Sunday, 25 March 2018

Freedom Press now participant in Spy-Cop Inquiry

 Police plant edited the anarchist newspaper Freedom
by Brian Bamford

Spy-cop Roger Pearce aka Roger Thorley

ON the 20th, March 2018 Sir John Mitting Chairman, Undercover Policing Inquiry, designated Freedom Press as a core participant in Category K of the purpose of the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

The 'person' categorised as 'Friends of Freedom Press' ('Freedom Press') did previously apply to Sir Christopher Pitchford, when he was the previous Chairman of the same Inquiry in October 2015, Pitchford then stated that he would keep under review the application of any person to be designated as a core participant who was not then so designated by him.

He at that time, declined to designate them because, on the information which he then had, it was unlikely that they were relying on a direct and significant role in the subject matter of the Inquiry

On the 23 January 2018, Saunders Solicitors Limited again wrote to the Inquiry to ask whether Sir John Mitting would now entertain a fresh application for core participant status by Freedom Press

Having considered this new request last week, Sir John decided: 

' I will designate Freedom Press as a core participant in Category K.  I do so on the basis of material which Sir Christopher [Pitchford] would not have taken into account when making his original ruling: Operation Herne interview notes, which suggest that HN85 became editor of Freedom Press in Whitechapel and in that capacity wrote virulent anti-police articles.  Accordingly, Freedom Press did play a direct and significant role in the subject matter of the Inquiry and it is appropriate that they should be designated as a core participant.' 

Exclusive report on 'Spychief infiltration'

 On the 24th, March, the Freedom website carried an unsigned article which it described as an 'exclusive' entitled 'The Met spy chief who infiltrated Freedom Press'.   In this post the Freedom Press author wrote:
'Earlier this week it was disclosed that Freedom Press would now be considered a core participant in the Undercover Policing Inquiry, following official confirmation that Pearce had operated as “Roger Thorley,” a former writer for Freedom in the 1970s and ’80s.'

The writer, who may well himself be a solicitor, says that after a comprehensive investigation of the Freedom archives and consultation with old comrades it is revealed that 'Freedom can confirm that Pearce, writing under the moniker R.T, penned a series of articles over the course of the period 1980-81 and then joined a fact-finding mission to Belfast, before disappearing from sight.'

Special Branch man becomes Freedom 'editor'

This weekend I spoke to several present and former members of the 'Friends of Freedom Press' (F. of F.P.), and they all say they didn't know Roger Thorley in the early 1980s.  I haven't as yet spoken to the present secretary of F. of F.P., Stephen Sorba, who may well have been around, but I was writing for Freedom in the late 1979s and early 1980s, when I believe my friend the carpenter Peter Turner was still associated with the paper.  Barry Woodling has just told me that he's seen reports and articles written by me in March 1980, after I had reported for the old Syndicalist Workers Federation (SWF) on the V Congress of the CNT (National Confederation of Labour) in Madrid, which took place in December 1979.

What is so noticeably about the old issues of Freedom edited by the police spy and future head of Special Branch, Roger Thorley/Pearce*, is that it is clear the quality of Freedom has declined immensely since the 1980s.  The analysis of the last signed article of Roger-the-Dodger suggests he is so insightful about the situation in northern Ireland, that it can only produce nostalgia in those of us knew the old Freedom.  The current production, whether on the website or in the occasional hard copies of Freedom, are so full of cookbook thinking, cliques and childish slogans as to reduce one to tears.

The author of Freedom's socalled exclusive report writing this Saturday says:
'What can be confirmed is that when inquiry head Mitting defined Pearce’s writing as “virulently anti-police” he wasn’t exaggerating — and it was specifically in favour of the IRA. In one article, Prisoners of Politics (Vol 41, No. 22, Nov 8th 1980) the editors debate “R.T” over his demand that IRA detainees should have political prisoner status, noting that “all prisoners are political”.'

Meanwhile, the undercover policemen seem to have had a beano engaged in what my Dad use to call 'Bobbies Jobs'; employed in cushy numbers reporting on the activities and miscellaneous tittle-tattle of anarchists and trade unionists.  But with a job like that of Roger Pearce, drafting columns and perhaps editorials for Freedom in the late 1970s or early 1980s, it must have given him a glorious opportunity to hone his skills in spy craft; even with London Greenpeace it has been said that Bobby Lambert actually wrote the leaflet on McDonald's that ultimately led to the famous libel case..  I suppose that the conscientious policeman in his determination to do a decent job, will actually get a thrill out of writing and polishing up articles using anarchist analytical tools.  Both Roger-the-Dodger Pearce and Bobby Lambert seem to have been street-wise engaging in their workman-like operations, and moreover to have had a good deal more talent than many of the anarchists that they were spying on.

*   According to the website 'powerbase' which does public interest investigatuons -  Roger Pearce was appointed Director of Intelligence (SO11) on 2 November 1998 and held it until 4 March 2003.[13] In 1999, Pearce was appointed head of Special Branch (SO12) and held both posts concurrently until his retirement in 2003.[5][4][14] In this latter role he also had oversight of the Covert Operations unit SO10.[15]. As Head of Special Branch he was:[16] ... responsible for surveillance and undercover operations against terrorists and extremists, the close protection of government ministers and visiting VIPs, and other highly sensitive assignments... 




David said...

Thanks for this Brian

Back in the late '70s and early '80s I think we all assumed that FP would have a cop or two on board. I was never very close to FP so didn't pay much attention. Interesting to discover that the cops were actually editing the mag though. I would be surprised if the bookshop didn't still have police links - not because FP is actually likely to do anything of note but because it would be good for the cops to know who goes in and out.

David 'M' said...


Important correction.
Its not said that Bob Lambert wrote the Whats Wrong With McDonald's factsheet, but that he was part of a sub group of London Greenpeace (of around 5 or 6 activists) that drafted the said factsheet.

Derek Pattison said...

This man's photograph has been in the public domain for a number of years and he was known to have been a Special Branch officer and head of the Special Branch. Why did FP keep quiet about this for so long. If he was the Editor of FP somebody at FP must have recognised him and known about this. Why did it take Mitting to bubble him.

bammy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bammy said...

I now incline to the view that the Northern Anarchist Network (NAN), founded at Manchester Town Hall in 1995, was from the beginning infiltrated by the police. We now know the typical symptoms of the typical police infiltrator from our more recent knowledge and experience in the blacklist campaign. One individual while working closely with N.V. had to admit to us that he had been a former uniformed copper working in the North of England. Before the NAN was set-up he had been in London where he formed a relationship with a women linked to the anarcho-syndicalist Solidarity Federation. This is naturally all ex post facto rationalisation, but looking back it would be a likely explanation for some of his behaviour over the years between 1995 and 2010. He may well have been supplying information to special branch, but he was always a big help to us whenever we got into a spot of bother with the police.

John Pearson said...

An excellent article Brian. Thanks for sending me the link. I have posted this to a number of Facebook pages.