Sunday, June 24, 2012

bob lambert: once a bomber, still a spy?

Mark Kennedy may be the only household name in the undercover police spy scandal but as more information emerges it seems that Bob Lambert was the most malevolent of them.

Lambert went undercover in the early 1980s, meaning it is likely he was trained and overseen by the people who founded the Special Demonstration Squad in 1968. From this, we can presume that he acted in accordance with their desired methods and purpose. He fathered a child with one of his targets yet was not withdrawn from operations, indicating that they had no problem with that.

He then had a second serious intimate relationship with someone who wasn't even an activist, just to make him appear a well rounded character. He had her house raided by his Special Branch colleagues to beef up his image and give him the excuse to disappear without raising suspicion about his real role.

Anyone who has been burgled knows of the trauma, the sense of violation that it brings. A police raid is far beyond that. Like burglars they are after some of your possessions, but they are also after you personally, your thoughts, beliefs, ideas, family and friendships. It is a massive piece of 'collateral intrusion' to visit upon anyone, let alone a non-activist.

By 1987 Lambert had infiltrated a cell of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) who were on a campaign of firebombing shops that sold fur. Their plan was to attack three branches of Debenham's in Luton, Romford and Harrow simultaneously. Last week Caroline Lucas MP told a debate in Parliament that Lambert planted the Harrow firebomb which detonated causing £340,000 of damage. 

The interesting thing is Lambert is having none of it and flatly says

I did not commit serious crime such as 'planting an incendiary device at the [Debenhams] Harrow store'

Really Bob?

The plan was hatched by a small secretive cell of which Lambert was one. He ensured two of the bombers were caught and must know who the third was. Either he planted that third bomb, or he knows who did but chose to let them go. Which do you think is more likely?

One of the others has spoken out and is in no doubt, saying that Lambert was the only other person who knew of the plan and that, perhaps in an attempt to reduce his damage, he had failed to place his second device.

Lambert's outright denial is just the latest in a string of implausible arse-covering he's issued since being unmasked. His credibility can be judged from his earlier claim that

the vast majority of Met special branch undercover officers never made the mistakes I made

Of the exposed officers, we know most did exactly what he did. Most of them acted as agents provocateurs, most had long term intimate relationships with targets - a quarter of them fathering children - most targeted campaigns that posed no risk to public safety, and at least two of them did so under the orders of Lambert himself after he became the superior officer running undercover operations.

One of them was Peter Black who says that, far from being aberrant (and yet somehow allowed to continue for years), Lambert's methods were hugely admired

He did what is hands down regarded as the best tour of duty ever

So why the denials? Unlike the other outed undercover officers, Lambert still has a respected career to protect. After more than 20 years involved in infiltration he suddenly set up the police's Muslim Contact Unit along with another ex-undercover, Jim Boyling. Why would the police's friendly bridge-building exercise need to be designed and run by two of the most experienced infiltrators, unless it too is a cover for spying and running a network of informants?

Several years later, Lambert left the police - collecting an MBE for his services - and forged a career as an academic along the same lines as his work with the Muslim Contact Unit. And 'forged' is the right word if it's cover for spy work.

Because Mark Kennedy was the first undercover cop outed and was then tacky enough to hire Max Clifford to pimp him to the media, he is the most prominent of them. Yet there is nothing we know that Kennedy did that wasn't also done by other officers, with the exception of his returning to his targets as a private spy after he left the police.

Bob Lambert, on the other hand, committed every outrage undercover police are known to have perpetrated and one or two, such as getting a non-activist's house raided, that were just for him. If, as appears plausible, his current academic career is a continuation of spying begun in the Muslim Contact Unit then he too has continued his infiltration after leaving the police, making him the worst of the worst. No wonder he wants to pretend none of it is true.

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