Using Sexual Seduction to Undermine Peaceful Activism

peaceful protest

According to today’s Guardian, the London Metropolitan Police have issued an apology and a generous settlement to four female activists tricked into having sexual relationships with undercover cops who infiltrated their political organizations. The apology and settlement comes four years after the women filed suit against the police, claiming damages for emotional trauma.

Assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt, who issued the apology, maintains such relationships are illegal and contrary to police policy – that they only occurred owing to “a failure of police supervision and management.”

He claims the undercover cops’ superiors had no idea they were fucking activists. Activists (such as myself) with direct experience with government infiltration and disruption of their political organizations will recognize this is total bullshit.

Police and intelligence operatives have a long history of deliberately using sex (the old “honeypot” strategy)  to infiltrate and disrupt peaceful protest activities. This has been well documented in academic research and journalistic investigation, including a 1992 MIT study study into undercover police and intelligence activity, a 1995 University of Leicester study into British undercover seduction and a We Are Anonymous article about an undercover FBI agent named “Anna,” who lured animal rights activist Eric McDavid into a sexual relationship. Following his release from a nine year prison sentence, in January 2015 Eric was interviewed on Democracy Now.

The real story behind today’s apology is that five years ago six undercover cops were exposed for infiltrating peace and animal rights groups. The women they seduced recognized their photos and in 2011, began the difficult and distressing process of initiating legal action. If, as the Met claims, the behavior of the six undercover cops was so at odds with official policy, you have to ask 1) why none of the undercover cops have been criminally charged and 2) why it took the police four years to settle and apologize to the victims.

I think it’s pretty obvious that sexual seduction is a standard accepted strategy in undercover operations. The only difference here is the police got caught doing it.

While the Guardian article fails to identify the six undercover cops by name, they are profiled in a January 2015  Green is the New Red article.

  • Police Constable Mark Kennedy (see Mark Kennedy: the spycop who disappeared into the cold) posing as Mark “Flash” Stone, infiltrated Nottingham environmental and leftist networks for approximately eight years (~2001-2009). During this period, he had sexual relationships with at least two activists, one lasting at least four years. Kennedy has always maintained his superiors knew about his sexual relationships. He also denies that sexual relationships with targets were forbidden. In a 2011 Guardian article, he claims they were encouraged. “Sex was a tool to help officers blend in, the officer claimed, and was widely used as a technique to glean intelligence.” I believe him.
  • Bob Lambert, posing as Bob Robinson, infiltrated leftist and animal liberation networks, using a job at Greenpeace London as an activist cover. Lambert has admitted to having sexual relationships with four women while working as an undercover cop in the 1980s. Lambert  posed as a left-wing animal rights activist from 1983 to 1988, fathering a child with an unsuspecting activist during his deployment. At present he works as a lecturer in Terrorism Studies at the University of St Andrews and a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University’s John Grieve Centre for Policing.
  • Detective Constable Jim Boyling, 28-years-old, posing as Pete James Sutton or Jim Sutton 34-years-old, infiltrated the pro-bicycle movement Reclaim the Streets for five years (1995-2000) as a lead organizer, as well as having contact with additional environmental campaigns. During this period he had sexual relationships with two of the activists he was assigned to monitor. He married one of them and had two children with her prior to their divorce.
  • Mark Jacobs, 44-years-old, posing as 29-year-old Marco, infiltrated anarchist, anti-globalization, animal rights, and other social justice networks for five years (2004-2009) in the Cardiff area. Jacobs was known for taking on logistics and financial roles in his circles, and used the reputation he built within the Cardiff Anarchist Network (CAN) to infiltrate the Dissent! anti-G8 planning committees. During 2008, Jacobs maintained a sexual relationship with two female activists.
  • Sergeant John Dines, posing as “John Barker” infiltrated London Greenpeace and various anti-capitalist groups from around 1987-1992. He worked with the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad and began infiltrating Greenpeace following the departure of Bob Lambert. In 1990, Dines began a sexual relationship with an activist he abandoned in 1992.
  • Mark Jenner, presenting himself as “Mark Cassidy,” infiltrated UK protest groups from 1994-2000 as an officer in the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad under the direction of Bob Lambert. During his tenure, Jenner was married yet maintained a five year relationship (1995-2000) with a 29-year-old female activist, living with her in a London.

For more details on the female victims and the supervisors who failed to adequately monitor the behavior of their spycops see The spycops and their supervisors remain accountable (fraud, abuse, rape…

photo credit: Chicago Fur Free Friday 2010 via photopin (license)

How to Spot an Undercover Cop

Cutting Edge: Confessions of an Undercover Cop

Channel 4 (2011)

Film Review

This documentary is about a member of Britain’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) who served as an undercover operative inside the British environmental and antifascist movement between 2002-2009. Mark Kennedy was recruited for the elite NPOIU while working as an undercover narcotics officer. Following three weeks of specialized training, he assumed the role of a vegan anarchist named Mark Stone. For seven years, he reported daily to an NPOIU cover officer with information he had gleaned about fellow activists and their protest campaigns.

The NPOIU justification for infiltrating the environmental movement was to ensure the police response was “proportional” to the size of environmental protests. However over time Kennedy realized their true goal was to minimize the effectiveness of the environmental movement. As a result, he became increasingly conflicted about the role he played in undermining activists who seemed to have a genuine social function.

London’s massive March 2003 demonstration against the Iraq War was one of the first protests he infiltrated. Over time Kennedy, who was living under the cover name of Mark Stone, was admitted to the inner circle of the environmental movement. By 2005, he was assuming major responsibility for managing logistics for the 2005 G8 protest at Glen Eagles and the attempted shutdown (in 2006) of the Drax Power Station.

He also began a four year relationship with a female activist, in clear violation of NPOIU policy. According to police officials interviewed in the film, his cover officer had to know about the affair and should have terminated the assignment. It appears Kennedy’s superiors allowed the affair to continue for four years owing to the high quality of the information he was providing.

In 2005, he was suspended after riot cops beat him up during a protest, leading to an investigation on a possible charge of assaulting a police officer. After three months, he was suddenly recalled to duty to infiltrate the Spanish antifascist movement. Spain had contacted NPOIU requesting their assistance.

The NPOIU was forced to remove Kennedy from his undercover role in 2009, when information he provided led to police preventively arresting 30 protestors planning a civil disobedience at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. It became patently obvious Kennedy had narked on them when he was the only participant to have his charges dropped.

The NPOIU extracted him by floating the cover story he was moving to the US. After two weeks, he returned to Britain to be reassigned and was told the Metropolitan Police no longer had any use for his particular skills. He resigned, effectively ending a twenty year career.

When he tried to resume his relationship with his activist girlfriend, she happened to find a passport issued under his real name and outed him to the rest of the group – who outed him to the media.

The film concludes by raising important ethical questions about Kennedy’s undercover activity. Such as why the British police feel justified in preventing environmental protestors from executing their democratic rights. And how they justify spending millions of dollars spying on activists when Kennedy’s seven year mission failed to result in a single conviction.