Sunday, June 23, 2013

protectors of racist murderers

A year and a half ago, when two of Stephen Lawrence's five racist killers were finally convicted after 18 years, I wondered how much quicker and more complete justice might have been had the police not actively undermined it. I said then it seemed likely to have been one of the justice campaigns that was infiltrated by an officer known as Pete Black.

Today Peter Francis - Black's real name - has confirmed that he was indeed sent into the Lawrence family and their campaign soon after the teenager's murder in 1993. He was ordered to find 'dirt' to discredit the family. He managed to get Lawrence's friend Duwayne Brooks - who was the main witness in the case - spuriously arrested and charged. Francis says he was one of four officers spying on the campaign.

Stephen's mother Doreen Lawrence remembers that the family liaison officer would note the names of everybody who came and went from the house.

The people in our house were all black. The people who killed my son were white. Why should the police be so interested in who was in the house?

None of this work was made known to the MacPherson Inquiry in 1998 that examined the police's investigation and gave the famously damning verdict of 'institutional racism'. Francis says he argued for it to be but superior officers overruled him.

From earlier reports, we know Francis worked with Bob Lambert, who'd left activism in 1989 and was moving to take charge of running operations. He is the one who had previously infiltrated London Greenpeace, co-written the McLibel leaflet and fathered a child with an activist. In both my posts this week I've said that Lambert's claim that infiltration of non-terrorists was merely a stepping stone to proper terrorists was bollocks. Today's revelations galvanise that point


Lambert also deployed Mark Cassidy - aka undercover officer Mark Jenner - to live with an activist girlfriend for four years and infiltrate black justice campaigns. Jenner was deeply invovled in several groups at the Colin Roach Centre (named after a man who was shot dead inside Stoke Newington police station). They got many wrongful convictions overturned, though on a day when they held a picket of Stoke Newington police station the Centre was burgled, with equipment vandalised and a computer stolen. Cash was left undisturbed.

Where is the threat to life and limb from these campaigns? What terrorists might there be hanging round the Lawrence family and others like them? The only threat they posed was one of embarrassment. They would discredit the police, not by any libellous means but simply by showing them up for what they had actually done.

It is clear that this is political policing. They make no distinction between threat to life and limb, threat to corporate profits, threat to police credibility or threat to the dominance of capitalist ideology.

By undermining anti-racist activists they act as pro-racist activists. The police have done more than anyone to scupper anti-racist campaigns in the last 20 years as the BNP and EDL have risen.

The long-promised tightening up of rules for undercover work was announced last week and it leaves all these methods and activities, including the long-term relationships, unaffected. It is still going on today and they intend to carry on with it indefinitely.


And so tonight there is a confirmed addition to the already long list of Bob Lambert's crimes. Being prosecuted under his false identity for a political arrest while undercover was likely to have been illegal and so is the most actionable, even though morally it's the least of it. This serial sexual and psychological abuser of women and firebomber is also the protector of racist murderers.

Since leaving the police five years ago he's forged - and I do mean forged - a career as a progressive academic. Here he is speaking at a Unite Against Fascism conference, here's hard left Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn hosting a parliamentary booklaunch for him, here he is writing for Al-Jazeera, then for lefty journal New Statesman, blogging at the Huffington Post and being praised in the Guardian.

"The Islamic Human Rights Commission is proud to present this award to Inspector Robert Lambert (Head of Muslim Contact Unit), upon his retirement from the Metropolitan Police Service. In appreciation for his integrity and commitment to promoting a fair, just and secure society for all, which is a rarity and will be greatly missed".

These days Lambert holds a post at the University of St Andrews trading on his career of repressive political policing which he has the gall to call counter terrorism. How much can the truth of his career shred his credibility before the university decides he's unfit to teach there?

Just how much damage of many kinds need he be known to have done - including damage to the reputation of the police, of course - before he is stripped of the MBE he got for services to policing?

When will he be put before a real inquiry and compelled to tell the whole truth about what he did so that justice may begin to be done?

If phone hacking warrants a proper inquiry, this far greater invasion of lives - in the case of the women who had long-term relationships, the greatest possible invasion of lives - deserves at least as much. It cannot be a judge-led inquiry. Hillsborough had two of those that came to nothing. The state cannot investigate itself fairly.

Hillsborough's Independent Panel model showed how it can be done. However, as the infiltration of bereaved families shows, when they are in the wrong the police will go to extraordinary lengths to obstruct justice.

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