HN341 is the cipher given to a former Special Demonstration Squad] undercover officer who was deployed Deployed against two groups in the 1970s. He returned to the SDS as a manager. Now in his 70s. The Undercover Policing Inquiry has ruled that the officer's real name will be restricted.
* For the N cipher system see N officers page.
As an SDS undercover officer
Previously a Special Branch officer. No formal training or psychometric testsing. 'The risk assessor states anonymity was accepted as part of HN341's duty in Special branch'. HN341 and their colleagues met twice a week, discussing issues and intelligence; there was a debriefing process. 'HN341 believed there was an excellent management structure at the time'; 'not aware of any formal risk assessments for the deployment'. No arrests; denies any relationships entered into.
His impact statement declares:
- Whilst I was not expressly told that my identify would be protected, the secrecy and sensitivity of the unit made very clear that it was not to be discussed, even within Special Branch. I believed that my identify (real name and cover name) and the work that I did would be kept secret and it would never be confirmed in the public domain'.... (para. 9).
- I carried out the work... on the understanding that the work I was doing was intelligence gathering and would be kept confidential as would my identity. (para. 23)
- Given the nature of the groups that I infiltrated, I believe the revelation that there was an undercover officer in those groups would lead to my identification. (para. 24)
He also noted he had signed the Official Secrets act on joining the Police and:
- On joining Special Branch it was very clear that everything we did was confidential and there were strict protocols in place. (para.5)
He states he had no sexual relationship while undercover.
In the Undercover Policing Inquiry
HN341's partner concerned about impact of inquiry on their family and 'a reason for heightened impact is given regarding ill health'. 'The risk assessor assesses the risk from the group(s) infiltrated and sympathetic third parties as high. Several individuals are discussed whom HN341 believes would present a risk to HN341' and their family if the real name was revealed. Fearful that family would be targeted, including direct confrontation and assault.
'The risk assessor assessed the current threat to HN341 as being very low at this current time in terms of HN341's SDS deployment.' However, '[i]f either cover or real name revealed, the risk of physical attack is categorised as 'high', with impact as 'critical'; while risk to family / private life is 'medium', with impact as 'serious'.
Mitting in his 'Minded to' note stated:
- he deployment was potentially dangerous. If the true identity were now to be disclosed there would be a real, but unquantifiable, risk to HN341’s life and safety. There is a significant risk that publication of the cover name would permit individuals who might wish HN341 harm to discover the true identity. I am not prepared to run that risk. Nor is it necessary to do so to permit the Inquiry to fulfil its terms of reference. There is no known allegation of misconduct against HN341 and, given the nature of the deployment, it is unlikely that members of the groups against which HN341 was deployed would wish to provide evidence to the Inquiry.
- Further, worry about the possibility that HN341’s identity might be disclosed has caused great concern to HN341’s partner who is gravely ill. Even if the only right of HN341 and HN341’s partner were their right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention interference with that right would be neither justified nor proportionate under Article 8(2).
- Careful thought will need to be given to the manner in which the evidence of HN341 will be received. These reasons are supplemented and explained in greater detail in the accompanying closed note.
In March 2018, Mitting decided to restrict both the real and cover name, he repeated the arguments from his 'Minded to' note and said the reasons are explained in greater detail in the closed note accompanying the "minded to" note of 14 November 2017.
- Minded-to: restrict both cover and real names.
- Provisional decision (5 Mar 2018): restrict real and cover name with application to be heard on 21 March 2018.
- Ruling to restrict both real and cover name made 27 March 2018.
- 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.
- Graham Walker, HN341 Open Risk Assessment, Metropolitan Police 17 November 2017 (accessed 5 March 2018 via ucpi.org.uk).
- 'HN341', Open Impact Statement, Metropolitan Police, 15 September 2017 (accessed 5 March 2018 via ucpi.org.uk).
- 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 Ruling 5, Undercover Policing Public Inquiry (UCPI.org.uk), 3 August 2017 (accessed March 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).
- Press notice - Publication of documents relating to Special Demonstration Squad anonymity applications for hearing on 21 March 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 5 March 2018 (accessed 5 March 2018).