Andy Coles infiltrated the peace movement before moving on to animal rights

Whilst working undercover in the nineties as Andy "Van" Davey, Andy Coles repeatedly behaved inappropriately towards female activists he spied on.

Proof has emerged that Andy Coles, the SDS spycop known as Andy Davey, did not spend his entire career undercover in the animal rights movement as previously thought. Photos on the Peace News blog show him on an anti-war protest on 16 March 1991 at the US airforce base in Fairford, Gloucestershire.  This occurred shortly after the start of first Gulf War and was was organised by a nonviolent direct action group called Gulf War Resisters. The following week the group changed its name to ARROW (‘Active Resistance to the Roots Of War’).

In the photos Coles can be seen placing peace symbols on the fence at the base at Fairford and marching back into Fairford afterwards. There is also one of him in a pub, hand raised almost as if he wants to hide his face but can’t. This is the first photo in which the front of his face is visible.

The article says: “Coles attended a number of ARROW meetings during 1991, including one in May 1991 when two ARROW members, Chris Cole and Milan Rai, had a book launch for the transcripts of their recent police interviews, after being arrested inside USAF Fairford.”

It also says a list of ARROW supporters, dated November 1991, gives Davey’s address as 70 Montpelier Road, London SE15. That  month he joined London Boots Action Group, attending its inaugural meeting on the 19th. I and no-one else I’ve spoken to have any recollection of Coles’ involvement in the peace movement. It appears he did not tell anyone about it. It is not uncommon for spycops to move between different movements and campaigns – it enables them to bring a cache of credibility to the groups they’re infiltrating – but in this case that doesn’t seem to have happened

It will be interesting if more is revealed about Coles’ involvement in ARROW. It appears he might’ve left in a hurry as LBAG came into being during the autumn of 1991. The latter was set up very fast  – only a few weeks between its announcement and the first meeting – so perhaps Coles was rushed into the group.

Coles wasn’t the only SDS agent to join LBAG, however. Matt Rayner was placed there at the same time. He was based in north London, while Coles lived in Streatham. Two spies introduced at the same time into the same group was very uncommon. There may be other cases but I can’t think of one.  It should also be remembered that John Dines, who had been spying on London Greenpeace and other groups, was on the verge of ending his deployment – he left in December 1991.

LBAG was a London-wide group, so Special Branch must have figured two agents would be necessary to cover the capital. In fact they’d had two spycops in animal rights in the eighties – Bob Lambert in London Greenpeace, Islington Animal Rights and the ALF was north of the river and Mike Chitty in SLAM was south. So they were replicating an existing model.

Coles’ Resignation as DPCC

It remains to be seen what impact these latest revelations have but Coles’ position as a public servant looks increasingly untenable. At first refused to comment on the accusations that he was a spy and had deceived a 19 year old activists into having a relationship with him, effectively grooming her by lying about his age (he was 32 but told “Jessica” he was only 24).

Then on 15 May, just three days after the news of Coles’ past was made public, he announced his resignation as Deputy Police Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. In a statement he said:

There have been news reports over the weekend about which I am unable to comment. This coverage is significantly impacting on my ability to carry out my duties as deputy police and crime commissioner.

I have therefore today tendered my resignation with immediate effect, which [the] police and crime commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, has accepted.”

Ablewhite, who appointed Coles as his deputy, declined to comment as well, citing an an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as the reason

Coles is also a Conservative councillor for that Peterborough and has not resigned from that post. He was also a governor of two schools, the West Town Academy and the Voyager Academy. The latter issued a statement shortly after he resigned saying he had stepped down from the board of governors due to the IPCC investigation. A spokesperson for West Town Academy said “As these allegations relate to historic police matters we are not in a position to provide further comment at this stage. Governance of the academy will be discussed at a Trust meeting early this week.”

Coles is still a Conservative councillor in Peterborough. The leader of the council, John Holdich, said in an article in the Peterborough Telegraph that: “I am unable to comment whilst the allegation is under investigation by the Met on something which happened a long time ago…Cllr Coles I have found is a man of great integrity and maintains my full confidence. We owe a lot to men and women who work undercover to keep us safe.”

It has been pointed out that the Tories have a majority of just one on the council. Were Coles to resign it would mean a by-election and if the Tories lost they would lose control of the council.

Update 6 June 2017

Two more blog posts have appeared on Peace News.  Late at night with an undercover by Emily Johns tell the story of how Coles drove her home from an event and tried to impress her by claiming he was the ALF press officer. They stayed up very late talking and he expected they would cop off. When offered a mattress to sleep on, he went off in a huff.

She says she used to “tell this anecdote as my funny ‘I-bet-he-was-an-infiltrator’ story”, but now realises he attempted to groom her “an operating base in the peace movement.”

In An evangelical anarchist cop, Milan Rai recounts how Coles went up to an off-duty black lesbian police officer at a meeting and started “a very high-pressure one-on-one conversation” using anarchist arguments. This is totally unlike the Coles of animal rights, who rarely ventured opinions on anything and just lurked around in the background.

There is also a post on the Undercover Research Group website which covers recent developments and the Powerbase profile of Davey has been updated as well.


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