Surviving Surveillance – East German Activists and the Stasi

Surviving Surveillance

East German activists and the Stasi

Written 2014. Download this document as PDF

large eye watching youAs an activist or campaigner in Britain it’s hard to ignore surveillance and harassment from state and private security services – not to mention the the effect it is having on our work and our lives. This text takes a short look at the experiences of activists in East Germany (GDR) dealing with informants and infiltration before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Although this may seem like ancient history, grassroots activists in the GDR were politically and practically very close to us in Britain today, despite being in a significantly different social and political system. We’ve tried to introduce and summarise points that are both interesting and useful to those facing infiltration and spying in Britain, but we also recommend you look at some of the resources listed at the end for more up to date information that has been written for the current situation in Britain.

The invasive spying and disorientation tactics used by the East German secret police (Stasi) meant there were significantly fewer possibilities for civil disobedience and direct action than we have, nevertheless activists in East Germany managed to start off a grassroots revolution in 1989. Their experiences are worth looking at to see how they managed to survive surveillance and repression – not least because it is clear that the British police and priate security have started to make use of the Stasi’s toolkit.

This text is based on interviews with East German activists, and deals mainly with their experiences, even though many other sections of East German society were also subject to repression by the secret police. Those familiar with how police spies have been used in Britain may recognise the tactics used by both secret police and GDR activists.

East Germany and the Stasi
Between 1945 and 1990 Germany was divided in two – West Germany, integrated into NATO and western markets, and East Germany (German Democratic Republic: GDR), in the Soviet dominated Eastern Bloc.

The Stasi was the East German secret police, and that country had the highest proportion of informants and secret police in history: 1 in 60 people were involved by 1989.

East German opposition and activism

Because non-state organisations were prohibited, networking and co-ordination between activists in the GDR was informal, and feels familiar to those involved in grassroots activism and campaigns here in Britain: independent groups and networks stayed in contact through newsletters and exchange of campaign materials (nowadays in the UK this is mostly done via the internet), and there was a mix of local and regionally co-ordinated covert and open actions.

Activists in the GDR also campaigned on issues that are familiar to us in Britain today: anti-nuclear and peace, challenging economic paradigms of growth and consumption at any cost; resistance to an undemocratic state and its activities; propagating and practising sustainable choices versus exploitation of environment and animals. There was a strong emphasis on DIY culture with egalitarian, equitable principles – politically most activists in the GDR self-defined as socialist or anarchist.

The Stasi and Zersetzung

After the East German popular uprising in June 1953 (suppressed by Soviet troops) the government gave the Stasi the task of systematic surveillance and prevention of unrest in the population. Initially this took the form of brutal physical repression: imprisonment and physical abuse (including torture) by police and secret police. But this changed during the 1970s when the GDR became more interested in gaining a positive international image and the repression of activists became more subtle. The Stasi redefined the military term Zersetzung (attrition or corrosion), to name their harassment tactics: the aim was to disrupt the working of groups and the lives of individuals to such a degree that their activism became ineffective, or more preferably, ceased altogether.

The aim of the Zersetzung was to ‘switch off’ the group by rendering it ineffective, with an interim goal of hindering any positive media or public exposure. The usual ways to switch groups off were to:

  • create conflict between members – particularly useful subjects for sowing discord were those of a philosophical or political nature, money and sexual relations;
  • hinder and sabotage activities by one or more infiltrators, who would agree to do tasks, but not get round to doing them, lose materials and equipment, repeatedly make suggestions for changes and edits of materials, attempt to divert the group into more harmless activities etc;
  • isolate the groups from other activists, eg by spreading rumours regarding unacceptable behaviour and political views etc.

The choice of tactics was based on psychological profiling and intelligence about the group members, particularly: who plays what role, who fulfils what kind of task; what are relationships within the group like, who hangs out with whom.

Informants (IM: Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter) were the usual way to gain information on a group and were also used to implement the plans to incapacitate a group and sabotage its activities. In activist circles the informants were almost never Stasi or police officers, but were usually existing members of the groups who had been pressured, persuaded or blackmailed into helping the Stasi; or a suitable outsider who would try to infiltrate and become trusted by the group (like here in Britain, most activists groups in the GDR welcomed new members).

How did the Stasi persuade people to become informants?

  • Appeals to patriotism
  • Cash or material reward
  • Blackmail
  • Offers of immunity from threatened prosecution
  • Making the mission sound like an exciting adventure

As in the case of groups, the Zersetzung of individuals had the aim of ‘switching off’ that person’s efficacy by undermining their confidence and their belief in the value of their activities. The Stasi did not usually care whether an individual was switched off through disillusionment, fear, burn-out or mental illness: all outcomes were acceptable, and people’s mental health and social standing during or after an operation were of no interest to the officers involved.

The Zersetzung of individuals was usually carried out through systematically undermining the quality of life of the target (both socially and in the workplace) with the intention of simply destroying the confidence of the target. The tactics used took various forms, such as spreading slanderous rumours, causing trouble at work etc. Rumours and information (such as about unacceptable political viewpoints, inappropriate behaviour, the possibility they may be an informant etc) that were passed on to bosses and social circles might be based on true facts, but were often plausible untruths that were hard or impossible to refute.

The first stage of Zersetzung was an evaluation of all state held data and information, eg medical records, school reports, police records, intelligence reports, searches of target’s residence. At this point they were looking for any weak points (social, emotional or physical) that could be used as a way to put pressure on the target, eg extra-marital affairs, criminal records, alcoholism, drug use, differences between the target and their group (eg age, class, clothing styles) that could be used to socially isolate them.

Worrying about informants
The Stasi made little secret of the fact that they used informants, and in fact deliberately helped spread rumours about informants. This was the cheapest and most effective way to incapacitate individuals and groups.

After this a Zersetzung strategy was drawn up: What was the specific aim? What tactics should be used to exploit the target’s personal situation and character traits? What was the timescale?

The next stage was often to supplement covert surveillance with overt observation in order to communicate to the target that they were of interest to the Stasi and to create a sense of insecurity and paranoia. Tactics included questioning, repeated stop and searches, strange noises on telephone lines, conspicuous visits to the workplace so that bosses and colleagues were aware of the police interest etc.

The final stages entailed psychological and physical harassment: moving things around at home (one morning the alarm clock goes off at 5am instead of 7am, and the socks are in the wrong drawer, there’s no coffee left…); damage to bikes and vehicles (eg slashing tyres); the spreading of rumours as mentioned above; ordering goods in subject’s name etc.

Families were often used as leverage against activists at this stage – either as a method of blackmail (family members were sometimes subject to oppression as a way of putting indirect pressure on the activist), or persuasion (“your daughter will land in deep trouble if she remains involved in that group, can’t you make her see sense? It’s her career at stake…”). Physical harassment often included repeated arrests, physical attacks on the street (eg by plain clothes officers), and abuse and assault could be incited by the rumours that had been spread (eg bullying at work, avoidance by neighbours).

How effective was the Stasi?

1) Paralysing individuals and groups

two people hugging, but one is taking notes behind the other's back

Although Zersetzung was based on strategic analysis of the situation, and the Stasi had a fearsome reputation for well organised surveillance and repression, we know from comparing personal accounts and Stasi files that the Zersetzung was actually often poorly planned and prepared: on the one hand the Stasi often overestimated their own organisational capabilities and ability to analyse and understand the groups they were targeting; on the other hand they usually underestimated the activists’ own abilities to read the situation, and to communicate with each other – for example an attempt to isolate a group by spreading false rumours would fail if members of that group had regular social interaction with people in other groups.

A major factor is that the militarily organised Stasi simply couldn’t understand how many activist groups functioned without leaders and hierarchies. They often mistook informal hierarchies (caused for example by differences in empowerment levels or dominant behaviour patterns) to be real hierarchies – they would target those who talked the most, or took on the most tasks, and didn’t realise that even if these individuals were ‘switched off’, the rest of the group could still manage to function and wouldn’t necessarily fall apart.

The dedication of groups was also often underestimated – even if an informant successfully sabotaged a group’s activities, the group would rarely be completely disheartened, but would try all the harder to achieve their goals.

The tactics of Zersetzung had a significant control function, if you were engaged in (or merely suspected of) activities that the Stasi didn’t like then this was a way to punish you – rather like the extra-judicial punishment exercised by the police in Britain (eg the threat of ASBOs, severe bail conditions, the requirement to repeatedly answer bail).

The human cost of Zersetzung is hard to quantify – many GDR activists are still suffering from burnout, trauma and chronic mental health issues as a result of being targeted: on an individual level the Stasi could be frighteningly effective.

2) Gathering and using intelligence

Informants weren’t just used to sabotage group activities and implement Zersetzung plans, but also to gain intelligence on individuals and groups (around 160km worth of Stasi archives survived the end of the GDR). Most intelligence was used to evaluate relationships and activities (which then led to an extension of intelligence gathering to previously untargeted individuals and groups), and as a basis for planning Zersetzung operations. Obviously plans for actions and activities were also reported, but these were acted upon only in rare and serious cases – if intelligence was used to disrupt the activities in any obvious way then suspicion might be drawn to the informant.

Intelligence from surveillance and the use of informants was rarely used to actually gain evidence for a prosecution – the Stasi desperately needed the huge amount of information it was processing in order to justify its own existence (along with the salaries and expenses of its officers and staff). If anything, this made the Stasi more dangerous to activists – the Stasi’s dependency on gathering intelligence and mounting operations made the surveillance, Zersetzung and sabotage more likely to happen, along with the associated human cost.

Informants were regularly found out – mostly because of poor preparation (at one infamous meeting, several rather conspicuous figures all introduced themselves with the same name), and chance (eg groups who came across evidence that an informant was passing information to the Stasi). But it is significant that most informants were only discovered after 1989 when the Stasi files were opened.

Dealing with Zersetzung

Many people succumbed to pressure from the Stasi and other security forces, often because of mental health difficulties (brought about by the pressure) or through a process that was commonly called ‘inner migration’: giving up political and social beliefs, following the path of least resistance and ceasing oppositional activity.

On the other hand resistance to Zersetzung was remarkably commonplace, and activists found ways to remain both healthy and active. When East German activists talk today about how they managed to continue their activism, the same points come up again and again, these are summarised below.

Support from friends and other activists was essential – a circle of close friends who shared an understanding of the political and policing situation was probably the most effective way to counter the Stasi. With these friends activists could talk openly about fears, suspicions and needs – they could work out ways of dealing with the pressure. They spent time with these friends doing non-activism related activities which helped to build trust in the group. This helped them to know that if things got bad for them, they could both trust their friends, and be trusted by them, and would be there if help and support was needed. As a group they would make plans for possible situations – for example, who would take care of the children in case of arrest or even imprisonment, or who could provide a ‘safe house’ if somebody was being shadowed and needed a break.

On a wider level the solidarity between groups was an important factor in their survival and freedom to remain active: those groups that had strong relationships with others around the country were generally subject to less repression. In later years, particularly in East Berlin, even when repression happened, widespread solidarity actions and concerted efforts to gain publicity led to quick results (arrested or imprisoned individuals released, the work of the group allowed to resume etc). On the other hand, those groups that weren’t so well networked (usually those in small towns and rural areas where they might be the only active group) were easy pickings for the Stasi – at times whole regions of the country were ‘cleansed’ of grassroots activism.

Groups openly discussed the possibility of surveillance and intervention. The groups would aim to work out what oppression measures they might be subject to (currently and in future) and think of ways to deal with these. The hard bit was not to get lost in paranoia (particularly since there was a good chance that the group already had an informant present!), nor to be naïve or ignorant about the possibilities, but to find a middle ground of sensible measures that would, if needed, help, while not getting bogged down in extensive security measures that would just hinder the work of the group.

Part of working out the level of threat from the Stasi, and how to deal with it, was to consider the way the group worked, and how open the group was to newcomers. It is tempting to think that preparing and carrying out actions in the utmost secrecy would be the best defence against an opponent like the Stasi, but of the groups we know about which worked covertly in the GDR, all were subject to brutal Zersetzung measures, while those that worked openly were often subject ‘only’ to surveillance and sabotage by informants, but could nevertheless carry on their activities to a greater or lesser extent. When open groups were subject to extraordinary repression levels, they were in a good position to mobilise support from other groups and interest from West German media. (It’s difficult to draw conclusions though – generally only those from open groups are willing to speak of their experiences, and any covert group that might have survived would be, by definition, hard to find out about.) Working openly also did not preclude the need to work secretly at times, particularly when planning an action or dealing with sensitive issues, and steps would be taken to avoid surveillance.

If a group identified an individual as a possible informant they might have decided not take any obvious immediate action. The immediate reaction would be to assess whether there might be any merit in the suspicions rather than to spread any rumours. The usual way of dealing with the situation would be for a few trusted individuals to discreetly research the suspect. Backgrounds would be checked (are there any family members? Do they exist? Has anyone else from the group spoken to them? What about friendships outside the group? Did the suspect actually work where they said they did? Are they familiar with the town they say they grew up in etc) This worked well enough for informants who had been provided with a cover story and infiltrated into the group by the Stasi, but didn’t provide clear results if the informant was a ‘real’ person who had been turned.

By making notes of behaviour patterns and movements of a suspect the group might think they were finding evidence of Stasi involvement, but equally, they might be framing an innocent individual. Discovering reports to handling officers would be a clear sign, but if an individual were guilty of losing materials and not getting round to completing agreed tasks, it could not be simply assumed that they were an informant or saboteur – no matter how regularly it might happen! In other words, groups needed to be extremely careful when they thought they might have discovered an informant – it was all too easy to start a witch hunt against innocents, something that would easily paralyse groups and individuals and play right into the hands of the Stasi.


It is easy to get lost in analysing the techniques the Stasi used, and the more you look into it, the more frightening it gets. But we feel there are perhaps three main lessons that we can learn from the experiences of these activists in the GDR:

  • Many of the tactics used by the Stasi for intelligence gathering and Zersetzung are in use by private and state security services (including the police). Being aware of these tactics helps us to recognise when they are being used on us, and how we can best counter them.
  • Solidarity and trust between individuals and groups provides a support network which helps us to remain active and healthy.
  • Suspicion about possible informants and spies shouldn’t be ignored, but acted upon. However spreading rumours harms individuals and groups and should be avoided unless and until suspicions have been confirmed.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that, in our assessment, the grassroots opposition movements made the biggest contribution to the revolution that started in East Germany in autumn 1989 – despite the horrifying levels of repression and surveillance that they had faced for decades. Quite simply, the Stasi failed to predict the events of that year, and once things had started their Zersetzung tactics became ineffective.

a crowd of people looking strong

Links + Further Reading

Activist Security Collective – includes a general guide on security issues, and what to do if you think you may have an infiltrator or informer in your group.

Activist Trauma Support – support group for those injured or suffering from mental health issues due to activism.

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance – blog on police surveillance in the UK.

Counselling for Social Change – emotional support to people working to make a difference.

NetPol – monitor public order, protest and street policing.

Police Spies Out of Lives – Support group for women’s legal action against undercover policing.

Wikipedia, particularly the German language version also has many articles on the Stasi and East German activism.

Download this document as PDF

swords into ploughshares symbol

Snitch-jacketing in our movements: time to stop destructive rumours

Unfounded rumours are destroying the reputations of activists without good reason. In the following statement the Activist Security collective is saying that not only do we need to check this behaviour, but that people who continue to spread unfounded rumours about individuals after they’ve been asked to stop will be publicly named.

Over the years the people behind the Activist Security Handbook have been approached with rumours that any number of individuals are police / corporate informers. In several cases we have been provided with clear evidence and helped publicise this. For many, it just a suspicion and there is little more that can be done. For a couple of these ‘suspects’, there have been on-going rumours. However, whenever we ask what the basis of this suspicion, it has never been provided.

Simply due to the persistence of the rumours, we have dug more and the conclusion we have come to is that there is no foundation to them. In one case, it amounted to simply a personal argument, in another dislike of the individual on personal grounds. Another, scenario we encountered the allegations boiled down to a political disagreement – it be assumed that because one person disagrees with another, they must be a state agent. All this conveniently forgets that incompetence, unreliability and annoying personalities are just as likely in our movement as anywhere else, and though it might amount to disruption in practice, it does not mean they are actually working for the police or corporations.

In one recent situation, allegations were made because an individual did not present the standard mould of the anarchist or ecological activist scenes. The phrase we regularly heard was ‘they dont quite fit’, but there is nothing else to be pointed at – forgetting that some of the people who we now know to have been undercover police fitted all too well. We have also learned that facts were twisted to be presented an untrue picture, particularly when people were not taking time to learn the full picture and using their imagination to fill in the rest. While generally this is not being done maliciously, the effect is just the same.

It is a hideous abuse of power, amounting to trial by whispering campaign in a way that cannot be responded to. As far as we are concerned, it is not only an abuse of our politics but a divisive tactic that plays into the state’s hands. There are reasons not to trust people, but to label them as an informer in an unaccountable way is to take it to an entire new level, the consequences of which are being treated too lightly.

We are issuing this statement as we think it is very important that unfounded rumours against individuals for whom nothing actually dodgy has been ever shown stop. We believe it has become so bad that a challenge needs to be put out, whereby we will be proactive in asking people to stop spreading them and encourage everyone else to do likewise. If we continue to hear that those asked to stop are remain active in these whispering campaigns, we will take the step of publicly naming them so that they can be held to account in the way they are denying to others. We do not do this lightly.

If you believe someone is informing, then it is up to you to be sure of the facts before you spread that gossip to someone else. Anyone who is told such gossip has a responsibility to not spread it without knowing it is grounded in fact, regardless of how respected the person you are hearing it from. That there has been persistent suspicion is not enough – it is more likely a sign that people have nothing to go on in the first place. Reliance on the adage, ‘no smoke without fire’ is simply wrong.

If you strongly believe someone is informing, then you have a responsibility to act, or ask people to act on your behalf. You need to chronicle what your suspicions are so they can be checked over as part of a process of accountability. It is important to remember that finding out someone is an informer can be a traumatic experience for people close to them. Politically, we are deeply concerned that whispering campaigns are an assertion of power, whereby someone assumes the right to judge and destroy the reputation of another person in a closed, unaccountable manner.

This is not to say that you should never discuss suspicions about an individual, but rather that you need to take into account the consequences of when that suspicion becomes a rumour that spreads and takes on a life of its own. If you are going to discuss it, you also need to be able to act or be willing to be challenged on it, as there is a good possibility you may be wrong. If you need advice on how to go about this, Activist Security is willing to provide help and guidance, and have produced a booklet, available at, on investigating informers and infiltrators.

Even if it is not appropriate to go public with the information (and there have been several of these with good reason), there needs to be some way of recording the information and getting it to those who need to know so that other activists can learn what the foundations of the allegations are and can make their own judgements.

Finally, we will reiterate one of our key tenets: paranoia is not security, but when the state makes us so fearful we allow ourselves to become ineffective.

For more information email us at info ~{at}


1. This statement has been prepared by ActivistSecurity in conjunction with a number of political activists who have been following up allegations against individuals only to be disturbed by the lack of foundation to them.

2. Snitch-jacketing is the process of making allegations against someone else in order to protect your own back or interests.

3. This article was originally published on the Activist Security “Infiltrators & Informers” blog at on 27 August 2014.

Bob Lambert / Robinson

Bob Lambert aka “Bob Robinson”

Articles on this page

  1. London Greenpeace Press Release outing Bob Lambert as police spy
  2. Text of London Greenpeace leaflet
  3. Two Guardian articles
  4. London Greenpeace response to Lambert’s apology
  5. Robert Lambert today

Bob Lambert / “Robinson”

15th October 2011 – PRESS RELEASE

Campaigners today outed the most-senior-yet police spy responsible for infiltrating environmental and social justice campaigns.

Former Detective Inspector Bob Lambert MBE had just spoken at a ‘One Society, Many Cultures’ anti-racist conference on Saturday 15th October attended by 300 delegates at the Trades Union Congress HQ in Central London. He was then publicly challenged by 5 members of London Greenpeace who knew him at the time and who called on him to apologise for the undercover police infiltration of London Greenpeace, Reclaim The Streets and other campaign groups – an operation he took part in or supervised over two decades, whilst rising to the rank of Detective Inspector.

Bob ‘Robinson’ (as Bob Lambert called himself at the time) was a spy in London Greenpeace from 1984 to 1988, and he went on to supervise other agents who continued with infiltration of groups such as London Greenpeace and Reclaim the Streets, along with anti fascist protests, and actions against genetically modified crops. These agents used pseudonyms, and engaged in fraudulent and deceitful long-term intimate relationships with people in the groups before disappearing without trace – a stasi-like tactic involving a gross abuse of trust which has caused great emotional damage to a number of people involved.

As he left the venue Bob Lambert was followed along the street and was challenged again to apologise, but he briskly walked away refusing to talk.

‘By publicly exposing this latest scandal, campaigners have demonstrated that the recent police spies outed (such as Mark Kennedy / Mark Stone) were not ‘rogue officers’, but part of an unacceptable pattern of immoral infiltration of environmental groups, condoned at a high level. We demand action to ensure that the full truth is revealed and that justice is done.’   – Spokesperson, London Greenpeace

Note 1: The HMIC report on previously exposed police infiltration is due to be published in the coming week.
Note 2: The full text from the leaflet distributed at the conference is below.
Note 3: A copy of the complete leaflet, with photos, is available on Indymedia (see <> ). The 2 photos in the leaflet from 1984 are copyright London Greenpeace; news outlets are free to use them with credit.

Stop police infiltration of campaign groups!

Text of London Greenpeace leaflet

We are not here to disrupt this important conference but feel it is important that those listening should know:

The truth about Bob Lambert and his Special Branch role
– and that at minimum Bob should give a public apology for his past actions

Look up Bob on the internet and you’ll find any number of references to his career as a Special Branch officer until his retirement as Detective Inspector in 2007. Here’s one example – Bob worked continuously as a Special Branch specialist counter-terrorist / counter-extremist intelligence officer from 1980, which involved dealing with all forms of violent political threats to the UK, from Irish republican to the many strands of International terrorism.

Disgusting, immoral and damaging

What the reports don’t tell you is that a substantial amount of his work involved the infiltration of groups which were actually opposing violence and oppression inflicted on a daily basis by governments and corporations around the world. He and other agents he supervised infiltrated environmental, anti-capitalist and anti war organisations over two decades. And as part of these undercover operations those agents, including Bob, had long term and sexual relationships with campaigners and friends in the most abusive breach of trust imaginable. This abuse has had a severe and lasting emotional impact on those affected.

For a period of about 5 years up to 1988, Bob infiltrated meetings and events of London Greenpeace, a well respected organisation which campaigned against nuclear power and war, and on other environmental and social justice issues. Bob was also actively involved with many other protest activities including at Molesworth Peace Camp, free festivals, and animal rights activities and was even prosecuted at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court for distributing ‘insulting’ leaflets outside a butchers shop.

Bob also went on to supervise others agents who continued with infiltration of groups such as London Greenpeace and Reclaim the Streets, along with anti fascist protests and actions against genetically modified crops. It is clear that these were not ‘anti terrorist’ operations, but were in fact state intervention aimed at disrupting and weakening the growing opposition to the domination of our society by the interests of multinational corporations and their pursuit of profits.

It is difficult to take anything Bob says at face value unless he is prepared to come clean about his past and apologise for the harm done.



Progressive academic Bob Lambert is former police spy
Lambert, an expert on Islamophobia, posed as environmental activist then ran police spy unit that infiltrated anti-racist groups
Rob Evans and Paul Lewis, The Guardian, 17 October 2011

Bob Lambert, right, posed as an activist with the environmental group Greenpeace London while working undercover as a police officer.

An academic and prominent supporter of progressive causes has been unmasked as a former spy who controlled a network of undercover police officers in political groups.

During his current career as an academic expert on Islamophobia, Bob Lambert has regularly spoken at political rallies to promote campaigns against racism and fascism.

However, in his previous career as a special branch officer, which lasted 26 years, he ran operations at a covert unit that placed police spies into political campaigns, including those run by anti-racism groups. The unit also disrupted the activities of these groups.

Lambert became head of the unit after going undercover himself.

Since becoming an academic three years ago, he has made no secret of the fact he was a special branch detective between 1980 and 2006, working on what he describes as “countering threats of terrorism and political violence in Britain”.

However, he has kept quiet about his undercover work.

Lambert, who was involved in the secret unit for around 10 years, becomes the seventh police officer to be exposed as a police spy in the protest movement.

The disclosure comes before a major review of the use of such methods is published on Thursday. The report by Bernard Hogan-Howe, the new commissioner of the Metropolitan police, was commissioned by police chiefs after a series of revelations about Mark Kennedy, the officer who spent seven years embedded in the environmental movement.

Lambert was confronted about his past by a group he once infiltrated, while at a conference on Saturday. In one of many appearances on political platforms, he was a speaker at the conference, organised by Unite Against Fascism to promote anti-racism and multiculturalism. Last week he urged people to attend the conference to “show a united front against hatred and bigotry and celebrate the diversity of our multicultural communities”.

Using the alias “Bob Robinson”, Lambert posed as an activist in the group London Greenpeace between 1984 and 1988, say other members. The group, which had a libertarian philosophy, campaigned against nuclear power and weapons, as well as on other environmental issues, and says “Robinson” attended protests and meetings. It is understood that he also infiltrated animal rights protests.

On Saturday, members of the group pressed him to apologise for long-standing infiltration of political campaigns. He refused to comment, according to them.

At the time, he was acting as a member of a secretive police unit, the Special Demonstration Squad, which embedded undercover officers into groups it believed posed a threat to public order.

During the late 1990s, Lambert took charge of operations for the SDS, which penetrated both left and rightwing campaigns.

He was responsible for undercover police officers such as Pete Black, who spent four years pretending to be an anti-racism activist, and Jim Boyling, who was embedded in an environmental campaign against cars, Reclaim the Streets.

Between 2002 and 2007, Lambert ran the Muslim Contact Unit, a Scotland Yard department which sought to foster partnerships between police and Muslim community groups to prevent Islamist terrorist attacks.

In recent years Lambert has had a high public profile. A lecturer at Exeter and St Andrews universities, he has produced academic papers and articles for the media, including the Guardian and the New Statesman as he continued to argue that the government and police should work with Muslim groups to prevent terrorism.

However he has attracted virulent criticism from rightwing commentators who argue for a tougher approach. They believe it is counter-productive for the police to work in partnership with Muslim groups they claim are extremists.

London Greenpeace said it confronted Lambert to show “that recent police spies outed (such as Mark Kennedy) were not ‘rogue officers’ but part of an unacceptable pattern of immoral infiltration of environmental groups, condoned at a high level”. Lambert could not be reached for comment yesterday.


Police spy tricked lover with activist ‘cover story’
Paul Lewis and Rob Evans, The Guardian, Sunday 23 October 2011

Bob Lambert used false identity in 1980s to infiltrate protest movements while working for Metropolitan police special branch

A former police spymaster who spent years living deep undercover in the protest movement has confessed he tricked an innocent woman into having a long-term relationship with him, as part of an elaborate attempt to lend “credibility” to his alter ego.

Bob Lambert, who adopted a false identity to infiltrate leftwing and animal rights groups, said he had the 18-month relationship with the woman, who was not herself involved in political activism, as part of his cover story.

The Guardian has detailed the cases of seven undercover police officers known to have infiltrated protest movements, mostly in the past decade. Of those, five have had sexual relationships with women who were oblivious to their real identities.

Lambert, who became an academic after a 26-year career in the special branch of the Metropolitan police, made the admission after the Guardian contacted him about their relationship.

In a statement, he offered an “unreserved apology” to the woman, who does not want her identity to be revealed, and said he was also sorry for deceiving “law-abiding members of London Greenpeace,” a peaceful protest group.

His former partner, who recently discovered the long-haired political activist she had the relationship with in the 1980s was actually an undercover police officer, said she felt “violated” by the experience.

“I was cruelly tricked and it has made me very angry,” the woman said. “I am actually quite damaged by the whole thing. I am still not over it.”

Police chiefs have claimed that officers who spy on protesters are not permitted “under any circumstances” to sleep with activists. But police spies are known to have been having relationships with activists as recently as last year, as part of a secret police operation to monitor political activists that has been in place since the late 1960s.

In most cases, the police officers developed long-term relationships and their subsequent disappearance left women feeling traumatised and angry.

They include Mark Kennedy, who spent seven years living undercover in Nottingham as environmental campaigner “Mark Stone”.

Another undercover police officer, Peter Black, said sex was a widely used “tool” to gain the trust of activists when he was deployed in the 1990s.

The woman duped by Lambert said their relationship came to an end more than 20 years ago after the man she knew as “Bob Robinson” vanished from her life, claiming to be in hiding from special branch. Lambert was, in fact, a special branch detective and would go on to rise through the ranks of the covert unit to a position in which he managed the deployments of several other spies.

Lambert is currently subject to a Metropolitan police review into whether he was prosecuted in a court using his false identity. The force is considering whether to refer his case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

On Friday, the Met referred the case of another undercover officer, Jim Boyling, to the IPCC, after evidence emerged that he posed as a defendant using his false identity in another court case.

After living undercover himself, Lambert went on to manage Boyling, who infiltrated environmental campaign groups and ended up marrying an activist he was sent to spy on and fathering two children with her.

Lambert and Boyling later worked for the Met’s Muslim contact unit, which was created to improve relations with Muslims after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Now an outspoken critic of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, Lambert has strongly denied the suggestion that the unit he set up was involved in surveillance of the Muslim community.

Lambert said his undercover role in the 1980s was part of a secret infiltration of the Animal Liberation Front, which was involved in a fire-bombing campaign at the time.

“As part of my cover story, so as to gain the necessary credibility to become involved in serious crime, I first built a reputation as a committed member of London Greenpeace, a peaceful campaigning group,” he said in a statement to fellow anti-Islamophobia campaigners at the Spinwatch transparency campaign.

“I apologise unreservedly for the deception I therefore practiced on law abiding members of London Greenpeace.

“I also apologise unreservedly for forming false friendships with law abiding citizens and in particular forming a long-term relationship with [the woman] who had every reason to think I was a committed animal rights activist and a genuine London Greenpeace campaigner.”

It is not clear why Lambert chose the woman as part of his cover story.

He added: “I should point out here that the vast majority of Met special branch undercover officers never made the mistakes I made, have no need to apologise for anything, and I deeply regret having tarnished their illustrious, professional reputation.”

Lambert could be questioned by officials from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, which is conducting a review into undercover policing of protest.

The review – one of nine disciplinary and judicial inquiries into the controversy in undercover policing – was initially conducted by Bernard Hogan-Howe before he took his post as Met commissioner.

The planned publication of his report, which had been expected to reject calls for more robust oversight of the use of undercover police officers, was abandoned on Wednesday, hours after the Guardian and BBC Newsnight revealed evidence undercover officers may have been lying in court.


London Greenpeace Statement in Response to Spymaster’s Apology

The police spy we outed last week has now been forced to apologise for infiltrating our group 25 years ago. He admits that London Greenpeace was a peaceful campaigning group.

Indeed in the mid-80s, along with our usual environmental campaigning, we supported widespread grass roots opposition to a whole range of state-sanctioned and corporate violence. This included the peace blockades of UK missile bases to try to prevent the siting of weapons of mass destruction; the industrial strikes in response to Thatcher’s war against trade union rights; and the popular movement challenging profit-driven cruelty to millions of animals in factory farms and laboratories. Our own group’s particular contribution at this time was to try to show the links between various issues and struggles by firstly launching a series of anti-capitalist protests in the City of London, and then by campaigning against multinational corporations like McDonald’s. These are the politics which upset the Special Branch, the Government’s political police.

As with now, Government policies sought to promote corporate interests over the needs of the rest of the population.  The police, especially the Met, increasingly employed underhand and violent tactics to implement those policies and were often dubbed ‘Thatcher’s Boot Boys’.  Any spies looking for the architects of political violence should have fingered those in office in Downing Street and Scotland Yard.

In the decades since, the powers-that-be have unfortunately been allowed to continue to pursue their destructive policies, leading to the current economic and environmental crises engulfing the whole planet. The good news is that repressive tactics by police and governments in the UK, middle east or anywhere else will ultimately fail to prevent people seeking change. We only have to look around us today to see the blossoming of new and inspiring mass movements for a better, fairer, greener and more peaceful world.


Robert Lambert responses

Bob Lambert has a profile on the Guardian website and appears to write for them.

“Dr Robert Lambert is co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre at the University of Exeter and a part-time lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews. He was previously head of the Muslim Contact Unit in the Metropolitan Police. He is the author of Countering Al-Qaeda in London”

He has a partial response to the Guardian article outting him at

Following an open letter from SpinWatch, he replies here:

Toby Kendall / “Ken Tobias”

Original expose from Plane Stupid, July 2008
(Note: C2i was also where Becki Todd started out. They have since disappeared. Links from the following statement have been removed as they are no longer active.)

MOLE HUNT: More Austin Powers than James Bond

Since late summer 2007, an employee of a corporate espionage agency has been trying to infiltrate Plane Stupid. Toby Kendall, who works for C2i International, a “special risk management” firm, thought he was undercover in our London group, gathering information on what we’re up to. Instead we’ve been feeding the ‘revenge movie’ obssesed mole false information, which he’s been reporting to the aviation industry for months.

After last year’s Camp for Climate Action new activists began turning up to London Plane Stupid meetings. Most were perfectly normal people angry at the expansion of Heathrow airport. But one newbie didn’t fit in with the rest – Ken Tobias, an Oxford graduate who claimed to have just got back from China. Something about him just wasn’t right.

We carried out a quick background check. Although Ken lived in London, he wasn’t on the electoral register, nor on the records of the rugby team he claimed to have played for. We fed him false information about a fake action and were told by an industry insider two days later that security at airports around the country had been alerted. The ludicrous idea of a Climate Camp in Hyde Park soon ended up in the papers, as did the content and locations of meetings he’d attended.

We had hit a dead end. We couldn’t identify or find any record of him, so three of us met Ken in a Japanese restaurant and asked him if he was a spy. He denied everything, claiming that he’d lost his wallet and had no photo ID. We secretly recorded the meeting and took a photo of him leaving to show other groups – but still had no concrete evidence of who he was working for.

Then came the a breakthrough – a contact at Oxford University recognised a photo we’d taken. Our spy wasn’t called ‘Ken Tobias’, but Toby Kendall – an Oriental Studies student from Wadham College. A quick google search revealed a Bebo page with a photo. Snap! It also took us to Linked In, a high-flying corporate networking site, where ‘Ken’ claimed to be an analyst at C2i International, working in “Security and Investigations“.

C2i are an interesting bunch. According to their website, “C2i’s specialists are drawn from commerce, the military and government agencies. They include internationally recognised authorities on special risk management, industrial espionage and law enforcement, and senior personnel from Special Forces and Special Operations, London Metropolitan Police.” Professional spooks – just like those which infiltrated the McLibel campaign and the anti-roads movement in the 1990s.

Take a good look at the photo above, and those in our mole hunt gallery. If you see ‘Ken’ at your meetings, be warned. You could be being watched by bungling spooks…

Mark Kennedy

Mark “Stone” / Kennedy

The account of Mark Kennedy / Stone has been well documented in the Guardian and in the interviews he gave to the Mail on Sunday. Many of the articles can be found at with key ones being given below.
Original expose on Indymedia
Chronology of known activities

Article 1

Undercover officer spied on green activists

Guardian investigation reveals details of PC Mark Kennedy’s infiltration of dozens of protest groups
Rob Evans & Paul Lewis, 9 January 2011,

A police officer who for seven years lived deep undercover at the heart of the environmental protest movement, travelling to 22 countries gleaning information and playing a frontline role in some of the most high-profile confrontations, has quit the Met, telling his friends that what he did was wrong.

PC Mark Kennedy, a Metropolitan police officer, infiltrated dozens of protest groups including anti-racist campaigners and anarchists, a Guardian investigation reveals.

Legal documents suggest Kennedy’s activities went beyond those of a passive spy, prompting activists to ask whether his role in organising and helping to fund protests meant he turned into an agent provocateur.

Kennedy first adopted the fake identity Mark Stone in 2003, pretending to be a professional climber, in order to disrupt the UK’s peaceful movement to combat climate change. Then aged 33, he grew long hair and sported earrings and tattoos, before going on to attend almost every major demonstration in the UK up to the G20 protests in London. He was issued with a fake passport and driving licence.

Sensitive details about Kennedy’s activities had been set to be raised in Nottingham crown court in legal argument relating to a case of six activists accused of conspiring to break into Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station.

But prosecutors unexpectedly abandoned the trial after they were asked to disclose classified details about the role the undercover officer played in organising and helping to fund the protest.

Kennedy, who recently resigned from the Met, is understood to be torn over his betrayal, telling one activist that his infiltration had been “really wrong”. “I’ll just say I’m sorry, for everything,” Kennedy said. “It really hurts.”

Apparently keen for redemption, Kennedy indicated he would “help” the defendants during their trial and was in touch with their lawyer. He backed out three weeks ago, citing his concern for the safety of his family and himself.

The Met could face pressure to explain the ethics of deploying an officer so deep undercover. It has been repeatedly criticised for its handling of protests. A Metropolitan police spokesman said: “We are not prepared to discuss the matter.”

Kennedy is believed to have been one of at least two undercover operatives working for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, an agency that monitors so-called domestic extremists. He told friends each undercover spy cost £250,000 a year.

The officer was found out in October after friends, some of whom had grown suspicious about a seemingly “perfect activist”, discovered a passport bearing his real name. They eventually unearthed documentary proof that he had been a policeman since around 1994, and, confronted with the evidence, Kennedy confessed. He is now living abroad.

Police arrested 114 activists at a school near Nottingham in April 2009 in a controversial operation to prevent activists from breaking into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station the next day.

Twenty-six activists were later charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. Of those, 20 admitted they planned to break into the power station to prevent the emission of around 150,000 tonnes of carbon.

They were convicted after failing to convince a jury their actions were designed to prevent immediate greater harm from climate change. Handing down lenient sentences last week, a judge said they had been acting with “the highest possible motives”.

It is widely presumed that Kennedy tipped off police about the protest. But activists who spent four months working with Kennedy to hatch the plan now question whether he crossed a boundary and became an agent provocateur.

The allegation was set to emerge during the trial of the six defendants who – unlike the other activists – maintained that they had not yet agreed to break into the power station. According to legal papers drawn up by their lawyers, Kennedy helped to organise the demonstration from an early stage, driving on reconnaissance trips of the power station and suggesting the “best and easiest way” to get into the plant.

“He continued to participate, including hiring, paying for and driving a vehicle and volunteering to be one of two principal climbers who would attach himself to the [coal-carrying] conveyor belt. He actively encouraged participation in the action and expressed the view that he was pleased it was going to be an action of some significance,” the papers say.

The documents state that planning meetings for the protest took place at Kennedy’s house and he paid the court fees of another activist arising from a separate demonstration. “It is assumed that the finance for the accommodation, the hire of vehicles and the paying of fines came from police funds,” they state.

Lawyers for the activists submitted their demand for material about Kennedy’s role last Monday. The CPS confirmed it would not proceed with the trial, stating that “previously unavailable information” that undermined its case had come to light.

It said there was no longer sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of prosecution.

“I have no doubt that our attempts to get disclosure about Kennedy’s role has led to the collapse of the trial,” said Mike Schwarz, a solicitor at the Bindmans law firm who represented the activists.

“It is no coincidence that just 48 hours after we told the CPS our clients could not receive a fair trial unless they disclosed material about Kennedy, they halted the prosecution. Given that Kennedy was, until recently, willing to assist the defence, one has to ask if the police were facing up to the possibility their undercover agent had turned native.”

Article 2

Mark Kennedy: A journey from undercover cop to ‘bona fide’ activist

No one suspected Mark Kennedy was undercover when he joined environmental activists – but has he now switched sides?

Paul Lewis & Rob Evans, 10 January, 2011,

He turned up with long hair, tattoos and an insatiable appetite for climbing trees. Few people suspected anything odd of the man who introduced himself as Mark Stone on a dairy farm turned spiritual sanctuary in North Yorkshire.

He had come alone on 12 August 2003, in the middle of a heatwave, for a gathering of environmental activists known as Earth First.

Apart from the fact that “Stone” was apparently well-paid and ate meat, he appeared no different from the hundreds of other activists who gathered under marquees to smoke weed, play guitars and plan protests.

What no one could have known was that, despite appearances, the 33-year-old “freelance climber” was actually PC Mark Kennedy, an undercover police officer beginning an audacious operation to live deep undercover among environmental activists.

The Guardian can reveal just how successful – and controversial – the operation was.

From that day Kennedy would live a remarkable double life lasting more than seven years. So embedded in the protest community did he become that about 200 people turned up for a joint celebration of his 40th birthday, described as a “three-day bender” on a farm.

All were, of course, oblivious that Kennedy was feeding back detailed reports to his police commanders as he participated in, and sometimes even organised, some of the most high-profile demonstrations of the past decade.

He took part in almost every major environmental protest in the UK from 2003, and also managed to infiltrate groups of anti-racists, anarchists and animal rights protesters.

Using a fake passport, Kennedy visited more than 22 countries, taking part in protests against the building of a dam in Iceland, touring Spain with eco-activists, and penetrating anarchist networks in Germany and Italy.

It was a career that involved breaking into power stations, invading airports and – according to legal papers – concluded in an operation in which he now stands accused of crossing the boundary from spy to agent provocateur.

Kennedy’s personal journey also appears to have ended with a remarkable twist. In recent weeks, after protesters discovered his hidden identity and circulated news that he was a police agent, Kennedy is said to have “gone native”. He has expressed remorse to betrayed friends and is seeking some way of securing redemption.

Kennedy’s career as a police constable in the Metropolitan police began around 1994. It was almost 10 years later – in early 2003 – that he was selected as a candidate for a classified operation.

Police have been infiltrating protest movements for decades, but Kennedy was to be one of the first to work for the newly formed National Public Order Intelligence Unit, which monitors so-called “domestic extremists”.

That summer he was issued with a driving licence and passport bearing his new identity – Mark Stone – and a plausible backstory that explained his long absences. Claiming to be a professional climber, Kennedy told people he encountered in Nottingham – many of them connected to Earth First – that he often had well-paid work abroad.

Kennedy had two assets that, in the years to come, would make him indispensable to protesters. First, he could drive, and had a dark blue pick-up truck. Second, he was generous with his money, agreeing to pay for campaign literature, rented vans and fines imposed on activists in magistrates courts. His largesse would eventually earn him his best-known nickname, Flash.

Almost a year after he first emerged in Nottingham, Kennedy began gaining the trust of activists. In 2004 he became involved in Dissent!, a network preparing for protests against the following year’s G8 Summit in Gleneagles.

In 2005 he scaled trees in London, to hang a banner protesting against BP, then travelled to Scotland, where his van was used to ship equipment to an eco-camp near Stirling. After G8 came to an end, Kennedy vanished to Iceland to campaign against the construction of a dam.

He was becoming well-known among protesters, including Alex Long, a member of the London-based Wombles anarchist collective, who had met him the previous year.

Looking back, Long said, Kennedy was “too good to be true – the perfect activist”. “He would be your best mate, but not in a contrived way,” he said. “If he walked in right now, I’d say to him: ‘Mark, how you doing?’ and then only seconds later I’d think, oh, I forgot, you’re a cop.”

By all accounts Kennedy rarely expressed political views, instead taking an interest in the practicalities of protest.

Craig Logan, 37, who unwittingly became a close friend of the undercover officer, said he had “no great powers of oratory” but made friends quickly. “He was funny, friendly – if a bit blokey,” he said. “He would go out of his way for people.” He agreed that Kennedy’s van – and his money – quickly helped him to ingratiate himself with the community.

Conscious of police surveillance, activists keep those who know about the logistics of a protest “action” to a small circle. For practical reasons, those in the know typically include people responsible for transport.

By the summer of 2006, Kennedy’s life as an activist was complete. He entered the circle of people planning the first of the annual Climate Camp gatherings, helping to set up the encampment near the Drax coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire. Around the same time he chained himself to Hartlepool nuclear power station and climbed a crane at Didcot power station.

At the following year’s Climate Camp, Kennedy was trusted enough to be given the important role of organising transport needed to set up a camp near Heathrow.

But by Climate Camp 2008 – when activists gathered near Kingsnorth power station, in Kent – the undercover police officer’s appetite for action was raising suspicions. Kennedy volunteered to be the driver in an action that saw 29 activists successfully hijack a train delivering 1,000 tonnes of coal to Drax. Behind his back, some protesters began calling him “Detective Stone”.

“I was quite shocked,” said Long. “That is just about the worst thing you can say about an activist.”

It was not until 12 April 2009, when Kennedy’s uniformed colleagues stormed into a school in the suburbs of Nottingham, that his double life began to unravel.

Police had been tipped off – presumably by Kennedy – that some activists planned to break into the nearby Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, a coal-fired plant owned by E.ON. In a £300,000 operation police swooped into a school building where protesters had gathered on the eve of the invasion.

Inside, they found 114 activists including Kennedy, who had travelled from the London G20 protests. Twenty protesters were eventually convicted for the minor crime of conspiracy to commit trespass after they admitted they had planned to occupy the plant for a week, thereby preventing the emission of 150,000 tonnes of carbon.

Handing down “lenient” sentences last week at Nottingham crown court, a judge said the intended protest would have been peaceful and safe, and recognised the activists were “decent” people with “the highest possible motives”.

Kennedy, it seems, was the exception. For four months he had played a key role in planning the action, leading a reconnaissance mission and giving advice on the best way to break into the site.

“We needed someone who could drive and we needed someone we could trust. Mark felt like that person,” said Bradley Day, 23, who worked with Kennedy on the mission.

Kennedy allowed his house to be used for planning meetings and, days before the protest was due to take place he used his fake ID to pay £778 to hire a 7.5-tonne truck to transport equipment. Those around said they became increasingly aware of his desire for the protest to go ahead.

When a heavy police presence was reported outside the power station, activists considered abandoning the protest, but nominated Kennedy to drive out to see how big a threat they posed. When he returned, he told the group there was no police presence at all. The arrests followed soon after.

Immediately some suspected Kennedy, who may have been having his own regrets. “I remember being awake at about eight the next morning and seeing Mark sitting at the bottom of the stairs with his head in his hands,” said one activist who slept on Kennedy’s floor.

Suspicions grew when Kennedy – among 27 activists who were charged – declined to use the same law firm as the others. Charges against him, but not the others, were then dropped. But it was a chance discovery of his real passport, bearing the surname Kennedy, months later that put activists on a trail that would eventually lead them to documents confirming he was a police officer.

Six of Kennedy’s close friends confronted him in a house in Nottingham in the early hours of 21 October last year. He confessed, breaking down in tears and expressing regret for the pain he had caused. He told those present that he was not the only officer deep undercover in the protest movement, costing the taxpayer £250,000 a year per agent.

Those claims – along with his apparent remorse – were not believed by everyone present. “He is duplicitous. He was undercover for seven years. I didn’t trust a word of what he was saying,” said one activist.

Kennedy is now living abroad, but recent developments suggest his desire for redemption is sincere. In email exchanges with activists and their lawyer, Kennedy talked of taking a “leap of faith”, giving the defence evidence that would “assist” them. “I want to help,” he said.

Three weeks ago, Kennedy suddenly pulled out and ceased communications, but not before expressing an abiding concern. “I don’t want this ever to happen to anyone ever again,” he said. “What’s happened is really wrong.”

Article 3

Mark Kennedy: secret policeman’s sideline as corporate spy

Former undercover officer apparently also worked privately as a corporate spy using the same false identity
Rob Evans, Amelia Hill, Paul Lewis & Patrick Kingsley, 13 January 2011

The undercover police officer whose unmasking led to the collapse of a trial of six environmental protesters on Monday apparently also worked as a corporate spy, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

Details of how Mark Kennedy went from police officer to businessman reveal the extent to which shadowy corporate firms appear to have developed links with the police. It also reveals something about Kennedy himself: with an apparent view to making money out of his access, the undercover officer used cryptic names derived from a science fiction television series, Stargate.

From 2003 until around March last year, Kennedy lived in the midst of the protest movement with the fake identity Mark Stone. Remarkably, he appears to have used that same undercover identity – which according to him cost the taxpayer £1.75m – to venture into private practice.

It is not known why Mark John Kennedy – born in Camberwell, south London on 7 July 1969 – quit his police job. However, he was apparently affected by the controversial police operation to arrest 114 people in Nottingham in April 2009 before protest action at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. He later offered to give evidence for the defence in the trial.

Documents seen by the Guardian suggest Kennedy put careful thought into what he would do after leaving the police. In February 2010 – a month before resigning – he set up Tokra Limited, at an address in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

The fanciful name could have derived from a science fiction television series, Stargate. Kennedy might well have seen parallels between his company’s mission and the plot, which features the Tok’ra as an alien race symbiotically inhabiting human hosts. In their human guise, the Tok’ra fight a powerful, evil race who seek to control and destroy the planet.

Calling himself a logistics officer, Kennedy registered himself as sole director of the company. Intriguingly, the address he used is the work address of Heather Millgate, a solicitor specialising in personal injury, and a former director of Global Open, a private security firm.

Global Open was set up in 2001 by Rod Leeming, a former special branch officer. The company keeps a “discreet watch” on protest groups for clients including E.ON.

It first came to public attention in 2007 when it was implicated in the case of Paul Mercer, a friend of the then Conservative shadow defence minister, Julian Lewis, who was exposed by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade of spying for the arms firm BAE.

Until Leeming left the police in 2001, he admits he regularly infiltrated undercover operatives into protest groups in his role as head of the Animal Rights National index. But he insists Global Open does not infiltrate activist groups. He told the Guardian the company only advises firms on security. However, Global Open appears to have access to well-sourced intelligence.

A confidential document produced by Global Open for another company interested in plans to attack the E.ON-owned power station at Kingsnorth in Kent dismissed the idea there would be violence.

“The aim of the protests is to cause economic damage to ensure that the cost of building more coal-fired power plants becomes prohibitive,” it stated. “There is no threat of violence to persons from any of the groups concerned, despite newspaper reports to the contrary.”

Leeming told the Guardian the company had never employed Kennedy. He did, however, confirm that Tokra was set up for a “reason” but he could not say what it was – only that it was a confidential matter between Kennedy and Millgate. Today, Millgate declined to comment when asked why Tokra had been set up.

Leeming added that Millgate left Global Open last year on good terms because she wanted to set up her own business. A flurry of official paperwork followed.

In February last year, Millgate went from being a marketing manager to a director of Global Open. On 31 March, Tokra changed its address from Millgate’s work address to one in Basingstoke.

Last spring, Kennedy set up a second firm – Black Star High Access Limited – in east London. That company name also appears to have been taken from a television science fiction programme: Black Star is the name of a spaceship in Babylon 5.

On 12 April, Kennedy applied for Tokra to be dissolved. Within a few days of that application, he resigned from the police. Tokra was finally dissolved on the 17 August. On 31 August, Millgate resigned as director of Global Open. Black Star High Access has not yet filed any records to reveal whether it is a viable, financial concern, but it is still active.

Another friend of Kennedy said the implication he went on to work for private security firms “fits perfectly” with his behaviour. Kennedy was becoming agitated and, unusually for someone who earned the nickname “Flash” for his impressive wealth, he started running out of money around the time he resigned.

“He asked to borrow money – and that was after we now know he resigned from the Met,” the friend said.

But if Kennedy was seeking to use the fake identity provided by police to continue his life as a spy, there was one crucial obstacle: he would almost certainly have had to hand in his fake driving licence and passport, meaning he would need to travel abroad under his real name.

This explains why, after maintaining his cover for seven years, he made such an amateur error of allowing friends to find his real passport, bearing the name Kennedy. “Mark must have known he had a ticking timebomb in his pocket when he travelled abroad,” the friend said.

His curious activities in Italy recently also point clearly to his having obtained a new employer. In September, Kennedy – a meat eater who had never previously shown an interest in animal rights campaigns – confounded friends by attending a gathering of interested activists in Milan.

Alex Long, a former member of the Wombles, an anti-capitalist group, received his last contact from Kennedy around this time, after sending him a text message to raise funds for the legal campaign for a fellow activist.

“The last time I spoke to Mark was in September 2010, a few weeks before he was outed,” said Long. “I texted him to try to raise money for the legal costs of a friend who is facing jail. He just replied: ‘I’m in Milan at an animal rights gathering – I’ll donate €50’.”

Article 4

Mail On Sunday, 17 January 2011, Caroline Graham

The undercover policeman who posed as an eco-warrior for eight years came out of hiding to tell his full, extraordinary story – and reveal that he fears for his life.

Mark Kennedy, 41, denies ‘going native’ and triggering the collapse of the trial of six environmental activists accused of trying to shut down one of Britain’s biggest power stations.

He is also furious at what he calls a ‘smear campaign’ that he bedded a string of vulnerable women to extract information.

He said angrily: ‘I had two relationships while I was undercover, one of which was serious. I am the first one to hold up my hands and say, yes, that was wrong.’

He says it was to ‘do the exit strategy properly’ and offer a more credible explanation for why he was leaving the activist movement. He bought a canal boat, the Tamarisk, as ‘an affordable place to live’.

It has since been claimed that Kennedy used the boat to bed more women – a claim he strongly denies.

‘It’s my home,’ he says. ‘I am now having to read reports about how it was my shag pad. That’s simply not true.’

Describing a life lived ‘constantly on the edge’, he claims his former police bosses are searching for him in America, where he fled last year.

He has received death threats from activists and sleeps in a barricaded room.

‘I am in fear for my life and don’t know where to turn,’ he says. Mr Kennedy refutes suggestions that he crossed the line, became an agent provocateur and played a central role in organising the very protests police wanted him to sabotage.

‘My superiors knew where I was at all times – my BlackBerry was fitted with a tracking device – and they sanctioned every move I made. I didn’t sneeze without them knowing about it. I feel I’ve been hung out to dry.’

Speaking from a safe house, the former police officer tells how he led an astonishing double life as committed green anarchist Mark Stone before being ultimately let down by his handlers.

In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday he reveals that:

* He was unmasked as a spy after his beautiful redhead girlfriend of five years found his real passport.
* Five policemen unaware of his undercover role savagely beat him up at a protest.
* Intelligence he gathered was passed directly to Tony Blair, then Prime Minister.
* Campaigners subjected him to a terrifying kangaroo court ordeal when his cover was blown.
* He was ‘incompetently’ handled by officers and was denied psychological counselling.

Mr Kennedy is estranged from his wife, with whom he has two children, a boy of 12 and a ten-year-old girl.

‘My son has been crying and says he never wants to see me again,’ he says.

The officer was recruited in 2002 by the Met’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

After his exposure last week, the secretive unit faced accusations that it ran ‘undemocratic’ operations. It has been urged to reveal the extent of its covert surveillance of peaceful protesters.

Mr Kennedy says he knows of at least 15 other officers who infiltrated the ranks of green campaigners in the past decade and of four who remain undercover.

He infiltrated and became a key member of the hardline group behind the alleged plot to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire in 2009.

When defence barristers submitted a disclosure request asking for information about his involvement, the prosecution apparently opted to abandon the case rather than have ‘murky’ evidence about the police’s involvement heard in public.

But Mr Kennedy says the case was doomed to fail anyway because covert recordings he supplied police proved undeniably that the six men facing trial last week for conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass were innocent.

Police withheld the recordings which, it was claimed yesterday, was the real reason the case collapsed.

Mr Kennedy’s case is now the subject of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

I’ve always respected the police. But the world of undercover policing is grey and murky. There is some bad stuff going on. Really bad stuff…

In an astonishing and revealing interview, Mark Kennedy today presents a very different image of the murky world of undercover policing to the one splashed across the media all week.

As Mark Stone, a long-haired drop-out mountaineer, nicknamed ‘Flash’ because of his access to ready cash, he attended scores of environmental protests in the UK and Europe.

But the man who sits before me is unrecognisable. His once lanky hair has been shorn into a neat short-back-and-sides. His grungy eco-warrior outfit of torn jeans and grubby T-shirt has been replaced by neatly pressed trousers, starched shirt and designer sweater. His full arm tattoos are covered by long sleeves. The only reminders of his former life are the piercings in his ears.

He is on the run, he says, from both his former police bosses and from activists who have made death threats against him. But he has also been swamped with offers for book and movie rights to his life story.

Speaking for the first time about what he calls ‘my living nightmare’, he says:

‘I can’t sleep. I have lost weight and am constantly on edge. I barricade the door with chairs at night. I am in genuine fear for my life. I have been told that my former bosses from the force are out here in America looking for me. I have been told by activists to watch my back as people are out to get me.

‘I have chosen to speak out because I want my story out there. People like to think of things in terms of black and white. But the world of undercover policing is grey and murky. There is some bad stuff going on. Really bad stuff.’

He says he is ‘horrified’ by accusations that he ‘crossed the line’, goading activists into actions they would not normally have considered.

‘I had a cover officer whom I spoke to numerous times a day,’ he says.

‘He was the first person I spoke to in the morning and the last person I spoke to at night. I didn’t sneeze without a superior officer knowing about it. My BlackBerry had a tracking device. My cover officer joked that he knew when I went to the loo.’

He is also furious at what he calls a ‘smear campaign’ that he bedded a string of vulnerable women to extract information.

He said angrily: ‘I had two relationships while I was undercover, one of which was serious. I am the first one to hold up my hands and say, yes, that was wrong.

‘I crossed the line. I fell deeply in love with the second woman. I was embedded into a group of people for nearly a decade. They became my friends. They supported me and they loved me. All I can do now is tell the truth. I don’t think the police are the good guys and the activists are bad or vice versa. Both sides did good things and bad things. I am speaking out as I hope the police can learn from the mistakes they made.

‘I was at the heart of a very sensitive operation. I was told my work was the benchmark for other undercover officers. My superior officer told me on more than one occasion, particularly during the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005, that information I was providing was going directly to Tony Blair’s desk.’

‘I am physically and mentally exhausted,’ he says. ‘I have had some dark thoughts. I thought I could end this very quickly.

‘I went to see a psychiatrist recently and told her I was having thoughts of suicide. I don’t have any confidence. My world has been destroyed. I don’t have any friends, they were all in the activist movement.’

Kennedy was born and raised in Orpington, Kent, the eldest son of traffic police officer John and housewife Sheila. His younger brother Ian is a landscape artist in America.

He left school at 16, worked as a court usher and joined the City of London Police in 1990, aged 21.

‘I always respected the police,’ he says. ‘I’ve given my life to them. I never imagined I would end up in this situation.’

As he speaks, over a period of several hours, it is abundantly clear he is a police officer. He talks in a clipped, concise manner. He gives details in a monotone voice. He often uses ‘police-speak’ and acronyms.

In the early Nineties he was a uniformed member of the ‘Ring of Steel’ around the City of London. He transferred to the Metropolitan Police and in 1996 was recruited to his first undercover course on street-level drug dealing.

‘I was a natural at undercover work and I loved it,’ he says.

‘Drug work was black and white. You identify the bad guys, record and film the evidence, present it in court and take them down. I did that for four years and loved it.’

Kennedy married in 1994 and had two children, a boy, now aged 12, and a daughter, ten. His wife lives in Ireland and is a staunch Catholic and for that reason they have not divorced.

He says his children are ‘heartbroken’ by the current turn of events: ‘My son has been crying and says he never wants to see me again,’ he says sadly.

His marriage failed in 2000, around the same time as he was approached by the Animal Rights National Index, a unit which became the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), a shadowy body that runs a nationwide intelligence database of political activists.

The unit comes under the control of the Association of Chief Police Officers which, as The Mail on Sunday has previously reported, is a limited company that sells information from the Police National Computer, among other concerns.

Kennedy says his cover officer would report back up a line of command who ‘were aware of everything I was doing. Every action I took had to receive something called an “authority” which covered me to infiltrate activist groups and be involved in minor crime such as trespass and criminal damage. In all the time I worked undercover I never broke the law.’

Kennedy says: ‘The NPOIU is extremely specialised and intense. It is difficult work. To infiltrate a group like the activists is hard, even though they are sociable and friendly at the lower level. I had to create a whole life, a whole backstory, and maintain credibility for years.’

Kennedy says he knew of 15 other operatives doing the same work as him during his eight years undercover.

‘Some got busted, others left,’ he says. ‘I was the longest-serving operative. At the time I left in 2009, there were at least four other operatives. I never did anything to jeopardise the work or lives of my fellow officers and I will not start now.’

Kennedy created what is known in the trade as ‘a legend’ – a believable backstory.

‘I was an avid rock climber and I had been to Pakistan so I created a story about being involved in the importation of drugs,’ he says.

‘I knew the London drug scene well so I purported to be a courier. That is how I justified having money.

‘I said I’d led a bad life and wanted to make amends, which was why I was drawn to eco-activism. I was also a keen climber, so I often worked as an industrial climber, which meant I had a means of showing I was “making” money, rather than the truth – which was that the NPOIU would wire it to me.

‘I was given a fake passport as Mark Stone, a driver’s licence, bank accounts, a credit card and a phone with a tracking device.’

His £50,000 annual police salary was paid into a private account in his real name. All other payments, which he says came to £200,000 a year, went into his ‘Mark Stone’ account. He says since dropping his cover ‘I have found it hard to sign my own name on cheques again’.
Pc Mark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy says he knew of 15 other operatives doing the same work as him during the eight years undercover

He was sent to Nottingham to the Sumac Centre, a hub of activists: ‘I started slowly and made friends. Then I went to my first gathering of the Earth First group where I met an activist called Mark Barnsley.

‘Our friendship blossomed and he treated me like a brother. He is a cantankerous figure but was well respected for his anarchist and vegan principles and the fact that he had fought with the PLO.

‘I was one of the few people who had a van, which made me a real asset. Things we take for granted in the real world are rare in the activist world. In those days very few of them had a mobile phone. Even now not many drive. That’s how the Flash nickname came about. I had stuff.’

Kennedy was involved in numerous activities, ranging from protests at the Drax power station in Yorkshire to picketing arms fairs in London and the Karahnjukar Dam in Iceland. His climbing skills were used to scale towers and buildings to unfurl banners. He drove hundreds of activists to demonstrations.

‘I began to live the life and enjoy it,’ he says frankly. ‘People have this image of hairy tree huggers and, yes, there is an element of that. I used to joke about them not just being vegans, but “freegans”. I was with people who would dive into skips to get food if it was free. But there are also a lot of educated, passionate people with degrees who really believe in what they are doing.’

I ask if the line between the activism and his police work ever became blurred: ‘As the years went on, I did get a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, (where kidnap victims fall for their abductors). But I never lost sight of my work. I texted and informed on a daily basis. But I began to like the people I was with. I formed lasting friendships.

‘I had no other friends. I was estranged from my wife. My life was undercover. Of course I cared about them. But I didn’t go rogue. I was immersing myself in the culture to do my job, to be credible.

‘I reported everything. There were many instances of shoplifting. I was offered counterfeit money. I was offered drugs many, many times. Yes, I had a serious relationship but there was another undercover female operative there who definitely knew about it.

‘If anyone had asked, I would have told them. But no one asked. That is the problem about this whole undercover police operation. There seem to be no guidelines, no rules. I was pretty much left to fend for myself.

‘I got great information to keep police a step ahead of the game. I also prevented violence. At a G8 protest in Germany the riot cops were planning to go in heavy, but I knew the crowd was planning to disperse. I texted that information in, and the charge was called off. That stopped bloodshed.’

The low point of his career came in 2006 when he was beaten up by five uniformed police officers on the perimeter fence of the Drax power station – who were only there because he tipped them off.

‘A young petite woman I knew as Cathleen began to crawl through a hole in the fence,’ he says. ‘Then I saw a uniformed police officer start to strike her very hard on her legs and lower back with his baton.

‘I tried to stand between her and him. I didn’t do anything aggressive. That’s when I got jumped on by five officers who kicked and beat me. They had batons and pummelled my head. They punched me. One officer repeatedly stamped on my back.’

Kennedy went to hospital with a head wound, broken finger and a prolapsed disc. His attempt to claim for injuries incurred on duty was denied as it would blow his cover. ‘That p***ed me off,’ he says.

He says he was embraced by activists throughout Europe who he found ‘more militant and volatile’ than in Britain. In 2008 he was invited to a forest on the French-German border where groups from around Europe would share skills.

‘It was almost stereotypical. The Germans made very technical, clean and precise incendiary devices, the French were flamboyant and used Gauloises cigarettes to light the fuse and the Greeks were all for a big bang: they strapped a gas canister to a basic incendiary device.

‘When it was my turn I shared details of arm tubes – when protestors clip their arms into steel tubes to create a barrier. I think the others were a bit disappointed but British activism didn’t have the militancy or violence of other countries.’

Kennedy says he would travel abroad with fellow activists, and feed information back to his British superiors to share with other nations. ‘Activism has no borders,’ he says. ‘I would never go abroad without authority from my superiors and the local police.’

But Kennedy claims there were repeated cases of police mismanagement.

‘I was supposed to get psychological counselling every three months,’ he said.

‘I would go two years without seeing the shrink. Initially meetings were regular. Then it became a farce. The office was so greedy for intelligence that they didn’t set up the meetings. They went by the wayside. I’m sure that’s the same for other undercover officers too.’

He adds: ‘Plans were constantly changed at the last minute. It wore on my nerves. They just assumed I could change everything on the whim of the officer in control. It wasn’t that easy.

‘I became increasingly paranoid. I was stressed out. I was fried. I never stopped being a cop, but I was pushed to the limit of what I could endure.’

Kennedy says his cover was blown when a meeting planning action at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire was raided in April 2009.

‘When it all kicked off, 114 people were arrested, including me. No further action was taken against most of them, but 27 people, including me, were to be charged with conspiracy offences. I kept being told by my cover officer, “Don’t worry, they are going to drop it,” but they never did.’

Meanwhile, Kennedy continued to work undercover, including the climate camp in London in the summer of 2009, but the Ratcliffe-on-Soar arrest was still hanging over him.

‘I was interviewed twice by detectives,’ he says. ‘The second time, I was the only one without a solicitor, which was hugely weird.

‘You can’t lie to a lawyer. So I couldn’t have a lawyer. I was a few days from being charged, then the case was dropped. That pretty much blew my cover.’

He says he was told his eight-year undercover operation was over in a curt text message in September 2009.

‘I’d just had a huge 40th birthday party for me and ten others born in 1969 called the 69ers party at a farm in Herefordshire. I was told, “At least you had a great party and now it’s over.” Then the text came telling me I had three weeks.

‘I had to clear out of the house where I was living in Nottingham. I was made to hand over my Mark Stone passport, driving licence and credit cards. I was then driven to Ireland.

‘I didn’t say goodbye properly. I’d told the activists I was feeling burned out and was going to visit my brother in America “indefinitely”. It was ridiculous, everyone knows you can’t just go to America like that.

‘I was given a mailing address in the US which was a PO Box. I had Facebook accounts and email accounts but wasn’t allowed to use those. I had lots of leave to take, which I spent with my children in Ireland.

‘I had an interview with the Met’s personnel department in December 2009 and was told I wasn’t qualified.

‘I was in there less than 20 minutes. I came out hugely depressed. I’d done 20 years’ service and they were basically telling me I was only qualified to drive a panda car. So long undercover had left me totally inequipped to go back into mainstream policing. I couldn’t even use the radios or computers.

‘Then in January last year I was approached by a private company which advises corporations about activist trends. It’s run by Rod Leeming, a former Special Branch officer. I’d never met him before.’

The company, Global Open, is based in London and has advised major corporations including E.On – which runs the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant – and BAE.

Kennedy handed in his resignation from the police in January, ending work in March.

He then went back to Nottingham and contacted his old friends: ‘People were worried about me. I wanted to withdraw myself in a more believable way. I didn’t tell police I was going back.’

He resumed his relationship with his girlfriend while he worked for Global Open as a consultant – although he says he did not operate undercover for the company.

‘I was using the time to try to extract myself in a proper way,’ he says.

‘I did a course on servicing wind turbines. I made the excuse that I was going to go off around the world doing that. That would have been a far more acceptable exit than just vanishing.’

In July he and his girlfriend went on holiday to Europe – when she discovered his passport in the name of Mark Kennedy. ‘She told the other activists about it and they started investigating me.

‘When I went to visit my kids in October I got a menacing phone call saying they knew I was a cop.

‘I knew then that it was over.’

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Simon Brenner

The Case “Simon Brenner”

Published by Linksunten Indymedia, 18 Dec 2010 –

On Sunday the 12th of December 2010 a undercover agent working for the Landeskriminalamt (LKA) Baden-Württemberg was uncovered in Heidelberg, Germany. His aim was to make contact with the Antifa scene via open left structures and to gather information about individuals as well as group structures to be presented directly to the LKA and the local state security division.

After three days of research and reconstruction the following has emerged:

Cover story

The LKA informer had a German national identity card under the name of “Simon Brenner” (Nr.: 6920333978D-8604138-1511088), with the date of birth stated as 13.04.1986, living in the town of Leimen (Germany). Allegedly he formerly lived in Bad Säckingen in the Waldshut (Baden-Württemberg) area, which coheres with the license plate of his silver Nissan estate car (WT-??-???).

He used a mobile with the number 0049 (0) 151 20727114 and the email addresses and, the latter has already been blocked. Under the user name ‘californiaction’ ha also wrote articles on Indymedia.

In the summer term 2010 he enrolled with most likely false documents at the University of Heidelberg in the subjects german philology and ethnology and for the winter term switched to ethnology and sociology (Student Nr.: 2858472).


  • November 2009: first appearance on the students information day, first contact to the SDS Heidelberg
  • April 2010: enrollment at the University of Heidelberg, involvement with the SDS
  • 24.04.2010: participation in the direct action “Umzingelung des AKW Biblis” (“encirclement of the nuclear power plant Biblis”)
  • 01.05.2010: participation in the blockades against the fascist protest in Berlin
  • 15.05. – 23.05.2010: participation in the Campus Camp in Heidelberg, first contact the the “Kritische Initiative” (KI)
  • 09.06.2010: participation in the anti education cuts protest in Heidelberg
  • 26.07.2010: participation in a anti nuclear energy manifestation
  • 15.08. – 21.08.2010: participation in a direct action climbing workshop
  • 18.09.2010: participation in the the antifascist protests and blockades against the fascist protest in Sinsheim-Hoffenheim
  • 27.09. – 03.10.2010: participation in the NoBorder Camp in Brussels (protests, direct action)
  • 23.10.2010: participation in the antifascist protests in Rastatt and Rheinmünster-Söllingen against the fascist centre „Rössle“
  • 06.11.2010: participation and co-organization of the protests against the nuclear waste transport and the ‘south blockade’ („Südblockade“)
  • 14.11.2010: participation in the antifascist protests against the hero memorial of Heidelberg on the ‘honor graveyard’ („Ehrenfriedhof“)
  • 27.11.2010: participation in the antifascists protests against the fascists protest in Sinsheim-Hoffenheim
  • 11.12.2010: organization and participation of the Critical Mass Action in Heidelberg

The end of the operation

The agent was uncovered by a holiday acquaintance, which he had met in France before the start of his undercover mission. To her he presented himself as “Simon” and told her that he was a police officer in Überlingen. This holiday acquaintance then met him in Heidelberg while she was visiting a friend within the scene. Although he tried to pressure her not to say anything, she told her friend that he was a police officer.

Confronted with this accusation on the next day (12.12.), he admitted to have been sent to Heidelberg as undercover agent for the LKA.

He said, that he did normal police officer duty in Überlingen, but then, as he wanted to pursue a career, had to decide between BFE and LKA. He went for the latter. There he was in the division I540 (“undercover investigations state security”), and availed of a special training for undercover investigations as well as a briefing on the situation of the Heidelberger left scene.

The aim of his mission he said was “information gathering and threat prevention”, however without a concrete incident being the instigator nor there being a concrete suspicion (which by German law is necessary for such a mission). The long term goal of this long planed mission was to gather information about the “antifa-scene”. Over a medium term, he said, he wanted to try and make contact to the Antifascist Initiative Heidelberg (AIHD) and to infiltrate them.

Further on, he said he gave reports to his superiors in Stuttgart every two weeks, as well as having been in contact in a regular manner over the phone with the Heidelberger sate security division for follow up assessments of political actions.

He also self-confessed that he was responsible for the raiding of a flat of a comrade as well as the enormous police presence at the Heidelberger “Ehrenfriedhof” during the protests against the hero memorial.

During his deployment of nearly 9 months, he said that he gathered all information he could get on political activists and there private environment, to subsequently file these and then forward them to his superiors.


The goal of this mission was obviously the infiltration of and the widespread information gathering on the Heidelberg left, especially of the organized antifa scene. Through the selection of the groups and actions in which he engaged, he tried to establish a comprehensible theoretical as well as practical radicalization for “his” political peers. For this the snitch used low-threshold open structures and groups, to gather a credible reputation within the “scene” to then in a long term avail of precarious and sensitive information.

Even though this case in a shocking way demonstrates how parts of the executive forces undermine the constitutionally enshrined imperative of the separation between police forces and intelligence services and simply ignore the law with such a ruthlessness, also especially towards the psychological condition of the immediate persons concerned, we herby pledge not to set open structures and ‘scene-newbies’ under general suspicion.

Open structures and groups are necessary low-threshold points of reference for politically interested people. Nonetheless, it is necessary, now even more so than before, to instigate discussions within the organized left about the risks of open structures and to work towards a security concept beyond blind paranoia or to call security standards already in place into our minds and into political praxis!

No collaboration with state repression institutions!
For solidarity!
Get organized! Support your local antifa!

ATTENTION: This reconstruction by no ways claims to be complete! If you should have more information about “Simon Brenner”, pictures or actions in which he took part, details of his life (also before his undercover mission), please refer to the Rote Hilfe or the Antifascist Initiative Heidelberg, whose statements and press releases are documented in the following links:


Follow up article

Heidelberg undercover police spy “Simon Brenner”, exposed as Simon Bromma

On the 12th of December 2010 a police spy of the Landeskriminalamt (police authority of the federal state) was uncovered. He had infiltrated the left-wing scene in Heidelberg in southwest Germany. The cover name of the spy was “Simon Brenner”. His real name is Simon Bromma. According to his cover story, “Brenner” came from Bad Säckingen. In fact, Bromma is from Radolfzell at Lake Constance.

Pigs, Fools, Squares

The fictional father of the politically interested student “Simon Brenner” is called “Franz” and lives at Zeppelinstraße 45 in Bad Säckingen on the southern edge of the land Baden-Württemberg. The policeman’s father is called Franz, too, and lives in southern Baden-Württemberg. The real Franz lives in Radolfzell and works in the Konstanz police department. Father Bromma is organized in the police trade union “Deutsche Polizeigewerkschaft”, a member of the church council of St. Meinrad, and “Fähnrich” (ensign) of the fool’s guard of the fool’s guild “Narrizella Ratoldi”, founded in 1933.

Simon’s brother Benjamin “Bennie” Bromma is a police officer, too. The “Polizeiobermeister” (police sergeant, first class) is organized in the same fool’s club as his father. He plays drums in the military style marching band of Radolfzell and the municipal youth orchestra “Gemeindejugend Mühlhausen, Ehingen & Aach”.

Simon Bromma himself is active in a gymnastic club. As “Turngauverantwortlicher” (responsible for the gymnastic district) he was responsible for the registration process of the “40. International Youth Camp of the Baden Gymnastic Youth in Breisach” in August 2008. For this he used his home address Allmendstraße 9, 78315 Radolfzell, phone 07732-971600 and his email address No doubt: the Bromma family is deeply rooted in the traditional life of Radolfzell.

A cover close to the uncovered

In January 2010 – while he was looking for a flat as “Simon Brenner” in Heidelberg – Simon Bromma was also elected to the position of “Jugendwart” (youth coach) at the general assembly of his gymnastic club “Hegau-Bodensee-Turngau” at the Winegrower’s Centre of Wine and Culture in Meersburg. On the “Turngau” website, he’s still listed as “Jugendwart (kommissarisch)” (youth coach, provisional) with the address of the riot police in Wolfgang-Brumme Allee 52, 71034 Böblingen, phone: 0160-90646795, email:
At the end of 2006, Bromma received his certificate of apprenticeship, and an award in metalworking. According to the hacked emails of “Simon Brenner”, he pretended to have finished an apprenticeship as industrial mechanic in papers he had to provide to potential landlords in Heidelberg. He told Heidelberg activists he had worked as a metalworker in his father’s company.
“Simon Brenner” liked to ride his bicycle from his flat just about outside Heidelberg into town. Simon Bromma participated in a bicycle race for his police department in Kirchzarten in the Black Forest in 2008. According to his ID card, “Brenner” was born on the 13th of April 1986. For his registration in Kirchzarten, Bromma gave 1985 as his year of birth. “Simon Brenner” used the Yahoo mail address, Simon Bromma can be contacted via Bromma used for his Amazon account. On the 29th of October 2008, Bromma ordered a book with the title “Facing death every day: police officers recount [paperback]”. He provided his home address at Allmendstraße in Radolfzell as billing address.

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered

After finishing his training at the 5th section of riot police in Böblingen in 2009, Bromma started working at the police station in Überlingen, Mühlenstraße 16. According to him, he received several months of “special training” for undercover cops by the LKA (police authority of the federal state) and started building up the identity of “Simon Brenner” in the end of 2009. He actively infiltrated the left-wing scene in Heidelberg starting in April 2010. He reported back to the LKA, department “I540 Verdeckte Ermittlungen” (undercover investigations) and confessed to writing up his reports every second week in Stuttgart. He also kept in contact with the Heidelberg political police (“Staatsschutz”, part of the local criminal investigation department). His contact officers at the department of political police “Dezernat 14” in Heidelberg were Michael Schlotthauer (49 years) and Volker Schönfeld (46 years).

“Simon Brenner” used bank accounts with Postbank Stuttgart, account number 460730700 and Volksbank Rhein-Wehra, account number 43458302. He gave out the mobile phone number 0151-20727114 to his Heidelberg “comrades” and used the same phone to stay in touch with his case officers at the LKA. Another number of “Simon Brenner” was 0160-6543994. While looking for a flat, he was interested only in those a bit outside the city, even though his allowable expenses were high enough to pay for a room in the city centre: “My spending ceiling is about 500 € per month, without heating and other utilities.”

The cover story of “Simon Brenner” is quite close to his real life. From the cops’ point of view this makes sense. Similar names make it unlikely that his cover is blown by a chance encounter with an old acquaintance, and the spy reacts naturally to the familiar sound of his name. Neither the spy nor friends can accidentally reveal something with indiscreet chatter. The substantive overlapping of biographical data, home region, knowledge and hobbies of both the real and the assumed identities keeps the spy from having to pretend all the time. And a police family is the best assurance for loyal silence.

Snitches are the most abject of all

“Simon Brenner” was convinced that he could simply vanish. He believed in the anonymity of his real identity. For him, betrayal was just a game. But betrayal is no game. Simon Bromma will have to face the consequences of what he did.

Paul Mercer

Corporate spy was active in Nottingham

Nottingham Indymedia 8th February 2011.

The Mark Kennedy case has thrown the world of police and private spying on activists into the spotlight. One of the many revelations about Kennedy is that he can be linked to private spying company Global Open. Kennedy worked as a consultant for them and set up his own company, Tokra, using the address of Global Open director Heather Millgate.

Nottingham Indymedia can reveal that a second spy linked to Global Open, Paul Mercer, was actively involved with environmental and animal rights campaigns in Nottingham, including Nottingham Against Incineration and Landfill (NAIL). Mercer was involved in groups in Nottingham in the period 2002-2007.

Mercer was publicly exposed for his role in spying on anti-arms trade campaigners, Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) in 2007. His contract for the operation was finalised through Global Open.


Paul Symington Mercer graduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a degree in Production Engineering. After leaving university, he worked for “free market think tank” the Adam Smith Institute, in Westminster. He claims to have been a freelance journalist since 1982 (and, perhaps surprisingly, at least until 2007, a “long-standing member of the National Union of Journalists”) with articles published in the Observer, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and London Evening Standard, pictures printed in national newspapers and a period researching political organisations for the BBC. He is also the author of at least seven books, including several specialist works on military aviation. Between 1987 and 1991 he served as a Conservative Borough Councillor in Charnwood, Leicestershire.

Mercer has a long-standing interest in protest movements. In his sworn affidavit to the court during the CAAT case, Mercer insisted that “most of my research involves the automated searching of public websites and newsletters,” indeed he claims to have “a good reputation for my ability to rigorously search the Internet.” Nevertheless, he says he has “a wide range of contacts” and “does sometimes receive information from anonymous sources, as do many journalists.” At a meeting organised by think tank Policy Exchange in January he described himself as having spent 29 years trying to “combine an academic study of extra-parliamentary groups with actually going and seeing what happens on protests.” He claimed to have “covered and having been on pretty well every major public order disturbance in London over that period,” including the Poll Tax Riots and Mayday 2001.

In the 1990s, Mercer involved himself in the anti-roads movement including protests against the M11 in Claremont Road. In 1994, he published the ‘Directory of British Political Organisations’. When news of his involvement with BAE and CAAT broke, Undercurrents noted that this contained personal information and contact details for people he’d met in Earth First! and other ecological direct action campaigns in the early ‘90s. In 2007, Mercer stated, “The majority of” the 4,500 organisation profiled in the directory “received one or more letter from me asking for information about them.” He did not explain how he obtained information on those he didn’t write to.

Nowadays he presents himself as an expert on protest movements and advises companies on how to deal with protests. He spoke at a Policy Exchange meeting on the ‘Rise of street extremism’ (available to view on YouTube) earlier this year and it was noted by the chair during his introduction that this was a “rare public appearance” by Mercer.

For all his supposed expertise, the analysis he presented at the meeting is unremarkable, mainly notable for the way in which he deliberately obscures the distinction between protest and riot so that he can talk about “all the major riots: NUM, Poll Tax, BNP, Reclaim The Streets, criminal justice, J18, Mayday… Tamils, Palestinians and now the students.” He went on to suggest, following the same analysis, that the Poll Tax Riots were organised by the Militant Tendency, latterly the Socialist Party. Despite the role of Trotskyist groups in “organising” riots, Mercer contended that violence at protests was typically instigated by “anarchist groups, squatters and what the Home Secretary rightly referred to as this ‘feral underclass.’” This “underclass” is apparently made up of Millwall football fans (who he seemed to suggest, kicked off the Poll Tax Riots) and hunt saboteurs. Having offered these insights into the causes of public disorder, Mercer then sought to justify the use of kettling and argue that prosecuting police officers for instance of brutality against demonstrators had cultivated “a reluctance of police officers on the frontline to actually hit people as hard as is necessary.”

Outside of his interest in protest movements, Mercer has also worked for PR firms and “carried out research to assist with the UK launch of the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

Mercer and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

In 1986, Mercer published ‘Peace of the Dead – The Truth Behind the Nuclear Disarmers’. The book was described in an introduction by Lord Alun Chalfont as “an indispensable work of reference” for “the increasing number of people in this country who regard CND as at best a chronic nuisance and at worst an insidious danger.” The vast tome running to 465 pages is an extended denunciation of CND and the wider “‘peace’ movement” with the scare quotes used throughout. Mercer argues at length that CND was a Communist front, attempting to disarm the UK, in the process furthering the foreign policy aims of the Soviet Union, supporting this with extensive quotations from publicity material produced by CND, various satellite groups and assorted Marxist sects. A series of appendices detail committee members, presidents and vice-presidents of CND and associated groups, with their various political affiliations.

In the preface, Mercer states that he has relied “as much as possible on primary sources, including confidential and internal CND documents.” These documents, which consist primarily of official letters, reports and minutes, are, Mercer claims, “not normally available to outsiders.” He states that they have been “obtained through careful research and from CND sources concerned about the developments within the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament since its revival” (p 422). Presumably these are the same people who Mercer notes in the acknowledgements who “would rather not be named.” One such internal document, which he considers sufficiently interesting to reproduced in full, is a letter from Nabil Ramlawi, the London represenative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation(PLO) to CND promoting an upcoming rally in London complete with – what Mercer claims is – former-chair of CND Bruce “Kent’s handwritten annotation.”

At some point, it is clear that Mercer infiltrated CND, a fact stated openly when he was introduced at the Policy Exchange event. While ‘Peace of the Dead’ makes no explicit mention of infiltration as a research tool, Mercer does imply a first-hand knowledge of key-members of the organisation. The acknowledgements include, among those deserving of a “special mention”, a nod to “Monsignor Bruce Kent (perhaps unwittingly)”. Furthermore, the inside back cover of the book has a photograph of Kent apparently talking to Mercer, whose face has been obscured.

It is around this time that Mercer became friends with Conservative MP, Julian Lewis who is credited in the acknowledgements with having “done most in terms of proof-reading, copy-editing and acting as a source of inspiration.” Lewis was the Research Director of the Coalition for Peace Through Security, who CND accuse of disrupting their events, sending a spy into their office and trying to link Bruce Kent with the IRA. Mark Loveday, James and Michele, all at the Coalition, also merit acknowledgements. Mercer’s evident chummy relationship with the Coalition for Peace Through Security is, at least partly, explained by the fact that Policy Research Publications which published the book shared an office the Coalition.

In 2007, Lewis (by then shadow defence minister) told the Guardian that he was still “in social contact with” Mercer. He admitted that he had “worked closely with Paul in the 1980s,” and suggested that Mercer had done “a lot of good work exposing the far left”. Lewis himself has a history of similar “good work”. With his position in the Coalition for Peace Through Security he was a leading figure in an extensive government supported campaign to discredit CND. During the 1970s he had even infiltrated the Labour Party.

Among the other groups thanked in the acknowledgements is the Freedom Association a “non-partisan” right-wing libertarian group associated with the Conservative Party. During the 1980s they campaigned against the boycott of Apartheid South Africa and engaged in union breaking activities. A number of the other individuals named are also alleged to have been involved with the organisation. It is not clear exactly how much can be inferred from this, as Mercer also acknowledged the help of the “Communist Party’s Press Department”!

Mercer in Nottingham

According to local environmentalist and animal rights campaigner, Jon Beresford, it was around 2002 when Mercer first appeared in Nottingham. He lived in the local area and so it was easy for him to get involved in campaigns in the city. Mercer spoke authoritatively about the Newbury by-pass campaign which won him respect amongst local campaigners. He latched onto Beresford and his partner and was extremely friendly and helpful to them, something that Beresford now says seems like an obvious tactic.

According to Beresford, Mercer was present at a demonstration against a McDonalds in West Bridgford in 2004. McDonalds had struck a deal with the supermarket chain, Asda, to take over the cafe at their West Bridgford store, which had become popular with local school children. Animal rights and environmental campaigners were campaigning to stop McDonalds selling what they saw as unhealthy and unethical food to young kids. They held a demo in fancy dress which was covered by Radio 5 Live and Central TV and Mercer gave an interview for the local news. The campaign was partially successful, winning a concession from McDonalds that they would not sell their food to school children during school hours.

Mercer’s involvement wasn’t merely as a participant, however. Soon after the Asda/McDonalds campaign, he raised the idea of targeting Gala Casino and Bingo Halls with animal rights campaigners. Gala had chosen the British Heart Foundation as their charity of the year. BHF has long been criticised by animal rights activists for spending much of its budget on animal experimentation to find new drugs, rather than working on prevention. It is thought that 70% of heart disease cases are preventable. According to Beresford, Mercer said that his wife worked for Gala and that the company would be an easy target which would be keen avoid bad publicity. Not only did Mercer initiate the campaign, Beresford says he also fed campaigners the email addresses of senior managers. The company’s headquarters in Nottingham were picketed. Mercer claimed to have insider information, via his wife, that senior managers were very worried and that the campaign was working. Beresford describes Mercer as having directed the campaign.

At other times Mercer seemed to play a more traditional disruptive role. He came along on an ambitious environmental action, coordinated by people outside Nottingham, which never happened because the target was swarming with police.

Once he had become a trusted figure, Mercer could move within the scene into campaigns such as NAIL. Although he was considered a key figure behind the scenes, he never came to committee meetings and tried to keep out of the public eye. He worked as a freelance journalist, he said, and was known to attend events with his camera. Beresford says that despite his low public profile Mercer was keen to guide the direction of campaigning.

NAIL was set up by local campaigners in 2002 to protest against the Eascroft Incinerator. Support for the campaign would grow in 2005 when plans to expand the facility were announced. An entirely peaceful campaign, with “members from Greenpeace, Nottingham Friends of the Earth, Nottingham Green Party and CABS (Clean Air for Bakersfield and Sneinton)”, it organised demonstrations, community outreach days and banner drops in Sneinton.

In April 2006, Mercer attended a public meeting about plans for an incinerator held at Green’s Mill Old School Hall, Sneinton. Entirely by chance he was photographed by regular Indymedia contributor Tash, who had no idea who he was at the time.

Campaign Against Arms Trade v Paul Mercer & LigneDeux Associates

In 2007, Mercer was thrust into the headlines when it was revealed that he had forwarded an email containing legally privileged material from anti-arms trade campaign, CAAT, to arms dealers, BAE. An investigation found that Mercer was working as a security consultant for LigneDeux Associates, a company paid £2,500 a month by BAE to provide informations on “threats” to the company.

Mercer claimed he was contacted by Rod Leeming of Global Open (who he described as “a management consultancy”) in 2005. According to Mercer’s account, Global Open “had been approached by BAE because BAE needed someone to provide BAE’s media and internet monitoring requirement in order to examine potential threats to it.” It was decided to set-up a partnership for the work using an off-the-shelf name, LigneDeux Associates. According to Mercer, the pre-contact negotiations between BAE and LigneDeux were conducted by Leeming and Michael McGinty, BAE’s Director of Security, with Mercer playing no role. LigneDeux was based, “for the sake of convenience,” at Global Open’s accountant’s office.

Mercer claimed to have received the privileged information on CD-R in an anonymous envelope which he discovered while “clearing a backlog of Christmas post” On the CD was a Word document containing a copy of an email from Ann Feltham to the steering group of CAAT and a letter sent by Leigh Day & Co addressed to the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Director of the Serious Fraud Office. It was the email which was significant as it contained legal advice from Leigh Day & Co and hence was privileged and confidential.

Mercer copied the document and forwarded it to McGinty. Mercer also copied in Martin Carroll at BAE. When this material reached BAE’s legal department they were obliged to return it to CAAT, thus beginning the legal process which would bring Mercer into the headlines. After being informed by BAE that the material was privileged and instructed not to send anything further, Mercer decided to send it to Leeming. He claims this was “in order to seek his opinion on the matter and alert him to a potential problem”.

Mercer was unable to produce the envelope in which the CD arrived, explaining that this was because he hadn’t realise at the time that it would be necessary to keep hold of it and had not realised what he had been sent. He also closed the pseudonymous email address he used for his research on BAE’s behalf, destroying any emails within, and reformatted the memory stick used to copy the document from the computer where he opened it to a internet connected laptop. In his sworn affidavit to the court he claims in both cases to have done this before an injunction which obliged him not to destroy any documents which might be related to the case. However, Leigh Day & Co allege the email address was closed after Mercer was tipped off by McGinty about the injunction.

BAE initially refused to state how it came into possession of the material. A copy of the email was passed to Leigh Day & Co in a letter, but this they noted ‘had been redacted so as to delete the forwarding information which would have shown how and when the email was sent to BAE.’ CAAT obtained an injunction requiring BAE to preserve any relevant documents and after a hearing, BAE were directed to disclose a full copy of the email, including routing information, and explain how they had received it. It was at this point that Mercer’s role became public knowledge.

It remains unknown who leaked the documents and whether they were an infiltrator or a hacker, but as legal action continued, BAE was forced to admit an increasing amount. In addition to LigneDeux associates, McGinty admitted that BAE had employed Evelyn Le Chêne to do similar work. Martin Hogbin who worked for CAAT had been accused of working for Le Chêne in September 2003, but BAE had not acknowledged any involvement with her until McGinty’s admission. In October 2007, BAE had to make an unprecedented undetaking to the court that it will not “not to intercept by any unlawful means … [and] not to solicit, voluntarily receive or procure any confidential communication or document” belonging to CAAT.”

Mark Kennedy and Global Open

On its website, Global Open proudly announces that it “is run by former New Scotland Yard Special Branch officers.” The company claims to gather intelligence ‘responsibly and legally’ for their corporate clients. Their website boasts their expertise in dealing with activist threats to big business. The company’s directors include Rod Leeming (ex-Special Branch and former head of the Animal Rights National Index, according to the Guardian), the man who Paul Mercer forwarded CAAT’s legally privileged email to, and, until September last year, Heather Millgate.

In his interview with the Sunday Mail, PC Mark Kennedy claims that after being pulled from his undercover role in September 2009 he was “approached” by Leeming (who he insists he had never met before) on behalf of Global Open in January 2010. Kennedy handed in his resignation from the police in January 2010, leaving in March and at some point, began working for Global Open as a “consultant”.

At around the same time, Kennedy seems to have begun considering the possibility of going into business himself. On 9 February 2010 Kennedy set up a company called Tokra Ltd (Company No. 07150492), with himself listed as a Logistics officer on the Certificate of Incorporation, at an address in Leighton Buzzard. This was the work address of Millgate (a personal injury solicitor), who became a director of Global Open in February.

On 31 March 2010, Tokra changed its address from Millgate’s work address to another in Basingstoke. Around the same time, Kennedy set up a second company, Black Star High Access (Company No. 07209622), also registered in Basingstoke. According to the Guardian, Kennedy applied for Tokra Ltd to be dissolved on April 12 2010 and this finally happened on 17 August. On 31 August, Millgate resigned as a director of Global Open. While Black Star has yet to file any records, it is still an active company.

Kennedy denies operating undercover for Global Open, but returned to Nottingham after leaving the police and continued using the Mark Stone pseudonym. According to a Newsnight report, in August 2010 he attended the Earth First! gathering and participated in a session about police infiltration. After that workshop he left an email address referring to Tokra.

The Corporate Shilling

The Mark Kennedy case has thrown some light onto the dark world of police spying. There is also an extensive network of corporate security/investigation firms. Many of these firms advertise that they employ former police officers, many of them ex-Special Branch. In 2008 Russell Corn, managing director of Diligence, one such company with offices in Canary Wharf claimed that private spies made up a quarter of the attendees of Climate Camp: “Easily one in four of the people there are taking the corporate shilling.” This is almost certainly a vast overstatement, but with increasing concern about a growth in dissent fuelled by the impact of the cuts (as demonstrated in the Policy Exchange session attended by Mercer) it is likely to remain one area which does well inspite of any economic difficulties.


Mercer and an MI6 asset

Comment Published: February 08, 2011 21:20 by Sandy

I remember on one occasion he turned up at the Manchester Airport second runway protest with his mate David Rose – at the time home affairs correspondent on the Observer. To be fair, they produced a sympathetic article about the protest. It was only later that Rose was exposed as an MI6 asset which he later tried to explain away in the New Statesman:

Exposed before

Comment Published: February 08, 2011 22:23 by Andy

I remember Mercer when he turned up at some Greenpeace meetings in Nottingham.

I have no doubt that he had an ulterior motive in doing so but at the same he was quite open about the fact that he had had books published and that, politically, I remember he always said that he was a libertarian. (In contrast most Greenpeace activists seemed to be the opposite). But unlike any other infiltrator or undercover police officer I have read about recently he was capable of maintaining a coherent political argument.

He may have just been very good at what he did but on some issues such as opposing McDonalds restaurants near schools, putting an incinerator in the middle of a city or opposing GM crops he not only had a grasp of the issues but was passionate at the same time. This does not excuse the fact that he later worked with Global Open and may have been doing so at the time.

What I later discovered is that he had been exposed once before when he was active in an anti-oil campaign in the 1990’s. Some Earth First activists had come across his book about CND which, given its highly critical nature, didn’t quite accord with his involvement with them. He apparently contributed many of the photos that appear in the Earth First newsletter at the time.

The fact that one of the most influential think tanks, the Policy Exchange, should chose to invite him to address a meeting on ‘street extremism’ and bill him as the “UK’s pre-eminent expert on extremist groups” suggests to me that in the intervening year’s since we last saw him in Nottingham he has not been idle.

I don’t think that any of this makes Mercer a better person but what it should do is remind us that not all infiltrators or undercover police officers fit into the Mark Kennedy mould. It is possible that some of them do have political opinions, use their real names and didn’t try to seduce women activists.



Marco Jacobs

Mark “Marco” Jacobs

See below for statement from Cardiff Anarchist Network

Third undercover police spy unmasked as scale of network emerges

The Guardian, 15 January, 2011

Paul Lewis, Matthew Taylor & Rajeev Syal

The unprecedented scale of undercover operations used by police to monitor Britain’s political protest movements was laid bare last night after a third police spy was identified by the Guardian.

News of the existence of the 44-year-old male officer comes as regulators prepare two separate official inquiries into the activities of this hitherto secret police surveillance network.

The latest officer, whose identity has been withheld amid fears for his safety in other criminal operations, worked for four years undercover with an anarchist group in Cardiff.

Last night a former girlfriend and fellow activist said she felt “colossally betrayed” by “Officer B”. The 29-year-old, who had a relationship with him for three months in the summer of 2008 while he was working undercover, said: “I was doing nothing wrong, I was not breaking the law at all. So for him to come along and lie to us and get that deep into our lives was a colossal, colossal betrayal.”

The woman, who did not want to be named, said “Officer B” arrived in Cardiff in 2005, becoming a key member of the 20-strong Anarchist network in the city and “one of her best friends”. They had known each for three years before their relationship and she said she did not suspect his true identity until after he left Cardiff in October 2009, claiming he had been offered a job as a gardener on Corfu.

According to the woman Officer B’s flat was very empty, with no pictures of friends or family and he rarely talked about his past. “He always said he could not tell his family or friends about us because of the age difference … if it had been anyone else I would have thought that was strange, but because [he] had been such a good friend for so long it really did not enter my mind that he was anything but a stand-up honest man.”

Before he left for Corfu he held a goodbye dinner. His former girlfriend said she kept in touch with him for about a month via email, text message and the occasional postcard. Then the contact dried up.

“At first friends started messaging him asking if he was all right, then when there was no response, a few messaged him to say they were worried he was a spy, but we never heard anything.”

The woman said that the experience had rocked her confidence and made her suspicious of other campaigners.

“I am incredibly, incredibly angry,” she said. “Obviously to do that to anybody is pretty low, but to do that to someone who trusted you and cared about you and did their best to look after you is just unspeakable. I cannot imagine the kind of person who would lie to someone they were having a relationship with for that long and that seriously … I strongly suspect that he felt very bad about what he was doing, but that is not an excuse.”

The unprecedented scale of undercover operations used by police to monitor Britain’s political protest movements was laid bare last night after a third police spy was identified by the Guardian.

News of the existence of the 44-year-old male officer comes as regulators prepare two separate official inquiries into the activities of this hitherto secret police surveillance network.

The latest officer, whose identity has been withheld amid fears for his safety in other criminal operations, worked for four years undercover with an anarchist group in Cardiff.

Last night a former girlfriend and fellow activist said she felt “colossally betrayed” by “Officer B”. The 29-year-old, who had a relationship with him for three months in the summer of 2008 while he was working undercover, said: “I was doing nothing wrong, I was not breaking the law at all. So for him to come along and lie to us and get that deep into our lives was a colossal, colossal betrayal.”

The woman, who did not want to be named, said “Officer B” arrived in Cardiff in 2005, becoming a key member of the 20-strong Anarchist network in the city and “one of her best friends”. They had known each for three years before their relationship and she said she did not suspect his true identity until after he left Cardiff in October 2009, claiming he had been offered a job as a gardener on Corfu.

According to the woman Officer B’s flat was very empty, with no pictures of friends or family and he rarely talked about his past. “He always said he could not tell his family or friends about us because of the age difference … if it had been anyone else I would have thought that was strange, but because [he] had been such a good friend for so long it really did not enter my mind that he was anything but a stand-up honest man.”

Before he left for Corfu he held a goodbye dinner. His former girlfriend said she kept in touch with him for about a month via email, text message and the occasional postcard. Then the contact dried up.

“At first friends started messaging him asking if he was all right, then when there was no response, a few messaged him to say they were worried he was a spy, but we never heard anything.”

The woman said that the experience had rocked her confidence and made her suspicious of other campaigners.

“I am incredibly, incredibly angry,” she said. “Obviously to do that to anybody is pretty low, but to do that to someone who trusted you and cared about you and did their best to look after you is just unspeakable. I cannot imagine the kind of person who would lie to someone they were having a relationship with for that long and that seriously … I strongly suspect that he felt very bad about what he was doing, but that is not an excuse.”

Statement from Cardiff Anarchist Network (CAN) on the infiltration by Mark ‘Marco’ Jacobs

Cardiff Anarchist Network, 19 January 2011,

This is our response to the revelation that our group had been infiltrated by Mark Jacobs for four years.

For four years the Cardiff Anarchist Network was infiltrated by an undercover police officer we knew as ‘Marco’. During that time we believe he had a number of key objectives – to gather intelligence and disrupt the activities of CAN; to use the reputation and trust CAN had built up to infiltrate other groups, including a European network of activists; and to stop CAN functioning as a coherent group.

By 2009 suspicions had built up, but Marco had so effectively messed up relationships and trust within the group, that we were not properly sharing or voicing our suspicions. In the autumn of 2009 he hosted a ‘goodbye’ dinner for the group, and announced he was leaving for a job in Corfu. After he left, texts and postcards arrived for some weeks, but then suddenly dried up, without explanation. His British mobile number was not recognised on dialling it and the Greek mobile number he had been using after he left barred incoming calls and texts went undelivered. His social network pages became untouched. Suspicions crystallised, but by now he had completely disappeared.

People who had been associated with CAN and the other groups he had become a part of in Cardiff, such as No Borders and Gwent Anarchists, tried to make it known within activist circles that the man we knew as Marco was an undercover cop. But without definite proof we were urged not to make unfounded allegations.

It was only when news broke on Mark Kennedy and Lynn Watson that there seemed an opportunity to establish the truth for certain. Following our leads, on the 14th January 2011 the Guardian obtained confirmation that he was indeed a serving police officer. We don’t know exactly how this was done, but believe that confirmation came directly from ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers. We were not comfortable relying on the mainstream media in this way, but all our previous attempts to properly establish who he was had come to nothing.

Marco worked on us (not with us) for four years. He developed strong personal relationships and some of us feel an enormous personal betrayal. But he also deliberately and systematically set out to damage a movement, and we think it is important that knowledge of what he did, and how he did it, is shared and discussed as widely as possible.

Possibly one of the most damaging things he did was use his CAN ‘credentials’ to infiltrate the anti-G8 Dissent network in Europe. CAN had been actively involved in Dissent and in the planning of mass blockades at the G8 in Stirling in 2005, and some members of CAN were keen to contribute to a wider European network. But CAN was a small group, and very few amongst us had the time and money to travel to international meetings. Marco of course, had plenty of all of these, so it was easy for him to step up and get involved. In at least one case he attended European planning meetings alongside Mark Kennedy. It is likely that their activities seriously damaged the organisation of protest at the G8 in Germany in 2007.

Notably none of the three undercover cops so far uncovered went to the G8 in Russia. Marco was due to attend, but pulled out at the last minute – presumably unable to get agreement from the Russian government, or authorisation to act without their knowledge.

Like Mark Kennedy, Marco also sabotaged environmentalist direct action. In 2007, having managed to get himself included in the planning process for an action against the LNG pipeline terminal at Milford Haven in west Wales, he was able to pass information to the local police that resulted in the arrests of a number of activists. All criminal prosecutions ultimately collapsed, but not before the police had raided houses, including Marco’s own flat, and obtained computer equipment in what seems to have been a massive fishing expedition.

Much of Marco’s time though was spent getting involved in all the normal activities of a political group – meetings, film showings, gatherings and events designed to provoke discussion and debate about radical politics. We believe that in at least one case – the showing of an animal rights film with an accompanying talk – he put on an event purely to gather intelligence on the people who would attend. He was also keen on being involved in projects where there was co-operation with other groups, such as the campaign against the privatisation of military training and the building of a new defence academy at RAF St Athan. Looking back now we can see he was carefully but consistently disruptive. Despite his obvious competence, whenever anything – building contacts, outreach, transport – depended entirely on him, it would come to nothing.

Damaging the structure of CAN was undoubtedly a key objective. He changed the culture of the organisation, encouraging a lot of drinking, gossip and back-stabbing, and trivialised and ran down any attempt made by anyone in the group to achieve objectives. He clearly aimed to separate and isolate certain people from the group and from each other, and subtly exaggerated political and personal differences, telling lies to both ‘sides’ to create distrust and ill-feeling. In the four years he was in Cardiff a strong, cohesive and active group had all-but disintegrated. Marco left after anarchist meetings in the city stopped being held.

Reading this, you’d be forgiven for wondering why the hell it took us so long to suss him out, and why we weren’t more sceptical and less trusting. Marco had no obviously apparent life outside activism. We never met his family or his supposed mates who shared his passion for rock music, although he would at times claim to be away at gigs out of town. He told us he had no wife and/or kids. His house was fairly spartan and his job as a truck driver also allowed him an excuse to be away for prolonged periods without arousing suspicion. Also, despite a stated desire to be ‘where the action was’ he was very reluctant to get his hands dirty by being an active part of direct action or confrontation with the police. These things all together should have been enough to at least get us asking questions.

We may well have been a bit naive, particularly in assuming that we weren’t important enough to be infiltrated. And the man we knew as Marco was very good at deflecting suspicions. He was likeable, personally supportive, funny and very useful to have around. He was, like Mark Kennedy, a driver. He took minutes, wrote, edited and distributed newsletters, made banners, and went to the boring meetings no one else could be bothered with. He was able to exploit people’s vulnerabilities to either get close to them, or make them feel isolated and excluded. He was a very good manipulator.

All of us who were involved with Mark Jacobs are reeling with anger, resentment and guilt. Our failure to see through his charade caused great harm to people both here in Cardiff and across Europe. We are aware that Marco was not the only cop operating, and that the fault, particularly on a European scale, is not all ours. But still, we feel a collective responsibility and sense of failure over our part in this.

Having said all that, we need to look forward, and it is important to learn the right lessons from what has happened. We feel strongly that it is important that the movement does not succumb to paranoia and suspicion. Marco worked hard to sow distrust, dislike and suspicion amongst us, and it was allowing him to do that was perhaps our biggest mistake.

We also feel that it is mistake to paint ourselves as powerless in a situation like this, or to seek sympathy in the media as the victims of an unfair and all-powerful state. We can see how this might be tempting for propaganda reasons, or to win the support of mainstream politicians or the liberal press, but it is ultimately a disempowering act. The actions of the police and the UK state in this affair are disgusting, but not surprising. We, as a group and as a movement, were infiltrated and abused because we took, and encouraged others to take, militant action against a string of colossal injustices. Simply put, we took a determined stand against what we saw as wrong, and every time we were proven right. On the abhorrent war in Iraq; the corrupt and immoral arms trade; the injustices meted out in our names by the G8; and the scandals of man-made climate change, we stand by the rightness of our actions. We reject the authority of the state to tell us how, when and where to make our resistance, and we encourage further struggle and dissent. They come at us because we are strong, not because we are weak.


Cardiff Anarchist Network

Known details of Marco Jacobs



MySpace :


UK mobile: 07746080139

‘Greek’ number: +306942665880


Mark Cassidy


Taken from Big Issue in the North, February 2011.


We should have seen him coming.

Mark Cassidy walked into the Colin Roach Centre in Hackney early in 1995. Within weeks he had thrown himself into virtually every area of the centre’s political life and quickly began writing for our internal bulletin and that quarterly magazine sold to the public. As the owner of a van he could also be relied upon to transport people and equipment to meetings and ensure they got home safely afterwards. Always polite and happy to help out he soon became well liked and respected.

But Cassidy wasn’t what he seemed. With recent revelations of undercover police officers infiltrating the environmental movement and sleeping with the enemy, Cassidy’s story only underlines the lesson that political activists who threaten the established order should guard against spies who want to maintain the status quo.

I was elected co-ordinator of the Colin Roach Centre. Named after a young black man shot dead inside Stoke Newington Police Station in 1983 this brought together the once council-funded Trade Union Support Unit and one of Britain’s best known community organisations at the time – Hackney Community Defence Association.

The latter had uncovered serious corruption, with Panorama and World in Action undercover investigations confirming that some officers at the police station were involved in drug dealing.

Many convictions were overturned as a result and people were released from prison and paid compensation. Some of this helped keep the centre open seven days a week to provide support to Hackney’s cosmopolitan community, including many refugees and asylum seekers. The centre was well used and popular amongst ordinary people but less so with the Association of Chief Police Officers, which tried to block the registration of our Defendants Information Services (DIS), which recorded police officers known to have complaints or convictions against them.

A year after the official opening in 1993 the centre was broken into. No serious damage was done and money and expensive equipment was left untouched. Computers though were smashed up and when the local police were phoned it took hours for them to arrive and only a matter of seconds to depart. If the intention was to put a spoke in DIS this failed as the service was for security reasons run from a different location.

London magazine Time Out was unable to gain comment from either the police or security services after a centre spokesperson suggested either might be behind the break-in.

Other activities were also bound to attract attention. The centre was affiliated to the radical anti-fascist group Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), which had organised large demonstrations through a British National Party stronghold in nearby Bethnal Green. Centre members were involved in physically clearing the BNP from its Sunday morning paper selling point at the top of Brick Lane, an almost exclusively Asian neighbourhood.

It was into this often chaotic world that Cassidy came. From my campaigning experience it was unusual for someone to simply walk in – most people start their involvement after meeting someone or attending an event. He claimed to have seen TV coverage of a demonstration by the families of people killed at the hands of the police, and radical lawyer Gareth Pierce speaking afterwards, and wanted to get involved. He had come down from his hometown of Birkenhead to continue working as a builder and didn’t know many people locally.

Within a year he had found himself a long-term partner Alison (not her real name) who was also active in the centre. He was elected to chair the Brian Higgins Defence Committee. Higgins was a radical building worker who had suggested that workers were not being properly defended by their union, UCATT. A union official responded by suing him for libel. Cassidy had earlier transported pickets to sites where people had been killed in efforts to stop production. Such actions had infuriated building employers as it cut profits.

Yet by now a few of us were starting to get suspicious. He had never shown any interest in the centre’s work with refugee or asylum seekers or helped run the advice for members of the public. But he had been very keen when it was suggested a delegation was organised to Republican West Belfast to see for ourselves the situation in Northern Ireland. He even volunteered to take his van, although it would inevitably ensure his registration was noted and added to a police computer. He disappeared on the second morning of the visit, arriving back to inform us that he, a Catholic, had taken a walk up the Shankhill Road, a Protestant stronghold.

More importantly no one had ever met any of his family and although he professed to be a supporter of Tranmere Rovers when I went to a couple of games with him he didn’t know any of their fans. It was all a bit odd, but unable and unwilling to challenge him directly I shared some of my concerns with those closest to me and began to ensure that his opportunities to gather information on people and organisations were reduced. A second visit to Belfast was cancelled.

By now though Cassidy was already becoming less active in the centre. He had drifted off to play a more active role in AFA and the associated working-class organisation Red Action. He still visited the centre and could be counted on to assist at active times but slowly dropped away. Then so did Alison, just before the centre closed in 1999.

Having moved soon after to Sunderland to help look after my dad with Alzheimer’s I thought little more of it until I was told that Cassidy had disappeared from home on 11 April 2000. After spending the next day in the offices of Red Action he was next heard of when he rang his Alison and told her he was in Germany. Attempts to trace the call had failed.

His disappearance came after an extended period when he had acted suspiciously, including at times sleeping on the settee in his clothes. Alison had also discovered a credit card in someone else’s name, which he claimed to have bought for £50 in order obtain petrol dishonestly.

Now seriously concerned, Alison then rung his workplace, only to be told that he had left around two or three years previously. Yet he had continued during this time to leave for work at 6.30pm, apparently earning sufficient to be able to go on long holidays to the Middle East and Vietnam. The couple had also visited a counsellor to discuss overcoming his reluctance to have children but had abandoned the visits without him mentioning anything about his family.

When she found out I had expressed reservations about Cassidy two years earlier, Alison contacted me in 2001 to reveal that he had left behind a number of items including a second passport in someone else’s name and a number of photographs. Now happily settled Alison doesn’t want to make them public.

Having been told that Cassidy’s father had been killed in a car accident in Birkenhead in 1975 she checked the deaths register, only to discover the tale was untrue.

Incidents such as when he had ducked down in a frog position with his hands in his ears after a car had backfired suddenly became much more sinister when she realised it was position security officers are trained to adopt if a bomb goes off.

Other centre members began to recall incidents that at the time just appeared a little odd. Taxi driver Jim Kelly recalled that Cassidy had displayed extensive knowledge of events in Ireland during the 1970s even though he wouldn’t have even been a teenager at the time and claimed to be new to political activity. Amanda, an activist, recalled a meeting where threats to attack the centre had been received from the BNP and he had told her he was there as a “shield”.

Since his disappearance over a decade ago nothing has been heard of Cassidy. No one has ever seen him, even at the Tranmere games I have occasionally watched! Attempts by the media to get Alison to go public have failed and I have no wish to involve the authorities by complaining to them.

I feel there’s little point. At the Trade Union Support Unit I worked with Midge a black activist who had left Philadelphia in 1986 after discovering her boyfriend was an FBI agent. So I was always aware such things happened and, as Bernard Porter’s history of the Metropolitan Special Branch, The Origins of the Vigilant State, makes pretty clear the placing of informants inside radical organisations began almost as soon as the organisation was born in 1881.

The trick for those environmental activists, and other in progressive politics, is not to go running to the very people who organise against them but to adopt some simple methods of checking that people really are who they say they are. Sadly that is something I, and others, failed to do with Mark Cassidy.

Jim Sutton / Boyling

Jim Sutton / Boyling

Two articles from The Guardian, 19 January, 2011

Authors given as Paul Lewis, Rob Evan & Rowenna Davis


First Article

A police spy married an activist he met while undercover in the environmental protest movement and then went on to have children with her, the Guardian can reveal.

He is the fourth spy now to have been identified as an undercover police officer engaged in the covert surveillance of eco-activists. Three of those spies are accused of having had sexual relationships with the people they were targeting.

The details of the activities of the fourth spy, who is still a serving Metropolitan police officer, emerged as the senior police officer managing the crisis in undercover operations insisted that officers were strictly banned from having sexual relationships with their targets.

Jon Murphy, the chief constable of Merseyside, told the Guardian it was “never acceptable” for undercover officers to sleep with people they were targeting.

“Something has gone badly wrong here. We would not be where we are if it had not,” he said, referring to three inquiries into undercover policing that have been launched in response to the Guardian’s investigation into the first spy, Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer who had several sexual relationships during his seven-year deployment.

Murphy, who is the national lead officer on serious and organised crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers, declined to speak about the Kennedy case directly but said officers who infiltrated the environmental movement were not permitted “under any circumstances” to sleep with activists.

“It is grossly unprofessional. It is a diversion from what they are there to do. It is morally wrong because people have been put there to do a particular task and people have got trust in them,” he said.

Meanwhile the ex-wife of the fourth undercover police officer spoke to the Guardian. The woman was married to Jim Boyling, a serving Metropolitan police officer who spent five years living undercover with environmental campaigners between 1995 and 2000.

Using the false identity “Jim Sutton”, Boyling infiltrated Reclaim the Streets, an environmental group famed for bringing streets to a standstill in unruly protests against cars.

During his time undercover, when he is said to have become a key organiser, Boyling met a 28-year-old woman and began a relationship with her. He later disappeared from her life.

It was only when he reappeared a year later that he told the woman he was a police officer. They later married and had two children but divorced two years ago.

Speaking for the first time, the woman gave the Guardian a detailed account of their relationship and alleges that Boyling:

• Encouraged her to change her name by deed poll, apparently to conceal their relationship from his seniors at the Met. Her deed poll certificate is signed by Boyling, who lists his occupation as “police officer”.

• Told her a ruling from seniors that undercover operatives should not have sex with targets was unrealistic, and developing relationships with activists was “a necessary tool in maintaining cover”.

• Only informed a senior officer that he was in a relationship with an activist in 2005, around the time they married using her new identity.

• Named at least two other police officers who served as undercover operatives and indicated other political activists who he believed to be police officers.

Kennedy, who is in hiding in the US, is also believed to have “outed” a fellow spy – an allegation he denies. Police chiefs, who have been unable to establish contact with Kennedy have said any such breach of protocol constitutes “heresy”.

Boyling and the Met were given a detailed account of the woman’s allegations, but neither provided a response. The woman said tonight she hoped her story would reveal how deep infiltration of the protest movement “wrecks lives”. “Everybody knows there are people in the movement who aren’t who they say they are,” she said. “Being too paranoid would hinder everything. But you don’t expect the one person you trust most in the world not to exist.” Senior officers say any suggestion they tacitly allowed operatives to have relationships are unjustified, and argue examples of inappropriate behaviour are rare.

Murphy defended the police tactics of infiltrating the environmental movement today. He said the group had a small number in their midst “intent on causing harm, committing crime and on occasions disabling parts of the national critical infrastructure”. “That has the potential to deny utilities to hospitals, schools, businesses and your granny,” he said.

Senior officers privately admit there was widespread confusion over accountability at the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, which ran both Kennedy and Boyling. “We are left to regulate it ourselves and we think we do a good job of it,” said Murphy today. “Sometimes things go wrong, it is a volatile area of police work.”


Second Article

Ex-wife of police spy tells how she fell in love and had children with him

· Police spy encouraged ex-wife to change name to keep cover

· He allegedly identified other undercover police to her

Environmental campaigners had been invited to the meeting at the Cock Tavern pub in Euston in June 1999. They were members of Reclaim the Streets, a group that had days earlier brought the City of London to a standstill. By chance, two strangers sat next to each other: Jim Sutton, an articulate, if at times moody, 34-year-old fitness fanatic who relished his role as the group’s driver, a function that earned him the sobriquet “Jim the Van”; and Laura, 28, an idealistic activist. Laura (not her real name) did not know that this new acquaintance, a man she would go on to marry and have children with, was in fact Jim Boyling, a police officer living undercover among eco-activists.

Laura has told her story to the Guardian in the hope that it will serve as a warning to police chiefs that their surveillance operation “wrecks lives”.

Her account of how she came to know and love someone who turned out to be a police spy – which is substantiated by official documentation and has not been denied by police – will almost certainly lend weight to calls for a public inquiry, chaired by a judge, into the surveillance of protesters.

“I was reading stories that this was happening to so many other women who were at risk of falling for their lies,” says Laura, who was divorced from Boyling two years ago. “Having got through what I got through with my children I felt I had knowledge that could help other people and that I needed to do that.”

She adds: “The impression in the press was that this was an isolated incident, that it was a really ‘unusual thing’ – but this is not true. I know of multiple cases. We’re talking about a repeated pattern of long-term relationships and, for me at least, the deepest love I thought I’d ever known.”

Her story suggests the collateral damage from a decade-long operation to infiltrate the protest movement is wider than police chiefs had expected. She says the deception that predated their marriage in 2005, with profound consequences for her wellbeing and that of their children, made her feel “like a prostitute; just an unknowing and unpaid one”.

Already, three separate inquiries have been launched following the controversy surrounding Mark Kennedy, a Metropolitan police officer who spent seven years working undercover before turning against his seniors.

In its ongoing investigation into the surveillance operation, the Guardian has identified two other police officers who lived for years in the protest movement.

Boyling, a serving Met officer at the SO15, the force’s counter-terrorism unit, is the fourth. His ex-wife alleges he encouraged her to change her name by deed poll in an unsuccessful attempt to conceal their relationship from senior officers.

Until recently, she says, she was still devastated by what had happened. “I’d been suffering post traumatic stress for a long time,” she says. “I wasn’t even able to recognise my face in the mirror.”

When Laura met the man she assumed was a fellow activist, Boyling had already spent around four years in the protest movement.

Pulling the strings

Andrew James Boyling had adopted the alias “Jim Sutton” around 1995, and initially joined hunt saboteur groups and, according to friends, took part in anti-GM crop protests in Ireland and a “food summit” in Rome in 1996.

According to Laura, who says she had lengthy discussions with Boyling about his deployment during their nine-year relationship – once he had come clean to her, at least – the purpose of his police work was to infiltrate the closed ranks of those figures pulling the strings of Reclaim the Streets.

An environmental group counting anarchists and anti-capitalists among its ranks, Reclaim the Streets was a colourful collective opposed to cars. During its protests, members would block roads and start impromptu street parties. One notorious technique involved either crashing or parking “sacrificial cars” in the middle of traffic, sealing off the road. For police, they clearly constituted a potentially dangerous group of anarchists whose demonstrations had a record of descending into disorder.

Boyling’s operation would prove to be so successful that he played a central organising role behind the so-called Carnival Against Capitalism in 1999, one of the major anti-capitalist demonstrations of the past two decades. Those involved in organising the protest recall that he was “navigator” in a car that had been intended to block Upper Thames Street, in central London, kickstarting a day in which thousands of activists would clash with police.

The woman who was driving the car – purchased for £200 – recalls how Boyling made what at the time appeared to be a stupid error. He left the window open, enabling police to open the door, take off the handbrake, and push the car away.

Confronted over his error, Boyling was said to have replied: “Oh, I forgot.” The protest went ahead anyway, but it was a setback for the activists.

It seems that Boyling’s deployment started around the time of the birth of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, which took over the running of police agents embedded in the protest movement in 1999.

Three years later, having returned to uniformed duties, Boyling would receive a letter of commendation from an assistant commissioner at the Met.

The signed certificate noted his “outstanding devotion to duty and determination over an extended period in the investigation of serious crimes”.

It was four months after the Carnival Against Capitalism, in June 1999, after a night in another pub, that Laura says she began to have a meaningful relationship with Boyling. “For the most part while he was undercover we had a blissfully in-love relationship,” she says. “In the beginning I nearly broke it off because it almost felt too strong; he was a perfect blueprint for something I didn’t even know I was looking for.”

By February 2000, Laura says, the pair moved into a flat in East Dulwich, which they adorned with Celtic and African patterned throws. Laura says she became aware Boyling was “under-developed ideologically”. “The thing about Jim is that he never really says much. He seemed to be bright but there seemed to be holes in his political development,” she says.

“He didn’t seem to like putting himself out there and making an effort, which is weird for someone who works in community-based groups.”

Jim the Van was also known as “Grumpy Jim”, and Laura says her boyfriend also raised eyebrows by a seeming reluctance to get involved in a sustainable activist culture, once refusing to help pick up rubbish at a campsite. “He was interested in disrupting, not building, it surprised me but I put down to immaturity.” Despite a slight sense that he did not fit in, Laura never suspected her boyfriend was a police informant – except for on one occasion.

“It’s such a cliche – but it was the way he was cleaning his walking boots,” she said. “I suddenly thought, ‘Who is this intruder?’ – and then I came to and suddenly he was Jim again. It was such a brief moment and it made such little sense that I blanked it.”

But despite their loving relationship, Laura says Boyling’s moods grew increasingly erratic until, in September 2000, he said he was leaving for Turkey, from where he planned to hitchhike to South Africa. He then vanished.

‘He no longer existed’

Confused, Laura says she spent more than a year trying to track him down. She tried to locate his family members – people who, it transpired, did not exist – and then travelled to South Africa. “He no longer existed in physical presence or on paper,” she says. “I didn’t know what to think or what to do.”

Tipped off that Boyling had returned to England and was living in Kingston, Surrey, Laura moved there hoping to find him, she says. But it was a chance encounter, in the bookshop where she was working, that saw them reunited.

“He said: ‘Don’t be angry,’ and I said I wasn’t,” she says. “He asked for a hug and he smelt the same, which was weird. We went for a coffee by Kingston Bridge and he said: “This can’t be, I’m a police officer.” At the time she was “very vulnerable”, she says, as she had used “all my savings trying to find him, and I was very thin, down to 6 stone 12lb”.

She said he refused to leave the police. “He said they would hound him. And I said that if he believed in leaving them, we could run away together and live a normal life anywhere in the world. He agreed.”

Two weeks later, Laura says, she was pregnant. What ensued were, according to Laura, several painful and difficult years in which the pair maintained a relationship while living apart. They would eventually have two children.

“He said he would tell the police what he could get away with and nothing else. He promised me he was no longer working undercover and that there were no more agents in her movement because police had lost interest.”

But Laura said she came to have reason to believe her husband was not being honest. He appeared determined that no one should know about their relationship.

She said he encouraged her to change her name by deed poll, saying that if she did not, there was a danger their address would be discovered and their child – then unborn – put at risk.

The Guardian has seen the deed certificate that confirms the change in name, and lists Boyling, who gave the occupation “police officer”, as a witness.

Laura now believes that Boyling was desperate to hide their relationship from police, and alleges he gave false information to his seniors about their marriage to conceal her activist past.

She also says he encouraged her to cut ties with the activist community and wanted to “train” her in the art of deception. “He said the trick was to have a whole and detailed story but not tell too much of it,” she says.

Boyling, however, may have struggled to balance his two lives.

“He said he missed that [activist] life – he said it was great because it was like being God. He knew everyone’s secrets on both sides and got to decide what to tell who and decide upon people’s fate.”

According to Laura, the classified information Boyling said he had access to included wiretaps of one of her friends in the protest movement and “details of the private lives of activists”, including, she said, information about what was contained in their luggage after they were stopped at passport control.

“Initially he promised me that he was the last officer in my movement and he was pulled out because the police no longer had any interests or concerns there, but that was a lie,” she says.

“I found this out when he insisted we hide on our first visit to Kingston Green Fair [a sustainability event], because he had seen another undercover agent who knew us both and that this man would take it straight back to his superior.”

After their two children were born, the couple married under Laura’s new name in 2005. But it was not until two years later, in 2007, that Laura recalls two of Boyling’s police colleagues visiting their home.

Laura said her then husband told her that he had only recently told one of the men about their relationship. The other, his long-time boss, had only known since 2005. She was told that both officers, to whom she was introduced by name, had worked as undercover agents.

Boyling later named one other supposed activist as a undercover police officer, and gave identifying descriptions of several others, according to Laura. If true, the suggestion that, as well as marrying an activist, Boyling had identified fellow undercover operatives could prove highly damaging for police chiefs, who say the actions of Kennedy are a rare example of “Stockholm syndrome”.

Warning to others

Laura and Boyling’s marriage was officially brought to an end around two years ago, when the pair divorced. Looking back, she believes their relationship should cause serious alarm. Senior police officers tasked with managing the fallout from the Kennedy controversy maintain that sexual relationships with activists are strictly prohibited, and rarely occur. However out of the four undercover police officers identified by the Guardian, three, all men, stand accused of having sex with activists. Two, Kennedy and Boyling, are known to have maintained long-term, meaningful relationships lasting several years.

“Jim complained one day that his superiors said there was to be no more sexual relations with activists anymore – the implicit suggestion was that they were fully aware of this before and that it hadn’t been restricted in the past,” Laura says.

“He was scoffing at it saying that it was impossible not to expect people to have sexual relations. He said people going in had ‘needs’ and I felt really insulted. He also claimed it was a necessary tool in maintaining cover.”

Despite fearing the consequences of speaking out, Laura said she hoped her story would be a warning.

“Everybody knows there are people in the movement who aren’t who they say they are. Being too paranoid would hinder everything. But you don’t expect the one person you trust most in the world not to exist. It wrecks lives. You don’t expect it, especially when you really are not important. I don’t think the Met consider us at all … I find it shocking that so much public money is being spent on that to put members of the public under surveillance.”

Boyling and the Met have been asked to respond to all the allegations about his undercover deployment and subsequent marriage to Laura, but neither has offered comment.