N81 (also referred to as HN81) is the code-name given to a Metropolitan police officer, who served undercover with the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) from 1996 to around 2001/2; his handler was Bob Lambert. He infiltrated a political group in London involved in the campaigns around the Stephen Lawrence murder. It has since emerged that the Lawrence family was not the only black justice campaign that was spied upon.
N81 came to public attention when he was mentioned in the 2014 Stephen Lawrence Independent Review - commonly known as the Ellison Review. Among other things, the Review looked into allegations of SDS undercover whistleblower Peter Francis who claimed to have been instructed to find information to smear the Lawrence family and those around them.
Undercover Research has set up a series of pages on N81 and the spying on the Stephen Lawrence campaign focusing, amongst other things a meeting between N81, Bob Lambert as his handler and also acting head of the SDS, and then DI Richard Walton. At the time of the meeting, August 1998, Walton was part of the Lawrence Review Team, a group of senior officers tasked with preparing Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Condon submissions to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.
Ellison was critical of the meeting, calling it 'wrong-headed' and noted that it could have sparked disorder if it had become publicly known. He also criticised Walton for retracting his detailed earlier statement once he knew he would be criticised. This and the public outcry over spying on the Lawrences, resulted in Walton being temporarily removed from his post and his conduct was referred to the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC). He was reinstated on 1 December 2014. However, in May 2015 the IPCC announced that the investigation into Walton, Lambert and then-Commander Colin Black was continuing and being widened to include two more former officers involved in facilitating the secret meeting.
In January 2016 it emerged that Walton was retiring ahead of any outcome, a move that would allow him to avoid disciplinary hearings following the IPCC probe. Later it became clear that he retired just six days after the IPCC submitted its findings to the Metropolitan Police. He would have had a case to answer, because his actions could have potentially underminded the public inquiry into the case and public confidence in it.
In April 2018, the Undercover Policing Inquiry released the cover name of N81: 'David Hagan', and said he targeted not just the Movement for Justice, but also the Socialist Workers Party, Class War and the Movement Against the Monarchy from 1996-2001.
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.
- N81: Profile from the Ellison Report
- N81: Meeting with the Lawrence Review Team
- N81: File Notes SDS
- N81: IPCC investigation
- N81 in the Undercover Policing Inquiry
- Eveline Lubbers, The importance of the naming #spycop N81 as Dave Hagan, Undercover Research Group, 17 April 2018.
- Dónal O'Driscoll, A larger scandal – Dave Hagan and the surveillance of black justice campaigns, Undercover Research Group, 17 April 2018.
- 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.
- Rob Evans, Police facing claims that senior officers knew about spying on Stephen Lawrence family, The Guardian, 2 July 2015.
- Martin Evans, Former Met boss retired days after report found he had case to answer in Stephen Lawrence probe, The Telegraph, 2 March 2016 (accessed April 2018)
- 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 )