Revulsion is a curious emotion. It’s different from disgust. Disgust is simply a visceral ‘yuck!’, whereas revulsion often has an element of moral loathing as well. Spit on the pavement disgusts me. Bob Lambert, former undercover agent provocateur for the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad fills me with revulsion.
If you don’t know Bob Lambert, please don’t trust to this post alone. Find out more about him from sources you trust (Wikipedia and the Guardian are particularly good sources).
Bob Lambert worked from 1980 to 2008 for London’s Metropolitan Police Service. He joined and eventually became head of the Special Demonstrations Group, a network of undercover police officers who infiltrated domestic political campaigns such as Greenpeace, Reclaim the Streets and the Molesworth Peace Camp.
Bob Lambert cradling his son, 1985
Like other officers in the SDS, Lambert adopted the name of a child who had died in childbirth or infancy to support their aliases. It was also standard practice for the police spies to establish fake romantic and sexual relationships with campaigners in order to support their alibis. Bob Lambert tricked women into false relationships, not once, but twice. He fathered a child with the second woman. He was not the only SDS spy to father a child with a woman who had no reason to suppose that her partner did not love her, had no intention of staying with her – and indeed, had a timetable for when he would abandon her. And they did abandon their partners. In Bob Lambert’s case, he announced that he had to go into hiding from the special branch and just disappeared, walking away from his wife and child forever. When she discovered the extent of Lambert’s deception and manipulation, one of his victims described her feelings as like being “raped by the state”.
This week we read that Lambert co-wrote the leaflet in the infamous McLibel case. The leaflet published by London Greenpeace and only distributed very locally, made a number of allegations against McDonalds. McDonalds brought libel proceedings against the protesters, two of whom chose to contest the charge. The prosecution became a media circus, with McDonalds spending many millions of pounds in legal fees and the two defendants, £30,000 of their own. The case was fought all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights. At every stage of the legal battle, although the verdicts were never clear-cut, it is hard to read them as other than moral victories for the defendants.
If a police spy charged with discrediting Greenpeace co-wrote the contents of a leaflet that McDonalds took to be defamatory, one has to ask what his motivations were. It would seem self-evident that he was acting as an agent provocateur, with the intention of sparking such a reaction from the powerful and litigious McDonalds and which – if it had not been steadfastly fought by the defendants – might have bankrupted London Greenpeace. One can only wonder what the powerful & litigious McDonalds feel about having been manipulated by the Metropolitan Police SDS unit. They would arguably have a case for legal redress.
Yesterday the Guardian – who have pursued this whole squalid business with an admirable tenacity – revealed another headliner: that the SDS planted spies at the heart of campaigns against violence and harassment against black people in order to discredit those campaigns. This included asking SDS officer Peter Francis to ‘dig for dirt’ on the family and friends of the murdered Stephen Lawrence. What was Bob Lambert’s role in the SDS at this time? Historically, he would seem to have been in charge of other SDS officers at the time, if not head of the unit itself.
Bob Lambert, Lecturer in Terrorism Studies
And as for Bob Lambert, he is now a ‘respected’ academic lecturing in Terrorism Studies at the University of St. Andrews. Wikipedia also claims that he is a co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre in the Department of Politics at Exeter University. His name, curiously, is not on the Research Centre’s staff list, though the only member of staff is still listed as a co-director. With whom, one asks, does he co-direct?
Bob Lambert was awarded the MBE in 2008 for ‘services to police work.’ Knowing better than anybody the lies he had told, the innocent people he had deceived, the lives he had shattered and the laws he had broken, he accepted that honour.
Bob Lambert revolts me. If he revolts you too, you might write to the Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, Sir Ming Campbell MP: email@example.com and tell him that this vile putrescence discredits the name of that academic institution. If, as Wikipedia believes, he still works for the University of Exeter and has chosen to conceal his identity (and would that surprise anyone?) then the Chancellor of that University, Floella Benjamin, might be interested in his influential role in the murky body that set out to discredit the Lawrence family: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Lambert’s actions are morally repugnant, and I hope and trust that the Metropolitan Police Review Operation Herne will find his actions to to be illegal. I believe that the awarding of an MBE to Bob Lambert brings the entire Honours System into disrepute. If you agree, write to the Government Honours Committee and tell them: email@example.com
If you’d like to tell Bob Lambert what you think of him directly, you can email him at rl40st-andrews.ac.uk