January 23, 2011 by Activist Security | northern.indymedia.org
The following is a statement from the ActivistSecurity.org collective
following discussions with individuals involved in the expose of 'Lynn
Watson' as an undercover police infiltrator. The original of this,
including photographs, can be found at their website
Click on any picture for a Slideshow view
Earlier this week it was reported in The Guardian  that the Leeds based
activist known as "Lynn Watson" had been an undercover police officer
serving with the CIU/NPIOU - the police unit that places infiltrators in
protest movements. As the only public report of this came from a
mainstream newspaper and had no follow up statement there has been doubt
expressed in some quarters as to whether she was an undercover policewoman
Recently, our collective have had a chance to speak to various individuals
involved with the story in order to understand and confirm it.
It is not our intention to give a full account of Lynn's activities,
though it is now known that she was involved between 2004-2008, including
groups such as Trident Ploughshares, Clown Army, the mobilisation around
the G8 at Gleneagles, the Drax Climate Camp and The Common Place social
centre . The email address she used was email@example.com and
possibly firstname.lastname@example.org - these are now known to be active until
relatively recently at least.
Lynn was not ostentatiously present in the way that other infiltrators
were, and provided considerable practical help to groups. She lived in
outer Leeds before moving to the more central location of Hyde Park. This
house was privately rented. She claimed to be a care worker, temping
through an agency, so she was a way for several weeks at a time.
In 2008 Lynn left Leeds, moving to Coventry with her partner "Paul". At
the time friends were not suspicious and thought that this was simply her
moving on to another stage of her life. She continued to be in regular
contact. In May 2008 she said she was moving to Lithuania with Paul who
had a job there. She would be there for several months before planning to
move once more, this time to the US for two years, again due to Paul
supposedly getting work there.
It was after the supposed move to Lithuania that contact dropped off
dramatically and suspicions began grow. Initially, people who had
considered her a close friend were worried that she was in trouble and
tried to contact her. Lead after lead turned up negative. Paul, supposedly
a photographer in Coventry, could also not be contacted or identified,
despite considerable effort being expended on this. Likewise the story of
another boyfriend, a locksmith from Northampton could not be confirmed.
It was only at this point that people's suspicion were aroused that she
might have not been all that she seemed to be. An analysis of what was
known about her indicated circumstantial evidence that her story was
leaking in quite a few places. However, in all of this, there was no
definitive piece of evidence that she was a police officer. Thus, there
was a decision not to go public. Where it was known that those who had
been involved closely with her could were potentially at risk, they were
informed of the suspicions.
Lynn was subsequently twice encountered by chance in the South West of
England. She was friendly enough and indicated that she was still with
Paul though he may have been in some sort of trouble. Attempts to keep in
touch with her continued to fail.
The ActivistSecurity.org collective believes that in the light of the
evidence the group had at the time that this was the correct approach to
take. There was no way to be certain, and while there was some
circumstantial evidence warranting suspicion it was all indirect and
constructed from holes rather than concrete events. That is not sufficient
to justify a formal statement, being little better than rumour-mongering.
Warning people who might be at risk that there was a question to be asked,
but keeping the rumour mill in check was responsible behaviour.
When Mark Kennedy / Stone was exposed, he was asked about Lynn and he
replied that she was in the same unit as he was. Mark was one of those who
knew of the suspicions around Lynn, and given that he had just spent seven
years lying to people it was not known if his word could be trusted or
not. ActivistSecurty concur, in that while it added weight to the body of
suspicion, the word of a copper against another should not be taken at
face-value. While there has been various reports in the media of Mark
having 'gone native' with the implication that his word could be relied
upon, that is pure speculation.
It seems that The Guardian had independent knowledge of Lynn as well, but
not enough to go public without risk of libel. This changed with the
collapse of the Ratcliffe 6 "deniers" trial and the subsequent media
furore. The Guardian appears to have then obtained the confirmation they
needed from the police, gave her the time to be extracted and then named
her alias with a photo of her. Her career as an undercover is now
effectively over, something we have no problem with. We are told that a
leading police officer went to the journalists house to ask that her
identity was not immediately released to give time for her to be
extracted, would also, if true, add strength to this.
As well as Lynn, people have had suspicions in regards to her last known
partner, "Paul". While, again, is no definitive proof, his continued role
in Lynn's cover story for her 'extraction', his untraceability and given
that people did actually have suspicion of him at the time he was
introduced to them as her partner, we believe that enough of a cloud hangs
over him that his photo should be published. If someone knows who he is we
are interested in hearing more. If they wish to dispute why his photograph
should be removed published we will listen to arguments and re-consider
our decision if necessary.
Ideally a statement would have be put out at the same time as the
Guardian's initial expose. This is perhaps a lesson to be learned from. In
a number of cases, those investigating have been a small, ad hoc group of
people formed for the purpose rather than a formal group with an
established identity. This has meant that the main repository for stories
and release has been Indymedia UK, something which leads to difficulty in
verification of how true things are - the same occurred with Matthew
Gibbons, Mark Stone, etc.
It is also important that a vacuum is not created in which all sorts of
disinformation and dangerous speculation takes place. This is a short
coming of the protest movement as a whole. ActivistSecurity is interested
in examining this issue further and is interested in receiving comment on
how this might happen.