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Unmasking the State


Secret police show how rotten the state is

The revelation by former Met officer turned whistleblower Peter Francis that he was ordered to find dirt on the Stephen Lawrence family in the wake of their son’s murder is shocking in itself. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the state within the state.

Behind the Special Branch which ran the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) of which Francis was a member, is the internal spy agency MI5 and its operatives who remain in the shadows. And there are undoubtedly other secret units we know nothing about whose job is to “defend the realm” – the ruling classes and their state institutions.

Politicians and senior policemen will disavow their more unsavoury activities, claiming they knew nothing about them, just as former Met commissioner Paul Condon did over the Francis allegations. The SDS made the Lawrence family a target when the regular police themselves were indifferent to catching his killers.

Former Labour home secretary Jack Straw protesteth too much about this particular incident. His regime oversaw secret “extraordinary rendition” – aka kidnapping – flights by way of UK airports, torture authorised by the external spy agency MI6, and a whole series of fabrications that suggested Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Francis revealed on Channel 4 Dispatches that he was asked to find anything that could smear the Lawrence family to weaken support for the family in the wider community. Ostensibly, the police wanted to prevent “public disorder” in the wake of the 1993 killing. In practice, as the Macpherson inquiry reported in 1999, the Met was institutionally racist and botched its investigation from the start. The SDS’s infamous smear attempt was kept away from the inquiry.

Police/MI5 infiltration is as old as the state itself. Before the SDS was created, Special Branch ran agents inside left-wing parties, trade unions, civil liberties groups and other campaigns like CND. Not only did they report their intelligence, they also acted as agents provocateurs.

This can involve suggesting actions that could be illegal, setting people against each other to encourage political division, subverting an organisation’s finances and much more. As recently as 2011, the trial of eco-activists who allegedly tried to break into Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station was abandoned when the role of secret policeman Mark Kennedy in the plans became known.

A number of women are taking action against the police for psychological damage caused by other members of the SDS who befriended them and had sexual relations. In one notorious case, an officer called Bob Lambert had a child with an activist before disappearing back to Special Branch. Another woman told Channel 4 she had been “raped by the state”.

In 2008, the work of the SDS was taken over by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) which is part of the Special Operations directorate of the Metropolitan Police. 

Meanwhile, joke of jokes, the police are investigating the activities of their own undercover agents! The chances of this establishing the truth are less than zero. Nor would a public inquiry demanded by Francis – who himself was psychologically wrecked by his experience – get closer to the truth.

The fact is that the state will do whatever it takes – as Channel 4 was told – to “prevent change from happening in the world”. That’s the priority. Anyone who thinks the police and other institutions are there to serve the public should put the idea out of their minds.

With the authority and legitimacy of the state increasingly questioned by people all round the world, the lurch towards total surveillance is gathering momentum. In Britain, the government spy station GCHQ in Cheltenham is teamed up with the National Security Agency in the US to track and monitor internet traffic on a global basis.

Ultimately, it won’t do them any good. We, the people, have had enough. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Peter Francis are coming out of the state’s woodwork. The edifice is rotten and every day more and more people realise that. So whoever’s reading this on behalf of the state, the game is up. You'd be better off becoming a whistleblower!

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
25 June 2013

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