Rod Richardson: Undercover Policing Inquiry

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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
EN32 / N596
Rod Richardson face.jpg
Alias: Rod Richardson
Deployment: 1999-2003
Environmental, anti-capitalist and anti-fascist protestors, Movement Against Monarchy, WOMBLES, Earth First! network

Rod Richardson was an environmental, anarchist and animal rights protestor who was active between 1999 and 2003 in Essex, London and Nottingham. In February 2013 he was unmasked on Indymedia UK and in The Guardian as an undercover officer. On 15th December 2016, the Undercover Policing Inquiry released a statement confirming he had been a Metropolitan Police officer and that he had worked for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and that no restriction order was being sought in respect of the cover name.[1]

This pages provides the officer's interactions with the Undercover Policing Inquiry, where he was given the cipher EN32,[2] and previously in the Inquiry and by Operation Herne as N596.[1] (For more on this cipher system see [N officers])

Rod was not directly cited in the Ellison Review or the first three reports of Operation Herne, either by name or as N596.[3] However, he is the subject of the investigation labelled Operation Riverwood (see main profile for details).

See also

Rod Richardson and the Undercover Policing Inquiry

Early mentions and confirmation of cover name

The officers's role as an undercover officer was noted several times in the early applications for core participation in the then Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing. Among those whose applications were successful were Barbara Shaw (mother of the real Rod Richardson whose identity had been stolen); though Pitchford wrongly stated that she had been apologised to by the Metropolitan Police. Others who cited him in their applications included a group of animal rights campaigners who had been active with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. Those representing the shared house that Rod had lived in Nottingham had their application refused.[4]

At the time of the hearings for core participation, Rod was referred to by the cypher N596. As such, he was among a group of similar officers applying for core participation under the N cypher designation.[5] This group was represented by the legal firm of Slater & Gordon (formerly Russell Walker), a firm with a long history of representing police officers in court cases. Pitchford accepted their applications as a group. There were 16 officers in the Slater & Gordon applications, including John Dines (N5), Bob Lambert (N10), Jim Boyling (N14), Carlo Neri (N104) Marco Jacobs (N519) and Dave Hagan (N81).

On 15 December 2016 the Inquiry released a press notice stating:[1]

The Inquiry has received confirmation that no restriction is sought over the undercover identity used by a police officer known as N596, which was ‘Rod Richardson’. The officer known as ‘Rod Richardson’ was employed by the Metropolitan Police Service and worked for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. The officer is not currently a core participant in the Inquiry and will be making an application for a restriction order over his real identity.

On the same day, the Metropolitan Police released their own statement:[6]

The Undercover Policing Inquiry has confirmed that a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) undercover officer who worked in the National Public Order and Intelligence Unit used the cover name of 'Rod Richardson', which was based on the identity of a deceased child.
We acknowledge this tactic has caused Ms Shaw, whose deceased son Rod Richardson's identity was used, huge hurt and offence. The MPS will make every effort to meet with Ms Shaw, if she wishes, to apologise to her in person and explain how this came to be. It is only right that any apology is given privately to her.

Activists responded, stating:[7]

Whilst this is not a bad thing, it is not to be celebrated. It is merely telling us what we already know. Richardson was unmasked by activists he spied on nearly four years ago. Furthermore, the only reason we know these men were spycops is because their targets investigated and exposed them – a practice criticized by the inquiry and thunderously condemned by the Metropolitan Police.

Restriction order application over real name

On 15 November 2018, the Inquiry, Sir John Mitting, indicated he would grant the application for a restriction order over the officer's real name,[8] writing:[2]

EN32 is a serving police officer. He was deployed against two groups between 1998 and 2003 and reported on others. His deployments are of significant interest to the Inquiry. His cover name is already in the public domain and was published by the Inquiry (under the reference HN596) on 15 December 2016. A great deal of information has been published in the traditional media and on activist websites about his deployment. Anyone who has information or evidence to give about his deployment can readily do so. Publication of his real name is not necessary to permit the Inquiry to fulfil its terms of reference. To do so would interfere with his and his family's right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention, in one or both of two ways: by prompting unwelcome attention, possibly including low-level harassment, from associates of those with whom he interacted during his deployment; and by unwelcome attention from the traditional media. Such interference would not be justified under Article 8(2).
For reasons identified in the closed note which accompanies these reasons, it would not be in the public interest for his real name to be published.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Undercover Policing Public Inquiry, No anonymity sought for undercover identity ‘Rod Richardson’, (press release), 15 December 2016 (accessed 7 January 2017).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sir John Mitting, In the matter of section 19(3) of the Inquiries Act 2005. Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and its predecessor/successor units 'Minded to' Note 3, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 15 November 2018.
  3. Undercover Research Group: search conducted 15 January 2017.
  4. Christopher Pitchford, Core participants Ruling (No.1 / reissued), Undercover Policing Inquiry,, 21 October 2015 (revised 21 September 2016; accessed 8 January 2017). See paragraphs 40, 59.
  5. Christopher Pitchford, Core participants Ruling (No.1 / reissued), Undercover Policing Inquiry,, 26 October 2016 (final version; accessed 8 January 2017). See paragraphs 25 & 28.
  6. Statement regarding the Undercover Policing Inquiry, Metropolitan Police Service (press release), 15 December 2016 (accessed 8 January 2017).
  7. Official: Rod Richardson was a Spycop,, 15 December 2016 (accessed 8 January 2017).
  8. Steven Gray, Counsel to the Inquiry's Explanatory Note to accompany the third 'Minded To' note in respect of applications for restriction orders over the real and cover names of officers of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and its predecessor/successor units, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 15 November 2018.