'Michael Scott is the cover name used by a former Special Demonstration Squad undercover officer who infiltrated the Young Liberals, Anti-Apartheid Movement and Workers Revolutionary Party from 1971 to 1976.
They are also referred to by the cipher HN298 (for the N cipher system see N officers) for the purposes of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, which has restricted publication of the officer's real name.
As an SDS officer
According to Mitting:
- In the course of his deployment, he was arrested at a demonstration against the British Lions rugby tour to South Africa on 12 May 1972 for obstruction of the highway and assault of a police officer. He was prosecuted in summary proceedings in his cover name. He was convicted of both offenses and fined and made the subject of a conditional discharge. His actions were approved by his line management. Not long after his deployment, he left the police service, since when he has had nothing to do with the police.
In the Undercover Policing Inquiry
No application was made over the cover name. An application made by the Metropolitan Police to restrict the real name, on ground that releasing it would interfere with HN298's Article 8 rights, though without HN298 having made his position clear - having politely declined to cooperate with the MPS risk assessor via email. The Inquiry Chair, John Mitting, wrote in November 2017:
- It is possible that, if his cover name is published, members of the groups against whom he was deployed will remember him and be able to give evidence about him. For that to happen, it is not necessary that his real name should be published. He has politely declined to cooperate with the Metropolitan Police risk assessor. In consequence, the Inquiry does not know whether he wishes to protect his real name. If he were to do so, and no new information adverse to him were to emerge, the interference with right to respect for his private life under Article 8(2) of the European Convention which would be occasioned by publication of his real name would not be justified. For the time being, on the application of the Metropolitan Police Service, his real name should not be published. This decision will be reviewed when he has made his own position clear.
Mitting also stated:
- Between 1997 and 2001 HN127 was a cover officer for deployed undercover officers, some of whose activities are likely to be the subject of detailed investigation by the Inquiry. With one significant proviso, addressed below, public investigation of HN127’s performance of his duties in his real name can be undertaken without posing a risk to HN127’s safety or interfering with the right to respect for private and family life of HN127. It is unavoidable, for reasons explained in the closed note which accompanies these reasons, that part of HN127’s evidence will be given in closed session.
In May 2018 Mitting accepts the MPS application to restrict real name and rules it should be restricted, saying: 'I reject the suggestion that applications for restriction orders must await clarification of an officer's own position. Applications must be determined, to permit document processing and the obtaining of witness statements to occur.
- Undercover Policing Inquiry, Update of Cover Names page, ucpi.org.uk 20 March 2018 (accessed 20 March 2018). See also email of same day from Inquiry to core participants announcing the release of the cover name and groups associated with HN298, unpublished.
- Kate Wilkinson, Counsel to the Inquiry's Explanatory Note to accompany the Chairman's 'Minded-To' Note 12 in respect of applications for restrictions over the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Public Inquiry, 13 September 2018.
- In the matter of section 19 (3) of the Inquiries Act 2005 Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad ‘Minded to’ note 2, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 14 November 2017 (accessed 15 November 2017)
- Open application for a restriction order (anonymity) re: HN298, Metropolitan Police Service, 31 July 2017, published 8 May 2018 via ucpi.org.uk
- In the matter of section 19 (3) of the Inquiries Act 2005 Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad: Ruling, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 15 May 2018.