The importance of Scotland

typewriter part
Peter Salmon, Undercover Research Group,
20 December 2015

As the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing gathers steam, there has been a steady stream of voices[i] asking why the activities of undercover police in Scotland appears to have been excluded from the Terms of Reference.[ii] This week we have written to both the First Minister of Scotland, and to Home Secretary Theresa May to ask for the terms of reference to be changed, or for Scotland to have its own inquiry. In this article we set out why we think the case is compelling.

If the Pitchford Inquiry is to get to the heart of the scandals and abuses that surrounds undercover policing against political campaigners and other protestors, it must be able to see the full picture of the activities of the officers involved. So when the Terms of Reference for the inquiry were released in July 2015 it was met with incredulity among those affected that it was restricted to the activities of English and Welsh officers activities only in England and Wales.

Those familiar with the evidence were fully aware that there was considerable activity in Scotland with six of the twelve exposed officers having been there. This goes back many years, from simple holidays by people deceived into relationships they would never have consented to, to a slew of undercovers converging on the counter-summit protests for the 2005 G8 Summit at Gleneagles. Indeed, the role there of Mark Kennedy, one of the most notorious of the exposed officers, was key to his subsequent activities in the environmental movement.

We set out below some of the factual case for the argument to extend the terms of reference to cover Scotland, keenly aware that this can only be the tip of this particular iceberg and that there is much more likely to come to light.

National Public Order Intelligence Unit

Central to the known evidence is the activities of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), which ran Mark Kennedy and others. Founded in 1999, it came under the aegis of the Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee (ACPO TAM), a business area of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. ACPO TAM, unusually for ACPO committees had representatives from other law enforcement agents and bodies, including the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS).[iii] Given this is all post-devolution it shows that one cannot simply separate out the activities of police based on jurisdiction.

When one puts together what is known about undercover activity at the 2005 G8 protests which focused on Stirling, Edinburgh and Gleneagles in Scotland, it becomes clear that the NPOIU had free rein to operate in Scotland as well as England and Wales.

  1. At least thee known NPOIU (and at least one SDS) undercovers from the time appear to have taken part in the 2005 mobilisation – Kennedy, ‘Lynn Watson’, ‘Marco Jacobs’. Many people first encountered Kennedy there as a key activist helping organising transport for the protests. It has been subsequently claimed by Kennedy – for what it’s worth – that he was told his reports were going to the desk of Tony Blair. Furthermore, it has recently been revealed that Kennedy initiated an affair with a US activist while in Scotland in 2005.[iv]
  2. Documents uncovered by German parliamentarian Andrej Hunko stated that the NPOIU had ‘borrowed’ six undercover operatives from Germany police.[v] This phrasing clearly indicates that there was a proactive operation being led and directed by the NPOIU at the time. Given the proclivities of the NPOIU activists in other countries (in particular that Kennedy was investigated by German police in 2006 for arson during a Berlin protest), questions need to be asked whether the German undercovers engaged or provoked illegal activities or engaged in relationships with unsuspecting campaigners in Scotland. And if so, whether this was being sanctioned by the NPOIU or those higher up.
  3. We also note that Norwegian state agent, Christian Høibø, also attended the protests with other left-wing campaigners, staying in an Edinburgh hotel strongly suspected to have been paid for by the Norwegian state. It is unlikely that his presence and activities were unknown to the NPOIU. Hoibo is of concern as his career path included acting as an agent provocateur in left-wing groups, before establishing the Norwegian Defence League seemingly with the sanction of the Norwegian equivalent of Special Branch.[vi]

Special Demonstration Squad

The NPOIU was modelled on an earlier London focused unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) which had been established by the Metropolitan Police in 1968. It has not yet been established how clear a remit it had on national matters, but it is now known that a number of SDS undercovers visited Scotland while being deployed. Mainly this was as part of their relationships with people they were nominally targeting. In some cases, relationships that have since been subject of an unreserved apology by the Metropolitan Police. Though they were often presented as social events, these trips must have been sanctioned at some level. The extent to which they were authorised by Scottish police is a question strongly in the public interest to be answered.

As noted above, at least one confirmed SDS undercover officer, Jason Bishop, and another suspected one, were active in Scotland for the mobilisation around the Gleneagles Summit.[ix] According to an article by ‘ARSpycatcher’: “The pair drove minibuses to the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005. Both were arrested with other activists for conspiracy to commit a breach of the peace but the charges were dropped.”[x] For an account of the arrest and case see here and also here.

We also note in passing that a leading officer in the SDS, Robert Lambert (aka ‘Bob Robinson’) is currently a lecturer at the University of St. Andrews, something which has been a source of criticism. Partly because he has been engaged in a series of relationships with those he targeted, including fathering a child, also because Lambert seems to have been involved in incendiary attacks on Debenhams in the 1980s as Caroline Lucas stated in the House of Commons.

Relationships

Two SDS undercovers John Dines and Mark Jenner were in Scotland as part of their relationships with women being targeted. Kennedy is is known to have conducted relationships with at least three women in Scotland, including long term partners. In all cases, this amounts to a breach of their human rights being as well as abuse of police power being committed on Scottish soil. In Jenner’s case this would have been sanctioned by the then SDS manager, Robert Lambert. It is likely that more examples of this happening are still to be discovered.

Blacklisting

Scotland unfortunately has a long history of the illegal blacklisting of trade union workers; it was hearings before the Scottish Affairs Committee that helped expose a particularly insidious scheme within the construction industry, known as the Consultancy Association.[vii] Those campaigning on the issue note that some of this activity has occurred in Scotland and against Scottish citizens. Some of the information on the Consultancy Association files came from Special Branch units, so there is an open question as to the extent that Scottish Special Branch units colluded in the spying on of trade union and other political activists, and facilitated the blacklisting of individuals.[viii]

Jurisdiction

There is a question of jurisdiction in all this, as the situation is complicated by having to consider a pre- and post-devolution Scotland. However, it is clear from the unfettered ability of the NPOIU to operate in Scotland and the connections between Scottish police forces and ACPO TAM that there is no reason to consider devolution as creating any real barrier to the operation of the NPOIU in Scotland. With regards the SDS, its lifetime was mostly over the pre-devolution period, placing the question of operational control in the hands of the Metropolitan Police.

However, central to any investigation into the abuses carried out by undercovers is the question of who authorised their actions and movements. Understanding this properly will require an examination of Scottish police as well as their counterparts south of the border. Justice will not be served if some are allowed to slip through the net because of apparent and false distinctions over jurisdiction.

For these reasons devolution is clearly an insufficient reason for Scotland to not be included in the Pitchford Inquiry. In the alternative, it is clear that if Theresa May is not going to change the terms of reference, then there needs to be a separate inquiry to be held in Scotland asking the same set of questions.


Notes

[i] See for example, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, Spycops in Scotland Exempt from Inquiry, 29 November 2015. A number of Scottish newspapers have highlighted various aspects of the story (see for example, Chris Marshall, Pressure grows for inquiry into undercover policing, The Scotsman, 3 December 2015). Labour politician Neil Findlay MSP has raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament where its awaiting a formal response.

[ii] See The Terms of Reference for the Public inquiry into Undercover Policing at the inquiry website.

[iii] Though it falls outside the period of concern, we note that from 2012 to 2014 the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit, the successor body to the NPOIU / National Domestic Extremism Unit fell under the authority of ACC Ronnie Liddle, a Scottish police officer seconded to ACPO TAM as co-ordinator of counter-terrorism functions, with oversight of the domestic extremism unit.

[iv] Paul Hutcheon, Undercover officer Mark Kennedy had intimate relationship with woman he spied on in Scotland, Sunday Herald, 6 December 2015.

[v] Matthias Monroy, Using false documents against “Euro-anarchists”: the exchange of Anglo-German undercover police highlights controversial police operations, Statewatch Journal, Vol.21, No.2, April-June 2011.

[vi] Unpublished research, forthcoming.

[vii] Scottish Affairs Committee, Blacklisting in Employment, UK Parliament, 2012.

[viii] Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain, Blacklisted: the secret war between big business and union activists, 2015, New Internationalist Books.

[ix] According to the 2012 HM Inspectorate of Constabulary report into undercover policing, the SDS and NPOIU had undercover officers present at the same events and cites the G8 as an example. Of the G8 summits, the 2005 Gleneagles one is the only such UK one in the right time-frame for there to be both NPOIU and SDS undercovers active. Something that matches with the presence of the London based (and thus SDS controlled) undercover ‘Jason Bishop’ at Gleneagles.

[x] ‘ARSpycatcher’, How Special Branch Spied on Animal Rights Movement, Buro Jansen & Jansen.