N officers

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This article is part of the Undercover Research Portal at Powerbase: investigating corporate and police spying on activists.


Part of a series on the
Undercover
Policing Inquiry
N Officers list
Description: A list of N & HN cyphers used to designate individual officers in the Inquiry and by Operation Herne

Police officers cited in the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) are generally designated by a cypher / nominal starting with N or HN followed by a number. The practice of assigning these cyphers was begun in by the Metropolitan Police inquiry Operation Herne which investigated the activities of the Special Demonstration Squad undercovers. It was subsequently adopted by Mark Ellison for his Review and the UCPI, both of which draw heavily on the material assembled by Operation Herne. The practice was also taken up by Operation Elter, investigating the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. The system appears to have changed in 2017, when the 3 August 2017 rulings and direction of the new Inquiry Chair, John Mitting, began using the 'HN' label, though the associated numbers appear to be unchanged.[1]

The N number system appears to be applied across the board for police officers regardless of force, position or involvement with undercover policing. A few have since been identified, but many remain anonymous and as such few details of them are know. Except where profiled elsewhere, this page collates what is known of them and links to relevant documents, including relevant procedural issues within the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

In an updated explanatory note of 14 November 2017, the Counsel to the Inquiry noted:[2]

Some names in these documents have been replaced with numbers preceded by the initials "PN". These are 'provisional nominals', cyphers allocated by the Inquiry to individuals who are not part of the current anonymity tranches; who the Inquiry legal team takes the view are or may be relevant individuals in the Inquiry and therefore whose appearance within documents should be capable of being identified; who may make an application for anonymity or other restriction of their identity in due course; and who cannot therefore be named in advance of the determination of any application without undermining that anticipated application. The allocation of 'provisional nominals' will be re-visited during the course of the Inquiry. This approach allows the Inquiry to publish necessary evidence relevant to preliminary issues without needing to determine all anonymity applications and privacy issues first.

Due to the number of offices and associated details, the list has been split over several pages.

For present purposes, these pages focus for the most part on the restriction order applications in relation to their details.

Updated 9 December 2017

Note: not all officers have publicly assigned N numbers, for instance those of Mike Chitty, Colin Black and Robert Potter are as yet unknown.

Restriction order tranches

On 18th May 2017, the then Chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, Christopher Pitchford, ordered that restriction orders should be submitted for three separate tranches of officers. These were:[3]

  • By 1st June 2017: HN7, HN16, HN108, HN120, HN294, HN321, HN323, HN326, HN327, HN329, HN330, HN333, HN325 & HN343.
  • By 1 July 2017: HN2, HN15, HN26, HN58, HN68, HN81, HN104, HN123, HN146, HN204, HN297, HN328, HN335 & HN1251.
  • By 1 August 2017: N1, N23, N40, N45, N78, N86, N127, N216, N241, N298, N318, N322, N331, N334, N336, N344, N347 & N348.

Matters relating to the following officers were addressed in the August 2013 material issued by the Inquiry:

  • HN2, HN17, HN15, HN16, HN26, HN58, HN68, HN81, HN104, HN108, HN120, HN123, HN146, HN204, HN294, HN297, HN321, HN326, HN327, HN328, HN329, HN330, HN333, HN325, HN335, HN343, HN345, HN1251

On 23 October 2017, the new Chair, John Mitting, directed that applications for restriction orders should be submitted for the following officers no later than 31 October:[4]

  • HN2, HN17, HN34, HN56, HN64, HN88, HN99, HN127, HN244, HN301, HN331, HN332, HN341, HN344, HN345, HN353, HN356, HN1668, & HN2152:

An several updates from the Inquiry in November 2017 contained further tranches:

  • September 2017 tranche:[5] HN17, HN24, HN33, HN56, HN64, HN72, HN88, HN89, HN109, HN129, HN218, HN301, HN332, HN337, HN338, HN339, HN341, HN342, HN346, HN356, HN367, HN593, HN3093, HN3095 - of these a substantial number were noted as either needing further material, moved to the 31 Oct deadline or seeking an extension to have moved to a future tranche.
  • December 2017 tranche:[6] HN9, HN13, HN61, HN66, HN109, HN296, HN304, HN339, HN340, HN354, HN356, HN819 - applications from the MPS Legal Team by were to be in by 30 November, and for the MPS Designated Lawyer Team by 4 December 2017.

The open applications for a number of officers were heard at the hearings of 20-21 November 2017.[7] These were:

HN16, HN26, HN58, HN68, HN81, HN104, HN123, HN294, HN321, HN326, HN329, HN330 and HN333

A ruling in relation to these was issued on 5 December,[8] with the relevant restriction orders for HN16, HN26, HN68, HN81, HN123, HN294, HN321, HN326, HN329, HN330 and HN333 being published on 8 December.[9]

Directions for filing restriction order applications

The Inquiry has made a number of directions relating to specific officers that the police should file restriction order applications should be filed by given dates, or confirm that no order was being sought:

On 11 December 2017, directed that applications for HN3, HN12, HN19, HN41, HN59, HN60, HN155, HN268 and HN3378 were to be filed by 20 December 2017 by the MPS legal team or 22 December for Designated Lawyers team:[10]
On 11 January 2018, directed that applications for HN20, HN21, HN25, HN48, HN82, HN83, HN95, HN96, HN103, HN106, HN122, HN300, HN302 and HN608 were to be filed by 30 January 2017 by the MPS legal team or 31 January for Designated Lawyers team:[11]

N35 (IPCC classification)

Det. Supt. N35 headed 'S Squad', which included the SDS, in 1998. His cipher is assigned by the IPCC and stands outside of the Operation Herne scheme given above.

He is mentioned briefly in the Ellison Review briefly as 'Detective Superintendent S' (page 230), noting him as a recipient a note from Colin Black, Commander of Operations for Special Branch praising the SDS and noting he is aware of the meeting between N81 and Richard Walton.[12]

He receives more mention in the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation of the Walton-N81 meeting, as the IPCC identifies him as someone in the Special Branch chain of command who would have overseen and had knowledge of the meeting (para. 61). As such, the IPCC investigate him and others in 2015 for gross misconduct, following a referral by the Metropolitan Police Service. The subsequent IPCC report found there was insufficient evidence to proceed, but provided further details on him.[13]

The IPCC report gave a precis of N35's career and contact with the SDS:[13]

He was responsible for a number of departments, for example, Surveillance, Technical Support and one of these departments was the SDS. He was then either a detective chief inspector or detective inspector in operational charge. (para. 122)
He stated that he had little day-to-day contact with operational officers. His areas of responsibility were strategic areas around budgets, staffing and policy. He would only know what was happening within a unit, if it was brought to his attention by a superintendent, or if he had visited a unit to speak with staff. (para. 123)
He stated that he had been in Special Branch Ports Unit in 1995, and in September 1997, transferred to S Squad. The SDS was a small part of his responsibility and he considered it to be a self-contained unit. N35 never served on the SDS, he retired in 2003, still on S Squad. (para. 138)
N35 stated that he would have had little operational involvement with undercover officers, he believed that a lot of SDS issues were taken straight to Colin Black. He very rarely met with undercover officers, this was the remit of the Detective Inspector and Detective Chief Inspector. (para. 139)
He would not have seen all tasking, but he could not recall any conflict over any tasking. The DCI and DI from SDS would periodically come to New Scotland Yard for meetings and they would update either Colin Black or himself. There were no regular meetings with SDS staff. (para. 140)

The misconduct investigation of N35 focused on him as a conduit of the note by Det. Ch. Insp. HN58 (N34), who was then head of the SDS, to Colin Black, which disclosed knowledge of the Walton-N81 meeting (para 76-83). With regards the meeting, he told the IPCC:[13]

‘I did not authorise the August 1998 meeting arranged by Detective Inspector Robert Lambert. Furthermore, I had no knowledge of it at the time and to the best of my recollection, I was not aware of it subsequently’. (para. 135)

He also stated that he never knew Richard Walton (para. 141) and that he did not recall having knowledge of the meeting, though he accepted he had seen mention of it. The IPCC noted there was no evidence that N35 had prior knowledge of the meeting, though he did know of it after it had taken place (para. 193). The IPCC concluded that N35 did not consider the meeting inappropriate (para. 220) but stated: 'There is insufficient evidence that he was involved in authorising or making the arrangements to put this meeting in place' (para. 213). For this reason, there was no scope to bring proceedings against N35.

Notes

  1. 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).
  2. Counsel to the Inquiry's Explanatory Note to accompany the 'Minded-To' Note (2) in respect of applications for restriction orders 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)
  3. Christopher Pitchford, Order pursuant to the ruling of 2 May 2017 granting an extention of time for service of anonymity applications by the Metropolitan Police Service in respect of the Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 18 May 2017.
  4. John Mitting, (1) The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and its impact on the Inquiry’s work (2) Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad: Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 23 October 2017 (accessed via UCPI.org.uk, 23 October 2017).
  5. https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/20171114-updated-explanatory-note.pdf 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).
  6. Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad - Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 22 November 2017 (accessed 26 November 2017).
  7. Transcripts of hearing of the Undercover Policing Inquiry of 20 November and 21 November 2017.
  8. 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).
  9. Michael Pretorius, Email to all CPs - restriction orders, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 8 December 2017 (unpublished). See also https://www.ucpi.org.uk/rulings/ (accessed 9 December 2017).
  10. Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad: Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 11 December 2017.
  11. Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad: Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 11 January 2018.
  12. Mark Ellison, The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review - Volume 1: Possible corruption and the role of undercover policing in the Stephen Lawrence case, Gov.UK, March 2014.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 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.