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Democracy vs. Political Policing

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In a significant victory for democracy, last week, after a four-year legal battle, the Metropolitan Police (London) apologised to seven women, who were victims of anti-democratic undercover policing.

The police force admitted 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 significant trauma”.

One of the undercover officers referred to is Bob Lambert MBE. In 2012, Lambert was named by Green MP Caroline Lucas as an undercover agent, who while infiltrating the Animal Liberation Front, had planted a bomb that burned down a Debenhams department store.

During his time undercover, Lambert had fathered a baby with one female activist he was spying on, while maintaining a relationship with his actual wife and children. Later he was promoted to training and managing other undercover officers, and after obtaining a PhD, has now reinvented himself as a terrorism expert.

Lambert is currently employed as a part-time lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at St Andrews University in Scotland. As CSTPV was founded in 1994 by professor Paul Wilkinson, who had previously served on the Council of Management of a right-wing think-tank called the Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC), Lambert, given his manipulative background, seems well­-placed.

Fittingly, the ISC “had grown out a London-based CIA  propaganda operation.” And as one critical commentator observes: “Most of the individuals who made up the ISC’s Council of Management also had affiliations to the military or to covert propaganda organizations.

In late 1989, the ISC merged with Paul Wilkinson’s Research Foundation for the Study of Terrorism. Wilkinson’s earlier Research Foundation is known to have served as a corporate-funded ‘charity’ that shared an office and telephone number with the right-wing propaganda group Aims of Industry, which is infamous for its active opposition to trade unionism.

A notable Honorary Professor lecturing alongside Bob Lambert at Wilkinson’s current home, the aforementioned Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, is Baron Evans of Weardale. Since retiring in 2013 as the Director General of the British Security Service MI5, Baron Evans has been a loyal board member of HSBC, which happens to be presently the centre of a sprawling tax dodging scandal.

These shadowy connections only begin to open a hairline fracture into the sinister world of the type of political policing that has no place in society.

At present the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) is working industriously to co-ordinate, publicise and support the quest for justice for people affected by political undercover police spying.

So now is the time to get involved and support the ongoing calls from COPS for a truly independent public inquiry into undercover policing by getting your trade union branch/organisation/or community group to affiliate to this important campaign for social justice.

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Michael Barker is the author of Under the Mask of Philanthropy (2017).

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