Mitting to reveal cover names of one or possibly two animal rights spycops

Matt Rayner visiting activists in Manchester whilst undercover in the animal rights movement from 1991-97.

Last month Sir John Mitting, chair of the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry,  issued a “minded to” note in which he gave his thoughts on the latest tranche of anonymity applications by the Met. There are a total of 24 former spies, each of whom is designated by the prefix HN, then a number.  The first of them is HN1 and this is almost certainly Matt Rayner:

HN 1 was deployed against animal rights groups between 1992 and 1997. His cover name is already in the public domain. There are allegations about his conduct which require to be publicly ventilated to permit the Inquiry to fulfil its terms of reference. Publication of his real name is not necessary to permit this to be achieved. It would carry significant risks to his physical safety and well-being and the well-being of his family. If these were to mature, the interference in his and their right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘the European Convention’) which would inevitably result would be substantial. Even if they did not, the interference would still be significant. In neither case would it be justified under Article 8 (2).

There are just two animal rights infiltrators from this period whose cover names have been revealed: Andy Davey and Matt Rayner. The real identity of the former is already well known, however – Andy Coles Tory councillor in Peterborough – after he was exposed this year. Therefore a restriction order on his real name makes no sense. In addition his deployment ended in February 1995, not 1997.

HN1 must be Matt Rayner although Mitting’s dates are slightly out – Rayner entered animal rights in November 1991 when he turned up at the inaugural meeting of London Boots Action Group. Although he left exactly five years later after claiming to be moving to a job in France, he continued sending letters and even had visitors there until mid-1997 when he supposedly relocated to Argentina. The last letter I received from him is not dated but in it he says it has been “more or less one year” since he left London.

Rayner was first outed as a spycop four years ago in How Special Branch Spied On the Animal Rights Movement. In 2014 it was confirmed he stole the identity of a dead child, standard SDS practice at the time. Geoff Sheppard then began an appeal against two convictions from 1995, citing Rayner’s involvement, which led to him receiving a seven year sentence. This is surely one of the “allegations about his conduct ” that Mitting says the inquiry must address. The other would be Rayner’s relationship with a female activist while undercover, though the woman herself is not a core participant in the inquiry. Interestingly, HN1/Rayner is not a core participant either.

Christine Green


Another animal rights infiltrator could be HN26. Operation Herne, the Met’s internal inquiry into spycops, published a report into the theft of dead children’s identities which stated:

According to comments within the SDS annual review of 1994 to 1995 and internal memorandum written by N53 in 2002, the SDS practice of using deceased children’s records to construct their covert identities was phased out starting in November 1994. The SDS annual review states that N26 was the first officer to have obtained a completely fictitious identity. This was not only good for ethical reasons, but it also reduced the risk of compromise, particularly where an of officer might be confronted by ‘their’ own death certificate.

Christine Green (pictured above) was the cover name adopted by an undercover officer who joined London Animal Action in early 1995. SDS agents typically spent time meticulously preparing their legend before entering the field and this tallies with her being N26 (HN26 to the inquiry) whose cover identity was adopted in November 1994.  Activists were unable to discover whether her cover name belonged to a dead child due to not having her date of birth.

One factor that points to HN26 being Green is lack of gender reference. Of the other 10 restriction orders in Mitting’s ruling, nine are directly or indirectly designated male. The one exception is HN81, the officer who spied on the Stephen Lawrence campaign. But HN81 has been referred to as male elsewhere on numerous occasions such as in the Undercover Research Group’s profile and even in the statement given by Theresa May to Parliament in March 2014 which led to the setting up of the public inquiry.

Another clue comes from HN26’s risk assessment which states: “N26 does not want to be involved in the inquiry…is but does not wish to be a core participant…has not cooperated fully with this risk assessment process.” It is known that Green had a relationship with a prominent hunt saboteur before her “tour of duty” ended in 2000. This then either continued or was rekindled and they were seen together a number times over a period of several years.

One can imagine how aghast her senior colleagues would have been when they discovered she was still seeing someone she had spied on. It would have been viewed as a serious threat to the security of undercover policing and they might even have tried to persuade her to sever the relationship. This could have caused a deep rift between them and Green and if she is N26 it may account for her not wishing to be part of the inquiry.

This is supposition, however, since there is no proof who N26 was yet. Green’s deployment may not even have begun in early 1995. She might have spied on other groups beforehand, the way Andy Coles was assigned to the peace movement before moving to animal rights. We won’t know one way or another until N26’s cover name is revealed and no date has been set for that as yet.

The two day hearing which led to Mitting’s ruling on HN26 and others took place a the High Court in November. It began with his statement on the future direction of the inquiry. While emphasising his commitment to his predecessor Pitchford’s determination “to discover the truth”, he then caused consternation amongst the non-state core participants in the public gallery by referring to the human rights of the spycops.

This was too much to take and several people stood up to voice their anger and resentment towards the injustice and unfairness of the forces of the state on the one hand and the victims of undercover policing on the other. Mitting let people speak and even held his hand up to restrain security when they entered the courtroom. But it is clear from what he said in his statement and during the rest of the hearing, as well as his rulings, that there is a massive gap between what we – those whose lives are affected by police spies – want and demand and what the state is prepared to concede.

For a detailed analysis of November’s hearing see:

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  1. Christine Green: yet another #spycop in animal rights ~ Undercover Research GroupUndercover Research Group

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