HN349

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This article is part of the Undercover Research Portal at Powerbase - investigating corporate and police spying on activists



Part of a series on
undercover police officers
'HN349'
Male silhouette.png
Alias: unknown
Deployment: for about a year in early 1970s
Unit:
Targets:
anarchist groups

HN349 is the cipher given to a former undercover officer with the Special Demonstration Squad. They were deployed for about a year in the early 1970s against anarchists groups in an unsuccessful operation.[1]

The Undercover Policing Inquiry has ruled that the officer's real and cover names will be restricted.[2]

As an SDS undercover officer

From the risk assessment:[3]

N349 had not heard of the SDS before being approached regarding a role within the unit. N349 was initially approached by a DS and introduced to another SOS officer who had been a UCO. N349 does not recall any formal fnterview or any psychometric testing. N349 was informed by the SOS officer that the role was an undercover role and that the work could be dangerous. N349 was also told he would be cut off from the rest of the MPS.
There was no formal training when N349 joined. N349 worked in the back office, learning tradecraft from other UCO's. N349 did not build a cover story or create a cover name. HN349 stated to the risk assessor that N349 was expected to play it by ear.

They did use however a cover address and employment.[4]

According to the Chair of the Inquiry, Sir John Mitting, HN349 is currently in their 70s, and served with the SDS for about a year in the 1970s. They used a cover name, but it was not taken from a dead child, and they did not create a legend:[1]

He attempted to infiltrate anarchist groups by attending meetings, but failed to do so. He decided that undercover police work was not for him, and with the consent of his superior officers, left the field.

Another document from the Inquiry also noted:[5]

HN349 was directed to target anarchist groups in the 1970s. He did not manage to get close to anyone and never managed to actually infiltrate any group.

From their Persona Impact Statement, HN349 says they joined the Metropolitan Police in the 1960 and signed the Official Secrets Act on a number of occasions, and stated: [4]

Whilst I do not recall any specific briefing on the subject of anonymity in relation to undercover work, it was just accepted by all that our anonymity was in perpetuity, beyond the grave even.
I do not recall exactly when I was deployed but believe it was [In the early 1970s]. Initially I seem to recall that I was tasked with attending any demonstrations taking place in Central London, which seemed to occur almost every weekend, getting to know the regular activists faces and reporting back. This would entail joining marches and demonstrations, being 'one of the crowd' and joining in. I was not tasked initially with trying to infiltrate any particular group or organisation, merely to get to know the regulars by sight and if I could become accepted, to pursue the issue. I also attended numerous meetings, predominantly left wing oriented, again trying to become an accepted regular face. After some weeks I think I was tasked to try and get involved with the [redacted].
My recollection is that approximately 9 months later I came to the conclusion that my usefulness as a UCO was not a resounding success and I felt that I was not achieving what I had set out to do. I met with the DCI and DI and told them what I felt and they agreed. It was then arranged for me to 'clean myself up' and normalise my appearance to what it was prior to joining the SOS and then to spend a period of months in the Back Office at [New Scotland Yard] helping with the day to day administration of the unit and away from the activism of the streets.

Elsewhere, the Inquiry stated:[5]

Shortly after he left the SDS, HN349 worked in another part of Special Branch which often handled intelligence gathered by SDS officers.

HN349's wife has made an impact statement, in which she noted that the deployment occurred when they had a baby, and she was 'left to fend for her myself and the baby most of the time. What little time my husband did spend at home was spent sleeping.' She also spoke about not knowing little of his police work because of the 'need to know' principle.[6]

In the Undercover Policing Inquiry

  • 20 February 2018: directed that any application for restriction orders to be submitted by end of February 2018.[7]
  • 26 February 2018: application to restrict real name only made by Metropolitan Police.[8]
  • 28 February 2018: designated lawyers team make an application to restrict both real and cover name on the grounds that the deployment was ultimately unsuccessful and so serves no purpose to the Inquiry, and there was 'sufficient risk that disclosure of the cover name would lead to the real name and such a risk should not be take, particularly when the same is disproportionate to the benefits where HN349's deployment is of historical/peripheral interest only'.[9]
  • 22 March 2018: Mitting indicated he was minded to restrict real and cover name, writing:[1]
He is concerned that if he were to be identified, he and his family would be the subject of unwelcome media attention. These concerns are genuine and not irrational. He also has concerns for his safety and for that of his family which, although genuine, are almost certainly misplaced. There is a small risk that if his cover name were to be published, his real name could be identified. It is very unlikely that his deployment needs to be investigated at all to permit the Inquiry to fulfil its terms of reference. If it does, witness statement from him is all that is likely to be required. Publication of his real or cover name would interfere, to some extent, with his right to respect for private and family life. It would be neither proportionate nor justified under Article 8(2) of the European Convention.
  • 15 May 2018: Mitting ruled that HN349's real and cover names will be kept restricted for the purposes of the Inquiry stating:[10]:
In this case, for the purpose of determining his application for a restriction order I have accepted that his account of his failed attempt to infiltrate anarchist groups by attending meetings is unlikely to be contradicted. It is not, as Ms Kaufmann puts it, "the police position". For the purpose of determining applications for restriction orders in respect of names, I must sometimes make a judgement about whether or not what I have been told is likely to be true. I cannot conduct a full inquiry into the facts before making that judgement. This is such a case.

The inquiry has released other material relating to the anonymity application including material from the wife and child of HN349.

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sir John Mitting, In the matter of section 19(3) of the Inquiries Act 2005 Application for restriction order in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad 'Minded To' Note 6 and Ruling 5, Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI.org.uk), 22 March 2018.
  2. 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.
  3. Adrian Baxter, N349 - Risk Assessment (gisted), Metropolitan Police Service, 6 April 2018, published 8 May 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
  4. 4.0 4.1 'HN349', Personal Impact Statement (redacted), 26 February 2018, published 8 May 2018 via upci.org.uk.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Additional information to be read with gisted risk assessment for HN349, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 16 Apr 2018, published 8 May 2018.
  6. Impact statement of the wife of HN349, Metropolitan Police Service, 3 February 2018, published 8 May 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
  7. Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad - Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 20 February 2018 (accessed 1 March 2018 via UCPI.org.uk).
  8. Open application for a restriction order (anonymity) re: HN349, Metropolitan Police Service, 26 February 2018, published 8 May 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
  9. Application for restriction order (anonymity) in respect of HN349's cover name, Metropolitan Police Service (Designated Lawyers Team), 28 February 2018, published 8 May 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
  10. 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.