Undercover cop alleged to have fire-bombed Debenhams for ALF
It was alleged today that an undercover police officer planted the fire bomb that did £340,000 worth of damage to the Harrow branch of Debenhams in 1987.
Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party, invoked parliamentary privilege to disclose the allegation that police officer Bob Lambert had committed the arson to earn the trust of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). She claimed she’d had sight of a witness statement naming Mr Lambert.
The ALF was engaged in an ultimately successful campaign to stop Debenhams selling furs, which caused £8 million of damage overall. Mr Lambert’s evidence was instrumental in the conviction of activists Andrew Clarke and Geoff Sheppard for attacks on other stores.
Quoted in The Guardian, Ms Lucas said: “It would seem that planting the third incendiary device was perhaps a move designed to bolster Lambert’s credibility and reinforce the impression of a genuine and dedicated activist.
“He did go on to successfully gain the precise intelligence that led to the arrest of Sheppard and Clarke and without anybody suspecting that the tip-off came from him.
“But is this really the way we want our police officers to behave?”
Speaking at a Westminster Hall debate today, Policing Minister Nick Herbert pointed out that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) had subsequently introduced far more stringent guidelines for undercover officers.
He also addressed the case of undercover officer Mark Kennedy who infiltrated an environmental activist group, suggesting that sexual relations might well be a necessary and permissible means of building a plausible cover.
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Photo: Mosieur J (Flickr)
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