Andrew Wallace Jardine Coles resigned on Monday 15 May 2017 from the senior post of Deputy Police Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, after his past was exposed by independent researchers. But that should not be the end of the story. Coles was also elected as Tory councillor for Peterborough and appointed governor of two schools. And serious questions must be asked as to why his various appointments were not better scrutinised.
Coles’ secret past began to unravel after an apparent indiscretion by his younger brother, the broadcaster and former Communards keyboard player, Reverend Richard Coles. In his 2014 autobiography, Richard Coles made a passing reference to how his brother had worked as an undercover police officer.
He [Andy] 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.
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Eagle-eyed readers passed this information to researchers at Undercover Research. Subsequently, activist and researcher Paul Gravett was able to work out that Andy Coles and ‘Andy Davey’ were the same person. Gravett passed on this information to activist ‘Jessica’, with whom Coles had a relationship. At the time ‘Jessica’ was 19 years old. And Coles was married – happily so, unknown to ‘Jessica’.
Although not legally underage, I feel that my youth and vulnerability were used to target me. I was groomed by someone much older, and far more experienced, and I was manipulated into having a sexual relationship with him. I didn’t even know his real name.
Coles’ spycop work
Coles, as ‘Andy Davey’ was an officer with the Special Demonstration Squad and active in the animal rights movement. He also ingratiated himself with activists at the 121 anarchist centre, a squatted bookshop in Brixton’s Railton Road.
‘Jessica’ explained how Coles was not just an observer, but actively took part in the illegal actions:
Andy was also involved in action: he was often the driver, and took part in a raid on a battery farm and relocating rescued laboratory animals.
Coles was also on the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Terrorism and Allied Matters (ACPO-TAM) committee, as head of training.
This is a photo of ‘Andy Davey’ in his undercover days, via Powerbase:
Coles’ spycop supervisors
Coles’ likely supervisor in the SDS was Bob Lambert. Undercover SDS officers involved in similar activities included Matt Rayner, Peter Francis (alias ‘Peter Black’, now whistleblower) and Jim Boyling.
The chain of Coles’ command was:
- Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police: Peter Imbert (1991-1993), Paul Condon (1993-1995)
- Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations: W Taylor (1992-1994), David Veness (April 1994 onwards)
- Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Security): John Howley (1991-1995)
- Head of Special Branch / SO12: Position held simultaneously by John Howley. D Buchanan is listed as head of SO12 in 1995.
- Controller of Operations (Special Branch): D Buchanan (1992), Barry Moss (1995)
Head of SDS: DCI Keith Edmundson (1993-1994/5)
- SDS Controller of Operations: Bob Lambert (1994-1998)
Coles retired from the police in 2012.
Coles’ recent appointments
In July 2016, Coles was appointed as the deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Coles was selected for this position by Commissioner Jason Ablewhite, who praised Coles’ “wealth of experience, both in policing and public service”.
Coles was given special responsibility for domestic abuse, as shown in the 19 July 2016 minutes [pdf section 2.3] of a meeting of the Cambridge Community Safety Partnership.
Here is how in June 2016 Coles’ was ‘scrutinised’ by the Police and Crime Commission:
Coles’ other appointments
…a school governor at two schools in Peterborough, is a trustee in an academy trust, helps to run a community association and chairs a community interest company supporting children and young people in Peterborough…
The two Peterborough schools to which he was appointed as governor were West Town Primary Academy (September 2014) and The Voyager Academy (2011). Also the Cam Academy Trust (February 2012, director).
In an email to Undercover Research dated 15 May 2017, the Voyager School stated:
Following the publication of these historic allegations we have asked Mr Coles to step down as Chair of Governors without prejudice while the IPCC investigation takes place.
Until last year, Coles served on Peterborough’s council cabinet as Lead Member with responsibility for Children’s Services. In 2016, he reportedly met with Conservative Chancellor Philip Hammond:
And in March 2017, Coles was the opening speaker at the annual conference of Link to Change, an organisation that supports young people facing sexual exploitation. Further, Coles was appointed Chair of Families First Peterborough, a community interest company working with “disturbed and vulnerable children”.
Within days of being exposed, Coles resigned his post as Deputy Police Commissioner. A webpage about Coles on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Police and Crime Commission website was also deleted.
But Coles’ appointment to his senior position for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Crime Commission would only have happened if there was a failure to adequately scrutinise his past. Or if those involved turned a blind eye to that past. And there would have been a number of senior police officers in the Met who knew all about Coles’ past, but failed to act.
However, the community groups and schools that Coles is or has been associated with cannot be blamed for not being aware of Coles’ past.
Serious questions must be asked about how Coles managed to be appointed to his position with the Police and Crime Commission. In particular, how much did Commissioner Jason Ablewhite know about Coles’ past? And was Coles protected by his former SDS colleagues, including Met Commissioner Paul Condon?
All those involved in this scandal, whether by cover-up or by neglect, need to be held accountable.
– Find out more about the Undercover Policing scandal from Police Out of Our Lives.
– Read “Undercover Research: Corporate and police spying on activists”, by Eveline Lubbers (pdf).
– Read Spies at Work by Mike Hughes.
Featured image via Twitter
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