|The News Line: Editorial
Friday, 15 June 2012
Police provocateurs at large
GREEN party MP Caroline Lucas has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the case of an undercover police officer and his possible involvement in the firebombing of a department store back in the 1980s.
This case involved an agent from the anti-terrorist squad of the Metropolitan Police infiltrating a small core of animal rights activists campaigning against the fur trade.
Three firebombs were exploded at Debenhams stores in London during this campaign, with two animal rights activists being caught red-handed as they prepared for further attacks.
The information that led to their arrest came from a third member of the group, a police agent, Bob Lambert.
What, according to Lucas, is far from clear, is exactly what role Lambert played in the third explosive device that went off in the Harrow branch of Debenhams.
Lambert denies that he ‘overstepped’ the mark and committed any criminal offence, while one of the two convicted men insisted to Lucas that as soon as he heard of the arson attack on the Harrow store, ‘I straight away knew that Bob had carried out his part of the plan.’
Even if Lambert’s direct role in planting incendiary devices cannot be proved, it appears undeniable that the police were aware through their agent that these attacks were planned and allowed them to go ahead; indeed, his actions must have been sanctioned at the highest level.
Lucas raised this case as part of the parliamentary debate into the ‘ethics’ and codes of conduct regulating the activities of undercover police spies in groups deemed by the state to be subversive.
The debate was triggered by the collapse last year of criminal prosecutions against environmental protesters when it was revealed at their appeal that one of their leading members had been exposed as a police agent, Mark Kennedy.
Like Lambert, Kennedy spent years posing as a dedicated activist, with both men proving their credentials and worming their way into the leadership of these groups by being more militant than everyone else.
An additional ploy used by both to establish their cover was to enter into sexual relations with several women associated with the groups to ‘create a false impression’ as Lambert charmingly put it – he fathered a child with one activist in pursuit of this objective.
When the scandal over Kennedy broke last year, senior police officers were quick to denounce him as a rogue operator outside their control, and that it was ‘never acceptable’ for undercover police to have sexual relations with activists.
This was flatly contradicted during the debate by Home Office minister Nick Herbert, who stated ‘Under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000’ that officers are permitted to have sex as part of their jobs, but that legislation meant the operations were strictly managed.
No matter how ‘strictly managed’, it is a fact that obtaining sex through deception is illegal – the issue is: how many other illegal actions have these police provocateurs immunity from prosecution to carry out?
The Animal Liberation Front and environmental protest groups are not the main enemy as far as the capitalist state is concerned – the real ‘enemy within’ as Thatcher memorably said are the trade unions and working class organisations.
It is here that the state will concentrate its repressive forces, especially in the crisis period ahead.
These cases are a warning to the working class and the unions of the class nature of the capitalist state, as the means by which the ruling class maintains its power by violent repression and provocation, now augmented by unlimited electronic spying.
The only answer to the violent repressions of the capitalist state is a socialist revolution to bring down the government and go forward to a workers state that will smash up and destroy the capitalist state, before it withers away as a socialist society emerges.
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