Mike Ferguson

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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: Michael/Mike?
Deployment: late 1960s - early 1970s
Anti-apartheid Movement London, maybe other groups too

++Last Updated December 2020++

Michael (‘Mike’) John Ferguson was a Metropolitan Police Special Branch police officer, who served in the Special Demonstration Squad as an undercover operative and perhaps as a manager- in the late 1970s, he is said to have led the unit for a few years.

In 2002, True Spies, the BBC a documentary about undercover policing, he was named as the SDS officer who infiltrated the anti-apartheid campaign Stop the Seventy Tour.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry confirmed his real name because it was already in the public domain, but ruled not to disclose his cover name. The Inquiry has not revealed the exact years of his deployment, nor the groups he targeted.

In the Undercover Policing Inquiry Ferguson is also known as HN135.

Caveat on the sources

Poster to mobilize for the Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) and the Fair Cricket Campaign. (AAM Archives)

The information on Mike Ferguson's deployment as an undercover was reliant on just two individuals. Further corroborating sources, for instance from those who were infiltrated are not available. At the time of writing, the Inquiry had not released any files or further information on him either.[1][2]

Since the last update in December 2020, the Inquiry has released many reports authored by Ferguson, while his then-colleagues have made statements about what the remember of him. A more extensive profile is in the pipeline.

This first profile is thus based, partly, on what Wilf Knight who claimed to have been Ferguson's supervisor, chose to disclose when interviewed by Peter Taylor for his BBC series True Spies in 2002.[3] He spoke in detail about the activities of his agent, using his full name, Mike Ferguson, which was extra-ordinary as most interviewees in the series chose to remain anonymous, and were given a random cover name. Taylor had the cooperation of the Metropolitan Police, though many in Special Branch were unhappy about the revelations about the secret unit, which it is now known was the SDS. (For more on the making of True Spies, see Eveline Lubbers, BBC True Spies Series: Police happy to cisclose information when it suits them, 24 March 2016 SBF.uk.) As Ferguson had died (in 1999) by the time of the BBC interview, and Knight has passed away since (in 2008), and those spied on don't remember Ferguson, the opportunities for fact-checking were limited.

The other source used, is a 2015 article in The Guardian, written by Ferguson's daughter Clare Carson, “My dad, the undercover officer”. The occasion was the publication of her novel Orkney Twilight - the first of what would be a trilogy - based on memories of her father who had been a member of the undercover unit.[4][5] Obviously, the novel is is a work of fiction and it is impossible to know what – if anything – is based on the facts of Carson’s experience – including what her father may have told her. The Guardian interview does, however, offer some insight.

This profile, accordingly, is a based on rather limited sources.

Spying on the Stop The Seventies Tour

Poster to mobilize for the Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) protest at Twickenham, 31 Jan 1970 and the Fair Cricket Campaign. (AAM Archives)

1970 was a pivotal year, both internationally and in the UK for the anti-apartheid movement. At this point, South Africa was expelled from the Olympic movement and in the UK a sporting boycott was called for in cricket and rugby.[6] The Stop the Seventy Tour campaign organised demonstrations and direct action at every match played by the Springbok rugby team on its 23-game tour of Britain, with Peter Hain as their spokesperson. The son of a white couple who had to leave South Africa for their support of the ANC, Hain became the face of the STST (his book on it Pitch Battles is coming out in 2021). He would go on to have a career as a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Neath between 1991 and 2015 - including two periods as Secretary of State.[7] Faced with widespread disruption, the following summer’s cricket tour was cancelled.

True Spies

The documentary True Spies introduced Knight as 'the handler' of one of the first SDS infiltrators to target the anti-apartheid movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We now know this is not true. Knight was never in the SDS and the undercovers never had handlers during this period. We can only assume that Knight learned of Fergusons activties from Special Branch gossip and/or working woith him at some point after this.[8]

Knight described how the SDS spied on anti-apartheid campaigners, and how his undercover officer infiltrated the Stop the Seventy Tour:

Mike worked his way into the organisation by his [...] shall I say his enthusiasm, his dedication, his skill, his intelligence, worked his way up to being Peter Hain's number two. I don't think Peter Hain ever, ever realised that he had a police officer as his number two.

In a Guardian-article to promote his series, Peter Taylor wrote:[9]

Mike provided the intelligence that enabled the police to deal with the disruption planned for a big rugby game between the Springboks and the Barbarians at Twickenham. The demonstrators planned to throw smoke bombs and metal tacks onto the pitch, but thanks to Mike the police were ready with sand and electric magnets. News film of the time clearly shows them being used,

Knight states in True Spies:

The intention was for the demonstrators, just prior to half time, to throw flare bombs, smoke bombs and metal tacks onto the pitch. Mike Ferguson passed that information on, it was passed on to the uniform, and at the appointed time officers were there with sand buckets and metal magnets and although they threw as many as they could onto the pitch they were snuffed out, taken away and the players didn't know that it had taken place and when they came out after half time the game carried on.

Knight also says that campaigners, due to the apparent forewarning that the authorities had of this and other actions, suspected that there was an informer within their ranks:

Later on at a meeting Peter Hain felt that there quite rightly was a spy in their midst and there was one poor devil that Mike Ferguson looked down the room and said I think it's him, and he got thrown out, and Ferguson survived - bless him.[3]

Deflecting attention by pointing the finger of suspicion at another campaigner was a diversionary tactic was part of the undercovers' modus operandi.

Peter Hain, also interviewed in True Spies confirmed that at the time the campaign did suspect there was some kind of state surveillance of their organisation, but said they did not allow themselves to get distracted by 'fringe issues'.[3][10] More recently, Peter Hain and other Anti-Apartheid Campaigners of the time have said they do not recall either Mike Ferguson, or someone who could have been Hain's number two at that time as Wilff Knight claimed (Ferguson may have used his own first name, or an entirely other cover name). Nor could they recall Michael Scott, a second undercover officers infiltrating STST, from 1971 to 1976 (see below).[11][12][13]

True Spies reveals Mike Ferguson's full name

Many of the police officers in True Spies were interviewed using a pseudonym or just their first name, some even were filmed with their face kept in the shadows. Knight talks about 'Mike' most of the time, but does reveal his full name eventally.[14]

True Spies was made with the permission of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and might therefore be considered a PR piece for the secret state rather than an accurate account. Meanwhile, others within Special Branch were less than happy with the spotlight on their secret unit, the SDS, especially in regard to revealing the full name of one of them.

Special Branch and the anti-apartheid movement

There is substantial evidence of Special Branch (SB) interest in the Anti-Apartheid Movement. In A History of Special Branch, Ray Wilson and Ian Adams, two former SB officers, write that the Home Office began drawing plans to counter the AAM protests from 1969:[15]

A central factor in formulating police strategies to counter breaches of the peace was intelligence supplied by SB in the form of regular reports to A.S. department (responsible for the preservation of public order) and to the Home Office. These reports were prepared by DI Gerry Donker, an officer with comprehensive knowledge of South African politics, and was based on a source close to the leadership of the Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) committee, which was supplemented by SB coverage of STST’s meetings and rallies by surveillance.

Indeed, Special Branch files that have been released dating from the years 1969-1970 and 1980-1995 confirm this interest. Quite a few of the early files have indeed been complied and signed by Gerard Donker.[16] His reports reveal that Donker also made inquiries himself, for instance into Hain's background, concluding that although he was the public face of the campaign the 'real instigator' was his 'strong-willed' mother.

The authors Wilson and Adams also mention the source ‘close to the leadership of the STST committee’ - but this may as well been taken from the interviews in True Spies in 2002, as no reference is given in the book that was published in 2010.

Potential Provocations

Ferguson passed on information about the plans of the STST campaigners, which enabled the police to take precautionary measures, Wilf Knight said in the True Spies documentary. A few specific occasions that involved Ferguson are also mentioned in Special Branch files that have been released since are discussed here, including eye witness testimony that suggests Ferguson may had acted as an agent provocateur during his deployment.

"Bushy Beard" throwing smoke bombs

Smokebomb at Twickenham, 31 Jan 1970.

Knight mentioned a rugby game between the Springboks and the Barbarians at Twickenham where flare bombs and smoke bombs would be thrown onto the field, and because of Ferguson's intelligence, the police stood ready with sand to put them out. Knight also said about the events:

Although [the activists] threw as many as they could onto the pitch they were snuffed out, taken away and the players didn't know that it had taken place and when they came out after half time the game carried on.

The Twickenham match where the smoke bombs were thrown took place on 31 January 1970.[17] BBC footage of the match, shown in True Spies, shows clouds of orange smoke while the players are on the field, which undermines Knight’s claim that the team never noticed what happened.[18] Daffydd Ladd has a clear memory, albeit 49 years later, of a Twickenham game where smoke bombs were thrown:

Orange smoke at Twickenham, 31 Jan 1970. True Spies, Ep.1 at 28.50min
I was pretty active in STST and somehow ended up throwing smoke bombs onto the pitch with a heavy set guy who had a bushy beard. We were in a crowd and he held out these little smoke pellets (used for fumigating greenhouses I think) and I lit them and he threw them. A snatch squad came for us and he knocked one of them down and I got arrested - and then given a bit of a beating. I do not know who bushy beard was and do not recall meeting him again. I always thought that was a set up.

Carson actually mentions her father’s ‘bushy beard’ in her Guardian article.[4]

Ladd only saw the BBC footage after someone forwarded his recollection to us. He said:

This looks pretty much like the Twickenham match I attended. It was orange smoke. When I was marched off to the holding place under the stadium, my 'escort' spent a while banging my head against a wooden post and I heard a voice saying 'don't worry, I have got his number'. That was Peter Hain.’

In the film clip, Hain can be seen being carried away himself just a bit later.

If indeed it was Ferguson with the ‘bushy beard’ who was throwing the smoke bombs, encouraging Ladd to incite them, this would be the act of an agent-provocateur - which has precedent within the deployment of other SDS and NPIOU undercover officers.[19]

Metal tacks and mirrors

Another mystery remaining is the story of the “metal tacks” with “extremely sharp corners”.[20]

A Special Branch file dated 10 April 1970 reported that ‘one of the tactics suggested’ to interrupt cricket matches was to ‘the use of mirrors to shine into the players’ faces at appropriate moments’. A ‘secret source’ obtained a sample, a ‘plated sheet metal’ with ‘extremely sharp corners and edges which could prove dangerous if they were to be thrown into a large crowd’.

However, according to the police files, finding out who was responsible for the manufacture, distribution turned out to be pretty difficult. The only document they reference was the ‘Newsletter’ of the Britain Continental Organisation: ‘25,000 small metal mirrors have been issued to spotlight the game. Remember to apply the STST nearer June, and give as many as you can to your friends – FREE’.

Otherwise, nothing but snippets of information were collected. An activist called Mike Shrapnell was overheard at the first STST conference at Hampstead Town Hall (7 March 1970) saying ‘get your mirror here’ but was not distributing any. At the second STST conference in Camden Townhall on 5 April 1970, Shrapnell reportedly spoke from the floor, asking people interested in the mirrors to leave their name and address with him. Provided he knew the persons were to be trusted, he would arrange the delivery, the Special Branch file says.[20]

At the same meeting, Ernest Rodker, now taking part in the official Undercover Policing Inquiry,[21] was said to be warning people against the sharp edges, and saying people should bound them with adhesive tape so it wouldn’t be treated as an offensive weapon by the police.

Informants of the police did not manage to get their hands on any further mirror though, the response they got from several groups was that they were not to be handed out until nearer to the date of the cricket matches.[20]

Did the mirrors really exist?

Electric magnets at Twickenham, 31 Jan 1970. True Spies Ep. 1 at 29min.

The released Special Branch files do not make clear if any mirrors were intercepted after this 10th April report in the weeks before the cricket matches were supposed to start. It is very unlikely that they have been used, however, because as a result of the STST campaign, the 1970 cricket tour was cancelled at the very last moment - in May.[22]

There is genuine doubt whether the metal mirrors really existed. Jonathan Rosenhead, part of STST, says he never saw the mirrors.

I read about the mirrors in the press, but never believed in their reality. My view then was that either it was an invented story by some anti-apartheid campaigners to spook the tourists and the authorities, or it was an invented story by the other side to discredit the anti-apartheid activists.

The mirrors were to be used during the cricket tour in the summer - as any distraction in the batsman’s eye would cause the game to be halted (this happens frequently during a match). In a rugby tour, which took place in the darker winter season, they would probably be ignored. In the Special Branch file cited above, dated 10 April 1970, the only suggestion the mirrors could ‘be thrown into a large crowd’ comes from the police.

Though the footage of the rugby match with the smoke bombs also shows two officers using metal detectors on the field,[23] it is unclear whether metal objects have indeed been used at that occasion. If indeed there were sharp metal objects on the pitch then the game would have bee delayed or cancelled. The footage shows the play goes on.

The throwing metal tacks may have been a police smear, as Rosenhead suggested. Even the metal detectors may have been brought in as part of an effort to discredit the campaign.

Overlap with other undercover officers

Other undercover officers spying on the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry has released the cover names of several Special Demonstration Squad officers who also infiltrated the Anti-Apartheid movement: Peter Fredericks (1971), Stewart Goodman (1971), Mike Hartley (1982-1985) and Mark Kerry (1988-1992).[24][25]

Michael Scott (1971 – 1976) was an undercover officer who also infiltrated Stop The Seventies Tour.[26][27][28] Two of the anti-apartheid activists, Jonathan Rosenhead and Ernest Rodker have been granted ‘core participant’ status because they were arrested in 1972 with a group of STST activists one of whom was undercover officer Scot, using his cover name.[29]

Contemporary undercover officers.

Many of the first SDS infiltrators were tasked to enter groups involved in the Vietnam Solidarity Committee, see the profiles of John Graham, Bill Lewis, Dick Epps, HN322, Don de Freitas and Margaret White (all names are aliases).

Possible involvement in the Grunwick strike

In Wilson and Adams' History of Special Branch it is said that the SDS supplied ‘up-to-date information on what the [police] were likely to encounter’ at the Grunwick Industrial Dispute (1976-1978). This information was passed on by the senior officer, who may have been Ferguson at this time.[30][3]


Mike Ferguson with his daughter in the early 1970s. (The Guardian.)

No-one who remembers Mike Ferguson has come forward, and the Inquiry has refused to release the cover name he used. So the only indications of what kind of person he was, come from the recollections of his daughter Clare Carson. The article she wrote for The Guardian focussed on her memories, and how things fell into place when she learned about the SDS, or ‘the Hairies’ as she knew them. (Undercover officers in those days grew their hair and beard to fit in – hence the nickname.) These are the most relevant quotes (The entire article My dad, the undercover policeman is up at The Guardian).

He wore a donkey jacket and dirty jeans. He drove a very old Bedford van. When he wasn’t working, he left it parked on the verge outside our house. It was covered with dirt and lots of people had written on it. Somebody once scrawled, “I’m a dirty Bedford.” The Bedford had been crossed out and replaced with “bastard”.

By the late 1970s, her dad was the senior officer in the SDS but left after getting fed-up by the paperwork and work-place politics. Carson recalled:

My father ended up running the unit for a couple of years in the late 70s. I remember sitting with him around this time – 1978 – and watching a television programme called The Sandbaggers. It was about a unit of secret agents. Neil D Burnside, the man in charge, spent all his days in Whitehall negotiating with ministers and bureaucrats. I thought it was the most tedious programme ever. My dad loved it because, in his view, it was completely realistic. That was why, he said, he left that job in the end; he couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork and the politics.[31][32]

Carson says that in her twenties, she part of the very groups her father had spied on, but he never said anything. And:

He was politically liberal. He didn’t believe in capital punishment. He was pro immigration. He argued about it with less liberal neighbours. When he chose to go back to uniform and was in charge of a police district, he appeared in the local paper twice. The first time because he said drug users needed help not prosecution. The second, because he refused to move a group of Travellers as they had nowhere else to go.

It is unclear, which district Ferguson has headed, if this was in the Metropolitan Police and which local papers he appeared in.[33]

Life & career

As with his personality, most of what is known about Ferguson's career and his life comes from the Guardian article his daughter wrote. [4] A few of her memories used in her novel turned out to be auto-biographical and could be corroborated with information from archives. Accordingly, Mike Ferguson:

  • Was born in 1939 or 1940 (if he died in 1999 aged 60, as Carson wrote in the Guardian)
  • Left home at 16 to join the Army (according to Carson in her novel), There is a Michael John Ferguson commissioned as Pilot Officer, Aircraftsmen 2d class on 22 November 1956, though 17 seems quite young for a pilot.[34]
  • Stayed away for six years, went to faraway countries and lost three of his toes (according to Carson in novel). The archives have the Flying Officer down under 'Transfer to reserve (national service list)' on 9 September 1958, barely two years after he joined. Or maybe it is someone else after all.[35]
  • In the novel, the father spends a couple of years at Special Branch Ports division, in Tilbury. This may or may not be truth.
  • Infiltrated STST which was set up in 1969 and was active for a couple of years. (According to True Spies and Carson in the Guardian). The Inquiry has not released the years and groups Ferguson infiltrated.
  • Ended up running the unit for a couple of years in the late 70s (according to Carson in The Guardian). This might be true, as Ferguson appears on the Provisional List of witnesses for the Inquiry hearings for November 2020, under ‘Managers and Administrators’ (documents only).[36]
  • Left the SDS in 1979, as a commander (according to Carson in The Guardian).
  • Chose to go back to uniform and was in charge of a police district, according to Carson in The Guardian. If so, this was probably from about 1979 until about 1985.
  • Left the police in the mid-80s (according to Carson in The Guardian).
  • Died in 1999, at the age of 60, (according to Carson. (No death certificate found yet; he may have died abroad though).

Personal life

Mike Ferguson was married and had two daughters. While he was undercover, the family lived in Sidcup, a suburb in south London - as did the family in Carson’s novel. This has been confirmed, but details are withheld for privacy reasons.

In the Undercover Policing Inquiry

To date, the Undercover Policing Inquiry has released little information about Mike Ferguson. Although the Inquiry confirmed that his real name was already in the public domain based on the revelations in True Spies about his involvement in STST and the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Mitting has not released the names of any groups Ferguson infiltrated.

  • 20 March 2018, Mitting directed that any anonymity applications were to be filed by 28 March 2018 by MPS legal team, or 6 April for the Designated Lawyers team.[37]
  • April 2018: A closed hearing about the anonymity application over his cover name submitted by Ferguson's family was to take place. [38]
  • July and September 2018: 'further investigation necessary before application to restrict the cover name can be determined. The real name will be published.[39] [40]
  • 29 October 2019: Mitting rules the cover name will be restricted, but not his real name, noting it is already in the public domain.[41][3] The Restriction order was made public on 23 October 2020.[42][43]
  • September 2020. Ferguson, as HN135, appears on the 'Provisional List of UCOs and Civilians whose evidence is to be considered in Tranche 1 Phase 1', and on the 'Provisional List of Managers and Administrators [...] in phase 3' (with 'documents only' added as he is no longer alive). Tranche 1, covering the period 1968 - 1982, the hearings for phase 1 are supposed to take place in November 2020 and for phase 3 in spring 2021.[36]

Clare Carson’s trilogy

Carson wrote a trilogy partially based on her childhood memories about the mysterious figure of her undercover policeman father, ‘Jim Coyle. The main character and narrator is Sam Coyle, Jim’s daughter. Sam is a rebellious eighteen-year-old with an inquisitive streak':[44]

On holiday in Orkney, beneath an endless midsummer sky, eighteen year old Sam shadows her father Jim as he runs secretive errands across the island. […] When Sam finally discovers the truth, it will draw her into a dangerous world of deception and double-dealing... and bring her closer to her dad than ever before.

Later on in the novel, her father is killed by an MI5 agent who sold intelligence to the press – who Jim was going to blow the whistle on. The second book, The Salt Marsh starts a year after Sam's father died. She cannot lay his ghost to rest and has quit university to find out the truth about his work. "Now Sam must decide. Will she walk away and pick up her own life? Or become an undercover operative herself and continue her father's work in the shadows…"[45] This novel is more fantastic than the first, with the main character Sam killing one of the other protagonists. It does however draw on anti-nuclear campaigning of the time – and Carson herself was at one time a member of CND. The third book of the Sam Coyle-trilogy, The Dark Isle, brings her back to Orkney again to piece together the puzzle of her father's past. "Haunted by echoes of childhood holidays, Sam is sure the truth lies buried here, somewhere."[46]

Carson’s father in Orkney Twilight

Cover of Clare Carson's first novel (2014)

In her novel Orkney Twilight, Carson writes about her father’s features and background. As the story about Jim’s activist' life might - or might not - have some overlap with Ferguson’s deployment, some of it is included here. Please do get in touch if certain details remind you of the undercover personae of Mike Ferguson.

Names, parents. Apart from Sam and Jim Coyle, there is her mother called Liz. Jim's cover name was Chris. For Sam, the daughter in the novel, her father’s background and current activities are a source of mystery – as well as curiosity. All she really knew was that he was the son of an itinerant publican, born in Glasgow, the youngest of three brothers (Ferguson is indeed a Scottish surname).

Appearance. Jim has steely blue eyes and a curly black mop-top. The beard she describes as: ‘a prolific growth of his curly sideboards fusing under his chin, transforming him into a wild man, a degenerate hippy in the heartlands of the conservative outer suburbs’.[47].

Expelled from Jesuit school. He had attended a Jesuit school and had run away at the age of fifteen. It was a Jesuit school, there was ‘abuse some kind of other, we assumed it was normal’. Glad it was just a beating. One priest was a total sadist, he had it in for Jim, humiliating him, pushed it too far. With nothing to lose, one night Jim painted a message on the school wall, wrote the name of the priest, and said he was a boy beater. So he was expelled because he was a whistle-blower.[48] He can read Latin. He loves nature, wildlife. Something to do with his Jesuit education. ‘He’s been taught to appreciate the order and beauty in all things.’[49]

Relationship, flat in Stockwell, deployment and disappearance. Jim had a relationship with a girl named Anne. When in the book, daughter Sam visits Anne to tell her her father is dead, Anne’s response is: ‘perhaps intelligence did him in’.[50] In the novel, Jim was working on labour issues for the Black Flag anarchist newspaper, he documented details of workplace accidents. His union contacts told him the security services were trying to use trouble in the coal industry to expand their surveillance networks, and crack down on anybody who steps out of line. Chris began to suspect Intelligence knew what he was up to. That’s why he moved out of his flat in Stockwell, and decided to leave town, lay low for a while.[51] (This tactic was taken from the SDS, undercover officers would often use either a personal breakdown or fear for the police to disappear at the end of their deployment.[52])

Orkney, Black Flag and Stuart Christie. Looking at the events at the time Mike Ferguson was undercover, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there are some possible links to make with the content of Orkney Twilight, specifically around the Angry Brigade. The group was held responsible for a series of attacks with explosives in 1970 and 1971. In August that year they were arrested and brought to trial. It is unclear if undercover officers of the SDS infiltrated the Angry Brigade, though they are known to have had difficulties with anarchist groups, because of their lack of hierarchy and organised meetings (compared to the more classic Maoist, Trotskyst and Marxist groups).[53] The links below are quite speculative, amongst other reasons because we don't know where Carson found her inspiration:

While Carson's novels are by definition works of fiction, there are a number of events in the novels which are based on reality - and are suggestive of further connections with the undercover policing and the radical politics of the time. For instance, in her Guardian article and in interviews, Carson has said that her family indeed went to Orkney on summer holidays when she was a child.
Intriguingly, Orkney was where anarchist Stuart Christie and his wife Brenda moved to, after he had been on trial accused of being a member of the Angry Brigade. Several members of the group were convicted for a series of attacks with explosives, but Christie was acquitted after 18 months in jail, claiming he was set up.
A few months after the acquittal, a Special Branch officer advised Stuart and Brenda to leave London for their own safety. This Special Branch officer was DS Roy Cremer, a Special Branch officer specialised in anarchism.[54] Cremer was present at Christie’s arrest and interrogated him about his links with the Angry Brigade in August 1971. At the time, he was one of the two senior officers for Special Branch on the Bomb Squad, the joint team set up to investigate the Angry Brigade in January 1971; others came from the Fraud Squad and the Flying quad.[55]
Stuart and Brenda went first to Honley, in West Yorkshire in 1973, and then to Sanday in Orkney, where they would live and work, publishing anarchist material, for seven years. (Sadly, Brenda died in 2019 and Stuart in 2020.)[56]
Again, in Orkney Twilight, ‘Jim Coyle’ told his activist friend Anna that he was writing for Black Flag. This publication really existed at the time, it was a UK-based anarchist magazine, published by Stuart Christie. He was the editor with Albert Meltzer, and the main contributor in the first five years the bulletin existed in the late 1960s - early 1970s.[57]
This perhaps raises the question of whether the Ferguson/Carson family holidays were just that – or whether Mike was in fact doing some work at the same time when visiting the Orkneys.
Mike Ferguson with his daughter on holiday in the Orkneys, early 1970s. The Guardian.)


  1. The Chair, John Mitting, stopped releasing files about the risk assessments after core participants had staged a walk-out in March 2018 to emphasis their discontent with the secretness and delays of the Inquiry's procedures, arguing it wasn't worth it if the CP's were not going to engage. See: Rob Evans, Campaigners stage walkout of 'secretive' police spying inquiry, The Guardian, 21 March 2018 (accessed September 2020).
  2. Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, The Secret Public Inquiry, Campaign website, 10 April 2018 (accessed September 2020).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Peter Taylor, BBC True Spies Episode – Subversive My Arse 2002 (accessed 24 July 2019).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Clare Carson, My dad, the undercover policeman, The Guardian, 26 May 2015 (accessed 17 Sep 2020).
  5. Clare Carson, Orkney Twilight, Head of Zeus, 2015.
  6. Forward to Freedom: A History of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.Don't scrum with a Racist Bum' accessed 30 July 2019).
  7. Wikipedia, Peter Hain, no date (accessed October 2020) He served in the Cabinets of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2005 to 2007, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2007 to 2008 and twice as Secretary of State for Wales from 2002 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2010.
  8. An 'agent handler' or 'cover officer', liaised with those police who were undercover, to debrief and collect information. They were also tasked with monitoring the well-being of those deployed and manage interactions between undercover officers (UCO's) and the operational team. At the time of Knight's involvement, around 1970, undercover officers were debriefed at a safe house on a weekly basis. See: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, Inspection of Undercover Policing in England and Wales 2015 (accessed 29 August 2019).
  9. Peter Taylor, Inside Job, The Guardian, 23 October 2002 (accessed October 2020).
  10. When asked whether he remembers the incident in which an individual of the group was accused if being a spy, Hain's answer is ambiguous, and it is not clear whether he recalls it or not.
  11. Undercover Research Group: email from Mike Schwarz re: 'Peter Hain', 26 July 2019.
  12. Undercover Research Group: e-mail from Rob Evans, 18 July 2019.
  13. Undercover Research Group, Interview with Jonathan Rosenhead, 15 August 2019.
  14. True Spies, part 1, at 29.28" and at & 29.33" and True Spies 1 proofed transcriptes, BBC, via Special Branch Files.uk (accessed October 2020)
  15. Ray Wilson and Ian Adams, Special Branch: A History 1883-2006, Biteback Publishing, 2015, pages 301-302.
  16. Eveline Lubbers, Anti-Apartheid Movement – story: ‘lucid examples of oppression against black minorities’, SpecialBranchFiles.uk, 16 January 2016 (accessed 15 July 2019).
  17. Pictures of smoke bombs at the field in the Getty photo images archive are dated 31 January 1970.
  18. See footage included in BBC True Spies: smoke bombs at 28.45’’.
  19. Several former undercover officers are under investigations for crimes committed during their employment. Bob Lambert for setting fire into a Debenham store, as part of an animal rights campaign against the selling of fur. Matt Rayder (alias) allegedly offered a fire arm to a campaigner, Rod Richardson organised a coach to go to a peace demonstration.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 R. Wilson, Stop The Seventy Tour, Special Branch Report] 10 April 1970 (accessed September 2020). TNA: Mepo 31/30.
  21. “On the 28 November 2019, Ernest Rodker's application to be a core participant in the Undercover Policing Inquiry was accepted partially based on his involvement in Pavement and that he can provide evidence regarding anti-apartheid activities as well as the deployment of another officer – Jim/Jimmy Pickford (alias). See: Sir John Mitting, Core participants Ruling 32; Recognised Legal Representatives Ruling 26; Costs of Legal Representation Awards Ruling 25, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 28 November 2019 (accessed September 2020).
  22. BBC News, 1970: South Africa cricket tour called off, On This Day, 22 May 2008 (accessed October 2020)
  23. See footage included in BBC True Spies: smoke bombs at 28.45’’ – ‘electric magnets’ at 29’’.
  24. Eveline Lubbers, Spycops Targets: a Whos' Who, Undercover Research Group, (accessed 15 July 2019).
  25. Rob Evans, British police spied on anti-apartheid campaigners for decades, The Guardian, 10 December 2013 (accessed 20 January 2018).
  26. Undercover Research Group: email from Mike Schwarz re: 'Peter Hain', 26 July 2019.
  27. Undercover Research Group: e-mail from Rob Evans, 18 July 2019.
  28. Undercover Research Group, Interview with Jonathan Rosenhead, 15 August 2019.
  29. John Mitting, Core participants Ruling 32 28 November 2019 (accessed 9 December 2019).
  30. See: Ray Wilson and Ian Adams, Special Branch: A History 1883-2006, Biteback Publishing, 2015, page 307.
  31. The Sandbaggers was an ITV spy series launched in September 1978 and ran for three years. Carson tells the same anecdote in SHOTS, Crime & Thriller Zine (Carson, Cops and Daughters, Fact and Fiction, no date, but probably not long after her first book appeared (accessed October 2020).
  32. Fun fact: the producer of the series and director of seven out of the 20 episodes, was also called Mike Ferguson.
  33. A manual search for M.J. Ferguson in the printed Official Registers for the years 1979 – 1985 in the Police and Constabulary Almanac did not return results for any district in the Metropolitan Police.
  34. London Gazette, 25 December 1956, p.7303 (accessed September 2020).
  35. London Gazette, 30 September 1958, p.5966 (accessed September 2020).
  36. 36.0 36.1 UCPI, [Provisional List of UCOs and Civilians whose evidence is to be considered in Tranche 1 Phase 1 ‘20200908_JW_NPSCP_Response_To_Queries.pdf’], attached to Letter from James Wilson, Inquiry Solicitor to Lydia Dagostino, Coordinator to the Non State Core Participant lawyers, 9 September 2020.
  37. 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.
  38. 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 - 'Minded to' note 8, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 26 April 2018 (accessed 26 April 2018).
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. John Mitting Ruling 16. 29 October 2019 (accessed 9 December 2019).
  42. Email to core participants, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 23 October 2020.
  43. Sir John Mitting, Restriction Order - HN135, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 29 October 2019 (published on ucpi.org.uk 23 October 2020).
  44. GoodReads.com, Clare Carson, Orkney Twilight, summary, no date (accessed October 2020).
  45. GoodReads.com, Clare Carson, The Salt Marsh, summary, no date (accessed October 2020).
  46. GoodReads.com, Clare Carson, The Dark Isle, summary, no date (accessed October 2020).
  47. Carson, Chapter 2, p14.
  48. Carson, Chapter 15, p13-14 One of the other boys grassed him, a ‘Jarek Crawley’, who later appears in the novel as Jim’s adversary.
  49. Carson, Chapter 7, p.4.
  50. Carson, Chapter 19, p.19.
  51. Carson, Chapter 20, p.1.
  52. Bob Lambert told his two women he had a relationship with (simultaneously) that he had to go underground for a while because the police was looking for him for his involvement in animal rights actions. The coop where one of his girl friends was living was raided to add credibilaty to this story, while he left behind his other parnter, Jacqui, and their todler son. The latter would only find out some 30 years later who is father really was, and recenlty received a settlement with the Met.
  53. See for instance the profile of HN349 who had problems infiltrating anarchist groups in the early 1970s, and specifically the gisted risk assessment for HN 349, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 16 Apr 2018, published 8 May 2018.
  54. Communication with Stuart Christie via Facebook, 6-7 November 2019. Cremer also appears as a friendly cop in Christie's book Granny made me an anarchist, Scribner, 2005, p.354.
  55. The other senior officer was DCI Riby Wilson, who also testified at the Angry Brigade trial. And Wilson was the officer who signed Special Branch Reports on the STST, based on intelligence gathered by Ferguson (and on information from magazines and informers etc.). This was in the period 1969-1970. Riby Wilson should not be confused with his name sake, Ray - also a Special Branch officer in the early days of the SDS, who co-authored a book about Special Branch, as was mentioned before. Ray Wilson and Ian Adams, Special Branch: A History 1883-2006, Biteback Publishing, (2015).
  56. Duncan Campbell, Obituary. Stuart Christie (1946-2020): Anarchist, writer and publisher, Europe Solidaire, 17 August 2020 (accessed October 2020)
  57. Libcom, Online Archive of Black Flag, website, (accessed October 2020). Black Flag began life as the Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross in 1968, and was renamed Black Flag in January 1971.