Police spy on activist groups

POLICE are using a network of hundreds of paid informants to feed them information about protest groups, according to secret recordings made by a potential recruit.

A member of the climate-change protest group, Plane Stupid, has released a series of recorded discussions with officers apparently offering her money to spy on fellow activists.

Matilda Gifford, 24, says she was approached by Strathclyde Police last month after being released on bail following a demonstration at Aberdeen airport.

In a series of discussions with police, recorded by Miss Gifford, an officer attempting to recruit her is quoted as saying “UK plc can afford more than 20 quid”.

The tax-free cash would be in exchange for information on individuals within the climate-change protest group and would not be paid into her bank account for fear of leaving an audit trail.

She was also told that her continued involvement with Plane Stupid could lead to her having difficulties finding employment in the future if she ended up with a criminal record.

In one section of the recording a police officer states hundreds of informants are on police books giving them information on a spectrum of organisations ranging from terror cells to environmental activists.

The officer is quoted as saying: “We work with hundreds of people, believe me, ranging from terrorist organisations right through to whatever. To the others as we like to call them. Environmentalists.

“We have people who give us information on environmentalism, leftwing extremism, rightwing – you name it, we have the whole spectrum of reporting.”

Strathclyde Police stated the force “had a responsibility to gather intelligence” after admitting officers had had meetings with Plane Stupid activists.

The Assistant Chief Constable of Strathcylde Police, George Hamilton, said: “Officers from Strathclyde Police have been in contact with a number of protesters who were involved with the Plane Stupid protests including Aberdeen airport.”

He added that the purpose of the meetings was to make sure future protests were carried out within the law and respected the rights of all concerned.

Plane Stupid, a direct action group fighting against airport expansion since 2005, maintains the attempted police infiltration of the group was an attempt to curtail people’s right to protest.

Lawyers for Plane Stupid have been able to identify the officers invovled.

A statement from Plane Stupid reads: “Our civil liberties were invaded and our right to peaceful protest called into question simply to defend the interests of big business.”

The group’s first protest was to release a barrage of rape alarms attached to helium balloons disrupting an international aviation conference being held in London.

In a statement in its website Plane Stupid states it welcomed any actions in its name “provided they are non-violent and accountable and help further the struggle against airport expansion and greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.”