Sir David Christopher Veness, CBE, QPM (born 20 September 1947) was Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations of the Metropolitan Police from 1994 to 2005 and Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security for the United Nations until 2008.
Oversight of undercover work
As head of Special Operations, Veness oversaw various units including counter-terrorism and the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), which targeted protesters. In this role Veness knew and worked closely with Bob Lambert of the SDS. The two men would have a long association, including through the work of the Muslim Safety Forum, and, after both had left the Police, at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence.
By October 2004, Veness was secretary of the ACPO’s Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) board. At the time, TAM was running the reorganised national domestic extremism units, including, including the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and its infiltration of protest movements during the time of Mark Kennedy and others. A number of Veness’s subordinate officers would go on to join the TAM board, including his former deputy Bob Quick who was its chair in 2008-2009.
Police corruption, the CIB and the Stephen Lawrence murder
1993 saw the start of a major push against police corruption particularly that associated with the South East Regional Crime Squad (some of whose members would be later implicated in the News of the World hacking scandal). This investigation was run by the Complaints Investigations Branch (CIB), and part of this included the formation of a secretive anti-corruption unit even within this known as CIB3, or ‘Ghost Squad’. Veness appears to have been integral to this anti-corruption drive, working closely with the Metropolitan Police’s Professional Standards Unit. As such he was part of a group of officers that included all three of his subsequent successors as Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations: Andy Hayman, Bob Quick and John Yates. These three would repeatedly interlink in subsequent scandals, including police corruption, the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, the News of the World hacking and the domestic extremism units.
Operation Athena was the name given to the strategic reponse of the Metropolitan Police’s Racial and Violent Crime Task Force (headed by Dept Assist. Commissioner John Grieve) in the wake of the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence murder. Part of this was Operation Athena Tower, which targeted suspects in the murder. Veness played a role in this particular operation in the years 1999-2003, including sanctioning the bugging of one of the accused and insertion of an undercover officer to target him. He seems to have taken a close interest in this project, appearing as a source in a 2001 paper on hate crime.
However, as head of Specialist Operations, Veness was (through Bob Lambert) in the chain of command for the placing of Peter Francis and undercover officer N8I targeting the Lawrences, whilst simultaneously helping the anti-corruption drive targeting a number of officers around the Lawrence inquiry.
The Muslim Safety Forum
As part of his counter-terrorism work following the September 11 attacks, Veness developed a keen interest in the Muslim community. In particular, from 2001-03, he or his deputy regularly chaired meetings of the monthly Muslim Safety Forum (MSF). As a forum it allowed leading representatives of the Muslim community in London to meet with senior officers from the Metropolitan police and APCO. From 2002, The MSF was also regularly attended by Bob Lambert and others of the “counter-terrorism focused” Muslim Contact Unit (MCU) (then part of Special Branch, which Veness oversaw). From an article written by Lambert on the MSF, it appears that Lambert and Veness were in close contact at this point:
…Veness emphasized on the small MCU team the importance of investing time at MSF meetings, (“be the first to arrive and the last to leave”)…
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