Peter Spindler

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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
Police Officers
Peter Spindler
Peter Spindler 1.jpg
Police Units:
Police Forces:
Undercover Policing:Operation Herne, Child Sex Abuse investigations: Wonderland Club, Operation Ore & Operation Yewtree; Anti-Corruption;
Dates Active:
1985 to 2015

Peter Richard Spindler (born August 1964,[1] Lambeth) is a senior police officer in the Metropolitan Police. He is most noted as the head of Operation Yewtree, the investigation into child sexual abuse scandals. He has led the Covert Policing Command and the Directorate of Professional Standards. However, he has also played a role in later responses by the Metropolitan Police in relation to the undercover policing scandal and ongoing allegations of corruption in relation to the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. He retired as a police officer in 2015, to become a policing consultant.[2]

Early Timeline

  • 1996: Detective Inspector; appears in a newspaper article as head of 4 Area Drug Squad, a 17 strong team which covers south-east London.[3]
  • 1997: Detective Chief Inspector with Operation Bumblebee, an intelligence lead project that targeted burglars across the Metropolitan Police area.[4]
  • January - April 1998: seconded to Regional Crime Squad, as Branch Commander.[2]
  • 1998 - 2000: National Crime Squad, Branch Commander.[2] In February 1999, he oversaw the arrest of racehorse owner Graham Piper (an ex police-officer) for running a major drugs smuggling gang in Operation Pierrot.[5][6] Piper would be jailed in 2001.[7] He also oversaw an operation to release a kidnaped Cambridge schoolboy circa 2000.[8]
  • January 2000 - August 2002: Detective Superintendent as an Area Commander for the National Crime Squad[2] where he was the national lead for child abuse on the internet.[2]
2000/2001: headed the investigation into the Wonderland Club paedophile ring (uncovered in 1998), which led to the jailing of its members.[9][10]
2002: Spindler headed Operation Ore, the large operation against paedophiles accessing indecent images via the internet, which acted on information from the FBI sting operation ('Candyman') from 1999 to 2001 (the FBI had passed the intelligence onto the National Criminal Intelligence Unit which identified suspects). Operation Ore saw the National Crime Squad co-ordinate multiple arrests across the UK in 2002. The ACPO lead on child abuse at the time was DAC Carole Howlett of the Metropolitan Police.[11][12]
  • 2003: Detective Superintendent as 'deputy head of child protection for London'.[8]
On taking over the unit from DCI Bob McLachlan, he reorganised it considerably and increased its size from 12 to 22; though he was criticised by McLachlan for having removed all but four of the detectives who were serving there, as this would be a loss of expertise.[13] Spindler also brought in three women to the unit for the first time, to act undercover monitoring suspected paedophiles.[14] At the time his department was considered to come under CID / Specialist Operations.[8]
  • January 2004 - April 2008: Detective Chief Superintendent (OCU Commander) as head of Child Protection Command / Child Abuse Investigation Command and Counter-Corruption Command, Metropolitan Police.
Held responsibility for all child abuse investigations in London.[2] By 2006 he had 600 staff across London, which in the period 2005-2006 investigated 793 cases of child rape.[15] Part of his work for Child Protection Command included in 2006 the rolling out of the Impact Nominal Index as part of the work towards implementing the recommendations of the Bichard Inquiry into the Soham murders.[16]

Covert Policing Command

In March 2007 Spindler is appointed to the rank of Commander,[18] and from April 2008 to July 2011, he is head of Covert Policing Command. He was also lead on technical surveillance for the Association of Chief Police Officers.[19] He describes his responsibilities at Covert Policing as:[2]

[Metropolitan Police] lead for surveillance, undercover policing, witness protection, prison intelligence and hostage and crisis negotiation.

One operation he is known to have authorised is the Operation Gemini sting which established a pawnshop in Cricklewood, staffed by undercover police to entrap individuals engaged in low level crime.[20] He also held a secret commemorative service to honour the 25th anniversary stabbing to death of DC John Fordham by Kenneth Noye; a trophy to Fordham's memory was also dedicated to be given annually 'to the individual who has made the most significant contribution to surveillance'. In an interview Spindler stated: 'I have a 3ft-high picture of John by my desk. This picture is a constant reminder of the dangers our staff put themselves in on behalf of the public. John is looking down when I am ... making the operational decisions that might put our staff in danger'.[21]

Director of Professional Standards

August 2011 to August 2012, Spindler was the Director of Professional Standards for the Metropolitan Police, continuing with the rank of Commander. In this he oversaw 'internal investigations, counter corruption, civil actions and employment tribunals'.[2]

In January 2012, Spindler and his deputy, DCS Richard Heselden answered allegations that hundreds of officers were escaping misconduct charges by being allowed to resign from the Metropolitan Police. They defended this on the grounds of pragmatism, including saying it was more cost-efficient to get them out of the force, than going through an expensive complaints process. Under Spindler the anti-corruption unit was given more resources, and moved to a central base at the Empress State Building in Earls Court.[22][23] At the time it emerged that while 43 Metropolitan Police officers had been fired in 2011, 130 staff had resigned in the same period and so avoided misconduct panels.[24]

In July 2012 Spindler responded to figures that showed a rise in claims of racism within the police by stating: 'The increase reflects the growing confidence of our staff in reporting internal matters that we deal with through our misconduct proceedings. These do not arise from public complaints but from staff feeling sufficiently confident to report these issues themselves.' Though overall there was a fall to 444 complaints by the public from the 2008-2009 high of 750 complaints. 42 internal allegations were made over 2011-2012 and investigated by the DPS.[25]

His tenure at the Directorate ended in August 2012. At the time it was under heavy criticism over Operation Sumaq. This investigation into corruption at the Enfield Crime Squad had begun in May 2008 and was most notable for its prosecution of six officers for a baseball attack on a suspected stolen car. Despite numerous complaints of abuse (43 separate allegations were investigated), and covert technical surveillance of the officers under suspicion, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to not bring charges against 15 officers. Nine officers were disciplined but no dismissals occured and no senior officers were held to account. This lead to the police complaints procedure being branded as 'unfit for purpose'.[26]

Police corruption, private security and the James Ibori affair

February 2012 saw Spindler being summoned to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, at the time looking into private investigators, as part of the wider investigations around the phone-hacking scandal. (Also giving evidence alongside him was former Metropolitan Deputy Assistant Commissioner Roy Clark.[27]) During questioning, Spinder discussed the view of the Serious Organised Crime Agency that private investigators were a source of police corruption, and the general lack of regulation around the relationship between private intelligence agencies and the police in general.[28]

Spindler told the Committee hearing that he was not aware of police officers being paid by private investigators for information. He was subsequently asked to clarify his evidence when it emerged that since October 2011 his department had been investigating alleged corruption of police by private security firm RISC Management in the James Ibori affair. In this case officers were accused of being paid for intelligence into the investigation of corrupt businessman and politician James Ibori.[29][30] (For further information see under RISC Management).

Spindler would come in for further criticism when it was revealed that a team of his detectives under DCI Tim Neligan had failed to properly investigate the police corruption aspects of the affair, and had concealed the evidence in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service. Instead, the team had focused on identifying a whistleblower who was then charged with perverting the course of justice. Spindler is also said to have told Bernard Hogan-Howe that corruption claims as alleged by the BBC were false without having first checked to see if the documents concerned were genuine.[31]

Stephen Lawrence murder investigation and undercover policing scandals

Spindler was caught up into the long saga relating to corruption around the investigation of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993, while he and his Directorate of Professional Standards was involved in reviewing various crucial aspects of the undercover policing scandal. Following claims of corruption re-emerging in 2011, two organisations conducted their own investigations into whether there was new evidence, and whether the Metropolitan Police had withheld evidence of corruption from the Macpherson Inquiry. The two were the DPS and the Independent Police Complaints Commission IPCC.

The DPS inquiry in only two months managed to consult former and serving officer, and to comb thousands of documents held both in New Scotland Yard and the National Archives, some dating back to the 1980s. The DPS focused in particular on allegations of corruption against Commander Ray Adams and Det. Sgt. John Davidson.[32] The DPS and the IPCC concluded there was no corruption, and Spindler, speaking for the DPS, said:[33]

We fully appreciate that Stephen's family want all their questions rightly answered. We hope this review goes at least some way to address their concerns and those that have appeared in the media. At this stage there are no new allegations or evidence that would merit further investigation. However, should any new information arise relating to alleged corruption in the original investigation into Stephen's murder, it would be seriously considered.

Both Spindler, and the IPCC's Deborah Glass accepted the view that there was no new evidence that would have changed the outcome of the 2006 investigation following material disclosed by police corruption supergrass Neil Putnam.[34] Nevertheless, these conclusions were overruled by Home Secretary Theresa May who appointed barrister Mark Ellison to investigate further in 2012.[35][36] Ellison concluded in his report, the Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, that both the IPCC's 2006 investigation and 2012 Metropolitan Police investigations were inadequate.[37]

Concurrently, Spindler was also caught up in the undercover policing scandal which emerged in 2010 with the exposure of Mark Kennedy and gained further public traction with the statements of spycop Peter Francis who had come forward as a whistle-blower. In response, Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe established Operation Soisson in October 2011. Though initially under the nominal authority of DAC Mark Simmonds then Pat Gallan, the actual work was conducted by Spindler's Directorate of Professional Standards. Thus, when it was stated by Green MP Caroline Lucas that undercover officer Bob Lambert had been involved in the fire-bombing of Debenhams in the 1980s, it was Spindler who met with her over her concerns, though he merely said that the police had 'extended their ongoing review'. At the time this review was criticised for being being held in secret and doing 'little to command public confidence or trust'.[38]

Soisson was later taken over by Mick Creedon of Derbyshire police and renamed Operation Herne. In March 2014, after Spindler had left as Head of Professional Standards, Operation Herne released its second report, claiming it had found no evidence supporting Francis' claim that the Metropolitan Police had spied on the Lawrence family during the Macpherson Inquiry. However, the same day the Ellison Review released its findings, providing direct evidence that an undercover officer known only as N81 had done precisely that.[39]

Head of Specialist Crime Investigations

August 2012 to March 2013, Spinder was head of Specialist Crime Investigations at the Metropolitan Police, continuing with the rank of Commander, and with responsibility for overseeing investigations relating to murder, rape and child abuse. In particular, he would pick up the batton of the investigation to the sexual abuse activities of Jimmy Savile when that story broke in the mainstream media on 3 October 2012. It was this investigation which would develop into Operation Yewtree, for which he was the national lead as the investigation expanded to cover many different police force areas.[40][41] His deputy, with responsibility for leading the criminal investigation was DCS Keith Niven, head of Child Abuse Investigation Command.[42] The operation would go on to see a number of high profile arrests during Spindlers tenure.[43][44] He would deliver the Yewtree report into the proclivities of Savile in January 2013, prepared jointly with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.[45] Presenting it, Spindler said of Savile that 'He groomed a nation'.[46]

In 2015, Spindler responded to criticism that Yewtree had descended into a witch-hunt and was too focused on celebrities. He did this by noting that Yewtree had become a 'global brand' that empowered those who had been sexually abused to come forward to the police after years of silence. He admitted that his team had been unprepared for the scale of the operation in the early days. In relation to the unexpected numbers coming forward, he stated: 'These people can't all be making it up, they haven't all got it wrong'.[47] Yewtree did see a number of high-profile celebrities jailed for sexual abuse, but others who had charges dropped after being on bail for over a year, complained about how they had been tainted by their arrests.[48][49]

From Yewtree's investigations and the public outcry that developed, emerged another set of investigations which Spinder also had oversight of - Operation Fairbank (assessment) and its successor, Operation Fernbridge (criminal investigation).[2] These examined various aspects of historic child abuse connected to VIP paedophile rings, including those relating to the Elm Guest House in London, and were set up in the wake of statements make in the House of Commons by Labour MP Tom Watson.[23][50]

Spindler would also focus on other sexual related crimes, including targeting a London group said to have groomed minors for sex, and carrying out a review of the scale of child exploitation by gangs in London.[51]

Assistant Inspector of Constabulary

In April 2013, Spinder moved to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary where he remained until January 2015. He was the Senior Responsible Officer for crime data integrity, police integrity and corruption inspections. Other responsibilities included being the link with the College of Policing and academia in general. He also oversaw inspections into Ministry of Defence Police and SBA Cyrus.[2]

Return to Specialist Crime Investigations

In January 2015 he would return to the position of head of Specialist Crime Investigations, until his retirement in August 2015. In this time he oversaw the Flying Squad investigation into Hatton Garden jewellery robbery.[52] He was national lead for family liaison officers and sat on a number of committees:[2]

Post-police career

Spindler retired from the police in August 2015. On 16 September 2015, he created the firm Peter Spindler Associates LLP with his wife as a partner.[1] Its purpose is 'providing strategic level advice and guidance on safeguarding and policing both nationally and internationally'.[2] The firm has no visible internet presence as of June 2016.

Not long after he retired, 2015 Spindler was appointed part of the three man team lead by Prof. John Drew which carried out the 'Independent Review of South Yorkshire Police in relation to its response to child sexual exploitation' (2015-2016), which followed the Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal.[17][53]

Education & Awards

  • Furzedown Secondary School[2]
  • Battersea Grammar School.[2]
  • University of Warwick (1982-1985); BA, graduated with a 2.1 in Politics; was also President of the University Community Volunteers Society while there.[2]
  • Hon. Fellow, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth, February 2014.[2]


  • Allyson MacVean & Peter Spindler (editors), Policing Paedophiles on the Internet, June 2003, John Grieve Centre for Policing and Community Safety / New London Bookshop / New Police Bookshop.
  • Allyson MacVean & Peter Spindler, Principled and ethical policing: some considerations for police leaders, published in Jenny Fleming (editor) Police Leadership, Rising to the Top, August 2015, Oxford Unversity Press.

Spindler's long-time collaborator Professor Allyson MacVean is a former Director at the John Grieve Centre for Policing and Community Safety at London Metropolitan University. She founded the Centre in 2000, initially at Buckingham Chiltern University, and has been credited as a key person in its success.[54] She has since taken up a number of academic positions, including at Bath Spa University and the Institute of Policing and Criminal Justice, Cumbria University; and has collaborated with leading police officers Peter Neyroud and John Grieve in various publications. In 2015 MacVean was Vice-Chair of the Ethics Committee for Avon and Somerset Police,[55] notably at a time when the scandal around that force's then Chief Constable, Nick Gargan was evolving. Membership of the Ethics Committee includes the local Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens.

Private life

Married in 1990 to Lorraine Hoad, who is the curator of Leatherhead Museum,[56] and had been owner of Boffin Books of Walton-on-the-Hill (founded 1996, wound up in 2010).[57][58]

From February 1995 to September 2001, Peter Spindler was a director of The Walton-on-the-Hill (Surrey) Association Ltd.[59] This is a charitable organisation providing a community centre to the local people.[60]

Cases against corrupt officers

Cases overseen included while Spindler headed the Directorate of Professional Standards which made the public eye include:

  • The conviction of PC Edward Prince of intentionally kicking drug dealer Nyrone Games in the face during an arrest.[61]
  • Operation Cosperville, was a four year investigation into unauthorised use of Metropolitan Police credit cards, identifying £3.7m of 'unreconciled spending' and 1,019 cases where cards appeared to be inappropriately used. Much was paid back, though 195 cases were subject to detailed investigation by Professional Standards with 58 of these being passed to the Independent Police Complaints Authority; many were cleared including two senior officers.[62] Ultimately six officers were convicted; 34 others were censured, receiving reprimands, written warnings and fines.[63][64]
  • Sacking of a police officer for persistently mishandling 999 call.[65]
  • The disciplinary case where six officers from the Enfield Crime Squad (itself subject to a major three year anti-corruption investigation at the time - Operation Sumaq which had begun in May 2008, see above) were investigated for attacking a suspected stolen car with baseball bats in a so-called 'hard stop' in June 2008. The six were found guilty of misconduct but allowed to keep their jobs.[66][67][68]
  • An unnamed chief inspector sacked for misconduct for boasting of taking drugs on a dating website, and inappropriately using his position to seek out sexual liaisons.[69]
  • The sacking of a police bodyguard (PC Paul Rice of the SO1 / Protection unit, who had also provided security to Teresa May), said to have had an affair with the wife of former Home Secretary Alan Johnson.[70][71]
  • Sacking of a trainee detective, Shahzad Malik, for sexual assault.[72]
  • Conviction of Sgt. Darren Dearling for making images of child abuse[73] and his subsequent dismissal from the police.[74]
  • Sacking of an Ealing based officer for harassment of two colleagues.[75]
  • Sacking of two officers and final warnings given to two others following an incident in 2009 at East Finchley in which a car was stopped and a number of the occupants were hurt, and not told of their rights, and the officer were unable to give reasonable accounts of their use of force.[76]
  • Conviction of PS Sarah Mathews for illegally accessing police intelligence databases.[77]
  • Investigation of three Newnham officers (including PC Joe Harrington & PC Alex MacFarlane) for racial comments and assaults which took place in August 2011, in the fall out from the London riots.[78] This case led to Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe and his deputy Craig Mackey to defend the Metropolitan Police against the criticism that the force had turned 'deaf ears' to complaints of racism. [79]
  • Investigation of special constable Luke Smith, who was convicted for racially abusing a rail conductor.[80]
  • The dismissal of Philip Juhasz for racially insulting a takeaway manager at King's Cross railway station while drunk.[81]
  • Conviction of Ryan Coleman-Farrow for 13 counts of misconduct in relation to sabotaging rape cases.[82]

In quite a number of these, it was stated that the Crown Prosecution Service advised against formal charges, but this did not prevent internal disciplinary hearings going ahead.


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  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 Peter Spindler, Profile, LinkedIn, undated (viewed 24 June 2016).
  3. Dominic Cavendish, 'don't tell me who your dealer is, I don't want to know'; sex, drugs and rock'n'roll; The war against drugs is waged in mysterious ways, The Independent, 28 January 1996 (accessed via Nexis).
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  6. David Ashforth, Simpson Yard in drug raid drama, Racing Post, 2 February 1999 (accessed via Nexis).
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  13. Andrew Alderson, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe what I'm looking at', Sunday Telegraph, 31 August 2003 (accessed via Nexis).
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  40. Esther Addley, Jimmy Savile: police investigate alleged rape and sex abuse 'on national scale', The Guardian, 9 October 2012 (accessed 20 June 2016).
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  43. Emma Reynolds, Jimmy Savile detectives approached by 450 alleged victims from across UK as they probe 199 offences including 31 rapes, Mail Online, 12 December 2012 (accessed via Nexis).
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  62. These were Commander Ali Dizaei and Dep. Assist. Commissioner John McDowall - both cleared in investigations by Martin Baker, Chief Constable of Dorset.
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  73. Paedophile policeman avoids jail, PA Newswire, 16 December 2011 (accessed via Nexis).
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