Met admits to lying about plain clothes police at G20 demo


8:45 am - January 20th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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In May 2009, not long after the G20 protests where newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson had died, Met police commander Bob Broadhurst told MPs:

We had no plain-clothes officers deployed within the crowd. It would have been dangerous for them to put plain clothes officers in a crowd like that.

The only officers we deploy for intelligence purposes at public order are forward intelligence team officers who are wearing full police uniforms with a yellow jacket with blue shoulders. There were no plain clothes officers deployed at all.

Yesterday evening the Met quietly admitted he had lied.

In wake of the controversy around police spying of eco activists, Labour MP Keith Vaz wrote to the Met’s Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

Last night the Met issued this statement:

Having made thorough checks on the back of recent media reporting we have now established that covert officers were deployed during the G20 protests.

Therefore the information that was given by Commander Bob Broadhurst to the Home Affairs Select Committee saying that ‘We had no plain-clothes officers deployed within the crowd’ was not accurate…

The officers were covertly deployed by the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) to G20 protests to identify individuals who may be involved in the organisation of criminal activity and to give live time intelligence/evidence as to the protesters’ activity.

Unbelievable. And you can bet no one at the Met will be reprimanded for this ‘inaccuracy’.

They keep denying however that “agents provocateurs” were operational at the event. Why should anyone believe that?

Bob Broadhurst has now been asked to come back before the Home Affairs Select Committee on January 25 to explain himself.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


In the Guardian piece you link to today, there is the justification for police infiltration of eco-groups, “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”.”

By this standard then shouldn’t they have agents in each of the Big 4 accountancy firms?

There is something deeply rotten in parts of our police force today.

Not sure there is not a substantive difference between infiltrating an organisation and simply having plain-clothed officers watching for trouble. Since we know protests against G20 are regularly hijacked by those intent on violence, would not the latter be a sensible precaution?

Mind you, the culture where a police commander feels he can lie to MPs is somewhat worrying, if hardly surprising considering the Met’s recent record.

@2

“Since we know protests against G20 are regularly hijacked by those intent on violence,”

That’s no way to talk about our brave police officers.

Cherub,

Great post!

There’s nothing wrong with having plain clothes police, or unmarked police cars.
They are a useful way of deploying police assets.
It’s totally different to what Mark Kennedy was up to.

They keep denying however that “agents provocateurs” were operational at the event. Why should anyone believe that?

Why should anyone think that they were behaving as agents provocateurs at the G20?

@3 lol

@ 4

“Why should anyone think that they were behaving as agents provocateurs at the G20?”

Because it’s what the police are always doing. You can find examples all around the world. There was also a case of this very thing during GW Bush’s visit a couple of years ago.

Sorry, not @ 4, but @ 5

Quote from asmin Whittaker-khan | June 21, 2008 in the Daily Mail

“As a throng of protesters built up by the barriers, an extremely animated demonstrator in a white T-shirt caught my eye.

He was near the front screaming abuse at the police and trying to get a friend further back to join him. The second man sheepishly refused his encouragements to edge forward.

The man in the T-shirt was tall, well-built and handsome, smiling but with a hint of menace. He pushed aside children and elderly people.

He continued to shout slogans such as: ‘Pigs Out.’

On his back was a black rucksack and he carried a professional-looking camera with a large telephoto lens. Hardly the sort of kit for a few snaps of his day out.

My friends and I, standing a few rows back, asked him a couple of times to calm down, but he ignored us.

I wondered why I was drawn to him. Was it his dark good looks or was I worried for the safety of my 70-year-old friend and children nearby?

Then it dawned on me. I had met this man at a party. I tapped him gently on the shoulder and said: ‘Have we met before?’

Instantly he recognised me. ‘Hi, how are you? It’s really nice to see you here.’

My puzzlement grew. This chap wasn’t really the sort you’d expect to see shouting abuse at police officers at an anti-war demo. He was, after all, a policeman himself – and a high-ranking one at that.”

Met admits to lying about plain clothes police at G20 demo …

Yesterday evening the Met quietly admitted [Broadhurst] had lied.

What is a “lie”?

AIUI a lie is a deliberate falsehood or intentional untruth.

The Met has not admitted Broadhurst uttered a deliberate falsehood.

Yet another “inaccurate” headline and post.

Nice 1 Sunny

@9

I think you’re splitting hairs. It’s a paraphrase.

@9: “The Met has not admitted Broadhurst uttered a deliberate falsehood.”

Of course, it’s quite possible that Broadhurst didn’t himself know the truth of the matter when he denied the involvement of plain clothes officers among the G20 demonstrators and was put up there because his denial would therefore seem the more credible. But it’s long since past time that the Met started to draw painfully obvious conclusions:

This will lead to increasing distrust of the police by the public as well as to questions about whether the involvement of plain clothes police or covert officers was entirely as passive observers or as agents provocateurs in the demonstrations.

The Met now has known form over use of covert officers as well as attempted entrapments – recall this on the infamous attempt to entrap Colin Stagg on a murder charge:

“The most significant aspect of the woeful saga of Colin Stagg is not the the £700,000 he gets from the rest of us as compensation for having his life ruined when he was wrongly identified by the Metropolitan Police as the man who murdered Rachel Nickell.

“Its most important consequence is its effect on policing in Britain.

“That effect derives from the ringing condemnation of the police that Mr Justice Ognall, the judge at Mr Stagg’s trial, delivered when he considered the evidence gathered by an undercover officer who ‘befriended’ Mr Stagg.

“The judge called it ‘deceptive conduct of the grossest kind’, and he ruled all of it inadmissible. The prosecution decided that without the undercover evidence, there was no chance of convicting Mr Stagg, and dropped the case.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3561512/Colin-Staggs-shadow-hangs-over-undercover-police-work.html

“A Broadmoor patient [Robert Napper] has pleaded guilty to killing former model Rachel Nickell, who was stabbed 49 times in front of her young son 16 years ago.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7783796.stm

13. john p reid

12 the Colins Stagg saga was absolutely terrible, but whats that got to do with the police having plain clothes officer at the g20 last year and saying they had’nt

I find it disgaceful to say that the violence at these protests are caused by police agent provecateurs, Bernie Grant even said 4 times that when P.C Blakelock was killed at Broadwater farm it wasn’t a load of Black men with machetes, but it was another white Policeman that did it
yet when Nick griffin said that Stephen lawrence was killed by another blackman he was arrested for racism,

3. Mr S pill absolutely hilarious, good job iver got a corstet on, or my sides would be splitting

@11,

I think you’re splitting hairs. It’s a paraphrase.

It’s not a paraphrase, “lie” has a specific meaning – a “lie” is not any old falsehood or untruth, it is an intentional untruth, it is a deliberate deception, and there is no evidence in the OP that supports Sunny’s claim the “Met admits to lying”.

@Bob B, one of the many things that struck me about the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes related to the accuracy of the information from the police. Senior Information Officer in the DPA, Ms Anne de Vries, drafted the following press release, which was published after being approved by AC Brown and Cmdr McDowall:

We can confirm that at just after 1000 this morning, Friday 22nd July 2005, armed officers from the MPS entered Stockwell Tube station. A man was challenged by officers and subsequently shot. LAS and HEMS both attended the scene. Life was pronounced extinct at the scene. Stockwell Tube station is closed and cordons of 200 metres are in place. As is routine officers from the Directorate of Professional Standards has been informed.

Much, much later, after the IPCC investigated the shooting it said that:

Ms de Vries has admitted that she made an error when drafting the 11:41hrs press release in that she inserted a phrase that the deceased had been challenged before being shot. She has explained that she assumed that this would have been standard practice in all police shootings.

In other words, she simply assumed that the man had been challenged, hadn’t bothered to find out whether that was fact, and she wasn’t corrected.

… There is no evidence of misconduct by Ms de Vries. She accepts that she made a genuine error when she included in a media release that Mr de Menezes had been challenged before being shot. The error does not amount to misconduct, but she should receive constructive management advice regarding the need for accuracy and not basing media releases on presumptions.

The Climate Camp at Kingsnorth also resulted in some “inaccurate” information being given to the press and Parliament:

Police minister Vernon Coaker has apologised for telling Parliament that 70 officers were injured dealing with protests at Kingsnorth power station.

His comments came after it was revealed that injuries sustained during policing at the Climate Camp in August included insect stings and heat exhaustion. … …

The Lib Dems said the eight other injuries included being “stung on finger by possible wasp”, “officer injured sitting in car” and “officer succumbed to sun and heat”.Kent Police confirmed that 12 officers were required to retire from duty because of their injuries. …

Mr Coaker said an inquiry was being carried out by the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) into the handling of the demonstration.

He added: “I was informed that 70 police officers were hurt and naturally assumed that they had been hurt in direct contact as a result of the protest.

Naturally.

@ John P Reid

“I find it disgaceful to say that the violence at these protests are caused by police agent provecateurs”

What, even when it is?

(Note: I’m not saying all violence at protests is caused by police agents provocateurs. Some of it is caused by the uniformed variety brutalising the crowd, and some is caused by a section of the protestors. The percentage spread between those, and perhaps other, factors will be different in different situations).

I’ll believe this allegation about police agent provocateurs when I see some film footage of one of them doing something, or it is exposed some other way.

With all the film and photographs being taken, you’d think a policeman or woman would be identified quite easily.
What about Charlie Gilmour?? Hmmmm.

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 17 Damon

“I’ll believe this allegation about police agent provocateurs when I see some film footage of one of them doing something, or it is exposed some other way.”

I think you’ll have to settle for the latter. If the police are on camera pretending to be protesters, odds are they’ll have removed their uniforms beforehand.

That said, if this is a widespread tactic I find it hard to understand why there aren’t more stories in the papers about people who recognise a cop pretending to be a protester.


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