December updates on spycops
Two significant events this month have been the police's change in tack over apologies to families whose children’s identities were stolen by undercover officers, and the ex-partner of one spycop, Marco Jacobs, going public with her experience of being targeted and seeking justice. We have written about these separately, but below we look at some of the other matters drawing our attention.
John Dines confirmed
Undercover John Dines, as 'John Barker', had been the partner of that redoubtable activist Helen Steel, later notable as one of the McLibel defendants – a case that demonstrated her remarkable tenacity. When John vanished from her life, she embarked on a twenty-four year search for the truth, leading the police to move Dines across countries to hide him from her. They failed and, in a now iconic moment, she located and confronted him in Australia earlier this year.
Despite all this, police relied on the policy of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ in a court case brought by Helen, as it has done with most other spycops. It took the Public Inquiry to confirm him, though the police did say in a statement:
The MPS took the decision not to apply for any restrictions on either the real name or cover identity of the officer. This decision was taken given the exceptional circumstances of a Public Inquiry into undercover policing and the public interest in that Inquiry being able to allay concern by providing access to its proceedings. This decision needed to be carefully balanced against the MPS responsibility to protect the identity of those brave men and women who have and continue to work undercover, in often difficult and dangerous circumstances.
Dines had infiltrated a number of groups, including London Greenpeace and squatters, as well as taking part in Poll Tax riots – where he is alleged to have put a brick through a Barclays window, having first offered it to someone else.
Helen Steel responded:
While I welcome the official admission that my former partner John Dines was an undercover policeman in the Special Demonstration Squad, it is a travesty that the police have been allowed to take this long to confirm what I and others exposed years ago.
Others core participants were pleased it had finally been admitted, but pointed out that the police had surrendered to the inevitable. The police had little scope to manoeuvre as any attempt to deny it would simply make them look foolish. Of the undercovers who have been subject to court cases, only Mark Jenner remains to be confirmed, something campaigners took to Twitter to complain about.
Ireland & Northern Ireland
In a recent article covering overseas developments, we forgot to note Northern Ireland. There, Pitchford Inquiry core participant Jason Kirkpatrick has initiated a judicial review of Theresa May’s decision to limit the scope of the Inquiry to England and Wales. The case is taken against both Theresa May, and Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers. However, a hearing due to be held this month was postponed as a solicitor from the Home Office was unable to attend due to illness.
Things are also proceeding in the Republic of Ireland. We are told pre-action correspondence has been initiated with the Irish Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, with Kirkpatrick and others arguing the Irish government is not investigating the issue sufficiently. Meanwhile, campaign group Shell to Sea have also called on Fitzgerald to investigate how undercover officer Mark Kennedy spied upon them. He is known to have visited Ireland a number of times, as had John Dines and two other undercovers – Jim Boyling and Mark Jenner.
Closely intertwined with spycops is the blacklisting scandal. Thousands of left-wing workers found themselves barred from jobs after being placed on illegal blacklists run by the Economic League and the Consulting Association. Finally exposed by the Information Commissioner and an extensive court case, more material is now coming to light regarding the sources of information on those lists.
The merger of the UCATT and Unite unions has given occasion for campaigners to raise one particular aspect of this. In a letter to the Morning Star, they wrote:
It is now in the public domain that officials in both unions were recorded as the source of information on Economic League and Consulting Association blacklist files. Some of those named, remain senior officials in Unite and UCATT to this day. Every union activist in construction knows who the named officials are, as does every major employer.
The authors of the letter, many of whom are former UCATT and Unite organisers, are calling on Unite to re-investigate the issue by ordering an independent investigations. The letter states:
We the undersigned call upon the new Unite construction section to engage an independent legal expert to carry out a thorough investigation of the allegations relating to union collusion in blacklisting, with a remit drawn up in conjunction with the blacklisted workers… We are not looking for a witch-hunt, we simply want answers into possible union collusion in order to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
Asbestos spy exposed
A late entry, is corporate spy, ‘Rob Moore’, who has been just exposed as working for K2 Intelligence, infiltrating groups campaigning for an asbestos ban. Paid £460K for several years work, Moore had posed as a film-maker seeking to collaborate with and document the work of anti-asbestos campaigners. K2 recently lost a court battle to prevent Moore's identity from being revealed, though the international client who hired him was not disclosed.
According to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization:
Moore attended two of our International Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Conferences in Washington, DC. He photographed what seemed like every slide from our conference presentations and conducted numerous interviews with medical experts, advocates, and asbestos victims in attendance.