20 November 2015Blog entry

After four years of legal struggle, the Metropolitan police finally concede that undercover relationships were an abuse of power and violated women's human rights

Statement by the eight women:

In the apology issued today by assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt, the Metropolitan Police finally conceded that 'officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong' and that 'these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused…

16 March 2015Blog entry

As Theresa May announced a public campaign into the scandals around undercover policing, campaigners against police racism and corruption, The Monitoring Group, have launched a petition to stop the gagging of undercover whistleblower Peter Francis.

Peter Francis, who infiltrated anti-racism and trade union groups in the 1990s, has been at the forefront of exposing a secretive undercover unit, that targeted campaigns since 1968. It is now known that hundreds of officers from the Special Demonstration Squad were deployed across the political spectrum, many using the identities of dead children, and not a few having relationships with those they were targeting.

One officer in…

1 February 2015Review

Pluto, 2014; 216pp; £16.99

When joining a protest, I have always assumed that, so long as I remain calm and peaceful, the police will protect me. In this book, Lesley J Wood provides some interesting and lively insights into the ways in which protest policing varies across time and place, from city to city, according to history and tradition, while at the same time following global trends.

Wood argues that ‘less lethal weapons’ and intelligence-led policing are symptoms of an increased…

25 November 2014Review

1–13 December; £23; Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Rd, London NW6 7JR; www.tricycle.co.uk or 020 7328 1000; and then around the country from February 2015 – see www.markthomasinfo.co.uk

When Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) discovered that one of their staff members, Martin Hogbin, had been spying on them for years on behalf of British Aerospace (BAE), British comedian/activist Mark Thomas flatly refused to believe it. Martin, CAAT’s campaigns co-ordinator, had worked closely with Mark and become a close friend. This was a man, Mark says, who had pied Dick Evans, the former chair of BAE. How could he possibly be a spy?

This show tells the story of that…

21 July 2014News

Judge order further disclosures by end of July

As PN went to press, the Metropolitan police were only days away from having to confirm or deny that senior management had allowed male undercover officers to deceive women activists into long-term intimate relationships.

On 2 July, after three years of legal action, five of the women involved won a significant legal victory in London’s high court.

Mr justice Bean ruled that the Metropolitan police could not use a policy of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ [NCND] as…

21 July 2014Review

In historian Timothy Garton Ash’s book The File, there’s an anecdote about a prominent East German activist finally figuring out who the very-well-informed spy was in her life (names had been blacked out in the files she could see). It was her husband.

He had romanced her in order to get a paid job feeding back information to the Stasi, the East German secret police.

I often used this as an example of just how corrupt East German society was. That sort of thing…

1 November 2013Review

Pluto Press, 2012; 272pp; £19.99

If you’ve been an activist in the UK for any length of time then it’s likely – whether you know it or not — that you’ve rubbed shoulders with one or more spies. In 15 years of activism, I can think of three definite cases of infiltration of the groups that I’ve been involved with.

There was ‘Rod’, the undercover police officer who infiltrated the WOMBLES (the ‘White Overall Movement Building Liberation Effective Struggles’, a UK anti-capitalist group who adopted some of the…

24 January 2013Blog entry

Following a brutal arrest and an IPCC complaint being upheld, Mani Hamid is seeking a movement to support victims of miscarriages of justice.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have upheld Mani Hamid's complaint – “the police had wrongfully arrested him, assaulted him and violated his human right to protest.” (please see back history below (1)). He is currently pursuing prosecution of the police for misconduct and solicitors for negligence. Mani is teaching himself about Human Rights law and is determined to take these cases up to the International Human Rights courts.

25 September 2012News in Brief

On 17 September, the Metropolitan police finally fired the police officer who hit passerby Ian Tomlinson with a baton and pushed him to the ground during protests against the G20 in London in April 2009.

Despite the fact that a inquest jury found in May 2011 that Ian Tomlinson had been unlawfully killed by a police officer, PC Simon Harwood was…

25 September 2012News

Three Catholic peace activists were found guilty of criminal damage for writing on the ministry of defence with charcoal.

On 3 September, a London magistrate refused to grant a compensation claim of £300 demanded by the ministry of defence (MoD) from Catholic peace activists Ray Towey, 68, Henrietta Cullinan, 50, and Katrina Alton, 44.

Earlier, the three had been joined by 25 supporters for a time of prayer outside Hammersmith magistrates’ court before a three-hour trial.

The three activists offered clear and moving accounts of their peace actions at the MoD during Holy Week when they…

2 July 2012News

Did police spy Bob Lambert fire-bomb Debenhams?

Police spy Bob Lambert fire-bombed the Harrow branch of Debenham’s in July 1987, Green MP Caroline Lucas told parliament on 13 June. The attack was perhaps ‘a move to bolster Lambert’s credibility’ within the Animal Liberation Front, which he had succeeded in infiltrating.

Lambert then helped convict two other members of the group, Geoff Sheppard and Andrew Clark, who carried out fire-bombings of Debenham stores in Luton and Romford at the same time as the Harrow attack. Sheppard and…

31 May 2012Comment

Is it revolutionary - or counter-revolutionary - to attack the police?

The police march in London on 10 May was ‘supported’ by some radical protesters, holding sardonic signs: ‘Without us, democracy would triumph’, ‘Kettling: a transitional demand’, and ‘Not all cops are bastards’. People joked that the police might be less conservative than usual in their estimates of how many marched (in the event, Scotland Yard refused to give a figure).

The protest was against plans to cut police numbers by 16,000 over four years, as part of a 20% cut to the policing…

1 March 2012News

A new official report on undercover police fails to deal with the real issues

On 2 February, the police oversight body, her majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary (HMIC), published a report on national police intelligence units. This was a response to the outing of a number of police spies – including Mark Kennedy – who infiltrated protest groups on a long-term basis, forming sexual relationships with protesters, and some even having children with them, using their false personae. (See PN 2528, 2530.)

The main target of the report was the national public order…

15 December 2011News in Brief

Police constable Simon Harwood has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests on 1 April 2009. Harwood will be put on trial at Southwark crown court from 13 June next year. Video footage shows Ian Tomlinson walking away from a police line, with his hands in his pockets, when a police officer strikes his legs with a baton and then pushes him violently to the ground – from behind. He was helped to his feet by demonstrators, walked a short…

1 October 2011News in Brief

During the student fees protest in December 2010, police tipped Jody McIntyre out of his wheelchair and dragged him across the road. A metropolitan police internal enquiry in May found that this had been done “for his own safety”. However, in a report published in late August, the independent police complaints commission (IPCC) ruled that the officer concerned had used excessive force and should be charged with common assault. This charge could no longer be brought as a six-month legal…