Socialist Worker

Spy cop who was used against the Stephen Lawrence family

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2663

Anthony (Bobby) Lewis in the 1990s

Anthony (Bobby) Lewis in the 1990s


The third police spy who targeted those fighting for justice for Stephen Lawrence has been named.

Bobby Lewis—also known as Anthony Lewis—was the cover name for the officer known as N78. The others who targeted the Lawrences were Peter Francis and Dave Hagan.

Lewis’s cover name was revealed on Tuesday as part of the Mitting inquiry into undercover policing.

Lewis joined Special Branch in 1986 and then the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) in 1991.

He went undercover into left wing groups including the Socialist Workers Party and other groups in the summer of 1991 until late 1995.

As a black man he was particularly useful for the police.

He played a part in a filthy, decades-long plot to cover up the crimes and failings of the cops. Met bosses wanted information that could be used against the Lawrences shortly after Stephen’s killing in April 1993.

Corruption and racism infected the investigation into the murder. Family liaison officers recorded details of every person visiting the Lawrence home. The information went to the spy cops.

Disgracefully—in one of the worst aspects of the whole programme—many undercover officers had sexual relationships with women on a wholly false basis.

This happened so often that it is evidence of a culture driven from the top of encouraging such abusive and manipulative behaviour. Lewis admitted “to a relationship with a member of the opposite sex during his deployment”.

She, and all the other women who were deceived in this way, deserve justice.

The 2014 Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, commonly known as the Ellison Review, and pressure from campaigners led to the setting up of the Mitting inquiry.

Undercover

According to the Ellison report, “During undercover deployment the closest that N78 got to the Lawrence family was being a spectator at some public meetings where they spoke.

“N78 never met them or spoke to them. However, N78 did pick up intelligence about the Lawrence family campaign through indirect means, and by knowing people who were close to the family.”

The intelligence reports Lewis filed have apparently at some stage been destroyed.

Filth: Cop spies ruined peoples lives
Filth: Cop spies ruined people's lives
  Read More

Lewis confirmed that it was routine for SDS officers to be provided with images of people who had been on marches and protests.

He had been involved in viewing the images from a demonstration on 8 May 1993 in South East London. Duwayne Brooks, Stephen Lawrence’s friend who was with him when he was attacked, was arrested for public disorder as a result of the protest. N78 has claimed no knowledge of this.

Later in 1993 some 60,000 anti-fascist campaigners took to the streets of Welling, south east London, to march on the headquarters of the British National Party (BNP).

The police refused the demonstration the right to march past the fascists’ headquarters.

Batons

Police blocked the road to the headquarters and the agreed march route. As protesters began a sit-down in the road, riot police armed with batons waded in.

The police and the media tried to blame demonstrators for the violence—but it was the police who had no intention of allowing the march to pass off peacefully.

Lewis did assess photos from this demonstration. Thirteen people were subsequently jailed for an average of three and a half years.

He left the undercover unit before the public inquiry into the Lawrence murder.

But he has justified his actions against the left and anti-racists by saying, “These extremist organisations were very manipulative, calculating and cynical in their approach to causes and campaigns.” Which shows a remarkable lack of self-awareness.

The Mitting inquiry has yet to hear any public evidence. It will probably sit for years—and at the end it is highly unlikely to do anything other than provide cover for the crimes of the undercover cops.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.