Bob Lambert aka “Bob Robinson”
Articles on this page
- London Greenpeace Press Release outing Bob Lambert as police spy
- Text of London Greenpeace leaflet
- Two Guardian articles
- London Greenpeace response to Lambert’s apology
- Robert Lambert today
15th October 2011 – PRESS RELEASE
UNDERCOVER POLICE AGENT PUBLICLY OUTED AT CONFERENCE
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 <http://www.indymedia.org.uk/media/2011/10//486878.odt>www.indymedia.org.uk/media/2011/10//486878.odt ). 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. http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/robert-lambert
“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: