‘Was my friend a spycop?’ publication now out

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A guide to the do’s and don’t’s of investigating if a comrade was an undercover police officer is released today,

In this 24 page booklet, we have brought together all the lessons we have learned to help you do your own investigation.

It covers how to start investigating and the sorts of questions that need answering. Equally importantly, we discuss how to support each other or deal with situations which are inconclusive. It takes you through the process step by step, so even if you have already started your own investigation there is help with what to do once you have come to a conclusion.

Supporting each other

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Nothing personal, it’s a political right to know #spycops’ names

Eveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group, 10 February 2018.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry will reveal the real name of ‘Rick Gibson’, the undercover police officer who infiltrated the Troops Out Campaign and socialist group Big Flame 1974 – 1976. Gibson’s anonymity order was one of seven discussed at the Inquiry’s hearing last Monday at the Royal Court of Justice in London.

The worrying thing is that the Chair of the Inquiry, John Mitting, will only disclose it to ‘Mary’ – a woman the officer deceived into a relationship whilst undercover. Last month she came forward and issued a powerful statement asking for him to be named.

In doing so, Mitting creates a special category of ‘deserving victims’, and makes it a personal, rather than political right to know the real names of the spies.

This is not good, as there are – even within the Inquiry’s limited reasoning – plenty of reasons why Gibson’s name should be disclosed and his misconduct acknowledged in public. Even more disturbing is the fact that Mitting’s decision stems from an utterly conservative disposition, which makes you wonder whether he is the right man to chair an inquiry into institutional sexism within the police.  Continue reading

Two new undercovers – ‘John Clinton’ and ‘Alex Sloan’

Chart of communist parties in the UK in 1970s showing the INLSF / CWLB (ML)

Donal O’Driscoll, Undercover Research Group, 8 February 2018

Today the Undercover Policing Inquiry released the cover names of two undercovers who infiltrated the left wing groups in London in the early 1970s. Some details had been previously revealed by the Inquiry, but this was the first time we learned the names the pair used while undercover. This brings to five the number of undercover cover names revealed by the inquiry that had not already been know to campaigners.

Both the new officers were with the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). The dates of their deployments indicate that they were part of a second generation of undercovers, when the unit moved beyond its original targets – the anti Vietnam war protests – to look at all forms of political protest groups.

The two names are:

  • “John Clinton” (HN343), who from 1971 to 1974 was with the International Socialists (I.S.).
  • “Alex Sloan” (HN347), who from 1971 to 1973 infiltrated the Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front (INLSF)

The International Socialists, now better known as the Socialist Workers Party, were Continue reading

Scottish Justice Minister rejects public inquiry into undercover policing

PRESS RELEASE, Public Interest Law Unit, 7 February 2018

The Scottish Justice Minister, Michael Matheson has today (Wednesday 7 February 2018) has announced that he will not be calling for a public inquiry into undercover political policing in Scotland. This is despite the fact that a report from the HMICS lists serious undercover political policing by the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the national Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) in Scotland.

In his statement to the Scottish Parliament he noted that undercover political policing had taken place north of the border. Yet, he has refused the need for a public inquiry – stating that there was a lack of  evidence of undercover political policing, and that calling a public inquiry was not proportionate and too costly.

It is accepted that during the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005, the Metropolitan Police sent SDS and NPOIU undercover officers into Scotland to spy on activists. It also talks of a wider ‘cadre’ (pt.176) where these Scottish officers? Amongst these officers was known undercover officer Mark Kennedy, who had, between 2003 and 2010, infiltrated numerous campaign groups and had formed intimate relationships with women, and Carlo Neri who had targeted a woman known publicly as ‘Andrea’, and had been welcomed into her Scottish family.

Additionally officers from Scotland where seconded to national agencies. (pt.169) Where they based in Scotland? Was there a Unit in Scotland?

The report from the HMCIS only scratches the surface of the extent of undercover political policing in Scotland. This is even something the authors of the HMICS report accept – “…it is our assessment that the information provided in our report as it relates to the NPOIU deployments to Scotland should be considered as provisional and not conclusive.” (pt.170)

Only a public inquiry would be and can be inquisitorial and conclusive. Continue reading

‘Mary’ proves: sexual targeting was always part of spycops’ tactics

Eveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group, 30 January 2017

Rick Gibson was an early officer in the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), the Metropolitan Police’s specialist political undercover unit set up in 1968. We published his profile last year revealing how he infiltrated the Troops Out Movement and Big Flame in the mid-1970s, and how he was unmasked by his comrades back in the day. The Undercover Policing Inquiry confirmed his identity in August 2017.

At the November hearings of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, the Undercover Research Group was able to reveal that Gibson had been in relationships with at least two, and maybe as many as four women. This was important in demonstrating that, far from the Inquiry’s presumption of it being a later development, sexual targeting was standard practice from quite early on.

But rather than trying to get to the bottom of this as he suggested he would at the hearing, the Chair of the Inquiry refused to release Gibson’s real name without any of the deceived women requesting it. He said he wished to receive ‘plausible statements’ from the women mentioned.

Probably better be careful what you ask for, as we found a hell of a woman. She had the courage to come forward, and her statement is extremely powerful. Continue reading

Campaigners need help in fight for justice in Scotland

An outrageous aspect of the Undercover Policing Inquiry is that it will not examine the activities of undercover police officers in Scotland. This despite their presence there on numerous occasions being well established, including in relationships with those they were targeting. We at the Undercover Research Group have worked to help show the extent to which this happened and firmly believe that it is vital that the presence of spycops in Scotland needs to be investigated if the full truth is to come out.

Campaigners in Scotland have been successful in getting permission for a judicial review about the exclusion of Scotland from the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. However, despite this, the Scottish Legal Aid Board is refusing the necessary funding for this to continue. So, they are asking people to contact the Scottish Justice Minister, Michael Matheson, to get the legal aid decision reversed, and need all our help in this. Please go here for more information and to send Matheson an email on this matter.

Police Self-Investigators are Doorstepping #Spycops Victims

Firefighter in the wreckage of Debenhams Luton store after 1987 incendiary attack

Debenham’s Luton branch, July 1987

Repost of Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, 22 January 2018.

Also see this advice and please share it: Don’t talk to the police investigating themselves!

Once again, police self-investigations have been contacting activists who were spied on, asking for co-operation.

The latest activity centres around Operation Sparkler/Operation Nitrogen, which is examining evidence that undercover police officer Bob Lambert planted incendiary devices in the Harrow branch of Debenham’s in 1987. Continue reading

Don’t talk to the police! Ongoing investigations into undercover policing operations

STATEMENT ABOUT ONGOING POLICE INVESTIGATIONS
INTO UNDERCOVER POLICING OPERATIONS

January 2018

There have been a number of incidences recently of the police contacting victims of spycops infiltration directly to ask them to co-operate with ongoing investigations related to their undercover operations.

Being contacted by the police can be intimidating and isolating, particularly for people affected by abuses of police power. We therefore want to make the following points clear for anyone who finds themselves in that situation:

You are under no obligation to talk to the police

You are not alone

We have no confidence in the police investigating their own wrongdoing. These operations, Herne and Nitrogen/Sparkler, are conducted by the Metropolitan Police who have a poor history of honestly investigating themselves. Continue reading

From death of Blair Peach to spying on the Lawrence family – latest from the public inquiry

Dónal O’Driscoll, Undercover Research Group, 16 January 2018

Yesterday, the Undercover Policing Inquiry, examining Britain’s political police, released the third of its “Minded-To” notes from Chair Sir John Mitting, setting out his intentions on a few of the applications for anonymity by former spycops. If Mitting doesn’t change his mind, we can expect the release of the cover names of another five undercovers and the names of several managers / back office staff from the units that infiltrated political groups from 1968 onwards. Which in itself is relatively good news.

More secrecy around spying on the Lawrences

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Police planted a spy in my bed — they used sex as a weapon

'Carlo Neri' in Venice

‘Carlo Neri’ in Venice

A woman duped into a relationship by an undercover officer targeting leftist activists says she feels violated

Repost of David Collins, Northern Correspondent, The Sunday Times, 24 December 2017.

It was more like a honeymoon than a holiday when Lindsay’s charismatic British-Italian boyfriend whisked her away on a magical trip to Venice — whispering on the plane that he loved her and wanted to spend his life by her side.

They spent two days eating pasta and drinking red wine, sightseeing in the Piazza San Marco, and enjoying passionate encounters in their apartment.

Lindsay, then a bubbly 30-year-old from Liverpool with an interest in left-wing politics, thought Carlo Neri was “the one”. What she did not know, however, was that Neri was an undercover police officer on a mission to infiltrate the Socialist Party — and Lindsay was his designated target. Continue reading

Longread: Undercover Policing Inquiry’s First Mitting Hearing

Donal O’Driscoll, Undercover Research Group, 13 December 2017

The 20th & 21st November saw the first open hearing of the Undercover Policing Inquiry before the new Chair, Sir John Mitting, who succeeded Christopher Pitchford earlier this year.

Prior to this hearing, Mitting released several ‘minded-to’ documents that indicated his intention to restrict details of undercover officers, and said he would provide an opening statement on the future conduct of the Inquiry under him. The victims of the spycop scandal approached the hearings with trepidation and scepticism.

In this long read, we unpick the hearing in detail, in particular how the new Chair is likely to approach the release of information on spycop deployments and their supervisors. We look at Mitting’s opening remarks and how he dealt with a protest. With much of the hearings focusing on ‘restriction order’ applications for spycops’ anonymity, we look at how he handled the various challenges thrown up by them.

It is worth noting how much the discussion has shifted. Arguments around releasing cover names have advanced considerably in favour of publishing, with debates now focusing on the degree to which real names should be revealed.

Nevertheless, Mitting has put down markers on the subject – his concerns are where there is a real risk to the officers or crucial factors relating to their health and expectations of anonymity. However, the stand out point is the moral right of those deceived into relationships to know real names.

Since the hearing, Mitting has handed down a number of rulings in response.

Note: this is the author’s own impressions from sitting through both days. There may be other readings / interpretations of how things went. Continue reading