On Monday 19 March the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry finally confirmed that Andy Coles was a spycop. Without any fanfare the following tweet appeared: “Website table updated with HN2’s cover name, which was “Andy Davey”. Groups: Animal Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Front Support Group, London Boots Action Group/London Animal Action, London Animal Rights Coalition, Brixton Hunt Saboteurs. 1991-1995.”
Coles didn’t conceal his cover or real names for the purposes of the Inquiry and it would have been absurd for him to try. He had been exposed in May 2017 after his brother identified him three years earlier in his biography. Moreover he was a public figure, a Tory councillor for Peterborough and Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. This made him the first ex-spycop to occupy positions of public trust, although he resigned as DPCC three days after he was outed.
The same day that Coles’ shady past was revealed by the Inquiry, he gave an interview to the Peterborough Today website. You could be forgiven for thinking Coles would have admitted he was in the wrong, especially as he groomed a naive 19 year old activist named Jessica (not her real name) into having a sexual relationship with him. No. After falsely claiming for 10 months that he couldn’t say anything (other spycops had made statements or apologies), his utterances are now as offensive as they are deceitful.
He claims he “was deployed as an undercover police officer to infiltrate some of the most committed and violent animal liberation extremists operating in the UK in the early 1990s.” These people were committed to fighting animal cruelty and campaigning against companies like Boots the Chemist who then owned laboratories where animals were tortured and killed. They also sabotaged hunts to stop foxes being torn apart by hounds and picketed shops which sold fur coats. Some of his targets may have broken the law at times but only to rescue animals, daub graffiti on shops or damage windows, etc. Hardly “violent extremism”.
Coles then stated: “I am also pleased to confirm that both the IPCC and the Metropolitan Police have investigated the lurid claims made by a woman using the pseudonym “Jessica” and have told me I face no charges or any further investigation into her allegations, which I am now able to deny publicly.”
There has been no investigation by either body. Neither the Independent Police Complaints Commission or the Met have spoken to any of his accusers or victims.The IPCC looked at his role as DPCC shortly after he left the post and said they would not investigate him. They did not look into what he did while with the Met.
The Met’s Operation Herne was an investigation into the Special Demonstrations Squad, the secret special branch unit which employed Coles. It’s second report, by Chief Constable Mick Creedon, was scathing:
There are and never have been any circumstances where it would be appropriate for such covertly deployed officers to engage in intimate sexual relationships with those they are employed to infiltrate and target. Such an activity can only be seen as an abject failure of the deployment, a gross abuse of their role and their position as a police officer and an individual and organisational failing.’
Coles then accused his opponents of “intimidation and bullying” and said “I will continue to fulfil my duties as a councillor to the best of my ability and to act on their behalf to resolve problems despite ongoing protests by the extremists.” This refers to peaceful protests which have taken place at Peterborough Town Hall when Coles has turned up to council meetings there. The first of these was inside the council chamber last July, when campaigners refused to leave until the issue of Coles’ continued attendance was addressed. Since then the council has closed the public gallery so protests have taken place outside. Hardly “intimidation and bullying”.
The ex-spycops’s conduct reaches a new low when he accuses Jessica of lying. Even Bob Lambert did not descend to that level. It seems Coles has never heard of the saying: when in a hole, stop digging. He is in enough trouble without compounding it by making falsehoods. Many women have gone on record as saying Coles made unwarranted advances against them and he has been described as a “sex pest”.
As the Sack Andy Coles website so aptly puts it in its article Spycop Andy Coles takes his sexual abuse lies to a new level:
Flat denial is an absurd stance for Coles to take. His behaviour towards women, including the extended relationship with Jessica, was witnessed by dozens of people. His response is also despicably cruel. Having compounded Jessica’s trauma by not explaining or apologising, he has now gone full Rolf Harris on her. If she wants justice, she will be compelled to pick over the details of his abuse and have to amass the supporting evidence. Even Harvey Weinstein admits he has a problem.
Coles’ dishonesty will come back to haunt him. At some point during the Inquiry – it could be as early as next year although with all the delays we can’t be sure – he will have take the stand at the Royal Courts of Justice and account for his actions. His accusers will be able to give evidence and he will have to face them.
SDS Tradecraft Manual
Alongside its acknowledgement that Coles was an undercover officer, the Inquiry also published the SDS Tradecraft Manual. At hits hear is a 44 page guide for incoming spycops written by Coles himself just after his deployment ended in 1995. It’s heavy redacted in place but what remains, according to Eveline Lubbers of the Undercover Research Group, “is so vile and abhorrent that is seems a waste of space to include too many examples. The entire guide is steeped in disdain not only for the people being spied on – dismissively nicknamed ‘wearies’ – but of anyone else the officer will come into contact with or affect.”
One section that has gained notoriety over the last week concerns using the identities of dead children. Coles laces lit with his own sick, deadpan humour:
Further research would follow to establish the respiratory status of the dead person’s family, if any, and, if they were still breathing, where they were living. If all was suitably obscure and there was little chance of the SDS officer, or more importantly, one of the wearies running into the dead person’s parents/siblings etc., the SDS officer would assume squatters’ rights over the unfortunate’s identity for the next four years.
Also worthy of note is Coles’ verdict on sexual liaisons while undercover, which reeks of hypocrisy. He says SDS agents should have “fleeting and disastrous” relationships and adds: “One cannot be involved with a weary in a relationship for any period of time without risking serious consequences.” This comes from a man who tricked a teenager into a relationship that lasted over a year and tried to get off with numerous other women he met!
Notwithstanding the redactions, the Tradecraft Manual makes fascinating if at times disquieting reading. It gives us an insight into the group mind of the SDS and shows how detached from reality it became. The level of paranoia and fear of discovery haunted its operatives even down to the smell of their clothes: “Close associates may distinguish the smell of fresh clothing from the suburban washing line, even as distinct from the (less fresh) smell of laundrette washing…”
Eveline concludes her assessment of the Manual thus: “Although the Inquiry is finally starting to release fundamental evidence, there are too many redactions, too many deficits, and only very little substance.” She adds it could be “damaging for those who experienced it”, especially as the author is “an officer who is still traumatizing his main victim.” I couldn’t agree more.