“Undercover: the true story of Britain’s secret police” by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis

Undercover reveals the truth about secret police operations – the emotional turmoil, the  psychological challenges and the human cost of a lifetime of deception –  and asks whether such tactics can ever be justified.”

Guardian reporters Rob Evans and Paul Lewis have been conducting investigative journalism to expose undercover police since the outing of Mark Kennedy  in national media in 2011. Undercover is their book on the subject, published in June 2013. It tells the stories of undercover officers Bob Lambert, John Dines, Mike Chitty, Pete Black, Jim Boyling, Mark Jenner, Lynn Watson, Marco Jacobs and Mark Kennedy.  Five of these officers are linked with this case – see our page The Officers.

Here are extracts from some reviews of Undercover:

“Whilst many of us, most perhaps, might accept that some level of subterfuge is  necessary where the policing of very serious criminal activity is  concerned, there is little in Rob Evans and Paul Lewis’s account that will strike most readers as even close to acceptable. The nature and consequences of the deceptions perpetrated are truly frightening.  Indeed, the SDS’s informal motto – ‘By Any Means Necessary’ – seems all too close to the truth. Staggeringly, it seems to have tacitly understood that undercover officers (usually male) should target female protesters and form close personal – sexual – relationships with them.  These relationships were by no means casual, in many cases becoming  sufficiently serious and long-standing for the officer effectively to  become the ‘partner’ of the person concerned. As such, these were no  ordinary betrayals. They were, as one of the women pithily put it:  ‘about a fictional character who was created by the state and funded by  taxpayers’ money’.”
from review by Tim Newburn, London School of Economics

“It is the women who are the emotional heart of this book and it is hearing from them, the victims in all this, in their own words, that gives it such power. ‘Charlotte’, who recounts how she got home from work on 14 June last year, sat in the garden to read the Daily Mail with a cup of coffee and spotted a photo of Robert Lambert or, as she knew him, Bob Robinson, the father of her child, who she had not seen for 24 years.  ‘And there was his face staring back at me from the paper.  I went into shock, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I started shaking.’  She has subsequently received psychiatric treatment. Or Helen Steel, who met John Dines, aka John Barker, and had a  relationship with him for two years. ‘He said he wanted to spend the rest of life with me. In a short space of time I fell absolutely madly in love with him in a way that I had never fallen in love with anyone before or since.’ Or ‘Alison’, a secondary school teacher who lived with Mark Cassidy for four years, but who she subsequently discovered was using her as a ploy to get close to activist groups whose mission was – irony alert! – to uncover allegations of police corruption. And then he vanished from her  life. ‘How much of the relationship was real?’ she asks. ‘I have, for the last 13 years, questioned my own judgment.’ ”
from review by Carole Cadwalladr, The Observer

“The issue of sex is most discomforting. Nearly every officer described in the book had passionate, long-term relationships with women from the groups they were investigating. At least one, Bob Lambert, went so far as to get a woman pregnant. Shortly afterwards, Lambert, with whom this woman had expected to live for the rest of her life, faked his emigration and left her a single parent, bereft of any kind of emotional or financial support…. Most readers will find clear evidence of exploitation in these descriptions – young, idealistic activists in their early twenties were fair game to the older undercover police officers, whatever the police may claim.  Others might note just how deeply the men (and one woman) in this book had to embed themselves.”
from review by Alan White, New Statesman

Undercover – Guardian Book – reviews
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