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

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

1993: the year the Grand National was sabotaged – with help from Special Branch

Chris PlowmanOne 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

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

RC a #spycop? Police refuses to confirm or deny…

NCND letter from police
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

Richard Walton dodging questions and keeping his pension

Richard Walton
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

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.
Continue reading

Another #spycop exposed: Carlo Neri confirmed as an undercover

Carlo Neri

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

Continue reading

Lynn Watson profile added

Lynn Watson (alias)‘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.

Open Letter to the Undercover Policing Scrutiny Panel

To the Chair of the National Undercover Scrutiny Panel
(also known as National Oversight Group)
via:
contactus@college.pnn.police.uk

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