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

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

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

The Fifteen Questions we work with

typewriter partPeter Salmon and Eveline Lubbers / Undercover Research Group,
2 November 2015

As we noted in a recent blogpost on how we work, we have a list of questions that we have developed from close study of the undercovers exposed so far. If someone comes to us with a suspicion about someone in their group, we put these questions to them, to see whether their suspicions are well founded. If many boxes are ticked, there are strong grounds for further investigation.

Here we set out the questions we work with, putting them context (thanks for people taking part in our meeting at the London Anarchist Bookfair for their input!). Some questions are specifically related to the undercover tradecraft. Others are things about what infiltrating officers get wrong, or what we’ve picked up from our own analyses.

  1. Is their background missing?

Generally, the undercover has very little in the way of background story. They will often have a 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.

Looking for Bob Lambert in the late 1990s

Bob Lambert
Bristle Chris / Undercover Research Group
30 April 2015

So just what did former spycop, SDS manager and later academic Bob Lambert get up to in the late 1990s?

Working on a series of articles about our old friend Dr Bob for the Undercover Research Group’s wiki project, it struck me that it’s just not clear what Lambert did between leaving SDS sometime after August 1998 and the establishment of the Muslim Contact Unit in January 2002.

Biographies – which no doubt he himself penned – indicate that Lambert remained with Metropolitan Police Special Branch since joining it in 1980 (see, for example, Bob Lambert, ‘Reflections on Counter-Terrorism Partnerships in Britain’ (Arches, 2007) – this biography notes that “Bob worked continuously as a Special Branch specialist counter-terrorist/counter-extremist intelligence officer from 1980” until the setting up of MCU at the beginning of 2002). Certainly, no evidence has so far come up to suggest he was involved in, for example, Territorial Policing, that he was transferred to other Special Branch-equivalent units such as the Anti-Terrorist Branch, or that he transferred to a police force other than the Metropolitan Police Service. Continue reading

Marco Jacobs profile added

Marco JacobsMarco Jacobs was the assumed identity of an undercover police officer who infiltrated activist groups between 2004 and 2009, first in the Brighton area of southern England and then in Cardiff, south Wales.

However, both South Wales and Metropolitan police have maintained a ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ defence of all aspects of Jacobs’ deployment. On Wednesday 25th March 2015 activists spied upon by Jacobs are in the Royal Courts of Justice in London attempting to strike out these NCND defence. (Picket 9am)

Continue to the Marco Jacobs profile

Bob Lambert Controversy Intensifies

Sack Lambert Placard

Reposted from Bristling Badger

Despite the colossal array of corrupt misdeeds committed by Bob Lambert and his disgraced political secret police unit the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), his professional associate Stefano Bonino has been moved to write in his defence in Times Higher Education.
Somewhat melodramatically it starts with a reminder of the recent politically motivated killings in France and then says

the SDS maintained a central and defining focus on political violence – most notably street violence conducted by and between far-Left and far-Right groups – and helped to save lives

A central and defining focus should leave plenty of evidence behind it. Yet among the exposed spycops is a central focus on groups who presented little or no threat to life. Continue reading

Blog: Political Secret Police Units

Reposted from Bristling Badger, 5 February 2015.

Don’t let the police self-investigations like Operation Herne fool you with their focus on the disbanded Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) – this is not a historic problem. The political secret police are still with us.

The shift from different units leaves us whirling in acronyms. Here, as far as I’m able to tell, is what’s what (corrections welcome!). It’s an alphabet soup of acronyms that swirl before the eyes, so thanks to Jane Lawson for designing a diagram to make it easier to grasp (click to enlarge; right click and open in new tab to have it alongside as you read the post).
Also see the UndercoverResearch page on the Political Secret Police Units

SDS Diagram Small
Continue reading