A man linked to the Conservative Party monitored political activists over many years. But the undercover policing inquiry currently in progress doesn’t see him as being ‘of interest’. That’s because he didn’t work for the police, but for private operators.
One of those operators was recently named in leaked files, in connection with a surveillance operation that followed the tragic death of a young person.
Paul Mercer was a journalist, who wrote for a number of publications, including The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph and The London Evening Standard.
In 1986 he published a book, Peace of the Dead – The Truth Behind the Nuclear Disarmers. The introduction was written by Lord Chalfont (Alun Jones). A few years later Chalfont was exposed as a board member of Zeus Security Consultants, which allegedly organised surveillance of protesters against Sizewell B nuclear power station.
In 1994, Mercer published a Directory of British Political Organisations, which included details of 4,500 protest groups. And around that time Mercer infiltrated the anti-roads movement, including protests against the M11.
From 2002, Mercer allegedly infiltrated several environmental and animal rights campaigns including Nottingham Against Incineration and Landfill. He also worked as a security consultant for LigneDeux Associates, a company paid £2,500 per month by BAE Systems to provide information on “threats”.
In 2003, Mercer worked for The Inkerman Group, which specialises in business risk and intelligence gathering and employed [pdf] former Met Police commissioner (Lord) Peter Imbert as strategic adviser. Documents seen by The Guardian describe how The Inkerman Group intended to deploy a covert team at May Day anti-capitalist protests in London. Also, that “Mercer will be on the ground as well” and that other infiltrators should “if possible avoid him”. The Inkerman Group is also named in connection with alleged intelligence-gathering of mobile phone mast protesters on behalf of energy firm RWE nPower, in documents seen by The Guardian and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
In the period following the 2003 death of political activist Rachel Corrie, manufacturing company Caterpillar hired private security firm C2i (renamed Lynceus) to gather information about her grieving family. The Inkerman Group was also contracted and has stated:
this partnership has been very successful in providing Caterpillar a pro-active approach to activism directed against Caterpillar facilities.
In 2007, Mercer was exposed for his role in monitoring the Campaign Against Arms Trade. His contract was via Global Open, a private surveillance firm. It included ex-undercover police officers Mark Kennedy (formerly of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) and Rod Leeming (formerly of Special Branch and ex-head of NPOIU).
At a January 2011 meeting organised by thinktank Policy Exchange, Mercer claims to have “covered and having been on pretty well every major public order disturbance in London over that period”, including the Poll Tax Riots of 1990 and Mayday 2001. Mercer is seated second from the right:
There are also Mercer’s political links.
In the acknowledgements, Mercer’s book Peace of the Dead credits Conservative MP and later shadow defence minister Julian Lewis as having “done most in terms of proof-reading, copy-editing and acting as a source of inspiration.” And between 1987 and 1991 Mercer served as a Conservative Borough Councillor in Charnwood, Leicestershire. He was re-elected in 2015.
Also, in 2015, Conservative education secretary Nicky Morgan accepted a donation of £3,220 from Mercer, who played an active role in her constituency re-election campaign. Mercer has also worked for free market thinktank the Adam Smith Institute and the Conservative Research Department.
No one knows the precise number of intelligence-gatherers who work for security companies, or private industry.
Nor will the undercover policing inquiry examine the work of these freelancers, despite similarities in methods. But that work should be inquired into, if only so that victims of intrusion of this nature can seek redress.
– Read more on spycops in The Canary.
– Donate to victims of spycops.
Featured image via Screengrab
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?