DEMAND FOR PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO ‘IMMORAL
AND UNACCOUNTABLE’ UNDERCOVER POLICING IN LIGHT OF NEW CASE
Green MP slams
Government complacency over rules governing ‘murky underworld’ of undercover
policing as new allegations emerge
The rules governing undercover police
infiltrators and informers came under intense scrutiny today after a
Parliamentary debate highlighted allegations that an undercover policeman
infiltrating the animal rights movement planted and detonated an incendiary
device in a department store.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate,
Green MP Caroline Lucas challenged the ‘shocking absence of transparency and
accountability’ around undercover policing and demanded an independent public
inquiry into the practice.
As well as highlighting
the well-publicised unmasking of former policeman Mark Kennedy in 2010 and the legal case being brought by eight women
who claim they were duped into relationships with undercover officers, the MP
also referred to new allegations of criminal activity involving an officer
named Bob Lambert, aka Bob Robinson (1).
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion,
"From the unmasking of Mark Kennedy and
revelations about undercover officers’ affairs with unsuspecting women, to the
shocking new allegations involving Bob Lambert, it’s now overwhelmingly clear
that there is a scandalous absence of transparency and accountability in the
murky underworld of undercover policing.
"In particular, the case of undercover police officer Bob Lambert and the
alleged planting of an incendiary device raises deeply serious questions about
the nature of undercover activity and the degree to which police officers act
as agent provocateurs.
"Both Bob Lambert and Mark Kennedy are amongst those
named in the legal action now being brought by eight women who say they were
duped into forming long-term loving relationships with undercover policemen.
"If the forming of personal relationships in order to obtain information is indeed
permitted and lawful under RIPA (the Regulation
of Investigatory Powers Act 2000), then we need to ask ourselves if ruining the
lives of women in this way – potentially breaching their human rights – is an
acceptable method of gathering information.
"The rules governing undercover police
infiltrator and informers are also remarkably deficient when it comes to giving
false evidence in court to protect a secret identity
"I am not reassured by policing minister
Nick Herbert’s shocking complacency in the debate today in asserting the HMIC
inquiry into RIPA deals with many of the issues I raise.
"The Government must therefore now agree
to an immediate, independent inquiry into undercover policing and prove that it
is committed to holding the police to account for their actions – in the past,
present and future."
1) In the 1908s, Lambert posed as a committed animal
rights activist and successfully infiltrated the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)
– playing a lead role in the arrest and imprisonment of two men, Geoff Sheppard
and Andrew Clarke.
The men were found guilty of
planting incendiary devices in two Debenhams stores selling fur products in
Luton and Romford in July 1987, but the culprit who planted a further
incendiary device in Debenhams in Harrow was never caught.
Lambert was exposed as an
undercover officer October 2011, and now allegations about the precise nature
of his role in the incident have come to light.
2) Jim Boyling, for
example, was exposed last year for infiltrating groups such as Reclaim the
Streets using the pseudonym Jim Sutton. He concealed his true identity from a
court when he was prosecuted alongside a group of protesters for occupying a
government building during a demonstration. From the moment he was arrested, it
is alleged that Boyling gave a false name and occupation, maintaining this
fiction throughout the entire prosecution, even when he gave evidence under
oath to barristers.