HN6 is the cipher given to a former Special Demonstration Squad] undercover officer who targeted three groups in the 1990s. On 30 July 2018 John Mitting, Chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry made a final ruling that HN6's real and cover name cannot be published by the Inquiry. For the N cipher system see N officers page.
As SDS undercover officer
According to their personal impact statement, they joined the SDS in the 1990s and spent several months in back office before being deployed into three groups.
They had heard of the SDS while working in another unit, having worked with a former undercover from the unit. Being recommend by another undercover, he was then approached by the SDS. They were visited at home by an SDS manager who spoke to both SDS and their partner. There was no formal training and anonymity was guaranteed verbally. According to the gisted risk assessment 'N6 believed the guarantee extended to moving home and preventing compromises that may undermine SDS operations'.
They were arrested in their cover name but not prosecuted; their line manager was aware of the arrest. Says they did not enter into any relationships. Linked to other undercovers during their deployment.
There were two meetings a week with other SDS officers:
- were issues such as their safety could be addressed. N6 also recalls a psychiatrist attending one of these meetings. The meetings also allowed for the exchange of intelligence.
HN6 deployment was concerned to have had a number of prominent successes and would be of interest to the media.
NH6 Told their medical examiner that they 'had a close relationship with one individual targeted and their family'.
- When I joined Special Branch I signed the Official Secrets Act; we were told that the SOS was top secret. There was never a question that someone outside the branch would be told about what you did; it was expressly stated that the Branch was a secret place. You wouldn't have been in the Branch very long if you told anyone about what you did.
- There is no way that anyone would have agreed to do the work on the SOS if they had thought it may be disclosed that they were a spy, it was an expectation that an undercover officer would be protected.
- The entire set up of the SOS at the time included working with the security services who would be involved in electing our targets and debriefing us when we finished our deployment, and the Home Office, who I understood were authorising what we were doing. I met with officers from the security services and had a security service code number. This reassured me and others that what we were doing was legitimate and authorised.
According to the gist of HN6 medical evidence:
- Dr Busuttil confirms that HN6 has had mental health problems since the conclusion of the undercover work, and that the deployment directly caused those mental health problems. Those mental health problems are susceptible to treatment although the prognosis is guarded. At the date of the interview, HN6 had not had any treatment, but recommendations for specific treatment are contained in the report.In Dr Busuttil’s opinion, disclosure of the real or cover name would be likely to exacerbate HN6’s problems and the response to treatment intervention would be poor. Disclosure of the real or cover name after treatment would be likely to lead to a relapse of the conditions leading HN6 to suffer such conditions indefinitely.
From the personal impact statement:
- The work on the SOS altered my life, for years after my deployment my spouse and I would have a code word that we agreed on if I noticed someone who may recognise me from my deployment whilst we were out in public.
- I found it difficult to maintain a sense of normality in my real life whilst deployed and found it stressful maintaining both my real and cover life. One way some people avoided the stress of maintaining both was to remain in the field. I tried to get away from the field whenever I could, which I think is how I became so anxious. It is only now looking back I realise how pretty bad the effect on my life of this work was.
They go on to state:
- I think I lost my police career as a result of my deployment. I had wanted to leave the SDS early but was taken to the pub and asked not to [as it would be difficult to find a replacement]... at that time. After my experiences and at the end of my deployment, I just wanted to make a clean start, so [I retained in an entirely different career].
- Psychologically, I suffered a decade of nightmares following my deployment. They would often be about being confronted at home by one of the activists or when out with my spouse. I continue to feel paranoid about being recognised and identified as a spy by my ex-wearies. This could be sparked by as little as finding cigarette butts outside my home.
Fears his and his wife's careers would be affected if name made public. The risk assessor found that the risk of physical harm to HN6 if real name disclosed is high and says some of HN6's former associates were known for violence, firearms and ability to conduct research. They also stated: 'most associates of HN6 in the group(s) infiltrated would likely have previous experience of harassing their targets.'
In the Undercover Policing Inquiry
- 19 April 2018: directed that any applications were to be filed by 24 April 2018 by MPS legal team, or 27 April for the Designated Lawyers team.
- 23 April 2018: application over real and cover names made by Metropolitan Police.
- 23 May 2018: Chair of the Inquiry, John Mitting, wrote that he was minded to restrict publication of both real and cover name of HN6, saying:
- The nature of the deployment gave rise to real risks to the safety of HN6. If the true identity were to be disclosed, HN6 would face a real risk of violence, principally from associates or sympathisers of the groups. There is a real risk that, if the cover name of HN6 were to be published, it would lead to disclosure of the real name. Further, the deployment caused long term mental health problems for HN6, which are susceptible to treatment. In the opinion of Dr Busuttil, who examined HN6 in 2017, disclosure of the real or cover name would be likely to exacerbate his problems and to interfere with treatment for them. Nothing that I know of the circumstances of the deployment or of HN6's conduct of it suggests that it is necessary to run any of these risks...
- A closed note accompanies these reasons.
- 3 July 2018: directed that any objections to Mitting's intention to restrict the real name to be made by 20 July 2018.
- 9 July 2018: provisional decision: restrict real and cover names with application documents released.
- Open application for a restriction order (anonymity) re: HN6, Metropolitan Police Service, 23 April 2018.
- HN6 Gisted Risk Assessment, 13 June 2018 (David Reid).
- Proposed gist of HN6 medical report: Dr. Busuttil dated 31 July 2017
- Personal Impact Statement, 24 April 2018.
- It was also directed that any objections to Mitting's intention to grant the restriction order to be made by 20 July 2018.
- 30 July 2018: final ruling that real and cover name cannot be published.
- 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.
- 'HN6'Personal Impact Statement (redacted), Metropolitan Police Service, 24 April 2018, published 9 July 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
- David Reid, HN6 Gisted Risk Assessment, Metropolitan Police Service, 13 June 2018, published 9 July 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
- Proposed gist of HN6 medical report: Dr. Busuttil dated 31 July 2017, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 8 June 2018, published 9 July 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
- 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, 19 April 2018.
- Open application for a restriction order (anonymity) re: HN6, Metropolitan Police Service, 23 April 2018, published 9 July 2018 via ucpi.org.uk.
- 'Minded to' decisions relating to anonymity applications: Special Demonstration Squad Ruling on HN122, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 23 May 2018.
- 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 9 and Ruling 8, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 23 May 2018.
- Publication of documents relating to anonymity applications: National Public Order Intelligence Unit & Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 9 July 2018.
- List of documents relating to SOS officers - published 09 July 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 9 July 2018.
- Sir John Mitting, Applications for restriction orders in respect of real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad and of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit - Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 9 July 2018.