HN123 is the cipher given to a former Special Demonstration Squad undercover officer who was deployed 1993-1998. He has been linked to the unit's spying on the Stephen Lawrence campaign. The Undercover Policing Inquiry has ruled that HN123's real and cover names will be restricted.
- For the N cipher system see N officers page.
As an SDS officer
Deployed into a number of left-wing groups 1993-1998, one of which 'advocated and practiced the use of violence'. Retired from MPS on health grounds & later diagnosed with a mental health condition in part derived from his deployment - in slow but incomplete recovery. Said to have played a part in activities connected to the spying on the Stephen Lawrence campaign, including by Peter Francis' barrister at the hearing of 21 November (Ms Sikand stated that the group HN123 infiltrated interacted with the Lawrence's parents), but the extent to which that happened is disputed.
The Review stated (p.211): N123... spoke on the telephone to Operation Herne in November 2013: "Francis was lying about the smearing of Lawrence…" N123 had taken over from Mr Francis when in the back office. Mr Francis had told him that it was their role to provide "gossip for the field…" N123 had spent nine months in the back office and amongst management and had gone to field meetings. Not once did N123 see or hear any instruction to 'smear' the Lawrences. He did not see any paperwork to reflect this either.
According to Bob Lambert (Ellison, p.214), N123 started his undercover work after Lambert had become head of the SDS and stated: I am sure from day one the Stephen Lawrence case would have been on N123’s agenda, and… they must have attended, started to attend meetings with the Stephen Lawrence campaign, almost goes as read that they would have been there… they would want to be inside the meeting, to have a speaker on the platform and so N123 is following close behind ‘Pete Francis’… they became quite close friends and times would have been at the same events… May well have been events specifically in support of the Stephen Lawrence campaign…
In the Undercover Policing Inquiry
HN123 was granted core participant status in the Undercover Policing Inquiry by its then Chair, Sir Christopher Pitchford, on 21 October 2015. In Pitchford's ruling of 15 April 2016 his legal representative was recognised as Slater & Gordon. However, on 24 January 2018, the new chair, Sir John Mitting, at HN123's application, terminated both his designation as a core participant, and Slater and Gordon as his legal representative.
An application was made by both the Metropolitan Police & HN123's then lawyers to restrict both cover and real names, accompanied with personal statements & medical material - of which open versions were published in August 2017 (some material having previously being released in March 2016). See also the NPSCP submissions of 5 October 2017.
- HN123 and HN123’s partner are concerned about the possibility that HN123’s identity will be revealed during the Inquiry, both for reasons of safety and because of the potential impact on HN123’s health. I have read personal statements by both of them, which are and will remain closed, in which these concerns are expressed. I accept that they are genuine and not irrational. Overriding them would interfere with their right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention and would require to be justified under Article 8(2). Fulfilment of the terms of reference of the Inquiry does not require that the real or cover name of HN123 be published. The evidence of HN123 can be given under a cypher. HN123 was involved indirectly in deployments affecting the Lawrence family and can give evidence about that under the cypher. To the extent that it is contentious, it can be challenged just as effectively, as if given in the real or cover name. In those circumstances, the interference would not be justified. It is desirable, and may be essential, that HN123 gives evidence in public. In that event, protective measures are likely to be required.
The restriction application was discussed at the hearing of 21 November where it was revealed that N123 was no longer a core participant and did not have legal representation. Mitting was concerned that if he did not give full anonymity to HN123 the officer would not cooperate with the Inquiry and it would not get a chance to hear their evidence, of importance given the potential connection to the spying on the Lawrences. Mitting issuing his ruling on 5 December 2017, restricting publication of both real and cover names. In this he acknowledged there was contention over the extent of HN123's role in spying on the Lawrences, but saying:
- On the factual premise that HN123's deployment only affected the Stephen Lawrence campaign peripherally and indirectly, it is not necessary for the fulfilment of the terms of reference of the Inquiry that his real or cover name should be published. If that premise proves to be wrong, I will have to revisit the issue.
A final order granting the anonymity for both real and cover name was made on 8 December 2017.
- Kate Wilkinson, Counsel to the Inquiry's Explanatory Note to accompany the Chairman's 'Minded-To' Note 12 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 Public Inquiry, 13 September 2018.
- 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).
- 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).
- Transcript of hearing of 21 November 2017, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 21 November 2017.
- 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.
- Sir John Mitting, Core Participants Ruling 16, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 24 January 2018 (accessed 24 January 2018).
- Sir John Mitting, Recognised Legal Representatives Ruling 13, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 24 January 2018 (accessed 24 January 2018).
- 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).
- 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).
- Phillippa Kaufmann, QC & Ruth Brander, Submissions on behalf of the Non-Police, Non-State Core Participants re the Chairman's 'Minded To' note dated 23 October 2017 concerning restriction order applications, 6 November 2017 (accessed 3 February 2018 via UCPI.org.uk).
- Maya Sikand Submissions on behalf of Peter Francis re The Chairman's Supplementary 'Minded To' note dated 23 October 2017 re restriction order applications, 6 November 2017 (accessed via UCPI.org.uk 3 February 2018).
- John Mitting, HN123 Restriction Order, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 8 December 2017.