Rob Harrison (alias)
Rob Harrison is the alias of a Special Demonstration Squad undercover officer who infiltrated a number of London left-wing / anarchist groups including State of Emergency Collective, No Borders London, Globalise Resistance, rampART and the International Solidarity Movement from 2004 to 2007.
- 1 As an undercover
- 2 Targets
- 2.1 Globalise Resistance
- 2.2 London International Solidarity Movement
- 2.3 No Borders London
- 2.4 State of Emergency Collective (Sack Parliament group)
- 2.5 rampART
- 2.6 Urban75
- 2.7 Jean Charles de Menezes campaign (2005)
- 2.8 Tony Blair protest (September 2006)
- 2.9 Monday Love & Peace Not War
- 2.10 Reclaim the Future 4 (March 2007)
- 2.11 Camberwell Squat / 'Black Frog' (2007)
- 2.12 G8 Summit, Germany (June 2007)
- 2.13 Disarm DSEi (September 2007)
- 2.14 Bash the Rich (November 2007)
- 2.15 Other activity
- 3 Role within Special Demonstration Squad and related issues
- 4 Notes
As an undercover
Rob is described by people who know him as in his mid-thirties, tall and medium built, with long, dark hair, mixed with grey, that he wore in a ponytail. He claimed connections with South East London, including claiming to come from Charlton, something supported by his accent. Activists who met him later during his deployment noted he always had a beard of the same colour which he kept short and neatly trimmed, or as stubble, never either clean shaven or with a bushy beard. He also wore an earring. One campaigner recalled that - though he didn't talk about it - Rob clearly worked out and was more muscular than those around him.
He had a working class accent, and came across as a quiet person, well-dressed with good manners. However, others recall him as a bit of a sleaze and some women considered him flirtatious in a creepy way. In one quote, he was described as a 'nervous loser'.
Asa Winstanley, an ISM activist who knew Rob throughout his deployment, described him as a 'cheery, cheeky chappie' type who was friendly and engaging with a generous personality, always ready to help. He was sociable, going to the pub with campaigners a lot and buying people drinks, though without being flash with money. Asa, however, thought that he came across as more mainstream than other activists, something he talked about himself saying he felt under-educated and unconfident. This had a disarming effect which led people to opening up and confide in him. He was also a regular visitor to the homes of fellow campaigners, including one housing cooperative in Islington where a lot of peace activists then lived.
Marcia, another London ISM activist, recalled him as 'a bit of a hanger-on who was on the fringe of things rather than being in the centre, and who was gauche and flakey', and generally neutral on issues.
He seemed to have a good job and always had money. He also had a car, possibly dark blue, which he offered to London ISM to cart merchandise and to provide lifts to people. This included lifts to the airport on trips to Palestine or home after meetings. Campaigners in other groups targeted noted that he used his vehicle to drive them and equipment to protests; one of them described the car as not a big one, a four seater which you wouldn't give a second look at, possibly a Golf or Polo.
On occasion he would claim to be unable to do things as he was out of London, visiting his unwell mother.
London ISM activists recalled that he was regularly at the home of other activists. One of whom, Kerry, noted that that it was not so much he was specifically invited, but he was the kind of person who just turned up for social visits. Her house had a number of political activists living there at the time and he was there quiet a bit. Rob came across as friendly and helpful, at one point painting their kitchen, which made her housemates warm to him. This led to him DJ'ing at their house parties, and possibly even at her 30th birthday.
London ISM people do not appear to have gone to his home and say he was vague about where he lived, intimating it was somewhere on the outskirts of London. However, after he moved to Roman Road, people from other groups did visit his place (see below).
He does seem to have discussed politics a bit more than other undercover contemporaries, but it was still hard to pin his actual politics down. He told London ISM members he was sceptical of anarchism, while in a conversation on rap music, he was critical of Public Enemy over their support of Louis Farrakhan.  Others recalled that he was quite reluctant to give an opinion on anything, even on human rights abuses against Palestinans, while with No Borders and State of Emergency he was not involved in debates and generally avoided having opinions on things.
Alex, a London activist met Rob a few times at London No Borders meetings during 2006. His recollection of Rob was as a capable, normal bloke with personality, who drove and was a DJ. In his memory, Rob was politically astute enough to understand political differences around tactics, and that Rob usually came down in favour of taking direct action over reformist approaches.
London No Borders people had different experiences with him to some degree, though it was noted that this was perhaps because it was a group more dominated by women generally. They thought of him as a polite but aloof character, who didn't really make friends within the group, though he was happy to give people lifts. He seems to have struggled to be accepted within this scene, as he often did not match in terms of dress or personality. He was also richer than they were as he had a paying job. One person recalled that he was not creepy or interested in women, but did come across as a predator.
State of Emergency seems to have had a different experience of him again. A number of those involved remember him as a wallflower. In meetings he tended to speak only when spoken to, or when he had to. He rarely offered political opinions and went with what others said, usually following the greater consensus in the group. However, he readily jumped into things and offered access to his car. This, along with his willingness to DJ and do fundraisers, allowed him to place himself at the centre of things, though all the same he struggled to be fully accepted. His behaviour, lack of fitting in and his access to resources, though placing him at the centre of things eventually gave rise to suspicion and he was eventually asked to leave (see below). People familiar with the various groups he targeted noted that the particular nature of State of Emergency meant he would have stuck out more and that people in SoE were in general more vocal about such issues.
Jane summed up what others said, noting 'he was hard to place socially and politically' and that it was not clear what his motivation for being in the group was. He was not as easy to get along with as others, and he lacked a shared interest and passion that bound others together. She also noted he occasionally asked inappropriate questions and recalled one incident at the State of Emergency benefit at the Vortex (March 2007) that he was probing about her life and family and felt that he was trying to make a pass at her.
Others who just met Rob in passing at the end of his deployment, described him as coming across as a friendly, working class bloke, not great on politics but who had something suspect about him.
A key part of his legend as an undercover was that he was significantly into music. He DJ'ed using the moniker 'Boogie Knight', and played at various benefit nights for groups he targeted, including organising some of them. He certainly had a reputation as a good DJ within campaigning circles and played at private house parties also. Multiple people in the different groups he targeted all recalled him talking of being a professional DJ. Fred noted that Rob had all the right equipment at his house while Asa felt that this aspect of his cover was probably genuine.
Both No Borders & State of Emergency activists said that his main contribution to their groups was organising benefit gigs. He had DJ equipment in his vehicle and contacts with musicians. They felt that he was more into the social scene and fundraising than other aspects of their campaigning, and he is barely recalled being present at demonstrations or other protests (though he did attend, and drive people them).
Several people noted that he spoke of working with a New Cross-based sound engineer, whom he implied was some kind of father figure. He also said he was staying with this person for some months, on and off, while looking for a place to live.
In one post he made on Urban75.net, dated 17 September 2005, Rob claimed to be doing a part-time course at Birkbeck College, and suggested doing a meet up of Urban75 contributors also at Birkbeck. He may have supported Newcastle United.
On 4 April 2007, he posted to Urban75:
- Last night some nice person decided to smash my car window and steal a single B & W 602 speaker (series 3 - black), a Technics record bag containing a Rotel amp and various cables and cds. And my favourite green jacket.
- Leaving the other speaker in the car. Which was parked outside of the London Action Resource Centre (LARC).
- BB is seriously upset......so if anyone gets offered a single such speaker it might just be mine.....
A benefit dinner was organised for 11 April to 'reimburse him because he used to often ... drive people/gear to protests.'
- Mobile: 07795 825 413
- Email: email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
The Yahoo account appears to have been explicitly disabled in 2013 when it started causing bounces from internal mailing lists from a group he was active in. Asa also noted that his email gave his full name, Robert Harrison, something thought at odds with the security culture in the International Solidarity Movement at the time. Other material indicates that the Riseup account was used for a substantial period of time after the unit for which Rob worked was closed down.
He is also recalled as having a Facebook account at the time, which no longer exists.
He originally appears to have lived in Holloway, north London, but around 2006 he moved to an address in east London:
- Flat 23, Dennis House, 551 Roman Road, Bow, London, E3 5ER
Fred who visited it on several occasions, including for meetings related to the State of Emergency group, recalled that that the flat did look lived in.
Rob Harrison is known to have had at least one sexual relationship while undercover, with 'Maya' (pseudonym) who he met through London ISM. Another London ISM campaigner recalled that he had 'chased' someone in their group for a relationship. Rob also mentioned that his family were really racist so he had previously had a black girlfriend to spite them, and that he liked black women in general.
Other than Globalise Resistance (see below), the majority of Rob's time as an undercover focused on an amorphous network of anarchist and anti-war activists. The groups he focused most on were London International Solidarity Movement, London No Borders and State of Emergency, though he touched on quite a number of others. Kerry noted that it was through London ISM that he would have gained contact with No Borders and State of Emergency. All three groups overlapped in terms of people, and it seems Rob actively used this crossover to facilitate moving among them. Thus, through this network of people he gained entry to different groups and places, and partake in a number of protests and actions.
Rob also had contacts with the groups that had emerged out of the WOMBLES, in particular with people in various squatted social centres in London, such as The Square, rampART, Vortex, etc.
As yet, Rob's role in this group is not known. In August 2004, Simon Wellings, the undercover who had targeted the group, was exposed and subsequently vanished. The group was at that point very focused on plans for protests around the 2005 G8 Summit in Scotland, which all other known undercovers of the time are known to have attended.
London International Solidarity Movement
- See also London ISM timeline
The International Solidarity Movement, founded in 2001, is an international network which supports activists traveling to Palestine to act in solidarity with the struggles there. Left wing in orientation, it is described as having a mixed bag of politics, not aligned with any particular group or party. It espoused non-violence ethos and tactics.
The London branch of the ISM was active throughout the 2000s, with most of its members going to Palestine, as well as engaging in various peaceful protests in the UK. In 2003, not long before Rob Harrison targeted the group, ISM volunteers, Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall had been killed by Israeli forces while acting as human shields. This led to a campaign against Caterpillar, a British company providing machinery used by Israel to clear Palestinian homes for illegal settlements.
Other issues the group was involved in during Rob's time included campaigns against the Israeli Wall and companies such as the Rafael Arms firm and Carmel Agrexco. They put on film nights and vigils in memory of ISM activists killed or wounded in Palestine; while members also took part in events put on by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign - where they often did stalls.
At the time London ISM provided regular training weekends for those planning to travel to Palestine to do solidarity work here, and also debriefs from those returning. As the group was the only one in the UK then holding these training sessions it became quite influential. These sessions would have 10-20 people from across Britain every month or so.
The group was quite informal with a flat internal structure; it organised through monthly meetings using consensus decision-making. Meetings initially took place at Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, but in October 2005 moved to Islington. Marcia, an ISM activist, said her memories of him came mainly from the Islington meetings and that 'he was just around all the time from then' including attending many of the monthly meetings of the group over the next year or so - though he is not recalled attending other training sessions.
He tended to hang back in meetings, mainly being just there and blending in, saying he just wanted to help out.  He was more likely to have private conversations. Though at points he did get involved in discussions, including in drafting a set of principles for the London ISM group. He was also active in the group's internal email list, at one point was forwarding to the email list threads from Urban75 which were critical of London ISM.
Asa Winstanley, who encountered Rob through London ISM, said that he was not a main character in the group and came across as 'kind of forgettable' for all that he was helpful. Likewise, Marcia described him as not being an entity in the group, but as someone you wouldn't necessarily notice.
As pretty much everyone else active in the group at the time had either gone or was going to Palestine (as one put it: 'Rob was the anomaly in this') this meant there was little reason to be involved in the group otherwise, so people did not understand why he was active with them.
Asa and Kerry remember that Rob was clear about not going to Palestine from the beginning, saying he was scared and didn't want to do frontline stuff, but wanted to help out on the London end of things with campaigning, fundraising and organising.
This he mainly did through organising fundraisers for the group on his own initiative. He DJ'ed at all ISM parties and benefit gigs, often being the main DJ and getting other DJs involved. As such, he was the driving force behind the benefits held at rampART.
At the time London ISM was quite security conscious, albeit more worried about being spied upon by the Israeli Government rather than the UK state. Thus, the group worked on a 'need to know' basis and plans kept vague, and people didn't go into their backgrounds. Generally people used only first names, which is why it was unusual that Rob used his full name in his email address.
While the group was doing the Caterpillar campaign, it had made up t-shirts to sell on protests or stalls in Trafalgar Square. Rob offered to store the t-shirts at his house and to take care of mailing out them and other items which were part of the group's fundraising efforts. This would have been an ideal way of obtaining addresses. His offers to drive people to the airport when they traveled to Palestine did strike some people as strange as at the time the practice was to just go without telling others for security reasons. Otherwise, he appears to have avoided raising suspicion.
Marcia recalled that he was one of a small number of the group's members to go on a pro-Palestine march. On the march, she introduced Rob to quite a few other people. The group did a roving stall in Trafalgar Square selling t-shirts, and afterwards they hung out in the pub. She recalled him taking pictures of the event and banking the money they had raised, so clearly he knew the bank account details by that stage. In particular she recalled ribbing him about not going to Palestine and that he had been sheepish and sensitive about it. This was the last time she recalled seeing him.
He is not recalled as having any particular exit strategy from the group, he just was no longer around sometime in 2007. People were not overly bothered as he had not been doing much with the group by that stage.
Several people spoken to expressed concern that information obtained by Rob Harrison was passed on by British security services to the Israeli government. By 2008 the latter government appeared to have good information on the group UK activists, and began to stop its activists from entering the country. The relatively sudden blocking of key people going to Palestine in the late 2000s damaged the group, as it limited its main reason for existing.
Asa also noted that Rob’s email address remained on London ISM internal mailing lists until 2013, indicating ongoing access by police to the group’s discussions.
No Borders London
- See also London No Borders timeline
The No Borders network in Europe began in 1999, with a transnational meeting in Amsterdam in December that year. The network focused on opposing immigration controls in Europe and anti-deportation campaigns, targeting those companies who profited from it, as well as series of camps and convergences across Europe and later the Americas.. In Europe, one of the largest of these camps was in Strasbourg, France in 2001, which UK activists cited as the inspiration for setting up groups across the UK..
Work on No Border issues took place at the 2004 European Social Forum and the 2005 Make Borders History protest during the G8 Summit in Scotland. On 2 April 2005, campaigners organised a protest in London, and it was from this organising committee that the London No Borders group emerged.
The first national meeting occurred in London, in March 2006, and by the end of 2007 there were seven local groups across the UK. Among their first activities was galvanising support for the second and biggest of the UK-based No Borders camps in the UK, taking place near Gatwick Airport, Sussex in 2007.
Local radical groups fighting migration control used the banner of 'No Borders' in the UK until around 2012, when it began to fall out of use. However, successor groups such as the Anti-Raids Network continued their work, while small NGOs adopted its radical immigration control abolitionist position. 'No Borders' also gained significant purchase within academic and other critical writing.
The London group organised numerous protests and pickets at detention centres as well as practical support for those who were detained as well as those on hunger-strike; it also ran campaigns to prevent specific deportations, including of some of its members. A specific Detainee Support Group was set up within it, which worked along side its campaigning aspects. As a result the group often had close links to those inside detention centres and were able to report disturbances and resistance from within the centres - which were not otherwise receiving mainstream attention. Through its detention support work, it built links within communities of asylum seekers and migrant workers (e.g. Latin American Workers Association), trade unions (T&GWU), and other migrant struggles (Justice for Cleaners campaign).
Rob joined London No Borders in 2005, a time when the group was still quite small but was starting to grow, and was also attracting a high level of police surveillance. It held mostly weekly meeting at Transport House, Theobalds Road - the headquarters of the Transport & General Workers Union (T&GWU). Initially, these were joint meetings with the No One Is Illegal group. Several people recalled Rob attending meetings there, though it was not clear at that point that Rob was a member of London No Borders. Some meetings also took place at The Square squatted social centre where much of LNB's activities were taking place. Later on they moved to the London Action Resource Centre (LARC). Minutes of meetings and emails show that Rob attended London No Borders meetings in these venues.
At the beginning of the London No Borders group there was a small overlap in membership with that of State of Emergency, though many from both groups knew each other. Rob showed little, if any, interest in the No One Is Illegal campaign, which was less engaged in direct action than No Borders, though it did take part on occasion and did support it.
Once active with LNB, Rob regularly attended meetings, and joined people going to the pub afterwards. He also drove for much of its activities. However, in general he remained on the periphery of the group, as one London No Borders activist remembers:
- [he] was a bit strange and we did not really understand what motivated him to join No Borders, he did not seem to fit in as such; then he disappeared all of a sudden, saying he was leaving the group but without giving any explanation on why he was leaving.
A notable incident was a discussion that took place when he was helping paint a No Borders banner for the 7 October 2006 protest at rampART. He took the position that Islam was inherently authoritarian which was at odd with the ethos of the group. Anita recalled that his position was very unnuanced for the milieu he was in and the discussion grew heated, however, it felt at the time that they were reaching out to him.
(Earlier in June 2006, Rob had taken part in a discussion about Islam on Urban75.net where he put forward the argument that in order to understand Islam, people should read the Qu'ran first.)
Several No Borders activists remembered that Rob took home money amounting to several hundred pounds raised from a post-Gatwick camp benefit gig, but disappeared from the group without depositing it in any No Borders bank account. This is likely the Anarchist Bookfair after party / joint benefit with rampART which took place on 27 October (see Rob Harrison: benefit gigs for more details).
He was recalled at the time as saying goodbye to the group as he was quitting as an activist, though without giving a reason. Why he left was as unclear why he had joined.
Activities with No Borders London in 2006-2007
Rob was participating on the London No Borders email list by May 2006 and was active there until at least October 2007. His emails show him taking a proactive role within the group and carrying out a number of functions on their behalf. A number of these focus on his role in putting on benefit events at Vortex or rampART. Others show him chivvying people along to come to decisions on the booking of venues. It is clear he was readily taking on jobs to contact people in relation to issues that were coming up. It would also appear from the emails that Rob did the group's minutes for 21 June and 19 July 2007.
A number of emails are process-focused, such as discussions points for meetings or problems of people claiming to be No Borders but not attending meetings to partake in decision making.
Emails of May and June 2006 show his increasing involvement in the group, seeking to attend events and meetings. In May he talks of attending a meeting at The Square (a squatted social centre in central London). While on 22 June 2006 he turned up at Communications House on Old Street, London, a reporting centre for asylum seekers, were he had expected there to be demonstration in support of migrants This site was at the time the subject of semi-regular protests by London No Borders and other asylum seeker support groups, as well as a campaign by the Marxist group Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (whose members were on occasion active alongside London No Borders and attended meetings which Rob took minutes for).
He takes the minutes for the meeting of 13 July 2006 at Theobalds House, distributing them on 25 July. In them he takes on reaching out to rampART to check for available dates for fundraising events. A few days later he complains that someone had left them and other documents were left in a restaurant where a worker spotted them and got in touch wit him to say they had been kept safe. Ironically in hindsight, he writes:
- ...but can I also ask that people are a bit more careful - I don't like my e-mail details being left around...
Curiously, in relation to a draft leaflet on Climate Change, Rob emails:
- Absolutely agree with that, I think that it is also still used by Globalise Resistance, and I'm not sure that we want to be associated with an SWP dominated organisation.
- I'm going to have another read and post up a few further thoughts, I'm looking at the phrase 'over-industrialised' and the suggestion that this part of the world is inherently safe from the effects of global warming, when it clearly isn't, it is the degree of the likely impact that separates the two.
Emails indicate was one of those involved in drafting a leaflet on migration and climate change for London No Borders to hand out at the 4 November 2006 National Climate March organised by Campaign Against Climate Change to mark the COP12 talks in Nairobi. The text of leaflet can be found at the London No Borders website.
Examples from 2007 demonstrate similar examples of helpfulness and general involvement in the affairs of the group, such as ensuring beer is available at one of the group's film nights.
For the 7 May 2007 demonstration 'March for Migrants & Refugee Rights', a newspaper Papers for All had been printed by a coalition of groups (including people from London No Borders) as part of an intervention in the National Day of Action and Celebration of Justice for Migrants called the same day by civil society groups including London Citizens. Rob offered to help out with his car with the picking up of the papers.
In June 2007, when a journalist sought to join the mailing list, Rob took a lead in objecting to her being on it, writing:
- I would be cautious in allowing a journalist on to the list, especially when (from what you have written) she has not 'declared' her apparent involvement with [national broadcaster] - if indeed this is the case. This isn't to say that all journalists are neccessarily devious or self-seeking but bitter experience elsewhere makes me suspicious.
- Perhaps we could invite her to attend a few meetings, just to allow her the opportunity to introduce herself, and to determine the authenticity of her interest?
Minutes of the group shortly after note that there was concern at the circumstances in which the subscription had been made and it was agree Rob would write to the journalist 'explaining that at this time subscription to the list would be inappropriate.
One of his last known activities where he associates himself with one of his target groups is a posting to Urban75 on 25 November 2007. In it, Rob described himself as a member of No Borders 'for some time', and asked for a copy of an article by someone active in another anarchist group critical of the LNB's political strategy.
Harmondsworth demonstration (10 February 2007)
On 10 February 2007, the No Borders network organised the 'Shut Harmondsworth & Colnbrook Detention Centres!' demonstration. London No Borders organised coaches for this, with 200-250 attending, including local MP John McDonnell. There is a video of the policing of the protest (via. Jason N. Parkinson)
Rob Harrison is known to have attended and been photographed on this protest, the first known images of him following being named an undercover officer coming from it.
He was also involved in the organisation of the demonstration. Emails also show that by early November 2006 (not long after the decision to call the protest) Rob was part of the group which put together a leaflet to advertise the day, and he circulated draft texts to the London No Borders list. 
The organising group for the day met weekly at the T&GWU Offices, Theobalds House, Holborn, and Rob appears to have attended a number of them. In particular, he took minutes for a meeting on 6 January 2007 at the which note the mobilisation was initially conceived by London No Borders Detainee Support Group but grew from there; also at the meeting were representatives of Brighton No Borders. The minutes of this meeting show a discussion on inviting local MP John McDonnell to attend. The minutes record that Rob took on a number of jobs, including ascertaining availability of DJs for a social event connected with the demonstration, and as part of outreach to build towards the day took on contacting LARC, rampART and The Info Shop.
At this meeting Rob also took on providing a PA system, which was significant as one of the objectives of the day was to broadcast voices of detainees from within the centres to address the demonstration on their struggles and the conditions inside the centres.
Two days before the demonstration he emails:
- I got a call today regarding the supply of the small PA that I was expecting for use on Saturday. I've been told that it isn't now available - it appears that it has now been hired out for use by someone else. I'm gutted about this - but for numerous reasons there is very little that can be done.
A number of London No Borders activists involved noted that he failed to sort the PA system and that this had caused problems. In the end the phonecalls from the detainees were managed to be broadcast using small microphones but the quality was poor as a result.
A post-demonstration debrief in London was due to be held, Rob being involved in sorting a venue for this, one of the times he chivies people to make a decision on. There was also a follow-up social event / benefit gig that night.
LNB & the Heathrow Climate Camp (August 2007)
From 14-21 August the second Camp for Climate Action took place at Heathrow Airport. The groups Rob targeted were not directly involved in the camp, though there was clearly shared interests and a significant overlap of people involved. Both LARC and RampART were venues used at different times by groups in the Climate Camp.
Rob showed active interest in the Camp. In June 2007 he volunteered to act as a point of contact with the camp for London No Borders, particularly with a view to doing a workshop there. He also subscribed to the email list for the London Climate Camp.
In June, Rob offered to contact Climate Camp to discuss options including doing a workshop on No Borders. Later emails show such a workshop was taking place and he puts out the idea moving the upcoming weekly group meeting to the camp as it was due to take place on the same day as the talk.
In an email dated 21 August 2007, Rob wrote:
- Today I managed to visit the Climate Camp again to try and help out and find out what we, as a group, can do to help prepare for the NB [Gatwick] camp next month. I think it is important that people recognise that, despite some political differences regarding the Climate Camp which might exist within the group, it is absolutely essential that we come together to help out with the taking down of tents and identifying 'tat' that might be required for our camp.
Gatwick No Borders Camp (September 2007)
In Summer 2007, the group was focused on planning for the No Borders camp planned for Gatwick later that year. August 2007 emails show that Rob was being active in the organising for the Gatwick No Border Camp. In particular, on 17 August he was pushing an announcement for an upcoming planning meeting for the camp to be held on 19 August at the London Action Resource Centre - emailing several lists and posting the notice on Birmingham Indymedia (as email@example.com) and Urban75.net.
In August 2007, Rob Harrison takes a lead in the organisation for a No Borders night taking place in a squat in Camberwell on 22nd, including speaking on the Gatwick camp and making arrangements for any film showing.
Subsequent emails from Rob show that he was taking on roles in terms of organising for the Gatwick camp within the London group, including :
- attending national organising meetings, including in Brighton;
- encouraging people to go to the Camp for Climate Action to identify useful equipment and to pick up useful skills for the Gatwick camp.
- distributing promotional material;
- offering to transport equipment;
- booking rampART as a venue for a camp debrief session to be held on 10 November, including going as far as to book the space.
The camp took place 19-24 September 2007, despite the owner of the original site pulling out of hosting it having come under pressure from police. Rob was due to attend but pulled out, saying he had to go to Derby to be with his mother - something considered strange at the time as it was the first mention he had made of Derby. However, NPOIU undercover police officer Marco Jacobs, then active in No Borders South Wales, is known to have attended the camp.
State of Emergency Collective (Sack Parliament group)
- See also State of Emergency timeline
State of Emergency was a London based direct action group which emerged from the anarchist milieu in mid 2006 to protest the UK's government involvement in wars. A key moment in its formation was a large meeting of the anti-war Lebanon Assembly group, from which the core of the group came together. The collective had the aim to grow anti-war protest beyond just holding large A-to-B marches, for instance through interventions during large Stop the War Coalitions protests. In late 2006 the group was better known as Sack Parliament, so named for its protest of 9 October 2006.
The group had come together by early summer 2006, and settled into a pattern of meeting every Tuesday at the London Action Resource Centre. According to its website, SackParliament.org.uk (October 2006):
- Emerging as a response to the renewed state terror attacks in the Middle East, STATE OF EMERGENCY was formed. STATE OF EMERGENCY is a call to action, a common banner to organise our resistance to the aggressive military actions carried out in the guise of the "war on terror". The "war on terror" is nothing more than the latest campaign in the continuous war of the powerful states and Capital on the interests of people. It has meant accelerated militarisation of society (pervasive surveillance, biometric ID cards, increased police power, repression of dissent, "anti-terror" raids) with the same government imposing tyranny on Iraq & Afghanistan imposing it here too.
Following the Sack Parliament demonstration, continued its weekly meeting and changed its website to StateOfEmergency.org.uk. It focused on anti-arms trade and army recruitment protests, and also linked to the campaign against EDO MBM in Brighton. In 2007 it wrote:
- STATE OF EMERGENCY seeks to highlight and take direct action against the causes and effects of the War on Terror. We stand in solidarity against military and economic oppression by defending ourselves against the ever increasing domination of the state. We recognize that the state of emergency in which we live will continue for as long as our obedience enables them to control us.
The group was active mid 2006 to late 2007, with its last action been a demonstration at a Defence Industry Dinner on 31 October 2007.
Fred noted that the group had quickly come to police attention while others remembered that police Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) were regularly outside meetings of the group at LARC, taking photos of those coming and going.
Fred, a State of Emergency campaigner recalled that once Rob arrived on the scene, he was very active in the group. Given the overlapping interest in Palestine related issues with London ISM, it is likely he was introduced to the group through this route.
Rob's appearance in the group was relatively early on. He attended many of the meeting of the group which took place at the London Action Resource Centre on Fieldgate Street, and went to the pub with them afterwards.
He took minutes for the group's meeting at LARC on 15 August 2006, at which plans for the Sack Parliament protest of 9 October were discussed. From the minutes, Rob's contribution was to take the lead in putting on a fundraising event which took place on 16th September.
The night before the Sack Parliament protest, a planning meeting was clearly targeted for surveillance (Rob was not at this). However, the next day while police blockades hampered some people from getting to the protest, they seemed unaware of people traveled by London bus into Parliament Square, so passing through police lines into Parliament Suare without interference.
Following the 9 October demonstration, the group solidified into the State of Emergency Collective.
The group was very informally organised, mainly from meeting to meeting, which took place in different venues including LARC and rampART. It also had an internal email list which Rob was on and contributed to, though he is not recalled as coming up with ideas. Some meetings may have occurred at his house.
The ethos of the group was that people did not tend to talk about their background, but instead focused on what they were doing; politics in the group was assumed rather than discussed. This made it easier to blend in. Rob did not stand out in the group or was particularly memorable, though several people recalled that he did go to most meetings. On occasion he would do minutes and he also offered to drive for things.
Among the group's actions and protests Rob is known to have been involved in are:
- drove for Carmel Agrexco actions. One campaigner recalled he drove for a number of these blockades, transporting people, though possibly also people, and that on one such blockade he disappeared for a while to get food for the group.
- drove to do stenciling in Brighton as part of the campaign against the arms firm EDO MDM. He drove campaigners to other protests and actions relating to this campaign.
- the paint-bombing of election offices, for which Rob drove one of the groups taking part. The second group was unable to go, and Rob got very angry over their not taking part, causing a wedge between people.
Suspicion of Rob and impact on the group
Rob was viewed with suspicion within the State of Emergency Collective and a number of people came to believe he was police. This was exacerbated by the sense of creepiness female activists had around him and the accusation he had groped a friend of someone active in State of Emergency during a party, something he strenuously denied.
The process of suspicion played out over time and memories of those involved cover different parts and has been only partly reconstructed.
From what we have been able to piece together from interviews, suspicions began in earnest around the time of the second planned State of Emergency benefit gig at Vortex in March 2007 and played out through the rest of the year. It appears it was just after Vortex was evicted that a meeting was called without him to discuss concerns about his behaviour and the possibility he was police; this lead to an awkward discussion that did not come to resolution as there was a split in opinions.
Though it was not the only issue the group faced, the stuff around Rob impacted the group, and dislike and suspicion of him contributed to people leaving it in the wake of the meeting. Up to that point the group had been averaging around 20 people at meetings, but this fell off sharply, partly because it had cost the group part of active members.
Some time before August he was told by some people in the group they thought he was a cop. Though professing upset at being accused of being an undercover, Rob continued his involvement, including having meetings at his house. and attended the final meeting of the group when it was wound up in late 2007 (after DSEi in September that year). He vanished soon after.
RampART was a squatted social centre at 13-17 Rampart Street, Whitechapel, London. Opened on 1 May 2004, it lasted five years before being evicted on 15 October 2009. It was noted at the time as a host for benefit gigs and other events, and as an important resource for a loose-knit network of anarchist, anti-war and environmental organisations active throughout the mid-2000s. The space was organised by a non-hierarchical collective, which had emerged from the WOMBLES's 'Grand Banks' squatted social centre. The political activity it hosted soon attracted police attention, with Forward Intelligence Teams monitoring it during the European Social Forum in late 2004.
The groups targeted by Rob Harrison all used the venue at one point or another. This included ISM trainings in 2005. Likewise London No Borders also held events and meetings at it, while a number of benefit gigs for both these organisations and also State of Emergency.
Rob was involved in organising a number of benefit gigs at it, though he does not appear to have been part of the organising collective or the specific sub group which managed bookings. However, to have put on events there, he would have had to attend meetings to put his benefit nights forward as proposals. As such he would have come to know the key people there. He also was involved with contacting the venue when State of Emergency wanted to use the space for other purposes.
RampART is notable for the degree it was used by other groups known to have been targeted by undercovers. Disarm DSEi and London Rising Tide used it as a venue at times, as did Clown Army, Women's Anarchist Nuisance Cafe and the Rhythms of Resistance samba band (which used it for its weekly practice). It also hosted activists and events during the 2004 European Social Forum, 2005 anti-G8 mobilisation (Dissent Network), the 2006 / 2007 Camps for Climate Action and the 2009 G20 protests. In particular, Mark Kennedy and Dave Jones can be placed at it. It was also not far from the London Action Resource Centre.
Urban75 is a popular, independent online community that has existed since 1995. It covers a wide range of topics, but is generally left wing and anarchist in outlook. Rob Harrison was active on the community's bulletin boards under the moniker "Boogie Boy" joining in 9 January 2004, with his last post 22 May 2009. Moderators of the site were able to confirm this after his cover name was released by the Undercover Policing Inquiry.
Most of his posts are about music and being a disk jockey, including a mention of bands such as Public Enemy. He also mentioned books he had read, such as Peter Gelderloos' How Nonviolence Protects The State.
A particular aspect Rob was involved with was the Urburns, where members of the site made compilations of music on CD and exchanged them with each other. He took part in three and organised another three. He also set up swaps of music CDs with individual members of the forum. Through this he would have learned identities of posters as well as where they lived. However, it also revealed his address to them (see above).
He took part in Urburn 4 (March 2005), Urburn 5 (June 2005) and Urburn 7 (March 2006). He signed up for Urburn 6 (September 2005) but did not participate. Subsequently, he took on coordination of Urburns 9 (September 2006), 10 (February 2007) and Urburn 11 (July 2007). In November 2007 he said he would organise Urburn 12 but that would be his last one. It does not appear to have happened, however.
In October 2006, in light of having recently met by chance a former, regular poster on Urban75, he reflected:
- was just amused at the fact that the internet offers the chance to be who you want to be (or see yourself as being), as distinct from the reality of who we are.
The following year, on 10 November 2007, in response to the question 'What do you find comforting in this crazy mixed up world?' he wrote:
- The moments of completely honest, non-judgemental human interaction, usually accompanied by a smile. And the feeling of excitement when you finish a book knowing that it will lead you to pick up another.
- And Yorkshire Puddings with hot thick gravy poured over them.
- True comfort!
Though his deployment ended in 2007, he continued posting on Urban75 for more than a year and a half. His last post was on 22 May 2009, and he apparently did not log in after this. However, a second profile, 'Boogieknight', was created on 8 December 2009, though was active for a day only without posting.
Jean Charles de Menezes campaign (2005)
Brazilian electrician, Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead at Stockwell tube station in a police operation on 22 July 2005. The Metropolitan Police said they had mis-identified him has one of the suspects in the 21/7 London bombings. However, they came in for considerable criticism for having a 'shoot-to-kill' policy. A justice campaign, Justice4Jean, was launched and run by family members, and supported by civil rights and justice campaigners such as the Newham Monitoring Group.
Rob Harrison was clearly interested in the campaign. He attended its official launch on 10 October 2005 at London School of Economics (LSE) where speakers included MP Matthew Taylor, the family lawyer Gareth Pierce, journalist Yvonne Ridley, justice campaigner Asad Rehman and celebrity Bianca Jagger. Also contributing from the floor was was the mother of Azelle Rodney, a young man killed in April 2005 also in a police shooting.
On 11 October 2005, Rob posted some thoughts about the meeting on Urban75.net:
- I have to agree that anyone at the meeting had to have been struck hard by the quiet humility and dignity of the family. Their expression of thanks for the support during these difficult times was absolutely gut wrenching.
In the same thread, when it was noted that LSE had charged an extra £700 above the normal fee of £500 for the room hire, citing 'security reasons', Rob replied:
- Absolutely - it was a fucking disgrace - what did they think was going to happen? Did they think that there was going to be a riot?
- Someone at the LSE should be called to account.
In mid-January 2006 he took part in a discussion at Urban75 about the shooting, writing among other things, in response to criticism of coverage of the issue by The Guardian:
- I stand by what I wrote, and I guess to [...] that makes me a moaning left winger who really ought to feel grateful that the police are working so hard to protect us by shooting innocent civillians. We should just accept that as part of the supposed 'war on terrorism' -in much the same way that we should just accept the killing of innocent Iraqi civillians or Palestinians, for that matter.
One person close to the heart of the family justice campaign did not recall the undercover but noted the campaign was a small, tight group and though Rob may have kept tabs on them, he did not get inside the campaign group as such.
Tony Blair protest (September 2006)
On 9 September 2006, when Tony Blair and other New Labour politicians gave talks at the Progress Conference, which took place at the TUC's Congress Hall, a number of demonstrators turned up to protest against Britain's involvement in the Iraq War. Three of them were arrested, apparently having been singled out by the police, and taken to Kentish Town police station. They were released on bail later that night.
Rob emailed London Indymedia saying:
- Hi guys,
- I posted up a comment relating to the arrest of three activists outside of the TUC Congress Hall this morning - and my e-mail address is shown. Can that be removed - I use that for work too so would rather NOT have that being made public. Sorry for the fuck up.
This appears to be the following post, the detail of which implies he was present on the day or close to those who were:
- And they clapped and they clapped...
- 09.09.2006 16:17
- So Mr Blair, what have you done today in the continuing 'fight against terrorism', your mantra to justify the illegal entry in to Iraq, your government's actions in Afghanistan, and your standing by whilst hundreds of innocent Palestinias have been killed by Israeli millitary agression?
- The answer, as ever, is nothing. You chose to attend a meeting at the TUC Congress Hall where Labour Party members had paid up to £20 for the 'privilege' of hearing you speak. And where you could enter and leave a building to the closely choreographed and staged clapping of witless and gutless acolytes, who slavishly continue to allow you to bask in the sun of your own illusions and lies. And where, instead of attending to answering the many questions posed by your government's foreign policy, you huff and puff in an entirely meaningless theatrical display, all the while espousing a free leadership election contest.
- Your 'war on terror' resulted in three activists being arrested and detained (currently at Kentish Town Police Station), one of whom for doing little more than standing by and observing what was happening.
- And your acolytes clapped outside in an attempt to drown out the questions being shouted at you, as the public space is the only area where real questions can be asked of you, as Parliament sleeps redundant.
- So Mr Blair, what did you do today to justify your non-existant war on terror today?
Monday Love & Peace Not War
Rob Harrison was a visitor to at Peace Not War and Monday Love events, were he DJ'ed on occasion.
Monday Love was a successful political weekly film and music night in North London. It began in late 2006, at the Mau Mau Bar, Portabello Road in Notting Hill, organised by people connected to Indymedia and the IFIwatchnet Later it was held at The Good Ship on Kilburn High Road and The InSpiral Lounge, Camden Lock. Many of the themed nights focused on topics Rob and fellow undercovers were active in, such as Palestine, global peace and environmental issues. Resident DJs also turned up to play at other music fund-raisers and parties which Rob was involved in.
Video journalist Jason Parkinson recalled that Rob on occasion attended Monday Love when it was held at The Good Ship, where it was hosted during 2006 and into 2007, and that everyone seemed to know him there.
Peace Not War was a collective founded in 2001 to promote anti-war music. In particular, it released CDs of anti-war / pro-peace music during the second Iraq War and put on various benefit nights. It also organised regular residency nights, including at Brixton Jamm in 2006. As with Monday Love, a number of the artists that Peace Not War worked with would also appear at benefit gigs played at or organised by Rob Harrison.
Reclaim the Future 4 (March 2007)
Reclaim the Future was an irregular all-day event put on by people from the anti-capitalist / anarchist scene in London. The fourth such event took place in at a squat in Holloway Road, north London, on 31 March 2007. It featured numerous talks on a variety of political issues including climate change, squatting, Faslane, DSEi and G8 (see workshops list). The large after-party / benefit gig which took place at the same venue attracted several hundred people.
A police CCTV was parked across from the venue most of the day. During the evening party a large police presence turned up, blocking Holloway Road and hassling those attending. At one point the police violently cleared the street from party-goers outside the venue despite the peaceful nature of the event and arrested four people. Video of police operation via Jason N Parkinson
Rob posted on Urban75 he had been present at the event:
- Nice to finally meet some of the peeps from here.....including peeps who have sent me cds in the last few 'Uburns'. Good to know you all got home safe and sound. My head really really really hurts though.........
Rob appears to have also attended a 'warm-up' gig for Reclaim the Future, which took place on 6 March 2007 at the Damaclot squat in east London. A number of the same musicians were involved in both events, and in both cases food was provided by CoMutiney Gardeners. Damaclot (Dame Colet House on Ben Johnson Road, Stepney Green) also hosted other political events including in May 2007 a fund-raisers for the Camp for Climate Action.
Camberwell Squat / 'Black Frog' (2007)
The Camberwell Squat, also known as Black Frog, was a squatted social centre at 190/192 Warham Road, Camberwell that lasted for about six months through 2007.
As well as having a residential part, it had a very active social space hosting three or four events a week throughout its existance, many political in nature. By April 2007, State of Emergency were holding meetings there, and it was also host to No Borders film nights.
Rob was friends with some of the people active there and visited it on various occasions. In particular, he was involved in speaking at at No Borders Camp film night there on 22 August 2007 (see above under London No Borders).
Rob was involved in preparations for the 'Booty Rebel' DIY dance night at the Camberwell Squat ('Black Frog). This was prevented from taking place when the squat was evicted on 30 August 2007. However, he is believed to have been present for another, similar night called 'Disco Rebel', for which he may have provided equipment.
G8 Summit, Germany (June 2007)
The 2007 G8 Summit took place in Heiligendamm / Rostock in north Germany from 6-8 June. Over 100,000 people attended to protest which in places led to clashes with the police.
Rob Harrison and other protestors travelled together by coach to Hamburg on Thursday, 31 May. From there Rob took the train, needing helped with as he did not speak German. The following day, Rob arrived at the Reddelich camp which hosted around 5000 protestors. With other UK people, he took part in the protest march on Saturday 2 June through the town of Rostock. He stayed at the camp until Friday, 8th June, leaving saying he wanted to get back to London, but also implying he had fallen out with fellow activists there. He also intimated that he had been fighting with police in Rostock at one point. The encounters his fellow activists had with him at the camp were all relatively brief meetings rather than him being part of a particular group of people and doing things with them.
One of his activities there was to do the minutes for No Borders workshop held in the town of Rostock on , something which enabled him to get himself on various European wide mailing lists. This workshop took place on Sunday, 3 June and was attended by several hundred people and was facilitate in part by people from London No Borders.
In late 2007 he chatted with Francis, a London No Borders activist, showing considerable interest in them having both been at the G8 protests that year, though they had not encountered each other there. Both had been at the the pro-migrant March for Freedom of Movement and Equal Rights for all, which took place in Rostock on 4 June 2007, and attracted 10,000 people. The protest itself was divided in two groups, one being led by No One Is Illegal, and was subject to police harrassment and attack throughout the day. Francis had been at the front of the demo where he had helped people who had fallen or been hurt by a police charge as two separate marches tried to join up.
During the conversation Rob talked about battles with the police during the day and claimed to have personally thrown rocks / broken paving slabs down on police from a height. He specifically asked Francis what he thought of that. The other campaigner was surprised by the conversation, particularly that Rob was so open about such activities with someone he did not know that well. He responded that he didn't like the idea of setting out to hurt anyone. In hindsight, Francis felt Rob was clearly fishing for information and perhaps assessing how radical he was. 
Disarm DSEi (September 2007)
Rob Harrison is confirmed to have been arrested during the protests against the 2007 DSEi arms fair protests. Defence & Security Equipment International exhibition is a bi-annual events, often taking place at the ExCel Centre in Docklands, east London. It has been the focus of considerable protests activity from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Disarm DSEi amongst others. The latter group had emerged from of Reclaim the Streets, and was targeted from 1999 to 2005 by the SDS undercover Jason Bishop.
The 2007 event took place 11-14 September at the ExCel Centre.
Disarm DSEi organised several public meetings were organised including during the 2007 Camp for Climate Action at Kingsnorth on 15 August and at rampART on 1st September. The flyer for the latter noted police photographers were expected outside the meeting. A further information and training day took place on 9 September, again at rampART, with workshops including: 'introduction to DSEi, affinity group and action training including legal support, medic training and banner making'.
The 2007 demonstrations were was heavily policed and spaces associated with the protesters were subject to a round-the-clock presence, including rampART. According to a contemporary report from one person at rampART:
- I spoke to a few of the officers there, and they were saying they had information that suggested that people at rampart were planning some sort of direct action. That was their reason for so many officers, vans, and of course, the damn fit team.
Another report spoke of arrests at rampART, with police searching vehicles and knocking on neighbour's doors.
The 10 September was the most intense day of protest. Rob Harrison was with a group of twenty people who at 7.20am accessed the car-park at the ExCel Centre, aiming to prevent the buses carrying delegates from getting in. A report on the day said:
- DSEi invaders broke through two security cordons, and came close to reaching the Excel building in this early morning move which appeared to take police and security by surprise.
- Activists breached the two manned security cordons at the East entrance to the Excel site just before eight o'clock as delegates and staff were arriving. The gates were opened to allow access to traffic, and the activists were able to simply run past the security guards.
- Police had to rugby tackle protesters to the ground to prevent them reaching the East entrance and the loading bays to the rear of the building. One of the police present was heard to comment, "What happened to the security? They were crap!"
- In fact the grey-suited and rather rotund figure who seemed to be in charge of security at the two gates panicked when he saw around 16 black clad figures heading towards him. He started screaming to the guards, "stop them, stop them, don't let them through!", and in his haste to get to the second inner cordon, fell flat on his arse, his clipboard and papers flying around him.
- As it was, only the intervention of four vans of TSG doing hand-break turns across the car park prevented the activists reaching the Excel building. Which is not so good for a location which was supposed to be on heightened 'terrorist' alert. Heads will roll for this one.
The protest was organised on a need-to-know basis with people only given details if they were definitely taking part. Participation was done through word of mouth and many there were friends of friends, though there were a number who had been active with State of Emergency. The ad hoc group met the night before, staying together at a squat in Stepney Green. On the day, police protecting at the venue did not seem to know of the action in advance as they appeared not to expect the protestors for this particular action.
Fifteen of them were arrested for breach of the peace, including Rob. A number had their charges dropped early on, while others were kept in custody for the day and charged with aggravated trespass. One person had to have stitches, being injured on their face. Those arrested on this action were bailed to appear at Stratford Magistrates Court on 21 September. However, the charges against them were soon dropped.
According to one poster on Twitter those arrested were bailed from speaking to each other, and there was at least one court hearing at which Rob Harrison appeared alongside the other defendants before the case was discontinued. The poster went on to say:
- "Rob Harrison" was one of number of DSEi defendants who were unrepresented at court, this led to me sharing communications I was having with solicitors with him.
Documents from the Undercover Policing Inquiry, show that Rob Harrison's arrest was a source of friction within the Special Demonstration Squad. In particular, the summary is presented in the risk assessment conducted for Rob's cover officer, HN30 stated:
- Although she was a supervisor and had been a cover officer for N18 [Rob Harrison], N72 was the operational [Detective Inspector] and took responsibility for the matter. N30 stated that in her opinion senior management used the perceived mismanagement of this arrest to close the unit.
Bash the Rich (November 2007)
Bash the Rich was a march from Portabello Road Market to the Notting Hill house of then prime minister David Cameron, organised by former Class War founder Ian Bone. It took place on 3 March 2007, with 80-100 people attending, and a commensurate number turning up to observe rather than take part. A meeting to promote the event was held at the 2007 London Anarchist Bookfair. There was a significant police presence on the day, including Forward Intelligence Teams, with three arrests - all charges dropped. A low resolution film of the protest is also available at Indymedia.
It appears that Rob Harrison attended both the Anarchist Bookfair workshop and the march, speaking of both in postings on Urban75.net and saying:
- The cops were all over us, lots of FIT and plenty of TSG too. Lots of them and not enough of us perhaps.
The 2007 London Anarchist Bookfair took place at Queen Mary & Westfield College, Mile End Road, E1 on 27 October. The programme for the Bookfair shows a Bash the Rich workshop took place at 2pm, hosted by Ian Bone. London No Borders also held a workshop at this boofkfair at 3pm, while London Rising Tide had a stall there.
6 October 2007: Antifa holds annual Cable Street commemoration gig at Chat's Palace, Hackney to raise awareness of anti-fascism. Flyer for event. From a posting on Urban75.net, Rob appears to have attended.
1 December 2006: he subscribed to IraqFocus, the email newsletter of the Iraq Occupation Focus (IOF). Though IOF was an anti-war group, it was of a different nature to the other campaigns he was targeting at that point in time, and he does not appear to have otherwise participated in it. As such, it is likely that the subscription to the newsletter was a specific tasking from Special Branch as part of their wider monitoring of peace and other anti-war groups.
At some point in 2007, Rob went to a benefit gig at the Area 10 squat in Peckham. He is recalled at this because the DJ decks were supposed to be open to everyone there, but Rob took over the event to become the DJ for the evening.
On 4 October 2007: Rob re-posted on Urban UK a call-out for a 'die-in' action at Total Oil in central London for the following day. The action was part of a Global Day of Action for Burma called for 6 October 2007 in response to the military suppression of the peaceful monk's uprising in the country. It is unclear if he attended events called by the group, and Rob does not appear to have been otherwise involved in Burma Campaigns UK.
19 November 2007: posts contact details of solicitors Hickman & Rose on Urban75. This was in response to a thread where a squatted social centre was under attack and needed assistance. Later in the discussion he added in 'it might be worth getting some form of mobilisation started.' The firm had previously represented some of the people who had been arrested with him at the DSEi action two months earlier.
One of the last identified encounters with Rob was when he turned up for an archiving night at the 56A Info Shop in Elephant & Castle, were he was remembered his very clumsy attempts to ask questions of a long term volunteer there.
Closure of the SDS in 2008
Rob Harrison's arrest at DSEi appears to have precipitated events leading to the closure of the Special Demonstration Squad. According to documents relating to Harrison's supervisor and cover officer, HN30:
- Although she was a supervisor and had been a cover officer for N18 [Rob Harrison], N72 was the operational [Detective Inspector] and took responsibility for the matter. N30 stated that in her opinion senior management used the perceived mismanagement of this arrest to close the unit. Elsewhere, the assessment notes: the closure of the unit in 2008 by N314 and N275 was, in the opinion of N30, unfair and the cause of some friction with the remainder of the management team.
It is not entirely clear but according to HN30 and another of the unit's managing officers, HN72, that the unit's senior officers were intent on closing it down. The arrest of Rob Harrison was used to support this move.
That undercovers broke the law and even appeared in court as a defendant was relatively common. According to the second Operation Herne report, some 24 undercovers were arrested - some more than once. However, with some exceptions, participation in illegal activities had to be authorised in advance.
This would also imply that his participation in the DSEi action was not authorised, or at least he was not granted to partake in anything which would lead to his arrest. Given the reluctance of the SDS/NPIOU to let their officers anywhere near the judicial system Harrison's appearance in court, one of a very rare number of arrests leading to a court appearance, would be a significant breach of this policy. It is as yet not known if his entire participation in the action was on Harrison's own initiative, or his presence there was sought by handling officers.
- For further details see The last years of the Special Demonstration Squad – insight from HN30, Undercover Research Group.
Overlap with other undercovers
Rob Harrison was one of the last undercovers deployed by the Special Demonstration Squad. His initial deployment appears to have been into Globalise Resistance. Up until August 2004, this had been the target of another undercover Simon Wellings. However, that month, Wellings exposed by the group and had to leave, though according to the Undercover Policing Inquiry, he would remain active into 2007 targeting anarchist groups.
A number of other SDS undercovers were coming to the end of their deployments around the time Harrison was placed in the field. These include Jason Bishop and Jackie Anderson who were active in some of the same radical left / anarchist milieu Harrison targeted, particularly the social centres such as London Action Resource Centre (LARC). Bishop had also been very active in the protests around DSEi and targeted a number of the same people who were later arrested with Harrison.
Another SDS undercover contemporary to Rob was Dave Jones, who spent 2005-2007 infiltrating social justice and environmental group, London Rising Tide (also spied on by Mark Kennedy). The group was a regular user of LARC and rampART.
Also around at the time were SDS operatives Dave Evans, targeting by then animal rights / anti-fur protestors and Carlo Neri, active in anti-fascist organising. Two other undecovers whose deployments were concurrent with Harrison have not had their details released, while another, Ross McInnes was in 2007 sent into the far right United British Alliance.
Rob Harrison also overlapped with a number of National Public Order Intelligence Unit undercovers - Mark Kennedy, Lynn Watson and Marco Jacobs. Of these, it is Jacobs who is would have likely encountered while deployed, as Marco was active in Smash Edo in 2005, and in 2007, while spying on No Borders South Wales, attended the Gatwick No Borders camp.
- For further details see under individual profiles of the undercovers.
Police chain of command
- Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations: David Veness, Andy Hayman (from 2005) - both also heading up ACPO's Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee which oversaw the NPOIU.
- Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Security & Protection: Suzanna Becks.
- Commander of Special Branch: Colin Black (T/Cmdr in 2004) Janet Williams & Phil Gormley.
2006-2007 In October 2006, Special Branch and Anti-Terrorism Branch merged to form SO15 / Counter Terrorism Command.
- Deputy Assistant Commissioner, heading SO15 / CTC: Peter Clarke.
- Commander of Operations, SO15 / Deputy National Coordinator of Terrorist Investigations: John McDowall.
- Detective Chief Superintendent (Intelligence): Alan Mitchell, formerly of the NPOIU.
- Email to core participants, '20181211-UCPI_to_all_CPs-publishing _HN18', Undercover Policing Inquiry, 11 December 2018, referencing update of the webpage UCPI.org.uk/cover-names.
- Asa Winstanley, Police spy infiltrated Palestine activists, The Electronic Intifada, 13 December 2018 (accessed 17 December 2018).
- Asa Winstanley, Revealed: UK police spy who infiltrated Palestine solidarity, Electronic Infitada, 10 July 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: miscellaneous communications from those who encountered Rob Harrison.
- First full images of Rob Harrison released in the article: Asa Winstanley, Revealed: UK police spy who infiltrated Palestine solidarity, Electronic Infitada, 10 July 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: email from 'Ryan' (alias), a campaigner from No Borders, 24 December 2018.
- Undercover Research Group: interview with 'Fred' (alias), a campaigner active in State of Emergency, 18 April 2019.
- Asa Winstanley, Police spy infiltrated Palestine activists, The Electronic Intifada, 13 December 2018 (accessed 13 February 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: interview with Asa Winstanley, January 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: phone call with Asa Winstanley, 13 December 2018.
- Undercover Research Group: interview with 'Marcia' (alias), an ISM activist, 27 February 2019.
- 'scumbly blythe' (@piombo), tweet thread on Rob Harrison, Twitter.com, 13 December 2018 (accessed 30 April 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: interview with 'Anita' and 'Sonia' (aliases), 1 June 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: phonecall with 'Kerry' (alias), a London ISM activist, 6 May 2019.
- He also posted regarding rap music and Louis Farrakan on Urban75's forums. See: My Mother calls it cRAP music (thread), Urban75.net, 16 May 2004 (accessed 28 April 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: interview with Jason N. Parkinson, 20 June 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: interview with 'Alex' (alias), 1 April 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: phone call with 'C', a London No Borders activist.
- Undercover Research Group: interview with 'Jane' (alias), an activist with State of Emergency, 12 October 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: interview with 'Steve' (alias), 24 October 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: information provided anonymously, July 2019. This person has been identified as a sound engineer involved with New Cross-based studios, London Music Solutions Ltd (MusicRoomLondon.com), which as of time of writing (October 2019) has no identified connection with activist music scene.
- 'winjer', Undercover Policing Inquiry (thread, page 16), Urban75.net, 15 December 2018 (accessed 28 April 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: search of posts on Urban75.net, January 2019.
- Boogie Boy, Birkbeck university (thread), Urban75.net (bulletin board), 17 September 2005 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Newcastle United 2008-2009 Thread], Urban75.net (bulletin board), Summer 2008 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Boogie Boy, Stolen B & W 602 S3 (thread), Urban75.net (bulletin board), 4 April 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- It would appear his car was at LARC as the venue had hosted a State of Emergency film night on the 3 April. See: StateOfEmergency.org.uk, snapshot of website, captured by Archive.org taken 3 May 2007.
- Undercover Research Group: private communications, May 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: around July 2006, Rob Harrison sent his new address to someone he had met on Urban75 as part of the CD music swapping project, Urburn.
- Sir John Mitting, Core Participants Ruling 28 / Recognised Legal Representatives Ruling 22 / Costs of Legal Representation Ruling Awards Ruling 21, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 May 2019 (accessed 3 May 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: email from Asa Winstanley, 13 February 2019.
- Which march is not clearly recalled, but is probably either the one of 20 March 2006 or the 9 June 2007
- No Border Campaign, No Border Campaign, undated (last accessed 2 March 2019)
- 'Indy_mind', UK Indymedia,No Border Camp Strasbourg21 July 2002,(last accessed 2 March 2019)
- Undercover Research Group, Interview with 'Jack Sheppard' (alias), 2 March 2018
- London NoBorders: history, London.NoBorders.org.uk, 5 December 2011 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- No Borders UK, about no borders, no date (accessed 2 March 2019)
- See, for example, London NoBorders: who are we?, London.NoBorders.org.uk, undated (accessed 7 February 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: email from 'Francis' (alias), an activist with London No Borders, 5 September 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: email from 'Sonia' (alias), 16 September 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: several people have shared with us email communications Rob Harrison sent to London No Borders using his 'firstname.lastname@example.org' & 'email@example.com' accounts. We are publishing only excerpts from these in order to protect the privacy of people named in them.
- Undercover Research Group: email from C, a campaigner with London No Borders, 18 December 2018.
- Undercover Research Group: while this might be a case for clumsy political postioning on behalf of a undercover police officer, there is also apossibility that he opned the debate on Islam with the intention to create a wedge within the group.
- Islam (thread), Urban75.net (bulletin board), 2006 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Rob Harrison, 'Was it you?', No Borders London (email list), 28 July 2006.
- Rob Harrison, Re: Re: [noborderslondon] draft climate change leaflet, No Borders London (email list), 1 November 2006.
- National Climate March 2006, Campaign Against Climate Change (campaign website), undated (accessed 28 September 2019).
- Climate Change demo, London No Borders, 3 November 2006 (accessed 28 September 2019).
- Rob Harrison / 'Boogie', email to London No Borders, 19 June 2007.
- We want a Tank for DSEi! (thread), Urban75.net 25 November 2007 (accessed 28 April 2019).
- February 10th Demonstration Latest, London No Borders, 17 January 2007 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- Shut Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Detention Centres, London No Borders, 22 December 2006 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- Close Harmondsworth and Colnbrook, London No Borders, 9 February 2007 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- Harmondsworth Demo Pictures, London No Borders, 15 February 2007 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- 'one of noborders', First Report from the NoBorders Demo in Harmondsworth, Indymedia UK, 10 February 2007 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- 'John O', They shall not pass - demo @ kalyx/Colnbrook 10th February 2007, Indymedia UK, 11 February 2007 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- Jason N. Parkinson, John McDonnell MP Speaks at Migrant Rights Demonstration, JasonNParkinson.com (personal website), 10 February 2007 (accessed 10 May 2019).
- Various images of the protest, unfortunately many indistinct can be found in Indymedia references for this demonstration. More are also available in archives of the NCADC.org.uk website.
- Weekend of Resistance and Solidarity, London No Borders, 1 December 2006 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- February Demonstration, London No Borders, 17 December 2006 (accessed 7 February 2019).
- Rob Harrison, No PA, No Borders London (email list), 8 February 2007.
- UndercoverResearch Group: phonecall with 'Thomas' (alias), September 2019.
- No Borders London, Shut Harmondsworth & Colnbrook Detention Centres! Feb 10 2007, Indymedia UK, 10 January 2007 (accessed 28 September 2019).
- 'boogie', Next No Border Camp Meeting, Indymedia (Brum), 17 August 2007 (accessed 10 May 2019).
- Boogie Boy, Next Meeting For UK No Border Camp, Urban75.net 25 November 2007 (accessed 28 April 2019).
- No Borders camp at Gatwick, No Borders Nottingham, 17 July 2007 (accessed 28 September 2019).
- The Gatwick No Border Camp press group, The Gatwick No Border Camp forced to change location after police harassment, Indymedia (UK), 17 September 2007 (accessed 11 October 2019).
- Stroppyoldgit, ‘@ @rchie’, Indymedia UK, 3 February 2011 (accessed 19 January 2019).
- SackParliament.org.uk, snapshot of website, captured by Archive.org taken 13 September 2006.
- SackParliament.org.uk, snapshot of website, captured by Archive.org on 6 October 2006.
- StateOfEmergency.org.uk, snapshot of website, captured by Archive.org taken 3 May 2007.
- StateOfEmergency.org.uk, snapshot of website, captured by Archive.org taken 10 April 2008.
- The group was involved in hosting a public meeting on 3rd December, and the name resurrected for another Defence Industry Dinner demonstration held on 12 November 2008. It's last recorded appearance was on 12 November 2008 for a repeat of the Defence Industry Dinner picket. See: StateOfEmergency.org.uk, snapshot of website, captured by Archive.org taken 4 May 2009.
- Undercover Research Group: email from 'Gina', campaigner with State of Emergency.
- Minutes of State of Emergency Collective meeting held at the London Action Resource Centre, 15 August 2006, taken by Rob Harrison and distributed him by email on 21 August 2006.
- 'part', Latest news from the rampART, Indymedia (Leeds-Bradford), 11 September 2006 (accessed 26 February 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: emails from 'Fred' (alias), 19 April 2019.
- Mudlark121, Today in London squatting history: RampART squat social centre evicted, Whitechapel, 2009, 'PastTense (blog), 15 October 2018.
- rampart, sixth months of autonomy, Indymedia (London), 12 December 2004 (accessed 26 February 2019).
- SquatNews, Something maybe beautiful..., Indymedia UK, 12 May 2005 (accessed 13 February 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: interview with 'Geoff' (alias), one of the people who ran the rampART space, Spring 2019
- In an email dated 7 September 2006, Rob writes to State of Emergency list: 'Request for rampART for training has been made for all three dates'.
- Rampart Social Centre Birthday, Advisory Service for Squatters (Squatter.org.uk), 19 May 2005 (accessed 26 February 2019).
- rampART, rampART 2 Years Birthday Anniversary Celebration, Indymedia UK, 24 May 2006 (accessed 26 February 2019).
- SquatNews, Something maybe beautiful..., Indymedia UK, 12 May 2005 (accessed 26 February 2019).
- rampart, Crash space for the bookfair, Indymedia UK, 23 October 2007 (accessed 26 February 2019).
- Records of Rampart.co.nr website held at Archive.org, viewed 26 February 2019).
- Boogie Boy (members), Urban75.net, undated (accessed 28 April 2019)
- Winjer, Undercover policing enquiry, Urban75.net, 15 December 2018 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Urburn 12 - The Last Boogie! (thread), Urban75.net, 11 November 2007 (accessed 28 April 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: messages from 'BristleKRS' (alias), December 2018.
- Boogie Boy, Pickman's Model, Urban75.net, 7 October 2006 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Boogie Boy, Comforts (thread), Urban75.net (bulletin board), 10 November 2007.
- Boogieknight (members), Urban75.net, undated (accessed 7 September 2019)
- Death of Jean Charles de Menezes, Wikipedia, 2019 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Archive of Justice4Jean.com, family justice campaign website, made by Archive.org 18 August 2007.
- Who we are( Archive of Justice4Jean.com), family justice campaign website, made by Archive.org 18 August 2007.
- Rob, de Menezes Family Campaign Launch And Rally, Londonist.com, 7 October 2005 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 'Boogie Boy', Jean Charles de Menezes meeting tonight (reminder), Urban75.net (bulletin board), 11 October 2005 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 'Boogie Boy', Israeli officials criticise De Menezes shooting!, Urban75.net (bulletin board), 15 January 2006 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: email from Kevin Blowe, 17 December 2018.
- Jason N. Parkinson, Photos of #SpyCops #RobHarrison revealed, who infiltrated #ISM, #NoBorders and also believed to have attended and DJed at #PeaceNotWar and #MondayLove events., Twitter.com, 11 July 2019 (accessed 13 July 2019).
- 'video', monday love! music and movies in portobello, Indymedia UK, 19 October 2006 ((accessed 11 July 2019).
- See for example: Monday Love Crew, Monday Love Continues..., Indymedia (London), 5 November 2006 (accessed 11 July 2019).
- Phill, Peace Not War Press Release, Indymedia UK, 21 January 2004 (accessed 11 July 2019).
- Peace.fm (wesbite), Peace Not War, undated (accessed 11 July 2019).
- Peace-Not-War.org (archive.org capture of website), Peace Not War, undated (accessed 11 July 2019).
- Hugh, Peace Not War Residency @ Brixton Jamm, Indymedia (London), 6 February 2006 (accessed 11 July 2019).
- Reclaim the Future IV, Reclaim The Streets, 2007 (accessed 30 August 2007).
- 'rtf', Reclaim the Future 4, London March 31st., Indymedia UK 5 March 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 'Lu-Key', Reclaim the Future...Riot vans at the gate, Indymedia UK 1 April 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- rikki, RTF4 pics, Indymedia UK 1 April 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 'wronger', Riot cops at RTF4, Indymedia UK 1 April 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Boogie Boy, Reclaim The Futures (thread), Urban75.net (bulletin board), 1 April 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Boogie Boy, Reclaim The Futures (thread), Urban75.net (bulletin board), 29 March 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 'mark r', Reclaim The Futures (thread), Urban75.net (bulletin board), 15 March 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 'Windymiller', Power Up! Benefit Party, Indymedia (London), 10 July 2007 (accessed 30 April 2019).
- Social Centres Network, Freedom (newspaper), 5 May 2007 (accessed 30 April 2019).
- mudlark121, Today in London squatting history: Camberwell Squat Centre/Black Frog evicted, 2007, Past Tense (blog), 30 August 2017 (accessed 25 October 2019).
- Archives of Black Frog / Camberwell Squat, held at 56A Info Shop, viewed 24 October 2019. See also capture of the project's website at Archive.org.
- Black Frog, Events at Camberwell Squatted Centre postponed, Indymedia UK, 1 September 2019.
- Undercover Research Group: email from 'Steve' (alias), 24 October 2019.
- A 'Disco Rebel' event took place at the Camberwell Squat on 28 April 2007 - see 'black frog', Camberwell Squatted Centre - Full Weekend Programme, Indymedia UK', 26 April 2007 (accessed 27 October 2019).
- Budge, Rostock, Heiligendamm and the G8, ForwardYouth (blog), 25 June 2007 (accessed 28 September 2019).
- Guido, Rostock demonstration for global freedom of movement and equal rights for all., Indymedia UK, 5 June 2007 (accessed 13 September 2019).
- ((i))uk-de, G8 Protest: Summit Blockaded From All Sides, Indymedia UK, 5 June 2007 (accessed 13 September 2019).
- Disarm DSEI, DISARM DSEi meeting @ Climate Camp, Indymedia UK, 12 August 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Disarm DSEI, Disarm DSEi Public Meeting @ rampART London 1st September, Indymedia UK, 29 August 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Disarm DSEI, DISARM DSEi Information and Action Training Day, Indymedia UK, 6 September 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- LX365, DISARM DSEi Information and Action Training Day, 9th September, Urban75.net, 6 September 2007 (accessed 28 February 2019).
- 'neck', Cops at Rampart, Indymedia UK, 12 September 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- rampart, DSEi related arrest in Rampart Street, London, Indymedia UK, 13 September 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- DSEi 2007 (aggregate page), Indymedia UK, September 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 'streets', News from the streets - SMS news during DSEi, Indymedia UK, 10 September 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Angela Saini, Defence fair under attack, BBC Online, 11 September 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Emily Apple, Hidden in a risk assessment is evidence of a spycop arrested on an anti-arms-trade protest, The Canary, 4 October 2018 (accessed 28 February 2019).
- val, security breached at Dsei (comment), Indymedia UK, 13 September 2007 (accessed 28 September 2019).
- Val, Dsei security not fit for purpose, Indymedia UK, 14 September 2007 (accessed 28 September 2019).
- Tim Weber, Protesters arrested at arms fair, BBC Online, 11 September 2007 (accessed 2019).
- 'g', arrested court date info (comment), Indymedia UK, 13 September 2007 (accessed 28 September 2019).
- 'scumbly blythe' (@piombo), tweet thread on Rob Harrison, Twitter.com, 18 December 2018 (accessed 30 April 2019).
- Adrian Baxter, N30 - Risk Assessment (gisted), Metropolitan Police Service, 28 August 2018 (accessed 2 October 2018, via ucpi.org.uk).
- BashTheRich.wordpress.com, campaign website, 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Ian Bone, Bash the Rich - some thoughts, IanBone.wordpress.com (blog), 4 November 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 'imc-er', Bash the rich? In yer dreams maybe..., Indymedia (London), 3 November 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Boogie Boy, Bash the Rich!, Urban75.net (bulletin board), 5 November 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- 2007 Lonodn Anarchist Bookfair poster, AnarchistBookfair.org.uk (viewed 19 April 2019).
- Boogie Boy, Antifa Cable Street Beat, 6th October, Hackney, Urban75.net (bulletin board), 7 October 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: communication with Iraq Occupation Focus, 10 May 2019.
- Area 10 was a noted squatted art space that from 2002 to 2010 took over a warehouse at Eagle Wharf, Peckham Hill Street; mosty focused on contemporary arts projects, it also put on political events.
- Boogie Boy, Solidarity Die-in and Demo in London on Friday, Urban75.net (bulletin board), 4 October 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- At the time, the Burmese military regime was making headlines globally, leading some UK campaigners to focused on Total Oil's role in propping up the regime. The text posted by Rob was from their initial call-out, and the event was the first of a number of protests over the following year targeting Total Oil's headquarters and petrol garages. It was followed up with a national day of action on 24 November. See: 'dv', TOTALitarian Oil Out of Burma - demos this week, Indymedia UK, 20 November 2007 (accessed 10 May 2019).
- Undercover Research Group: emails from Burma Campaign UK, June 2019.
- Boogie Boy, Urgent - 24 hr advice number for squatters, Urban75.net (bulletin board), 19 November 2007 (accessed 28 March 2019).
- Adrian Baxter, N30 - Risk Assessment (gisted), Metropolitan Police Service, 28 August 2018 (accessed 2 October 2018, via ucpi.org.uk).
- Dónal O’Driscoll, The last years of the Special Demonstration Squad – insight from HN30, Undercover Research Group, 15 January 2019 (accessed 30 August 2019.
- Mick Creedon, Operation Herne - report 2: Allegations of Peter Francis (Operation Trinity), Metropolitan Police Service, March 2014, sections 19.1 & 19.2.
- See, for example, Dónal O’Driscoll, Operation Aeroscope – a re-examination, Undercover Research Group, 7 November 2018, and in particular the file: 4 NPOIU Aeroscope Disclosure Review and Authorization of UCO133 Deployment, via SpecialBranchFiles.uk.