[Debate] Glastonbury festival: how police spied on political campaigners
m_redmond at btinternet.com
m_redmond at btinternet.com
Sun Jul 15 22:22:26 BST 2012
John Catt and the Smash EDO group campaigning against the arms manufacturer in Brighton have been harrassed in quite an extreme way for years. Lots on Indymedia:
It safe to assume that anyone who crosses the arms trade, the UK is the 4th largest exporter of arms I think, is under surveillance. Non-violence, cant have that!
In recent years there has been a conscious effort to make Glastonbury more political to reach out to young people not voting so there would be surveillance. The Iraq war and subsequent events have politicised more people again.
CND, Greenpeace, animal rights activists, Communist Party, union leaders and all left-leaning groups have been spied on throughout the Cold War, Thatcher kept it up during her reign throughout the 1980s and in the 90s Rave culture had the authorities on the hop as well:
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From: Riaz K Tayob <riaz.tayob at gmail.com>
To: Debate List <debate-list at fahamu.org>
Sent: Sunday, 15 July 2012, 21:10
Subject: [Debate] Glastonbury festival: how police spied on political campaigners
[First they came for the muslims....]
Glastonbury festival: how police spied on political campaigners
Stallholders' details logged in database, documents reveal as criticism
mounts over surveillance operations against activists
Rob Evans and Paul Lewis
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 15 July 2012 18.24 BST
Glastonbury festival in 2009
Glastonbury festival in 2009. Evidence of the surveillance was obtained
by an Globalise Resistance activist following a request under the data
protection act. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian
Police carried out surveillance on political campaigners while they were
at the Glastonbury Festival, newly released documents show.
Details of their activities were recorded in a clandestine database run
by the secretive police operation which has infiltrated a network of
spies into political groups for 40 years.
Police logged how the campaigners had set up a stall at the festival and
were selling what police termed "political publications and merchandise
of an XLW anti-capitalist nature". The letters XLW are understood to
mean "extreme left-wing".
They were mainly selling T-shirts and badges, along with DVDs and books.
The police officers also recorded the home address and mobile phone
number of the campaigner who had booked the stall.
The campaigners had been in the Green Fields, a special area – described
as "the soul" of the festival – which hosts stalls and speakers on
Disclosure of the documents comes as police have faced criticism over
the intrusiveness and scale of their surveillance operations against
political campaigners following revelations about the activities of nine
Simon Wellings, one of the undercover officers who has been unmasked,
infiltrated the anti-capitalist group which was spied on at Glastonbury.
Evidence of the surveillance has been obtained by Guy Taylor, a
45-year-old activist working for the group, Globalise Resistance,
following a request under the data protection act.
He obtained his file from the database which shows that police
identified his presence at 27 demonstrations for causes such as
anti-racism, opposition to the Iraq War and climate change between 2006
and 2011. One entry records how "Globalise Resistance had a campaigns
stall at the Glastonbury Festival" in 2009 and that "this stall was
selling political publications and merchandise of a XLW anti-capitalist
Police had established that it was Taylor who gained approval from the
festival organisers to set up the stall.
Taylor said: "I can't understand what use information about what I did
at Glastonbury has for the Metropolitan police.
"If they need to know the plans and schemes of anti-capitalists, the
worst place to look is Glastonbury as we were rarely in a fit state to
plan the downfall of a parish council let alone the world financial
system as we know it."
The Green Fields, described by Glastonbury organisers as encapsulating
the "spirits and ideals" of the original festival, is home each year to
an eclectic mix of activities including environmental initiatives,
tipis, massages and solar-powered marquees. Taylor, has a conviction
dating from 1991 for spray-painting anti-war slogans, is one of
thousands of campaigners whose political activities have been recorded
covertly on the database since 1999 and shared with police forces across
The database, currently run by the Metropolitan police, contains
information from undercover officers, informants in protest groups,
covert intercepts and reports of demonstrations from uniformed officers.
Another activist on the database is John Catt, an 87-year-old campaigner
with no criminal record. Police recorded how he attended more than 55
demonstrations over a four-year period, detailing how he brought along
his sketchpad and made drawings of protests.
The Metropolitan police said it was not prepared to "discuss individual
cases nor the provenance of information held on police databases".
A spokesman added: "The Management of Police Information (MOPI)
statutory code of practice provides a clear framework for the collation
and retention of information for policing purposes. The National
Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) database is maintained according to this
code of practice.
"The retention and collation of intelligence reports – carried out in
accordance with the appropriate statutory codes of practice – is vital
enabling us to fulfil our obligations of protecting life and property,
preserving order, preventing the commission of offences, and bringing
offenders to justice".
He said this "important principle" was upheld when the high court
recently dismissed an application by Catt to have his file deleted from
Last year, Newsnight reported that Wellings's real role was revealed
following a blunder. He inadvertently phoned a campaigner from the
Global Resistance group on his mobile phone while analysing photographs
of protesters with a police officer at a police station.
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