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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: unknown
Deployment: late 1970s / early 1980s
'against groups whose principle activities during that time are outside the terms of reference of the Inquiry'

HN86 is the cipher given to a former Special Demonstration Squad undercover officer who was deployed in late 1970s / early 1980s 'against groups whose principle activities during that time are outside the terms of reference of the Inquiry'.[1] From 1993 to 1996 was head of the SDS, as Detective Chief Inspector. Left SDS for another post on 11 April 1996. On 21 April 1997 he took temporary control for six months of S Squad (the division which contained the SDS) due to illness of its Superintendent. They make appearances in the first two Operation Herne reports and the Ellison Review.[2][3]

The chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, John Mitting, has ruled the Inquiry will restrict the real and cover name on health grounds.[4]

For the N cipher system see N officers page. HN86 also appears to have been given the cipher HN1361.[5]

As an SDS undercover

Joined Metropolitan Police in 1970s, and went into Special Branch, from where he was recruited into the SDS. Deployed undercover in late 1970s / early 1980s. There was an understanding in the SDS that secrecy would be maintained and lifelong protection would be afforded.[6]

The risk assessment stated:[7]

N86 was recruited as a UCO by an SOS officer. There was no psychometric testing at the time. N86 was posted initially to the back office. Having been brought into the unit it was customary to be allocated a field officer (normally a [Detective Sergeant]) to groom you. There was an assumption of lifelong anonymity. N86 did not receive a home visit.
The SOS was subject to annual review, initially by the Home Office. The Commissioner made personal visits and commended officers, as did other senior management.

HN86 says they had no sexual relationships while deployed and were not arrested; they felt they received excellent support from their DCI.[7]

Of his time undercover, they state:[6]

[A period of time] into my deployment I requested that the deployment be terminated early. I found that had hit a brick wall mentally; my stress levels were constantly very high and this disguised normal peaks and troughs in emotion. I raised the issue with [a senior manager]. The confirmation that I could begin to withdraw came as a great relief. It took [some time] decision had been made.

The risk assessment adds: 'N86's UCO deployment was shorter than usual. N86 was permitted to vacate the role early due to the effect that it was having on her/his health'.[7]

As an SDS officer

According to HN86:[6]

I returned to the SOS as a supervisor [in the 1990s]. My experience undercover had given me an understanding of the mental pressure that undercover officers could be placed under. Reflecting this, I attempted to get a process started that provided for greater focus on officers' welfare during and after deployment for the role. I also oversaw the introduction of psychometric testing as a means of better assessing suitability for the role.

1993-1996 head of SDS as Det. Ch. Insp.; responsibilities included SDS recruitment & tasking. As such he was author of a document dated 24 September 1993 which referred to a 'new, violent anti-fascist group forming within Youth Against Racism'. Youth Against Racism in Europe, a group set up by the Socialist Party was infiltrated by Peter Francis.

From the risk assessment:[7]

In 1993 N86 completed a report regarding training and selection methods. N86 concluded that mental and physical health was paramount, and proposed a safety / welfare system. N86 adopted a code of conduct. The report proposed improving the welfare and management of SOS UC's, bringing them into line with other units.
That same collection of papers covers N86's involvement in discussions with senior management reviewing performance indicators, the value of training, and the feasibility of infiltrating /targeting specific groups. The papers continue to review psychological testing, and whether training programmes were suitable for the needs of long term SOS deployments.
A review of documents held on N86 gives clear understanding of the amount of time and effort N86 put into trying to address welfare and stress issues. N86 realised that they impacted heavily upon her/ his staff, and doubtless s/he would have been alert to them as a result of her/his own experience when deployed. /he introduced a variety of schemes including using former UCOs as mentors, but s/he was not restricted to simply that programme. N86 raised the potential for stress management in a variety of ways. For example, N86 was part of the discussions that reviewed what duties UCs should be given at the conclusion of their deployments. tatement N86 wrote in 1994 covering the selection of police officers for undercover work and their subsequent support is included behind Appendix K.
What is also evident is that N86 was involved in sensitive areas of work at a management level. N86 is involved in a number of discussions, decisions, and dissemination of information which post-date her/his managerial role on the SDS.
N86 made various recommendations around suitability of potential UCs including N43, with whom N86 was heavily involved in terms of recruitment and deployment.
N86 introduced psychometric testing when s/he was a DI on the unit.
There is mention of N86, as discussed above, bolstering the 'mentoring' system into the SOS during 1992. The risk assessment sets out the nominals over which N86 has a supervisory role whilst on the SOS. It also describes the arrests of one UCO that N86 supervised. In addition, it also discusses the authorisations that N86 gave in relation to a number of UCOs and the pastoral support offered to another.
When N86 relinquished her/his post as an officer in charge of the SOS, her/his DCS wrote a report stating that her/his contribution had been excellent, particularly in the areas of welfare, recruitment and development of her/his staff.

HN86 also authored the 1993/1994 SDS Annual Report which discussed left-wing campaigning around the death of Stephen Lawrence, and is central to the claims of Peter Francis regarding racism in the SDS and the tasking against the Lawrence family. He refused to provide a statement to Operation Herne, though did provide one for the Ellison Review, in which he denied much of what whistleblower Peter Francis had said about tasking against the Lawrences. (Ellison 6.5 & 6.9(c)-(d); Herne II, 26.1.19)[2][3] DOUBLE CHECK HERNE REFERENCES

This is partly responded to in the risk assessment, which writes (N43 is Peter Francis):[7]

N43 alleged that N86 was central to their claim of having been tasked to gather any intelligence capable of being used to undermine the Lawrence family campaign. In addition, there was an allegation that N86 had not properly reflected the credit due to a black officer for a valuable piece of intelligence.
N86's written response states that s/he had not used any expressions involving racist overtones. S/he denied s/he had failed to recognise the contribution of a black officer in gathering intelligence. S/he denied that there was any tasking against the Lawrence family during her/his service with the SOS, an allegation that had come from N43 who had been tasked towards 'Youth against Racism in Europe' (YRE) in North East London. N86 denied being provided with a report that contained personal information about Mrs. Lawrence. S/he comments upon the role of SOS to infiltrate groups, some of whom would wish to make political capital over the Stephen Lawrence campaign. N43's Central allegation is that N86 pressurised him/her to obtain information that could be used to smear the Lawrence family, an allegation categorically denied by N86.
S/he accepts that s/he disagreed with N43, as s/he believed N43 required an administrative role within SB after the UC deployment whereas N43 wished to pursue a surveillance career.

From the risk assessment:[7]

The vast majority of the documentation relating to this period covers N86's generic responsibilities. These would include:
  • Targeting strategies
  • Commendation reports
  • Miscellaneous staff files
  • Reports covering arrests of UCs
  • Documents re training proposals
  • Staff welfare issues
  • Staff promotion or move correspondence
  • Extension of duty reports
  • Correspondence about SDS recruitment
  • Overseas travel authorisations
  • Issues concerning the 'Mclibel' trial
  • An ALF plot to contaminate Lucozade
  • Intelligence recording around the Poll Tax riot
  • A variety of prospective ALF attacks
  • Training issues
  • Interviewing candidates

Promoted to Det. Ch. Insp.,(during his time in the SDS)[7] he subsequently moved on. For a few months in late 1990s, Acting Superintendent of 'S Squad', which had SDS in its purview. This was as sick leave for the Superintendent at the time. Left the MPS in late 1990s / early 2000s to take up another role. This coincided with a period of illness, and in early 2000s left work with new employer on medical grounds. They subsequently moved abroad. They consider their period of employment in the police as very stressful and having brought on the ill health, so revisiting that period causes fear there will be a health relapse.[6]

Other material

Received a number of commendations during their career.[7]

Post undercover, they worked in sensitive areas in police. At one point 'N86's opinion was sought on the proposed creation of a National Training Scheme for UCOs, as well as other factors affecting UCO deployments'.[7]

The Inquiry's gist of a medical examination of HN86 which took place in March 2018, stated: [8]

Dr Singh diagnoses HN86 as having both a generalised anxiety disorder and a panic disorder with longstanding symptoms. His mental state has worsened since the onset of the Inquiry. Dr Singh concludes that it is highly likely hat HN86’s mental state will destabilise and his illness will become worse, including the likely onset of additional symptoms, if his real or undercover identities are released. Dr Singh’s opinion is that HN86 will find any direct engagement with Public Inquiry extremely stressful.

The risk assessor found the risk of physical harm if only cover name released was low, but was high if real name was made public.[7]

In the Undercover Policing Inquiry

  • 19 Apr 2018: directed that any applications for anonymity to be filed by 24 April 2018 by MPS legal team, or 27 April for the Designated Lawyers team.[9]
  • 14 Nov 2017: extent of restriction sought unclear; extension sought for MPS to supply application.[10]
  • 23 May 2018: Mitting wrote he was minded to restrict both HN86's real and cover names,[11] writing:[1]
HN86 is in his 60s. He was deployed as an undercover officer in the late 1970s and early 1980s against groups whose principal activities during that time are outside the terms of reference of the Inquiry. With the permission of his managers, his deployment was ended prematurely in the interests of his health. He was the Detective Chief Inspector in operational charge of the SDS for a period during the 1990s. He introduced changes to enhance the welfare of deployed officers. He has important evidence to give about that and other matters to the Inquiry. Responsible journalists either know, or can readily discover, his true identity.
HN86 has, for over 20 years, suffered from a illness, which he categorises as beginning with a "nervous breakdown" in the late 1990s. Dr Jagmohan Singh, a consultant psychiatrist, diagnosis the condition as either or both "panic disorder" and "generalised anxiety disorder". He is currently prescribed medication for this condition. In the opinion of Dr Singh, expressed in his report of 5 April 2018, he will find any direct engagement with the Inquiry "extremely stressful" and disclosure of his real or cover name will destabilise his mental health further.
HN86 does not live in the United Kingdom. The application for a restriction order made by the designated lawyers for HN86 is expressly founded on the premise that "it is in the public interest for HN86 to be enabled to participate as fully as possible in providing evidence to the Inquiry ... by mitigating personal harm to HN86 that might otherwise prevent engagement". I infer from this statement that he is willing to provide evidence to the Inquiry, provided that proper steps are taken to protect his health and welfare, including the making of a restriction order in respect of his real and cover name. This is a price worth paying to secure his evidence. Not imposing a restriction on publication of his real or cover name would impair the effectiveness of the Inquiry....
  • 9 July 2018: provisional decision to restrict real and cover name[12] with application material being made public:[5]
It was also directed that any objections to Mitting's intention to grant the restriction order to be made by 20 July 2018.[13]

30 July 2018: final ruling that real and cover name cannot be published, writing:[4]

It is submitted that his work as a manager can be considered on the basis of documentary records and of the evidence of those he managed. This will not be an adequate means of getting to the truth about his management. During his time as a manager, he was one of two senior officers who directed the deployment of undercover officers against justice groups, including those identified as black justice groups. One of the issues which the Inquiry must examine is the possibility that these deployments were influenced by conscious or unconscious racism on the part of either or both of the two officers. One of them is dead. There is an allegation likely to e supported by evidence, that both officers expressed the reasons for the deployments in racist terms. It is of critical importance to the Inquiry that the is issue is thoroughly investigated. Hence the need to obtain evidence from HN86 about his management of the SDS. What occurred during his deployment is of lesser importance.


  1. 1.0 1.1 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.
  2. 2.0 2.1 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
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mick Creedon, Operation Herne Report 1: Covert Identities, Metropolitan Police Service, July 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 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.
  5. 5.0 5.1 List of documents relating to SOS officers - published 09 July 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 9 July 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 'HN86', HN86 Impact Statement, Metropolitan Police Service, 3 May 2017, published 9 July 2018 via
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 David Reid, N86 - Risk Assessment, Metropolitan Police Service, 13 June 2018, published 9 July 2018 via
  8. Proposed gist of HN86 medical report: Dr Singh dated 8 May 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 8 June 2018, published 9 July 2018.
  9. 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.
  10. Counsel to the Inquiry's Explanatory note to accompany the 'Minded-To' Note (2) in respect for restrictions over the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 14 November 2017.
  11. 'Minded to' decisions relating to anonymity applications: Special Demonstration Squad Ruling on HN122 , Undercover Policing Inquiry, 23 May 2018.
  12. Publication of documents relating to anonymity applications: National Public Order Intelligence Unit & Special Demonstration Squad, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 9 July 2018.
  13. 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.