This article was updated on 9 October to include a statement from the Metropolitan Police.
Hidden in the appendix of a document released by the Undercover Policing Inquiry is evidence of another police officer spying on anti-arms-trade protesters. Furthermore, that police officer was arrested whilst protesting against one of the world’s biggest arms fairs. And their cover officer blamed that arrest for the dismantling of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). The SDS was a unit within the Metropolitan Police (Met) which spied on campaigners.
day-to-day responsibility for dealing with the UCO [undercover police officer] and their security and welfare.
She was responsible for nine undercover officers, including Carlo Neri – who had a two-year sexual relationship with an activist. N30 denies knowledge of this relationship despite twice-weekly meetings and daily phone contact.
During her time with the SDS, three of her officers were arrested. Two, N3 and N60, are named as Jason Bishop and Dave Evans. Bishop and Evans were arrested whilst driving a minibus of protesters at the G8 summit in Scotland. This information was already in the public domain thanks to the work of activists in exposing them.
However, N30’s risk assessment contains details of a third undercover officer arrested, N18:
N18 was arrested for a minor public order offence together with several others.
And in Appendix D, more details are given. Specifically that the arrest was made as part of the Defence Security Equipment International (DSEi) arms fair protests.
DSEi is one of the world’s biggest arms fairs. It takes place every two years and attracts protests of various sizes. Bishop infiltrated Disarm DSEi, was part of the organising group and attended protests in 2001, 2003, and 2005.
The identity of N18 is not known. But, given the dates when N30 was a cover officer and the dates of DSEi, the arrest must have happened in either 2005 or 2007.
Two factors help narrow this down further.
First, Bishop was still active in 2005, although mid-exit strategy. This in itself is inconclusive as several spycops overlapped in terms of campaigns and dates.
Second, and more significant, is information from N30’s risk assessment. It states that [p4]:
Gist: Although she was a supervisor and had been a cover officer for N18, N72 was the operational DI and took responsibility for the matter. N30 stated that in her opinion senior management used the perceived mismanagement of this arrest to close the unit.
Given the SDS closed in 2008, for N30’s statement to make sense, it is highly likely that N18’s arrest took place during DSEi 2007.
Protests at DSEi in 2007 were some of the smallest of any of the DSEi protests. Unlike other years where there were hundreds of arrests, 2007 was different. According to the BBC, there were 17 arrests.
15 of those arrests (10 men and five women) took place during an attempted invasion of the site. N18 was arrested “with others”. Those arrested were charged with aggravated trespass. On the first court hearing, the Crown Prosecution Service asked for two weeks to review the evidence against those arrested. The charges were then quietly dropped before the defendants received any disclosure.
Although The Canary cannot say with 100% certainty, the balance of probability from the evidence above is that N18 was one of those 15 people. If this is the case, then it again shows how embedded undercover police officers were in the lives of activists. The action wasn’t publicised. It was carried out by people who knew and trusted each other.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told The Canary:
The historical work, deployment and actions of officers within the now-disbanded Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) will be fully explored and scrutinised by the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI). The Metropolitan Police Service is providing every assistance so the Inquiry can fully address the key issues it has identified, and can fulfil its Terms of Reference.
Release the files
It should not be down to activists and journalists to piece together this information. The police engaged – and are likely still engaging – in political policing; and it’s time for them to come clean. All those spied on need full disclosure of the operations carried out against them and information the police hold on them.
Whether they’re opponents of the global arms trade, environmental protesters or advocates for animal rights, none of these people are dangerous extremists. And these were not rogue police units. This was and is systematic repression of dissent. And it’s in the public interest that everyone knows exactly how deep and how far this repression goes.
The author is a core participant in the Undercover Policing Inquiry. Any information in this article that is not linked to a source comes from involvement in and/or knowledge of the events.
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Featured image via Lush and author’s own
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