[Diggers350] McLibel leaflet co-written by undercover police officer Bob Lambert
alisonbanville at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Jun 23 12:17:00 BST 2013
Remember talking to Dave and Helen after the first screening of the McLibel doc at Pogo Cafe in Hackney in 2005 and feeling a bit strange as Dave probed who I was. He was suspicious of me never having met me before and it dawned on me he was wary of undercover police given the infiltration of London Greenpeace. I have a much greater understanding of his wariness now of course. Related to this, from the London Feminist Network list regarding the court action being brought by women activists who were tricked into relationships with undercover police plus the link to the website 'police spies out of lives':
Subject: [londonfeministnetwork] solidarity with brave sisters
Some of you may have read the big story in this weeken'ds Guardian magazine about police spies' relationships with women protestors.
Here is a link to the website of the women taking the Met Police to court. Two of them have agreed to drop their anonymity as part of their campaign to make sure this institutional sexism and abuse is uncovered, faced down, and can never be repeated.
Please pass it on to anyone you may think would be interested.
From: Tony Gosling <tony at cultureshop.org.uk>
To: diggers350 at yahoogroups.com
Sent: Saturday, 22 June 2013, 20:39
Subject: [Diggers350] McLibel leaflet co-written by undercover police officer Bob Lambert
Many of us knew Dave and Helen well
- makes me wonder if TLIO was ever targeted by the same Stasi
McLibel leaflet was co-written by undercover police officer Bob
Exclusive: McDonald's sued green activists in long-running David v
Goliath legal battle, but police role only now exposed
Paul Lewis and Rob Evans - The Guardian, Friday 21 June 2013 14.54
Jump to comments (862)
Bob Lambert posed as a radical activist named Bob Robinson.
An undercover police officer posing for years as an environmental
activist co-wrote a libellous leaflet that was highly critical of
McDonald's, and which led to the longest civil trial in English history,
costing the fast-food chain millions of pounds in fees.
The true identity of one of the authors of the "McLibel
leaflet" is Bob Lambert, a police officer who used the alias Bob
Robinson in his five years infiltrating the London Greenpeace group, is
revealed in a new book about undercover policing of protest, published
McDonald's famously sued green campaigners over the roughly typed
leaflet, in a landmark three-year high court case, that was widely
believed to have been a public relations disaster for the corporation.
Ultimately the company won a libel battle in which it spent millions on
Lambert was deployed by the special demonstration squad (SDS) – a
top-secret Metropolitan police unit that targeted political activists
between 1968 until 2008, when it was disbanded. He co-wrote the
defamatory six-page leaflet in 1986 – and his role in its production has
been the subject of an internal Scotland Yard investigation for several
At no stage during the civil legal proceedings brought by McDonald's in
the 1990s was it disclosed that a police infiltrator helped author the
The McLibel two: Helen Steel and David Morris, outside a branch of
McDonald's in London in 2005 after winning their case in the European
court of human rights. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian
A spokesman for the Met said the force "recognises the seriousness
of the allegations of inappropriate behaviour and practices involving
past undercover deployments". He added that a number of allegations
surrounding the undercover officers were currently being investigated by
a team overseen by the chief constable of Derbyshire police, Mick
And in remarks that come closest to acknowledging the scale of the
scandal surrounding police spies, the spokesman said: "At some point
it will fall upon this generation of police leaders to account for the
activities of our predecessors, but for the moment we must focus on
getting to the truth."
Lambert declined to comment about his role in the production of the
McLibel leaflet. However, he previously offered a general apology for
deceiving "law abiding members of London Greenpeace", which he
said was a peaceful campaign group.
Lambert, who rose through the ranks to become a spymaster in the SDS, is
also under investigation for sexual relationships he had with four women
while undercover, one of whom he fathered a child with before vanishing
from their lives. The woman and her son only discovered that Lambert was
a police spy last year.
The internal police inquiry is also investigating claims raised in
parliament that Lambert ignited an incendiary device at a branch of
Debenhams when infiltrating animal rights campaigners. The incident
occurred in 1987 and the explosion inflicted £300,000 worth of damage to
the branch in Harrow, north London. Lambert has previously strongly
denied he planted the incendiary device in the Debenhams store.
While McDonald's won the initial legal battle, at great expense, it
was seen as a PR disaster. Photograph: Image Broker/Rex Features
Lambert's role in helping compose the McLibel leaflet is revealed in
'Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police', which is
published next week. An extract from the book will be published in the
Guardian Weekend magazine. A joint Guardian/Channel 4 investigation into
undercover policing will be broadcast on Dispatches on Monday
Lambert was one of two SDS officers who infiltrated London Greenpeace;
the second, John Dines, had a two-year relationship with Helen Steel, who
later became the co-defendant in the McLibel case. The book reveals how
Steel became the focus of police surveillance operations. She had a
sexual relationship with Dines, before he also disappeared without a
Dines gained access to the confidential legal advice given to Steel and
her co-defendant that was written by Keir Starmer, then a barrister known
for championing radical causes. The lawyer was advising the activists on
how to defend themselves against McDonald's. He is now the director of
public prosecutions in England and Wales.
Lambert was lauded by colleagues in the covert unit for his skilful
infiltration of animal rights campaigners and environmentalists in the
1980s. He succeeded in transforming himself from a special branch
detective into a long-haired radical activist who worked as a
cash-in-hand gardener. He became a prominent member of London Greenpeace,
around the time it began campaigning against McDonald's in 1985. The
leaflet he helped write made wide-ranging criticisms of the company,
accusing it of destroying the environment, exploiting workers and selling
Four sources who were either close to Lambert at the time, or involved in
the production of the leaflet, have confirmed his role in composing the
libellous text. Lambert confided in one of his girlfriends from the era,
although he appeared keen to keep his participation hidden. "He did
not want people to know he had co-written it," Belinda Harvey
Paul Gravett, a London Greenpeace campaigner, said the spy was one of a
small group of around five activists who drew up the leaflet over several
months. Another close friend from the time recalls Lambert was really
proud of the leaflet. "It was like his baby, he carried it around
with him," the friend said.
When Lambert's undercover deployment ended in 1989, he vanished, claiming
that he had to flee abroad because he was being pursued by special
branch. None of his friends or girlfriends suspected that special branch
was his employer.
It was only later that the leaflet Lambert helped to produce became the
centre of the huge trial. Even though the activists could only afford to
distribute a few hundred copies of the leaflet, McDonald's decided to
throw all of its legal might at the case, suing two London Greenpeace
activists for libel.
Two campaigners – Steel, who was then a part-time bartender, and an
unemployed postal worker, Dave Morris – unexpectedly stood their ground
and refused to apologise.
Steel and Morris outside the high court at the start of the first
proceedings in the McLibel trial in 1990. Photograph: Photofusion/UIG/
Over 313 days in the high court, the pair defended themselves, with pro
bono assistance from Starmer, as they could not afford to hire any
solicitors or barristers. In contrast, McDonald's hired some of the best
legal minds at an estimated cost of £10m. During the trial, legal
argument largely ignored the question of who wrote the McLibel leaflet,
focusing instead on its distribution to members of the public.
In 1997, a high court judge ruled that much of the leaflet was libellous
and ordered the two activists to pay McDonald's £60,000 in damages. This
sum was reduced on appeal to £40,000 – but McDonald's never enforced
It was a hollow victory for the company; the long-running trial had
exposed damaging stories about its business and the quality of the food
it was selling to millions of customers around the world. The legal
action, taking advantage of Britain's much-criticised libel laws, was
seen as a heavy handed and intimidating way of crushing criticism.
However, the role of undercover police in the story remained, until now,
On Friday, Morris said the campaign against the burger chain was
successful "despite the odds overwhelmingly stacked against us in
the legal system and up against McDonald's massive and relentless
advertising and propaganda machine.
"We now know that other shadowy forces were also trying to undermine
our efforts in the most disgusting, but ultimately futile ways. All over
the world police and secret agents infiltrate opposition movements in
order to protect the rich and powerful but as we have seen in so many
countries recently people power and the pursuit of truth and justice is
unstoppable, even faced with the most repressive and unacceptable
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