General background information on Bob Lambert with developments related to our campaign. Scroll down for further information.
ABOUT BOB LAMBERT
These days Robert Lambert works part-time lecturing on Criminology and Policing at London Metropolitan University. But this expert on Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism has a dark past. He spent the 1980s and 1990s in Special Branch’s now discredited Special Demonstrations Squad, spying on community and activist groups campaigning against violence and oppression inflicted by governments and corporations around the world. While pretending to be an activist involved in peace and animal rights campaigns, he acted as an agent provocateur, encouraging people to carry out illegal actions which would lead to their arrest. He has been named in Parliament as having planted an incendiary device in a Debenhams store in 1987, one of three simultaneous arson attacks for which two animal rights activists went to prison for four years.
He also had sexual relationships with several women campaigners, lying to them about his identity and then disappearing from their lives – in the most abusive breach of trust imaginable. This abuse has had a severe and lasting emotional impact on those affected; one woman had a child fathered by Lambert. Only decades later did any of them discover he was a police spy.
After acting as an infiltrator himself, Lambert went on to run the Special Demonstrations Squad, supervising spies in many other political campaigns. Following his own example, almost all of the thirteen other undercover police so far unmasked have also used their position to sexually exploit women who were unaware of their real role. His protégés include police who spied on numerous families and campaigns opposing police racism and/or violence and murders, as well as London Greenpeace, Reclaim the Streets, anti fascist groups and campaigners against genetically modified crops. He is directly implicated in police attempts to spy on, smear and discredit Stephen Lawrence’s family campaign against the police failures to investigate Stephen’s racist murder in 1993, and also in the ‘mysterious’ passing on of Special branch files to a private company paid by large construction companies to compile a blacklist of trade unionists active in the building trade, many of whom were fired and victimised.
Top cops now claim that officers were told not to form sexual relationships while undercover; in reality Special Branch turned a blind eye to what one of Lambert’s victims herself said felt ‘like being raped by the state’. Eight women used in this way by police spies are currently suing the Metropolitan Police as the institution ultimately responsible.
These undercover police were not involved in ‘anti terrorist’ operations, they were spying to disrupt and weaken the growing opposition to the domination of our society by the interests of multinational corporations, and attacking community campaigns dealing with police corruption, racism and state violence. Several official inquiries and investigations have been launched into undercover policing because of the huge public outcry the exposures have created. However the establishment and the police won’t make significant changes unless we force them to by taking action.
Some Islington residents think London Metropolitan University should sack Bob Lambert. He is a known liar, spy and exploiter of women – not in any way a fit person to be trusted teaching students at this University.
We aim to keep up pressure on London Met until he resigns or they fire him.
The article below was originally posted by our comrades from Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance. It was written in response to a London Met senior criminology lecturer’s attempt to justify the employment of Bob Lambert at the University.
LONDON MET UNIVERSITY TRIES TO DEFEND BOB LAMBERT
Bob Lambert was an undercover officer who spied on animal rights organisations in the 1980s. In that time, he:
- deceived four women into sexual relationships. He lived with one and fathered a child
- stole the identity of a dead child
- was prosecuted under that false identity, lying throughout a court case
- co-wrote the McLibel leaflet that led to the longest court case in history, though his involvement was kept from the court
- was part of a group who firebombed department stores that sold fur
On this last point, three devices were simultaneously planted. The other two activists were convicted (though as Lambert’s evidence was withheld from court, they have launched an appeal). Although he has been named in parliament as planting the third incendiary device that burned down Debenhams in Harrow, Lambert has repeatedly denied it.
But if it was not Lambert, who was it? Was there really a fourth person who neither the others nor Lambert have mentioned before and who Lambert – despite getting the other two caught red handed in the crowning achievement of his deployment – allowed to get away unmentioned? He has yet to explain.
If all this were not enough, he then went on to run the Special Demonstration Squad. He oversaw officers who did similar things: lying in court to secure wrongful convictions and having long-term relationships with activists. His officers spied on numerous black justice campaigns including Stephen Lawrence’s family. Lambert was recently singled out for condemnation by the Ellison report into spying on the Lawrence family.
he instructs graduates on how to be police officers, a task for which he is uniquely unqualified.
As the pressure mounts on Lambert’s academic positions, one of his employers has defended him. Yesterday BBC TV’s London Tonight reported on the growing controversy. Having issued a statement to the local press last month, for the first time London Met gave an interview.
Tim Parsons, Senior Criminology lecturer, managed an extraordinary feat of euphemistic skill, saying
He has extremely rich experience in professional practice, accepting that some of that is now controversial.
It’s not controversial, strictly speaking. It’s pretty much universally criticised.
And professional? Quite the opposite. ‘Grossly unprofessional’ was the phrase used by the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Jon Murphy for the sexual relationships of officers like Lambert and his proteges.
Chief Constable Mick Creedon said last year that such activity
can only be seen as an abject failure of the deployment, a gross abuse of their role and their position as a police officer and an individual and organisational failing
If there is a gross abuse, there is a gross abuser. Bear in mind that Lambert not only had four such relationships himself but, aware of what it caused, was responsible for others who inflicted it on more women.
There is a peculiar conflict in London Metropolitan University. Whilst its criminology department employs Lambert, much of the institution defines itself with a strident social justice remit. It is a dark irony that a university department (and the public relations) defend this gross abuser of women at an institution that is home to the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit.
Yet Tim Parsons told the BBC
If you look at the things that we’re always championing such as human rights there is no reason whatsover why Bob shouldn’t have been offered employment at this university.
Human rights form a significant part of the legal case against the Metropolitan Police by women who had relationships with undercover officers – including Lambert personally and some of his later underlings.
The women assert that the actions of the undercover officers breached their rights as protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 3 (no one shall be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (respect for private and family life, including the right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state)
What the undercover officers did was either the fault of the individual (and a failing of managerial oversight), or it was an overt failing of management for authorising it. Wherever the blame lies, as both spy and manager, it must lie with Lambert.
His actions have caused the Met to pay out record compensation and – a genuine rarity – apologise for their officer’s behaviour. The unit he devoted decades to stands utterly disgraced and discredited, its methods disowned by senior officers, the subject of numerous investigations with a view to criminal charges, and the subject of a forthcoming full-scale public inquiry.
If Bob Lambert were at academic institutions as a lecturer in microbiology or Russian literature, or as a cleaner or gardener, it could be argued that his past should have no bearing on his position. But Bob Lambert is at the London Metropolitan University and the University of St Andrews on the basis of his indefensible past. They hired him before this was public knowledge – it appears that he deceived these universities just as he deceived those he spied on.
Officers and managers from the Special Demonstration Squad should be part of such courses only as case studies in how wrong it can go.
In response to Stefane Bonino’s piece in the Times Higher Education, which was written in defense of Bob Lambert’s position as a lecturer in policing and criminology despite his past as a ‘controversial undercover cop’, we publish here an article written by Bristling Badger.
BOB LAMBERT CONTROVERSY INTENSIFIES
Despite the colossal array of corrupt misdeeds committed by Bob Lambert and his disgraced political secret police unit the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), a professional associate in his new academic career, Stefano Bonino, has been moved to write in his defence in Times Higher Education.
Somewhat melodramatically it starts with a reminder of the recent politically motivated killings in France and then says
the SDS maintained a central and defining focus on political violence – most notably street violence conducted by and between far-Left and far-Right groups – and helped to save lives
A central and defining focus should leave plenty of evidence behind it. Yet among the exposed spycops is a central focus on groups who presented little or no threat to life.
As well as targeting trade unionists brandishing lethal leaflets and environmental groups with their deadly sitting in roads, the SDS spied on a swathe of justice campaigns, perhaps the most well known being the Stephen Lawrence campaign. This is now regarded as one of the most shameful acts in the history of the Metropolitan Police.
SPYING ON THE LAWRENCES
Lambert said in 2013 – just 18 months ago, well into his academic career, when he’s supposedly seen the light and come clean about his past – that
at no time in my tenure as an SDS manager – which is from November 1993 until when I left in 1998, which was roundabout the time of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry – at no time was the Special Demonstration Squad concerned in smearing their family or their campaign.
It appears that he carefully phased it to imply denial of allegations that his unit targeted the Lawrence family, and indeed the piece was headlined
‘We did not target Stephen’s family’, says undercover boss
However, the findings of last year’s comprehensive report by Mark Ellison QC are quite clear. They did target Stephen’s family. Bob Lambert was overseeing spying on the Lawrences, with nine officers gathering intelligence on the family.
If that wasn’t unethical enough in itself, Ellison says
The reality was that [officer deployed by Lambert codenamed] N81 was, at the time, an MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] spy in the Lawrence family camp during the course of judicial proceedings in which the family was the primary party in opposition to the MPS
The time they are talking about is not the immediate aftermath of Stephen Lawrence’s murder. It is five years later, as the Met was preparing for final submissions to the MacPherson Inquiry into the killing and the police response.
Lambert brokered a meeting between his Lawrence spy N81 and the team formulating the Met commissioner’s public response. The Ellison report’s findings were pretty blunt about Lambert’s actions.
We find the opening of such a channel of communication at that time to have been ‘wrongheaded’and inappropriate… a completely improper use of the knowledge the MPS had gained by the deployment of this officer
Bonino talks of
potentially violent protest groups that were attempting to attach themselves to the Stephen Lawrence campaign
Take a moment to think about the phrase ‘potentially violent’. Consider how it is being used, and how it could be used to justify spying on absolutely anyone and everyone.
But even before we need to address such blanket policing, Bonino’s assertion – that the concern wasn’t the Lawrence family themselves – has been discredited since the Ellison report’s revelation of the meeting Lambert organised. Why else would that meeting take place, except to undermine the position of the family and their campaign? Where exactly was the public order threat, five years after the murder, from the family’s submission to the MacPherson Inquiry?
WHEN IS A SPY UNIT NOT A SPY UNIT?
Bonino has no choice but to concede that much of what Lambert did for years is indefensible, but then mentions the final phase of his police career.
If his progressive calls for more participatory and transparent approaches to counterterrorism appear largely inconsistent with the activities of the SDS, the achievements of the Muslim Contact Unit are unquestioned.
Really? The Muslim Contact Unit has an untarnished reputation, as you would expect from an organisation run by a secret unit and which has never been critically examined. We should remember that Lambert’s animal rights work sounded fine from his own account, but subsequent revelations indicate that it was something else entirely.
The Muslim Contact Unit was set up by Lambert and his favoured protege Jim Boyling after the 9/11 attacks. It was ostensibly an outreach unit to foster good links between police and Muslim communities, and to acknowledge that devout Islam is not a threat to the wider society. And maybe that’s all it was. I have no evidence to the contrary.
But one has to wonder why Special Branch, the secret intelligence gathering wing of the police, would fund a unit if it wasn’t there to gather intelligence. If you’re not spying why use your most skilled and skilled spies who have little experience of anything else?
ACADEMIA COMES OUT OF THE IVORY TOWER
With all this, it’s east to see why there’s a furore about Lambert lecturing in criminology to tomorrow’s police managers. Bonino grasps for a philosophical assault on the criticism, saying
the campaign urging Lambert’s dismissal is undermined by its own hubris. Not only does it fail to differentiate between academic expertise and morality (are all lecturers made fully accountable for their non-academic past?), it also elevates morality to an absolute virtue floating outside the realm of a complex political world.
A group of academics have responded to Bonino in this week’s Times Higher Education, saying
The growing clamour from politicians, opinion formers and the wider public for Lambert to be sacked comes precisely because morality is not divorced from the political world.
Ethics must be integral to teaching, and nowhere more so than in the tutoring of those who will have privileged power over the lives of citizens and the political movements essential to democratic society.
Should lecturers made accountable for their non-academic past? Yes, if it is a profoundly unethical past that seriously undermines their suitability for the academic post. If lecturer in medicine were revealed to have performed secret, grossly unprofessional experiments on citizens, including sexual deception, that led to record compensation payouts to their victims, they could not expect to retain their post.
Likewise, when a criminology lecturer devoted decades to abuse of citizens and the counter-democratic undermining of campaigns for seemingly no reason other than they threaten established power, it demolishes their credibility and legitimacy.
DID THE LIAR LIE?
The campaigners disregard the authority and competence of universities to assess and monitor the fitness of their employees.
One of two things happened:
1) Lambert disclosed the full detail of his relevant past when he applied for the job – information that official reports have spent years ferreting out and are still not at the bottom of, matters that Lambert has flatly refused to answer questions about, details that he says he even kept secret from his wife and family – and the institution gave him the nod nonetheless; or
2) Lambert failed to disclose a swathe of information relevant to his post that is now embarrassing the universities and damaging their standing, deceiving them as he deceived the campaigners he infiltrated and the women he abused.
Either way, the universities that employ him have questions to answer. But it doesn’t stretch credulity to imagine a state-trained liar with decades of experience being able to deceive a university’s recruitment staff.
Bonino thinks the campaign against Lambert
ignores the specific context in which Lambert acted and the morass of moral ambiguities inherent in covert policing.
Even in that world, Lambert and the SDS were exceptionally corrupt and depraved. The way he and his charges behaved was, in the words of people with a higher level of policing authority than Lambert ever achieved, ‘grossly unprofessional‘ and an ‘abject failure‘.
He did not merely make a personal mistake but developed a methodology using tactics that have shocked the public and been unequivocally slammed by senior police officers. Under his management, that methodology was emulated by those he was in charge of.
This is neither intrinsic to covert policing as Bonino asserts, nor is it the ‘extremely rich experience in professional practice’ that London Metropolitan University’s spokesperson claims.
WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED? IT MAY BE COMING SOON
The question should really be approached from the other side – if all this is not enough to render him unfit to teach in this field, what is?
Unlike someone contrite, he has not readily admitted his wrongdoings until they have been revealed by others. This is the measure of the man today.
Even after he was exposed he did not make contact with his activist ex-partner and their son despite knowing of the risk to the child’s health from a genetic condition. Instead she found out the truth by seeing it in a newspaper in 2012. She has said that, had she not done so, Lambert would have taken the secret to his grave.
So one wonders what else the range of ongoing official inquiries, criminal investigations and court cases will add to the already appalling list.
As pressure mounts on London Metropolitan University over its continued employment of former police spy and spymaster Bob Lambert, we publish here a report by Union Solidarity International on how another university (Anglia Ruskin) confirms it will no longer employ another former officer involved in the undercover policing scandal.
Blacklist Support Group welcomes move by Anglia Ruskin University
Anglia Ruskin University, has confirmed it will no longer employ former DCI Gordon Mills after he was exposed as one of the senior police officers who colluded with the illegal Consulting Association, responsible for the blacklisting of trade unionists in the construction industry.
Gordon Mills was the Detective Chief Inspector from the undercover police spying group known as the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) who in November 2008, gave a Powerpoint presentation at a meeting of the illegal blacklisting organisation.
The information was exposed by John McDonnell MP in a Parliamentary letter to Teresa May and in the Blacklisted book by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain published this week.
According to the GMB, a “select group” of companies at the meeting where DCI Gordon Mills spoke at Vinci (Mike Harrison), Amec (Tony Crowther), SIAS Building Services, Vinci (Alan Audley), Skanska (Bob Chapman), Sir Robert McAlpine (David Hillman) and a representative from Emcor.
The union had planned a protest at ARU today but lawyers for ARU yesterday wrote to GMB general secretary Paul Kenny confirming that although the ex-police officer had previously been employed as a part-time lecturer to teach students at their Cambridge campus, “Anglia Ruskin University, at this time, has no intentions of employing Mr. Gordon Mills in any capacity”.
Blacklisted workers and campaigners hailed the ARU decision as a massive victory.
Frank Smith, Blacklist Support Group blacklisted bricklayer, spied on by undercover police said: “I was under surveillance by the illegal blacklist and hounded by undercover police officers for years. It devastated my work and my private life.
“This undemocratic conspiracy between big business and the state has ruined the working lives of thousands of honest hardworking people, who have done nothing more than stand up for their basic rights at work. I will not shed a tear at the loss of this particular job”.
GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: ‘Gordon Mills, an ex Cambridgeshire policeman, might have thought he had got away scot-free with his links to the blacklisters, so shedding crocodile tears now for the systematic blacklisting of 3,213 building workers and environmentalists won’t wash, neither will the Nuremberg Defence of ‘just following superior orders’.
“These so-called HR professionals and police who helped them run the blacklists for the construction companies knew exactly what they were doing. They need to either apologise, come clean and say what they did, or get used to accounting in public for the damage they did to those they blacklisted and their families, especially with the Public Inquiry that Labour has pledged after the next election.
“Just as the construction companies who paid their wages are being called to account in Parliament, the courts and the media, every single one of these secret blacklisters will have their role dissected in public.”
Lois Austin, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, said: “Having orchestrated a sustained range of counter-democratic campaigns and breached fundamental rights of citizens, the officers who ran the disgraced political secret police units are uniquely unqualified to be teaching on their subject. As their colleagues still on the force are suspended and a full scale public inquiry is pending, we should expect to see these people held to account and prosecuted. Gordon Mills’ career with NETCU should be in universities, but only as a case study of how wrong things can go”.
Steve Hedley, RMT Assistant General Secretary, blacklisted and spied on by undercover police officers said: ” At last justice has been served after a fashion, we applaud Angila Ruskin University’s decision regarding Gordon Mills, who made a living spying on activists and preventing many from getting work. Who knows whether he continued his unsavoury activities spying on student activists and possibly blighting their future employment prospects?”
We publish here an article written by journalist Koos Couvee for the Islington Tribune (on 03/04/15).
Did Holloway Road uni’s former police spy watch veteran Islington MP Corbyn?
A LONDON Metropolitan University lecturer was managing a controversial spy unit during the time it carried out surveillance on Labour politician Jeremy Corbyn, it has been claimed.
Questions have been raised by campaigners, and by Mr Corbyn himself, over whether criminology lecturer Bob Lambert, who worked as a manager within the Met’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) between 1993 and 1998, was involved in spying on Labour Party activists even after they had been elected to Parliament.
In revelations published in the Guardian, spy-cop turned whistleblower Peter Francis, who was once supervised by Mr Lambert, said that between 1993 and 1997 he personally collected information on three London MPs – Mr Corbyn, Diane Abbott and the late Bernie Grant.
He did this while infiltrating anti-racist groups such as Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE). Seven other MPs, including former Home Secretary Jack Straw, were also spied on.
During this time Mr Corbyn, who was first elected as MP for Islington North in 1983, supported a number of anti-racist organisations including YRE and often spoke at their meetings.
In a statement Mr Lambert said that “to the best of his recollection” he was never involved in surveillance against the left-wing politician.
A furious Mr Corbyn told the Tribune: “I am a democratically elected person and it turns out I was put under surveillance for a long time because I campaigned on human rights issues and was involved in justice campaigns.
“At the Metropolitan Police somebody authorised this and I want to know who. I want to know who ordered the spying higher up, and whether there was any co-operation between the SDS and MI5.”
He added: “I am also taking legal advice because this is simply unacceptable.”
A public inquiry into police spying and the operation of the SDS, led by Lord Justice Pitchford, will be held later this year.
The revelations have led Mr Corbyn – who spoke at the Westminster launch of Mr Lambert’s book on countering Islamic terrorism in London in 2011, one month before he was exposed by members of London Greenpeace – to reassess his previous relationship with the former police officer.
The pair first met in 2005 when Mr Lambert headed up the Met’s Muslim Contact Unit, which was involved in turning Finsbury Park Mosque away from radical cleric Abu Hamza.
Mr Corbyn added: “I worked with Bob Lambert around Finsbury Park Mosque, he was good in that role. Later I was interested in his book at the time and I was involved in the launch. But for all I know he could have had me under surveillance. I am looking forward to what the inquiry gives me and I think I should be given the full report without any redactions.”
Officers within the SDS embedded themselves in left-wing groups or causes that were deemed to pose a potential threat to the capital’s security.
During the 1980s Mr Lambert infiltrated animal rights groups and even fathered a child with an animal rights activist he was secretly monitoring.
He started his role at London Met in September 2012 – almost a year after he was outed as a former spy – and the university has repeatedly said it has “absolute faith in him as a lecturer and member of our community”.
Merrick Badger, an activist with Islington Against Police Spies, said the revelations were a boost to their campaign. The pressure group, which includes animal rights and environmental activists, is calling on London Met to sack Mr Lambert. He said: “Bob Lambert was running the unit. He sent the spies out to do the work and was managing the unit. The spies in the 1990s were modelled into his image, using his methods developed in the 1980s.
“If spying on MPs was going on and he was the manager, then he is either complicit, or was at best incredibly negligent.”
Since leaving the Met in 2007 Mr Lambert has become a high-profile academic and since 2012 has worked part-time as a senior lecturer in London Met’s John Grieve Policing Centre. He is an expert in counter-terrorism and has published several progressive academic articles about hate crime. He gained a doctorate in terrorism studies at Exeter University and also holds a post at the University of St Andrews.
Mr Lambert refused to answer specific questions but in an email to the Tribune, he said: “I was employed by the Metropolitan Police from 1977 until 2007. To the best of my recollection, at no time during that employment was I involved in any kind of surveillance against Jeremy Corbyn.
“These are serious issues and I will await the forthcoming judicial inquiry at which the allegations you refer to, and several others, can be examined and adjudicated upon.”
A host of Labour MPs have demanded that the government releases files that the police kept on them during the 1990s. The MPs named, and the Labour Party, have called for the forthcoming public inquiry into undercover policing to be widened.