Gordon Irving is the Director Group Security for Scottish Power PLC, which is now part of Iberdrola. "Gordon Irving, ScottishPower’s Security Director, has close links and a very good working relationship with the police, having been in the force himself".
Hiring Vericola to infiltrate environmental campaigns
An email leaked to The Guardian revealed that Gordon Irving was among three clients of Vericola, a private security firm that had sent employees to infiltrate environmental campaign meetings. These were activist campaign meetings opposed to the environmental and social impacts of Scottish Power's projects.
- One was Gordon Irving, security director of Scottish Power who joined the firm in 2001 after 30 years in Strathclyde Police where he was head of special branch. The other was Alan Somerville, then a director of coal producer Scottish Resources Group. Telling a colleague to forward information about activists in Scotland to the two companies, Todd wrote: "Send … to usual suspects."
- E.ON said it had hired Vericola and another security firm, Global Open, on an "ad hoc" basis as its executives wanted to know when environmentalists were going to demonstrate at or invade its power stations and other premises, as they had done in the past. The E.ON spokesman said it asked Vericola only for publicly available information and if Todd (CEO of Vericola) and her colleagues had obtained private information, they had done so "under their own steam". SRG and Scottish Power did not comment.
Shortly before The Guardian released the story, Indymedia published a full account of the Vericola exposure. Indymedia published the full company details, the process by which activists gathered evidence about the infiltration and photos of Rebecca Todd. The groups which had been targeted were included, as were the email addresses she and her agents used so that campaigning groups can assess whether they had been infiltrated, and to what level.
Gordon Irving's career
Strathclyde Police Special Branch
- Prior to joining Scottish Power in 2001 Gordon had spent 30 years in Strathclyde Police (Scotland) where he attained the rank of Chief Superintendent. He was Head of Special Branch and latterly a Police Commander in Glasgow where he had responsibility for 800 police officers and support staff.In addition to his security role at Scottish power, Gordon is responsible for Business Continuity Management and Crisis Management across the whole group. Since 2001 Gordon has developed and implemented a strategy, framework and policy clearly embedding security and business continuity into each of the business areas within ScottishPower.
- Gordon has extensive experience in Counter Terrorism and during his time in Special Branch was involved and led many operations against the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and Loyalist Paramilitary Groups. Additionally, he has extensive experience with the Middle Eastern threat. His experience in Counter Terrorism included involvement in the United Kingdom Counter Terrorism (CT) programme when he would act as umpire at CT exercises throughout the United Kingdom. During his police experience, Gordon was also a senior investigating officer and headed several murder enquiries.
Transferable skills and alliances: police and private security industry
Questions have been raised regarding the ethics of "former police officers cashing in on their surveillance skills for a host of companies that target protesters". See the Powerbase overview of the revolving door between the private security industry and the police.
- Human Factors In Security An Inaugural Conference accessed 02/02/11
- Scottish Power Website Corporate Responsibility, accessed 02/01/11
- Paul Lewis and Rob Evans Green groups targeted polluters as corporate agents hid in their ranksThe Guardian, 14/02/11, accessed 14/02/11
- Rob Evans and Paul Lewis Revealed: how energy firms spy on environmental activists The Guardian, 14/02/11, accessed 22/02/11
- Indymedia UK company, Vericola Ltd, uncovered after incompetence 14/02/11, accessed 25/02/11
- Paul Lewis and Rob Evans Green groups targeted polluters as corporate agents hid in their ranks The Guardian, 14/02/11, accessed 14/02/11