HN53 / N53 is the cipher given to a former undercover officer with the Special Demonstration Squad who was deployed undercover in the 1980s. They were later second in operational command of the SDS 1998-2005 (as Det. Insp.). The chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, John Mitting, has ruled to restrict both HN53's real and cover names in the Inquiry.
- For details of the N-numbers cipher system see the N officers page.
As a SDS undercover
According to their personal impact statement:
- I had no sexual relationships of any kind and no particularly intimate relationships. No one went to prison or was convicted because of me being a UCO. I think public order was helped e.g. at demos by my reporting and generally that of other UCOs. The SOS did have a great influence on the overall policing of public order; Gold would know what to do based on intelligence received.
According to the risk assessor, there were prominent successes from the undercover deployment. They were not arrested in that time. Risk to them if real name is revealed is assessed as high, but low if only cover name is revealed, and that they could give evidence in their cover name.
As a SDS manager
Detective Inspector in SDS 1998 to 2005, as second in operational command. As such, he stated: 'I took over from Bob Lambert. I thought that his systems were over complicated, i.e. the want for secrecy made things cumbersome'. He also said he 'was involved in formulating the policy for psychiatric monitoring, outside of the usual MPS process which was seen as a box-ticking exercise. He also performed as a cover officer and managed undercover officers.
Authored a series of internal memos in 2002 in relation to a joint operation with the National Criminal Intelligence Service known as Op. Wisdom - in relation to the use of the 'Jackal run' process of using a deceased person's identity to obtain passports. According to Operation Herne: 'N53 explained that he believed that between 1968 and 2002 there had been one hundred and two (102) SDS officers who had been provided with covert identities. N53’s documentation stated that the majority of these UCO’s would have used a deceased child’s identity.' (Herne I, 5.4 & 6.2).
Mentioned as an ex-SDS Det. Insp. in relation to material being passed onto other units: N53, another ex-Det. Insp., told Herne: "The SDS retained nothing that would betray its identity" (Ellison, p. 201).
Briefly mentioned in relation to computerisation of SDS / Special Branch records circa 1998 (Herne II, 13.1).
HN30 noted that HN53 along with the then head of unit, DCI HN36 had introduced a system whereby undercovers were required to visit a psychiatrist on a regular basis, with additional appointments available if require.
In the Undercover Policing Inquiry
- 25 January 2018: more time granted 'to provide the Chairman with information in order for him to make a decision'.
- 23 May 2018: Mitting indicated he was minded to restrict HN53's real and cover names in the Inquiry, stating:
- HN53 was second in operational command of the SOS from 1998 - 2005. His evidence is of significant importance to he Inquiry and must be given in public,albeit with protective measures taken, to protect his identity. He was also deployed as an undercover officer in the 1980s, in circumstances which are also of interest to the Inquiry. None of the members of the group against which he was deployed pose any threat to his safety. Nevertheless, if his identity were to be made public, there would be significant damage to the public interest and his safety would be put at real risk. Articles 2 and 3 ECHR may not be engaged, because the risk is contingent, not immediate, but Article 8 is. Publication of his real name would interfere with at least one aspect of his right to private life - his physical integrity and would not be justified under Article 8 (2). The risk created by publication of his cover name, when deployed, is less, but still cannot be run, for the same reasons.
- A closed note accompanies these reasons.
- 9 July 2018: provisional decision made to restrict real and cover names with application material released.
- Application of restriction order (anonymity) in respect of HN53, Metropolitan Police Service's Designated Lawyers Team, 17 November 2017.
- N53 - Risk Assessment, 13 June 2018 (Adrian Baxter).
- HN53 Impact Statement, 17 November 2017.
- It was also directed that any objections to Mitting's intention to grant the restriction order to be made by 20 July 2018.
- 30 July 2018: final ruling that real and cover name cannot be published.
- 'HN53', HN53 Impact Statement, Metropolitan Police Service, 17 November 2017, published 9 July 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
- 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: Minded to note 12 and Ruling 10, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 30 July 2018.
- Adrian Baxter, N53 - Risk Assessment, Metropolitan Police Service, 13 June 2018, published 9 July 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
- Adrian Baxter, N30 - Risk Assessment (gisted), Metropolitan Police Service, 28 August 2018 (accessed 2 October 2018, via ucpi.org.uk).
- Mick Creedon, Operation Herne Report 1: Covert Identities, Metropolitan Police Service, July 2013.
- Mark Ellison, Possible corruption and the role of undercover policing in the Stephen Lawrence case, Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, Vol. 1, Gov.UK, March 2014
- Mick Creedon, Operation Herne: Report 2 - Allegations of Peter Francis, Metropolitan Police Service, March 2014.
- Press Notice: Decisions relating to anonymity applications: Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 25 January 2018.
- Sir 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 Special Demonstration Squad - 'Minded To' Note 4, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 25 January 2018.
- 'Minded to' decisions relating to anonymity applications: Special Demonstration Squad Ruling on HN122, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 23 May 2018.
- Publication of documents relating to anonymity applications: National Public Order Intelligence Unit & Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 9 July 2018.
- List of documents relating to SOS officers - published 09 July 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 9 July 2018.
- Sir John Mitting, Applications for restriction orders in respect of real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad and of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit - Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 9 July 2018.