N81 is the code-name given to a Metropolitan police officer, who served undercover with the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) from 1996 to around 2001/2; his handler was Bob Lambert. He infiltrated a political group in London involved in the campaigns around the Stephen Lawrence murder. It has since emerged that the Lawrence family was not the only black justice campaign that was spied upon.
N81 came to public attention when he was mentioned in the 2014 Stephen Lawrence Independent Review - commonly known as the Ellison Review. Among other things, the Review looked into allegations of SDS undercover whistleblower Peter Francis who claimed to have been instructed to find information to smear the Lawrence family and those around them.
Undercover Research has set up a series of pages on N81 and the spying on the Stephen Lawrence campaign focusing, amongst other things a meeting between N81, Bob Lambert as his handler and also acting head of the SDS, and then-DI Richard Walton. At the time of the meeting, August 1998, Walton was part of the Lawrence Review Team, a group of senior officers tasked with preparing Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Condon submissions to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.
Ellison was critical of the meeting, calling it 'wrong-headed' and noted that it could have sparked disorder if it had become publicly known. He also criticised Walton for retracting his detailed earlier statement once he knew he would be criticised. This and the public outcry over spying on the Lawrences, resulted in Walton being temporarily removed from his post and his conduct was referred to the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC). He was reinstated on 1 December 2014. However, in May 2015 the IPCC announced that the investigation into Walton, Lambert and then-Commander Colin Black was continuing and being widened to include two more former officers involved in facilitating the secret meeting.
N.B. This page is - perhaps even more than other pages - a work in progress; we are open to comments and additions. Contact us here, PGP available on request.
- N81: Profile from the Ellison Report
- N81: Meeting with the Lawrence Review Team
- N81: File Notes SDS
- N81: IPCC investigation
- Lawrence Review Team
- The Ellison Review Full title: The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, Possible corruption and the role of undercover policing in the Stephen Lawrence case. Vol. 1. March 2014.
- Operation Herne Full title: Operation Herne, Report 2, Allegations of Peter Francis, March 2014.
- Rob Evans, Police facing claims that senior officers knew about spying on Stephen Lawrence family, The Guardian, 2 July 2015.