Corporate Espionage in the UK: a Rough Guide January 19, 2011
Corporate Watch – www.corporatewatch.org.uk
As more and more corporate investigation companies enter the spotlight Corporate Watch takes a look at an industry which survives by exploiting the threat to corporations posed by public dissent.
Many of them are opportunists, or cack-handed bunglers propagating an entirely fictional, but highly profitable, view of anti-corporate campaigners. In an interview, recorded in New Brunswick in Canada, a worker for a security company, claiming to have worked in Europe and be providing consultancy services in Canada, claimed, for example, that Smash EDO, a British anti-arms trade direct action group, had resorted to attacking children – see here. Such an allegation has never even been made by the police or the company. This kind of deliberate distortion propagates the fear and insecurity which perpetuates the industry’s profits and justifies repression of activists.
Corporate security/investigation firms often have special access to police agencies. Mark Kennedy (aka Mark Stone), an undercover policeman who spent years as an infiltrator in environmental movements, was head hunted in 2009 by a security company shortly after he left the police. Timothy Lawson Cruttenden, consultant to InQuire Limited, has received documents about anti-corporate campaigners from the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit, an arm of the Association of Chief Police Officers (for more on this see article on NETCU in this News Update).
These firms very often advertise that their staff are ex Special Branch or ex-armed forces. Global Open is staffed by ex Special Branch officers while Lynceus advertises that their techniques are learned from experience in the military.
Here are a few of the companies involved in the industry. This list is only the tip of a highly secretive iceberg:
Agenda Security Services – Agenda advertise ’employee screening services and security, profiling and intelligence’. They have been fingered as a company investigating the animal rights movement.
Agenda is a division of Agenda Resources Management Limited (Company No.03295323). It was set up in 1996 and has offices in Hull and Cambridge. The company advertises that it employs teams of ex-police and ex-military operatives.
Agenda’s Security Division is headed by Alan Fletcher. Fletcher has authored several reports on the threat from animal rights and environmental activists (for example see here).
Black Star High Access – Black Star High Access (Company No. 07209622) is a company set up by Mark Kennedy, a police infiltrator in the environmental movement. in March 2010.
Mark Kennedy was still filing Companies House documents in October 2010, after he was outed as an infiltrator.
The company has never filed accounts. Its registered office is Apartment 2029, 6 Slington House, Rankine Road, Basingstoke, RG24 8PH.
C2i – C2i were behind the highly innefective mole who infiltrated Plane Stupid, a direct action group campaigning against short-haul flights and airport expansion. Toby Kendall, aka Ken Tobias, a young Oxford graduate, started attending Plane Stupid meetings after the Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow. He was unmasked after activists found that his ‘Linked In’ profile described him as a ‘C2i Analyst’.
C2i international Limited plays on fear and insecurity to promote their services, apparently for ‘some’ “the world is a much more dangerous place than for the average citizen… for the wealthy, the famous, those involved in substantial business, political and media activities – at home and around the world – exposure to risk of many kinds is now greatly increased.”
Global Open – ”Activists claim that peaceful protest is ineffective. They know that a company is unlikely to change its core business because of the presence of demonstrators. Consequently, activism now extends to the suppliers and service providers of the main target company.”
Set up in 2001 Global Open (Company No. 04152470), registered in Beckenham, Kent, advertise ‘forward looking intelligence’ services and claim to be ‘run by former New Scotland Yard Special Branch officers’. Services advertised include ‘immediate circulation of new activist tactics’ and ‘graphs and push-pin maps of the current threat in any country or region’. Areas that are covered are threats from animal rights, anti-corporate, anti-globalisation and environmental campaigns. Global Open also advertise staff trainings on ‘activist tactics’ and advice on letter bombs
The director of Global Open is Rod Leeming, a former Special Branch officer and infiltrator in the animal rights movement. The company has reportedly worked for BAE systems and EON. Leeming and Carol Ann Myler are the named directors on the Certificate of Incorporation.
Mark Kennedy, who worked as a police mole in environmental groups, claimed he was approached by Global Open shortly after leaving the police in 2009. Kennedy registered another security company, Tokra Limited, at the address of a former director of Global Open.
Inkerman Group – The Inkerman group are based in Kent and describe themselves as an “international business risk and intelligence company, working throughout the world to identify the risks, threats and vulnerabilities facing businesses today”. The company’s website includes a newswire identifying ‘risks’; a litany of scare stories designed to heighten corporate paranoia.
Papers disclosed during EDO MBM’s failed attempt to secure an injunction against anti-arms trade activists show that the Inkerman group worked for Caterpillar in 2004/5 to sabotage the efforts of activists calling for an end to the company’s supply of military bulldozers to Israel. Inkerman were recommended to EDO MBM (now EDO/ITT) as a way of dealing with the anti-arms trade campaign to close down their company. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Inkerman employed undercover staff to infiltrate direct action groups.
InQuire – Timothy Lawson Cruttenden, a solicitor-advocate who has built a career using anti-harassment laws to take out injunctions for corporations against public dissent seewww.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=3219″>here, is a consultant to InQuire, who advertise themselves as “corporate intelligence and investigations specialists”. They are based in London and Australia.
Timothy Lawson Cruttenden runs Lawson Cruttenden and Co who received information from NETCU about prosecutions against anti arms trade campaigners. In another case involving Oxford University an employee of Lawson Cruttenden and Co was found to be passing information to Arkangel, an animal rights website and magazine, which was then used against them in cases involving the Lawson Cruttenden and Co.
Lynceus – A PLC incorporated in 2007, Lynceus (Company No. 06217351) advertises itself as a “leading international security company”. Lynceus, apparently, “utilises all the technical surveillance skills and expertise developed over many years of operational service with the police, military and security services, to assist our clients by mitigating risks”.
Lynceus’ website claims that their Chairman, Justin King, was an officer with the British armed forces for a number of years.
The company advertises that it can screen potential employees for links to rival companies
KK Investigations – KK Investigations, a London based company run by Kathleen Veronica King, advertise themselves as private investigators. King participated in anti fur demonstrations until confronted by activists.
KK Investigations can be found at 224a High Street North, London, E6 2JA
Threat Response International and Evelyn LeChene – Threat Response International is based in Gillingham, near Rochester. It was founded in August 1998. The directors were Evelyn LeChene, Barrie Gane and Robert Hodges.
Evelyn LeChene previously ran a company called R&CA Publications, also in Rochester. This company has since been dissolved.
A company directed by Evelyn LeChene was paid by BAE to infiltrate Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). Martin Hogbin was an infiltrator, paid by LeChene, who obtained a position as a paid worker in the CAAT office. He was active from 1997-2003, first as a volunteer and then a worker for CAAT. Hogbin passed campaign emails, bound for Mike Mcginty, the Security Director of BAE, through several email accounts. Other CAAT documents, including a personal diary, were copied and relayed to the company.
Hogbin was unmasked by CAAT after the Sunday Times wrote an expose claiming that LeChene had been passing information about CAAT to BAE since 1995. The paper also claimed LeChene investigated Earth First!, the World Development Movement and Reclaim The Streets.
Apparently Le Chene boasted of a database of 148,000 names of CND members, trades unionists, activists and environmentalists and was paid £120,000 a year by BAE. LeChene is alleged to have run a network of infiltrators in anti-arms trade groups, including Hull Against Hawks.
Group 4 (now G4S), working on behalf of the Highways Agency, paid Threat Response International for information on Newbury anti-roads protesters. A Group 4 spokesman said “We’ve certainly been obtaining information about protests at our customers’ sites. It is the sort of information that would be obtained in the pub about activities that may affect our customers; people or property”, he said. “We were getting information about where protesters would be and what times in advance. We would have paid for that information.”
Tokra Limited – Mark Kennedy registered Tokra Limited Tokra Ltd (Company No. 07150492) on 9 February 2010 and wound it up in August 2010. It was originally registered to Heather Millgate’s address. Millgate is a former director of Global Open.
Mark Kennedy is listed as a Logistics officer on the Certificate of Incorporation.
The name Tokra may be a reference to an alien race in the US series, Stargate. The Tok’ra are an alien race symbiotically inhabiting human hosts.
All effective movements experience repression. That repression will include covert infiltration of our movements. We should not be surprised that companies seek to profit from spying on our movements. Understanding the tactics used to disrupt movements can help to make us more effective