Sir David Christopher Veness, CBE, QPM (born 20 September 1947) was the Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations of the Metropolitan Police from 1994 to 2005 and Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security for the United Nations until 2008.
- 1 Career: Policing and counter-terrorism
- 2 Oversight of undercover work
- 3 Police corruption,the CIB and the Stephen Lawrence murder
- 4 The Muslim Safety Forum
- 5 Think tanks and policy world
- 6 After retirement
- 7 Affiliations
- 8 Notes
Career: Policing and counter-terrorism
- Veness attended Raynes Park County Grammar School and joined the Metropolitan Police Cadet Corps in 1964. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1966 and became a CID officer in 1969. In the early 1970s he attended Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1975.
- October 1979 - October 1980: Detective Chief Inspector (at age of 33) as head of CID at Kensington Police Station (then part of 'B Area'), overseeing an area with a high concentration of diplomatic embassies. He answered to Commander George Rushbrook. He became the Principal Investigation Officer leading the inquiry into the disappearance of Martin Allen, a 15 year boy who vanished at King's Cross station in November 1979 and has not been seen since. His disappearance has since been linked with the paedophile ring surrounding the Elm Street guesthouse, though inconclusively. After his promotion to Superintendent, Veness maintained links with the Allen family. and remained with oversight of the investigation despite several promotions.
- Veness trained as a hostage negotiator in 1979, he was a member of the negotiating team at the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in South Kensington. He was an instructor and then Director of the Scotland Yard Negotiators Course between 1980 and 1987.
- 1981-1982: raised to rank of Detective Superintendent. and around this time served at Scotland Yard in the Complaints Bureau.
- September 1983: promoted to Detective Chief Superintendent.
- 1984-1986: one of the Detective Chief Superintendents at Metropolitan and City Police Company Fraud Branch (C6), based at Richbell Place, London.
- 1984: led the negotiations at the Libyan Peoples Bureau incident in 19.
- In early 1987 he reportedly set up a specialist unit SO10 (not to be confused with the undercover unit SO10 formed in 1989) whose official job was providing ‘logistical support for crime operations’ but in fact was set up to specialize in handling sieges and cases requiring delicate negotiating skills or special planning.
- In October 1987 Veness was appointed a Police Commander, and served with Royalty and Diplomatic Protection until 1990. During this period, he was also responsible for security arrangements at major State and ceremonial events. After attendance at the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1990, he became Commander Public Order, Territorial Security and Operational Support.
- In October 1991 he was appointed Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Specialist Operations - Crime/Operations) and headed the specialist crime squads at Scotland Yard, which included serious, organised and international crime, the fraud squad, the Flying Squad, criminal intelligence and force firearms. According to Veness the job involved 'responsibility within the Metropolitan Police area, effectively Greater London, for serious crimes, murders, kidnapping and other offences of that ilk.'
- In April 1994 Veness was appointed Assistant Commissioner (Specialist Operations), a position he held until 2005. He assumed charge of all 'specialist operations' including protection, terrorism, security and organised crime. Veness described this position as 'slightly more senior level and a broadened responsibility, which mainly encompassed security protection and counter-terrorism.' As such he would have overseen SO12, better known as Special Branch.
In all these roles Veness worked closely with the UK Government and the Security Services. Appearing as a witness in the Diana Inquest, he provided a rare public admittance of collaboration between the police and the security services:
- Q. You had pretty close connections with the security services, didn't you, during the whole of your career?
A. Particularly in relation to my duties in connection with terrorism, that was an implicit part of my duties.
Following the events of 11 September 2001, Veness oversaw the response of the Metropolitan Police in reinforcing the national counter-terrorism capability. In this he was supported by Commander Bob Quick and his Deputy Assistant Commissioner Barbara Wilding.
In 2002, he established Operation Kratos under Wilding which sent officers around the world with the view to developing new tactics for dealing with suicide bombers, including training in Israel. Kratos was taken over by ACPO's Terrorism and Allied Matters board in January 2003 and subsequently became national policy. Veness is also credited with introducing the phrase DADA - 'Deterimined And Deadly Attack - and Operation Kratos 'outlines what level of force officers can use to thwart' such an attack, including shoot to kill.
Veness also took a role in countering dissident republican terrorism in London, from setting up CCTV and ANPR in Canary Wharf following the 1996 Docklands bombing to warning against potential threats from the Real IRA in the city in 2001.
Knighthood and retirement
On receiving a knighthood in 2005, it was said of Veness:
- He is recognised nationally and internationally as an outstanding expert in the fields of combating terrorism, responding to organised and international crime, and hostage negotiation.[...]
AC David Veness has made an enormous contribution to the capital's fight against terrorism and is an important national police figure, central to combating terrorism and its associated threats. He has personally directed a significant number of complex and highly sensitive investigations into terrorism that have produced very significant high-profile prosecutions.
He was responsible for the co-ordination of the massive police response needed in the aftermath of the 11 September attack on New York and Washington, and through this work is an exemplary ambassador for the Police Service of the United Kingdom with an unparalleled knowledge in this specialist area.
Oversight of undercover work
As head of Special Operations Veness oversaw various units including counter-terrorism and the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), which targeted protestors. In this role Veness knew and worked closely with Bob Lambert of the SDS. The two men would have a long association, including through the work of the Muslim Safety Forum, and, after both had left the Police, at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (see below).
By October 2004, Veness was secretary of the ACPO's Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) board. At the time, TAM was running the reorganised national domestic extremism units, including, including the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and its infiltration of protest movements during the time of Mark Kennedy and others. A number of Veness's subordinate officers would go on to join the TAM board, including his former deputy Bob Quick who was its chair in 2008-2009.
In a notable incident earlier in his career, in July 1992, Veness along with Commander Roy Ramm seconded fellow DAC Ian Johnston's authorisation of the use of an undercover policewoman to get close to Colin Stagg in the Rachel Nickell murder enquiry. Johnston would go on to act as Condon's trusted lieutenant in matters relating to the Stephen Lawrence murder, including delivering Condon's apology over the role of the Metropolitan police in the Lawrence murder inquiry, including his own 'obstinancy', before heading up the British Transport Police.
Police corruption,the CIB and the Stephen Lawrence murder
1993 saw the start of a major push against police corruption particularly that associated with the South East Regional Crime Squad (some of whose members would be later implicated in the News of the World hacking scandal). This invesigation was run by the Complaints Investigations Branch (CIB), and part of this included the formation of a secretive anti-corruption unit even within this known as CIB3, or 'Ghost Squad'. Veness appears to have been integral to this anti-corruption drive, working closely with the Metropolitan Police's Professional Standards Unit. As such he was part of a group of officers that included all three of his subsequent successors as Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations: Andy Hayman, Bob Quick and John Yates. These three would repeatedly interlink in subsequent scandals, including police corruption, the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, the News of the World hacking and the domestic extremism units.
In 1996, Veness' deputy as part of anti-corruption operations was Det. Supt. Chris Jarratt, who headed up intelligence and covert operations at CIB. Jarrett had also taken over the inquiry into murder of leading informant David Norris (a different individual to the David Norris later convicted for the murder of Stephen Lawrence), whom at some point in 1989-91 Veness had gone to meet in person to authorise the signing of payments. Ian Crampton, one of the officers overseeing both the David Norris and Stephen Lawrence murder investigations, was godfather to one of Jarratt's sons. Jarrett was also later implicated in the smearing of Ali Dizaei, while he was answerable to Andy Hayman.
Operation Athena was the name given to the strategic reponse of the Metropolitan Police's Racial and Violent Crime Task Force (headed by Dept Assist. Commissioner John Grieve) in the wake of the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence murder. Part of this was Operation Athena Tower, which targeted suspects in the murder. Veness played a role in this particular operation in the years 1999-2003, including sanctioning the bugging of one of the accused and insertion of an undercover officer to target him. He seems to have taken a close interest in this project, appearing as a source in a 2001 paper on hate crime.
However, as head of Specialist Operations, Veness was (through Bob Lambert) in the chain of command for the placing of Peter Francis and undercover officer N8I targeting the Lawrences, whilst simultaneously helping the anti-corruption drive targeting a number of officers around the Lawrence inquiry.
The Muslim Safety Forum
As part of his counter-terrorism work following the September 11 attacks, Veness developed a keen interest in the Muslim community. In particular, from 2001-03, he or his deputy regularly chaired meetings of the monthly Muslim Safety Forum (MSF). As a forum it allowed leading representatives of the Muslim community in London to meet with senior officers from the Metropolitan police and ACPO. From 2002, The MSF was also regularly attended by Bob Lambert and others of the "counter-terrorism focused" Muslim Contact Unit (MCU) (then part of Special Branch, which Veness oversaw). From an article written by Lambert on the MSF, it appears that Lambert and Veness were in close contact at this point:
- ...Veness emphasized on the small MCU team the importance of investing time at MSF meetings, ("be the first to arrive and the last to leave")...
Think tanks and policy world
Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence
- Veness has been closely associated with the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St. Andrews, one of the key research centres in the ‘Terrorism Industry’. He is known to have been briefed by CSTPV whilst still Assistant Commissioner, and after retirement he became actively involved in the Centre. He was appointed Honorary Professor of Terrorism Studies at the University of St. Andrews and since at least 2006, he has been a member of the Terrorism Studies Programme Board at the university which overseas the development of CSTPV’s E-Learning courses.
- In 1999 Veness wrote a paper ‘Low intensity and high impact conflict’ for a special issue of the CSTPV dominated journal Terrorism and Political Violence. The papers in the journal were based on a conference attended by the authors at University College Cork from 3-5 March 1999, the Future Developments in Terrorism Conference. In September 2001 Veness wrote a paper for the journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, which was also based on a conference he had attended. Another notable contributor in that issue was Bruce Hoffman, RAND’s chief terrorism expert and the co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence. Veness later wrote a foreword for another issue of Terrorism and Political Violence, published in 2005. He spoke at the International Terrorism and Intelligence 2004, which was hosted by CSTPV.
- Veness is also involved in the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research as a member of its International Advisory Council that existed the first few years after the Centre was set up (at the website until late 2014). This is copycat think-tank set up by CSTPV graduate Rohan Gunaratna as a specialist centre within the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Veness was at the Council along with former MI6 head Richard Dearlove and US ‘experts’ such as Bruce Hoffman and Matthew Levitt.
Royal United Services Institute
- Veness has a long standing relationship with the defence think-tank, the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (RUSI), being member of its Council since at least 1995, and having become one of its Vice-Presidents by 2005.
- He has authored a number of articles for its publication, The RUSI Journal, including 'Protecting against unconventional attack' (1998),, ‘The Fight Against Terrorism: Achieving a New Balanced Normality’ (2003), and ‘The safety of the realm in retrospect and prospect’ (2003). In 2009 he provided the foreword for the RUSI publication After the War on Terror.
- Many of the other organisations he is a member of also have strong RUSI connections.
Other writing on policy
- Veness has written for the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC), contributing to The Unlikely Counter-Terrorists, which was published in 2002. The Unlikely Counter-Terrorists was sponsored by BAe Systems, Control Risks Group and the Risk and Security Management Forum. Other contributors included John Bray of Control Risks Group, corporate security executive Sally Leivesley and the BBC’s Director of News Richard Sambrook. In the article, Veness calls for a separation of the twin roles of professional crime fighting and national security, as switching officers between them was counter-productive. One contributor complemented Veness for having brought together London’s police with its business community:
- The Metropolitan Police area and the City of London are exemplary in terms of the good relations which exist and are developing between the business community and the police. It has been David Veness, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations at the Met, who brought the two together.
- In Veness 2001 was the author of 'Terrorism and Counterterrorism: An International Perspective' for the journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism.
Security and intelligence consultant
2005 - 2008: UN Under-Secretary-general for Safety and Security
On 24 June 2008, Veness resigned his position after the publication of an inquiry into the suicide bombing of the UN office in Algiers on 11 December 2007 that killed 17 UN staff. The inquiry had found that the bombing came after numerous internal UN warnings about a terrorist attack by the al-Qaeda affiliate in the Maghreb. Veness stated that he 'was willing to shoulder full responsibility for any security lapses' that preceded the bombing.
2010: Chertoff Group
Veness subsequently joined in 2010 the Chertoff Group, a US based firm working in the intelligence, security and risk management industries. Its directors and advisors lists some of the highest ranking former US government officials from intelligence and security agencies. On the board with him is former Home Secretary and Minister of Defence, John Reid. Also associated with this company is Graham Carvell Love, the former CFO of Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, and CEO of QinetiQ. Their UK offices are based at 33 St James Street, London.
He is also chairman of the Security & Resilience Advisory Board at London First, a business lobby organisation. His role includes promoting relationships between police and large business, and disseminating police security alerts. A colleague on this board is Andrew Trotter who had been deputy and subsequently succeeded Ian Johnston as Chief Constable of the British Transport Police.
2011: Cross Sector Safety & Security Communications
In addition to that, Veness is one of the founders and Co-Chair of the Executive Board of Cross Sector Safety & Security Communications, set up in June 2011 "by a team of senior security experts, with the aim of building a platform to facilitate communications between private and public sector on issues surrounding security and business resilience." Originally set up to help business prepare for the Olympics in London, it is now a more permanent partnership between business, the Police and the Government in London. One of the other trustees is Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Constable Essex Police, with whom Veness shares a history of counter terrorism tasks, undercover operations and involvement in the MacPherson inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder.
2014: Pilgrims Group
In March 2014, Veness joined the Pilgrims Group, "a security, risk management and service support company that identifies and manages risks," according to its website. "Our expertise allows your business to operate and develop, unhindered and unrestricted.". Pilgrims provides training and security to government bodies, NGOs and private companies in countries including the UK, USA, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Algeria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan and Kuwait. As a Senior Advisor to the company, "Sir David’s knowledge of how markets are affected by global terrorism and his experience of policing and international staff safety and security at the highest level will be invaluable to our strategic planning and is set to further benefit our clients across all sectors."
- Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, St. Andrew's University, Hon. Professor in Terrorism Studies.
- International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Singapore, International Advisory Council member.
- Royal United Services Institute, Vice-President.
- Cranfield University, Security Studies Institute, Visiting Professor, Counter-Terrorism, 2011
- Airey Neave Trust, Trustee since 2009.
- Security & Resilience Network for London First, Chairman of the Advisory Board.
- Member of the Advisory Council for City Security and Resilience Networks (C/SARN).
- One of the founders and Co-Chair of the Executive Board of Cross Sector Safety & Security Communications.
- Chertoff Group, a Principle since 2010.
- Pilgrims Group, Senior Advisor since March 2014.
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- Mick Creedon, Operation Trinity - Allegations of Peter Francis, Operation Herne - Report 2, 6 March 2014, p. 18. It is explicitly noted that the SDS came under the aegis of the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch, part of Specialist Operations, run by Veness during the timeframe concerned. See also: Mark Ellison, The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, Vol. 1, p. 233, which quotes from Commander Barry Moss, head of Special Branch at the time, that he both oversaw the SDS and was answerable to AC Veness.
- Michael Gillard and Laurie Flynn, Untouchables: Dirty cops, bent justice and racism in Scotland Yard, Bloomsbury 2012. Veness is named as part of the inner circle who under Commissioner Paul Condon were responsible for setting up the unit CIB3 to target corrupt police (p.25). Among their targets was Sgt. John Davidson who was part of the original Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry (p. 170). See also: Mark Ellison, The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, Vol. 1, Chapter 5.4.
- Robert Lambert, The Muslim Safety Forum: Senior Police and Muslim Community Engagement during the War on Terror, published in Preventing Ideological Violence: Communities, Police and Case Studies of "Success", P. Daniel Silk, Basia Spalek & Mary O'Rawe (editors), 2013.
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