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E02786195    06/2023

HC 1539

Home/UCPI Interim Report for Tranche 1/Chapter 2: The Special Operations Squad after 27 October 1968

Chapter 2: The Special Operations Squad after 27 October 1968

  1. Deployed undercover officers attended and reported on the post-mortem meetings of the groups they had joined. Some of them, including HN329 (“John Graham”), then expected that the Special Operations Squad (SOS) would be wound up, as did HN3093 Roy Creamer, who makes no secret of his disagreement with the principle of undercover policing. He anticipated that Special Branch would revert to traditional practices.
  2. HN325 Detective Chief Inspector Conrad Dixon thought otherwise. In a memorandum to HN2857 Chief Superintendent Arthur Cunningham dated 8 November 1968,1 Conrad Dixon said that the experience of the previous three months had revealed the basic requirements for the long-term penetration, in depth, of extreme left-wing political factions. The first requirement was for finance for a headquarters flat. Arthur Cunningham recommended that the proposal be approved.2 On 9 November 1968, HN151 Commander Ferguson Smith forwarded the proposal to HN1876 Assistant Commissioner Peter Brodie, with a request that continued finance be made available. His view was that, given the existence of plans for another large demonstration in the spring of 1969, it would be necessary for the “penetration squad” to continue to provide information to Special Branch, the Home Office, the Security Service and uniformed colleagues.3 He noted that the Security Service had welcomed the intention to carry on with the squad.4 The proposal was referred to the Commissioner, who suggested that it be raised with the Home Office.5 It was, and on 13 December 1968, James Waddell, the Home Office’s Deputy Under Secretary with responsibility for policing, asked that it be kept under review as he did not think that the SOS should be a permanent feature of Special Branch.6 On 16 December 1968, he gave the Home Office’s approval to continued funding of the squad until midsummer 1969.7
  3. On 26 November 1968, Conrad Dixon produced a study paper, setting out his template for the future conduct of the unit.8 Its primary objective would be to provide information in relation to public-order A secondary by-product would be knowledge of extremist organisations and individuals. The advantages which the unit would have, by contrast with traditional Special Branch techniques, would be accuracy of reporting, the absence of delay and the ability to make accurate assessments of future trends.
  4. Conrad Dixon’s paper was forwarded to Arthur Cunningham, who commented on 27 November 1968 that information gathered was not only more accurate, but could not have been obtained at all from “our usual sources”.9 His suggestion that the paper be forwarded to the Security Service was rejected by Ferguson Smith on 28 November 1968.10 There is no documentary evidence that it was forwarded to the Home Office.
  5. In the paper, Conrad Dixon proposed that service be for one year, except for special circumstances, and that there be a minimum of 12 deployed officers, plus one “uncommitted” officer, usually a woman detective constable.11 Her purpose would be to obtain and give evidence about any serious crime encountered during the deployment of the other officers.
  6. This was based on an event which had occurred on 9 October 1968 at a meeting of the Notting Hill branch of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (VSC), which HN323 Helen Crampton attended with HN68 (“Sean Lynch”) and HN331.12 HN323 was handed a leaflet headed “The Potential of a Militant Demonstration” by an activist. It proposed that the demonstration planned for 27 October 1968 should target the US embassy and that commando units of three to five people should arrange to carry bricks, instruments for puncturing car tyres, Molotov cocktails and cattle prods or pointed instruments to use against horses, to the place of confrontation. The leaflet also contained instructions for making homemade grenades.13 On 22 October 1968, the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed with the Commissioner that the activist should be arrested and prosecuted, but on the advice of the Attorney General, who had himself consulted the Home Secretary, his arrest was delayed until after the demonstration.14 He was prosecuted for incitement to riot, convicted after trial in early 1969 and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. HN323 gave evidence at his trial.15
  7. HN328 Joan Hillier was identified in the study paper as an “uncommitted” officer. She never undertook that role and was unaware of its existence.16 Like every other surviving officer of the period, she was unaware of the existence of the paper or its proposals.
  8. Another element of Conrad Dixon’s proposals was also not made known to deployed officers. In the paper, he observed:“[T]he incompetence of the British left is notorious, and officers should take care not to get into a position where they achieved prominence in an organisation through natural ability … members of the squad should be told in no uncertain terms that they must not take office in a group, chair meetings, draft leaflets, speak in public or initiate activity.”17
  9. Conrad Dixon’s command of the SOS came to an end in late May 1969. He was replaced by HN1251 Detective Inspector Phil Saunders.18
  10. On 27 May 1969, Peter Brodie wrote to James Waddell seeking Home Office approval for continued expenditure until the end of the year.19 He acknowledged that there had been a lessening of the violence that had characterised political demonstrations in 1968, but he did not feel that “we are out of the wood yet”;20 and, because targeted groups were becoming more security-conscious, it would be difficult to recreate the squad should circumstances so demand. He said that Ferguson Smith had told him that the Security Service fully supported the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) view that it should be allowed to continue, that its product was shared with them and that frequent consultation took place between officers of both services.
  11. The letter was preceded by a memorandum dated 20 May 1969 by Arthur Cunningham, addressed to Ferguson Smith.21 He noted that, of all the sources of information available to the police about the 27 October 1968 demonstration, the deployment of undercover officers was the most successful. He stated:

    “[I]t was agreed that the Squad should continue to operate, and it was then possible to look at the larger canvas of the political scene, to establish what the new aims should be.” He listed four aims:“(a) To supply information about the intentions of militant left wing extremists on the occasions of public demonstrations. (b) Identification of those who engage in preliminary planning or who take part insuch demonstrations. (c) Obtaining evidence and identifying suspects in relation to breaches of the law before, during and afterdemonstrations. (d) Gathering and recording information for long-term intelligence purposes.”22

    He identified eight groups on which information was being obtained by undercover officers and noted that the emphasis of the squad’s work was shifting to (c) and (d): the need for accurate intelligence in the field of public order was indisputable, but the information referred to in (b), (c) and (d) “would, on its own, amply justify the continuance of the Squad”.23

  12. There is no documentary evidence that a copy of this memorandum was sent to the Home Office or read by James Waddell or another senior Home Office official. That is because the Home Office file, which would have contained all retained documents about the SOS, QPE/66 1/8/5, is missing. The Inquiry has not retrieved any document which casts doubt on the conclusion of the review conducted by Stephen Taylor, dated January 2015, that the only documents of this nature undoubtedly seen by the Home Office were the annual reports on the SDS prepared by its Detective Chief Inspector for 1983 and 1986. It is, nevertheless, inconceivable that James Waddell was not, throughout, aware of the general nature of the activities undertaken by the SDS. He was the Deputy Under Secretary with responsibility for policing from 1968 to 1975, at a time of major reform of the MPS, initiated by HN3810 Commissioner Sir Robert Mark, planned and undertaken with robust Home Office support (see Sir Robert Mark’s autobiography).24 From September 1972 until early 1974, James Waddell was chairman of an inter-departmental group on Subversion in Public Life (the SPL group), in which MPS Special Branch was represented by its head, HN1253 Deputy Assistant Commissioner Victor Gilbert. The group met on nine occasions before 17 December 1973. The topics on which it reported included the security significance of the extreme left wing in the UK. It is inconceivable that James Waddell was unaware of the long-standing practice of Special Branch collecting and reporting information about individuals and organisations categorised as subversive (see the copy of the printed instructions sent to the Security Service in 1966).25 From 1969 until 1975, he was the addressee of annual letters from the Assistant Commissioner (Crime) seeking continued authority for special payments to cover the activities of the SDS, which described, in general terms, the nature and purpose of its intelligence-gathering. Letters giving that authority were signed by James Waddell on 23 January 1970,26 and 21 December 197027 and 1971,28 and 11 March 1975,29 and those sent in April 197330 and 197431 must have had his approval.
  13. By the time of the next review, at the end of 1969, the number of deployed officers had diminished to seven, but the number of groups about which information was being obtained had increased to 19. In his memorandum to the Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Crime) dated 7 November 1969,32 Phil Saunders noted that none of the potentially troublesome groups had been able to rally significant support for any issue, but that it had soon become obvious that the situation in Northern Ireland would attract the attention of extreme elements on the mainland. SOS officers had penetrated the principal groups identified. In his letter to James Waddell dated 4 December 1969, Peter Brodie said that events in Northern Ireland were “a solemn reminder to us all of the need to have the best information possible about revolutionary and subversive organisations in our midst”.33
  14. These documents indicated or left unstated significant differences in SOS targeting and practice from those proposed in Conrad Dixon’s study paper. The targets were a wide variety of extreme left-wing groups, which did not then pose an immediate threat to public order or give rise to internal dangers arising from the actions of persons or organisations judged to be subversive of the state, but which might do so in the future. The emphasis of the squad’s work was shifting from supplying information about the intentions of left-wing extremists for public demonstrations, to long-term intelligence-gathering. There was no rule that deployments should not last for more than 12 months, save in special circumstances. There was no prohibition on accepting office within a target group. No provision was made for gathering evidence for a prosecution, via an “uncommitted” officer. Emphasis, previously absent, was laid on the gathering of information about individuals. The experiences and reporting of the officers considered below in this report bear out and illustrate these developments.
  15. Two officers recruited before 27 October 1968, HN329 and HN321 (“William Paul Lewis”), continued to attend VSC branch meetings. HN329 attended and reported on the post-mortem meeting of Hampstead VSC on 30 October 1968,34 then three meetings of the newly formed Kilburn and Willesden branch in December 196835 and in January 1969,36 and then meetings of the Camden VSC from February to August 1969.37 The main topics of discussion were complaints about the International Marxist Group (IMG), participation in future peaceful demonstrations and the forthcoming meeting of the VSC in Sheffield on 10 and 11 May 1969 to discuss its future (a meeting he attended at which nothing was decided).38 He befriended Dr Geoff Richman, the principal figure in the Camden branch and a member of the VSC national executive committee, whom he described as a very pleasant individual.39 Neither Dr Richman nor other members of the branch made any attempt to hide what they were doing. HN329’s conclusion was that, although members of Camden VSC were notionally revolutionary, none of them was capable of achieving revolutionary aims by force.
  16. In February and March 1969, HN321 attended and reported on the fractious meetings of the Lambeth VSC,40 which he noted was becoming increasingly dominated by the IMG.41 His reporting may have contributed to the conclusion, expressed in a review of subversive activities for January to March 1969, that the IMG had retained control of the VSC.42 His reporting was then devoted to the activities of the IMG. He attended private meetings, on 11 May 1969,43 at which the expulsion of 11 members following serious political differences and the recognition of the IMG as the official British section of the Fourth International were reported and, on 14 May 1969,44 at which IMG delegates to its ninth international conference spoke about it. The last significant event on which he reported was the IMG summer camp held in Scotland on 26 July to 2 August 1969.45 It was devoted to political questions, including the stance the IMG should adopt in response to events in Northern Ireland and its intention to use the Irish Civil Rights Solidarity Campaign (ICRSC) as a platform for IMG propaganda.
  17. HN335 Michael Tyrrell attended and reported on meetings of Maoist groups, including the Britain–Vietnam Solidarity Front (BVSF),46 the Revolutionary Socialist Student Federation, which planned a demonstration on 14 December 1968,47 and, possibly, on the March 9th Committee for Solidarity with Vietnam,48 which planned a demonstration that was, correctly, predicted to be small and peaceful.
  18. HN326 (“Douglas Edwards”) was recruited by Phil Saunders and joined the SOS on 4 November 1968. His understanding was that his task was to learn about extreme left-wing groups who were fomenting trouble on the streets and to assist with the deployment of uniformed officers. He attended the VSC post- mortem on 11 November 1968 at Conway Hall, together with Conrad Dixon, HN321 and HN329.49 He then reported on a small and largely inactive anarchist group in the East End of London, on which he prepared a comprehensive report, dated 26 April 1969.50 Some of its members caused minor damage and made a nuisance of themselves locally. On instruction,51 he then became a card-carrying member of the Tower Hamlets branch of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), a group with a long and chequered history which ceased to exist in 1975. He produced a thoughtful analysis of its current state on 16 June 1969.52 There is no suggestion in any of his reports that anyone within the ILP intended to foment public disorder. He became treasurer of the Tower Hamlets branch.53 He described his infiltration of the ILP as “a handle to swing” – to provide an entrée into other groups.54
  19. It did so: HN326 then joined the Action Committee Against NATO (ACAN) and the Tri-continental Committee. ACAN discussed plans for demonstrations, but nothing came of them because of lack of funds.55 The Tri-continental Committee, which published a magazine founded after the Tri-continental conference in Havana in 1966, decided at its annual general meeting to change its name to the British Tri-continental Organisation (BTO).56 It was not a large organisation: it was reported to have few members.57 Despite that, it was riven with internal dissent: leading members accused others of being agents for foreign powers.58 In May 1970, its members resolved that it should cease to exist.59 HN326 also infiltrated the Dambusters Mobilising Committee (DMC),60 a group opposed to the construction of the Cahora Bassa dam in Mozambique. He reported on meetings of the VSC in September61 and October62 1970 about a demonstration to be held in the City of London. He concluded that the majority of those attending favoured an orderly demonstration. In the event, it did not take place. His last deployment was, with HN340 (“Andy Bailey” / “Alan Nixon”), to the Red Europe conference in Brussels on 21–22 November 1970.63 They travelled in a coach arranged by the IMG, and HN326 was surprised to find that they had been issued with British visitors’ passports with consecutive numbers.64 In the event, no harm befell them. He was then assigned to back-office duties and left the SOS in early 1971.
  20. With the possible exception of his deployment into an anarchist group in the East End in 1968–1969 and the ILP, HN326 chose his own targets. None of them posed a threat to public order or to the state, as his reporting and oral evidence demonstrated. Despite that, the ILP, ACAN and the Tri-continental Committee were specifically identified as three of the groups considered to be the main threat to public order in Phil Saunders’ memorandum of 7 November 1969.65
  21. HN333 was tasked to infiltrate a left-wing group. He did so by accepting the invitation in an advertisement to attend a group which no longer exists. He was partly greeted and partly grilled. The group, in theory, subscribed to violence and did participate in demonstrations which occasionally resulted in minor disorder, but it posed no threat to the state. His deployment was curtailed by illness.66
  22. HN336 (“Dick Epps”) joined the SOS in early 1969. He was not tasked to infiltrate a particular group, but, given his previous experience in Special Branch, to gather intelligence on groups which might be involved in future public disorder. The first group he infiltrated was the BVSF. He attended a meeting on 18 February 1969, at which the forthcoming demonstration on 9 March 1969 (on the plans for which HN335 may also have reported) was discussed.67 Together with HN135 Michael Ferguson, he also attended the post-mortem meeting on the same day.68 Both attended further private and open meetings at which the main topic of discussion was the correctness of Maoist doctrine.69 HN336 also attended student meetings addressed by Abhimanyu Manchanda and Tariq Ali.70
  23. HN336 then drifted away from the BVSF and into the Camden branch of the VSC.71 Its meetings were small and friendly.72 He also attended working meetings of the VSC,73 then the VSC April 26th ad hoc committee,74 formed to prepare for a demonstration on 26 April 1970 which passed off without recorded incident. He also attended meetings of the British Campaign for Peace in Vietnam for about six months.75 In the “True Spies” TV programme, as “Dan”,76 and in his oral evidence, he recounted an incident which is not recorded in any surviving document: he infiltrated the IMG, was entrusted with its office keys for two days and took an imprint of them which he understood would be provided to the Security Service, though he cannot now say that it was.77 He also attended meetings of the newly formed North West London branch of Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) in April and May 1970.78
  24. The passage of time may have dimmed his memory of the detail; but what is clear is that he was largely left to his own devices about which groups to infiltrate and did not encounter or report on anything that posed a serious threat to public order or to the state.
  25. HN135 joined the SOS in February or March 1969. He began by attending meetings of the BVSF with HN336 and continued to report on it after HN336 had moved to Camden VSC.79 He reported on the Revolutionary Socialist Student Federation.80 Nothing of moment occurred in either group apart from the expulsion of three members at the instigation of Abhimanyu Manchanda.81 He then undertook two deployments of greater significance: in July 1969, he joined the Islington branch of the ICRSC82 and, in December 1969, began to attend and report on meetings of the ad hoc committee of the STST.83
  26. The STST was, as Lord Hain stated in his written and oral evidence, a loose and rapidly expanding association of individuals and groups opposed to apartheid in South Africa. They believed that a weak link in the South African state’s relationship with the Western world was its sporting links, in particular, tours to England by its all-white rugby and cricket teams. They concluded that traditional methods of attempting to attract public support for their cause – demonstrations outside sporting grounds and media campaigns – had not worked and needed to be supplemented by publicity-seeking stunts, by “non-violent direct action” (NVDA). As Lord Hain explained, the essence of NVDA was surprise.84 This meant that, as had been the case with traditional demonstrations and marches, advance notification would not be given to the The Special Operations Squad after 27 October 1968 police. Lord Hain, Professor Rosenhead (who was a member of the so-called “special action group”) and Ernest Rodker are adamant that they expressly disavowed violence to the person or the threat of it as a tactic and assert that their view was shared by the great majority of STST supporters. I accept that this was their view and that Lord Hain repeatedly and expressly stated it publicly. Nevertheless, as he accepts, NVDA was bound to cause disruption for participants and spectators at the sporting events targeted and to cause problems for the police if they reacted angrily, as happened at a rugby match at Swansea on 15 November 1969. Further, some individuals, acting on their own initiative, were likely to, and did, go beyond what prominent STST figures intended. Hence, the spreading of weedkiller at New Road cricket ground, Worcester, on 7 January 1970 and the digging up of the pitch at Swansea on 19 January 1970.
  27. The ad hoc committee of the STST met in Peter Hain’s parents’ home. The purpose of the first meeting attended by HN135 on 5 December 196985 was to discuss tactics for the Twickenham rugby match on 20 December 1969. He reported on 9 December 1969 that it was proposed to hold a demonstration outside, to buy 300 tickets and to stage a stunt on the pitch: two demonstrators were to handcuff themselves to the goalposts. Lord Hain confirmed that this was what was planned and attempted.86 It was in keeping with the NVDA discussed by Jonathan Rosenhead’s special action group and practised by Ernest Rodker and others: pitch invasions, letting off flares, taking over the coach in which the Springboks were to travel to the match on 20 December 1969 and glueing the locks of the bedroom doors of a hotel at which they were staying.87
  28. HN135 and two other Special Branch officers attended the morning public session of the first national conference of STST on 7 March 1970, and HN135 stayed on for the afternoon private session.88 It was attended by about 150 delegates, including Michael Brearley, Peter Hain and David Gower. HN135 reported that the meeting was well conducted and orderly. The policy to be adopted was that of NVDA, including a “welcome” for the cricket team at Heathrow, a national demonstration at Lords cricket ground on 6 June 1970 and local demonstrations at earlier matches. He reported on meetings of Jonathan Rosenhead’s special planning group held on 7 and 13 May 1970, in his room at the London School of Economics, at which plans for action when the cricket team arrived were discussed.89 They included the disruption of the Lords match, a mass invasion of the pitch and noises off during play. By the time of the next meeting on 24 May 1970,90 the tour had been cancelled.
  29. Although details of the reporting and its tone are criticised by Lord Hain and Professor Rosenhead, I have no reason to doubt its essential accuracy. It supports their truthful written and oral evidence: that the small groups which made plans for disrupting the tour intended to do so by non-violent means.
  30. In his memorandum of 18 November 1970, Phil Saunders made the following observation:

    “When there was a sufficiently emotive issue – such as the ‘Stop the Seventy Tour’ campaign which guaranteed broad-based support and the attention of the mass media [–] the extremists were able seriously to threaten the maintenance of order, making it imperative that advance information of their plans was available.”91

    Even without the benefit of hindsight, his observation is difficult to understand or to justify. It may reflect his fears of what might have happened had the tour not been called off, but it is not an accurate reflection of what in fact occurred.

  31. There was a postscript to the reporting of HN135. On 27 October 2002, the BBC broadcast the first episode of “True Spies”, a programme with which Special Branch cooperated. “Wilf”, HN474 Wilf Knight, speaking for the SDS, told of the infiltration of the STST by HN135.91 He said that HN135 had worked his way up the organisation, becoming Peter Hain’s number two. HN135 had reported on plans for the Twickenham match: flare bombs, smoke bombs and metal tacks were to be thrown onto the pitch. “Wilf” said that this did happen, but it was frustrated by forewarned uniformed police. At a meeting later on, Peter Hain said that there was a spy in their midst. HN135 pointed to another man in the room and said that he thought it was him, whereupon the other man got thrown out. Although Lord Hain said in the programme that he recalled the incident and has now been informed of the cover name of HN135, he now has no recollection of the incident. He is adamant that the rest of what “Wilf” said is not true: he did not have a “number two”, there were no plans to throw tacks onto the pitch and none were thrown.93 HN135 was dead when the programme was broadcast and “Wilf” is now dead. The documentary evidence obtained by this Inquiry suggests that “Wilf” never served in the SDS, so that his version of events may have been second-hand at best. It is not now possible to establish the truth about the incident at the meeting, if it occurred. As to the rest of what “Wilf” said, Lord Hain is clearly right: the STST was not a hierarchical group, tacks were not thrown onto the pitch at Twickenham and HN135’s report of the plans for the match discussed at the meeting on 5 December 1969 mentioned no such plan. The likely explanation for these statements by “Wilf” is confusion and exaggeration, though on whose part it cannot now be said.
  32. HN346 Jill Mosdell, too, reported on anti-apartheid groups. The first was North West London STST, which planned lawful activity in April and May 197094 and renamed itself the North West London Action Committee Against Racialism in July 1970.95 The second was the South West London Action Committee Against Racialism, which planned to disrupt Peter Hain’s court appearance on 21 September 1971 and the Miss World contest on 10 November 1971.96 The third was the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Surviving reports, from November 1971 to June 1972, deal with plans for peaceful demonstrations at a variety of London sites, including 10 Downing Street on 21 March 197297 and South Africa House on 9 June 1972.98 None of these plans posed any real threat to public order.
  33. HN135 and HN68 were, at the same time, reporting on Irish groups of potential interest to the MPS, which had lead responsibility for mainland Irish Republican activity. From May 1969 until the end of 1971, HN68 attended private meetings of the London branch of People’s Democracy (PD) (a group founded at Queen’s University Belfast on 9 October 1968),99 the Hammersmith branch of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA)100 and the ICRSC,101 formed on the proposal of Gerry Lawless at a PD meeting on 15 May 1969. HN135 joined the Islington branch of ICRSC in August 1969 and reported on its affairs until May 1970.102 Both undercover officers reported on the bitter disagreements which occurred within and between the groups – about the alleged misappropriation of funds103 and about the politics of leading members.104 In the light of later events, the most striking disagreement was between Gerry Lawless and Noel Jenkinson in the Islington branch of the ICRSC, about the refusal of the latter to allow the former to have any involvement in the fielding of a candidate in the Parliamentary by-election expected on 30 October 1969, because he was a Trotskyist.105
  34. HN340 was recruited into the SOS by Phil Saunders in late 1969.106 He was not tasked to infiltrate any particular group, but was encouraged to attend a public meeting at Conway Hall organised by the IMG. At the suggestion of Tariq Ali, whom he met at the meeting, he attended meetings of the North London Red Circle, a discussion group loosely affiliated with the IMG.107 Nothing of significance occurred. On his own initiative, he took over the role of tea club secretary of the group, to find out members’ surnames.108 As already noted, HN340 travelled with HN326 on an IMG organised coach to the Red Europe conference in Brussels on 22 November 1970.109 He also succeeded HN135 as an undercover officer in the Islington branch of the ICRSC,110 soon to be renamed the Irish Solidarity Campaign (ISC). Together with HN68, he attended the founding conference of the ISC on 10–11 October 1970.111 Both produced a detailed and perceptive analysis of its proceedings and concluded that the IMG had gained control of it. This was recorded as a noteworthy achievement in Phil Saunders’ memorandum of 18 November 1970.112
  35. None of the undercover officers whose deployments are cited above received any training in the SOS, beyond reading the reports of deployed officers and speaking to them. None of them took steps to bolster their cover identity by researching the register of births, deaths and marriages. Once deployed into a field or area by their managers, many chose their own target groups. There are common threads in the three memorandums cited in support of the application for continued Home Office approval and funding: although there had been no serious outbreak of public disorder in 1969 and 1970, all that was required was an emotive issue to give rise to one; a number of potential issues were identified, including Vietnam, Northern Ireland and sporting ties with South Africa; in that event, “extremists” would exploit the issue; because they operated in smaller groups and with less advance notice and/or publicity than before, it was imperative that their intentions were discerned by undercover officers deployed into the groups. It would be difficult to restart an effective undercover unit if circumstances should require it to be done. Further, and in any event, the gathering of intelligence about extremists was a worthwhile and justified end in itself.
  36. Lord Hain makes two general criticisms of the SOS: there was a lack of clarity about, and of checks and balances within, the unit; this led to an institutional culture of inappropriate and highly politicised surveillance.113 The first criticism is justified, as is demonstrated by the fact that in the years immediately after 1968, once deployed by their managers, many undercover officers selected their own targets within the field or area into which they had been deployed. The second is partly justified. As several of the surviving undercover officers of the period have testified, they did have a common understanding of the need to protect existing institutions, in particular those which supported and gave effect to parliamentary democracy, from left-wing extremists who wished to undermine them. Their managers appear to have had an underlying belief that there was a body of extremists bent on exploiting any emotive issue to create public disorder. There was an element of truth in this, as later deployments into Trotskyist groups would demonstrate; but it was an inadequate explanation for most serious incidents of public disorder on the infrequent occasions on which they occurred; and it did not begin to justify the infiltration of groups which posed no such threat, such as the STST. But for what is set out in the next paragraph and for the continuing and legitimate need to keep an eye on mainland Irish Republican activity while the “Troubles” lasted, it is difficult to understand why approval and finance for the unit continued.
  37. HN68’s membership of NICRA allowed him to gain access to the Hammersmith branch of (Provisional) Sinn Fein, known as the “Terence McSweeney cumann”, on which he began to report on 26 January 1971.114 He participated fully in its activities, including fundraising and leaflet-pasting. In November 1971, he was elected chairman of the branch, appointed to be one of the delegates to the district committee of London (Provisional) Sinn Fein and elected as finance officer for the district.115 He was able to report not only on its day-to-day activities, such as plans for public events,116 but also on instructions from (Provisional) Sinn Fein headquarters in Dublin about the attitude it should adopt to the recently formed Anti-Internment League.117 He reported on the distribution of cash raised by the London district: at the annual general meeting of the South London district on 10 November 1971, it was reported that £1,100 had been sent to Ireland in the last year;118 on 28 July 1972, the treasurer (not HN68) reported that half of the £488 raised had been allocated to the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA).119 HN68 was the first SOS undercover officer to be deployed long term. His reporting was, rightly, valued by senior officers. This aspect of HN68’s deployment illustrates a recurring theme in the history of the unit: among questionable deployments, some of undoubted value occurred. If the SOS had not existed, the deployment of HN68 would have had to have been undertaken by another section of the MPS, such as B Squad, which had long experience of Irish Republican affairs.
  38. On 15 June 1970, “Terms of Reference for a Special Branch” were circulated by the Home Office to all chief constables.120 They had previously been agreed and proposed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). They included responsibility for acquiring security intelligence “as directed by the Chief Officer to assist the Security Service in its task of defending the realm … from actions of persons and organisations which may be judged to be subversive of the security of the State…. Broadly speaking these are any organisation or individual whose purpose is the undermining or overthrow of the established democratic order.”121 Its tasks included: “(d) in consultation with the Security Service to collect, process and record information about subversive or potentially subversive organisations and individuals”.122 The document did not address the means by which security intelligence might be acquired and so made no mention of the existence or deployment of undercover officers to do so.
  39. The Inquiry has found nothing to indicate that the detective chief inspectors and detective inspectors in operational charge of the SDS saw this document, but more senior officers must have done so; and, as noted in paragraph 14 above, SOS practice already fulfilled that task.
Chapter 1
Chapter 3


  1. MPS-0724121
  2. MPS-0730219 p1
  3. Ibid. pp1-2
  4. Ibid. p2
  5. Ibid. p3
  6. MPS-0724117
  7. MPS-0724116
  8. MPS-0724119
  9. MPS-0730219 p5
  10. Ibid
  11. Ibid
  12. MPS-0739187
  13. MPS-0739152
  14. MPS-0739147
  15. MPS-0739149
  16. HN328 Transcript of Oral Evidence p31 line 16
  17. MPS-0724119
  18. MPS-0724107 (first memorandum signed by Saunders)
  19. MPS-0728973
  20. Ibid. p1
  21. Ibid. p4
  22. Ibid. p4
  23. Ibid. p5
  24. DOC057 pp125 and 135–6
  25. MPS-0748348
  26. MPS-0724100
  27. MPS-0724130
  28. MPS-0724177
  29. MPS-0730676
  30. MPS-0724161
  31. MPS-0724156
  32. MPS-0728973 pp6–11
  33. Ibid. p18
  34. MPS-0722099 p201
  35. UCPI0000007684, UCPI0000007685
  36. UCPI0000007686
  37. UCPI0000007688, UCPI0000007690 , UCPI0000007692, UCPI0000007693, UCPI0000007694, UCPI0000007695, UCPI0000007696, UCPI0000007697, UCPI0000007699, UCPI0000007700, UCPI0000007698, UCPI0000007701, UCPI0000007702, UCPI0000007703, UCPI0000007704, UCPI0000007705
  38. UCPI0000005799
  39. HN329 Transcript of Oral Evidence p24 line 7
  40. UCPI0000007687, UCPI0000007689, UCPI0000007691
  41. First Witness Statement of HN321 para 67
  42. MPS-0731636
  43. UCPI0000015669
  44. UCPI0000015670
  45. UCPI0000015671, UCPI0000007885
  46. MPS-0733949, MPS-0736481, MPS-0736480, MPS-0733951, MPS-0736479, MPS-0736476
  47. UCPI0000005785
  48. MPS-0736470
  49. MPS-0730768
  50. UCPI0000008161
  51. First Witness Statement of HN326 para 51
  52. UCPI0000008203
  53. First Witness Statement of HN326 para 133
  54. HN326 Transcript of Oral Evidence p106 line 22
  55. UCPI0000008209, UCPI0000035178
  56. UCPI0000035170
  57. UCPI0000035174
  58. UCPI0000035305
  59. Ibid.
  60. UCPI0000008111, UCPI0000008112, UCPI0000008113, UCPI0000008114, UCPI0000008115, UCPI0000008116, UCPI0000008117, UCPI0000008118, UCPI0000008119, UCPI0000008109
  61. UCPI0000005814
  62. UCPI0000005816
  63. First Witness Statement of HN326 para 112
  64. First Witness Statement of HN340 para 51
  65. MPS-0728973
  66. First Witness Statement of HN333
  67. MPS-0732691
  68. MPS-0732690
  69. MPS-0732688, MPS-0732971, MPS-0732689, MPS-0736439, MPS-0736446
  70. First Witness Statement of HN336 para 58
  71. UCPI0000007770, UCPI0000007769, UCPI0000007771, UCPI0000007772, UCPI0000007706
  72. First Witness Statement of HN336 para 63
  73. UCPI0000005803, UCPI0000005804, UCPI0000005805
  74. UCPI0000005806, UCPI0000005807, UCPI0000005808, UCPI0000005809, UCPI0000005810, UCPI0000005811
  75. First Witness Statement of HN336 para 66
  76. UCPI0000031845 p5
  77. HN336 Transcript of Oral Evidence pp67–9
  78. MPS-0736281, MPS-0736268, MPS-0736257, MPS-0736296, UCPI0000014418, MPS-0736346, MPS-0736364
  79. MPS-0736430, MPS-0736433
  80. UCPI0000005788, UCPI0000005789
  81. UCPI0000005789
  82. UCPI0000008662, UCPI0000008678, UCPI0000008691, UCPI0000008555
  83. UCPI0000008656
  84. Lord Peter Hain Transcript of Oral Evidence p42 line 21
  85. Ibid.
  86. Lord Peter Hain Transcript of Oral Evidence p46 line 14
  87. UCPI0000031857, First Witness Statement of Lord Peter Hain
  88. MPS-0736190 (Special Branch report), UCPI0000008660 (SDS report)
  89. UCPI0000008607, MPS-0736368
  90. UCPI0000008635
  91. MPS-0728972 p3
  92. UCPI0000031845
  93. First Witness Statement of Lord Peter Hain paras 55 and 63
  94. UCPI0000014419, MPS-0736273, UCPI0000014420, UCPI0000014413, MPS-0736386
  95. UCPI0000014427
  96. UCPI0000008245
  97. MPS-0737004, MPS-0737014, MPS-0737006, UCPI0000008446
  98. MPS-0737071
  99. UCPI0000009872, UCPI0000009873
  100. MPS-0739888, UCPI0000016112, UCPI0000016015, UCPI0000016029, UCPI0000016058, UCPI0000016063, UCPI0000016065, UCPI0000016068
  101. See UCPI0000009873, UCPI0000016100, UCPI0000008642, UCPI0000008648, UCPI0000008652, UCPI0000009875, UCPI0000008654, UCPI0000008661, UCPI0000008657, UCPI0000008666, UCPI0000008667
  102. UCPI0000008678, MPS-0732189
  103. UCPI0000008601
  104. UCPI0000008564
  105. UCPI0000008571
  106. First Witness Statement of HN340 para 12
  107. Ibid. para 34
  108. Ibid. para 103
  109. Ibid. para 48
  110. MPS-0732319, MPS-0738663
  111. UCPI0000022302
  112. MPS-0728972 p3
  113. First Witness Statement of Lord Peter Hain para 9
  114. MPS-0728824
  115. MPS-0728449, MPS-0728451
  116. MPS-0739672
  117. MPS-0741375
  118. MPS-0728450
  119. MPS-0739324
  120. UCPI0000004425
  121. Ibid. p1 and p3
  122. Ibid. p2