HN58 is the cipher given to a former undercover officer with the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), who as Detective Chief Inspector, headed the unit from 1997 to 2001. They are a core participant in the Undercover Policing Inquiry, where they are represented by Slater & Gordon solicitors. He is also known in an IPCC report into a controversial 1998 meeting relating to spying on the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence as 'N34'.
HN58 is currently (January 2018) seeking a restriction order, preventing the Undercover Policing Inquiry releasing either their real or cover name. The situation has proven to be fluid, with the Inquiry Chair, Sir John Mitting having altered his position on this. At the time of writing, Mitting has reverted back to his original position, of intending to restrict both real and cover names, though a final ruling there has yet to be made.
As an officer with the SDS
Though his names are not known, HN58 appears under his cypher in a number of related documents.
MPS risk assessment:
- On recruitment as UCO: "There was a lot of secrecy about the SDS and N58 states that people didn't talk unnecessarily. N58 had no idea of the existence of the SDS when N58 first went to Special Branch. N58 gradually became aware because people N58 knew 'disappeared' for a number of years before returning." On being recruited into the SDS he received a home visit where he was assured of lifetime anonymity. He used the identity of a dead child. He also attended twice-weekly meetings with his supervisors while undercover.
Ellison Review: Head of SDS in August 1998 as Detective Chief Inspector, when he received Lambert's report on the meeting between N81 and Richard Walton. In response, he commented: "An excellent meeting and a good example of the strides N81 has made over the last 12 months" (Ellison, page 229). Author of an SDS Intelligence Update in September 1998, titled 'Extremist involvement in the Stephen Lawrence Campaign' where he wrote: "N81’s unique insight into the behind-the-scenes machinations of the Lawrence campaign has also proved invaluable to A/DI Walton who is currently attached to the Stephen Lawrence review team" (Ellison, page 229).
PCC Investigation: HN58 was one of those investigated for gross misconduct by the IPCC following formal referral by the MPS in the wake of the 2014 Ellison Review's criticism of the meeting between Richard Walton and N81. In this investigation, HN58 was given the cypher N34 and it was noted he was "responsible for the management of officers deployed within Special Branch, including officers deployed within the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) who worked undercover" (para.148). The report state HN58 was promoted to Detective Chief Inspector rank in 1997 and transferred to SDS in mid-1998, with Det. Insp. Bob Lambert working under him (para. 152, 194). In this, he answered to Detective Superintendent 'N35', who oversaw 'S Squad' which included the SDS (para. 190). He retired in 2001 (para. 152). HN58 was aware of the meeting between Walton and N81, though did not consider it inappropriate at the time (para. 158, 194).
During the IPCC investigation, HN58 was interviewed but declined to answer questions, though later provided a written statement (para. 151). The IPCC subsequently said there was not enough documentary or witness evidence (para. 217) to proceed with misconduct hearings against HN58 so on balance of probabilities there was no case to answer in respect of authorising the meeting between Lambert and N81, though there was retrospective knowledge of it. However, the author of the report did state: "With such a close working relationship between Robert Lambert and N34, it is inconceivable that Robert Lambert would have been able to make the arrangements for this meeting to take place without some knowledge on the part of N34" (para. 214). The author also noted that the meeting was initiated within the SDS itself, which leaves HN35, and his two superiors N34 and Colin Black in the frame (para. 219, 220).
Restriction order application (procedural history)
Initially Mitting was 'minded to' restrict both cover and real name (Aug 2017). This position changed to considering publishing both cover and real name by separating the two; further submissions invited (Oct 2017). This changed again in November 2017, with the then minded-to suggesting publishing real name but not cover name - with further submissions invited and possibly a short closed hearing to take place. Following the hearing of 21st November, Mitting said a closed hearing would take place before he made a ruling. This hearing took place by 20 December 2017, after which Mitting stated he was 'minded-to' restrict both the real and cover name of HN58. | SDS UCO & manager - was DCI in charge of unit 1997-2001 (considered a managerial position). Now aged over 60.
In August 2017 open applications from the MPS & HN58's lawyer to restrict cover and real names were published and accompanied by a personal statement, expert medical report & additional threat assessments. Mitting in his 'Minded-To' indicated he would accept both applications, stating (Aug 2017, para. 4):
- The publication of any details about the deployment would give rise to some risk to HN58's personal safety. Further, in a report dated 18 January 2017 Professor Fox states that the publication of the cover name creates a slight risk of causing a stress reaction recognised in the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. It is is not necessary to fulfil the Inquiry's terms of reference to run these risks. What matters is the evidence which HN58 can give about the discharge of HN58's managerial duties and evidence which can be given by others about it. The identity of HN58 is known to those who can do so. The cogency of HN58's evidence and theirs will not be diminished by the use of a cypher. It is likely that HN58 will have to give evidence from behind a screen. Closed reasons supplement this paragraph."
In October 2017, Mitting noted submissions from other non-police core participants and wrote:
- The principal reason supporting the decision which I was minded to make to restrict publication of both real and cover names was concern for the safety of HN58, arising out of the deployment of HN58 as an undercover officer. It is possible that this concern could be met if evidence about the discharge of managerial duties by HN58 was given in the real name and evidence about HN58’s activities as an undercover officer was given entirely in closed session. Not much of public value would be lost thereby.
- I invite submissions from all concerned with this issue, including HN58 on this alternative course. A short closed hearing may be required after open submissions have been made.
HN58's application was heard at the hearing of 21 November 2017 where discussion revolved around the fact that HN58 was important both as an undercover officer and also a manager of the SDS at the time of the spying on the Stephen Lawrence campaign. This has caused a tension for the Inquiry Chair over how to apply the principles he has set out whereby senior officers involved with the spying on the Lawrences should give evidence in their real name but for undercovers, generally cover name only should be released if there is a risk. There were closed reasons also affecting Mitting's reasonings. On 5 December 2017, Mitting said a closed hearing would take place before ruling on the application.
The closed hearing was heard by 20 December 2017, following which the UCPI stated in a press release that Mitting was 'minded-to' grant the application restricting both HN58's real and cover names, saying:
- HN 58 was a manager of the Special Demonstration Squad, but had also been an undercover officer and the Chairman is of the view that there is a risk arising from the undercover deployment should HN58’s real name be made public. In making this second ‘minded to’ decision the Chairman has stated that HN58 is to give evidence about his managerial duties in full view of members of the public and in his natural voice, adopting measures to conceal his true identity in as far as it does not prevent members of the public from observing his demeanour.
In the accompanying 'Minded-To' note, Mitting stated in relation to HN58's application for anonymity:
- 2. ...He has important evidence to give about a number of topics which the Inquiry must explore to fulfil its terms of reference. They include the deployment of HN81 into a campaigning group which sought to associate itself with the Stephen Lawrence campaign, the meeting between HN81 and Acting Detective Inspector Walton, authorisation of the participation of an officer in the commission of a serious crime, the handling of problems created by the deployments of DC [Peter] Francis, HN123, DC [Jim] Boyling, HN16 and HN26, and by the discharge fo his management duties by DI [Bob] Lambert. But for the considerations referred to below, he would have been required to give evidence about the performance of his managerial duties in his real name.
- 3. He was, however, deployed as an undercover earlier in his career. The deployment created some risk to his personal safety. A small, but real, risk would recur if his real name were to be published. The source of the risk - in other words, the identity of the group or groups against which he was deployed - cannot be identified publicly without giving rise to the risk. If hsi real name were to be published, there would be a real risk that his cover name and details of deployment would be discovered by those interested in doing so.
- 5. Any evidence about his deployment will be provided to or given in a closed session. Because there is no known allegation of misconduct against him when deployed as an undercover officer and because the nature of his dpeloyment and what is known of his personal and family life make it unlikely that it would be necessary to investigate possible misconduct even if details of his deployment were made public. What matters to the Inquiry and to the public and many core participants is the performance of his duties as a manager. The course which I am minded to take provides the best opportunity for the Inquiry to fulfil its terms of reference in respect of that important issue.
- 6. For those reasons, it is unnecessary and unjustified to take the risk to the safety of HN58 which would be created by publication of his real name.
August 2017 application material: open application for restriction order, open supplementary application for restriction order, open risk assessment (David Reid), medical statement (Prof. G. C. Fox; fully redacted)
Additional submissions for hearing of 5 February 2018.
- Metropolitan Police:
The issue of excessive redaction of material relating to HN58 by the Inquiry / police was also raised by the non-police/state core participants in their submissions of 11 January 2018. and responded to in the Counsel to the Inquiry's note of 31 January 2018.
- Press Notice: Decisions relating to anonymity applications: Special Demonstration Squad - HN15, HN58 and HN104 "Carlo Neri", Undercover Policing Inquiry", 20 December 2017.
- David Reid, N58 Risk Assessment (version 2 - gisted), Metropolitan Police Service, 25 May 2017 (accessed via UCPI.org.uk).
- 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
- Steve Bimson, Ellison Review - Walton, Lambert and Black: An investigation into the circumstances surrounding a meeting between A/Detective Inspector Richard Walton and an undercover officer on 14 August 1998, Independent Police Complaints Commission, 14 January 2016.
- 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).
- 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).
- Counsel to the Inquiry's Explanatory note to accompany the 'Minded-To' Note (2) in respect for restrictions over the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 14 November 2017 (accessed 15 November 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).
- Sir John Mitting, On the application of HN58 for a restriction order in respect of real and cover name, Undercover Policing Inquiry", 20 December 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).
- 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).
- Transcript of hearing of 21 November 2017, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 21 November 2017.
- Jonathan Hall, Amy Mannion & Reka Hollos, MPS submissions for hearing on 5 February 2018, Metropolitan Police Service, 1 February 2018 (accessed via UCPI.org.uk 3 February 2018).
- Phillippa Kaufmann, QC & Ruth Brander, Non-police, non-state core participants response to consultation on disclosure in the context of SDS anonymity applications, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 11 January 2018.
- David Barr, QC & Kate Wilkinson, Counsel to the Inquiry's note on the future approach to the publication of open evidence in support of key anonymity applications, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 31 January 2018 (accessed 3 February 2018 via UCPI.org.uk).