N81 in the Undercover Policing Inquiry
The spying on the Stephen Lawrence campaigns during the Macpherson Inquiry has been recognised by the Undercover Policing Inquiry as one of the key aspects for it to look into. As such, the role played by N81 / HN81 is central to that investigation. However, the extent to which this can be done in public has been contested by HN81 and the Metropolitan Police. This page sets out what is in the public domain regarding the officer's interactions with the Inquiry.
N81 is a core participant at the Undercover Policing Inquiry where he is represented by Slater & Gordon. At some point the Inquiry revised how it designated police officers, moving from N-number ciphers to HN, the H presumably standing for Operation Herne which was investigating the activities of the Special Demonstration Squad.
The Chair of the Inquiry, John Mitting, ruled on 5 December 2017 that N81's cover name would be released, though their real name would be restricted. Publication of the cover name and the group he targeted would not be done immediately in order to give the officer time to prepare for this.
In April 2018, the Undercover Policing Inquiry released the cover name of N81: 'David Hagan', and said he targeted not just Movement for Justice, but also the Socialist Workers Party, Class War and the Movement Against the Monarchy.
N.B. The profile of N81 is a work in progress. If you have material we may have missed please contact us, PGP available on request.
This page is one of series on N81 and the spying on the Stephen Lawrence campaign:
- N81: Profile from the Ellison Report
- N81: Meeting with the Lawrence Review Team
- N81: File Notes SDS
- N81: IPCC investigation
As part of N81's application for anonymity (see below) a Risk Assessment was made to decide what was risks he would run if his cover or real name was released. Although much is redacted, as in most such documents, there are a few remarkable details.
On joining the SDS he received a home visit from two officers who affirmed he would have anonymity for the rest of their career. During his time undercover he would have twice-weekly meetings with his handlers, and following the end of his deployment he returned to Special Branch.
The Risk Assessor is very careful not to interfere in ongoing issues around N81. In the section 'Peripheral interactions' for instance, he says:
- N81 was linked to, or occasionally reported upon, the following [redacted]. That does not mean N81 was necessarily specifically targeted towards those groups, but N81 woud have come into contact with people involved in them, or had information concerning those groups. I appreciate in N81's case precisely which group N81 was targeted against is contentious. It is not meant to be considered a comprehensive list, nor enter into the debate around the precise natur of N81's tasking in connection with the family of Stephen Lawrence.
The section 'Official confirmation regarding deployment and/or identity' has another small piece of information, it says that the targeting of the Lawrences started 'later' - which could mean after N81's deployment. N81 had not been officially confirmed at the time, however, 'the existence of N81 is acknowledged, and that N81 was a member of group/s which were later amongst those which sought to influence the Lawrence campaign.'
In his conclusions, the risk assessor says that N81 denies the allegations:
- N81 is insistent that N81 did not target the Lawrence family. N81 also taks the view that people have already decided that N81 did. The position is complex, and I do not comment further upon th actual issues that Mr. Ellison addressed in his reports.
The fact that he is portrayed as 'the police spy in the Lawrence camp' (phrase used by Theresa May in the House of Commons on 6th March 2014) is complicating the risk assessment as 'the risks would rise form the belief, irrespective of whether this stanc ehas a basis in fact or is built upon a false assumtion.
About the potential risk, the assessor explains that N81, like many other undercovers, had been in touch with a large number of people, and the risk assessor explains it is impossible to go through everybody. N81 has reported upon a number of dangerous peole during the deployment, some of whom will have criminal convictions. For now, the focus was on people with convictions in the last five years, to assess the current risk. While all further detail is redacted, the summary says that the danger comes from 'other groups in different spheres not directly linked to N81 who may well deem the activity of this UC as an invasion of privacy'. The report also says:
- N81 is particularly exposed to 'anti-UCO' campaigners. The level of exposure already in the public domain makes N81 a potential risk. That, when coupled with the high public interest, means it presents a significant risk. [UCO stands for UnderCover Officer]
Restriction order applications
In March 2016 N81's lawyers submitted applications for restriction orders that would prevent the inquiry from publicly releasing both N81's real and cover names, one of a number of such applications by former undercover officers. However, changing procedures, particularly around the production of risk assessments by the MPS resulted in the process being delayed and new applications being resubmitted.
A revised application with supporting material from the lawyers and the Metropolitan Police was submitted in response, with open versions being made public on the 3 August 2017. The application continued to maintain both the cover name and real name be kept secret. That month, the new Inquiry Chair, John Mitting directed that a closed session hearing would be held over whether N81's cover name should be released or not 'due to sensitivity of material being considered', This closed hearing would be directed to:
- (a) to evaluate the extent and nature of the risk to HN81 and HN81’s partner;
- (b) to explore the means by which they can be protected from that risk if the cover name is disclosed; and
- (c) if the risk cannot be taken, to explore the steps which can be taken to permit the issues identified in the open ‘Minded to’ note of reasons to be fully investigated by the Inquiry.
It was desired that N81 attends the hearing, but it was not ordered; while if the MPS or N81 wanted to submit additional material, it had to be provided to the Inquiry no later than 17 August 2017. The chair stated at the time:
- One of the reasons for setting up the Inquiry was to investigate these issues. I can at present see no means of resolving disputed questions of fact about them without the cover name of HN81 being published. One of the issues which I may have to determine is whether or not the group against which HN81 was deployed was steered towards the Lawrence family campaign by HN81. For others to be able to give evidence about that issue, they would have to know the cover name. HN81 is understandably concerned that revelation of the cover name may lead to the identification of the real name. This has had, and continues to have, an impact on HN81’s mental health. According to Dr Walter Busuttil, a consultant psychiatrist, in a report dated 15 February 2017, the impact has been significant and will be severe if the cover name is disclosed. HN81’s situation has also had an impact on the health and well-being of HN81’s partner. Their right to respect for their private and family life, including health and personal integrity, under Article 8 of the European Convention will be infringed unless the interference is justified under Article 8(2). The issue is both important and difficult. I propose, therefore, to take the exceptional course of conducting a closed hearing at which I can receive representations by or on behalf of HN81 and discuss possible means of reconciling HN81’s legitimate interests with those of the Inquiry. If necessary, I will thereafter invite representations from non-state core participants, if necessary at an open hearing. Closed reasons supplement this paragraph.
In his October 2017 Supplementary 'Minded-To', Mitting wrote:
- Following the closed hearing on 10 October 2017 I am minded to make a restriction order under section 19(3) of the Inquiries Act 2005 in respect of the real name of HN81 and to refuse the application in respect of the cover name.
- The Inquiry cannot fulfil its terms of reference on a critical issue – the alleged infiltration of the Lawrence family campaign and the intelligence gathered and reported upon it by undercover police officers, in particular HN81 – unless the cover name is published. It is essential that members of the group against which HN81 was deployed and others in the Lawrence family campaign should be able to give evidence about HN81’s actions. They cannot sensibly be expected to do so unless they know who HN81 was in the name by which HN81 was known to them. It is likely that this decision will have an adverse impact on HN81’s mental health and so interfere with the right to respect for the family and private life of HN81 and HN81’s partner. I am satisfied that the interference is justified under Article 8(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘the European Convention’) because of the compelling public interest in getting to the truth about HN81’s deployment. Publication of the real name of HN81 by the Inquiry is not necessary to permit the terms of reference of the Inquiry to be fulfilled. Given that it is not necessary, it would be disproportionate to do so.
The accompanying press release noted also:
- The undercover police deployments of all three of these individuals [HN16, HN26, HN81] are of real interest to the Inquiry and the Chairman is of the view that there is no means of getting to the truth without the cover names being made public.
Unpublished close reasons were also issued setting reasons out in greater detail for this proposed approach. Mitting also stated:
- If the decision proposed is made, neither the cover name of HN81 nor the name of the group against which HN81 was deployed will be published immediately, to permit steps to be taken to mitigate the impact on HN81’s mental health.
HN81's application was heard at the hearing of 21 November 2017, where it was noted that there were significant mental health issues to be considered in relation to HN81 and their partner. The Metropolitan Police said it would not protect its own interest in this matter by resisting the release of the cover name. Mitting ruled on 5 December that the officer's cover name would be released, though their real name would be restricted. In this he followed his reasons as set out in his minded-to note of 23 October. Publication of the cover name and the group they targeted would not be done immediately in order to give the officer time to prepare for this. The Restriction Order was published on 8 December 2017.
Restriction order documents
See also the NPSCP submissions of 5 October 2017, and those of Peter Francis
- List of Core Participants (v.19), Undercover Policing Inquiry, 1 August 2017 (accessed 10 December 2017).
- Sir John Mitting, Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad: Ruling, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 5 December 2017 (accessed 9 December 2017).
- Cover names, Undercover Policing Inquiry, updated 17 April 2018. See also their tweet of same day: Cover name released: “David Hagan”. Groups: Socialist Workers Party, Class War, Movement Against the Monarchy, Movement for Justice. 1996 – 2001, Twitter.com, 17 April 2018 (accessed 17 April 2018 )
- >David Reid, HN81 - Open Risk Assessment (redacted), Metropolitan Police Service28 June 2017 (accessed via UCPI.org.uk).
- David Barr & Kate Wilkinson, Counsel to the Inquiry's explanatory note to accompany the 'Minded to' note 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 Policing Public Inquiry (UCPI.org.uk), 3 August 2017 (accessed 5 August 2017).
- Christopher Pitchford, Order pursuant to the ruling of 2 May 2017 granting an extention of time for service of anonymity applications by the Metropolitan Police Service in respect of the Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 18 May 2017.
- Press Release: 'Minded to' note, ruling and directions in respect of anonymity applications relating to former officers of the Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Public Inquiry (UCPI.org.uk), 3 August 2017 (accessed 3 August 2017).
- John Mitting, 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 Directions (Directions arising out of the 'Minded-To'), Undercover Policing Public Inquiry (UCPI.org.uk), 3 August 2017 (accessed 5 August 2017).
- John Mitting, 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, Undercover Policing Public Inquiry (UCPI.org.uk), 3 August 2017 (accessed 5 August 2017).
- Sir John Mitting, Supplementary 'Minded-To', Undercover Policing Inquiry, 23 October 2017 (accessed 23 October 2017 via UCPI.org.uk).
- Supplementary ‘Minded to’ note on anonymity, updated and additional hearing dates, directions to the Metropolitan Police Service, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 23 October 2017 (accessed 23 October 2017 via UCPI.org.uk).
- Phillippa Kaufmann, QC & Ruth Brander, Submissions on behalf of the Non-Police, Non-State Core Participants re the Chairman's 'Minded To' note dated 23 October 2017 concerning restriction order applications, 6 November 2017 (accessed 3 February 2018 via UCPI.org.uk).
- Maya Sikand Submissions on behalf of Peter Francis re The Chairman's Supplementary 'Minded To' note dated 23 October 2017 re restriction order applications, 6 November 2017 (accessed via UCPI.org.uk 3 February 2018).
- Transcript of hearing of 21 November 2017, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 21 November 2017.
- John Mitting, Restriction order over the publishing of the real name of HN81, Undercover Public Inquiry, 8 December 2017 (accessed 8 December 2017).