HN4 is the cipher given to a former undercover officer with the Special Demonstration Squad who was deployed into two branches of one group in late 1980s and early 1990s. The Chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, Sir John Mitting, has ruled that both the real and cover names of the officer will be restricted in the Inquiry.
- For the N number cipher system see the N officers.
As an SDS undercover
According to HN4's Impact Statement, HN4 was a Metropolitan Police Special Branch officer who had worked on the Animal Rights desk there, before joining the Special Demonstration Squad as an undercover officer. He was deployed in late 1980s/early 1990s into two branches of one group. Following the deployment, he returned to regular Special Branch duties and was promoted to Detective Sergeant. HN4 left the police in the 1990s, having medically retried, and has taken up another career.
Writing of his time undercover, HN4 says:
- When on the SDS/SOS we were told to keep a low profile. We were certainly not to discuss our work in public or even to colleagues. I was told.... that my details would never come out. I also recall [a manager] stating to us that a prosecution would be discontinued if it relied on an undercover officer's evidence.
The risk assessment for HN4 states:
- N4 was recruited on the recommendation of another SDS officer. N4 was interviewed by a senior manager in the SDS. N4 did not undergo psychometric testing and there was no formal access to welfare or professional advice.
- N4 spent approximately six months in the back office developing the cover identity and learning fieldcraft.
- N4 was given an assurance of anonymity during the interview stage and this assurance was also repeated to N4's partner. To paraphrase the recruiting senior SDS manager, "prosecutions would be dropped if they would lead to the compromise of UCOs". The same senior SDS manager spoke to N4's partner about the long hours N4 would be expected to work and they were also warned of character changes that could occur during the deployment and the need to share issues with each other.
Also according to the assessment:
- N4 was tasked to report on the numbers, members and intentions of the targeted group and the threat posed by them at public order events.
- Specific tasking when required was given at the twice weekly meetings on Monday and Thursday which all officers were expected to attend, barring exigencies. N4 does not remember being specifically tasked other than in relation to a particular demonstration.
- N4 recalled the name of nine key associates. When asked about individuals of concern, N4 stated that s/he had no concerns about physical violence from any of the people mentioned but some might feel a sense of betrayal.
- N4 stated categorically that s/he did not enter into any sexual relationships during the deployment. N4 and N4's partner had been warned by the SDS manager who recruited N4 of the dangers of this, and there was no encouragement to form sexual relationships as a means to gather intelligence. N4 recalls that there was information about the dangers of overly close relationships in the Tradecraft binder kept in the SDS office.
- N4 was arrested during the deployment, charged and convicted. N4 was subject to internal discipline. Representations were made by Special Branch management in support of N4.
- N4 could not recall any prominent successes arising out of the deployment and there is nothing recorded on file.
- N4 felt that there was an adequate support and welfare system in place during the deployment but with hindsight, N4 felt that s/he could have made more use of the options available. B4 felt that the ability to seek meaningful support depended very much on the attitude of the SDS management at the time and cited a particular SDS manager as 'a person s/he could have taken anything to', however this was not the case for all senior officers.
- Following N4's withdrawal from the field, the stresses of SDS deployment became more recognised and systems were put in place to identify stress initiators at an earlier stage. This included external factors such as domestic circumstances and career issues outside of the SDS. Measures adopted included immediate counselling after traumatic experiences, the establishment of ex-SDS officers as informal mentor/counsellors and structured involvement of officer's partners in the support process.
Later it states:
- N4's deployment was largely unremarkable. N4 did not engage in any sexual relationships.
- The key associates with whom N4 had contact are of a similar age to N4 and do not have violent antecedents. N4 does not believe that they present a physical threat to N4 or N4's family.
- N4 had a cover employer throughout the deployment. To N4's knowledge this cover was not compromised or tested.
- There has been some exposure of N4's identity.
The inquiry added in the following facts:
- The [SDS] meetings were primarily an opportunity to pass and receive intelligence, submit expenses and air any problems or grievances. They were also an opportunity to share good/bad practice, socialise and generally assist team management.
- [Post undercover deployment] N4 devised a training package to new [Special Branch] recruits designed to introduce them to attending and reporting on political meetings.
Mitting wrote in November 2018:
- HN4 was convicted of an offence during his deployment. A notice of investigation for misconduct was served, which resulted in words of advice, but no further disciplinary measures. :: HN4 did not lie to the court. He pleaded guilty.
In the Undercover Policing Inquiry
- 11 May 2018, directed that anonymity applications for HN4 were to be filed by 31 May 2018 for both the MPS legal team and the Designated Lawyers team.
- 21 June 2018: announced that the Chair of the Inquiry, John Mitting was 'minded to' restrict the real name of HN4, but wanted to consider the application to restrict the cover name at a closed hearing to give the officer 'the opportunity to respond' to the Chair's Minded To decision.
- According to the June 2018, 'Minded To' note from Mitting:
- To permit the terms of reference of the Inquiry to be fulfilled, it is at least likely that evidence of and about the deployment must be given in public. This will require the evidence of HN4 to be provided or given in public as well.
- HN4 suffers from two medical conditions. In the opinion of Professor Fox, who has prepared a report on HN4 dated 16 April 2018, publication of the real name would be likely to have a severe and irreversible impact on one of them. I accept that opinion. It is not necessary to permit the Inquiry to fulfil its terms of reference that the real name of HN4 should be published... His opinion on the effect of publication of the cover name and/or of the provision of giving of evidence by HN4 is less clear. It is an issue which must be explored in a closed hearing.
- A closed note accompanies these reasons.
- 30 July 2018: following a closed hearing, Mitting is minded to restrict real and cover names on the basis of the 'minded to' of 21 June, and closed reasons.
- A final decision on the manner in which evidence is to be provided and given by HN4 will not be taken until the documentary evidence relating to the deployment has been obtained and analysed.
- 13 September 2018: following responses to the 'Minded To', open material relating to the publication of the real name will be published, with date for responding.
- 3 October 2018: material released, with responses to be submitted by 23 October:
- "In combination the documentary True Spies, the revelations of Peter Francis (and the fact that I am known to him...) the launch of the Inquiry... have all increased my anxiety and paranoia and in particular my fear of media intrusion."
- "I am sad and angry about the length of time this Inquiry is taking and that I will have to go on living with these feelings for years to come. I didn't have any sexual relationships whilst deployed and feel angry towards the undercover officers whose behaviour has led to this Inquiry."
- "In my view the anxiety I suffer from is directly related to this Inquiry and my work on the SDS/SOS."
- HN4 Medical gist - précis of two reports by Prof. Fox of 16 April and 9 July 2018 into health of HN4, which refers to HN4 having two medical conditions going back to the 1990s and that if there was a release of HN4's cover name it would cause an irreversible decline in the former undercover's health.
- 8 November 2018: Mitting ruled that both HN4's real and cover names will be restricted in the Inquiry.
- 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 11, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 21 June 2018.
- Sir John Mitting, Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Demonstration Squad and Special Duties Squad Ruling 13, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 8 November 2018.
- Impact Statement Of HN4, Metropolitan Police, 30 May 2018 (accessed 3 October 2018 via ucpi.org.uk).
- Duncan Hodge, HN4 Risk Assessment, Metropolitan Police, 17 May 2018 (accessed 3 October 2018 via ucpi.org.uk).
- Inquiry's gist of additional information from HN4’s closed risk assessment to be read with gisted risk assessment provided by the CL, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 October 2018.
- 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 Demonstrations Squad: Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 11 May 2018.
- Press notice - 'Minded to' decisions relating to anonymity applications: Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 21 June 2018.
- Counsel to the Inqury's Explanatory Note to accompany the Chairman's 'Minded To' Note 9 and Ruling 8 in respect of applications for restrictions over the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and Special Demonstration Squad: Update as at 21 June 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 21 June 2018.
- 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 name of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad - Update as at 30 July 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 30 July 2018.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sir John Mitting, Restriction Order Applications by HN4, HN13, HN25, HN30, HN82, HN96, HN200 and HN304 / Direction for NSCPs to respond to open evidence and apps in September Batch, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 2 October 2018.