Triple Whammy! Helen Steel, Peter Francis & Scotland

Donal O’Driscoll / Undercover Research Group


John Dines as he is confronted in Sydney by Helen Steel.

Even in the the roller-coaster ride that is the #spycop saga, yesterday will stand out. Keyboards were smoking as our various members sought to react to the breaking news. In case you missed it, we summarise the three stories that came out.

Top of the day was Helen Steel confronting the man she once called a soul mate. John Barker had been a north London activist who she had fallen in love with and they spoke of spending their lives together. When he vanished it was devastating to her and she spent many years tracking him down, discovering bit by bit that everything about him was a lie. Even his name. Years of destructive doubt followed.

He was really John Dines, undercover police officer who had been sent in to target her and her friends. Anyone who knows Helen knows she is a tenacious and fearless campaigner, but even for Helen this was a remarkably long and hard road. So when she finally tracked him down and confronted him we all cheered for her.

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Profile: New Scottish police chief Phil Gormley linked to #spycops scandal

Phil Gormley
Donal O’Driscoll and Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group
24 January 2016

In December a small campaign started to have Scotland included in the Pitchford Inquiry, or to have an independant inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland. A lot has happened since. The Scottish government formally asked the Home Secretary to alter the terms of the inquiry and include events in Scotland. Bob Lambert resigned from the University of St Andrews and the Scottish Parliament had its first debate demanding answers about undercover policing in Scotland.

Today we can reveal more details about Scotlands newly appointed Chief Commander Phill Gormley and his involvement with the #spycops scandal. As it turns out in 2005-2006, he had a position that included the oversight of both the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, (NPOIU).

Continu to the newly added profile of Phil Gormley or a short summary here.
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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. Continue reading

The Pitchford Inquiry’s Geographical Blinkers

Most known spycops worked abroad

First published at the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance blog, 30 October 2015.

The public inquiry into undercover policing is in a stage of active preparation, with the hearings expected to start properly next summer.

We’ve already had the inquiry’s Terms of Reference set out by the Home Secretary. It will

…inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968.


[This] will include, but not be limited to, the undercover operations of the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

More than half the exposed officers from those units worked outside England and Wales. They spied in at least seventeen different countries over a period of 25 years (the Undercover Research Group has produced a detailed list of dozens of instances). If this is the case with the known officers, it’s safe to presume many of their colleagues did it too.

Some officers are known to have committed crimes whilst working undercover abroad. It’s Continue reading