Rod Richardson: #spycop was used to undermine protest

former #spycop Rod RichardsconEveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group, 26 June 2017

Today we publish the profile of Rod Richardson, the undercover officer active as an environmental, anarchist and animal rights protestor between 1999 and 2003 in Essex, London and Nottingham.  Richardson was exposed on Indymedia UK and in The Guardian in 2013 and  confirmed as a spycop in December 2016.

Piecing together the profile of Rod Richardson and the details of his tour of duty in the world of activism, it occurred to us that the policing of two major protests he had been involved in had been subject to extensive legal challenges since.

Today we look at the forced return of the Fairford coaches on their way to an anti-war rally in 2003, with Rod Richardson on board; and part 2 will investigate the kettling of MayDay protesters at Oxford Circus in London in 2001, again with Rod in the middle of everything. In both cases, the police detained a fairly large and mixed group of people in quite extreme ways, while also in both cases protesters fought a decade-long legal battle to uphold their right to protest.

Investigate exactly what role he has played in these protests, the core question is to what extend the intelligence gathered and the activities of the undercover officers influenced the actual policing of these events. Continue reading

For core participants and others – request your police files

Lord Justice Pitchford is clearly very reluctant to release any personal information about those who were spied on beyond the details the Undercover Policing Inquiry feels that it needs to conduct its investigations. This is not the same, of course, as releasing the files that were gathered on individuals so they can understand the extent of the intelligence gathering and surveillance on them. So, let’s help them a bit! Continue reading

Finding Andy – ex #spycop now Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner

former #spycop Andy Coles currentlyDónal O’Driscoll and Eveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group, 12 May 2017

Today we expose Andy Davey who was undercover in the animal rights movement in the early 1990s. His real name is Andy Coles, and he is currently a Tory councillor and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

Simon Israel at Channel4 News at 7pm has an interview with ‘Jessica’, the woman Coles groomed into a relationship when she was just 19, and in the Guardian Rob Evans has Jessica calling for Coles to resign.


Update 
Breaking – Andy Coles resigns as Deputy Police Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, our blog, 15 May 2017.
Rob Evans, Cambridgeshire deputy police commissioner resigns over spy claims, The Guardian, 15 May 2017


Finding Andy

Each discovery of a new undercover police officer in protest movement comes with its own unique twists and turns. For Andy Coles, it began with a small paragraph in the autobiography of his more famous brother, the former popstar (The Communards!) Rev. Richard Coles. From there we were able to track not only what he got up to undercover, but also where he is now. These days, he is a Tory councillor and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The painstakingly unravelling of a hidden identity and documenting the activities of spycops is a process that usually takes months and months. More often than not, what you are left with after excruciating amounts of sifting out false positives is only 95% certainty that someone had indeed been a spycop.

Finding Andy Coles was a very different story: it moved much faster. His undercover persona Andy Davey, also known as Andy ‘Van’, was first outed by his former animal rights comrade Paul Gravett online in 2014. At the time, little was known other than that Andy fitted the pattern of spycops discovered to date. However, the investigation began in earnest when in January 2017 we got a little help from some friends. Someone reading Fathomless Riches, Or How I Went From Pop to Pulpit, the autobiography of the pop star, broadcaster and Anglican priest Richard Coles, spotted the following intriguing paragraph:

My older brother, Andy, brought his own drama with him. He looked like he had just walked out of the woods, his hair long and shaggy, with a straggly beard, his ears rattling with piercings; but his disarray was not like mine, an outward sign of internal distress, but suffered in the line of duty. He had joined Special Branch and was undercover, living a double life, infiltrated into some sinister organisation while his wife and baby daughter made do with unpredictable visits.

Continue reading

Why did Operation Herne publish obviously wrong dates on #spycop Roger Pearce’ career?

Operation HernePeter 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

Top Officers ‘Blocking’ Spycops Inquiry’s Work – Morning Star

Morning StarFrom 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!

More:
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 confirmed as spycop

Roger Pearce, former Head of Special Branch and spyco

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.

Continue reading

The case of Christian Plowman

Chris PlowmanPeter 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

Triple Whammy! Helen Steel, Peter Francis & Scotland

Donal O’Driscoll / Undercover Research Group

Dines_confronted_in_Sydney

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.

Continue reading

Crucial hearings on openness of Pitchford Inquiry

Tamsin-Allen.png

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.

Continue reading

The Met Police must suspend domestic extremism unit now

typewriter partPeter 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