Wednesday, October 26, 2011

one bad apple gets worse

There is even more to the story of ex-undercover cop Bob Lambert than we thought.

Not only are there revelations that he was prosecuted under his false identity, he is yet another of them who had a serious long term sexual relationship whilst undercover.

Lambert's girlfriend wasn't even an activist, she was merely a random citizen whose emotional wellbeing Lambert decided to sacrifice to help with his cover. He even had his Special Branch colleagues raid her house to puff up his image as a radical activist.

Lambert has come forth and apologised.

I was deployed as an undercover Met special branch officer to identify and prosecute members of Animal Liberation Front who were then engaged in incendiary device and explosive device campaigns against targets in the vivisection, meat and fur trades.

'Incendiaries', 'explosives', makes you picture bloodied corpses being removed after IRA bombs in shopping centres doesn't it?

Most ALF devices were overtly stated as economic sabotage, almost always in empty premises and planted overnight, all the better to have serious damage done by the time anyone came in the following morning. As a tactic it is certainly more serious than leafleting and linking arms across doorways, but it is still just damage to stuff.

How many members of how many peaceful groups can have their trust in humanity shattered police officers trying to prevent property damage?

As part of my cover story so as to gain the necessary credibility to become involved in serious crime, I first built a reputation as a committed member of London Greenpeace, a peaceful campaigning group.

I apologise unreservedly for the deception I therefore practiced on law abiding members of London Greenpeace.

If that's the case, can we take it that he never reported back on what London Greenpeace were doing and thereby had their actions undermined?

By implication, was Mark Kennedy also on a career path to some big bad group, and just accidentally handed in seven years of notebooks detailing the meetings and plans and lives of environmental activists?

Peter Black's deployment saw him infiltrate the Anti-Nazi League before moving on, presumably to the groups whose threat to public safety warranted all the intrusion.

I began targeting the groups set up to win justice for those who had died in police custody or had been victims of racism, it was clear that what the loved ones of the deceased wanted was justice.*

Lambert is holding to the classic 'one bad apple' rogue officer idea, applying it to himself. Yet is is clear that other officers behaved in the same way. Indeed, Lambert was the superior officer in charge of Peter Black's deployment in justice campaigns.

I also apologise unreservedly for forming false friendships with law abiding citizens and in particular forming a long term relationship with [Name of person removed] who had every reason to think I was a committed animal rights activist and a genuine London Greenpeace campaigner.

It is the intimate personal relationships that are perhaps the most shocking aspect of the undercover police scandal. A person you had let into your life, who moved in with you, who had integrated into your family, was in fact there as a paid agent of the state to undermine the things you hold most dear. It must do incalculable damage.

Many of these people were in their 20s and 30s, a time when most people form very long term relationships. Not only did the police put fake relationships in, they kept real relationships out. Every year spent with your Special Branch officer is a year not spent finding and forming bonds with somebody who does actually love you. Even without the profound emotional impact of your partner turning out to be a copper, the loss of time that can never be regained is in itself an horrific attack on a person's personal life.

Lambert apologises, for whatever that is worth. Where's his apology for sending Peter Black and Jim Boyling in to have sexual relationships? Or would that just demolish his 'it was just me, not a calculated plan, honest guv' (fairy)storyline?

Daud Abdullah, who has worked with Lambert in recent years, dismisses all the Lambert revelations as 'smears' with the implication that it's all convenient for our neocon government.

When you have proof of something and the accused admits it and apologises, it's not a smear. It's a fact. Alleging that the anarchists from London Greenpeace who found Lambert are stooges of the government, now that's a smear.

the vast majority of Met special branch undercover officers never made the mistakes I made, have no need to apologise for anything, and I deepy regret having tarnished their illustrious, professional reputation.

His use of the word 'mistake' is a tad devious. It has more than one meaning - an innocent accidental act, or a knowing act that in retrospect was unwise, perhaps because it didn't let you get away with your misdeed. He can only mean it in the latter sense, but an articulate academic used to manipulating people is surely aware that the glow from the other meaning's connotations will make him seem a nicer guy than he is. This stuff was not a 'mistake' in the sense that anyone should be absolved of.

The two 'mistakes' he fesses up to are forming false friendships and having sexual relations with activists. Most other officers didn't do that, right Bob?

There are documented reports of this being true of five of the seven officers named in the Guardian's series of reports (and who knows if it's yet to come out about either or both of the others).

So, given that very high strike rate for the uncovered officers, how many never made these 'mistakes'? Earlier this year ex undercover cop Liam Thomas - not one of the seven - said

I remember one senior detective saying to me, 'Have you embedded yourself in the community yet?' It was tongue in cheek, but I left with the impression that had I shagged around for intelligence, it would have been OK.

Given that Lambert not only did such things but was then the superior officer in charge of Jim Boyling and Pete Black when they did the same, it's clear he had no problem with it at all. Indeed, you've got to wonder if he's the 'senior detective' Liam Thomas mentions.

I offer my new book Countering al Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership as evidence of my ability to build genuine trust with groups campaigning for social justice and as a signal of my good faith moving forward.

Plug plug plug. The gratuitous hawking of his book is, by itself, proof that Lambert has no shame and, just as in his days undercover, can only see his career advantage rather than the impacts he is having on others.

He is frantically trying to retain his credibility and save his job. Sorry Bob, but spending the last five years working on one aspect of anti-racist work does not absolve you for 25 years of actively attacking it.

Who has done a better job of giving space for fascists to rise in the last twenty years, Combat 18 or Special Branch? If Lambert and Boyling had not been doing their work, how much of the BNP's increased popularity have been prevented? How many justice campaigns would have borne earlier and more valuable fruit?

I'm not saying that sinners can never repent. Realising you were wrong, saying so and trying to make amends is honourable. Sitting there hoping nobody will notice and only admitting it once tenacious activists have tracked you down and embarrassed you is not honourable. It is the desperate arse-covering of a self-serving fuckwad who has made a career out of duplicity, a man who is still trying to lie his way out of culpability for his actions.


* Peter Black is referred to in the article as 'Officer A'. The anonymous interview from March last year was actually the first publicity this affair got, though it went almost entirely unnoticed until Mark Kennedy was outed. Post-Kennedy, Black dropped the anonymity and is now the most outspoken of the former cops, a title it's not hard to earn.

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