What are the limits – if any – to undercover policing? At what point is a moral, ethical, or legal threshold crossed when an undercover operative insinuates himself into a targeted group or the lives of its members?
Last Friday British media reported that the UK’s Metropolitan Police would pay £400,000 (about $680,000) in a settlement with a woman, known only as Jacqui, who was conned by a man who fathered her first child, said that he loved her, and then one day disappeared. She knew him as Bob Robinson. His real name, as she would learn 25 years later, was Bob Lambert.
He was an operative with the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), a special unit within the British police that infiltrated a host of environmentalist groups to gather intelligence. In several cases the operatives, almost always men, established long-term intimate relationships with women in order to gain access to the world of underground animal rights or environmental activists.
Jacqui’s was 22 when she first met Lambert. He was more than ten years older than her, and had already been a member of the Metropolitan police for several years. He went undercover in 1983 not long before he met Jacqui. As Rob Evans and Paul Lewis explain in their bookUndercover, Lambert’s mission was to work his way into the “intensely furtive, hard-core wing of the animal rights movement: the Animal Liberation Front.”
Having a girlfriend who was already trusted and well connected within activist circles was one of the easiest ways to become a “deep swimmer,” a phrase used by members of the SDS to describe spies who completely immersed themselves in the groups they were monitoring. In addition to Jacqui, Lambert is known to have had romantic relationships with three other women during his career as an undercover operative. Eleven other women have also filed charges against the Metropolitan police.
Read more http://www.counterpunch.org
Add your annotation