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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: 1980s

HN9 is the cipher given to a former Special Demonstration Squad undercover officer who was deployed into one group in the 1980s (and used the identity of a deceased child[1]). They were later a cover officer for undercovers deployed by the unit in the 2000s. Currently in their 50s.[2] The chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, John Mitting, has ruled the Inquiry will restrict publication of both real and cover names of HN9.[3]

HN9 was also a cover officer for the SDS in the 2000s, and used a cover name as part of that work - something they are also seeking a restriction order over.[1]

Has since retired from the police.[1]

For the N cipher system see N officers page.

As an SDS officer

HN9 was informally interviewed for SDS and had no psychometric testing; they were initially posted to the back office of the unit. There was no specific training, though they did look at the Tradecraft Manual. Regarding assurances of future anonymity, the clear implication was that N9 would be looked after - it was not written down. The (gisted) Risk Assessment for HN9 also reported:[4]

N9 stated that he/she did not enter into any sexual relationships. N9 considered SDS a disciplined role, and comprised of disciplined officers. Sexual relationships would, in N9's opinion, have been frowned upon. The risk assessor found no evidence to the contrary in any other documents.
N9 was arrested but released without charge.

The personal statement from HN9 said:[1]

I had no sexual contact with anyone, male of female. I was never Agent Provocateur. I did not engage in any serious criminality. I was arrested for flyposting but released. It was not my ideal to go fly posting and I did not supply the material. I never attended court or gave evidence in my cover name.

HN9 was mentioned by the undercover N81 in his interview: 'N9 later told me that it was quite usual for SDS management to arrange meetings between operatives and outside persons at the management’s homes. This was because such persons would not be able to attend SDS safe houses.' (Ellison, p. 232).[5] This was in relation to the controversial meeting between HN81 and Richard Walton, then of the Lawrence Review Team.

Declares that they were proud of what they did in the SDS and that it has all been poisoned since, are concerned that if their past comes out friends will ask them about it. They also stated:[1]

The risk at the time was not small and I lived my life then and since with limitations and these limitations have also affected my family...
I do recall that I was assured verbally that what I was doing was secret, even within Special Branch, and that any private contact with former colleagues in SB should be carefully assessed. Equally I was advised to withdraw from private friendships that may become inquisitive as my appearance changed.
The quid pro quo for my sacrifices should be secrecy over my real and cover name.


I was given assurances of confidentiality... I later recruited people to the SDS and now feel guilty because of the Inquiry. I gave assurances of confidentiality to recruits after their formal selection.

Later they state that one person they targeted is a core participant, and make references to a lose group who woul be in contact with each other who would be keen to work out who infiltrated them, though:

I do not think there was suspicion about me by [the targeted group] at the time, but in hindsight my deployment had classic SDS hallmarks.

Other material

According to the gist of the medical assessment of HN9 carried out by Dr Busuttil:

It was Dr Busuttil's opinion that should [HN9's] true or cover identities be revealed, on the balance of probability this woudl exacerbate his Adjustment disorder and he would become a very serious risk of completed suicide. ... Dr Busuttil confirmed whilst protective steps in a hearing might mitigate some of the impact, that if HN9 strongly suspects that his cover name or real name are likely to be disclosed, then irrespective of the measures his suicide risk is likely to be extremely high, and very real.

The Risk Assessment also noted that HN9 has significant psychological health problems, exacerbated by the Inquiry which is causing a high level of stress. HN9 also considers the risk to to themselves to be 'very significant'. However, the risk assessor found the risk of physical attack from the group HN9 targeted as low.[4]

In a personal impact statement, HN9 claims that they 'have suffered from severe mental problems, brought about solely by the Inquiry and the prospect of my real and cover name', and is contemplating suicide.[1]

There may be no physical risk to me, but the risk is to my mental health and my wider family and the stress of the Inquiry, which is not to be underestimated.

Also in their personal statement, HN9 wrote:[1]

Firstly, I am concerned that the MPS will not have all the documents related to my deployment for 2 main reasons. The first is that they would not bear my name or signature so that they may not be found, and the second is that I witnessed shredding of intelligence reports by a young DC which I have already told Operation Herne about, although they misrepresented me in the first draft so that it looked like I was involved in shredding which I certainly was not. In the last 6 months of the old E squad I happened to see a young DC with a stack of secret pink files. I asked him what he was up to and he said he was deciding whether they should to go to Kew, be retained or be shredded. It so happened that an open file had my intelligence reports on show. The DC was going to shred it and I did not interfere as I did not want to draw attention to my role or the SOS which were both secret.

In the Undercover Policing Inquiry

  • 15 Jan 2018, granted further time to provide the Inquiry with information being sought in relation to their restriction order application.[6][7]
  • 26 April 2018: the Inquiry Chair, John Mitting indicated he wass minded to grant a restriction order preventing release of either the cover or real name of HN9, stating:[2]
No risk to the safety of HN9 arises from any member of the target group. None of them poses any risk of interference with private or family life. But for the factor mentioned below, I would have refused to make a restriction order in respect of cover name.
The factor mentioned is that Dr. Busuttil, examining HN9 found that should even the cover name be released, HN9 would be 'at high risk of developing a severe depressive episode', or even consider suicide. On question whether mitigating steps could be taken, Busuttill said notwithstanding, the suicide risk remained 'extremely high'.[2]
  • 3 July 2018: Inquiry reiterates Mitting's intention to restrict both cover and real names,[8] and publish open versions of applications:[9]
Personal Impact Statement, 24 November 2017.
It was also directed that any objections to Mitting's intention to grant the restriction order to be made by 20 July 2018.[10]
  • 30 July 2018: final ruling that real and cover name cannot be published.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 'HN9', Personal Impact Statement (redacted), Metropolitan Police Service, 24 November 2017 (accessed via
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 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.
  3. 3.0 3.1 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.
  4. 4.0 4.1 David Reid, N9 - Risk Assessment (gisted), Metropolitan Police Service, 10 May 2018 (via
  5. Mark Ellison, The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review - Volume 1: Possible corruption and the role of undercover policing in the Stephen Lawrence case, Gov.UK, March 2014.
  6. Press notice - ‘Minded-to’ anonymity: Special Demonstration Squad Officers (HN13, HN296, HN304, HN339, HN340, HN354, HN356/124, HN61, HN819, HN109, HN9, HN66), Undercover Policing Inquiry, 15 January 2018.
  7. 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 3, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 15 January 2018.
  8. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named
  9. List of applications and evidence published on 03 July 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 July 2018.
  10. 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.