Why Aren’t You Following the #SpyCops Inquiry?

Back in session this week is the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI), an independent, public inquiry created in 2015, to investigate undercover policing in England and Wales. The UCPI is “formally investigating the use of at least 139 undercover police officers, ‘spycops’, to infiltrate, monitor and disrupt more than a thousand political groups over the course of four decades.” 

The inquiry is focused on two undercover policing units: The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

The SDS was created in 1968 as part of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch and it was only after activists and union workers were subjected to decades of depraved conduct at the hands of spycops—including blacklisting and conduct tantamount to state-sanctioned rape—that the unit was finally shut down in 2008. As The Guardian put it, the SDS “ignored ethical issues and gathered information that had no crime-fighting value,” and that’s putting it mildly.

Surveillance and infiltration by spycops continued via the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), an undercover policing unit created in 1999. The two units gathered copious amounts of data on protestors and campaign groups and by 2011, they had collectively infiltrated over 1,000 political groups.

Sexual Assault and Deceit

Members of both the SDS and NPOIU conducted themselves in shockingly cruel and outrageous ways such as stealing the names of deceased children to use as their uncover identity, luring women into long-term relationships, and impregnating activists under their undercover identity. 

The appalling and misogynistic climate cultivated within the Metropolitan undercover policing units is evidenced by the sheer scale of sexual deceit and assaults that took place and were undoubtedly permitted, if not endorsed, by top leadership.

There should be no mistake. Whilst this squad was kept secret from the public, it was completely integrated into the established security apparatus of the British state, with a chain of command through the senior ranks of the police to the highest levels of government. Documents show the Prime Minister and Home Secretary expected advance reports on the Vietnam demos. The spycops were secret from the public but well known to government.

COPS (Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance

In January 1984, “Jacqui” met spycop Bob Lambert at an animal-rights protest under his alias “Mark Robinson.” Lambert stole the name from a seven-year-old who died of a congenital heart defect in 1959. Unbeknownst to her, Bob was also married with kids.

After dating for almost a year, Jacqui became pregnant and in September 1985, she gave birth to their son. If a wife and kids didn’t stop Lambert from impregnating a female activist using his undercover identity it certainly didn’t stop him from starting other relationships. In total, he had at least four sexual relationships as an undercover agent. 

While Lambert was undercover in the 1980s, he fathered a child with an activist and then abandoned them when his covert mission ended. He said he had to disappear abroad to escape being arrested by the police. In reality he returned to work at Scotland Yard.

Around December 1988, Lambert completely disappeared from Jacqui’s life and was never seen again. She didn’t find out that he was a spycop until 2012.

Spycop Mike Chitty was also married when he started a relationship with “Lizzie” in October 1985, using the alias “Mike Blake.” She was under the impression that he was a fellow activist after they met through her association with an animal rights group. In 1987, he told her that he was going to work in the U.S. for the summer after which he “ceased all contact with no explanation.” Two years later, he reappeared but then vanished for good in 1993.

In 1990, spycop John Barker (real name John Dines) did the same thing to activist Helen Steele while using the identity of an eight-year-old boy who died of leukemia in 1968. Dines went so far as to lie about the death of his parents as a “deliberate process of emotional manipulation.”

He was seeking to draw me closer to him, so that he could spy on me and my friends, to undermine the political movements we were involved in and ultimately to prevent change. This is not just what’s happened to me, this is what has happened to the other women as well.

Helen Steele

Dines disappeared in 1992, and it wasn’t until 2011, that Steele received confirmation that he was a spycop. During that time period, she searched for him but “police meanwhile were actually actively taking steps to prevent me and the other women finding out the truth.” She was told that when she went looking for him in New Zealand the authorities moved him to another country so she wouldn’t find him. 

In 1997, spycop Jim Boyling (a.k.a. “Jim Sutton”) started a relationship with a female activist named “Monica.” After she ended things with Boyling, he started up another relationship a month later with “Ruth.” After Ruth also ended their relationship, he became involved with “Rosa.”

[Boyling] said he was adopted and had a difficult relationship with his adoptive father. He said his brother was a travel agent and told her stories about his brother’s marriage.

He said his parents lived in Cornwall giving such details that she recognised his family’s local pub when she walked into it. He said he worked in construction for builders in South London…

But none of it was true.

— “The Ultimate Betrayal,” spycops.walesonline.co.uk

And while Boyling was seducing Rosa, he was reporting back to senior officers about her because this is how far a spycop will go to manipulate you. They will lie about anything, including things that seem so personal in nature that you’ll think to yourself, “There’s no way he’s lying about that, who would do such an awful thing?” Spycops. Spycops would and have done such awful things and, as Steele accurately pointed out, they do it to emotionally manipulate you. 

In September 2000, Boyling went “missing” (as so many of these spycops do) after telling Rosa that he was going to do some traveling in Turkey, Syria and South Africa. After she was unable to find a single trace of his family she traveled to South Africa in search of him. The Foreign Office took part in Boyling’s charade and told Rosa that they “instigated a Missing British National investigation in Turkey.”

When Boyling finally returned in 2001, he claimed that he needed help to “escape the police.” That year, Rosa became pregnant with their first child. In 2004, she became pregnant again after he continued to lie and manipulate her. In 2005, he coerced her into getting married but in 2007, she fled with her children due to his “frightening and abusive behavior.”

Stories like this don’t end here, nor do the victims. And even though some spycops didn’t engage in this level of deception, personal entanglement, and grotesque manipulation they did coerce female activists into sex under false pretenses because they undoubtedly thought they could get away with it. 

Blacklisting and Infiltration

One of the lesser known activities of the SDS is their state surveillance of trade unions and blacklisting. According to Tribune, the targeting of unions “has been an important element of the political police unit’s work.”

Undercover officers joined the unions, voted in elections and participated in campaigns. Spycop Mark Jenner infiltrated the Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians, compiled data on at least 300 workers—some of whom found themselves blacklisted—and engaged in a five-year relationship with a member of the National Union of Teachers using his undercover identity.

During the UCPI inquiry, SDS managers admitted that the unit took “direct instructions from M15 on the targeting of specific individuals.” That included blacklisting:

[P]eople were being sacked or denied promotion because of their political and trade union activities. One disclosed report describes what would happen to a member of the Socialist Workers Party spied on by SDS: ‘it was likely that her employment with [a government body] would be terminated’. This is blacklisting—plain and simple.

Spycops also targeted children:

David Barr QC said in his opening statement that the information collected by the SDS and disseminated to MI5 included material about industrial disputes between private companies and their employees, which fueled employment blacklists, and ‘extensive reporting’ on children involved in activism.


And they’ve been accused of inciting demonstrators to commit crimes. According to Dave Smith who is a blacklisted construction union activist and co-author of Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business and Union Activists, “Carlo Neri has been accused of attempting to ‘entrap’ union members by inciting them to commit arson…the spycop had encouraged members to firebomb a charity shop he claimed was owned by an Italian fascist.”

The story is reminiscent of Bob Lambert, a former member of the SDS and the same spycop that impregnated “Jacqui.” He was accused of planting a fire bomb at a department store in Harrow, UK in connection with an anti-fur movement that resulted in the store being burned to the ground.

The spycop inquiry was also told that “some of those blacklisted later committed suicide. ‘No one can say that blacklisting was the sole reason for these suicides but prolong periods of unemployment and family tensions cannot be good for anyone’s mental health.’”

Undercover Units Only Targeted Left-Wing and Progressive Groups 

Former head of the SDS, Barry Moss, told the inquiry that ”if the National Front had just been allowed to demonstrate and the left wing hadn’t turned up, there probably wouldn’t have been any disorder,” confirming that top leadership did not, and would not, respect the right to peaceful protest. 

During testimony, one spycop admitted that the Socialist Workers Party engaged in shouting while the Far Right engaged in “mostly physical violence.”

Q: Coming back now to the confrontations between the SWP and the Far Right, was there any pattern in who initiated violence or was it where different incidents were initiated by different sides? 

A: It depended on exactly where it was and how many people were there, how many police were there. From the SWP side, it was mostly shouting. From the Far Right thing, it was mostly physical violence. You know, you knew if the police weren’t there, then you would have to run for it.


In addition, the Met’s undercover policing units “overwhelmingly spied on leftwing and progressive political groups.” According to The Guardian:

Police leaders took a high-level policy decision not to place undercover officers in far-right groups at a time when fascists were intimidating and attacking ethnic minority communities in the 1970s, an inquiry has heard.

The undercover police officers that were sent to infiltrate political groups during that time were exclusively targeted at leftwing and progressive groups, including those opposing fascists.

Although there’s been a myriad of excuses thrown around over the years, the U.K.’s undercover policing units blatantly ignored hate speech, criminal acts, and violent behavior stemming from right-wing and pro-Nazi groups despite the fact these were the very things they were suppose to be policing.

How to Follow the UCPI

If you’re not familiar with the spycop inquiry, it can be a daunting task to follow due to the breadth and scope of the investigation. The investigation is broken up into 6 tranches. Below is taken from campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com.

Tranche 1: This covers SDS activities from 1968-1982, and is broken down into three phrases:

Phase 1

  • Hearings for Phase 1 started in November 2020
  • SDS from 1968-1972

`Phase 2

  • Hearings for Phase 2 started in April 2021
  • SDS from 1973-1982

Phase 3

  • Hearings for Phase 3 started in May 2022
  • SDS managers from 1968-1982

Closing Statements

  • Tranche 1 closing statements finished last year

As you can see, it took over two years just to get through Tranche 1. The following is the remaining five tranches, what they’re about, and when the hearings are expected to take place:

Tranche 2

Phase 1

  • SDS between 1983-1992
  • Hearings started this week

Phase 2

  • Hearings expected to start September 30, 2024

Tranche 3 

  • SDS between 1993-2007
  • Hearings expected in 2025

Tranche 4 

  • NPOIU officers and managers
  • Hearings are expected in late 2025 or 2016

Tranche 5

  • Other undercover policing officers and managers and those affected by deployment
  • No date yet?

Tranche 6

  • It will cover higher management and oversight
  • No date yet?

You can find a list of evidence hearings from Tranche 1 and 2 here —> https://www.ucpi.org.uk/hearings/#list

Non-evidence files and documents here —> https://www.ucpi.org.uk/publications/

And latest news from the UCPI here —> https://www.ucpi.org.uk/news/

Some spycops have been unmasked while others are still being protected by the state. All of the officers cited in the UCPI inquiry are designated by a cypher/nominal starting with an “N” or “HN” and followed by a number. For example: 

HN5: John Dines

HN10: Bob Lambert

HN11: Mike Chitty

HN14: Jim Boyling

There are two databases where you can search for SDS and NPOIU (“EN”) spycops using their cipher/nominal here —> https://www.ucpi.org.uk/who-is-involved/#police

I also recommend following policespiesoutoflives.org, @tombfowler, spycops.info, @streets, @copscampaign, @out_of_lives, @DaveBlacklist, @AlisonSpyCops, @bristolnoborder, @PenderynDic and so many others found at the #SpyCops and #SpyCopsInquiry hashtags and, of course, the UCPI.org.uk for more information.

If you’re an activist and/or part of a community that uses social media, now is the time to start spreading awareness about #Spycops. The inquiry is a stark, in-your-face reminder about how far cops will go to destroy the lives of innocent people in order to protect the capitalist class and their interests. 

If you care about your safety and that of your comrades, the inquiry is a perfect opportunity to educate your group or community because the media isn’t going to give it the coverage it deserves. And if you’re a member of an activist community that refuses to address red flags proliferating within the group’s midst, or worse, members attack you for bringing it up, you might want to find a new activist group because, let’s be honest, you’d have to be fairly naive to believe that this stuff isn’t still happening. 

The Tradecraft Manual

Finally, a spycop tradecraft manual has been published online.

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