Writing on the Impact of Undercover Involvement

Two important pieces written this week on the Impact of undercover involvement with activists, by Ellie Mae O’Hagan and Emily Apple. I’ve taken a few quotes, but go read them in context!

Ellie Mae O’Hagan wrote a Comment is Free pieceA life under surveillance, the state’s constant intimidation of peaceful activists like me takes a huge psychological toll on our lives.’ The Guardian, 1 november 2012.
She is @MissEllieMae on Twitter.

Despite the peaceful nature of their actions, the simple act of protesting means that activists’ lives sometimes resemble that of Tony Soprano. Surveillance, police intimidation and undercover officers are routine hazards they must negotiate. As one environmental campaigner who has come into contact with undercover officers puts it: “You don’t have to be self-important to suspect you’re the victim of state surveillance. If you’re politically active, it’s simply a fact of life.” Continue reading “Writing on the Impact of Undercover Involvement”

Emily Apple writing about Martin Hogbin

Emily Apple (@emilyapple) invites people who – like her – considered Martin Hogbin a good friend to share their thoughts. At her blog, beautifully called Random Reflections of a Domestic Extremist, she announced her plans earlier this week:

Please excuse the cliché, but I think we need to talk about Martin. It’s been a while coming – next year it will be ten years since we first found out our friend, colleague and comrade was in fact a BAE spy, but it’s finally time to write about what happened in detail and with the hindsight of perspective.

Martin Hogbin is the name of the spy who infiltrated the Campaign Against Arms Trade for many years, from the very moment he became active as a volunteer, until he got exposed by the Sunday Times back in 2003.

Five years earlier, in 1998, I was involved in exposing Adrian Franks who had been spying on networks of peace groups in several European countries. We found out that both Hogbin and Franks (and many others!) had been working for Evelyn le Chêne and her company Threat Response International, hired by BAE. Moreover, Evelyn and Adrian turned out to be mother and son. The Sunday Times Insight Team had laid hands on spy reports that Evelyn le Chêne sent to BAE. Because of my involvement in the case, the journo’s allowed me access to these files. The Secret Manoeuvres book has a long chapter based on these files and CAAT internal research in an effort to analyse the spying in great detail.

Early findings can be found at my old evel.nl website, but the book has more!

I have also investigated the history and career of Evelyn le Chêne, to discover that her work rooted in fierce ‘anti-communist’ ideas. Cold War believes got her involved in Thatcherite circles in the 1980s and campaigns in Southern Africa until the early 1990s. Her general aversion of the left and her links with intelligence smoothly got her into spying on activists, on CAAT, but also on road protest, animal rights and Earth First!.

Emily’s call triggered some thoughts about the difficulties of dealing with infiltration, and writing about it. Difficulties that I have also encountered when talking to people involved in investigating Mark Kennedy, and with women taking legal steps against undercover officers who engaged in (sexual) relations with them.

I will try to address these thoughts here, exploring the field, building on bits & pieces of Emily’s wording. Continue reading “Emily Apple writing about Martin Hogbin”

Martin Hogbin is a spy!

Originally posted at my blog spin.off , while working on the book.

Letter to the editor of the Guardian, 28 October 2009.

In an excellent three day series revealing an intimate cooperation between the police and corporations under fire in gathering intelligence on activists, the Guardian published spotter cards used to identify protesters. One of the cards holds a picture of  Martin Hogbin, portrayed as an activist accused of being an infiltrator, but denying it.

This denial invites contestation, with facts confirming that indeed he did supply information to British Aerospace (BAe). The following overview is based on publicly available information, most of it online. It shows that Martin Hogbin infiltrated the Campaign Against Arms Trade from 1997 until 2003. He started as a volunteer, and worked at CAAT’s office in London as a paid campaign coordinator from 2000 until his suspension and subsequent resignation. He was a spy from the beginning until the end. The evidence consists of the results of the internal investigation of CAAT’s Steering committee sustained by sections in Evelyn le Chêne’s spy files, the findings of the Information Commissioner and legal documents substantiating that BAe indeed hired Evelyn le Chêne to spy on CAAT. Continue reading “Martin Hogbin is a spy!”

The parallel universe of BAe

Originally posted at my blog spin.off , while working on the book.

Letter to George Monbiot at the Guardian, 13 February 2007

Dear George,

Your Guardian column today  devoted to “The parallel universe of BAE” reveals that confidential and legally privileged material belonging to CAAT landed on the desks of BAE Systems plc. The company has refused to state how it came into possession of the material.

You recall the exposure in the Sunday Times that revealed how BAE had carried out a “widespread spying operation” on its critics.  CAAT took the case to the UK’s Information Commissioner, who found that the email address belonged to “a company with links to Evelyn Le Chêne.”

I have had the opportunity the study the many surveillance reports about CAAT that were sent to BAE, the source material used by the Sunday Times. SpinWatch published an elaborate dossier on the case. It’s called the  Threat Response Spy Files, investigating this case of corporate intelligence. Continue reading “The parallel universe of BAe”

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