Socialist Worker

Anti-fascist pressured to spy in Cambridge was threatened with arrest

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2395

A Unite Against Fascism protest against the EDL in Cambridge in 2011

A Unite Against Fascism protest against the EDL in Cambridge in 2011 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The police repeatedly tried to recruit informers to disrupt the campaigning of anti-fascists in Cambridge. 

A member of Cambridge Unite Against Fascism (UAF) was told that she would be arrested if she told anyone about what the cops were up to. 

She told the Guardian newspaper, “I felt at the time a bit of blind panic. It took me off my guard. It knocked me for six.

“You kind of feel like your back is against the wall, and you did not even know that you were going to be there, or why.”

Richard Rose, ­coordinator of Cambridge UAF told Socialist Worker, “The woman saw the front page of a newspaper in a supermarket about the first person to have been approached by the police to spy on activists. 

“It made her realise she wasn’t the only one. That’s what made her come forward.  

“The police had threatened her if she told anyone she had been asked to spy. 

“They rang her at home and lied to her to get her to come to the police station where she was asked to inform on people in UAF. 

“Now she wants to expose how the police treated her when all she wanted to do was fight bigotry.”

The allegations come two weeks after Tory home secretary Theresa May announced a public inquiry into the undercover infiltration of campaign groups.

Revelations

It followed revelations that the police had spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence.

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite against Fascism, told Socialist Worker, “It’s a disgrace that the police are spying on people who are trying to stand up to racists.

“We now know police spied on the Lawrence family after Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a racist gang. 

“Why aren’t they going after the racist killers instead of trying to smear a grieving family or anti-racist activists?” 

There is a pattern of attempts to infiltrate the left in Cambridge. 

Another campaigner said a cop thrust an envelope containing cash into his hand to induce him to pass on information about environmentalists. 

A third campaigner said a police officer had also offered him cash for details about the activities of left wing students. 

The police have shown no shame. They said, “Officers use covert tactics to gather intelligence, in accordance with the law, to assist in the prevention and detection of criminal activity.”

It is indeed standard practice for the cops to bully and intimidate people into providing information—and not just over campaigning. 

The pressure put on informers often produces misinformation. The informer will often tell the security services or the police what they want to hear, in order to keep their handler happy or simply to stay out of jail.

Countless people have been sent to jail on the back of “evidence” provided by informers. 

But the cops’ efforts didn’t stop UAF from holding successful demonstrations against both French fascist Marine Le Pen and the racist English Defence League in Cambridge at the time the cops were sniffing around.


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