March 21, 2010
Political activists have reacted with anger to revelations in last week’s Observer that their organisations were infiltrated by an elite undercover unit of the Metropolitan police.
Members of one of the groups demanded a public inquiry after the Observer disclosed that a former member of Special Branch, known as Officer A, had infiltrated far-left organisations in the mid-1990s to gather intelligence about potentially violent demonstrators. He was regularly involved in brutal confrontations with uniformed police officers and activists from the extreme right. On numerous occasions he engaged in violent acts to maintain his cover.
Many activists suspected they were being infiltrated by the state at the time, but it is only now that their suspicions have been confirmed. One target of Officer A, a former student union leader who has asked not to be identified, told the Observer: “I suspected that my phone might have been tapped. I believed that there might have been some police spies at the demonstrations that I attended. But however paranoid I was, I never imagined they would go so far as to invest the level of resources needed to give someone a completely new identity for five years and have them spy on someone like me. It really is astonishing.”
Officer A was part of a secret unit of the Met known as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), which since 1968 had 10 full-time undercover operatives inside so-called “subversive” organisations to disrupt their ability to create disorder on the streets of London.
This article was posted: Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 3:32 am