Report into Spycops Wrongful Convictions Postponed

Mark Ellison

When Mark Ellison QC produced last year’s report into undercover police officers spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family, he also found that officers appeared to have engineered miscarriages of justice.

Several undercover officers, including Bob Lambert and Jim Boyling, went through court cases under false identities, swearing to tell the truth and then do nothing but lie.

Boyling was on trial as part of a group, meaning that this police officer was party to defence meetings with their lawyers. One of his comrades was convicted. This was eventually overturned last year, though it does leave the question hanging of how many other wrongful convictions have been left to stand.

After his report into the Lawrence spying, Mark Ellison was tasked to produce a new report on the miscarriages of justice. He was due to report in March, but on 13 January a written parliamentary answer revealed that there will merely be a ‘progress report’. The final item has no projected completion date.

This will set some people’s alarm bells ringing. Two years after the Home Affairs Select Committee’s ‘interim report‘ into undercover policing we are still waiting for the full thing. With the Chilcott report fossilising in the vaults it would be easy to see Ellison’s delay as too convenient for those with something to hide. However it seems more likely that the scale of the job is significantly larger than anticipated.

When police pre-emptively arrested 114 climate activists at a 2009 meeting to plan the shutdown of a coal fired power station, one of them was Mark Stone, aka police officer Mark Kennedy. Charges were brought against 26. A first trial of 20 activists saw all of them convicted.

The remaining six pointed out before their trial that, in the meantime, they’d uncovered Kennedy’s true identity. They asked to see his undisclosed evidence but, rather than hand that over, prosecutors dropped the charges. It turned out Kennedy had recorded the meeting, securing evidence that exonerated the six but which the prosecutors and police had withheld from the defence. The initial 20 had their convictions quashed afterwards.

Sir Christopher Rose’s now discredited report said that the case was anomalous and there was no systemic problem. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Kier Starmer, dodged Jeremy Paxman’s repeated question about whether there might be other cases.

Then an earlier,  similar case in which Kennedy had participated in stopping a coal train on its way to Drax power station was highlighted. Another 29 convictions were overturned. It was clearly systemic.

We have information on less than 10% of the officers who have worked for Britain’s political secret police since the formation of the Special Demonstration Squad in 1968. If, like Kennedy, they each secured around 50 wrongful convictions then there are about 8,000 miscarriages of justice being left to stand. Even if we conservatively assume there was only one wrongful conviction per officer per year of service, it’s around 600.

It is no exaggeration to say that we could be looking at the biggest nobbling of the judicial system ever exposed. Let’s hope that, in contrast to the undercover officers, Mark Ellison will reveal the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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University Tries to Defend Bob Lambert

Bob Lambert then and now
Bob Lambert was an undercover officer who spied on animal rights organisations in the 1980s. In that time, he:

On this last point, three devices were simultaneously planted. The other two activists were convicted (though as Lambert’s evidence was withheld from court, they have launched an appeal). Although he has been named in parliament as planting the third incendiary device that burned down Debenhams in Harrow, Lambert has repeatedly denied it.

But if it was not Lambert, who was it? Was there really a fourth person who neither the others nor Lambert have mentioned before and who Lambert – despite getting the other two caught red handed in the crowning achievement of his deployment – allowed to get away unmentioned? He has yet to explain.

If all this were not enough, he then went on to run the Special Demonstration Squad. He oversaw officers who did similar things: lying in court to secure wrongful convictions and having long-term relationships with activists. His officers spied on numerous black justice campaigns including Stephen Lawrence’s family. Lambert was recently singled out for condemnation by the Ellison report into spying on the Lawrence family.

And yet he is employed by the University of St Andrews and London Metropolitan University on the basis of his ‘counter terrorism’ experience. As Nick Cohen said in the Observer,

he instructs graduates on how to be police officers, a task for which he is uniquely unqualified.

As the pressure mounts on Lambert’s academic positions, one of his employers has defended him. Yesterday BBC TV’s London Tonight reported on the growing controversy. Having issued a statement to the local press last month, for the first time London Met gave an interview.

Tim Parsons, Senior Criminology lecturer, managed an extraordinary feat of euphemistic skill, saying

He has extremely rich experience in professional practice, accepting that some of that is now controversial.

It’s not controversial, strictly speaking. It’s pretty much universally criticised.

And professional? Quite the opposite.  ‘Grossly unprofessional’ was the phrase used by the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Jon Murphy for the sexual relationships of officers like Lambert and his proteges.

Chief Constable Mick Creedon said last year that such activity

can only be seen as an abject failure of the deployment, a gross abuse of their role and their position as a police officer and an individual and organisational failing

If there is a gross abuse, there is a gross abuser. Bear in mind that Lambert not only had four such relationships himself but, aware of what it caused, was responsible for others who inflicted it on more women.

There is a peculiar conflict in London Metropolitan University. Whilst its criminology department employs Lambert, much of the institution defines itself with a strident social justice remit. It is a dark irony that a university department (and the public relations) defend this gross abuser of women at an institution that is home to the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit.

Yet Tim Parsons told the BBC

If you look at the things that we’re always championing such as human rights there is no reason whatsover why Bob shouldn’t have been offered employment at this university.

Human rights form a significant part of the legal case against the Metropolitan Police by women who had relationships with undercover officers – including Lambert personally and some of his later underlings.

The women assert that the actions of the undercover officers breached their rights as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 3 (no one shall be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (respect for private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state)

What the undercover officers did was either the fault of the individual (and a failing of managerial oversight), or it was an overt failing of management for authorising it. Wherever the blame lies, as both spy and manager, it must lie with Lambert.

His actions have caused the Met to pay out record compensation and – a genuine rarity – apologise for their officer’s behaviour. The unit he devoted decades to stands utterly disgraced and discredited, its methods disowned by senior officers, the subject of numerous investigations with a view to criminal charges, and the subject of a forthcoming full-scale public inquiry.

If Bob Lambert were at academic institutions as a lecturer in microbiology or Russian literature, or as a cleaner or gardener, it could be argued that his past should have no bearing on his position. But Bob Lambert is at the London Metropolitan University and the University of St Andrews on the basis of his indefensible past. They hired him before this was public knowledge – it appears that he deceived these universities just as he deceived those he spied on.

Officers and managers from the Special Demonstration Squad should be part of such courses only as case studies in how wrong it can go.

Islington Against Police Spies have called a picket of London Metropolitan University (opposite Holloway Road tube) on Friday 30 January, 12-2pm.

Sack Bob Lambert – Picket Friday 30 January

Bob Lambert then and now

Islington Against Police Spies (IAPS) have called a picket of London Metropolitan University, where former Special Demonstration Squad officer (and later boss) Bob Lambert lectures in criminology.

As reported in the Guardian, the university is under increasing pressure on its employment of Lambert to train tomorrow’s police managers, a role which Observer columnist Nick Cohen said
Lambert is ‘uniquely unqualified’ to have.

The IAPS callout says:

Join us to demand the removal of Bob Lambert from London Metropolitan University.

Picket London Met
Friday January 30th
12.00 – 2.00pm
LMU Tower, 166-220 Holloway Road, 
London N7 8DB

Bring placards, banners, anything to make noise.

In November Islington Against Police Spies (IAPS) held a lively picket of London Metropolitan University in Holloway, launching our campaign to demand the sacking or resignation of Bob Lambert. Former police spy, Special Branch manipulator, abuser of women, agent provocateur, Lambert is now lecturing at London Met on policing and criminology.

As local residents we feel it is totally inappropriate for London Metropolitan to be employing a man with Lambert’s record in such a position where he has influence and power over the lives of students, who may be young or vulnerable. Most particularly Lambert has shown he cannot be trusted not to abuse and lie to women.

Islington Against Police Spies have committed ourselves to holding events every month at least, to keep putting pressure on the University and raising awareness of Lambert’s past, until he is forced to leave London Met. We know this CAN be done – but it’s not necessarily going to be easy. Hopefully this campaign will get stronger until it’s irresistible. BUT WE NEED HELP – we call on anyone who thinks Bob Lambert should not be working in a supposedly progressive university to support our campaign.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Come down and join the picket on January 30th. The bigger and noisier our protest, the more notice London Met will have to take of us.

Protest to the following in the London Met hierarchy, and demand that they sack Bob Lambert:

• John Raftery, Vice-Chancellor; email: j.raftery@londonmet.ac.uk Tel: 020 7133 2001
• Peter McCaffery, Deputy Vice-Chancellor; email: P.McCaffery@londonmet.ac.uk Tel: 020 7133 2401
• Jonathan Woodhead, Executive Officer; email: j.woodhead@londonmet.ac.uk Tel: 020 7133 2042
• Paul Bowler, Deputy Chief Executive; email: P.Bowler@londonmet.ac.uk Tel: 020 7133 2031
• Peter Garrod, University Secretary and Clerk to the Board; email: p.garrod@londonmet.ac.uk Tel: 020 7133 2004

You can also email Bob Lambert directly and let him know what you think of his activities: r.lambert@londonmet.ac.uk
Tel: 020 7133 4692/2911

Spread the word – tell others about this campaign, raise the issue in your networks, communities, union, etc – the more people know about Bob, the more pressure we all put on the university, the more likely it is that he will have to go.

This campaign is being organised by Islington Against Police Spies, a group of local residents and activists.

Email us: islingtonagainstpolicespies@riseup.net
(Please note our new email address)

Police corruption, spying, racism and accountability

CCJS conference flier

Over Friday and Saturday, 6 and 7 February 2015, an impressive line-up of speakers will offer powerful accounts on contemporary policing.

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and The Monitoring Group, in partnership with Imran Khan and Partners and Tottenham Rights, have organised a two-day conference at Conway Hall in London to seek common ground between families, community workers, journalists, academics, lawyers and affected communities, to understand and challenge the problem of police corruption, spying and racism.

The conference takes as its starting point that there is a profound crisis in policing across the UK that requires us to share information and experiences, develop ideas and create new partnerships that will spur a momentum for genuine state accountability.

Speakers on Friday will include:

Rosa Curling, Leigh Day Solicitors
Rebekah Delsol, Open Society
Rob Evans, Guardian journalist
Dr Jules Holroyd, University of Nottingham
Professor Gus John, Honorary Fellow, Institute of Education
John McDonnell MP, Hayes and Harlington
Rebecca Roberts, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
Dr Mike Shiner, London School of Economics
Helen Steel, spied on environmental activist
Mark Thomas, political satarist and reporter
Dr David Whyte, University of Liverpool
Dr Patrick Williams, Manchester Metropolitan University
Harriet Wistrich, Birnberg Pierce and Partners solicitors

Speakers on Saturday will include:
​​Janet Alder, sister of Christopher Alder
Raju Bhatt, Bhatt Murphy Solicitors (TBC)
Professor Ben Bowling, King’s College London
Richard Garside, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
Courtenay Griffiths QC
Suresh Grover, The Monitoring Group
Lee Jasper, formerly Mayor of London’s Adviser on Policing
Imran Khan, Lawyer to the Stephen Lawrence family
Dame Doreen Lawrence
Lee Lawrence, son of Cherry Groce
Paul O’Connor, Director of Pat Finucane Centre, Derry
Sukdev Reel, mother of Ricky Reel
David Rose, Investigative journalist
Stafford Scott, Tottenham Rights

You can book for Friday, Saturday or both days.

The full programme and booking information are on the event’s page on the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies’ site.

Sack Bob Lambert: picket Friday 28th November

Bob Lambert then and now

Most of the revelations about Britain’s political secret police have involved Bob Lambert. As an undercover officer in the Special Demonstration Squad, Lambert infiltrated London Greenpeace and co-wrote the leaflet that triggered the McLibel trial – a fact which, like his existence, was kept from the court. He had a long-term relationship with Jacqui, fathering a son that he abandoned and had a second serious relationship. He went through a prosecution under his false identity. He has been named in parliament as the firebomber of a department store whilst in his animal rights activist persona, though he has strenuously denied the charge.

He went on to be manager of the SDS, overseeing officers such as Peter Francis who says he was tasked to ‘find dirt’ to discredit Stephen Lawrence’s family, and Jim Boyling who, following in his mentor’s footsteps, had children with a woman he spied on and caused a miscarriage of justice by going to court in his fake identity.

These days Lambert holds two academic posts, using what is euphemistically called his ‘counter terrorism’ experience to train tomorrow’s police managers at the University of St Andrews and London Metropolitan University.

At the COPS meeting at London Met earlier this month a local group, Islington Against Police Spies, announced their intention to campaign for Lambert to be removed from his post. They have organised a picket of the university (Tower Building, 166-220 Holloway Road, 
London N7 8DB) for this Friday, 28 November, from noon until 2pm.

See their post for more details on Lambert and the campaign.

We Do Not Consent

We do not consent

 

Defend the Right to Protest have organised a one day conference in London on Sunday 16 November. Under the banner We Do Not Consent, the programme includes many people involved in the exposure and campaiging on the undercover policing issue, as well as justice campaigns for thise killed in custody, trade union struggles, anti-fracking campaigns,  and protesters rights groups.

In Britain years of campaigning have exposed the extent of injustices past and present: the fitting-up of striking miners who took on Thatcher, the appalling response to the Hillsborough disaster, police spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family and the treatment of women activists by undercover cops. Those seeking accountability face a long, hard struggle with many powerful institutions ranged against them.

Now we see fresh attacks on our civil liberties. Despite the death of Ian Tomlinson in 2009, demonstrators continue to be kettled and physically abused by police. Trade unionists are hemmed in by anti-union laws and face further threats to their rights to strike and demonstrate. Legal aid cuts are stripping away people’s ability to challenge state policies and abuses. On top of this the Conservatives have pledged to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Austerity, escalating inequality and the “war on terror” form a wider context to this assault. Protests, occupations, organising and solidarity are the only tools we have to fight back and raise alternatives – whether it is in Ferguson, Hong Kong, Cairo or here in Britain.

It’s hoped this conference will provide a space where we can come together to discuss what’s going on, share experiences, equip ourselves to defend our basic rights and think about how to build a stronger movement against injustice for the battles ahead.

Tickets are only £5 (£3 unwaged, £10 solidarity price). More info here.

 

First Spycops Relationship Case Settled

More than a dozen women who were deceived into relationships with undercover police officers are known to be bringing cases against the Metropolitan Police. Last week, the first case was settled.

Jacqui was a 22 year old animal rights activist in 1984 when she met Bob Robinson, ten years her senior. They lived together for several years and had a son. Robinson was actually police officer Bob Lambert who knew that he would abandon his child as a toddler. Jacqui is certain that Lambert kept tabs on her after he left. Nonetheless, he had no contact, paid no maintenance.

After Lambert was outed by activists in 2011, he issued an apology. It mentions another partner, Belinda Harvey, but not Jacqui with whom he had a much more involved relationship. Lambert’s children with his wife had both died, yet he had not contacted Jacqui to warn her to get her son tested and treated.

Undercover officers went to elaborate lengths to ensure they weren’t suspected after they left. It was essential to maintain the vulnerability of campaigns to future infiltrators. The most powerful trick in the spies’ spellbook was the ignorance of their targets. Put simply, nobody would believe that they did it. So they would feign mental breakdown over a period of months and disappear to get their heads together, never to be seen again.

If we maximise the benefit of the doubt for Bob Lambert we might say he couldn’t have dropped a one-line card to Jacqui to warn of their son’s medical risk as it would have compromised the undercover method. This excuse evaporates once he was outed. If he had any concern for her and their son he would have run to their door. But still he did not tell Jacqui, a decision that could have cost their son his life.

Jacqui only found out the truth by chance eight months later, seeing it in a newspaper. She described it as ‘like being raped by the state’ and has since been receiving psychiatric care. She also says that, had she not stumbled across the truth and made all the effort to find Lambert, she believes he would have taken the secret with him to his grave.

When her son was young she initiated a bid to have him adopted by her new partner. Getting a child adopted without a still-living parent’s agreement isn’t easy. Adoption services made efforts to find him but their report says

I made several attempts including letters and telephone inquiries to contact Mr Robert Robinson… but I was unsuccessful. An informant, Mrs Moseley who shared the same flat with him at Nightingale Estate, Hackney, East London, told me that Mr Robinson’s whereabouts are unknown. She maintained he is unlikely to surface in the future because of his intense political involvement with the Animal Liberation Movement activities.

Adoption report on the search for Bob 'Robinson'The address Lambert lived at appears to have been demolished several years before ‘Mrs Moseley’ made her comment. Jacqui is convinced that this person was a Special Branch plant. The name, Moseley, may well be a warped joke on their part. How it must have seemed to Special Branch that all the loose ends were being tied up.

Jacqui’s new partner died not long after, the second dad her son had lost in his seven years. She returned to bringing him up as a single parent, a few miles from where the well-remunerated Lambert worked.

Considering the full cost of bringing up a child plus her ongoing care, even on purely financial terms the payout of £425,000 seems paltry.

The Metropolitan Police said

From the outset we have dealt with this lengthy case with professionalism and sensitivity, completely understanding the gravity of the circumstances.

Jacqui brought her case in 2012. Numerous other women brought theirs earlier. The Met refused to even admit that Lambert had been an undercover officer until two months ago despite the fact that, as Jacqui said, there was the absolute proof in the form of six foot of Lambert’s DNA walking round. The Met still won’t admit most of the well-established officers such as John Dines and Mark Cassidy were, in fact, undercover officers.

The settlement is testament to the tenacity of Jacqui and her lawyer Jules Carey. It comes despite the unprofessional, insensitive attitude of the Met. No amount of money will buy back Jacqui’s capacity to trust. Looking beyond that to a wider view of justice, as she said, money is an irrelevance.

There is the money, but there is no admission by the police that what they did was wrong, there is no meaningful apology and most importantly there are no answers.

But the legal system effectively forced her to take the money. If she had continued to court and won, but the damages awarded were below the police’s previous £425,000 offer, then she would have had to pay the police’s legal bill.

The women whose cases are still ongoing are likely to get lower amounts as they did not unwittingly have children to raise. This means the police costs could even exceed the damages awarded. In that position who could afford to push onward for disclosure and justice?

The claimants – many of whom would surely forego any money if they could have answers – will have to take the money (then vicious newsmedia comments sections will fill up with accusations of them being gold-diggers all along).

Effectively, the police are buying their way out of a damning court case. Those in charge retain their promotions and pensions whilst those they abused are left to rely on their own fortitude to repair the damage that was done to them for having the temerity to campaign for a fairer world.

As eight other women bringing similar cases reiterated

we have no reason to believe that these abhorrent abuses have stopped, or that the police acknowledge their actions are wrong, and that they must change.

There can be no excuse for undercover officers having sexual relationships whilst in their undercover persona. It is already illegal in Germany and there is no detrimental effect to German society. After all the damage done and, at long last, admissions from the police of it, it is surely time to change the law.