Peter Salmon and Eveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group, 11 April 2017
Recently the Pitchford Inquiry confirmed Roger Pearce as a former undercover police officer (as ‘Roger Thorley’); the Undercover Research Group had already exposed him last year. We had managed to identify him based on details released the first report from Operation Herne, the police’s own investigation into the abuses by notorious spycop unit, the Special Demonstration Squad. And as our profile of Pearce demonstrates, he did not shy away from talking about undercover policing publicly – coming forward to justify relationships and the theft of identities of dead children.
We have since learned there are some anomalies in the information the police released, apparent mistakes with dates that are difficult to explain… According to Operation Herne, N85 – as Pearce was referred to – was an undercover from 1978 to 1980, and subsequently Director of Intelligence from 2000 to 2004, in which role he was also head of Special Branch.
However, Rob Evans over at The Guardian has understood that Pearce’s tour of duty as a spycop lasted from 1979 to 1984. Additionally, the Metropolitan Police recently confirmed to us that Pearce was Director of Intelligence from November 1998 to March 2003.
These anomalies raise several issues. Continue reading
From the Morning Star by Conrad Landin, 6 April 2017.
Pitchford participant blasts undercover police for ‘preventing disclosure’
Police chiefs are using “blocking tactics” to “prevent disclosure,” a preliminary hearing of the undercover policing inquiry heard yesterday.
Christopher Pitchford, who is leading the inquiry into the conduct of officers deployed to spy on political groups, convened the session to hear arguments over whether the coppers should be allowed more time to prepare requests for anonymity.
The Metropolitan Police has said assessing the risk of disclosing officers’ real names and cover names has taken longer than anticipated, and a March 1 deadline was missed. It has also asked for the inquiry to be narrowed.
But in a powerful address to the hearing, inquiry core participant Kate Wilson said the police were “obstructing the goals” the probe was aiming for.
Ms Wilson is one of eight women deceived into relationships with undercover officers who won legal cases against the Met.
“We’re not strangers to the blocking tactics used by the Metropolitan Police to prevent disclosure,” she said.
Read on in the Morning Star – and support them! –
Victims of political policing demand accountability at Undercover Policing Inquiry, in London – Real News video report, 6 April 2017.
Pitchford Inquiry transcripts of the hearings on 5 and 6 April 2017
Roger Pearce, #spycop, head of the Special Demonstration Squad and of Special Branch, and now an author.
Dónal O’Driscoll, Undercover Research Group, 29 March 2017.
Today, the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing confirmed that former Special Branch commander Roger Pearce had been a spycop. This was something that the Undercover Research Group had first publicly identified in October 2016, having stitched together material from various sources.
It was the police’s own Operation Herne which led the way, giving us the nugget of information that N85, a Special Branch commander had previously been an undercover officer and leading us to the identification. However, when we delved into Pearce’s public appearances, there were plenty of other clues, not least in the way he publicly spoke about spycops.
Defending the indefensible
When the undercover scandal broke, he was vocal in defending the indefensible – theft of dead children’s identities and sexual relations with activists. We now know the horrendous activities that the undercovers got up to on their deployments. Yet, he went on television to state:
The people I know and knew, the people who were selected for Special Branch and above all those who were selected for SDS, with very, very few exceptions who were known about, were people of integrity and honour and fired up by a sense of mission, to protect the country actually.
Peter Salmon / Undercover Research Group
21 March 2016
Anyone who has been following the Pitchford Inquiry in any kind of detail will know that this week’s hearings are fundamental to how it is going to be conducted. At heart is how public or private the whole thing will be. Campaigners are calling for total transparency for justice to be done. The police are naturally demanding it is held in secrecy so nothing about identity or methods slip out – as that would be helping ISIS, paedophiles and organised crime (we kid you not).
At heart of the argument is Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) which has been covered elsewhere, but it is useful to look at some of the evidence the police have submitted as justifying their stance. Particularly in the light of the experience of Christian Plowman.
Plowman was an undercover officer with the Met’s specialist covert policing unit SO10 (also called SCD10). As such he took part in many operations involving going undercover and would run several identities at any one time. Some of his work would revolve around getting close gun-runners and drug dealers.
Yet, in 2013 he published a warts-and-all biography of his time undercover, Crossing the Line, and how it had brought him to the brink of suicide. Continue reading
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.
Repost from Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance
6 March 2016
How much of the public inquiry into undercover policing will be held in secret? How much of the police’s information will be revealed?
Later this month, the inquiry is holding a crucial preliminary hearing on disclosure. It will take oral submissions which, in addition to written representations, will be considered before taking a decision. There will be a demonstration outside the High Court on 22 March, ahead of the hearing, calling for the release of all ‘cover names’ of political undercover police.
The ruling on this hearing is announced for 3 May 2016.
Tamsin Allen is a partner at Bindman’s and one of the lawyers representing political activists targeted by Britain’s political secret police who are ‘core participants’ at the inquiry. She represented victims of phone hacking at the Leveson inquiry and was Lawyer of the Year 2014 in Media & Information Law. She explains what the forthcoming hearing is about and what we can expect.
Peter Salmon / Undercover Research Group,
8 January 2016
The shocking story of deliberate destruction of police surveillance on Baroness Jenny Jones throws into stark relief what we all feared – the Metropolitan Police are going to obstruct the public inquiry into undercover policing.
Today, the redoubtable Rob Evans of the Guardian broke the story that a whistleblower in the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (the former National Domestic Extremism Unit which employed notorious spycops such as Mark Kennedy) had written to Baroness Jones to reveal the systemic destruction of records relating to her among other allegation of impropriety in the unit. Continue reading
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
Peter Salmon and Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group
26 October 2015
We looked forward to last Wednesday’s ruling on core participation from the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry for a number of reasons. Partly as we hoped to be hearing if we were granted core participation (we didn’t), but also it gave us an early chance to see how the Inquiry might shape up.
It is clear that the inquiry team has been somewhat overwhelmed by the interest in the Continue reading
Peter Salmon and Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group
23 October 2015
At the recent hearing of the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing, the Judge asked the Undercover Research Group whether it ‘was its purpose to out undercover policemen.'(1) It is a good question and the answer is more nuanced than a simple yes or no. In this post we aim to give you some insight into how we work and how we make our judgements.
To be clear, we do not have a list of unconfirmed undercovers through which we are steadily working in preparation to systematic exposure. What we have is a bunch of fears and concerns from individuals and groups, who we think have valid questions. Continue reading