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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
undercover police officers
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Alias: unnknown
Deployment: late 1970s/early 1980s
Maoist groups

HN355 is the cipher given to a former undercover officer with the Special Demonstration Squad who was deployed against maoist groups in late 1970s / early 1980s.[1]

The Chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, Sir John Mitting, has ruled both real and cover names of HN355 are to be restricted in the Inquiry.[2]

As an SDS undercover officer

Deployed into Maoist groups for 4 years in late 1970s and early 1980s, of which they said:[3]

Day to day I would attend meetings, help at jumble sales and demonstrations.
I did not have any sexual relationships during my deployment. I was never arrested, charged, prosecuted or appeared in Court either as a Defendant or as a witness. I only ever committed fly-posting.
I have always held the belief that my family and I would be protected by the State from malicious and unfounded attempts to cause harm or embarrassment provided I acted lawfully and did nothing to deliberately compromise this undercover operation. I have held this expectation for the past forty years and I continue to expect the Metropolitan Police to honour its obligations, as I continue to do.
It was drilled into me at the outset, that many Special Branch activities were of necessity secret, but particularly operations such as the SOS, initiated, funded and approved by the Home Office and conducted with the assistance and co-operation of the Security Service. The measures taken to preserve my anonymity before, during and after my deployment, reinforced my belief that this was so.

From HN355's Risk Assessment:[4]

N355 volunteered to join the SDS. There was no psychometric testing at this time on the SDS. N355 initially working in the back office. N355 saw this as very practical training. H355 would attend meetings with [undercovers] that were deployed regularly where [undercovers] would describe the issues they were facing. In addition N355 would go and speak to those deployed [undercover] on a one-to-on basis to get a greater understanding of the problems that [undercovers] encountered.
In relation to guarantees of anonymity N355 makes it clear that the SDS was a secret organisation, run from covert premises. The importance of anonymity was obvious, or it could have led to embarrassment. There was a danger to the operatives if their details were revealed.

After their time in the SDS, HN355 served in a public facing role.[5]

In the Undercover Policing Inquiry

  • 20 March 2018: directed that any applications for anonymity to be filed by 28 March 2018 by MPS legal team, or 6 April for the Designated Lawyers team.[6]
  • 27 March 2018: application over real name of HN355 made by Metropolitan Police.[7]
  • 5 April 2018: application over real and cover names made by 'Designated Lawyers Team'.[8]
  • 26 April 2018: Mitting indicates he is minded to restrict both cover and real names, writing:[1]
The deployment appears to have been unremarkable and unlikely to have given rise to the opportunity for personal misconduct by HN355. Nevertheless, publication of the cover name of HN355 would provide an opportunity for those encountered during the deployment to provide and give evidence about it, as they may well be able to do, if the groups could be identified. That opportunity will be lost if the cover name is not published. But for the circumstances described below, I would have refused to make a restriction order in respect of the cover name.
HN355 has adult children. One of them (X) is mentally unstable. Xis politically committed and active. X does not know the nature of the groups into which HN355 was deployed. HN355 believes that if X discovers their identity it will damage, gravely, or destroy the relationship between them, upon which X's ability to function as a normal adult depends. I do not have medical evidence to confirm these facts and cannot ask for it, because of X's entitlement to the confidentiality of medical records and opinions relating to X. I have to proceed on the basis of what I have been told by HN355. I accept that it is true and unexaggerated. On that basis, the public interest in maximising the chance of obtaining evidence from those against whom HN355 was deployed is outweighed by the need to protect the personal integrity of X. The interference which publication of either cover or real name would cause in the right to respect for private and family life of HN355 and X would be disproportionate and unjustified under Article 8(2) of the European Convention.
A closed note accompanies these reasons.
The issue of HN355's adult child is also mentioned in HN355's personal statement.[3]
  • 3 July 2018: provisional decision to restrict real and cover name.[9] with various documents in support of the application released.[10] It was also directed that any objections to Mitting's intention to restrict the real name to be made by 20 July 2018.[11]
  • 30 July 2018: final ruling that real and cover name cannot be published.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Sir 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 8, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 26 April 2018.
  2. 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.
  3. 3.0 3.1 'HN355', Impact Statement HN355, Metropolitan Police Service, 5 April 2018, published 3 July 2018 via
  4. David Reid, N355 - Risk Assessment (gisted), Metropolitan Police Service, 10 May 2018, published 3 July 2018 via
  5. Inquiry's gist of additional information from HN355’s closed risk assessment, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 July 2018.
  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, 20 March 2018.
  7. Open application for a restriction order (anonymity) re: HN355, Metropolitan Police Service, 27 March 2018, published 3 July 2018 via
  8. Open application for a restriction order (anonymity) in respect of HN355's real and cover name, Metropolitan Police Service, 6 April 2018, published 3 July 2018 via
  9. Publication of documetns relating to anonymity applications: Special Demonstration Squad - November 2017, January 2018, March 2018 and April 2018 'Minded' to notes, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 July 2018.
  10. List of applications and evidence published on 03 July 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 July 2018.
  11. Sir John Mitting, Restriction Order Applications by HN1, HN3, HN8, HN9, HN12, HN19, HN20, HN27, HN60. HN72, HN353 and HN355, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 July 2018.
  12. 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: Minded to note 12 and Ruling 10, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 30 July 2018.