One of those stories that make you wonder why political groups were infiltrated at all. Apparently protecting the identity of the undercover officer – Matt Rayner – was more important than sharing the intelligence he had gathered about the plot he was involved in to disturb the Grand National horse races. One for the Pitchford Inquiry to look in to… Must have happened more often, how often?
Repost of RedBlackGreen blog
Originally posted 10 April 2016
How an undercover police officer played a key role in an action which cost the betting industry over £70 million.
Yesterday about 100 people demonstrated near the entrance of the Grand National against the cruelty of horse racing. Good though this turnout was – and not to mention another demo there on Friday and also one in London outside Channel 4 who broadcast the race – these protests will not by themselves bring about the end of the world’s most infamous steeplechase.
Many years ago, however, activists decided to do just by sabotaging the race. In 1993 they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams as it had to be abandoned and became “the race that never was”. The animal rights dimension has largely been written out of the story, however. Now for the first time online you will hear what really happened and also it will be revealed how an undercover police officer played a key role in an action which cost the betting industry over £70 million. Continue reading
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 and Eveline Lubbers,
Undercover Research Group
4 February 2016
Today we release a profile of an animal rights activist based in Bedford 2002-2006, whom former colleagues (including a member of URG) now believe was a undercover police officer.
However, the final, definitive bit of documentation that would 100% confirm this person as a police officer is missing. For that reason we refer to him solely as RC, and no pictures of him are included.
This is less than ideal and the responsibility for it lies squarely with the police, who continue to frustrate attempts to uncover injustices in the spycop saga. In response to our request for confirmation, the police ‘intend to maintain the principle of neither confirming nor denying the issues raised‘. However, remaining silent is not an option: firstly, there are potential miscarriages of justice associated with RC being a police officer and secondly, those affected will be hampered from being core participants in the Pitchford Inquiry.
If we are wrong, we will publicly apologise, but we believe we have sufficient evidence to take this step.
In this blog post we explain how we came to the decision to publish an anonymised version of the profile, explaining the way we worked on this case and summarising the evidence at the end against our List of Fifteen Questions.
Please read this first before going to the profile on RC
Resolving a dilemma Continue reading
Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group,
29 January 2016
Last week Commander Richard Walton retired from the Met, and on the same day the Telegraph and the BBC revealed that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has decided that Walton has a case to answer for misconduct.
Walton was under investigation for talking to an undercover officer spying on the Lawrence family in 1998, while his job was preparing the Met’s answer to the MacPherson Inquiry into corruption around the Stephen Lawrence murder case. The highly inappropriate secret meeting had been set up by then-leader of the Special Demonstration Squad, Bob Lambert. When the Ellison Review interviewed Walton about this in 2014, he chose to change his story after he realised he was going to be critisised. (The findings of the Ellison Report about the spying on the Lawrences made Theresa May decide to have the Pitchford Inquiry).
Though Walton’s retirement was to be expected after 30 years of service in the Met, one wonders why the Commander is free to leave just before the publication of the police watchdog findings.
Retiring or resigning has long been the police tactic of choice to avoid disciplinary action, keeping both a clean record and their pensions. In 2011, 500 officers who were facing investigations had resigned over a two-year period, as Emily Apple wrote. Theresa May reported another 144 officers leaving this way between December 2013 and August 2014. Continue reading
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.
Donal O’Driscoll and Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group
18 January 2016
Today we can reveal that Carlo Neri, who was active in the Socialist Party between 2001 and 2006, was in reality an undercover police officer in London, mostly likely deployed by the Special Demonstration Squad.
We have been working on this case since last summer, after people who knew him came to us with their suspicions. Following a long and sometimes winding investigation we were able to identify his real name, and to locate documentation that had his occupation down as police officer at the time he was undercover.
The story goes live today on Newsnight and in The Guardian. The Undercover Research Group presents an in-depth profile detailing Neri, his tour of duty, his relationships and the activities he was involved in.
This expose could not have been done without the efforts of Carlo’s former friends and partners. We salute their efforts in bringing this grim truth to the public scrutiny it deserves. Carlo systematically used people and betrayed trust; he deliberately sought out relationships as part of his cover. We hope in exposing him that some resolution can be found.
This blog post has – for the first time – a detailed account of our investigation. Yet again, the people affected by undercovers in their lives had to go through the painful process of uncovering the truth. Something that could have been avoided if the Pitchford Inquiry would release the list of cover names of undercovers from the Special Demonstration Squad.
Go to the Carlo Neri profile
‘Lynn Watson’ was the assumed identity of an undercover police officer who infiltrated activist groups, mainly in the northern English city of Leeds, between the years of 2002 and 2008. She was tasked by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) as ‘one of the first in a team of 15 spies who would be sent undercover in one six-year period’, according to Guardian journalists Rob Evans and Paul Lewis, who devote part of their book, Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police to her. Subsequent to her deployment within peace, environmental and anti-authoritarian political movements, Lynn was placed undercover elsewhere, targeting serious organised crime networks.
Lynn’s role as a long-term police spy in protest movements was publicly confirmed in January 2011 in the wake of the unmasking of Mark Kennedy. Her current whereabouts, status and true identity are all unknown.
Read the entire Lynn Watson profile, have a look at the Watson timeline or the gallery with Watson photos.
To the Chair of the National Undercover Scrutiny Panel
(also known as National Oversight Group)
London, 5th October, 2015
Dear Alex Marshall & David Tucker,
As you are probably aware, the Undercover Research Group has been following the National Undercover Scrutiny Panel (a.k.a. the National Oversight Group) quite closely for some time. It is quite clear that for the panel there is a tension between the natural secrecy involved in undercover policing and the failure of public trust that has demanded for more accountability.
It is only fair to acknowledge that our viewpoint is a critical one. However, putting our Continue reading
Peter Salmon / Undercover Research Group
6 July 2015
In the last week we have had a successful Freedom of Information request in relation to minutes of the meetings of the Undercover Policing Scrutiny Panel for July 2014 and February 2015. We have also spoken to Peter Jukes, one of the people invited to attend the July 2014 meeting and Sophie Khan who quit the Panel.
Overall there is nothing startling to be revealed. The first meeting appears to have been quite informal, with the focus being on the dilemma of marring the conflicting needs of transparency and the need to break stories on one side, with the need to protect the undercover officers on the other side. That is, how to create public scrutiny without putting the undercovers themselves at risk. The group also seems to go by the alternative title ‘Undercover Policing Oversight Group’.
Since then numbers in attendance seem to have fallen dramatically, with only a third present in some form at the February meeting, and only four apologies. Continue reading
Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group
26 June 2015
For the last 22 years the murder of Stephen Lawrence has hung over Metropolitan Police, and it continues to do so. In 1998 it threatened to topple the then Commissioner Paul Condon. Over the years it has cost jobs and careers. Those of a more junior rank two decades ago and who have since joined the top echelons are finding it will not go away.
In March 2014 it came back to haunt the head of counter-terrorism, Richard Walton. He was temporarily removed from his post for his role in the spying on the Stephen Lawrence Campaign back in 1998, and his case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). He is still under investigation – with four other former- officers as Rob Evans explains in the Guardian.
However, the suspension of Walton was – as is shown here – only ever a cosmetic exercise. More importantly, there are several other lines that indicated less than reputable behaviour by the Met. Working on a set of new profiles for the Undercover Research Portal on Richard Walton, undercover officer N81 and their meeting in Bob Lambert’s garden, some questions came up that need an answer, either from the IPCC, Ellison, or the coming Independent Inquiry.
The main focus on a controversial meeting between Walton and undercover officer organised by Bob Lambert, then acting head of the Special Demonstration Squad, must not overshadow other important questions on the spying on black justice campaigns. All the more reason why next year’s public inquiry needs unhindered access to documents and actors involved if the truth is ever to be learned – because it is clear the Met will not be forthcoming. Continue reading