A song by Ritchie Hunter
Bob Lambert is probably the most notorious of the undercover police spies who infiltrated completely legitimate protest and campaigning groups.
He was embedded with the activists
Staying with them for many years
They thought he was someone else
‘Bob’ Lambert was sent undercover by the SDS (Special Demonstration Squad) in 1983. He became Mark ‘Bob’ Robinson and his brief was to collect information about London Greenpeace, which campaigned for human and animal rights, and became known later for having been involved in the McLibel case, in which McDonalds tried to sue them for a critical pamphlet.
Undercover Bob was embedded for years, and in that time he led a double life organising protests, writing campaigning material and even planting a fire bomb. He was exposed in 2012 when Caroline Lucas named him under privilege in the House of Commons.
He created false relationships
Working as a mole
Sleeping with the enemy
When he had a wife at home
Undercover Bob ingratiated himself within protest groups, having a number of relationships with female activists. Basically he lied to them, drawing them in to what they believed were genuine relationships. He even had a child with one of the women activists. At the same time he had a ‘real life’ family, who knew only that he was away a lot on secret assignments.
Undercover for the Government
Spying for the state
Gathering up intelligence
To use against his mates
The SDS who employed Lambert had been set up during the Vietnam War in 1968, with a specially designated pot of government money, which the Home Secretary had to endorse. Subsequent Home Secretaries continued to sign off the ‘activities’ of this group right up until they were disbanded in 2008.
Police have always had officers undercover. But this was like something you read in a John le Carré Cold War spy thriller.
Stealing a child’s identity
Building up the mask
Sticking to the task
The method used to build up the identity of Undercover Bob was to search the Birth, Marriages and Death records and find an approximate match in age and sex. A dead child’s identity was ideal because a personal history could be built up easily around this. The ideal child was one with the same first name; this prevented any ‘slips’ at moments when the spy was ‘off-guard’. Paul Lewis and Rob Evans* report that the SDS used dead children’s identities up to 80 times!
Sneaking into campaigning groups
Showing contempt for human rights
There’s plenty more like Bob
Undercover Bob has been accused of arson, helping to organise and plant a fire bomb that caused £340,000 worth of damage to a Debenhams department store in 1987. He has also been accused of perjury for giving false evidence in court.
Other undercover police spies have been exposed, such as Mark Kennedy, who as Mark Stone was embedded for seven years.
The police launched an investigation into undercover activity in 2011 called Operation Herne. It’s not surprising though that nothing has come from this. But in 2014 the Metropolitan Police agreed to pay £425,000 to the woman whose child was fathered by Bob Lambert.
*This song was inspired by the book ‘Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police’ by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans.