Philip Michael Christopher "Phil" Gormley (born 1963, Surrey) is a high ranking police officer who became Chief Constable of Police Scotland in January 2016. Prior to this he was Deputy Director of the National Crime Agency.
He had previously served as Commander for Specialist Operations in the Metropolitan Police and as Secretary for the Association of Chief Police Officer's Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee 2005-2006, where he was involved in overseeing two undercover policing units, Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit respectively.
- 1 Police Career
- 2 Criticism & Controversy
- 2.1 National Crime Agency
- 2.2 Undercover policing
- 2.3 SDS chain of command
- 2.4 Gormley's involvement with both the SDS and the NPOIU
- 3 Ali Dizaei investigation
- 4 Personal Life
- 5 Education, Awards & Affiliations
- 6 Notes
- January 2016: Chief Constable, Police Scotland. Appointed 2 December 2015, with a starting salary of £212,000 per year, sworn in on 5 January 2016. At the time of his appointment, when he beat several Scottish police officers who had also been shortlisted, there were fears that he was 'too English', though the Scottish Police Federation subsequently recanted on this. His appointment came at a time when Police Scotland was under heavy criticism on many quarters that had cumulated in the resignation of his predecessor Stephen House.
- May 2013 - October 2015: Deputy Director General, National Crime Agency His role was described as: The Deputy Director General is responsible for leading the day-to-day operations of the Agency and is directly accountable to the Director General. The Deputy Director General drives the performance of the NCA and is responsible for the operational delivery of the Agency’s law enforcement response to serious and organised crime.
- Mar 2010 - May 2013: Chief Constable, Norfolk Constabulary (Appointed Jan 2010) on a wage of £134,000 per year. Of note is that the Deputy Chief Constable of Norfolk at the time was Ian Learmonth, who was one of the senior police officers responsible for policing around the 2005 G8 Summit, then Assistant Chief Constable for Operations at Strathclyde Police.
- Jan 2007 - Mar 2010: Deputy Chief Constable, West Midlands Police (appointed December 2006). There his responsibilities included "Force Planning, public relations and information management strategy, Force Performance Management Strategy, and the professional standards / anti-corruption unit".
- July 2008: ACPO lead for Mental Health & Disability issues. This role took place at a time when the Independent Police Complaints Commission was asked to investigate the issue of too many people with mental illness being held in police cells rather than hospitals, a widespread practice Gormley admited was 'unacceptable. In 2010, under the aegis of Stephen Otter, the Head of ACPO's Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Business Area, Gormley was appointed to look into issues around disability related harassment.
- 2005-2006: takes lead on modernising the Specialist Operations division, in particular taking command of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch. In this he oversees the merger of Special Branch and Anti-Terrorism Branch to form Counter Terrorism Command. The decision to merge was announced in September 2005, though it did not formally complete until October 2006.
- Jan 2003 - 2005: Commander, Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police with responsibility for Firearms (SO19) & Aviation Security (SO18).
- In 2003, he defended his officers when they shot dead a mentally ill man, Keith Larkin, who had pointed a replica gun at them near Heathrow - an inquest subsequently gave a verdict of lawfully killed.
- In 2004, he had to deal with the outcome of the inquest into the 1999 killing of Harry Stanley by police officers from SO19. Stanley had been shot for carrying a chair leg in a bag, which had supposedly been mistaken for a weapon. Following a 2004 inquest verdict for unlawful killing, the two officers involved in the shooting were suspended. This lead 125 of the 400 officers in SO19 threatened to down weapons. It has since been learned that one of the campaigns spied upon by the Special Demonstration was the family justice campaign for Harry Stanley.
- 1999: Chief Superintendent, OCU Commander for the Southern Oxfordshire division. Neighbouring divisions are commanded by Anton Setchell and John Donlon, while the Assistant Chief Constable for Special Operations is Sara Thornton, all of whom would subsequently be involved in important roles in the Terrorism and Allied Matters committee and the spying on activists (see below).
- Circa 1998-1999: Detective Chief Inspector, Crime Manager for the Oxford Police Area, where he serves under Superintendents Cressida Dick and A. Bunce.
- 1985: starts his police career with Thames Valley Police, working both uniform and detective positions up to Superintendent position.
Criticism & Controversy
National Crime Agency
As deputy director of the National Crime Agency (NCA), Gormley was in charge of the day-to-day operations of the organisation intended to be the British equivalent of the FBI. He started the job, he described the job as a once in a life-time opportunity, in May 2013. However, in March 2015 he announced that he would be stepping down in autumn that year. In July 2015 it was reported that Gormley was one of seven (out of 17) of the management board leaving the organisation over a period of several months, and that the organisation itself was suffering from low morale and dysfunctionality. In one high profile case, Judge Wendy Joseph called the NCA 'incompetent'.
One of the officers leaving the NCA with Gormley was Trevor Pearce, head of Specialist Investigations (and of Investigations and Economic Crime). Previously he had been head of the NCA's predecessor the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). He has served as chair of the National Undercover Working Group, and as a member of ACPO TAM.
In late 2015, it emerged that there had been systemic problems within in the NCA. The Agency admitted in court to gathering evidence through unlawful warrants in four major cases, three of which collapsed at the cost of millions of pounds. The evidence was obtained fraudulently as relevant information had not been disclosed when the warrants to seize it were applied for. For example, one set of targets suspected of money-laundering were raided, supposedly for the purpose of gaining evidence from computers, etc., but the real reason was to use the opportunity to plant listening devices. The problems appeared to be at least a decade old, dating back to the time of the NCA's predecessor the SOCA.
Special Demonstration Squad (2005-2006)
In 2005, Commander Gormley was given the responsibility of overseeing the merger of Special Branch with Anti Terrorism Branch into a joint unit - the Counter Terrorism Command (CTC / SO15). He replaced Janet Williams as head of Special Branch in 2006. 
As such, Commander Gormley had oversight of Special Branch's Special Demonstration Squad, the infamous unit that ran undercovers targeting political protests and parties in London.
Before he had even been sworn in as Chief Constable of Scotland, two Scottish Parliament Members, Graeme Pearson and John Finnie, both ex-police themselves, called on him to explain his role in the undercover policing scandal. Finnie stated:
- The public will rightly question how someone who was in charge of Special Branch, which controlled the notorious SDS, is now our chief constable.
The pressure rose a fortnight later with the exposure of SDS undercover Carlo Neri on 18 January 2016. Neri had infiltrated the Socialist Party and anti-racism activists in London and also had a number of intimate long-term relationships with women who have since taken legal steps against the Met. As it turned out, Neri disappeared from the scene in 2006 - just when Gormley was overseeing the SDS.
All of this occurred just after the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance and others spied upon by undercover police started a campaign to have the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing extended to cover activities in Scotland.
- Either Philip Gormley knew about this and his judgment as a police officer is way off, or he didn’t know about it – in which case he is an incompetent manager and questions should be raised as to what he is doing running Police Scotland.
A week later, he still did not respond to media questions on his involvement, though Police Scotland now said on his behalf that Gormley would be 'happy to cooperate with the [Pitchford] inquiry'.
Internal Review of the SDS (2006)
Little is known about why the Special Demonstration Squad was closed down in 2008, and what was the role of the internal Metropolitan Police review into the Unit ordered in 2006. The existence of this review was revealed in 2014 and at the time The Guardian quoted 'a senior source with close knowledge of the secret discussions that led to the closure in 2008' as saying:
- [The SDS] was worse than out of control. It was actually a force within a force, operating to set of standards and ethics more suited to guerrilla warfare than modern policing.
- Quite simply, they lost their moral compass and as a result nothing was out of bounds. A quite shocking vacuum of any supervision and leadership allowed this to happen.
With Gormley head of Special Branch in 2005-2006, there is an open question of how much he knew of the concerns about the SDS, and his connection to the internal review.
SDS chain of command
N.B. We do not have the names for the entire history of the SDS chain of command yet. Additions and feedback welcome, do get in touch.
National Public Order Intelligence Unit (2005-2008)
Further concerns over Gormley's role in undercover policing arose from his role as Secretary of ACPO's Terrorism and Allied Matters (APCO TAM) committee between 2004-2008. As with the SDS under his heading of Special Branch, Gormley's time here is at a crucial period in the history of the spycop unit National Public Order Intelligence Unit, as will be detailed below. While Gormley was overseeing it, this Unit ran notorious undercovers such as Mark Kennedy, Lynn Watson and Marco Jacobs at this time. All three were in attendance in the counter-mobilisation and protests against the 2005 G8 Summit in Scotland. The G8 is a significant period as it was one of great activity by NPOIU, and Mark Kennedy claimed that he'd been told his reports were going direct to the desk of Prime Minister Tony Blair.
National Coordinator Special Branch Units structure (2005-2008)
1999. The NPOIU was set up by the Met's Special Branch under the aegis of Gormley's predecessor as Secretary of ACPO TAM, David Veness - the Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations through-out this period.
2004. ACPO TAM established the national domestic extremism units as part of the crack down on animal rights campaigning. These were placed under Gormley's former colleague, Anton Setchell, the National Co-ordinator Domestic Extremism. Through-out this period there is the creation of national special branch organisations including then National Co-ordinator Ports Policing and National Coordinator for Special Branch. A number of these have since become national coordinators for different parts of the CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy.
2006. The NPOIU was added to this set of units to provide them with intelligence, and with that the control over the unit moved from the Met's Special Branch to ACPO TAM.. This occurs at the same time Special Branch is simultaneously being reorganised as part of the merger to form Counter Terrorism Command, a process under Gormley's hand.
Gormley's involvement with both the SDS and the NPOIU
As someone with the specific job of overseeing the Special Branch merger and as having taken over David Veness' role at ACPO TAM, it is very unlikely that Gormley would not have been aware of both undercover units and their activities. Future questions about this were raised in Scottish media in January 2016, with MSP Neil Findlay stating:
- Phil Gormley has taken up a very important job with Police Scotland. He needs to get off on the right footing, so should be completely open about what he knows about the SDS, the NPOIU and the discredited officers who worked for them. If he fails to do this then this issue will hang over him and questions that need answered won't go away.
Thames Valley connection
It is of note that many of the officers involved in undercover policing had all previously worked together, having held senior posts at Thames Valley Police in the early 2000s. Two of Gormley's fellow Chief Superintendents commanding neigbouring divisions at the time were:
- Anton Setchell (Slough division), will in 2004 become National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism.
- John Donlon (Chiltern & South Buckinghamshire division), would become Assistant Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police for Specialist Operations (2003-2004) then in in February 2006 take up the national Special Branch post of National Co-ordinator Ports Policing (later it would be come National Co-ordinator for Prevent & Prepare).
Both the national coordinator roles were established under the authority of ACPO TAM (of which Thornton would become Vice Chair a few years later).
The period in question is a prominent one for animal rights campaigning in the Thames Valley Police area, with the campaign around the Hillgrove cat farm in 1999 followed by the SPEAK campaign against animal experimentation in Oxford from 2004.
Ali Dizaei investigation
While at West Midlands Police, Gormley was asked by the Metropolitan Police Authority to investigate a set of allegations made against controversial Metropolitan Police Commander Ali Dizeai. Dizaei was said to have inappropriately advised a firm of solicitors he was close to. In particular, he told them how to undermine a police case against one of their clients who was accused of death by dangerous driving, and of coaching the individual concerned. This inquiry is said to have lasted a year and apparently upheld the complaint of misconduct against Dizaei (though other sources indicate it recommended no further action).
Gormley has been married twice and has one daughter. His second wife, who he married in 1998, is Claire Louise Stevens, a police officer with Thames Valley Police where she rose to rank of Det. Superintendent in 2009; since 2011 she has been Det. Superintendent with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary..
On 2 September 2015, Claire and Phil Gormley formed a company, Phlair Consultants Ltd (No. 09758936), and with the address of an accountancy firm in Newport Pagnell (Jer Accounts Service). Initially the company was jointly owned, but in 2016 Louise Gormley held 100% and was the only registered director. The address is home to a number of other companies run by (former) police officers, including Clifford Knuckey and Peter Minton.
While in Oxfordshire, Gormley, Stevens and a third officer Alan Young were regularly thanked in the acknowledgement section of various crime thrillers written by Paul Robinson in the Inspector Banks Mysteries series. The friendship and collaboration between the three would continue over many years. See for example, the novels Cold is the Grave (2000) and Bad Boy (2010). Gormley and Stevens also are credited for in the acknowledgements for author Kate Charles' thriller Cruel Habitations (2000).
Education, Awards & Affiliations
- University of Gloucestershire, BA, 1981-1984.
- University of Cambridge, Post-Graduate Diploma, 2002-2003.
- Queens Police Medal, 2013 New Year Honours list.
- Director, The Norfolk Shrievalty Trust, 17 June 2011 to 1 July 2013.
- G.R.O. Births, Deaths and Marriages (search conducted 20 January 2016).
- Press Association, New Police Scotland chief constable named as Phil Gormley, The Guardian 2 December 2015 (accessed 20 January 2016)
- Police Scotland: New chief constable Phil Gormley sworn in, BBC News Online, 5 January 2016 (accessed 20 January 2016)
- Chris Musson, Cops' fears over "too English" Phil Gormley, The Sun (Scottish edition), 3 December 2015 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Alan Robertson, Phil Gormley confirmed as new Police Scotland chief constable, Holyrood Magazine, 2 December 2015 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Martin Beckford, National Chaos Agency: Seven crime chiefs quit 'Britain's FBI' as morale plummets less than two years after force was set up, Mail Online, 19 July 2015 (accessed 22 January 2016).
- NCA Annual Plan 2015/2016, National Crime Agency, 2015 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- See also the organisational structure chart for the NCA here.
- Chief Constable Phil Gormley, Norfolk Police] Archive of website made by Wayback Machine on 25 Aug 2011 (accessed 18 January 2016).
- Ben Kendall, Police will hand out hefty relocation package, Eastern Daily Press, 21 January 2010 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Kent’s chief constable honoured by the Queen, Welwyn Hatfield Times, 16 June 2012 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- ACPO Cabinet, Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday, 7 December 2011, London, Association of Chief Police Officers, 2012 (accessed 22 January 2016).
- Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday, 7 November 2012, London, Association of Chief Police Officers, 2012 (accessed 22 January 2016).
- ACPO Cabinet, Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 4 April 2012, London, Association of Chief Police Officers, 2012 (accessed 22 January 2016).
- Deputy Chief Constable Phil Gormley, West Midlands Police website (archive of website made by Wayback Machine on 25 September 2008, accessed 18 January 2016).
- Chief Officers, West Midlands Police, Archive of website made by Wayback Machine on 29 April 2007 (accessed 18 January 2016).
- ACPO Cabinet, Minutes of the Meeting held at the BIS Building, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET on Wednesday 3 February 2010, Association of Chief Police Officers, 2010 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Paul Hutcheon, Police Scotland Chief Constable in second undercover police 'sex spy' unit row , The Herald (Scotland), 24 January 2016 (accessed 24 January 2016).
- Note on dates: The 2008 West Midland Police biography for Gormley states that he was Secretary of ACPO TAM in 2004 (also repeated in his NCA biography, vide infra - though from the latter it seems the dates referred to are when he is appointed to a position rather than he actually takes the up). However, appearing before Parliament in October 2004, David Veness states he holds this position. Other sources put Gormley as secretary 2005-2008. It would then seem that Gormley was designated to take over as Secretary in late 2004 as Veness retired from the police in February 2005. Paul Hutcheon in his Sunday Herald article of 24 January 2016 wrote: 'The National Police Chiefs' Council – which replaced ACPO – could not provide the Sunday Herald with the exact date of his involvement with the TAM committee, but said their "working assumption" was between 2005 and 2008'.
- Paul Hutcheon, New chief constable Phil Gormley linked to Met undercover police 'sex spy' unit, The Herald, 2 January 2016 (accessed 18 January 2016).
- Special Branch to close in merger, BBC News Online, 9 September 2005 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- The Board, National Crime Agency, archived by Wayback Machine on 14 October 2013 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Heathrow gun death inquiry begins, BBC News Online, 7 June 2003 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Rosie Cowan, Killing of mentally ill man was lawful, The Guardian, 28 June 2005 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Steven Morris, By the book: how force trains its firearms unit, The Guardian, 4 November 2004 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Suspension review, Metropolitan Police, 9 November 2004 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- For background to this see Death of Harry Stanley, Wikipedia. No charges were eventually pressed against the officers.
- Vikram Dodd & Rob Evans, Police chiefs were aware six years ago that undercover unit 'had lost moral compass', The Guardian, 24 July 2014 (accessed 21 January 2016).
- This area includes Abingdon, Farringdon and the Vale of White Horse. It is close to Whitney, where the Hillgrove cat farm campaign was taking place, just across the division border in Cherwell / Northern Oxfordshire Division.
- Police and Constabulary Almanac 1999, R Hazell & Co / Sweet & Maxwell.
- Changes to NCA leadership team, National Crime Agency, 26 March 2015 (accessed 22 January 2016).
- Senior appointments confirmed as National Crime Agency takes shape, IFSEC Global, undated (accessed 22 January 2016).
- The Board, National Crime Agency, 2014 (archived by National Archives on 5 June 2014)
- Tom Warren, Revealed: National Crime Agency In Crisis Over Unlawful Searches, BuzzFeed.com, 26 November 2015 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- This was confirmed in a statement from Police Scotland in January 2016: "We can confirm that Mr Gormley was the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Commander responsible for Special Branch in the MPS during 2006", Police Scotland, Statement on Metropolitan Police Service Special Branch, 21 January 2016 (accessed 21 January 2016).
- Some sources refer to Williams as the last head of Metropolitan Police Special Branch - see Vikram Dodd, UK names new counter-terrorism chief, The Guardian, 8 February 2008 (accessed 20 January 2016) - this may be due to confusion over the announcement of the merger in September 2005 and the subsequent fact of it happening 13 months later in October 2006. Janet Williams was Commander in charge of the Metropolitan Police Modernisation Programme and subsequently, in September 2006, promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Serious Crime Division - see: Minutes of the Planning, Performance & Review Committee of the Metropolitan Police Authority held on 14 September 2006, Metropolitan Police Authority, 14 September 2006 (accessed 20 January 2016); and also Founders, Cross-sector Safety and Security Communications, Vocal.co.uk, undated (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Jane Bradley, Calls for new Police Scotland chief to clarify Met undercover claims, The Scotsman, 19 January 2016 (accessed 21 January 2016).
- See Peter Salmon, The Importance of Scotland, Undercover Research Group, 20 December 2015; Spycops in Scotland Exempt from Inquiry, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, 29 November 2015; and Scotland asks to join inquiry, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, 21 December 2015; while MSP Neil Finlay had also organised a debate on the issue in the Scottish Parliament on 6 December 2015 (video here).
- Peter Salmon, The importance of Scotland, Undercover Research Group, 19 December 2015 (accessed 21 January 2016).
- Minutes of ACPO's Terrorism and Allied Matters committee meetings relating to the establishment of the NPOIU, 1998-2000, hard copy released through Freedom of Information Act request.
- No single histories for these units has been made public, though it has been possible to reconstruct one from public documents. For more details see under National Co-ordinator for Special Branch, National Domestic Extremism Unit: organisational history and National Co-ordinator Ports Policing.
- A Review of National Police Units which Provide Intelligence on Criminality Associated with Protest, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, 2 February 2012 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Annual Report 2001-2002, Thames Valley Police, 2002, (archived April 2003 by Wayback Machine, accessed 20 January 2016).
- John Donlon, Profile, LinkedIn.com, undated (accessed 21 January 2016).
- Stephen Wright & Richard Pendlebury, Police watchdog probes Met officer who 'told race-claim lawyer how to win court case against his own force', Daily Mail Online, 13 September 2008 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Ian Johnston,Met Police Commander suspended for 'coaching' suspect due to stand trial, The Independent, 19 September 2008 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Stephen Wright & Richard Pendlebury, Disgraced, jailed and now sacked... shamed police commander Ali Dizaei faces ruin, Daily Mail Online, 1 April 2010 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Richard Edwards, Ali Dizaei: timeline, The Telegraph, 8 February 2010 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- British Police Online Museum, Phillip Gormley Deputy Chief Constable West Midlands Police, Police Memorabilia Collectors Club, undated (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Claire Stevens, Profile, LinkedIn.com, undated (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Phlair Consultants Ltd, Companies House, undated (accessed 27 August 2016).
- Notably Alan Young is the Detective Chief Inspector said to have overseen Operation Mason, the investigation into the death of Dr. David Kelly. Concrete sources on this are not readily available, though it is mentioned in numerous places. Kelly lived and died in Harrowdown Hill, Longworth which is near Abingdon, in the South Oxfordshire division which Gormley commanded - though he had moved on to the Metropolitan police by the date of Kelly's death in July 2003.
- Queen's Police Medal, The London Gazette, 29 December 2012, Issue 60367, Supplement No.1 (accessed 20 January 2016).
- Philip Gormley, CBetta.com, undated (accessed 20 January 2016).