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Undercover Infiltration

"...Four police officers were deployed to spy on the family and friends of the black teenager murdered by white racists. The Lawrences and the people who supported their fight for justice were law-abiding citizens going about their business. Yet undercover police were used, one of the spies now tells us, to hunt for "disinformation" and "dirt". Their purpose? "We were trying to stop the campaign in its tracks."

...Here are a few of the things we have learned about undercover policing in Britain. A unit led by a policeman called Bob Lambert deployed officers to spy on peaceful activists. They adopted the identities of dead children and then infiltrated protest groups. Nine of the 11 known spies formed long-term relationships with women in the groups, in some cases (including Lambert's) fathering children with them. Then they made excuses and vanished.

They left a trail of ruined lives, fatherless children and women whose confidence and trust have been wrecked beyond repair. They have also walked away from other kinds of mayhem. On Friday we discovered that Lambert co-wrote the leaflet for which two penniless activists spent three years in the high court defending a libel action brought by McDonald's. The police never saw fit to inform the court that one of their own had been one of the authors." George Monbiot, The Guardian, 24th June 2013

"...Damian Green, the minister for policing, told MPs on Tuesday that under the plans to be brought before parliament the police spies would be deployed only following approval from an outside body....The controversy began two and a half years ago when the Guardian revealed details of the seven-year deployment of the police spy Mark Kennedy, who lived among climate change campaigners and who had several relationships with women upon whom he spied, one of which lasted six years.

Called before the home affairs select committee, Green said that any covert deployment lasting more than a year would need to be authorised by the office of surveillance commissioners, which monitors covert operations by state agencies. The watchdog, led by the retired judge Sir Christopher Rose, has been criticised for failing to rigorously invigilate the use of many kinds of surveillance by government bodies, ranging from the police to local councils. Under the plans, the office would have to be notified before any operation was begun.." Paul Lewis & Rob Evans, The Guardian, 18th June 2013

"...Sir Denis O'Connor, head of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), [also] found serious failings by the secretive body that was supposed to oversee Kennedy's deployment, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). He said the unit did not provide sufficient oversight of Kennedy's deployment and failed to draw up a suitable exit plan when it was decided he should be pulled out...O'Connor's report was due last October, but publication was postponed after revelations by the Guardian and Newsnight of claims that police chiefs had authorised undercover officers to give false evidence in court

A Guardian investigation into police infiltration of the protest movement, which first revealed details of Kennedy's deployment 12 months ago, has uncovered a catalogue of abuses by police spies, including allegations that they lied under oath in court and developed sexual relationships with their targets.

...O'Connor said the new proposals, based on a review of protocol in MI5 and FBI, would ensure that officers were only deployed on long-term missions where independent oversight considered the operation necessary and proportionate. But he stopped short of recommending the judicial oversight of undercover policing called for by other senior officers, and said the framework for keeping tabs on protesters should remain under the police's counterterrorism command.

....The report also made unexpected criticism of police officers who monitored political activists and then retired to continue their careers "in the security industry, using their skills and experience for commercial purposes". As a result of cases where officers have perceived conflicts of interest, a new policy has now banned contact with private security firms Paul Lewis & Rob Evans, The Guardian, 2nd Feb 2012

"Relations between the Muslim community and Greater Manchester Police are being strained after officers infiltrated mosques. Some Islamic groups have told the BBC Asian Network that they are angry about undercover tactics used in recent counter terror operations. Police deny relations with the community have deteriorated.

The North West Counter Terrorism Unit carried out an investigation which involved officers posing as Muslims. They attended prayer meetings and services at a dozen unnamed mosques in Manchester after they befriended four Muslim men for more than a year". Rahila Bano, BBC Asian Network, 24th Nov 2011

"An agent working for Germany's answer to MI5 was at the scene of one of the 10 murders carried out by neo-Nazi terrorists, the domestic intelligence agency has confirmed, fuelling speculation that the killers' movements were known to the authorities during their 13 years on the run. The undercover officer was in an internet cafe in the central city of Kassel in Hessen when a 21-year-old Turk was shot at point blank range on 6 April 2006...Until now, German detectives have suggested that foreign gangs, probably from Turkey, were responsible for the murders: their investigation was even codenamed Operation Bosphorus".
Helen Pidd in the Guardian, 15th Nov 2011

“A police spy-master who led a network of undercover officers tricked an innocent woman into having an 18-month relationship with him to apparently bolster his cover story. Bob Lambert - who adopted the alias Bob Robinson - started dating the woman in the 1980s as he infiltrated Greenpeace to get into the hardline Animal Liberation Front... Decorated undercover operative Mr Lambert helped foil an Animal Liberation Front plot to bomb Debenhams stores in Luton, Romford and Harrow which had products made with fur. Thanks to his intelligence, the police were able to catch the plotters red-handed. After the attack was foiled, Bob 'Robinson' told his girlfriend that Special Branch were after him. Her flat was raided by police 'looking for Bob' in what is believed to be a staged search to help his cover story. He told her he was moving overseas to escape the law - and insisted that he must go alone”.
Rob Cooper in the Daily Mail, 24th October 2011

“[Mark] Kennedy was an undercover police officer who spent seven years infiltrating a group of environmental activists under the alias ‘Mark Stone’. In 2009, as protesters planned to occupy and temporarily shut down one of Britain's biggest coal-fired power stations at Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire, Kennedy passed on the information to his handlers. Nottinghamshire police subsequently arrested 114 people in a late-night swoop. Among them was ‘Stone’ himself, who faced a prison sentence for conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. Kennedy was trapped – if he was not charged, it would blow his cover, yet he couldn't appear in court as somebody who did not actually exist. In the end, the case collapsed, leaving a trail of collateral damage – up to £1m lost on the trial, hundreds of thousands wasted on his surveillance work, a community torn apart, lives shattered”.
Simon Hattenstone in The Guardian, 26th March 2011

“The former policeman who spent seven years undercover among environmental activists has denied being an agent provocateur, saying that his superiors knew exactly what he was doing at all times and approved his activities. Mark Kennedy, a Metropolitan police officer who infiltrated green and anarchist groups under the alias Mark Stone and fled to America after his cover was blown, said he fears for his safety following threats from activists. The 41-year-old said he believed that his former police superiors were looking for him too.... However, Kennedy said that throughout his time spent undercover he was in constant touch with police handlers and never tried to push fellow protesters into taking action: ‘I had a cover officer whom I spoke to numerous times a day. He was the first person I spoke to in the morning and the last person I spoke to at night. I didn't sneeze without a superior officer knowing about it. My BlackBerry had a tracking device. My cover officer joked that he knew when I went to the loo’.” He said he felt he had been ‘hung out to dry’ since being exposed”.
Peter Walker in The Guardian, 16th January 2011

“Police chiefs are facing damaging allegations that they authorised undercover officers embedded in protest groups to give false evidence in court in order to protect their undercover status. Documents seen by the Guardian suggest that an undercover officer concealed his true identity from a court when he was prosecuted alongside a group of protesters for occupying a government office during a demonstration. From the moment he was arrested, he gave a false name and occupation, maintaining this fiction throughout the entire prosecution, even when he gave evidence under oath to barristers. The officer, Jim Boyling, and his police handlers never revealed to the activists who stood alongside him in court that he was actually an undercover policeman who had penetrated their campaign months earlier under a fake identity.”
Rob Evans and Paul Lewis in The Guardian, 19th October 2011

Recommended reading: Tim Crook’s brilliant biography of deep undercover agent Alexander Wilson

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