In-depth research to support campaining for justice – review of Blacklisted

19 Mar
  • Jack Winder - Ecomonic League, recruted Kerr, moved on 
    to found Caprim Ltd, testified @ Scottish Committee
  • Micheal Noar former EL boss: 'of course we helped 
    Special Branch' (source Hollingsworth)
  • Ken Day (p.247) 1969 – 1998 Met Special Branch spent time 
    cultivating top union sources source (True Spies)

Instead of writing a review, I find myself jotting down notes, names of Special Branch officers that the authors of the Blacklisted have quoted, sources that I have yet to scrutinise in much more detail myself. The reports of the Blacklisting in Employment Inquiry by the Scottish Affairs Committee, for instance, have been sitting on my desk for almost two years, and I now regret not have made time for it before. Although it is good to have some kind of division of labour and I gladly leave the topic of blacklisting in the hands of these two, the rigorous job they did brought up quite a few precious nuggets that just beg for further research.

Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain have done an incredible job, their combined expertise leading to an excellent book. Continue reading

Blacklisted the book is out.

11 Mar

Repost from the new project I’m involved in:
blacklisted cover

The book Blacklisted, the secret war between big business and union activists finally hit the shelves this week. Authored by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain, Blacklisted tells the controversial story of the illegal strategies that transnational construction companies used to keep union activists away from work. We have the honour to publish an extract, and we selected something from chapter 9, Under constant watch. Dealing with spying on activists it ties in with the work of the Undercover Research Group.

This particular piece shows how the authors found out that information gathered by undercover officers ended up in the files of the Consultancy Association, the secret blacklisting service set up by the large building companies. It was a matter of meticulously going through files, after campaigning to get access to the material seized by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), who in turn had acted upon an article in the Guardian written by Phil Chamberlain. Interviews with those blacklisted, with whistle blowers and people professionally involved in blacklisting added a further layer of understanding.

The story published here adds some interesting detail to our profile of Mark Jenner spying on the Colin Roach Centre in Stoke Newington, London, in the mid 1990s, the same time as his former colleague and now whistleblower Peter Francis was also infiltrating left wing and anti-racism groups in London.

Continue reading

Betrayal of Spycops Involves More Than Sex

16 Oct

Some thoughts I wrote last year, after the hearing in Parliament on the undercover officers who had longterm relationships with women as part of operations to undermine activist groups.

Does it make things worse, a weird question that comes to mind, that sex was involved? The only sensible thing to say about this, is that the aspect of intimate involvement provides an opportunity – or at least makes it less difficult – to take legal steps at all. It remains next to impossible to estimate the damage, should it become clear which rules have been violated.

The betrayal is not just on the personal level, although it is the intimate and sexual part that seems to be the most shocking to satisfy the sensation-sensitive parts of the public. The double-life let by some of the police men involved, married with children while having moved in with their activist partners as well.

For the women here, or for most of them, I would think from my own experience, it’s not just about the sexual involvement. Devoting your life to protest, the relationship with a fellow activist fits the larger context of being part of a movement, wherein overall, there is less of a boundary between the working and the private life. Being part of a movement means the sharing of ideas, ideals, the risks of activism, the scary things at night, the confrontations with the authorities, the arrests maybe, the interrogations, prison for some, the pub afterwards, the long nights. Emily Apple wrote about this impressively beautiful.

The sharing of all this, means people are sharing their entire life, working hard to make this world a better place – to use a common phrase. Hence, the betrayal is not just in the relationship, not just in the private – as if that would not be enough – it’s also in the political, in the beliefs, and the practical every-day life.

With the betrayal on so many levels, one can only begin to understand the trauma caused. Trauma not restricted to those who have had the intimate relationships. Their cases, in a way, represent the damage done to a larger part of the movements involved, all those people who thought they had friends and mates – only to find out they were betrayed by the state.

Still that’s not all, though this is where it links to the need for further research.

From the chronology of the stories that have come out to date and the police men involved, we know that it continued for years – several decades in fact. We know of undercover officers that moved on to become supervisors of a next generation that did exactly the same. It makes you wonder whether the intimate relationships and sexual involvement was not just accepted practice, but in fact part of the strategy to get ‘deeply penetrated’ (No pun intended, Gary T. Marx pointed at the loaded language surrounding infiltration, as I discussed here).

The research needs to get beyond the rules or the lack thereof. We are only beginning to understand how big this is, and what was behind it. Continue reading

McSpy – Bob Lambert

23 Jun

The spying on London Greenpeace is one of the case studies in my book Secret Manoeuvres. The chapter is called McSpy – just as the trial was called McLibel as a playful reference to the hamburger giant that brought this upon us. I brought up possible further cooperation, with Special Branch using the corporate infiltration as a stepping-stone to target animal rights activists.

Little did I know then about the role of Bob Lambert and his blueprint for future spies – identical concepts anywhere you go.

Continue reading

What Others Say….

5 Mar

Update: Interviews
Dragging secrets into daylight: An interview with Eveline Lubbers
Aaron Leonard
11 April 2013

I see my role as an active one, chasing evidence where most of it is secret, bringing together the work of investigative reporters, whistle blowers, and people spied upon. Why? To empower activists, to engage in the debate, to help prepare the right questions in official investigations — to stand up for a vibrant democracy, or what’s left of it, that’s what scholars should do.

5 Questions for Eveline Lubbers – the Business of Intelligence
10 April 2013

The exposure, in 2010, of British NPIOU officer Mark Kennedy as an undercover agent in the environmental activist movement offered insight into how governments monitor political activism. But is intelligence gathering targeting activist groups limited to the state?


London Review of Books
I want you to know I know who you are
Katrina Forrester
3 January 2013

In Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark: Corporate and Police Spying on Activists, Eveline Lubbers, an academic, activist journalist and researcher with the organisations SpinWatch and Buro Jansen & Janssen, focuses on what she calls ‘grey intelligence’, the informal networks of co-operation between corporate interests and state agencies that are now central to the surveillance of dissent in Western European democracies.

A World to Win

Corporate spooks and their dirty tricks
by Peter Arkell
16 January 2013

Spying on activists and disrupting their campaigns against the corporations has become a sinister growth industry. What they get up to is brilliantly exposed in a new book by Eveline Lubbers.

Everything They Don’t Want You to Know
by Adam Federman
February 2013

McDonald’s and Shell are two of the mega corporations featured in Eveline Lubbers’s book, Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark: Corporate and Police Spying on Activists. Their efforts to undermine activist campaigns, from anti-apartheid groups to animal right’s advocates, reveal just how seriously these corporations take the threat of any opposition no matter how weak or loosely organized it may be.

Marxist Review

The State, Espionage and Counter-revolution
by Chris Anglin
Jan/Feb 2013 issue

Conclusion of the Marxist Review

Conclusion of the Marxist Review: not revolutionairy enough…

Lobbying, Spying & Legal Threats. Energy Giants & Gov’t Joint Efforts to Undermine Protest.

20 Feb

Update 21 February. Not just lobbying, also spying! That’s what I wrote yesterday – E.ON did not only lobby the government for harsh sentences, they both spied on the climate activists as well and exchanged intelligence between them. Mark Kennedy was just one of many players in this game. Within a few hours of publishing my blog, EDF sued @NoDashForCash £5m in damage claims for the cost of occupying a West Burton chimney. Again, there is evidence of spying, even more so, EDF France was effectively convicted for hacking  the computer network of Greenpeace UK.

The connection between the gathering of intelligence and corporate counter-strategy is at the heart of my book Secret Manoeuvres. A corporation does not spy on its critics just to know what is going on: it does so to be prepared and to defend itself!
The joint efforts to undermine protest are worrying. Adam Ramsay came to the same conclusion in his Bright Green blog today, I could not have put it better:

What we are up against is not one company. The line between corporation and state is greyer and greyer as previously public companies turn round and eat their former owners. We are up against the entwined power of a growing energy/state complex: an ever stronger network which is squeezing the democracy out of our country and the life out of our planet – or, at least, which will if we let them.

Not just lobbying, also spying!

Energy giant E.ON repeatedly lobbied the government over the sentencing of activists disrupting the company’s power plants, pressing for ‘dissuasive sentencing to discourage similar such incidents in the future’, the Guardian revealed this week .

The lobbying involved the highest echolons: the chairman and CEO of E.ON UK at the time and the then-energy secretary Ed Miliband and his staff, details released to Greenpeace under the Freedom of Information act show. The two met after the lax sentencing of eco-activists engaged in direct action at Kingsnorth,  on the day a group of environmentalists would be sentences for aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe-on Sour – yet another coal-powered station owned by E.ON.

However, this high level meeting was just the final stage of close cooperation between the energy company and the government. The signs of joint efforts to undermine environmental protest began to emerge a few years earlier. Continue reading

“absolutely unacceptable” – German MP writes letter to Theresa May

6 Feb

In Germany sexual relationships in police investigations are not permitted and that includes foreign undercover officers operating in the country. Two years after Mark Kennedy was exposed, the Federal Ministry of Interior has now confirmed that such is not allowed.

Getting this far was not easy, and it is thanks to never-ending efforts of activists involved and Member of the German Parliament for Die Linke Andrej Hunko, that the issue kept coming up. It was through their questions, for instance, that we know about the contracts fixed between the German authorities and the British for Kennedy to spy on summit gatherings. Both Mark Kennedy and “Mark Jacobs” went to Germany on several occasions, they were deployed to collect information about preparations of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 and the 2009 NATO summit in Strasbourg, for instance.

Earlier this week, the MP wrote a letter to the UK Home Secretary Theresa May to raise some legal issues, to hold her to account and to urge her to provide the necessary information. His letter focuses on the issue of the possible sexual relations abroad, but it touches upon European police cooperation, the lack of regulation and accountability too.

Right from the start, the Germans were more clear about police officers having intimate relationships on the job. Asked if undercover investigators in Germany had sexual relationships with persons they were investigating or with their contacts, the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt), Jörg Ziercke, told the Bundestag Committee on Internal Affairs in January 2011, that that would be “absolutely unacceptable”. Continue reading


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