeace group on which he spied in the 1980s, the former Metropolitan Police Special Branch spy-cop and then spymaster Lambert has repeatedly acknowledged that he was an SDS infiltrator, notably in the brief statement he himself put out.
In his filmed interview with Channel 4 News in July 2013, Lambert again accepted that he had been an undercover officer, and that Francis had been too.
PC Jim Boyling AKA ‘Grumpy Jim Sutton’ - moved from SDS to Muslim Contact Unit with boss Lambert
PC Jim Boyling AKA ‘Grumpy Jim Sutton’ – moved from SDS to Muslim Contact Unit with boss Lambert
Jim Boyling: Mentored by Francis and commanded by Lambert – with whom he later helped set up the ‘Muslim Contact Unit’ within Special Branch – Boyling infiltrated Reclaim The Streets as ‘Jim Sutton’ on behalf of SDS from 1995 until 2000.
In 1999 he began going out with a female activist. He ended their relationship suddenly and disappeared from the environmental movement in late 2000 when his SDS deployment came to an end. But in November 2001 she tracked him down and they restarted their relationship.
Soon he admitted to her that he had been an undercover police officer, got her pregnant, isolated her from her environmentalist friends. In time he also persuaded her to change her name by deed poll to reduce the chance of his police bosses discovering that he was sleeping with a former target, told her personal information about activists who had been spied upon, and revealed the identities of several other undercover officers, including John Dines and Bob Lambert, the latter of whom even visited their home.
They had two children together and married in 2005, before the relationship disintegrated. By 2009 they had divorced.
2: The police have already confirmed some infiltrators were officers
…And even if the spy-cops aren’t outing themselves, their bosses are quietly confirming as much off the record!
Mark Kennedy: Whilst in the early stages of the scandal the Met maintained a ‘no comment’ response to questions about Kennedy or the NPOIU, soon there was such a deluge of further embarrassing details that police chiefs were forced to acknowledge him as a cop in under a fortnight.
‘Lynn Watson’ - the NPOIU infiltrator whom Kennedy betrayed
‘Lynn Watson’ – the NPOIU infiltrator whom Kennedy betrayed
‘Lynn Watson’: Exposed by The Guardian in January 2011, ‘Watson’ was initially known only as ‘Officer A’ (the newspaper’s editors presumably having forgotten that less than a year previously its sister title had assigned that pseudonym to Peter Francis) thanks to a deal with “senior officers” and “senior intelligence sources” who in the face of overwhelming evidence (including being grassed up by Kennedy) admitted she was NPOIU, but asked for a head-start before publishing her work name or her photograph so that she could be relocated from a subsequent undercover operation.
Almost immediately her full work name, unpixelated photograph and undercover biography became known through activist news media.
Police sources further confirmed to The Times that she was a serving police officer who had worked undercover for NPOIU, offering additional information on her deployments.
‘Marco Jacobs’ - NPOIU's disruptive cuckoo in Cardiff's anarchist movement
‘Marco Jacobs’ – NPOIU’s disruptive cuckoo in Cardiff’s anarchist movement
‘Marco Jacobs’: At the same time as ‘Watson’ was confirmed as a serving officer working in NPOIU, so was ‘Jacobs’ – or ‘Officer B’ – who infiltrated groups in Brighton and Cardiff.
Jim Boyling: Earlier this year during legal proceedings to have the conviction quashed of an environmental protester who was tried alongside Boyling in 1997, prosecutors agreed that John Jordan had been wrongfully convicted. However, they refused to say why they considered it a miscarriage of justice, even though it was patently obvious it was because Boyling had been an infiltrator using a fake identity, preferring instead to strike an NCND pose – all whilst the Met itself confirmed that Boyling had been a police officer.
3: Senior police officers have spoken with impunity about undercover units and their personnel
In fact, some of the biggest cops think that the rules don’t apply to them, and will run their gums pretty much anywhere…
Chief Constable Ben Gunn - the former Special Branch supremo who nurtured SDS, laid ground for NETCU, and led ACPO into turf war with MI5?
Chief Constable Ben Gunn – the former Special Branch supremo who nurtured SDS, prepared the ground for NETCU, and led ACPO into turf war with MI5?
Ben Gunn: A career Special Branch officer since 1963, Gunn spent two years running SO12 before moving to leadership roles at Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 1991, becoming Chief Constable in 1994, a rank he held until retirement in March 2002. It was Gunn – an officer intimately familiar with SDS, its officers and operations, and who in later years chaired the ACPO Security Committee – who facilitated the participation of ex-SDS infiltrators and Special Branch case officers in Peter Taylor’s 2002 documentary television series True Spies.
Chief Constable Denis O'Connor - the Chief Inspector of Constabulary whose fairweather application of NCND identified numerous undercover officers
Chief Constable Denis O’Connor – the Chief Inspector of Constabulary whose fairweather application of NCND identified numerous undercover officers
Denis O’Connor: In his capacity as Chief Inspector of Constabulary, O’Connor (a Chief Police Officer since around 1990) openly acknowledged Mark Kennedy as having been an undercover police officer in media appearances and interviews.
O’Connor’s HMIC review of ‘national police units which provide intelligence on criminality associated with protest’ (that’s version three of the report: an initial, insipid draft by Bernard Hogan-Howe was rewritten by O’Connor himself, before that second version then had to be pulped and rush-written a third time as the story that Jim Boyling had given evidence under oath whilst using his fake identity broke the night before the report was due to be released) – explicitly references the arbitrary exercise of NCND:
It is normal practice for the police to neither confirm nor deny the true identity of undercover officers. This is to protect both the officers themselves, and the effectiveness of the tactic. However, the case of Mark Kennedy is one of exceptional circumstances, including his own public revelations, the media interest in him, and the fact that the Court of Appeal named him on 19 July 2011. Because of this, HMIC has chosen on this occasion to use his real name.
Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe - veteran of the Hillsborough police and author of the original HMIC whitewash on undercover policing
Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe – veteran of the Hillsborough police and author of the original HMIC whitewash on undercover policing
Bernard Hogan-Howe: After leaving HMIC, where he authored the never publicly released original report on spy-cop units (as noted above),Hogan-Howe was made Metropolitan Police Commissioner – and in that capacity he too has made numerous public statements in which he accepts that various people were undercover officers, either directly or by implication.
Facing questions from the Metropolitan Police Authority in October 2011 in relation to allegations that Jim Boyling perjured himself whilst undercover, the Commissioner by implication confirmed that he had been a Metropolitan Police officer at that time: “I am just a little careful about answering the point about whether he is still working for us and what he is doing. He is in the misconduct process, which is a publicly reported fact, so he must be still working for us.”
Following the allegations made by Peter Francis that SDS officers had been invited to contribute to a ‘smear campaign’ against the Lawrence family in the lead up to the Macpherson Inquiry, in June 2013 Hogan-Howe again failed to invoke NCND, instead stating: “I am personally shocked by the allegations that an undercover officer was told to find evidence that might smear the Lawrence family… If these allegations are true, it’s a disgrace, and the Metropolitan Police Service will apologise.”
Chief Constable Mick Creedon - bangs on about NCND but names report after a confirmed former undercover officer!
Chief Constable Mick Creedon – bangs on about NCND but names report after a confirmed former undercover officer!
Mick Creedon: The serving Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, Creedon – currently in charge of the cops-investigating-cops Operation Herne – has freely acknowledged that some suspected spies (such as Francis and Lambert) were police infiltrators… Whilst also invoking NCND in the first report, but then devoting the entire second report to ‘Allegations of Peter Francis’!
4: Parliament has taken evidence under oath from serving and former undercover officers
It takes a very special type of person to fold so quickly under a Keith Vaz interrogation. But dangit, these guys will give it a go!
The Home Affairs Select Committee has heard evidence from a number of police officers – both serving and former – in relation to undercover policing, and issued both an interim report in March 2013 and a follow-up in October of the same year.
Mark Kennedy: The former Metropolitan Police officer appeared in person before the committee in February 2013. He attested that he had undertaken undercover duties since 1998 and was accepted into the NPOIU in 2001, where he subsequently worked as an undercover officer infiltrating political groups in the UK and overseas.
DAC Patricia Gallan - the original Herne top cop whose investigation got nowhere
DAC Patricia Gallan – the original Herne top cop whose investigation got nowhere
Patricia Gallan: Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan ran the Met’s Operation Herne until February 2013, when it was transferred to the care of Derbyshire Constabulary. She appeared before the committee in February 2013 and made reference to a “policy” of NCND whilst discussing the topic in the abstract; yet she also explicitly referred both to Mark Kennedy and an SDS officer exposed in his wake (who can reasonably be deduced to be Boyling).
Mick Creedon: The Derbyshire Chief Constable, who took over the running of Operation Herne from DAC Gallan at the invitation of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe in February 2013, gave evidence before the committee in July of that year. He acknowledged that Peter Francis was an officer in SDS, and neither here nor in his earlier letter to the committee, in which he noted the allegations made by Peter Francis in relation to the Lawrence family”, did he make reference to NCND.
5: Inquiries by a number of authorities have clearly identified undercover officers
Since January 2011, when Mark Kennedy was publicly exposed in the mainstream media as an undercover police infiltrator, there have been almost countless official investigations, inquiries, reviews and reports into every possible aspect of the undercover policing issue – though not all of them public. The ones so far in the public domain all identify at least some officers to some degree, though…
Sir Christopher Rose - apparently it's alright for him to name undercovers, so long as it's whilst he's bollocking lawyers
Sir Christopher Rose – apparently it’s alright for him to name undercovers, so long as it’s whilst he’s bollocking lawyers
Rose Report (CPS): In April 2009 114 people were arrested in relation to a planned protest at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant, based on intelligence supplied by undercover Metropolitan Police officer Mark Kennedy. 26 were charged, with twenty tried (and convicted) in December 2010, and a further six due to go on trial in January 2011.
Neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service disclosed to the defence that there had been a spy in their midst; but in October 2010 suspicious activists themselves had confronted Kennedy with indisputable evidence that he had been a policeman, and he confessed. With the cat out of the bag, the second trial collapsed before it began, with the convictions from the first trial subsequently quashed.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer then commissioned Sir Christopher Rose to inquire into the issue of disclosure. Rose’s report, published in December 2011, freely acknowledges that Kennedy was an undercover police officer working for NPOIU, and details not just Kennedy’s actions but those of his superior in NPOIU, the Nottinghamshire investigation team, and the CPS prosecutors.
Operation Soisson/Operation Herne (Met Police/Derbyshire Constabulary): The Metropolitan Police first began to investigate allegations about its SDS undercover unit in October 2011, when Operation Soisson was initiated with just four officers. Soisson then became Herne, with first Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan and then Derbyshire Constabulary’s Chief Constable Mick Creedon taking nominal charge.
The first report of Operation Herne was published in July 2013, focusing on the use of ‘covert identities’ (most notably employing the identities of dead children) by undercover police. This report makes early mention of the “policy of ‘neither confirming nor denying’ the use of or identity of an undercover police officer”, which it describes as “a long established one used by UK policing”. Accordingly, this report does not refer to any undercover officer by their covert identity or real name. Only the identity of a dead child – Rod Richardson – suspected of having been appropriated by an NPOIU undercover spy is mentioned.
However, the report makes copious references to codenamed officers which make deduction simple. Creedon, for example, notes “allegations that a former SDS officer (N14) had a relationship with a woman whilst he had worked undercover and that he had gone on to father children with her,” in circumstances that make it plain to deduce that this is Jim Boyling.
There is also reference to “a video interview provided to the Guardian by the former SDS Officer N43”, who is clearly Peter Francis. Reminiscences by retired officer ‘N2’ about a situation in which he “found himself in a situation where he had penetrated an organisation and was then asked by the group to help trace a mole among them” suggests this may be Mike Ferguson, an early SDS spy previously outed in the True Spies documentary series. Similarly ‘N85’ would appear to be the former Commander of Special Branch, Roger Pearce – a career Branch man with extensive experience of covert policing and himself a former SDS undercover officer.
The second Herne report, which came out in March 2014, focused on the claims of ex-SDS officer Peter Francis. Yet despite even being called Report 2 – Allegations of Peter Francis, Creedon sticks to the NCND credo, this time even throwing in some case law and legislative references to try and plug some of the leaks.
Notwithstanding this, the report still refers to Francis’ boss Bob Lambert by name, as well as by implication as ‘N10’.
Mark Ellison QC - how come a case review by a brief and his assistant can uncover dodgy police activities that numerous well-staffed investigations by the Met, IPCC, CPS, HMIC and the rest couldn't?
Mark Ellison QC – how come a case review by a brief and his assistant can uncover dodgy police activities that numerous well-staffed investigations by the Met, IPCC, CPS, HMIC and the rest couldn’t?
Stephen Lawrence Independent Review (Mark Ellison QC): Appointed by Home Secretary Theresa May as a sop to the Lawrence family, who were calling for a full independent inquiry, the Ellison Review – released the same day in March 2014 as the second Herne report – was an unexpected bomb, forensically blowing apart many of the Met’s orthodoxies on not just its investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence but also on the behaviour of Special Branch and its undercover unit SDS.
The Review makes no claims about NCND, and instead simply assigns number codes to pretty much all undercover officers, with the exception of obvious ones such as Peter Francis and Bob Lambert.
HMIC Review: As noted above, the O’Connor/Hogan-Howe Review of national police units which provide intelligence on criminality associated with protest (snappy title) for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary was another report which potentously explained the importance of NCND, before then completely undermining it as a concept by naming Mark Kennedy throughout.
Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (Operation Aeroscope) Disclosure Final Report (IPCC): Covering similar ground as the Rose Report but concentrating on the actions of police officers, the IPCC report names Kennedy as an undercover officer, but refers to his case officer David Hutcheson only as ‘NPOIU DI’, and their superior responsible for disclosure as ‘NPOIU DCI’.
6: Earlier tribunals have rejected the idea that the NCND convention can be rigidly and indefinitely deployed
Previous attempts by official bodies to apply a blanket NCND response to any inquiries relating to the use of spies or secret intelligence against those who were demonstrably not violent or threats to the state have been met with short shrift.
The job of adjudicating on appeals to the Information Tribunal – where a data controlling organisation has refused to release information under the Data Protection Act (1998) citing a section 28 ‘national security’ exemption – belongs to the National Security Appeals Panel. Already the NSAP has made a number of interesting decisions on this issue – and ones involving the ‘big boy’ spooks of the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), not just the more déclassé rubber heelers of Special Branch, or – worse! – the impertinent young bucks of the newer national ‘domestic extremism’ units.
Typically in these appeals the state has argued that by letting ‘innocent’ people know that no information is held on them, this enables a ‘guilty’ person to incrementally build up an accurate understanding of whether information is held on them.
Whilst – repeatedly – the Panel tends to point appellants towards the Investigatory Powers Tribunal as a means to pursue such issues, the clear implication is that the ‘incremental’ argument is not monolithic and must be weighed against other contributory factors.
Norman Baker MP - a dangerous terraist and government minister who weakened MI5's blanket NCND defence (just don't ask about Dr Kelly)
Norman Baker MP – a dangerous terraist and now government minister who weakened MI5’s blanket NCND defence (just don’t ask about Dr Kelly)
Norman Baker v. Home Secretary (2001): The Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes won a landmark judgement which removed the ability of the Security Service to use a blanket NCND policy.
It came after the Lewes MP received an anonymous tip-off that he had been under Special Branch surveillance in 1986-1989, that intelligence on him was held by the Animal Rights National Index (ARNI, a precursor to NPOIU and NETCU), and that this information was then passed onto MI5 in 1998 by a ‘source’ inside South Downs Earth First!
On hearing this claim he put in a DPA subject access request to MI5 asking to see what information it held on him, but this was stonewalled with an NCND response.
In its conclusion, the NSAP noted that:
the blanket exemption given by the Certificate in relation to section 7(1)(a) is wider than is necessary to protect national security…the blanket exemption relieves the Service of any obligation to give a considered answer to individual requests…
Phillip Hilton v. Foreign Secretary (2003): In this case a former GCHQ employee sought to find out whether his personal data had been shared with other public bodies or private companies, and to clarify whether the travel restrictions that were customarily part of his employment conditions then remained in force even though he had left the job more than a decade previously.
Following an NCND response from GCHQ, he appealed to NSAP; the Panel declined to rule on the principle of NCND, though noted that it found it “difficult to accept that the NCND reply can always be justified on this ground, because as a matter of commonsense it may be thought that there are some cases where a definite response would not enable any inference to be drawn in other cases.”
Nevertheless, the Panel dismissed the appeal and instead pointed to the secret Investigatory Powers Tribunal established under RIPA as the appropriate body to consider whether it was “an unjustified claim by GCHQ to give a NCND response or to withhold personal data on national security grounds”.
Tony Gosling v. Home Secretary (2003): Here a journalist requested from MI5 any information held on him by them, citing the Baker decision; the Service turned him down and gave an NCND response, citing s28. He then appealed to NSAP.
Whilst this appeal too was dismissed, the Panel indicated that the Service conceded ground:
Assuming that the general NCND policy is itself justified…the Service accepts that the policy is not absolute. …There may be other, as yet not specifically identified cases, where departure from NCND might be justifiable.
Peter Hitchens v. Home Secretary (2003): A journalist and former activist with the International Socialists in the early 1970s, Hitchens made a subject access request to the Security Service on the back of the Baker decision.
Whilst sympathetic to Hitchens’ argument that the passage of time should affect the degree to which NCND might be considered appropriate, the Panel also gave weight to the ‘incremental’ argument, noting that “If (the appellant) and a university contemporary both made requests under section 7(1)(a) for records which, if they exist, are more than thirty years old, a NCND reply in one case but not the other might suggest that more recent data are held in that case alone.”
The appeal was dismissed, for essentially the same reasons as in Gosling.
7: Police only invoked the NCND defence after legal action was brought against them
As noted by the women’s support group Police Spies Out Of Lives:
The women launched their legal action in December 2011, but it was not until June 2012 that the police first mentioned NCND in relation to the claim.
What a funny coincidence…
Yes – I think we have a winning ticket here!
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unknown author, ‘Undercover police: the unmasked officers’, Daily Telegraph, 10 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
Sue, ‘Jim Sutton – undercover cop in Reclaim the Streets’, Indymedia UK, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
Sue, ‘Jim Sutton – undercover cop in Reclaim the Streets’, Sheffield Indymedia, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
Transpontine, ‘Undercover in East Dulwich’, Transpontine, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
Paul Lewis, Rob Evans & Rowenna Davis ‘Undercover policeman married activist he was sent to spy on’, The Guardian, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
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Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, Faber & Faber, 2013, pp192-197.
Paul Lewis, Rob Evans & Rowenna Davis, ‘Ex-wife of police spy tells how she fell in love and had children with him’, The Guardian, 19 January 2011 (accessed 4 June 2014).
Paul Lewis & Rob Evans, ‘Spying on protest groups has gone badly wrong, police chiefs say’, The Guardian, 19 January 2011 (accessed 5 June 2014).
Paul Lewis, Rob Evans & Martin Wainwright, ‘Second police officer to infiltrate environmental activists unmasked’, The Guardian, 12/01/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
quiteliketheguardianactually, ‘Officer A’, Indymedia UK, 13/01/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
ABC Anarres, ‘Three undercover political Police unmasked as infiltrators into UK Anarchist, Anti-Fascist and Climate Justice movements’, Indymedia UK, 19/01/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
infiltrators, ‘Lynn Watson’, Infiltrators & Informers blog, 08/03/11 (accessed 10 May 2014).
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There are a lot of acronyms in this article, so here’s a handy guide to all them initials…
ACPO: Association of Chief Police Officers (private company acting as a forum for senior cops – with no statutory foundation and no democratic oversight – which at times has had authority over units including NPOIU, NDET and NETCU)
ACPO (TAM): ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters (ACPO ‘business area’ responsible for devising and driving counter-terrorism and anti-‘domestic extremism’ policy within UK policing, which operated NCDE and its subordinate units NPOIU, NDET and NETCU)
ARNI: Animal Rights National Index (precursor to NPOIU and NETCU whose remit was widened out to include environmentalists)
CIU: Confidential Intelligence Unit (sub-unit of NPOIU)
NCDE: National Coordinator Domestic Extremism (ACPO-controlled office commanding NPOIU, NDET and NETCU until they were all brought together as NDEU in 2010)
NDEDIU: National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (rebranded NDEU, under control of Metropolitan Police’s SO15)
NDET: National Domestic Extremism Team (investigatory ‘domestic extremism’ unit set up in 2005 to provide national strategic support to localised investigations, which later developed its own intelligence-gathering capability; merged into NDEU in 2010 and moved from ACPO to Met control in 2011)
NDEU: National Domestic Extremism Unit (merged unit formed in 2010 from NPOIU, NDET and NETCU and transferred to Met control in 2011)
NETCU: National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (preventative ‘domestic extremism’ unit set up under Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 2004, coming under the control of NCDE in ACPO until merged into NDEU in 2010 along with NPOIU and NDET , and then transferred to the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command in 2011)
NPOIU: National Public Order Intelligence Unit (intelligence-gathering ‘domestic extremism’ unit set up under Metropolitan Police Special Branch in 1999, moved to ACPO in 2006, and after merger with NETCU and NDET into NDEU transferred back to the Met in 2011 under Counter Terrorism Command/SO15 as a single unit, NDEU)
SDS: Special Demonstration Squad (originally Special Operations Squad, later Special Duties Section; political infiltration unit of Metropolitan Police Special Branch)
SO12: Metropolitan Police Special Branch (intelligence-gathering police unit most concerned with ‘subversion’, ‘domestic extremism’ and terrorism)
SO13: Anti Terrorism Branch (investigatory unit)
SO15: Counter Terrorism Command (formed through the union of SO12 and SO13 in 2006)
CPS: Crown Prosecution Service (responsible for bringing about prosecutions on behalf of the state)
DPA: Data Protection Act (1998) (enumerates the responsibilities of any organisation which holds or processes data on individuals)
FOIA: Freedom of Information Act (2000) (providing public access to information held by public authorities)
GCHQ: Government Communications Headquarters (the national signals intelligence agency of the UK)
NCND: Neither Confirm Nor Deny (the position surrounding the avowal or otherwise of undercover officers claimed as an official policy by the police)
NSAP: National Security Appeals Panel (hearing appeals made to the Information Tribunal where a data controller has invoked s28 ‘national security’ defence under the Data Protection Act 1998)
RIPA: Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) (legislative framework governing undercover policing and the use of informants)
Edited 12 June 2014 for minor typos & style points.
Edited 29 July 2014 for minor typo.
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5 June, 20149 Replies
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Christopher Buntifer on 6 June, 2014 at 1:27 pm
Interesting piece, exposing idiocy & hypocrisy of the NCND position that the police are taking regarding undercover infiltration.
However, there is 1 minor part I would take issue with;
I would be very sceptical of the claim that MI5 had a ‘source’ inside South Downs Earth First! (SDEF!) in 1998 that passed on info about Norman Baker. This is largely because the group was only active in Brighton in the early 1990s and by 1998 no longer existed in any meaningful way (eg they had long stopped having meetings or planning actions). Also, if I remember correctly, the original source of this story should be treated with extreme caution, as it was the Sunday Times which was well-known for running unfounded spoiler stories to discredit environmental groups (such as the anti-roads protests at Twyford Down & Solsbury Hill in the early 1990s).
Finally, there’s no evidence I’m aware of that Norman Baker had any involvement with SDEF! (why would a prospective Lib Dem MP be involved with an obscure splinter group of the radical environmental movement that was largely unheard of outside of Brighton?!), so if there was indeed an MI5 ‘source’, I fail to see what useful info on Norman Baker they could pass on that wasn’t already known about.
BristleKRS on 6 June, 2014 at 1:49 pm
Thank Christopher – and I agree about being sceptical about that SDEF! claim.
I referenced it as it intersects with the political milieu that the police units have been spying on, and because the Baker case, as the first of the NSAP hearings, is perhaps the most important of all of them, ‘setting the scene’ as it does.
Certainly I hope to return to the specific issue of ‘The Mechanic’(!), and analyse it more closely.
I hope that by making reference to it it doesn’t come across as an endorsement of it, any more than citing a LibDem MP, a Mail hack or a gingery Captain Haddock lookalike might 😉
WILD NOTTINGHAM on 25 June, 2014 at 12:58 pm
An excellent, well-researched and well-presented piece. Thanks!
Pingback: Why NCND must be rejected….
BristleKRS on 2 July, 2014 at 10:04 am
Anony on 24 December, 2014 at 3:39 pm
Indeed, a well researched article.
There is an article mentioning Bob Lambert & the MCU here (section:’The Police Infiltrators Conspiracy Theories’ & also in the comments section).
With police ‘infiltrators’ put into environmental activist groups in the 80’s, it would be naive to think that infiltration of Muslim activist groups did not occur in later years. One such ‘Islamic covert’ activist was Martin ‘Abdullah’ McDaid who worked at the Iqra bookshop in Leeds, frequented by some of the 7/7 alleged perpetrators.
Dirty tricks all round…..
Pingback: Leaked letter appears to undermine police bid for undercover secrecy - The Guardian - Moletter
BristleKRS on 18 March, 2016 at 2:13 pm
Article by Rob Evans originally posted to The Guardian‘s website:
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/undercover-with-paul-lewis-and-rob- evans/2016/mar/18/leaked-letter-appears-to-undermine-police-bid-for-un dercover-secrecy
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