National police unit monitors 9,000 'domestic extremists'
mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Wed Jun 26 12:34:52 BST 2013
Wouldn't you like to know if you're on it?
9,000! Wow... must be most of my friend too then!
National police unit monitors 9,000 'domestic extremists'
Officers familiar with workings of unit indicate that many of
campaigners listed on database have no criminal record
Guardian On-line, 26th June 2013
A national police unit that uses undercover officers to spy on political
groups is currently monitoring almost 9,000 people it has deemed
The National Domestic Extremism Unit is using surveillance techniques to
monitor campaigners who are listed on the secret database, details of
which have been disclosed to the Guardian after a freedom of information
A total of 8,931 individuals "have their own record" on a database kept
by the unit, for which the Metropolitan police is the lead force. It
currently uses surveillance techniques, including undercover police,
paid informants and intercepts, against political campaigners from
across the spectrum.
Senior officers familiar with the workings of the unit have indicated to
the Guardian that many of the campaigners listed on the database have no
As as Scotland Yard was battling to contain the fallout over the
activities of a former undercover police officer who was asked to dig
for "dirt" that would undermine the Stephen Lawrence campaign, evidence
emerged that the main witness to his murder was also targeted.
Sources indicated that the Met secretly bugged meetings with Duwayne
Brooks and his solicitor. The surveillance operation was understood to
have been authorised by a "senior officer" in around 1999 or 2000.
At least two meetings are believed to have been covertly recorded, one
of them at the offices of Brooks's solicitor, Jane Deighton. She told
the BBC, which first reported the story, that if true the operation was
Last night it emerged that Stephen Lawrence's mother Doreen is to meet
with the home secretary on Thursday morning.
The Met commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, is resisting calls for an
independent inquiry into the latest revelations. His force said it
recognised the "huge seriousness" of the fresh claims about the
surveillance of Brooks, who is now a Lib Dem councillor in South London,
and would investigate them internally.
Former undercover officer Peter Francis had previously revealed he was
involved in an ultimately failed operation to discredit Brooks, seeking
information that was used to bring an unsuccessful prosecution for
criminal damage in 1993, a few months after Lawrence died. Francis's
full story is told in a book about several undercover operations,
published this week.
Francis's unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), was disbanded in
2008, but later replaced with the National Domestic Extremism Unit.
The extremism unit monitors the full range of activists: from far-right
activists in the English Defence League through to animal rights
protesters, anti-capitalists and anti-war demonstrators.
In recent years the unit is known to have focused its resources on
spying on environmental campaigners, particularly those engaged in
direct action and civil disobedience to protest against climate change.
A small number of activists have obtained excerpts from their file in
the extremism unit's database. They include an 88-year-old campaigner,
John Catt, who won a landmark lawsuit against the Met three months ago.
Three court-of-appeal judges ruled the Met had unlawfully retained
details of the pensioner's presence at more than 55 protests. Details
were logged about slogans on his banner and whether he was clean-shaven.
Another activist, Guy Taylor, 46, who campaigns against capitalism,
discovered that he was spied on while attending Glastonbury festival –
which is known to have been frequented by a number of police spies in
recent decades. Taylor has one conviction for spray-painting a slogan in
He and Catt are among the thousands of activists who have been
categorised as domestic extremists on the unit's files. The Met
previously used the term "subversives" to describe citizens with radical
political views whom it was spying on.
On Tuesday, Francis said in a Guardian webchat that those targeted by
Special Branch in the past included the former home secretary, Jack
Straw, once a student union activist.
"I read Mr Straw's rather large file," he said. "It will be a pink file
with his individual 'RF' (Registry File) number. The same for [MPs]
Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn – and Imran Khan, the lawyer for the
Stephen Lawrence family. The human rights solicitor firm Bindmans also
had its own dedicated file."
Francis also said a low point of his deployment as an anti-racist
campaigner in the 1990s came when he undermined the campaign of a family
who wanted justice over the death of a boxing instructor who was struck
on the head by a police baton.
He said he had infiltrated the family-led campaign for justice over the
death ofBrian Douglas, a 33-year-old who died after he was hit on the
head with a police baton in 1995 when he was stopped for driving
"The lowest point I reached morally was when I was standing outside
Kennington police station for the Brian Douglas justice campaign in May
1995. It was a candlelit vigil and his relatives were all there," he
"By me passing on all the campaign information – everything that the
family was planning and organising through Youth Against Racism in
Europe – I felt I was virtually reducing their chances of ever receiving
any form of justice to zero. To this day, I personally feel that family
has never had the justice they deserved."
Francis said he had "no faith" in the two existing inquires that the
home secretary, Theresa May, has said will look into his allegations.
One is an inquiry by a barrister into previously-known allegations of
corruption in the investigation in the Lawrence murder, while the
second, Operation Herne, is an internal Met police review being led by
the chief constable of Derbyshire police.
"Only a judicial-led or public inquiry – not just into the Stephen
Lawrence allegations, but into the wider controversy – has any chance of
ever establishing the truth," he said.
"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')
Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
email - mobbsey at gn.apc.org
website - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/index.shtml
public key - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/mobbsey_public_key-2013.asc
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